Friday, September 26, 2008

Beef. It's definitely not what's for dinner.

This week has flown by! I have had pictures to post from last weekend and I can't believe that it's already Friday night and I am just now posting them.

Here we are!







This last weekend, Dalene came and stayed with us. We went to Seoul on Sunday together with the intentions of going to the zoo and a palace, but actually only made it to Tapgol Park, a cool shopping area with traditional Korean goods in Insadong, and the arts district.



While we were shopping in Insadong, we saw this man holding this sign.
Keith took advantage of his offer.




We also to went to an old fashioned American diner, with really wonderful hamburgers and milkshakes; they even had Dr. Pepper. It was excellent. The waiters and waitresses wore 50's style costumes with the funny paper hats that you can still get at In and Out Burger today. It was really funny. Even though everything was "American" food, we still had to point to the pictures on the menu to order in English.

It's interesting how much we connect food with our culture and even with home. One of the biggest struggles that I experienced living in Kenya was how different the food was and how I just couldn't seem to adapt to it at all. (That is of course with the exception of the phenomenal pineapples and mangoes that are far and above any others I've ever had.) There was only one meal a week in the cafeteria that I enjoyed and looked forward to. Nothing else ever looked good. Here, I am thankful that we have the ability to cook for ourselves. We still are definitely not used to Korean food and I still can't really eat kimchi without making unpleasant faces...it's just too spicy. Needless to say, I am SO thankful that we a have fridge, two burners, and a sink, so that we don't have to eat Korean food all the time. There are a couple things that we do like, but we are still learning how to order correctly.

We wanted to do something different and unique and we are so happy that we are here, even on the harder days. Please don't misunderstand me...we are trying to experience the culture in full swing. But, there are some places I would just rather the swing not go.

I mean...would you want this for dinner?




I think I'll pass for now and stick to trying to like kimchi.

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Posted by Megan and Keith at 6:35 PM | 12 comments  
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chuseok...hiking...and sushi.

This weekend was Chuseok, a national holiday here, one of their biggest holidays of the whole year. We had Monday off of school for the holiday, and the three day weekend was wonderful. Unfortunately, like I have mentioned before, Koreans don't believe in days off, so we will be making up our school day from last Monday this Saturday.

If we had known in advance about the holiday, we would've made plans to go away for the weekend. By the time we knew about it, everything was already booked all over the country, from trains to hotels. Also, as we talked more about it, anything that we would really want to go see would most likely be closed. The whole city shut down on Sunday, with the exception of McDonalds, which we saw on our walk home from church. (Some things are the same no matter what country you're in.)

Sunday afternoon, we went hiking on a trail that is only about 2 miles from our apartment. It was really nice. It is definitely an escape from the busy city and I didn't even notice the sounds of traffic up on the hill. Along the trail, there is random exercise equipment for people to use if they want to. It's actually really common. Not far from our apartment is a small jungle gym playground area that is not just for children. There is weather resistant exercise equipment for the public to use while their kids play. It's really cool.

At the top of this hiking trail on the hill, there is a bungalow.

Here are a few pictures from our hike...





After our hike on Sunday, we were again left with some nice vacation time, without having to get ready for work on Monday. We did something that I have been wanting to do for two years now. Kim and I kept saying that we were going to learn and try this together sometime, but in the reality of the "college lifestyle", both going to school full-time, both working, both in serious relationships, both studying...we never got around to it. (I promise Kim, we will still do this together.) So, finally, Keith and I sat down with almost all of the necessary supplies and some online directions with pictures, and we made SUSHI!












The desire and inspiration to do this after so long was once again rekindled on Saturday when we went to the mall to try the "Japanese Sushi Restaurant". It was unfortunately mostly Korean food with a speck of Japanese influence. (Koreans have their own version of sushi called Gimpab, which we do like, but it is different. Sometime soon, we will go check out "Little Tokyo" in Seoul, which I'm sure will have amazing Japanese food. Then eventually, we hope to go to Tokyo, the actual city...we are pretty close after all.

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Thank you to all who gave suggestions on my cheating students. There have been no more incidents to report. Also, Keith and I are both over our colds, which makes life definitely more enjoyable.

I'm off to work.

P.S. Here's one more picture of Keith with portion of a very large person, in downtown Cheonan.
Posted by Megan and Keith at 1:57 PM | 10 comments  
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This weekend...what I hate about being a teacher...and chicken noodle soup.


Keith at Starbucks on our first day in Seoul (left)
Riding the bus from the airport the night we arrived (below)

The Arario Gallery Art Museum in Cheonan with Houston (1st)
Walking in downtown Cheonan (2nd)
This is one of the permanent sculptures in downtown Cheonan; this street is covered with art. (3rd)





This weekend we went to the art museum here in Cheonan and to Seoul for the day with our friend Houston. In Seoul, we went to a pretty decent English bookstore and had our first Mexican food in 3 weeks. I never realize how much Mexican food is a regular part of my diet until I don't have it anymore. I remember having the same tragic realization in Kenya last summer. I just can't seem to get enough of it. So, the burrito that I had on Saturday night was amazing. The service at the restaurant was awful and awkward. The servers stand around your table watching you, which is weird...but the food was great.

