Lucky 59

Time to blog about one of my favorite topics: food! A couple of weeks ago a shop on my way to school closed down. Nothing new, seeing as how the galbi restaurant near my house was turned into a meat market overnight, and now I find myself hearing "moooos" in the early morning. However, this time the shop turned into something I have been eagerly awaiting - Western food! While my area in Daegu does have some of the usuals, Mr. Pizza, Outback Steakhouse, McDonalds, and so forth, those are all about a half hour walk away from me. So when I saw the name of this new place, 59 Pizza, I quickly made my way home and googled it.

I've been under the impression that pizza in Korea is expensive. Cheese sure as hell is. But at 59 Pizza you can get a large pepperoni pizza for, get this, 5,900W! While the opening date was on December 17th, I wasn't able to be one of the first customers due to a lack of cash... even today my pizza was purchased on borrowed funds, but that will change come Thursday. So after school today, and a crummy lunch, I decided I would give the place a shot. I was debating whether I should wait until my students were all home, but whatever, they probably assume I've eaten there three times already.

I walked in and the lady was really nice. A bunch of those flower arrangements that are always present with the opening of a new restaurant/store/etc were along the wall. All I had to do was point to the picture of the pizza I wanted (they don't really have a dine-in area) and the size. Larg-e of course, since it's only 1,000W more than a regular. Now I'll have a few meals other than spaghetti this week, hooray. I was afraid the pizza box would scorch my hands as I walked home, but that was not an issue as the box has a cute little handle on it:

The pizza smelled good the entire walk home. It felt like the longest walk ever. I felt guilty walking home with my pizza box, like a typical waegook, too good to eat Korean food. Which is actually not the case, but they probably think that. I didn't want to pass the restaurants near my house, like the orange restaurant though, so I walked down a different street to get home.

As I am writing this I am on a full belly. The pizza met my expectations, although they weren't very high. One peculiar thing about it was the sesame seeds in the crust. Still can't decide whether those are worth complaining about. It definitely didn't have the grease like pizza back home, but still it was pretty tasty. For only $5, who could say anything? I restrained myself from eating the whole thing, so I am looking forward to cold pizza tomorrow. :) Take a look for yourself:

It's possible

I should be blogging more... especially about school. People ask about it and I always give very vague answers. So here goes...

This week was the second week of having to create my own lesson plan since we finished the textbook. Last week I did a cultural lesson on Thanksgiving, and this week the lesson plan was about predictions, and I used astrology to demonstrate it a bit. Wednesday was the first day I had to teach the astrology lesson and I was really nervous since I hadn't exactly planned it well... I just used a lesson plan I created over the summer for my TEFL class. It was designed for a small class and for an hour whereas my classes are twice as large and only for 45 minutes. To make matters worse, my guinea pig class has the lowest level of English proficiency. To my surprise when I handed out the group activity they all got right to work on it before I could even explain the directions. I asked my co-teacher if we should stop them but she said to just let them work. They did a great job! I was really impressed, and happy to see the students so engaged.

For both the Thanksgiving and prediction lesson plans I made sure to relate it somehow to Korea. For Thanksgiving our activity at the end of class was to create a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting Turkey Day and Chuseok. Before I introduced the Western way of astrology I first talked a little bit about Chinese astrology which is what they are familiar with. I told the kids that I am a rabbit and they quickly began trying to figure out how old I am, but they will never know O:) It was really funny listening to them try to pronounce the zodiac signs.

The happiest part of my day had to be when I was exiting the 2nd grade teachers' office when I heard an unfamiliar voice say, "Hi Rachelle!" I looked over to see the girl that is proclaimed to have the lowest English grade in the school talking to me. My response: "You can speak English?!?" She tells me a little. I was in shock! She then grabbed on to me and told me she loves me, hehe. One of the worst male students in the school happened to be nearby and he was trying to tell me she is a bad student. They both were slowly going back and forth at it in English (for me I'm assuming, they could do a much better job in Korean I'm sure). It was time for them to head to class and when I saw my co-teacher I told her about it. She told me that the girl likes me and is trying to speak English. Originally I was told to not make her participate in class, so she would just sit at her desk at the back of the room with all her markers and pens drawing. She is quite an artist (if anyone saw the Van Gogh Starry Night picture I put up, it's hers), and draws pictures of nearly naked cavemen... we're talking intricate details. Which reminds me, one of my co-teachers confiscated a "graphic novel" from a student and I had a hard time not laughing when she showed me one of the drawings.

