Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pseung Elementary School and life

This school is everything I ever wanted and what I thought I would be getting in Korea.

I'm at an Elementary School in Pyeongtaek. It's just south of Suwon, so I'm in another Seoul suburb on the opposite side of the subway map (Line 1).

School: It's small with about 100 kids of which I teach about 75 kids. This means I have an amazing schedule and hours less than the mandated 22 hours/week. My students English is much lower then what I'm used to from my hagwon kids. They are, however, most days into what I'm teaching, well behaved, attentive and participatory.

Co-teacher: I'd heard horror stories about co-teaching before I started, but she's awesome. She's married with 2 kids, so we won't be hanging out after work, but she's attentive, complimentary and really great at writing instructions for the errands I have to run. She even reimbursed me for a mistake she made in sending me to the wrong hospital for the health check!

It took a moment to get used to having someone in the room with me, but it works! She's pretty good at translating and we play off each other well.

School lunch: It's okay! I've trained the lunch ladies to only give me a little bit of kimchi, which I use to spice up the rice. I've never eaten so much rice and soup in my life! Lunch is only disastrous when it's that all bones fish, belch.

 Ocarina: I'm learning an instrument! I'm taking the class Thursdays with a couple teachers. It's a type of flute. It's giving me flashbacks to my trumpet/piano playing days. I must practice my scales. It's also harder because instruction is in Korean (obvs) and I don't wanna embarrass myself in front of the Principal, oh yeah he's taking the class too! I thought it was gonna be a one-off, but it's for 26 WEEKS!!! It's okay gives me something to do from 10:20-11 on a day where I only have 1 ONE ONE ONE class!

 Apartment: My apartment is great. It's different then what I'm used to because it's 3 separate room rather than the 1 big room. I have a FULL SIZED fridge, my life was made when I asked about that.

I'm also living right behind Pyeongtaek Station so it's really easy to get too and from places. The KTX is right there so 55 minutes to central Seoul and it's a rapid stop on the regular metro. Also the bus terminal is right beside the station. Woo woo! 55 minutes to Express Bus Terminal then wherever from there.

I posted this on Facebook, but it still applies a month in:

A yada yada update

 Hmmmm, where to start...

Yada yada super awesome school wasn't so great and we had an as mutual as can be breakup. They gave me notice and actually gave me severance! Prorated for the 10ish months I worked, which was nice of them.

So, since my last post in August.

My mom came to visit in October. That week was amazing, she had a really great time and met my friends who loved her. We visited a palace, shopped, ate bbq, had a Confucianist Style Meal at Hakindang House in Jeonju, went to the jjimjilbang and did Dr. Fish and got massages. The attendant at Dr. Fish had to remind my mom to be quiet because she was a squirmer.

I had an amazing leaving party, most of which I don't remember. No pictures, which is a mark of a good night. Supposedly there was bathroom hugs and feeding cake to people, LOL.

I was home just in time for CHRISTMAS!!! I got a flight for $500, amazing. Not amazing, was being home for the polar vortex. It was freezing and at some points actually wished to be back in Korea, cray! We had a couple snow storms and power outages. It ended up being okay, our street was fine, but the next was out for a couple days.

Great: eating all the Ethiopian food. It really is my favourite and I'm sad it's unavailable in Korea, ah well, I have bbq here.

So yada yada, I saw some amazing live music from my friend Jessica Speziale (check her out if in Toronto) and spent the 2.5 months looking for a job to get back to Korea. It was down to wire, but I got my 1st PUBLIC SCHOOL JOB. Which means...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Brooklyn Burger

 I was trying to remember the story of how I first discovered Brooklyn Burger. Magaly had heard about it and we'd been craving real burgers for sometime so we made the trek out there. All the great reviews had been from military wives loving it and giving driving instructions from the base and we were like WTF, where is this place. So we went to Seocho station and cabbed it over, turns out Express Bus Terminal station is much closer, directions at the bottom.

 Want real burgers with actual cheese and bacon? You're in the right spot. I've been there more than 5 times at this point bringing a new person every time and at one point we were going every other weekend. They have many different burgers all delicious, except for the potato chips one. The chips on it were kinda weird, Mags said.

They also have MILKSHAKES!!! Oh goodness, such unhealthy goodness. Nutella Marshmallow, yes please. We were getting both the burgers and milkshakes in the beginning, but had to stop 'cause we couldn't move afterwards.

WARNING: There's always a wait, at least on the weekends. First visit an hour and a half wait I'd say. WORTH IT though. Remember to write your name on the wait list. The staff is super nice and can speak okay English. Sometimes it's nice waiting because there's an amazing coffee shop, Monmouth right beside it where the coffee is divine and the blue lemonade is mesmerizing. Also macaroons!

Just down the street is Seocho, the French Village! There isn't that FRENCH stuff happening except for some rando signage and the French school. We haven't taken any of the back streets 'cause we've always been TOO FULL. We have however taken a detour and while walking to Seocho Station (Line 2) we found this really cute park called Mont... something really French. It's perfect for chilling out and watching hot French dads!