On Sunday, I went to visit Dalene in Daegu and we had a great time. (We went to college together and had no idea that we would end up working for the same school, just at different branches an hour train ride apart. She's amazing and I'm so glad that we can see each other every once in a while.) She is such a joy to be with and she makes me feel so much closer to college and the friendships that I miss so much. I know that I will continue to look forward to the times that we can get together. Also, it was cool to see some more of Korea. The city that she lives in is the third largest in the country. We went shopping and bought fruit and vegetables from sweet old ladies on the side of the street. There is a lot more to do there in Daegu than where we live and there are also a lot of cool places to visit in her area, like Buddhist temples over a thousand years old. I'm excited to go back when we can spend more than just the day there and together.

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Overall, Keith and I are both really happy with teaching. My classes seem to be going very well. Here are always some humorous moments, especially while reading a book called Gross Body Facts with one of my middle school classes. The first chapter was about burping, the second, sweating, the third, bad breath, and the fourth, vomiting. I am scarred to open my book and prep for the next lesson because it seems that it just keeps getting worse. Since I am teaching English as a foreign language to these students, they ask vocabulary questions often. While reading Gross Body Facts, some of the vocabulary questions I've been asked, I would've preferred not to explain. For example, words like "drool", "tossing your cookies", "snot", "plaque", and "queasy", make me feel like I am teaching a class on personal hygiene, rather than the English language.

One really great thing about my classroom is that I constantly hear wonderful piano music while I'm teaching. For a while, I thought that someone above us must be teaching piano lessons, and that was likely where the music was coming from. After a while though, when all of the music seemed flawless, and definitely not the level of students that are still taking lessons, I asked one of my co-workers what was up there. There is a ballet studio right above us and the accompanist plays beautiful classical music all evening. I love it.

As much as I am enjoying my job, I have discovered what I hate about being a teacher.
Kids cheat.
I HATE IT.
I HATE CHEATING.
It's awful! Our students are attending what others have told me is the best English language school in our city, with regards to test scores, structure, discipline, and fluency rates. But, they are still cheating! It drives me crazy! In the 10 days since I have been giving exams, I have caught 10 students cheating. It's horrible. I tell them ahead of time if they cheat or talk, it is an automatic "F", but they still do it. Then, I have to call the principal to have him come in here and yell at them all in Korean about how they shouldn't cheat. Then they respond to him with their different excuses about how I'm making it up and how they didn't really cheat. But, I can prove it by their answers and I see it with my own eyes. Some of them argue, some of them cry, some of them hate me now, for their own mistakes, and at the end of the day, I end up feeling bad. It's ridiculous. It is definitely the one thing that I hate about being a teacher.

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As you might have read before, Keith and I have no oven, microwave, toaster, or toaster oven. It provides some little "adjustments" to what I used to consider normal. (Please don't misinterpret this as a complaint. Although it is annoying, we are still grateful and blessed to have a nice apartment with two working burners, which are WAY better than most people around the world.) For example, this morning I woke up hungry and looking forward to the cinnamon raisin bagels that I bought at Costco this weekend when I went to visit my friend Dalene. Anyway, I pulled the bagel out of the freezer and realized I had a small dilemma. How do I defrost this bagel without a toaster or microwave and without 2 hours to let it sit there and happen on its own? I have a great solution just in case you ever experience a similar dilemma. Let the bagel soak in hot water concealed in a plastic bag to keep it from getting soggy for 15 minutes. Then, turn on the stove, and use a frying pan to toast your bagel on medium heat. Turn the slices over after about 3 minutes to toast the other side. Viola! A delicious breakfast! The point is…every day requires new creativity…and at this point…I love it.

Yesterday, once again, I tried something new with regards to cooking without processed and prepackaged foods, and without an oven. Keith has been sick the last couple of days with a cold, so I thought that I should get him some chicken noodle soup. The challenge is…there is no chicken noodle soup here…not even at Costco. So, I made it from scratch and surprisingly, it tasted awesome! I'm so thankful that I did, not only because it was such a great accomplishment, but also because last night, I also came down with this nasty cold, so I'm glad that we had enough for the next couple of days.

I hope we get better soon. It's hard to be patient with little kids when you feel like you should be in bed. (I know what you're thinking...stay home from work...but Koreans don't believe in sick days, so it's not an option.)

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We miss you all and appreciate your prayers. We are so glad that we are here and are truly enjoying ourselves. But, we are realistic in knowing that there will be more challenging days to come. Please let us know how you are doing.
Posted by Megan and Keith at 11:50 PM | 12 comments  
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