Monday, June 8

It's Official~~

I signed the contract.  I'm extending my stay here until January 31, 2010!! Ahh~!! It's a little scary to think that I will now be here for 8 more months (although the first 4 went by pretty, 1/3 of the way done already haha).  I'll miss everyone!!  Including many of the close friends I have made here, who won't be extending along with me : (.

There are a few reasons I decided to stay.  I'm having a lot of fun and have made friends with awesome people here (I couldn't stay here without their love and support!), I love the food and new experiences, I want more time with my many kids~~, and the biggest reason I want to stay here is because I believe that God is working in me a TON.  And I don't think He's finished (I mean in Korea, not forever hehe).  I am learning so much about myself and about Him.

Now, something I haven't done in a while...

May Travels 5월 여행들

May 1: Busan and Gyeongju
In Busan, we watched a baseball game (Busan Giants against the Dusan Bears!! I felt sad cheerings against the Bears...hehe).  They handed these bags out near the end of the game, and people blew them up and.. well.. you can see the picture.  hehe~ this is my friend Stephanie posing with an unsuspecting fan.
Gyeongju was so beautiful!  We rented some bikes for the evening, and just looked around.  We saw this HUGE tomb.  In Korea, people are buried in graves which are raised above the ground, but one this big is made for king, because all of his possessions are buried with him.
Gyeongju again.  People fly kites in the field.  So pretty!  Isn't this place beautiful?  I really want to go back to Gyeongju again, because we barely even touched upon all of the culture and history in this one city!
Gyeongju: I honestly can't remember what this is>.< class="Apple-style-span" style="font-weight: bold;">James: from New Zealand (the one who was a shift at starbucks, Lois!!), Jeongmin, my teaching volunteer and the person I hang out with the most in Korea~~ I LOVE her!, Moon, my silly little brother (we've convinced people he's my brother for realz, even with our diff accents haha..), and Garron, who is one of the funniest people I know are also both from New Zealand. And Stephanie is a fellow American hehe.  She's awesome, and fun to be around.

May 16: Andong for Kitty's Birthday
찜닭, some reeeeally spicy chicken and noodle dish, which is the famous Andong dish!  It was really good, but man, really spicy food like that gets to my stomach >.<>but we hate this stuff twice!
We visited this beautiful bridge.  We were going to do a ton more, but it was pouring ALL day long.  In Chicago, when it rains, it's usually doesn't last all day (am I right??), but I've experienced this a couple times in Korea so far.  Anyway, beautiful, right??
We stayed under this gazebo (or whatever it's called) in the middle of the bridge, and took a ton of pictures and hung out.  I love these guys : ) Kitty's in the middle~ the one whose birthday we were celebrating this weekend! She's an awesome sister, and we live far apart, but whenever we meet, I thank God for it! David is on the left, from USA, he's really funny even though he tells silly jokes, but he's also one of the most encouraging people to me here in Korea. Abe is from Australia, and is also really funny~ he always seems to make me laugh. and then there's my brother Moon again. : )

May 30: Daegu

Daegu is supposedly the most fashionable city in Korea.  So we did a ton of shopping!  I bought that black and white bag, and Ellen in the middle bought the cowboy hat (lol), and Tina bought shoes, but you can't see them in the picture.  Tina is one of my closest friends here, but she will be leaving at the end of July~~ I try not to think about it too much >.<> We share our joys and pains together... she's my newbeat!! hehe.

Whew~! Long post, huh?  I'm tired from all the traveling, but it has been so fun!  And people are what really make it worth it to go such a distance every weekend!  I love and miss you in the US!!  Ahh~ can't believe I won't see you for so long!!  But our God is good!  I trust Him to take care of you and provide for each of you the way He has been providing for me : ).  And ya know, things aren't perfect.  I have longed to come home several times, with tears!  But, like I said, He has provided comfort for me in so many ways!  Thank you, Jesus for saving my life, when you didn't even have to create it in the first place!  You care for me in ways that I can't understand, but please keep teaching me. Amen.