You can also easily get to Itaewon on the bus from here. Take the 421 from the bus stop diagonal to Exit 5. In case you wanted to get some groceries while stuffed!

Directions: Express Bus Terminal (Lines 3,7,9 Exit 5). Cross the street, turn right and head for the over pass. At the Hana Bank turn left and walk til you see the resto!

Seocho Park: Walk back towards the metro and take the 1st/2nd left and walk down the street to the main road. Make a left on the main road and walk up the hill. Make a left at the top and walk until you see the park entrance. 

Also cheese fries! Clearly not real cheese, still yummers.

6 month update

Well, shoot! Turns out I haven't updated here in 6 months. Also, my mom totally noticed as per her email which stated "UPDATE YOUR BLOG!" Alright! It's been a while so let's take this point by point.

School: Little Fox and I started off a little rough as they kept comparing me to the last Joshua-teacher. No problems with pay, thank goodness. I still do my happy dance when I see my bank account. Some wounds never heal, LOL.

My hours are FANTASTIC: MW 2-8:05, TR 2-6:15, F 2-7:10 and I start teaching at 2:40. My director and I have been doing Tuesday meetings where I come in at 1:30 and chat about each and EVERY class I have. The kids don't progress that much from week to week so it was getting pretty tedious. I've only got one truly terrible class and we finally had to switch me out for only once a week instead of 2. Now in our meetings we're watching training videos! It's super fun and totally not something that I should've seen first week instead of at six months. Okay, some stuff is informative like how the point chart is actually supposed to work, but I'm concentrating on how the instructor's shirt keeps changing during the same one video. He really enjoys horizontal stripes, not a good look on anyone!

Now everything is going great. My kids have calmed down, my 8 8-year old class has stopped giving me headaches from being so loud,. They just need to work on their high five skills! Director wants everyone to start reading books so portions of my class are now reading time, so I get to read too! The library sort of sprung up and it's like my childhood in there. I just finished Are You There God? It's Me Margaret and am currently on The Secret Garden. I like showing the kids and saying one day this could be you. 

 It's the week of my birthday, 87 years young! So we're having class parties. It's also sticker party days, where the kids get trinkety things for the stickers they've earned, so classes are getting interrupted anyway. 

Friends: I have amazing friends, enough said, LOL. Since it's Korea things are in a constant state of flux and people come and go. I "lost" the brother sister team of M+J for amazing new adventures and I'm super excited for what's in store for them. 

I have a great group of girls who I can gossip/bitch/eat ice cream and travel with. 

I have my nerdy boys who I can chat about comics and have them explain the origins of stuff to me. They're getting me into nerdy card games with too many rules and I listen to them talk about Star Wars video games and they don't mind I only watch Arrow for the shirtless exposition. 

Food: I said at the start of the blog, I really only like Korean BBQ. Well it's been expanded to Mandu-gu (dumpling soup), Haechandle Ssamjang (red soybean paste that goes with anything), various soups that I don't know the name of and... I think that's it for now. My friends and I have discovered AH-MAZING burger joints and the deliciousness of S. African cuisine. Those reviews will get posted soon. I also love seafood and now that M+J are gone we can INDULGE ourselves. I am actually sorry that they have serious food allergies. See my post about food delivery. I gotta add Gringos Korea to the list. They deliver supremely delicious burritos, salsa and bean dip (to die for) to your door! I've never really enjoyed burritos before until now. You gotta order by Thursday night and delivered on Tuesday. Yummers!

Travel: I only got 3 days of vacation this summer, I'm not bitter, just telling it like it is. So, I had a staycation where I took the red buses around and saw the sights in the air conditioned comforts of a bus because it's been TOO DAMN HOT. Like face melting, it's been great! I was starting to turn into my dad, with my sweat rags.
I'm planning a couple weekends away in the near future so get ready for hearing about them. So far I've been to Seonyudo Island where we camped under a porch the first night cause the hotels were full. Oops! We still had some much fun and made forever memories, LOL. New Hoboton forever! Took days trips to Eurwangni Beach (을왕리 해수욕장) out by Incheon Airport to get rays, get cocktails in a bag (cocktailsinabag, cocktailsinabag), eat seafood and get a tan! My kids never get the joke about me needing to get darker, sigh. I also wanna visit all these islands.

Home: It's amazing. It's the biggest one for me so far and a couch can fit! It's great, no complaints except for my dorm fridge. I enjoy that I live in Dosim rather than Guri, because it's just far enough away that I'm not out every night. Next time anyone saw me, I'd be 500 pounds of beer! 

Last thoughts: Phew, can't believe its been 6 months since I've got here. I'm having a great time and I'm riding my high. I'm eagerly awaiting the maybe/possible/almost definite visit of my mom in November. It would be really great to see her after only getting a week of family time last Christmas in California. 

I swear I'm gonna be more on top of this blog and get back to reading more. Let's see if I can do it!

Currently reading: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. This is some dark s--t for a kids book, damn. People well creatures are getting straight up murdered all over the place. Also, those ruby slippers in the movie are supposed to be SILVER. What up with dat??? I also wanna be Dorothy for Halloween.