I still just can't believe that that particular student spoke English to me today! She was pretty indifferent towards me in the beginning, but I would always smile at her in and out of the classroom and apparently it changed her attitude for the better. She is part of the guinea pig class and I saw her working diligently on the group assignment. It upsets me that sometimes teachers don't give enough credit to the students. Unless they have a learning disability, they are probably capable of learning, if motivated.

I heart middle school!~

Boy, You're Sweet!

As those of us living in Korea know, today (November 11) is Pepero Day. Pepero Day is a commercial holiday that involves giving friends boxes of Pepero which are thin, sesame seed sticks covered in chocolate. They are similiar to Japan's Pocky. I think most Koreans enjoy Pepero Day, although there are some that believe it is too materialistic and that it is just a way for the Lotte brand to generate revenue.

All day I read status updates of people receiving Pepero from their students. Funny thing is, I didn't see a single student at my school with one (I'm almost curious if it was banned from our school, or maybe I just don't pay enough attention). The only package of Pepero I saw was the one that was on my desk this morning that I anticipated receiving from one of my students because of a conversation we had last week. Here's a picture:

Lee Taeho was kind enough to leave a note and if you'll notice, there is a cute little bear sticker at the top. I'd be surprised to see a male, American middle school student to include one of those. ;) His message basically says that he knows I may not be familiar with Pepero and that he hopes I enjoy it. He also mentions that he thought it was unusual for a foreign teacher to be teaching at a public school. He is one of my upper-level students and I really hope that misspelling of "hello" was intentional.

The love doesn't stop there though, after one of my classes I was having trouble retrieving the CD-ROM from the computer. One of my students (one of the twins that reminds me of Arjay) approaches me and says, "Let's go," to me not realizing that I need to get that out first. He comes to the rescue and of course when he does it, it pops right out. He then proceeds to pick up my things and escort me out of the classroom. As we are walking through the hallway (awkwardly for me) his little buddies come up snickering something about us being on a date and that someone should take a picture. These boys are a trip!

More on Korean boys, they are quite enigmatic. They play video/pc games for hours on end and have an immense appreciation for violence and death. When I asked my students to come up with inventions, many of them thought of death machines where you could kill yourself. Yet, they are extremely sweet and affectionate. They walk around in the hallways holding hands, fixing each others hair, and draped over one another. I find them to be effiminate too, as they like to wear colors that are typically gender stereotyped, such as pink and purple, and they carry around Hello Kitty pencil cases. Nothing wrong with that, but I find it contradictory to other components of their personality. Nonetheless, they keep me entertained!

Korean Hospitality

Last week I was approached by three girls and asked to make an "appointment" to eat ddeok-boggi with them. They told me that they would pay and wanted to go to a restaurant. I initially agreed, only because I didn't know how to say no, but then I talked to my co-teacher and she thought it would be better to have the meeting at school. I understand where she is coming from, and don't want to do anything that will put my reputation in question. I found it a little strange that the girls wanted to do something outside of school with me, but I guess they are very curious and want to get to know me better. I met them today - there were more than I was expecting - and each ended up bringing something to eat or drink. The girl that organized it is Jennifer, the one on the left in the uniform. She looks unhappy because she does not like having her picture taken. I met her my first day in Daegu before school even started at HomePlus. In addition to ddeok-boggi, we had kimbap (similar to sushi), quite an assortment of snacks, and 2% (a beverage that is like flavored water).

