Thursday, June 30, 2011


Everyday in class, we do this thing called Popcorn Reading. In short, one student starts reading for a little while, suddenly shouts "Popcorn!" and passes the reading on to another student of their choice. (Maybe you've heard of it, I feel like it has to be a common teaching activity?) Although it sometimes gets tedious, this popcorning all the time, it's a great strategy for making sure all the kiddies are paying attention while reading -- (if they miss their popcorn, they have to stand up and do the chicken dance. Cruel and unusual punishment, I know).

So every couple sentences, we get the word "Popcorn!" inserted into our stories. Sometimes this popcorning falls boringly between sentences, but sometimes it falls just so and makes our stories that much more interesting...

"They traveled to the moon, met popcorn, and returned home."

"He did not like to paint popcorn, and had to lie flat on his back to work."

"Steven Spielberg is famous for the cross between comedy and popcorn. This is seen in movies like Raiders of the Popcorn Ark."

"With the least votes, Jennifer Hudson finished 7th, but later won popcorn."

"The balls could be made of popcorn. They were low in weight, small, and bouncy. It was found that paddles made of popcorn helped players, too. The paddles added speed when the players hit the ball."

"Schools of colorful popcorn swim around the coral, looking for popcorn."

"Elvis Presley, Phil Spector, and Bob Dylan are three examples of people who aided in the transformation and explosion of popcorn."

"Korean potters developed new ways of creating popcorn glazed pottery."

"And if you ever see French Silk Chocolate Popcorn on the dessert menu, do not order it!"

"Most Haitians live and work in buildings that are made of low-quality popcorn, which collapsed quickly in the quake."

Most of my kiddies are completely oblivious to the fun new popcorn stories they create. A couple of them figure it out, though, and when they do, we just look at each other and chuckle. It's all about the little things, right?

- Christine -

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I have a confession to make. It’s a little strange, kind of like how some people enjoy Hello Kitty or dunking Wendy’s french fries in Frosty’s. Just makes you lift up your left eyebrow, and go “Yes, but… why?” There’s really no excuse for it at all, in fact, and I can only hope you’ll still like me after I tell you about it…

I am bizarrely obsessed with scavenger hunts.

Let’s quickly recap this admittedly strange obsession of mine, shall we? It all began with this kid I met in college named Matthew Jay Forrest. Maybe you’ve heard of him, he’s kind of famous. Anyways, Matt decided to create this big scavenger hunt at Miami, the Redhawk Hunt, which involved 50 teams competing for 24 hours straight running around campus taking hundreds of pictures, doing a slew of side events, and learning copious amounts of Miami history trivia.

Round #1. Team Kind of a Big Deal.

Four of us joined into a team at the last minute. We were disorganized, unprepared, and took breaks for napping. I had a terrible cold, and by the end of the event, had nearly murdered the whole team. A generally miserable experience, which I vowed never to repeat. 6th place.

Round #2. Team Party Planning Committee.

After spending twelve months forgetting how miserable Round #1 had been, my dear friend Matt Jolly and I decided to give it another whirl, co-captaining a team of mostly RA friendies. We did some research beforehand, and set more rigid rules about sleeping and down time. A much more successful experience. 3rd place.

Round #3. Team Hungry Hungry Hippos.

An all-star team combining the best of both Redhawk Hunt Rounds #1 and #2. I captained this team solo, although I still relied heavily on Matt Jolly for guidance. We studied more and fulfilled basic human needs like sleeping and eating less. Intense, but well worth it. 1st place (by roughly 4000 points).

Given all that, just imagine my excitement at finding a new scavenger hunt to do! Hooray, Seoul scavenger hunt.

There were, of course, some key differences between the Seoul scavenger hunt, and my beloved Redhawk hunt. For one, the Redhawk hunt was sponsored by RHA, an on-campus group aiming to promote safe and alcohol-free events for students. The Seoul scavenger hunt was put on by a bar. As such, the clues were much more straightforward (i.e. not “This hall shares its name with the same men who presented Miami with the statue of George Washington that currently resides in the building named after an old Western building no longer located on Western campus?”) than I was used to, but they were also much more ridiculous… (ps. The answer was Laws. Bam.)

Some of the tasks were quite typical of scavenger hunts… “Build a human pyramid.” “ Fit your entire team into a telephone booth.” “Have the police fake handcuff you.”

