Archive for July, 2008

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One Month Anniversary!

July 29, 2008

Today is my one month anniversary of being in South Korea. To celebrate, I got a pistachio-almond ice cream from Baskin Robbins, bought sunscreen, batteries, and had a kimbap for lunch. For dinner, I went to “It’s Pizza” for a 6,000 won (6 dollar) veggie pizza with sweet corn and sweet potato. Very exciting. Tomorrow I’m going to Busan for vacation with a bunch of fellow English teachers. Sorry no DMZ, that’ll have to wait for next time. 

I guess it’s time to reflect on my month here. I think my general attitude towards living here is “it’s good.” Some days are better than others, as with everything. It’s strange how familiar the unfamiliar has become. I’ve kind of accepted my deficiency in the language, though I’m working on improving. So far I can buy things at the store and get into a taxi without any trouble; though ordering food at a restaurant without pictures sometimes is nodding, “yes.. that,” and waiting for a surprise. There have been some frustrating moments, some bouts of loneliness, and lots of “god, I wish cheese wasn’t like four dollars” instances but overall, I am glad I came. I think the whole experience has forced me to battle some of my more unwelcome tendencies and it’s also been very fun at times. 

And hey, I haven’t gotten malaria from all the mosquito bites. That’s a plus.

Oh also, on Friday, Andy, a kid in my class who is about 6 (8 in Korean ages) lost his first tooth. He fished it out of his mouth while we were learning the kinds of jobs there were (wherein I did some embarrassing impersonations of a model and a pilot) and held it out to me and said, “Teacher. Teeth.” It was cute. Sunny, one of the Korean teachers, taped the tooth to his textbook and told him to show it to his mother. Apparently there is no Tooth Fairy in South Korea; they throw the teeth on their roof instead.

Anyway, yay! Vacation! 

The railroad tracks at Yongsan Station in Seoul

The railroad tracks at Yongsan Station in Seoul

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Mundane Pictures of My Apartment

July 27, 2008

Yesterday was a quiet night at home (after an afternoon in Itaewon and Yongsan), so I took some pictures of my apartment…. Uh, in case any of you were curious. So yeah, this is how I live. Any questions?

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So I Was Bored and Made a Mixtape

July 26, 2008

[mixwit_mixtape wid=”1aafbd923e68a68cfb4fcb0053424913″ pid=”db1ef4092eb267f974b3ec06bdd358e4″ un=”aprilangelica” width=”426″ height=”327″ center=”true”]

I guess this is to make up for all the K-Pop on this blog. It’s just stuff I’ve been listening to lately (some of it I got from Jan, from Woodstock expat sing-a-longs, or whatever).

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A Few of My Favorite Things

July 26, 2008

No raindrops on roses, mainly because it’s been raining like a motherfucker and I dislike trapezing around town in squishy slip-ons. Anyway, I guess since I spent the last post bagging on funny idiosyncrasies about Korea, I should do a “Favorite Korean Things” post.

Yes, most of it is food.

In no particular order:

1) Cute Things!

Cute Things!

South Korea is full of knicknacks that have cuteness as its sole purpose. I think I can get behind that. Though, yeah, sometimes it is excessive. Today I was at the 7-11 and a song devoted to Hello Kitty came on the radio. Seriously.

2) Exciting Fizzy Soda Flavors

This apple soda is my favorite. It tastes like jolly rancher, but in soda.

3) Exciting Space Age Technology

Every night I put one of those little cartridges into this machine and like magic, the mosquitos stay away! I don’t know what the hell is in it, and if I’m just spraying pesticides into the air while I sleep… but frankly, I don’t care.

4) Dippin’ Dots!

Holy shit! They have them everywhere! My favorite flavor is banana split.

And yes, South Korea is full of interesting people and has a unique culture, with its own fascinating history and tradition, etc etc. But you know, sometimes it’s just the little things.

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Decisions, Decisions…

July 22, 2008

I’m on vacation next week.

I’m thinking about going to…

Jeju Island

Jeju Island

Or…

Busan

Busan

Or…

The Motherfuckin' DMZ

The Motherfuckin' DMZ

I think the choice is obvious here, people.

Also, I made a word cloud for this blog and I’m a bit embarrassed about the results. Do I say “like” too much? I hope that just means I make a lot of similes.

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Korean Cultural Mathematics

July 20, 2008

I’ve almost written this post many times, with various titles, like “Things I Have To Get Used To” and “Well, That’s Different” but I keep thinking of more and more things to blog about. So I guess this is Part 1 of a series.

