Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When in Korea, do as the Korean do.

I would like to apologize for the long absence. I got out of the routine of posting on the blog for a few weeks. We have been spending a lot of time with the new friends that we are making, which is awesome. In all honesty, I've also read a few good books in the last few weeks, which is where my computer time disappeared to.

Overall, we are good, we are safe, and we are still in Korea.

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We haven't fully embraced this classic Roman philosophy in every way, "When in Korea, do as the Koreans do."
We have yet to eat octopus while it is still alive.
We haven't learned to drive like a maniacs and run over or swerve around any living or non-living thing that comes into our path. (Granted, we don't have cars or drivers licences, which is a pretty legitimate reason for not taking part in this Korean practice.)
But, we are doing our best to embody this philosophy in many other ways.

Keith has started to wear his Ipod everywhere he goes. He fits right in. EVERYONE has earphones in all the time.

We are both working on speaking Korean, but I have to confess that Keith is doing much better than I am. My Korean accent is horrendous.

Keith is playing soccer on Sunday nights on a team of mostly foreigners from all over the world. Keith played on awesome game on mid-field last Sunday night. They play against a Korean team at Cheonan Stadium, which is about 2 km from our apartment and a really nice sports complex. (The U-17 World Cup was held there last year.) Soccer is definitely one of Korea's favorite sports. It is second to baseball, which they love, especially considering that the Korean team won the gold metal at the Olympics this summer.

We have learned to walk and push our way through the crowded subways, streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, stores, and trains, but we are still learning to lose our "personal space bubbles". There is no such thing as a "personal space bubble" in a country the size of the lower half of Indiana with a population of 49 million people.

We have fallen in love with the bakery, Paris Baguette, which really has nothing at all to do with Paris and is a South Korean based company with the most wonderful breads, pastries, and coffee. They know our order in the morning...it's awesome.

I got a library card on Tuesday, which is very exciting for me, as ridiculous as that sounds. English books are scarce and very expensive, so this will be really nice to have. The library is only about a 5 minute walk from our apartment. They have about 150 English books, mostly classics...you know, the books you think you should've read by now, but just never have.

The biggest way that I have embraced this philosophy is through a little hobby that I picked up. I am now taking Taekwondo. I just completed my fourth week. I absolutely love it. As a matter of fact, last Friday I was promoted from a white belt to a yellow belt. I am still the lowest level in my class, but I'm moving up slowly. Taking Taekwondo is humbling and humorous every single day. It is SO much work, but I really love the workout and learning the self defense.

I mentioned that it's humbling. Well, that is because I go to Taekwondo with about 25 7-year-old boys who are all at higher levels than I am at. It really is fun though. I am humbled at how good they are with their positions and form. Their faces are wonderful we are sparring together. Today, I had to spar with a little boy who was wearing a protective vest around his upper body. I couldn't bear to actually kick him until my instructor said that I had to because his little precious eyes were full of fear and terror because he's only about 3.5 ft. tall. My full stretch kick is higher than his head.

Anyway, it's embarrassing all the time, but we laugh together, and I really enjoy it. Laughter is definitely one of the few things that transcends all languages...laughter, the head shake for "yes" or "no", and the profound English phrase, "OK".

Keith will be starting Kendo soon, which is Japanese sword fighting.


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Please check out the two videos that Keith made on the right hand side.
The first link is to Keith's his debut music video, which we recorded on the public bus full of people.
The second video is full of pictures from a few of the things we've done since we've been here. Please, please, please...take a look.
Posted by Megan and Keith at 9:49 PM | 9 comments  
Thursday, October 9, 2008

An apple is not the teacher gift of the 21st century.

It's been a while since I posted on the blog. I tried for a while to come up with an excuse...but I realized that I don't have one, so I'd rather not lie about it.

In an effort to avoid writing a book about the last two weeks,
here are a few of the highlights:

-Last weekend we had lunch at Outback Steakhouse, which we have here in Cheonan. We split the ribs and they tasted just like they do at home, with the exception of the fact that there were no garlic mashed potatoes.

-Keith is playing soccer on our "church team", which is really made up of about 3-4 guys from our church, and the rest just other foreigners that live here in Cheonan. He loved their game last Sunday and looks forward to playing with them every Sunday. There are a few British guys on the team who take "football" very seriously.

-Josh and Sarah, the pastors at our church, took us out to lunch one Sunday at a restaurant that we can see from the window of our apartment. It is really close but we had never been there before because we didn't know what they had or how to order. They taught us how to order galbi, which is pretty decent. We've been back to the restaurant once since then and enjoyed it.
This is basically what your table looks like...give or take a few sides depending on the restaurant:



-I love running into my students around Cheonan. It makes me feel like we know more people than we actually do and helps me feel settled. I saw one of my students when we were having galbi one night. I saw another student at church on Sunday, which was really impressive, since it's an English service. Then, a couple of days ago, I saw a student who was walking home from school (not our school, her daytime school) while I was walking to buy apples. The apples are amazing this time of year and the old ladies have come out of the woodwork to sell them on the sides of the streets.

-We got a package this week from home with our wedding dvd and wedding pictures. It was awesome to watch it and remember that incredible day. Also, we are so pleased with the pictures. Tyler, our photographer, was amazing, and we couldn't be more thankful or more pleased.

-The weekend before last, we went to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which is considered by some the "main palace" or the "national palace" in Seoul. We absolutely LOVED it. It was one of the key moments where we both thought, "This is why we love traveling and this is one of the huge reasons that we are here. We want to learn about the history of this foreign culture and see what their lives were like (or at least where they lived) before our country was even 'discovered'." The palace is unfortunately a reconstruction since the original was burnt down by the Japanese like most of the ancient architecture in this country, but still amazing nonetheless.
Also, while we were at the palace, they were doing an ancient archery reenactment, which was pretty cool, and a little funny. We could see the glue on their faces from where they put on their fake beards.
Here are pictures of us at the palace.










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This week, my students have enlightened me. We have a calendar in my classroom with each of the days circled when it is someone's birthday. Since I teach five different classes of students during the week, that is quite a few circles. My birthday, which is Sunday, is also circled. I didn't think anything of it and of course didn't expect any gifts. However, I was surprised when three different little girls brought me gifts, all on different days, but they brought the exact same gift, with just a different "flare". As a teacher, I wouldn't have been surprised to get three apples for my birthday, since that is, after all, the classic teacher gift. However, I have learned that an apple, is not the 21st Century.

Instead...the cell phone charm. Check these out.



It's definitely different. I've never had a cell phone charm before. I guess we'll just add that one to the unending list of "firsts" we already have and will continue to have this year.
Posted by Megan and Keith at 12:51 PM | 11 comments  
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