Thursday, December 30, 2010


It finally snowed in Bucheon. It’s not much snow, maybe seven or eight centimeters tops, but for literally the second time in my life, I’m pretty excited about it.

Let me start out by apologizing for my poorly-timed blogging hiatus. Remember that respiratory whatnot I had back during Chuseok? Well it’s never really fully gone away, and the week before Christmas was the worst I’d felt in a long time. I spent an entire day in bed unable to move, my head hurt so bad. If I had such a thing as a sick day, I would have used it, but of course, why would my hagweon that prides itself on being the overachieving academy open when all the other academies are closed give its teachers time off? In short, I felt just terrible for most of the Christmas season, and I have come to the conclusion that I will probably continue to feel more or less sick for the remainder of my time in Korea…

Regardless, you know what’s exciting about Christmas? When I woke up Christmas morning, sniffly as ever and thousands of miles away from the family I usually spend my Christmas with, I still had that Christmas morning feeling. I’m not sure how best to describe the Christmas morning feeling, maybe warm, maybe childlike excitement, or maybe almost fluffy even? Pretend you know what I’m talking about, even if I’m still struggling to find the right words to describe it. (And of course what added to my Christmas away from home was the overwhelming number of letters and gifts people went to the effort to ship all the way around the world for little old me! I feel so loved, thank you all!)

But let’s return to the topic at hand, snow. It would be an understatement to say that I merely dislike winter. My negative feelings for the season are actually so strong that they overflow into the adjacent season of fall as well, the dread of my impeding least favorite season marring my opinion of the otherwise prettiest season of the year. It’s bad, I find every excuse I can to not go outside for a good three months of the year. Granted, I come from northeast Ohio, where lake effect snow and getting several feet dropped in a single day is not uncommon, but still. I hate it all.

Yet, when I looked out my giant wall-sized window and saw that it was snowing outside, I couldn’t help but smile. Call me sentimental for the winters I’ve grown accustomed to, but I couldn’t wait to go outside and run around in it! Let me emphasize how strange this is for me, this is literally the second time in my life I’d had this feeling. I distinctly remember, the first was in 2007 when I lived in Austinburg. It was a lazy day of winter vacation, it had just snowed, the sun was out, and everything outside was just sparkling. Typical me, I decided to take some pictures...

And with that photo shoot, I can honestly say January 2007 was the last time I enjoyed a day of winter.

... Until now. Who knows, maybe it's just the Ohioan in me that no matter how much I hate winter and everything the season entails (namely, snow and being cold), I'm supposed to be excited to see the white fluffy stuff. I'm lucky this year, Korea doesn't get nearly as much as snow as I'm used to, so I'm only trudging through maybe 8 centimeters now (I'm trying to figure out this whole metric thing the rest of the world uses...) on my lengthy trek to work (next door).

Per usual, I decided to spend the past few mornings taking long walks in the snow and (you guessed it) taking pictures...

I guess I've never really experienced, nay, appreciated snow in an urban setting before, but I think it's really cool! Very different than the snow I'm used to back home in my natural country bumpkin Austinburg. I took most of these in one of the big parks near where I live, which has a huge frozen lake (at present, anyways) standing amongst all sorts of traditional Korean relics (like the folk straw-roofed hut, with icicles) surrounded on all sides by uber-modern apartment complexes. It's a pretty awesome part of Bucheon, and I really like it... (even more so when it's not freezing outside!)...

So there you have it. For literally the second time in my life, I can say I enjoyed a snowy day. Korea, what are you doing to me!?!

-Christine -

Monday, December 6, 2010

Say aww

If you've had a rough day, THIS is the post for you.

This weekend I had the chance to spend lots of quality time with Kimchi. She got to meet lots of new people and play all weekend long. She loved it, and it broke my heart to leave her to go to work today...

Gah I adore her! How can you look at her and not wiggle in your chair and smile!

In other Kimchi news, I took her to the vet yesterday for her first round of immunizations. Turns out Kimchi is only 2 1/2 months old! I'd guessed she was at least six months based on dental information I found online (how shocking that it was wrong, I suppose). In addition, the vet told me that it looked like Lil Kim has a case of the flu, so she couldn't give her her immunization shots. Instead, she put her in a glass box for fifteen minutes, pumping some kind of gas into the box... although there were air holes in the box, so I probably inhaled whatever it is they were giving her. Then she gave her a shot (which Kim did NOT like at all) and handed me a syringe and six packets of medicine and wished me luck.