Listening to: Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest

Sunday, February 17, 2013


 Valentines Day 2013: I had the perfect date. The bestie and I had a 3 course meal at a great Italian restaurant in downtown Gumi. Her bf was at a school dinner so I made a fabulous substitute.

First off, this place had an amazing atmosphere. I love a good tree in  the middle of a cafe/restaurant. The music was quiet, but listenable. It was also western style service: water immediately refilled and substitutions were allowed, that never happens!

 Some stuff was still way Korean, like WHIPPED CREAM with your bread. Who decided that was a good idea, LOL. It's okay the bread was warm and quite tasty. 

Chicken Salad canapés 

The potato soup with bacon bits and croutons was delicious. It was a great size and it was made with real potatoes. You could tell because it didn't taste like you were eating fat, which is a bonus! 

The main courses were delicious. I'm in love with squid ink anything so I got the squid ink gorgonzola pizza. I also love gorgonzola anything! Anyway, it came with honey which was great. Only downside, way too many sliced almonds, it made the texture weird.

 V got a cream pasta and substituted(!) for tortellini pasta and it was delicious. To complete the meal, you got an after dinner drink. I got a hot chocolate and my date got some lemon tea. Both went down great after a not too heavy meal. Definitely recommended and a return visit.

Directions: Gumi Station, exit out the back escalator. Take a quick left and make a right down the first street (CU on the corner). Walk to the end of street (it's a couple minutes) and make a right at the lights. Walk down the street, it's beside Cafe Droptop.

Miss. M Pie

The next couple days are gonna be goodbye dinners and last minute finding of cute shops in Daegu.

Today, Carrie, Elana and I went glasses shopping. Eye exam, lenses and frames were $40 bucks. That's amazing, considering my last pair from Canada were probably around $200. We all got 2 pairs, LOL. We had to it was soooo cheap.

 The owner was so nice and had decent English. He gave us drinks! It was easy and we were in and out in less than an hour!
Directions: From the Chilgok Donga, cross the street and walk in the direction of HomePlus. It's a couple doors down from the Paris Baguette cafe.

Next we headed to downtown Daegu, did a little underground shopping, leggings shopped in Uniqlo and bought many different Skinfood products. We were gonna do lunch at Lazy Diner, but it was an hour wait, so we decided to pie it up!

Lazy Diner is amazing. I think it's better than Travelers. Anyways, they have a brunch set with pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash brown (real!), bacon (real!), and breakfast sausages. It's delicious and well worth the 8,900won.

Anyways, the shop is super cute and very cozy with limited seating. All the pies are made fresh everyday.  Today we went with the Strawberry Shortcake, Pecan Pie, Tiramisu and Lemon Meringue.

C loved her Shortcake. The pecan is actually made with walnuts, but the consistency and texture was still the same and wasn't too overpowering in regards to sugar. I didn't like the tiramisu which means it was great. I ordered the wrong pie, LOL.

The lemon meringue was DELIGHTFUL. It was light, the right amount of tart and the crust was great. Yum!

Miss. M is so sweet with limited English, my girls go there every weekend so they practice their Korean/English with each other. She might also give you free stuff if you're a regular. Today we got free full sized coffees and she warmed the milk!

Directions: Travelers/Lazy Diner: From the 2.28 Memorial Park walk down the Novotel side of the  street to basically the end and look up! 

Directions: From the 2.28 Memorial Park walk down the street until Francisco coffee shop (green). Make a right down the alley (Nail Salon Alley) 2ish blocks and it's on the right.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Shoes that fit!!!!!

Pointer Sisters "I'm So Excited"
Soundtrack to my delight at a PAYLESS SHOE SOURCE in Myeongdong. Turns out the company is expanding the brand to Asia and we're getting 6 locations in Korea!!! No idea where the other locations are, but I'm sure they'll pop up soon enough. This location's only been open 2 months. 

It was fantastic boots/heels/sneakers with Western sizes as far as the eye could see (3 floors)! The boots were also on sale. I even bought a couple pairs of boots for the bestie. 

The employees were super nice, helpful and had a fair amount of English ability. Plus, WESTERN SIZES. I now have cute boots that actually fit. No more squeezing into size 8 anymore!

Directions: Look left when walking down the main road out exit 6. Should be the second street. 

So Myeongdong is increasingly becoming my favourite area. It's a western shopping mecca. 2 H&Ms, Zara, Uniqlo and Forever 21. Unfortunately, the M Plaza that houses 21 and Zara was undergoing construction, so it was closed. 

I got there pretty late so I went in search of food. I wasn't in the mood for Korean anything so I walked around and around. I ended up in the Noon Square mall for some eats. I ended up on the 6th floor at Smokey Saloon. The burger was amazing, real cheese and actual bacon! The onion rings were a little greasy, but overall delicious and great for sharing. Turns out there's several other locations: Itaewon and Gangnam. 

Side Bar: I headed straight to Myeongdong after my work meet and greet. I took the long way and it took 75 minutes. That included waiting time, so I think I'm in a good position to venture into Seoul at a reasonable time. Next up: Project Eggs Benedict.

Payless is GONE. I was soooo sad when I found out. It's something not related to shoes.