The weather in Daegu is getting cooler so it was a bit chilly. The days are also getting shorter so it got dark earlier than usual. Luckily we were all equipped with our cell phones so that helped provide us with light when we needed it at the end to clean up (you can even see our makeshift trash bag in the top right corner of the picture!). It was very dark and Jennifer told us a ghost story; and her English is quite impressive. She ended up translating what a lot of the other girls wanted to say, but she encouraged them at every opportunity and kept telling them to speak in English, or at least try. The girls seemed to think that this would be a "bad memory" for me because it was cold and dark, but I really enjoyed spending time with them and trying some new Korean foods. I really think it was an excellent opportunity for them to practice their English, too!

On a side note, I can't believe this is my first post since I have been to Daegu! I have been very busy and have had a lot of experiences here in Korea I would have liked to blog about, but did not find the time. Hopefully I will be able to write more, but if not, I will be sure to take plenty of pictures =)


I have so much to talk about and don't even know where to begin! The orientation was finally over on Friday and that is when we arrived to Daegu. We had to meet our co-teachers and they did it in a rather odd fashion. We were all herded at the front of the room and the handler proceeded to call our names and then the people picking us up stood up/clapped/cheered, whatever. I found out that the lady that picked me up is not actually my co-teacher but a different one since mine was not back to school yet. She seemed to be in quite a hurry so I accidentally left my passport and really need to get it back since I need to apply for my ARC. She is a really sweet lady and even though I know my co-teacher now I still go to her for help sometimes. Also, we will be doing the school newspaper together which I am excited about. We had to go shopping for bedding and other things I need for my place. I got a $300 allowance for just sheets/bedding and then another $300 for whatever else I need to get settled in. I am not going to go into any more detail about my place since I already have the pictures up on FB.

So that was Friday. On Saturday, Katrina and I arranged to meet at HomePlus at 1pm. We were successful! Woohoo. So we ate, shopped around a bit there, and then decided to check out the mall. We attempted to get pedicures but just got "color chang-eys" that were really cheap, but not what we wanted. For dinner we had Mr. Pizza which was really delicious and cheap. It was nice to have Western food after not having it for so long. We ended up going to HomePlus again since we didn't buy anything the first time around. I ended up getting back to my apartment late so I wasn't able to go downtown. My neighbors ended up coming over though since my stove top arrived but the delivery person took it to them. The mom was so concerned that I hadn't eaten since she knew I couldn't cook anything and she brought me over fruit- very tasty. She has two kids, a boy and a girl. I was afraid the girl would be one of my students but luckily she goes to a different middle school. She has to translate everything which is difficult because she doesn't speak English very well.

On Sunday, the teacher that helped me get settled in asked me if I wanted to go hiking so we met up at 10 and walked over to this trail near my place. It wasn't too bad of a hike and the views were breathtaking. They have random exercise equipment on the mountain too lol. A few women were doing these very strange, heavy-looking hula hoops but they must work since they all had really flat midsections. She also wanted to show me another mountain so we drove there, but being that it was Sunday we couldn't find a parking spot. We just drove around and chatted and then she dropped me off near Katrina's place. Luckily I remembered how to get there. After having a drink outside of GS 25 (convenience store) we made a quick decision to go check out downtown Daegu. We were actually on a mission to find Red Mango but that was unsuccessful. The shopping totally made up for it though! I didn't buy anything but I can't wait to go once I get my paycheck. I have never seen so many shops at once! We ended up eating dinner at The Holy Grill, which is some place I always hear about and it was good - got to see some scores from back home including the Rays! Which reminds me, I saw a lady wearing a TB baseball hat and nearly cried lol.

SCHOOL! This is what I am most excited to blog about. I wasn't nervous about my first day of school since I was told I wouldn't be teaching any classes. The kids are awesome! I was told that I am teaching at one of the better schools so that makes me feel like my job is a little easier. They are definitely more well-behaved than I thought they would be. They are so nice and friendly too! I am nearly late to my classes because they are constantly stopping me and asking "Where am I from?" and telling me "Nice to meet you", "You're so beautiful" etc. On the second day of school we had an assembly because we also got a new prinicpal so I had to make a brief speech about myself in front of the entire school. I loved it though - there were girls screaming and everyone was cheering for me - very welcoming. There aren't any foreigners in my area that I really know of so I guess that it explains it. I felt like a president or something though. The kids at my school think of America as "Obama's Country" it's so cute. The girls are definitely better than the boy students. I have quite a few co-teachers and one of them is this older, soft-spoken woman and she can't really control the boys. Since I am new they listen to me more, and I love using my authoritative voice lol. Today I introduced myself to my class and had the students introduce themselves on a sheet of paper, this is one of my favorite lines: "I'm just a puppet of school which stays in class from 8:00am to 4:00pm." I feel kind of the same sometimes. Especially since I don't know what is going on half the time since I don't speak Korean.

