Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I did it! I finished my year of teaching in Korea!!!

This year had its ups and downs. Its good times, its bad. Its kids I wanted to strangle, its kids I adored. Its never ending Kimchi-eating jokes. And of course, let's not forget its almost-run ins with the labor board. Yes, this year was certainly an experience, and a memorable one at that. 

Of course my favorite part about my job was my kids. I was initially skeptical about teaching upper elementary and middle school students, considering I'd never taught before, especially this particular age group I hadn't had any real encounters with in years. But turns out they were amazing :)

Gah I adore them all! I'm going to miss them all so much!

 - Christine - 

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I like big words. And apparently so do my kids.

We've just finished up with yet another set of level testing at my school, which led to a whole 'nother set of silly student quotes. This time, the funniest came from the unfortunate usage of their cell phone dictionaries.

Admit it, you have at some point or another, used a thesaurus to look up fancy schmancy words you don't really understand in order to make yourself sound smarter. I know you've done it, (or at least I know I've done it enough times to make up for all of us). After all, an ostentatious and circumlocutory lexicon derived primarily from erudite and tortuous discourse makes one appear to be vastly more intellectually avant-garde than the quotidian plebeians around you. Duh.

Now, I have banned cell phones from my class for this very reason, but somehow my kiddies always manage to sneak them out during tests and look up unnecessarily large words they don't really understand in a failed attempt to make themselves sound smarter. Instead, I end up giggling at their papers and marking off points. A healthy sprinkling of big words is always good, but unless you know how to use said big words correctly in a sentence, bigger is not always better.

Take a look at just a couple of the lovely student quotes I've received recently. Can you think of some more simple (or dare I say, forthright?) words that would have made their sentences so much better?

Our school students reduce their pants or skirts.

Every school in Korea requires students to wear a school uniform, because uniform is school's miniature.

But now I have a countermeasure and I'm not scared.

I mature in the subway station.

I don't relinquish the money, but the money flies away.

Third, you can find a map and walk to your house. It is a little bit hard, but inevitable.

I want a reconstruction my uniform.

My school uniform is so unfashionable and countrified.

I like my winter uniform better, because summer uniform's sentiment is like a sailor suit.

I endeavor to like my school uniform.

Fancy sounding words (and phrases) aren't always better. But they sure are silly :)

 - Christine -

(ps. shorten, symbol, plan, wait, let go of, necessary, redo, old-fashioned, style, and try... I think!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Counting Down (again...)

At the risk of sounding cliche, I just don't know where the past twelve months have gone! Can you believe I have only 5 more days of teaching in Korea!?!?! What happened? Where did the time go? And how am I already 24? Whoa... 

I bet you're all thinking to yourselves, yeah cool, that's great, congrats and all, but what's next? Well, dear readers, let's talk a little bit about this future of mine, shall we?

Let me start out by sharing a very simple fact about myself. I am not much of a planner. At all. I am a chronic procrastinator opposed to anything even remotely involving decision-making, especially of the large-scale life-changing variety. When confronted with a decision to make, I generally just clam up, refuse to acknowledge that I am in the midst of a decision-making situation, try to weasel my way out of said decision-making situation by convincing myself that the whole thing is not really all that important anyways, before finally at the last possible minute, doing something about it. It's a ridiculous process filled with lots of anxiety (and animal metaphors). 

So for those of you looking for more concrete answers than "Yeah, I still have no idea..." here's what I know so far. If it's not specific enough for your liking, please refer to the above paragraph. I'm serious, it's unhealthy how bad at planning things I really am. 

July 27 -- Last day of teaching. Sad, (but also definitely not...)
July 28 -- Fly to Tokyo. At 8:40 in the morning. Bienvenido a Japan!!!
August 5 -- Fly back from Kyoto to Seoul. (See that gaping hole in the middle, the part about me somehow getting from Tokyo to Kyoto? Just let it be...)
August 6ish -- Take Kimchi back to our Bucheon vet for one final checkup, before...
August 8ish -- Fly to Cleveland
(September-ish -- Begin Korea round 2. TBD)

The last two dates are extremely rough estimates (emphasis on the rough part), so please forgive me if they are totally wrong. Something about not having any America-bound plane tickets yet to speak of plus the whole flying with a puppy thing. Yeah, there's a lot of room for change. I will try to keep you posted on my tentative itinerary, but since it turns out getting out of Korea is just as complicated a process as getting into Korea, I might not have the time. 

 - Christine - 

Trick Eye

Turns out monsoon season blows. Really, really blows. For those of you who have never experienced a real monsoon season, monsoon season is a period of about 4 weeks in Korea where you have torrential downpours. Every single day. It's been pretty depressing, dreary, and detrimental to my shoe collection. Very sad.

