Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Myeongdong : Korea's wonderful shopping district

It's Saturday before Christmas, and we have nothing to do...
Why not head over to Myeongdong, and buy a present or two?

Presents, no matter how close we were to Christmas, were not our motivation for checking out Seoul's busiest shopping district. We decided not to buy eachother any gifts this year (the gift of eachother is all we need... hehehe BARF) - instead we will spend our money on our upcoming vacation to South-East Asia. Nonetheless, we had heard wonderful things about Myeongdong, and Jason needed a new pair of jeans. That was motivation enough for me!

A glimpse of the mysterious North: Korea's Demilitarized Zone

We can't really say we were surprised at our families' initial reactions almost a year ago when we announced we were applying to come teach in Korea:

'Korea? Aren't they at war?'
'But... the nuclear weapons!'
'Maybe you should consider a safer country...?'

So began our quest to convince our loved ones that their biased Western vision of perceived impending war on the Korean peninsula was flawed. As one of Jason's friends so wisely put it: 'I'm more afraid of Wal-Mart than I am of North Korea'.

They eventually came around, but remain curious and at times uneasy, especially given the recent news surrounding Kim Jong Il's death. Who could blame them, really, since North Korea remains such a secretive country, revealing so few details about all aspects of its daily life that the rest of the world (including the South) is, for the most part, left in the dark.

Here, kitty kitty kitty!

My favorite cat at the cafe. He looked so sad!

I love the kitties. Jason hates the kitties. After a few failed attempts at trying to convince him to join me, I resigned to the idea of going solo. There was no way Jason was going to agree to my bright idea to go enjoy a couple of hours hanging out with a dozen cats in a coffee shop. As a result, my night out at the cat cafe would become my first real korean 'excursion' without my husband. I did manage to round up a couple of cat loving friends - Jen and Katie - and together we had a grand ol' time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Food - Oh, Glorious, Gloooooorious Food

I heart WNCE <3

Korean-Chinese cuisine
The Wednesday Night Culinary Experience Group (it sounds sophisticated but it's really not - more like an excuse to eat, drink, and spend time with new friends) started out in early October and comprised itself of three members: Katie, Jason, and I. Jason and I had heard of a 'Trivia Night' at Traveller's Pub, a local foreigner bar, which took place on Wednesdays. I was sceptical because it started at 9pm - too late for my lazy bum on a weeknight, but I decided to give it a shot. Groups between 2 and 5 people were accepted for the game, so we called up Katie and asked her to join us. It wouldn't hurt to have an American friend on our team, right? Besides, it would be more fun than just the two of us (not that we don't enjoy eachother's company or anything, but you get the point). So we paid our 5,000W buy-in, ordered some beers and delicious fried food, and attempted to answer some questions. It can't be worse than Jeopardy, right?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Let's go climb a mountain!

Why not?

After all, I'm totally in shape (not), adore the outdoors (not), and hiking is one of my favorite pastimes (never done it in my life).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Shopping, Itaewon... and Football? Oct 15-16 & 22-23

The weather was slowly starting to get colder so we decided to set this weekend for shopping.  We left all our winter clothes (jackets, boots, gloves) in Canada figuring we would have a lot of time to buy some once we got here.  Plus, we would also like to hike before winter, so we needed to gear up!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Halloween Korean Style!

Expats in Korea know all too well how difficult it can be to find a decent, affordable Halloween costume in this country. Even in the so called 'Western' district of Seoul (Itaewon), they are pretty hard to come by. This is consistent with the fact that Koreans don't celebrate Halloween. The students do know a little bit about it, mostly thanks to their native English teachers who talk about it every year. Still, 'trick-or-treating' is unknown to most of them, save for a few who spent some time living in a Western country.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Global Gathering - Oct 8

During the week after our Everland excursion, Jen came across an Ad for Global Gathering which was taking place on the weekend.  I had actually come across the same Ad a while back but had figured that Jen wouldn't be interested since it was just a bunch of DJs (including Yolanda be Cool and Groove Armada).  I was wrong!  She was totally up for it.  So on a whim, we decided to go!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Haircut...

Ok, picture this:  As I am writing this, I am on my third Heineken tall can... I have my headphones on, listening to some 2NE1 while Jen is taking her usual "after school nap".  I am rocking out in silence and feeling absolutely wonderful!!!  It's Friday night... tomorrow we are heading to Seoraksan to hike a mountain (we'll blog about it eventually)... but tonight I am enjoying life!  I am loving this Korean experience and I highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest inclination for adventure.

Expat Festival & Korvia party

The weekend after our short teaching week (2 days) was dedicated to relaxing and recharging the battery so we didn't do much.  We explored our area, visited the Lotte Mart, did some prep and watched some movies.  Since that's pretty much all we did, I will skip a more detailed account of it.  Instead, I will jump to the next weekend, when we went back to Seoul for round 2!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another Long Weekend!

Well, whaddayaknow! The first weekend of October turned out to be another Korean National Holiday. We didn't know which one and didn't really care; all that mattered is that we had another day off.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The next five weeks... ish

NOTE:  For this blog entry, I will limit myself to the weekdays (work days) from the last five weeks.  (Sept 15 to October 21).  In my next entries, I will talk about our weekend excursions and post more pictures! So stay tuned for that coming up soon.