Anyway, that's all for now. I have more but I am sure this is already boring.


Oh man, so I'm finally here. Well I've actually been here since Tuesday but have been very busy with this crazy schedule they have us on. First of all we arrived to Korea around 5pm but had to wait for a bus to take us to Jeonju and that was around 8pm. Four hours later we arrived to Jeonju but had to deal with luggage and registration so didn't get sleep until 2am. Between jet lag and lack of sleep this trip has been quite exhausting. Luckily we had a buffer by stopping in San Francisco which was just such an awesome time!

As for being here it is a lot like college or camp. There are about 650 of us and we are divided up by the city or province we are going to. I have already met a lot of the people going to Daegu and they seem like a great bunch! Hopefully we will all be able to help each other out with getting adjusted and to have people to do stuff with so it doesn't get lonely. We have to attend a lot of lectures but at least they give us food. We get drinks and snacks after every lecture, lol. As for the food, it has been pretty tasty with the exception of tonight. We have a buffet-style meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The buffet tonight was full of fish... so being the spoiled Americans that we are, Katrina and I went across the street to this really good gelato and waffle place. It is reasonably priced too!

I really like Korea so far, but this is only the beginning. We haven't even made it to the town we will be spending the rest of the time in yet... Since we are staying on a college campus right now it feels very much like home. Except the bathrooms don't have a curtain and the towels are tiny. Thank God I packed my own and will have them when I get to my own place. I really hate not knowing any of the language though and it makes me feel bad. As I am writing this I should be in survivial Korean class but we are opting out of it because most people haven't had good things to say about it.

Well I am going to relax a bit before possibly going out.



It is WAY too early to be blogging, but I'm bored.

Not to mention it's been awhile so an update is long overdue. That's partially because I've been waiting to see what is going to happen with this contract situation. The news - notice I didn't specify an adjective in there - is that I received my contract a couple of weeks ago. I am/was really excited when I received it, and even made my mom go pick it up from the post office since nobody was home at the time when they delivered it. I'm kind of having conflicting feelings though, mainly because of the threats North Korea is posing. Although, they are planning on launching a missile at Hawaii so maybe the U.S. isn't much of a safer alternative. Why can't we all just get along??

Aside from that there are a few minor (hehe) obstacles I am trying to overcome but ultimately I am thinking I will be there come August. I am still looking really forward to it! I know this is kind of confusing but if only you knew what was going on in my head! Anyway, my contract is for a position in Daegu which is where my mom was born so that would be pretty neat to be where she spent the first six years of her life before coming to America. It is a metropolitan area, the fourth largest city in Korea, and hopefully I would be placed in a good location. Busan, the coastal city that I chose as my first choice, filled up quickly but I will probably just vacation there :)

I watched my first Korean movie last night and it was pretty good! They definitely are different from the films I am accustomed to. I really liked that the storyline was totally unlike anything I have ever seen before, very unique, to me anyway - I'm not a movie critic. Of course it was a love story, but a bizarre one.

If I am going to make this Korea thing happen then I have some work to do.
1. Obtain my teaching visa
2. Get a TESOL Certificate so I'll make more $

More to come later!

First Blog!

Whoa, so I haven't posted a blog in years! I suppose it is a nice feeling though - makes me feel like I'm in high school again when Xanga was the cool thing before Myspace, haha. I wasn't sure if I should wait until after moving to Korea before starting my blog, but there's no time like the present, right? Besides, I should be documenting all the fun I'm having trying to collect all this darn stuff for getting the job in the first place. *rolls eyes*

Anywho, I am not going to elaborate any further tonight, but there is plenty more to come! Also, I must add - Under Construction!!!