Wednesday, May 13

Strange Foods~

I decided I should keep two lists:

1. Strange and new things I have eaten in Korea

-산낙지 (raw, moving tentacles: freshly chopped off a small octopus) they suction to your tongue/mouth!
-Pig liver, stomach, and kidney~ tried one of each, and that was enough for meㅎㅎ
-소머디국밥수 (Cow head soup) it tasted good, but the meat had a strange texture
-Raw sea cucumber~was told that it was sea ginseng, so thinking it was a plant, I just went for it... it was interestingㅎㅎ... but it's REALLY beautiful, many colors
-Raw 전복 (abalone) ever heard of it?  I haven't~ it's not bad. they call it "well-being food"
-Clams/oysters/shrimp~ weird for me, lol, I never ate these in the US!
-순데~ still don't understand what this is, but I've heard I don't want to..??
-번데기 (silk worm larvae) hahaha~~ yeah a bug... had it twice, don't love it.
-생소고기 (raw beef)

-Raw horse meat
-Black-pig pork (this pig feasts on human poo)
-Fresh leeche fruit.. mmm

2. Strange things they eat in Korea, that I have not yet tried (or won't)

-생닭고기 (raw chicken)
-닭팔 (chicken feet)
-보싱탕 (dog soup>.< ~ they use one certain breed of dog)
-whole 산낙지 (like a whole LIVING little octopus)
-고래고기 (whale meat)
-shark meat

haha~ I didn't have to type the Korean for most of these, I guess, but I wanted to show off ; )

Friday, April 24

Mid-term Update

Things are going well here in Samho~ ^^
It's been about 3 months!!  So~ 1/2 of my time here.. it's going by too quickly >.<

I have still been traveling a lot, every weekend..ㅎㅎ(oh and i LOVE this laugh)  Out of the places I've traveled, I especially love going to Busan!  It's such a beautiful city~ the beaches and the Jalgachi Fish Market are so cool!! I can put some pics up soon (or you can see a bunch of them on facebook!! ^^).  I have also been to a few flower festivals, which are HUGE here.. theyre always going on.  I feel bad because I have never spent a whole weekend with my homestay family, but they seem to think it's okay... ㅎ

As for teaching~ it's been a bit tough.  The kids are getting more and more used to me, and this past week especially I had a hard time controlling them.  But I realized some mistakes I was making, and so far things are a bit better! We'll see hehe~ And I'm going to try a new reward system with stickers for the class, so if one kid is not listening the whole class will get upset and help me out in getting him/her under control haha : ).

Another cool thing is that I found a church that I like!
목포제일교회: Mokpo's Best Church (ㅎㅎㅎ)
Oldest English Service in Mokpo (12 years old)
The people love the Lord and their mission is to love and serve the foreigners of Mokpo.  They seemed to genuinely care about me as a sister, and not just because I'm a cool foreigner, ㅎㅎ. I really thank God for leading me to this church~

Soo~ life is good : ) There are always ups n downs, but God has blessed me a lot through those downs... He really is good! And I thank the Lord for people who have been an encouragement to me here in Korea and back at home!  I love you guys!

Monday, March 30

Strange, but Beautiful (sometimes hehe)

10 interesting/crazy things about Korea:

1. You (at least I) go to 노래방 (karaoke room) ALL the time.  i love it so much haha.. but ive been losing my voice b/c of the past couple weekends!!

2. All phone chargers are the same!  You can get ur phone charged while u eat if u just ask ur waiter!! ; )

3. Beer and Soju... the preferred (and really only) drinks to have in Korea.  It's normal to drink a lot at dinner (w/ coworkers, ppl ur doing business with, etc...), go karaoke and drink a lot, then go to a late night restaurant, and drink some more.... I experienced this with all the teachers at my school.. very interesting night.  and one older teacher kept trying to hook me up with a single teacher... i think all three of us were embarrassed when we saw each other the next day haha..

4. When walking into a dept. store, sometimes its hard to tell if the clothing is meant for guys or girls.. guys dress a bit femenine.  haha.. while looking through clothes ive had to stop and ask a worker.. wait.. is this 남자 옷 (guys clothes)??