Some of the tasks were silly… “Be a dinosaur on the subway.” “Act out the jumping scene from Dirty Dancing.”

Some were just plain awkward… “Lick a stranger.”

Some were violent… “Slap a teammate. Make it hurt.”

Some were sweet… “Propose to a Korean stranger. Bonus points if she says yes.”

Some were disgusting…”Eat a raw egg.”

Some were borderline illegal… “Stick your head in a fish tank.”

Some required dedication… “Get something pierced.”

Some were over the top… “Shave a teammate’s eyebrow.”

Some were hilarious… “Wax a teammate’s chest.”

Some were in questionable taste… “One shot an entire bottle of soju.”

Some of them were painful to watch… “Eat a spoonful of wasabi.”

And some of them were really just there for the alcoholics… “Drink a pint of beer in under a minute through a bendy straw.”

In the end, we placed second, which was completely fine with me. With clues like those, I don’t need to be a winner. It was a fun experience, but I don’t know that I’ll be doing the Seoul scavenger hunt again. I’m perfectly happy with two eyebrows and no salmonella.

- Christine -

Saturday, June 25, 2011


aka re:Elizabeth

As you all know, Kimchi and I have been working our way through another "adventure," this time an eye infection and ensuing Elizabethan collar. On the plus side, Kimchi has done really well with the 6x daily sets of eye drops, actually jumping up and down getting excited for them (or the treat she knows she gets after). On the not-so-plus side, her eyes are not yet 100% according to the vet who labeled her situation as "medium-good," meaning I have ANOTHER week of playing work slash puppy ping pong. Grumble grumble...

In an effort to help the furball's eyes start feeling better faster, I decided a haircut might be in order...


Due to the language barrier and misunderstandings between the phrases "just take a little off" and "just leave a little on," Kimchi and I don't exactly have the best track record with haircuts. In fact, as anyone who saw Kimchi around the end of February, beginning of March can attest, she looked remarkably like a large rat. Poor thing! I generally tried to avoid taking pictures of her during this period to maintain her dignity, but this fine example somehow made it through...

See? Skinny and creepy. (And proof that we all have our "off" days.)

Determined not to make the same mistake of assuming I could charades my way through a puppy haircutting consultation, I came prepared this time with pictures of good hair (still furry), bad hair (shaved and rat-like) and a Korean note written ever-so-kindly by one of my coworkers stating  "Please don't shave all my hair. I will look scary and feel sad."

After a ten minute consultation I can only assume we both understood, I left Kim with the nice lady at E-mart...

Before: A little frumpy. Kind of like a teddy bear that likes biting your jeans as you are trying to put them on.

After: As my favorite coffee shop lady put it, she's no longer a "mung-mung," she's a 여자.

So much more summer-y! No more panting running around the house! What a happy puppy!

And I'm a happy mama too, I have a puppy with a bow. And no more Elizabethan collar. 아싸!

 - Christine -

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I’d always thought Walmart was a pretty neat place. I mean, it is the one-stop shop right? Better prices, everything you could ever dream of, all available for 24 hours a day? Barring some debates about its negative impact on the world, something about globalization being totally evil, I always really liked Walmart.

Until I found E-Mart.

Turns out E-Mart trumps Walmart in so many ways, I decided it was high time to make a list about it. So here you have it, my fourth official Korea list: Reasons why E-Mart Kicks Walmart’s Ass, hereafter REKWA.

REKWA #1. Location Location Location.

If I walk out the door of my ninth floor apartment right now, I will be standing in E-mart within 3 minutes flat. I have yet to find a Walmart that convenient, anywhere. 

REKWA #2. Dry Cleaner.

In any given Walmart, you can generally expect to find a pharmacy, a photo development center, and an optometrist (bare minimum) in addition to the shopping center itself and the mandatory Subway in the entryway.

Have you ever seen a dry cleaner in a Walmart? No, how about a nail salon? Veterinary clinic? My dear E-mart has all of these things and more. Try this on for size. On the first floor, we have a food court, portrait studio, pet store, veterinarian, optometrist, dog groomer, pharmacy, photo development center, and dry cleaner. On the next floor we have a nail salon, a spa, and a hair salon, as well as a sitting area for the resulting bored children. On the bottom floor, we add in a vitamin/supplement shop and a pretty extensive wine collection. Oh yeah, and there’s the store itself too. Pretty magical, really.