Monday, Sept 19 to Friday, Sept 23

My school (Jason)
Another shot of my school (Shinchon middle school)
This week would have been pretty uneventful had it not been for the student singing and reading competitions, which I like to call "Shinchon Idol" and the grade 3 speaking test.  The latter, of which I was made aware at the last minute, would consist of having students prepare a 1 minute presentation about a story they read.  My co-teachers would pretty much do all the leg work (although I made the assignment sheet and the rubric) and I would just come in each class and evaluate the actual presentation.  So basically, over the next 2 weeks, I administered 15 speaking tests in varying level.  This was actually a pretty easy task and quite funny.  After I was done marking the first class, my co-teacher looked at my scores and told me I had too many perfect scores (6 out of 30).  I needed to adjust that since she didn't want anymore than 4.  OK...  Other than that, it was kind of like a week off teaching the grade 3s.  I would walk in, students would go one after the other presenting their work and then I would leave.  Not bad, but got very dull and repetitive. It also seemed as though all the students read the same books.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bank account, cell phone and Internet!!! Finally!

So where to start.... right, we got back from the Chuseok holiday in rough shape.  A day of rest was in order before acquitting ourselves of the two day work week.  On Thursday (Sept 15), when I got to school, a man was waiting for me at the front doors and handed me an envelope.  The fact that I received an envelope didn't surprise me since I was waiting anxiously for my ARC but the fact that a man was waiting to hand it to me at the front door, when I got there... well that was a little weird.  But I'm not complaining since I was really anxious to get organized with a bank account, a cell phone, and most importantly INTERNET!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

She loves me... she loves me not... SHE LOVES ME!

Jen's Top 5 Korean DISLIKES and Top 15 LIKES


1. Korean food
In all honesty, this is the one thing I wish I could change about my experience. I don’t mean change the food, because I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in the entire country who hates it, but rather my opinion of it. Let’s see… I don’t like the seafood, I don’t like the spicy food, I don’t like the meat, I don’t like the kimchi. The smell of the Korean barbecues make me nauseous, and the noodles have a slimy, chewy texture that makes me gag. I can handle the rice in small portions. Thankfully I can easily find things on which to survive (or indulge, rather): bread, pasta, loads of fruit, vegetables, French fries, chocolate and ice cream. The only catch is that this stuff is not exactly budget friendly. Oh well!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yeong-oh juseyo? English, please? (Oh dear God, please, PLEASE let them speak English!)

Learning a new language? Pfffft! It's a walk in the park! I grasped the basics of Spanish so quickly in University, I amazed myself at my awesomeness. Korean will be even easier, since I'll be immersed in the language every single day. All I really need to know is 'Hello' and 'Thank You', and the rest will come quickly, since I'm such a natural. Right?

Well, not quite.

Chuseok Part Deux - Seoul, Soju and Makgeolli

It's official... I win the award for procrastination!  I've never been one to prepare things in advance, preferring to wait until the last minute to get it done (I guess I work better under pressure), but this is getting absurd.  I love to blog, but for some reason, I always find something else to do and put it on the back burner.  Well, enough of that.  We need to catch up, so here goes part two of our Chuseok holiday trip...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chuseok - A Korean Thanksgiving... and national holiday!!!

Well... it seems we fell off the blogging wagon once again.  I'd like to say that it's because we've been extremely busy, but that would just be a lie.  The truth is we're lazy... plain and simple.  Even today, as I sat down to start this very blog, I procrastinated and checked hockey stats for half an hour before finally deciding to get on with it.  And here I am... about to tell you about Chuseok, the Korean version of thanksgiving and our wonderful first excursion in the country.  This holiday is such a big deal that it is actually a Korean national holiday... and because of it, schools are closed on the Monday and Tuesday across the country.  And because our schools are super cool, they also close down for the Wednesday!  We would have all of 5 days to dedicate to traveling the country.  Yes, after only three weeks into this wonderful country, we would have our first chance to explore.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The complexities of the Korean school schedule... and other random stuff

OK so we're slowly catching up to where we are now.  But before I get on with the chronology of our time in Korea,  I thought I would share some random information that I can't really put back in its context because I forgot.

Paris Baguette and other delights

I heart weekends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And then it was the weekend!

I realized I never talked about the money situation much other than mentioning that the exchange rate was more or less $1 for 1000KRW.  So I figured I would start my blog off with a little mention of the monetary system if only to explain how it works and how much we spent since we got here!!!  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jen's turn - from getting here to living here

Ok everyone, here it is, my first blog post! Woohoo! My turn to talk about our grand debut as expats in Korea.

Monday, September 19, 2011

First days of teaching...

Ok, so I will start off by apologizing for this particular blog and those that are upcoming in the next few days.  Unfortunately, due to procrastination, I haven't touched it since the first week we got here.  So I will do my best to convey our tale as accurately as my memory will allow.  So if you think I left something out, just drop us a line.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Side note


Have you been to Korea?  Have you read about Korea?  Do you spend all day on your computer finding out about cool things to do?  Do you simply have a question for us?  Well here is your chance to let us know about it. 

We'd love to hear from you so let us know what you think!  If you have any suggestions of things to do or  if you have a question, anything at all, just drop us a line!  We'd love to share some of our experiences with you.  Just follow us on here or on our page on Facebook "Life in Korea" and it will be like living all the moments together!

Finally, we're a bit behind in our blogging but bear with us and we'll be back up to speed in no time!

Jason & Jen

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The process of getting settled in... and starting work!

Sunday, August 21, 2011
After a long almost sleepless (we both kept waking up every 15-20 minutes) night we decided to get our day started at 5:30am.  We started by moving the kitchen cabinet into the bedroom to make it a second closet.  We also moved the table/desk into the kitchen.  We unpacked our clothes, cleaned the whole place and started to make it our own.

First Day in South Korea

our kitchen

How we got here!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011
Today we are finally leaving for our Korean adventure!  It took quite a bit of time to get to this point!  In fact, we started the application process last year, but had to abort after being told we were not guaranteed to live together because we were not married.  A year later and happily married, we are all set to go.  This time around, the process started back in March, which seems so long ago already.