5. school system: beginning ~3rd grade, most kids go to 학원(academy) during vacation time!!  I was telling a teacher how I used to go to summer camp, and they were asking me so... what do u do there? play?? haha.. so weird.  and in high school, students generally stay in school until ~11pm, and sometimes go to학원 afterwards!! my korean volunteer friend told me everyone gains weight in hs because all they can do is study!!  ahhh~ i cant handle the thought!

6. I'm 23 in Korea!  You turn one when you're born, and then you don't gain a year on your birthday, but on the new year, along with everyone else.  so all us 1987ers are 23.

7. All kids in Korea begin learning English in 3rd grade (once or twice a week).  Theyre pretty serious about learning English here!!  And they LOVE foreigners.. although the kids are really shy to talk to me at first ^^.

8. It's really hard to find a job in Korea.  It really stinks because many fathers can't live with their families!  I know several people who only go to their family's home on the weekends because they have to work far away.  My one friend's dad works on a ship, so her dad is only home 2 months out of the year!  Ahh.. I don't think I could handle that either..  I know it's really tough for them...

9. In the US, if someone is giving you a ride, generally, u would sit in the front right?  Or they'll make a comment like "I feel like a chaffeur (sp??)".  But here, especially if its like an older person, or sort of a stranger, we are supposed to sit in the back for honor reasons maybe??  I don't know, at first it was strange, but now I just automatically sit in the back seat unless someone tells me otherwise.

10. Food is so CHEAP and so GOOD~!!  ahh, I can easily get a great meal for 3-5,000 원 which is like $2.50-4.50.  Ahh, I LOVE every meal!!  (Except when they cook the food in front of u and its still alive... still not used to that.  I'm talking about crazy clam thingys, octopus, etc..).  Oh and we often eat meals family style, which is great, since I still don't know what many things are.  And since I'm 우유부단(indecisive)!! haha.  I don't think I'll be able to pick out my meals when I come back to the states...

Wednesday, March 11

Samhoseo Elementary English Conversation Teacher

My new title : ) Ahhh, it's so fun!! The kids are soo adorable, and much more innocent than I was expecting : ). But I must say that I get nervous before every class!! It's only been three days, so I guess that's normal... I have yet to have a class of students twice, so each class is full of new students and I don't know ho
w they will react to me! Some students are crazy, and some are so quiet that class is awkward!! haha.

My first day, first class was pretty much a disaster. I could even sense that some of the students felt bad for me! Ugh! My class activity didn't work. I planned on having them pass around balls of yarn, and when they caught it, they had to say their name and one thing they like, in English. Then the class would respond by saying, "Hey _____, hey _____. What's up??" I thought it would be fun because it's kind of like slang that
 they probably haven't learned yet. Well... The kids spoke so softly that no one could hear them, and I thought they would cry if I asked them to speak up. AND, I ruined it because I kept forgetting and messing up the Korean names!! Ahh!! So embarrassing. I changed the game for the rest of the classes, and it is MUCH better. Yes!

Yeah, I gave the rest of the classes a list of English names so they can choose one. It is SO much easier for me!! haha. Although many of them have been choosing the same ones (BEN is the most common among boys. There is so
me character or famous person called Ben10, because I have heard that a lot.. I think that's why it is chosen so much--found it on google!!). Other boys popular boys names are Kevin, Daniel, David... And among girls, the most picked are Sara, Jenny, Tina...

Oh! My homestay brother is running for school president!! I hope he wins!! He's so cute!! haha. They made all these campaign posters and stuff.

Umm.. I'm getting a text book for the kids called English Land. It is full of Disney characters!! It looks really fun and I've heard it's really good. The material seems good : ) I was like, who am I to choose a textbook!?? I had one month of training and now I know what these students need I guess! lol. but I did have help and suggestions from fellow Talk scholars : ).

Okay, I think I wrote enough. I really need to take a picture with my homestay family soon so I can show them to you guys! Sorry this post didn't really lend itself to pictures... I have lots of pics on facebook!!

Monday, March 2

Where Am I?!?!?

Wow... today was the first day I felt completely uncomfortable. I'll explain more later : )

Okay, it's later...
--The Samho Experience--
삼호서초등학교 (Samhoseo Elementary)

Sunday night, I was rushing around trying to make everything perfect for my first day of class on Monday.  People kept telling me that the first impression will set the tone for the whole year, so I was feeling the pressure.  I went to bed still a bit nervous, but excited to finally meet the kids and get my first dose of what teaching English in a Korean elementary would be like.

