Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Fox

I'd forgotten how much energy it takes to teach kids. These past two weeks I taught the Seongbuk Elementary English Camp to get some extra cash for my trip. When I decided to do so, I knew it wouldn't be such a biggie since it wasn't too long ago that I was teaching children. But man, thank goodness it was only 2 weeks! It may not sound like much, but 4 hours, 5 days a week was exhausting. Every day after finishing up, I was in desperate need of a nap (something I used to do back in Pohang everyday after lunch in my office hehehe -those eskwinkles suck all the energy out of me).

However, teaching the little monsters again was fun: to once again play silly games, make faces at students, and just really play using English (things I can't do with college students ...as much).

Joy, my assistant, was amazing!

We made parfaits after our food lesson.

...the creativeness of a boy.
At the end of camp, we had to do a performance for the parents. Since I did a lesson on animals, guess what song I decided to have the kids perform?

Yup, THAT happened. They were a little shy in front of their parents; during practice time however, they sung their little hearts out ...damn, should've recorded that instead.

And now a couple items for The List.

82. Gift sets. Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year) is this Thursday, so markets are fully stocked with gift sets which people give as presents. Forget your fruitcakes and cheese and sausage baskets, here they have boxes of giant pears, Jeju oranges, spam (ew, I know), seaweed(kim), ginseng products, canned tuna, cooking oil, and much more! I actually got a nice hair products gift set when I was in Pohang from a student's mom, such a sweet lady! ..I think that might have been for Chuseok though.

Seaweed gift set

combination of grapeseed oil, pomegramate seed oil, and luncheon meat 

Box of spam anybody?

83. Ramen (aka cup noodles). Yes ramen gets a whooole spot in the list. Why? Because oh my god my eyes have been opened to a whole new world. Never did I think that ramen could actually turn into a decent-ish meal.

 I never thought of ramen as a meal, it was always a snack. I grew up adding lime juice and/or chilli powder to my ramen, Mexican style. I also always only had cup ramen, I HATED ramen in a bag, but now that's all I buy.

The first option I saw at a Korean fast food restaurant was cheese ramen, cheese? Say what? Believe it. To be honest, when I first saw it, I actually thought it looked gross, especially because I only saw the yellow processed stuff being used. So then I thought, being the cheese snob that I am, why not make my own with goooood legit cheese, and oh em gee, amazing stuff! I know cheese doesn't necessarily make it healthier, but who cares, it's cheese, CHEESE!

After making my cheesy ramen, I started experimenting with other stuff. I've made tuna-and-cheese ramen and egg-and-cheese ramen. I've heard of other people adding kimchi and green onions ... I will try that later. My favorite so far though, and the healthiest, is this:

So I add more vegetables (I've used combinations of mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach), a little more water than usual, one veggie bouillon, and Tajin (chilly powder), yum!!

By the way, I was totally surprised to find good tasting veggie ramen, woot woot!

Adios sopitas Maruchanes, encontre algo mejor (In Mexico, we call ramen "Sopas Maruchan" which is a brand name).

Here are other things about ramen:

-Markets do have entire isles with only ramen.
-Eat ramen with chopsticks for a challenge ...I am a pro now, I will never eat ramen with a fork, EVER!
-You can always enjoy ramen at any convenience store at any time.
-Hiking? Dont forget your ramen to eat at the summit.
-There's a kids snack ramen version which I kind of like.
-Japanese ramen is the shit.

Happy Lunar New Year !


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Unintentional blog direction

Just bought myself a new toy, a Sony Nex 3N, so world, get ready for some wannabe pretentious-looking pictures from an amateur. This also means that my blog has now become, unintentionally, a collection of my random K-stuff: my life in Korea, stories/adventures, The List, and photography -as bad as the photos may be.

Anyways, the first stop of my first session was the Seoul Fortress wall in Naksan Park (I did the short version).

I like tree branches

It's so fluffaaaaay
Toy city

This is my favorite picture of the day

I then ended up in Hyehwa Station which was filled with cutesy photographable things.

Found a candy stand with Manita lollipops! 

Fat cat!

Lastly, Teokbokki Street which was a little disappointing. I was expecting lots of teokbokki street stands, but there were only a few restaurants. I was alone, so I was a bit intimidated to go inside; I guess I'll go back if someone wants to eat there one day. Nothing pretentious about these pictures, but still thought I should post them :P.

Somewhere near Bomun Station.

And home ^^

My goal with my new toy is to get out more often and explore Seoul; I feel I haven't done that enough ...this shall be my new hobby since I don't want to do my regular hobby while abroad (don't ask).


Friday, January 17, 2014

Back at it!

Yay, back to The List! I've been collecting these items for a while now, but I've been a little lazy to sit my butt down and write. By the way, I've been trying to find the list I made when I was in Paris, but for the life of me I can't! ...and Myspace isn't making it any easier. Yes, I know, Myspace, what is that? That was soooo 2006. I know I posted that list somewhere there, but damn website changed completely, so everything is in different places. You would think that it'd still be all organized, but nooooooooo; I hate you Myspace gods (aka Tom).