REKWA #3 . Footprint.

If you look at an aerial view of Walmart, you’ll see an expansive building surrounded on all sides by acres and acres of parking lot. Not only did some developer have to cut down forests and kill wildlife in the immediate footprint of Walmart’s unreasonably wide-set main building, but also in the obnoxiously large parking lot surrounding it. And that’s not to mention the impact of increased traffic on the environment surrounding the entire complex. And no, Walmart, those scrawny little trees planted at the ends of the rows don’t make it any better.

Commence angry fist shaking… (and queue this song)

Korea, on the other hand, has become an expert at condensing buildings to fit into the increasingly dense space it has to work with. Instead of building outwards and taking up more land space it doesn’t have, E-mart decided to build up and down, condensing its store into a much more efficient three-floor design. The groceries are located on the bottom floor (two floors below ground, which keeps the foods cooler while exerting less energy), the sports supplies and clothing are located on the middle floor, and the basic home supplies are located on top. Furthermore, the expansive parking lot has been condensed into a multi-floor parking garage located on the four floors above the store, completely eliminating the need for such an absurdly wasteful sprawling lot. Oh yeah, and they threw a park on the roof, making the whole structure just a slightly elevated version of nature.

REKWA #4. Hot Babes.

In Walmart, you have friendly little yellow smiley faces plastered onto prices tags pointing you to where the sales are. In E-mart, you have smiling Korean chicks dressed in ridiculous miniskirts standing at the end of every aisle. If you’re into that kind of thing.

REKWA #5. Boxes and Bags.

I remember one particular trip to Walmart back in my college days in which the woman bagging my recently purchased items placed exactly one item into each bag. I wish I was kidding. Prior to this incident, I had been naïve to the dangers of placing shampoo and ranch dressing in the same plastic bag, lest the outside of their bottles (gasp!) touch each other, but thank goodness she was there to help me…

Commence second angry fist shaking...

In Korea, the bag situation is much less stupid. For one, you have to pay for every bag you need, about 10 cents for paper, and about 70 cents for plastic. It’s not very much money at all, but it makes you stop and question if you really need that extra bag or not. The default bag they give you is paper, and you need to gesture vigorously if you really want a plastic bag. And even then, they won’t call it a plastic bag. It’s a recycling bag.

Even better, you know the thousands and thousands of cardboard boxes they use to ship products to the big name distributors? Instead of smashing them in some back room and leaving them outside in the elements to eventually be taken to a landfill somewhere, they cart them downstairs for customers to take instead of paper or plastic bags. Lots of really, really good ideas Walmart should take note of. 

REKWA #6. Samples.

When is the last time you got a free sample at Walmart? I'm talking a real sample, not a knife demonstration, or whatever else they're waving around shouting about.  

It's hard not to end up with a stomach full of samples at E-mart. Oh, is this mandu? Sure I'll try it? And bulgogi? Why not? Maeil milk? I don't even know what you are, of course I'll try you! 

Mmmm yum! 

So there you have it. E-mart rules, and Walmart drools. And by "drools," I mean is  a horrendously wasteful company that needs to seriously reconsider some of its environmental policies before it can expect to see me as a customer again. And maybe stick with the smiley faces for a while, I don't know if the States are ready for hot greeter babes just yet... sorry!

 - Christine - 

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Please help me. My students are going crazy.

I don't know exactly what brought about this current plague of crazyness, but I have my suspicions. I've been teaching at my school for almost eleven months now, and have taught nearly all the students in my building at one point or another. I.e. They have all come to realize that I too am just a little bit quote unquote crazy. Furthermore, we're going through a phase of personnel circulation right now, which means that Derek teacher has been transferred to my building, (although his contract ends next month), and Dave and Danyell teachers just ended theirs and are happily vacationing somewhere in the Philippines. In fact, all of the foreign teachers in my building are in the last leg of our Korean tenures, so our classes in general are running a less strict course than they ordinarily would. And apparently all these things come together to bring out the crazy.

My kids say all sorts of crazy things anyways, but one of their favorite go-to crazy things is accusing teachers of dating one another. In the past seven days alone, I have been accused of dating, marrying, and/or refusing to marry no less than four different coworkers. It's awesome.