Fashion:

I spent the day at the Bupyeong Underground Market today and I’ve been noticing some things. Now, as a girl, I’ve done the “is this a slutty outfit?” math before. It’s something like low cut top + jeans = not slutty, modest shirt + little skirt = not slutty, low cut top + little skirt = possibly slutty. But here in South Korea, it seems like any hint of boobage + whatever = slutty (there are low cut tops, but Korean girls usually put a plain white shirt over it), but no boobage + shortest up to vagina skirt = okay. I’ve seen many an ass on an escalator. I don’t understand.

Also: Suspenders + anything = awesome. I bought myself a pair today. Kinda looks like this:

Oh yeah. I’m cool now.

I’m also gonna buy an oversized Blondie shirt if I see it again.

Food:

Any kind of food + fermented/pickled anything = delicious!

Now I love side dishes. I like kimchi, the Korean pancakes, fried eggs, even the spicy shrimp exoskeleton that they serve… but sometimes, I don’t need it. Sometimes I don’t particularly need kimchi to go with my cheesy spaghetti or pickles on top of my pizza.

Also, here are a couple Korean pizza types:

Sweet Potato Pizza

Sweet Potato Pizza

Cheesy Bread Pizza

Cheesy Bread Pizza

Also, there are tons of Korean bakeries. I think this is because most people around don’t own ovens. Sometimes I get perplexed by certain flavor choices. For the most part bread = a sweet flavor. When you get shaved ice at the mall, it usually comes slices of toast and a dish of whipped cream. When you get rolls, they always seem to have surprise jam and butter in the middle. When you get garlic bread, there’s always sugar sprinkled on top. But yeah, sometimes I miss savory + bread.

We also went to a buffet today and I wondered why the french fries were in the dessert section. They had honey and sesame sprinkled on them (actually kind of yummy!).

Music:

Only six songs exist in the country at the same time.

Also H.O.T. = Korean Beatles + Korean New Kids on the Block (those who did not go to middle school in Cerritos may not understand). I swear, every male ballader sounds like Kangta, all poppy rap sounds like Tony Ang, and of course, all middling boy bands sound like uh the rest of them. Anyway, I’m still a fan of the original (unless they’re not the original, which they probably are not):

It seems like the girl groups are definitely more popular right now though. I saw Wonder Girls socks at the mall.

That concludes this edition of Korean Cultural Mathematics.

I also hung out at this Canadian expatriate bar in Bucheon this weekend. I have yet to try the poutine, but I may have to. I am never trying the poutine pizza though. That just sounds gross.

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Dumplings and Other Things.

July 16, 2008

I am coming to terms with the fact that the Bun/Streamed Dumpling Man on my street is not the best in the world ever. In fact, he probably isn’t the best one in a 100 foot radius. A lot of the time, the consistency of the dough is all wrong, and the red bean filling is all dry, and not pasty-gooey-smooth like it is supposed to be.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had better ones at Famima. But still, I go, for 1) it’s raining like a motherfucker outside and 2) I am incredibly lazy. Also, there’s the fact that he has signs up and I can point to what I want, and one night after work, he gave me free ones because his was all out of the dumplings I wanted. Besides, he’s a funny looking buck-toothed dude who sometimes doesn’t notice me for a few seconds because he’s watching game shows. In a way, it’s kind of charming.

Sometimes I wonder if this is this how I feel about Korea. That it is convenient, cost-effective, but not all that great? No, not entirely. I think a lot of it has been great, and I’ve been enjoying myself so far, meeting people, and maybe even (some) of the children I’ve been teaching. I do miss home very frequently though. I guess it’s just a given. I miss not having a job (and being in a position to not care). I miss my apartment, cable television, taco trucks, over indulging and not giving a shit. Most of all, I miss everybody very very much. But anyway, I guess most of the time, I’m just looking forward to the end of every week.

I’ve been very boring on my weekdays, a kind of lay on the floor and surf on the Internet-type. I kind of want to change that.

Anyway. yes, Mud Festival last weekend. There are some stories I could tell, but eh, most of it involves getting lost, finding people, people missing items, trying to find them, almost heat stroke, getting sprayed by a mud hose, the cold Yellow Sea, karaoke, sudden rain, and trying to sleep in a tent on top of a puddle. Really. Not all that much to say. It was very fun though. My skin got toasted.