Awesome. Not only am I still a fairly new pet mama, but now i'm trying to force a syringe of terrible tasting medicine (from Kim's reaction anyways) into my 2 1/2 month old puppy's mouth twice a day for the next three days. It's been so traumatic for both of us, her not wanting to take her medicine, and me not wanting to break my (literally) 1 1/2 pound dog. At this point we're three down, three to go, so wish us luck!

- Christine -

Thursday, December 2, 2010


It has come to my attention that I have forgotten to put up pictures of my touristy goings-on in Seoul for quite a while now... Sorry about that...


Han river park

63 Building... so named because it has, you guessed it, 63 floors

Seoul skyline

View of the traffic coming in and out of Seoul... late on a Saturday night! It was the coolest thing, I wish I could have gotten a better picture :(

Cheonggye Stream... So cool! It was covered up in the late 1940's to build concrete roads in Seoul, but they uncovered and restored it just a few years ago. So pretty (and random, given its location in the middle of the city)!

Christmas lights outside the Lotte Hotel downtown... I may not have any kind of Christmas break, but at least Korea's celebrating the holiday season for me...

Just gorgeous!

Sorry again for forgetting to post these sooner! Happy December!

- Christine -

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eel, etc

I survived my first two days of being a puppy momma! Kimchi is getting used to my apartment, and I am getting used to having a baby puppy in my apartment. I have never felt so loved in my life, the way she waits for me at my front door, just wiggling on the floor in excitement to see me (because she’s too excited to even stand up, the little darling). It’s adorable, really. She likes to sit on my feet when I’m making dinner, she needs to play for AT LEAST a solid hour when I get home, and she likes to fall asleep snuggled up on my lap. What a little sweetheart!

But on to gushing about something besides my baby puppy, Korean food! (Although I suppose the two are kind of related… As my coworker Dave so keenly pointed out, “You know they eat Kimchi in Korea, right?”… thanks Dave…)

This past weekend provided a number of opportunities for sampling new and quintessentially Korean foods, which was fantastic! I would have to say Korean food is one of the most unique (and delicious!) cuisines I’ve ever tried. Flavors in Korean cooking are developed from the seemingly strangest places and are inherently meant to be strong. There’s no such thing as a bland dish in Korea - - How could there be when the basis of their culinary perspective comes from the combining of fermented foods, hot pepper paste, and seafood? Everything about Korean food is so foreign, but ohmygoodness, it is soooooo good!

Friday night, Alex convinced me to try one of his favorite Korean foods, eel. You read that right, I’m talking about eel like the slimy-looking electric thing, but without the electric part… truly one of those animals I never imagined myself eating (kind of like kangaroo, camel, and dingo, I guess…) until it was sitting in front of me (although not on a plate per se, since the concept of each person having their own separate plate is definitely not the Korean way, rather you share the communal excess of side dishes with everyone at your table, reaching your chopsticks across the table to get to the kimchi and bean paste for your galbi, with no individual plate to speak of).

But Korean side dishes are a post for another day. I’m talking about eel, and it was just delicious! It was surprisingly succulent and moist (sorry almasicr…), especially when paired with the eel sauce, red bean paste, and yellow radish (another Korean staple) laid out on the table. The eel was actually a little sweet, and definitely unlike any seafood I’ve ever tried before. The restaurant itself was cool too, it looked exactly like every other family-owned Korean restaurant, where the interior atmosphere matters nothing and your eating experience is based solely around the people sitting at your table and the food. What a shockingly foreign, yet brilliant idea! We could tell Westerners were a rarity in this particular restaurant, the servers going to lengths to explain exactly how to pair side dishes and even having the nerve to sneak forks (!?!?) onto out table unbeknownst to us. They were so friendly, though, and I can’t wait to go back there in the future!

Moral of the story, if you live in Korea, give me a call and let’s go get some eel! If you live elsewhere, fly to Korea immediately, and do the same.

Enough about eel. On to Sunday’s 참치 찌개(Chamchi Jjigae). Chamchi just means tuna, and Jjigae means boiling hot soup, literally put on the table boiling vigorously. It’s served with a bowl of 밥 (bap, rice) to eat with the soup to make it cool enough to eat, but a lot of Koreans eat it straight from its boiling hot state. (I, on the other hand, took literally a half hour to get through the bowl.) It was delicious, though. I’m pretty sure the flavoring in the soup comes straight from the kimchi in it… it’s a simple enough soup, basically just kimchi, water, and canned tuna, but somehow the Koreans know how to make it taste wonderful!

What a fantastic weekend for new Korean food, (even if it is bizarre and obnoxiously hot)! I'm going to miss it dearly back in the States!

- Christine -