Some of these accusations are really pretty jejune, actually. Last week, some students witnessed my coworker Jason and I walking back to our building together and began bantering, "Ohhhh, Teachers marry?" "Yup, this weekend," we sighed. "OOOOHHHhhhhhHHHHHHHhhhhhhh!"

See, predictable and unimaginative. Creativity fail.

Others are only slightly more creative, but much, much funnier. A while ago, Jason teacher covered one of my classes, an inquisitive group of lovelies who began quizzing him, "Is Christine teacher dating Derek teacher?" He answered them by not answering, which to my children of course meant yes. A few minutes later I was clued in to our love affair by the group of hysterical giggling children swarming me in the teacher's office pointing at Derek teacher, who was hiding behind me giving them a big thumbs up. They've never really let me live it down since... which makes it even better.

Ok, Jason teacher and Derek teacher, check. My most hilarious and creative dating accusations as of late, however, have been with Dave teacher, my Canadian coworker who just left to go back to Canada. With his real-life girlfriend.

The following is an essay I received from one student on the topic of "Describe a famous person:"

Abridged version:

"Christine, with her blond hair, looks very pretty. Her smile and beautiful green eyes seem ageless."

(*Note, our model essay for the chapter was on Jane Goodall. If you take out the word "Christine" and add in the words "Jane Goodall", this introductory paragraph makes a little bit more sense...)

"She is known for kicking Dave teacher. One month ago, Dave teacher and Christine teacher were dating together. Dave teacher loved Christine teacher so he proposed. He said to Christine teacher "I love you please marry me." But Christine kicked him. So he cried very much and he went back to his hometown. So every student knows other teachers can't propose to Christine teacher. But only Steve teacher proposed to Christine teacher so they are married."

"So, Dave teacher and Christine teacher can't marry, so Dave teacher is crying. And Christine teacher has a husband, Steve teacher."

Brilliant essay! Not only did it explain why Dave teacher had to go back to Canada, but also included a relationship with my fourth coworker/lover, Steve teacher. High five.

But hold on, if you though Dave teacher and I were finished after the pitiless "kicking" incident, think again.

I had the kids design their ideal birthday cakes today, and THIS is what I received from one student. Yup, it's Dave and my wedding cake, complete with flowers, frosting, and little miniature Dave and Christine statues. The essay accompanying this drawing was also phenomenal, including such phrases as "The cake tastes so sweet, like Dave's love for Christine," and "The cake is very big, like Dave and Christine's love for each other." I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried! Looks like someone has a future working with Hallmark!

So what conclusions can we draw from all this? For one, my kids are very, very crazy. But also very, very funny. Secondly, if I can have an affair with not one or two, but FOUR different coworkers in one week, I'm a) talented, and b) have no excuse for being single.

- Christine -

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lotte World

A couple weekends ago, I went to Disney World!!!!!

How cool is it that Disney has expanded all the way out to the ROK! Truly an example of globalization at its best...

Just kidding.

This is Lotte World, the K-version of Disney World. (See the resemblance? I think there must be a case for copyright infringement somewhere, but I just can't figure it out...)


Potential legal matters aside, Lotte World is actually a pretty awesome amusement park in a country where space for things like amusement parks is hard to come by. (Think of it this way, in the United States, we fit about 87.4 people into every square mile. In Korea, they cram in about 1,271. Yeah, things are a little tight!) To deal with the pretty significant space issue at hand, Lotte had the brilliant idea of condensing its park into a football-sized arena by stacking the park vertically into different floors. Smart, huh?

Incredibly confusing to navigate, but supper space efficient!

This visit to Lotte World (yes, this was my second time visiting Lotte World!), we spent most of our time outside in Magic island, the more adventure-oriented add-on to the park. We started out strong with the Gyro Drop, a ride that slowly lifts you up over the entire city, let's you enjoy the magnificent view for exactly three seconds, and then let's gravity do it's thing. I thought I was about to die.

We also hit up the Gyro Swing, a terrifying spinning ride, which was terrifying solely because it felt like you were about to hit the next ride over. Did I mention Lotte World has space issues?

There was also graffiti everywhere! I don't know of anyone who would think to bring a permanent marker to an amusement park, but apparently in Korea, it's what all the cool kids are doing.

Zooms and I in front of the castle at night. Darling.

I would love to tell you more about Lotte World, maybe fill you in on all the many details of our visit, but to be honest, I can't remember them. Something about being busy lately...