When I arrived to school at 9am, 김선생님(awesome teacher), told me to sit at my desk in the teacher's office.  My coteacher then came up to me and told me that I won't teach until next Monday!  And that I should stay at the desk.  I was surprised/sad/relieved/confused/etc.  No one in the office spoke very much English, so I honestly had no idea what I was supposed to do.  I read my Bible and went on facebook, lol.  I kept looking around hoping someone would say something to me.  Periodically I tried to ask if I was supposed to be doing something, but they just told me to stay there.  Of course this was more like me trying to use broken Korean and them trying to use broken English, and lots of pauses and confused faces, and then settling for what I thought was what they were trying to tell me.  

We then had lunch, and I was told (by a pretty good English speaker, finally!) that I would introduce myself to all the teachers in a meeting at 4pm, so I should prepare something to say.  During lunch, I sat and ate, and no one talked to me.  Not even my new English-speaking teacher friend.  I felt like they were thinking, "why does this girl have to be here?  she has no personality, and people basically have to take care of her."  After lunch I went home to change for the afternoon meeting and to calm my nerves.  I also began making lists of Korean words and phrases I was desperately needing that day.

The meeting was the best part of the day, because I met another new teacher, who also had decent English, and she translated for me as I introduced myself to the teachers.  I felt like I could finally show that I have things to say and that I am not just some quiet, personality-less little girl.  And people acknowledged me more after that, which was great.

Whew!  I like to be hopeful and optimistic, but this is honestly how I felt yesterday and ugh, it was painful!  I think I finally felt some of the culture shock I was waiting for, and it was exhausting, overwhelming, and lonely.  I prayed a lot that day, and despite the crazy day, He reminded me of how greatly He has provided for me:

There are some people here in Samho who have been amazing to me.  One teacher took me into her home when I didn't have a place to stay the first night and she continues to make sure I am accommodated while I am at school.  My homestay family is so wonderful.  I can't even list everything they've done for me, but to name a few, they try to make things I like, the mother is teaching me Korean, and they will not let me touch the dishes!  Oh and the 6th grader is SO adorable.. I love him!  My two Korean scholar partners are there for me and have helped me a lot, and I know they will be my close friends as this year progress.  And other teachers have been helpful and really welcoming to me.

One day at a time!  The Lord himself has gone before me, and will be with me; He will never leave me nor forsake me.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Deut 31:8 Amen.  The Lord has a purpose for me here, and as weak, insecure, and unqualified as I am, even I cannot stop His work!  Praise the Lord for that fact!!

Monday, February 23

New City: Gwangju!

Our last week of orientation is in Gwangju, which is the biggest city in the province I am teaching in, and the fifth biggest city in South Korea.  It’s also where my mom was born and lived until she was 8 years old!  I’ll have a chance to visit my family later on.

We first got to Gwangju on Friday night, and then since then, each day has been packed.


First, at 9am, we went to the Boseung Tea Fields, which were beautiful.  Our Korean partners came with us, so we were able to meet and hang out with them.  

My partners are AWESOME, and it’s going to be so fun!  And they are both seniors in college, so we are all the same age : ).  This is me and Chanhee, one of my Korean partners.

Then we went to a Korean Folk Village.

The last thing we did with our volunteers was go to this bird museum and wheat field.  It was nice and relaxing.

Afterward, all of the TaLK scholars went out.  We first had a nice dinner at a Sangyupsal, and then I tried my first fruity sojus at a bar.  We went to a Noraebang to sing some karaoke, and last, we went to a dance club, where they played a mix of American music and popular Korean music.  It was a really long, really fun day!


*There is no drier at this facility, just washers! (like some of you warned me about)

*Several people in Gwangju are interested in doing Bible study.  Even some who had no plans to seek God while in Korea have had changes in their hearts.  God is working, and He is so good!

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8

The Lord is everywhere, and cares for every heart on this earth!  It’s amazing to see the work He is doing, and I cannot wait to see how He will use this experience in my life, and hopefully in others’ lives through me.