Luckily, however, Saturday marked the last day of the 2011 monsoon season. Horray! As an aside, I think my favorite coffee shop lady has a 6th sense about monsoon season. In between making me lattes and giving me free cookies, she would nonchalantly mention that, oh yeah, Saturday would be the last day of rain. And it was. Weird. Sun is a genius ^^

To celebrate the last day of monsoon season, my friend Becki and I decided to visit the Trick Eye Museum in Hondae. We got the idea from this one, and it was completely worth a trip into Seoul. Spending a rainy afternoon taking silly pictures, mmm yes please!

Super fun! Seriously people in Korea, do it!

 - Christine

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


After spending my entire Saturday stressing out about the 18 million little things I have to do in the next 14 days (!?!?!), I decided to get out Sunday and take some more pictures per usual. This time, I went out to Namhansanseong, a mountain on the far, far southeast side of Seoul. It was much less stressful than most of my prior hiking experiences have been, which was awesome. Unfortunately, my shoe choice was less than ideal (also pretty per usual...), and I had blisters before I was even out of the subway. Damn you Korea for not selling half sizes!

 Ergo, this marked my first time hiking in $3 flip flops... in the rain. Actually a surprisingly successful venture.

Very, very pretty! Monsoon season has made for a horrible hair month, but some pretty swell waterfalls :)

 - Christine -

re: Expectations

Today is a very, very special day, and I bet you almost missed it! (Don’t worry, I’ll forgive you) One year ago today, I began documenting my Korean life on this very site. Happy birthday, Tft38P!

In celebration of this momentous occasion, let’s revisit my first real post, shall we? I distinctly remember writing my first expectations post, sitting in my parent’s basement, typing away in the one room in which my then-vintage, now-antique laptop could get internet. I remember my initial thoughts about moving to Korea centered mostly on what things to bring, what things I would miss, and I had this major initial struggle about not wanting to appear too materialistic for the whole internet to see. I ended up limiting my “things” discussion to about two sentences, and then organized the rest of my expectations and concerns about moving to the other side of the world into three seemingly-important and encompassing bullet points: language, public transportation flirting, and cake.

(Oh dear...)

1. I was actually pretty close in my initial analysis of the Korean language. For the most part, the language seems to follow rules, but trying to learn those rules is another story completely. I’ve learned to read Korean pretty well (if I do say so myself), but I really haven’t gained much vocabulary during the past twelve months. Although as I’ve come to realize, it’s amazing what a big smile and 감사합니다 (formal “Thank you”) will get you. If nothing else, people will think you’re cute for trying, which leads me to…

2. Public transportation flirting. Note, not public transportation, as in living in a city and relying solely on busses and subways for the first time in my life, no no no. Public transportation flirting.

Korean public transportation is actually much different than in the US. In the US, if a subway car is full, the doors gently close, and the leftover people wait patiently for the next train. Easy as that. In Korea, if the subway car is full, you should expect at least twenty more people to climb into the car with you. You will be touching other people, and other people will be touching you. It is awkward. If you’re lucky, the driver will be experienced and slow down gently, but if not, meh. There are too many people for you to possibly fall down anyways.

In terms of flirting, the main differences I’ve noticed would have to be the age of the flirter and the cultural assumptions about flirting. In the US, my public transportation flirting experiences generally came from people approximately my own age. In Korea, public transportation flirting typically comes in the form of very old men staring at me and occasionally asking me if I am Russian. Oh, what I would give to have my own car out here, just for a day…

3. Cake. In retrospect, I think it’s hilarious that this was one of my three biggest concerns about moving to Korea. Luckily, however, the Korean cake scene has not disappointed me. Mmm mmm mmm.

For one, there are little cake shops and bakeries on every corner, which make delicious cakes possible at any time you’re having one of those “I need cake, NOW!” moments. Although, I’ve rarely had such moments, considering I fill my cake quota pretty regularly through the coworker birthday cakes we seem to have every couple weeks. It’s great, I get to sample all the different flavors from all the different bakeries around for free! Furthermore, it turns out I do have a working oven (kind of), which I have used several times throughout the past year to remedy my sudden and insatiable cravings for baked goods.


So in summary, despite my questionable priorities and initial concerns about moving to Korea, I was 100% correct in my assumptions that my first year in Korea would be amazing, eventful, and hilarious. Despite its quirks and absurdities, I am completely in love with this country, and am thrilled to be spending another year out here. Horray!

 - Christine -

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

War Memorial

Today we're going to try a little something called Wordless Wednesdays, a (maybe?) weekly occurrence in which I  give you a slew of pictures, and you "ooh" and "aah" and forget to notice that I was too lazy to write any words to go with them. Deal?

War Memorial of Korea. 

 - Christine