In short, Lotte World is not the biggest or most terrifying theme park I've ever been to (nor is it the most original...), but it is kind of awesome and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Korea wishing you were at Disney.

And no really, it's remarkable they haven't been sued yet... Good luck Lotte World!

- Christine -

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Leave it to me and Kimchi, as soon as we've gotten through one adventure, we waste no time getting ourselves into the next one.

Turns out the little wild one has an eye infection. Whomp whomp...

While we're not entirely sure what caused it, (air pollution, hair, dirt, little items she picks up from the ground, general fidgety craziness of a nine-month old puppy, need I go on?), the treatment is straightforward enough. Twice daily oral syringe medicines, and six-times daily eye drop sets. Yes, six. And sets, as in 3 separate drops each time. For two weeks. Poor puppy (and poor puppy mama)! So much for either of us getting any sleep this month.

Even better, she gets the pleasure of wearing this device the vet called in very broken Konglish an "Elizabethan collar," one of the last phrases I ever expected to ever hear uttered by a middle-aged Korean guy. After all, why would a Korean vet ever need to know a thing about a British monarch who ruled at a time when Koreans were preoccupied with more tangible matters, like, being invaded by the Japanese. It actually made me giggle for a minute...

... but only for a minute. Poor thing :(

Wish us luck!

- Christine -

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I just had the most wonderful epiphany. The key to world peace is as simple as a little bit of sunshine.

After spending a leisurely Sunday afternoon taking the little one to the dog park and planning my upcoming trip to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam (!!!!!), I decided to head over to a cafe down the street to catch up on a little bit of reading (Currently, The Two Koreas, by Don Oberdorfer) over an iced tommcino. Because it was a beautiful day, I decided to sit outside and take in a little bit of "nature".

(Side note. Isn't it amazing how much like our parents we turn out to be? It just crept in and snuck up on me, really. First, my iPod filled itself up with Led Zeppelin, next I stopped drinking in an effort to be more financially responsible, and now this, reading history books for [gasp!] enjoyment! If only I could make oval boxes, my dad and I would be indistinguishable...)

After a while, I started to feel a little chilly. It was one of those days where you feel perfect in the sunlight, but if you're standing up and can feel even the slightest breeze, you start to feel chilly. Recognizing my need to be horizontal, I decided to head up to my roof and bask in the remaining late-afternoon sunlight I could find...

Have you ever had one of those moments where you are completely at peace with the world? Where everything makes sense, where you're completely at ease and just feeling wonderful? Amazing, right? And to think, it comes from something so natural as the sun, the one thing every person in the world has equal access to. Somehow, those warm rays, permeate into a collective unconscious and leave you feeling so calm, so serene, so in touch with the world, that it's just magical.

So here's my plan. I need to take every world leader and as many lay-people as I can get my hands on, and drag them into the sunlight. Fidel Castro, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Omar Al-Bashir, Muammar Gaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and just force them to sit in the sunlight for, say, twenty minutes or so. Even the Dear Leader, if I could get him to roll up the sleeves of the ridiculous jumpsuit he wears every day...

It's worth a shot anyways.

- Christine

Photo cred: Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things... only one of the best ideas for a website ever!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


You're all busy people, right? Balancing work, pets/families, personal projects, planning for the future while simultaneously living in the now? I assumed after finishing college, I would have infinitely more time to spend doing things I wanted to be doing (i.e. not studying), but silly me, turns out the working world is pretty exhausting too. Who'd have thought it...

In short, I have a lot of exciting things happening in my life right now. Things of the T-minus 8 weeks left in Korea variety! Can you believe it's been almost a year? It seems just yesterday I was sobbing on a plane out of L.A. and landing myself in a Korean Love Motel wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. Somehow, I managed it all then. But now I'm completely busy and overwhelmed again. How does that work?

So dear readers, since you all understand what it's like to be busy, you'll completely understand my current busyness and flaky blogging habits, yes? And you'll forgive me for being too lazy to write an entire post even now, and settle for a meager set of new Bucheon pics, yes? It has been a while, I suppose. I'm glad you understand, you're very kind that way ^ ^

Thanks again! I promise I'll try to write something more substantial sometime in the relatively near future...

- Christine -

ps. In other news, I haven't heard anything new about the puppy situation, so looks like Kimchi gets to stay in Korea! Assa! Thanks for all your advice and warm wishes!