Anyways, back to this list ...
Fortune teller booth (outside Starbucks)

77. Fortunes Tellers ...EVERYWHERE! Ok not everywhere, but you don't always have to go too far to find one. My experience so far with Korean culture is that Koreans can be very superstitious (HA! one more reason Koreans and Mexicans are alike, more on this coming soon). I don't know how serious people take fortune tellers, but if they are that common, I'm going to take a wild guess and say they do.  

From what I've learned is that there are various types of fortune tellers. Some use Tarot cards (cheapest option, under $10). Others read your face and/or hands. Others use your birthday. Others use spirits, yikes! (which I think are also the most expensive).

I haven't gone to one myself because I would need a translator, AND I will not waste my money on that (sorry, I don't believe in it). But a couple friends have gone and to be honest, from what my friends reported back, whatever they were told, it all just sounds like it could've been said to anyone. 

Side note #1: My mom went to one when she was younger, and they told her something really creepy. They told her that she would die at the age of 60 in a car crash with one of her children in the car.  So naturally she has vowed not to have one of us in the car after she turns 60. 

I also have heard about fortune tellers for couples. Before a couple marries, apparently they go to a fortune teller to see if they are indeed a good match ...I have yet to hear of a couple who won't marry based on the fortune teller's advice though, that would be cruel but fun at the same time haha. 

Side note #2. When we took the graduating class' picture at DWU, I was very surprised to see that the girls did themselves as if ready to go out to a night club: makeup, hair, clothing, heels, everything! When I asked one of the senior profs whether the picture was a big deal, she said yes because the girls are likely to use that picture for the couple fortune tellers. So does makeup help make a better match? 

Though I'm not very interested in listening to what a fortune teller has to say, I am interested to see how a person's life turned out after having his/her fortune told. I guess I'll have to wait and see with my mom too, great.

78. Tons of books at home. This is just from pure personal observation. When I think of books, I think of going to the local library and spending a few hours browsing and taking up a comfy chair to read, and of course to support the local library ...and because books are expensive so I don't like to buy them. Growing up I don't think I ever went into a friend's house and saw that they had a huge book collection. Maybe their parents had a book case with a few books, but nothing extravagant. 

When I started going to people's homes, I quickly noticed that most families, especially with young children, have at least ONE WHOLE wall covered in books. They'll have all kinds of series, ranging from encyclopedias to English grammar, to the Magic Tree House. It's pretty spectacular to see this because I'm not used to it. I love books, so to see parents having that available for their children amazes me.

Now, are these book actually being read? Who knows! But it's nice to see that parents are making an effort.

79. Moving. This is new to ME, ok? I come from a sprawling city where if we need to move houses, we rent a truck, call our friends, and buy them beer for helping us with the heavy lifting. If there are stairs involved, it's usually no more than a floor or two, so the job is doable with just our feet and hands. 

Most of the population in Korea live in apartments ...high apartment buildings. Each building does have elevators, but trust me, you cannot fit a couch even if you wanted. So how do people get their furniture all the way up? After doing some googling, I found out that they are called ladder lift trucks. As you can see from the picture, the ladder can reach as high as it wants. You just load up your stuff on to the platform and up up it goes to your balcony. Oh yeah, all the apartment have a small balcony with a huge window, so that when you have furniture coming in, pop open the window and anything will fit through it.

bubble wrap anyone?

80. Bubble wrap as insulator. Oh poor girl from sunny California how naive you are. Seriously, don't laugh at me, I just found this out. For the harsh winter here, people put bubble wrap on their windows to keep the heat in, or keep the cold out? Meh something sciency like that. Anyways, I noticed it a friend's house, and then when I went to the supermarket, I saw all the bubble wrap being sold in bulk. Like I said above, apartments have huge windows which makes it hard to keep them warm.

...I can only imagine the bubble popping party when winter is over.

81. Turning 20. I only found about this by reading my students' journals when I was teaching the freshmen. At first I thought it was only for women, like a Quinceñera or Sweet 16, but after asking my Korean friend, I learned that it also applies to men. Turning 20 is somewhat of a big deal because it symbolizes that a person becomes an adult, whatever that may mean. From the information on the journals, the girls celebrate by going to a nice dinner with their family and they'll get gifts like flowers and perfume. I'm hoping though that they also go to a booking club or something fun like that hehehe. I still don't know how the men celebrate it, strip club perhaps? 

In other news. I've been planning my upcoming trip to Cambodia, and I realized that this will the most south I've gone (I don't know how grammatically correct this sentence is "most south"? "southest"?). Though it won't take me below the Equator, it's still pretty damn close.


...damn you OCD, I can't stop twitching from seeing "81"

Friday, January 3, 2014

In the year 2013

What a year ! So many wonderful and exciting things happened that 2014 better be ready to be able to outdo 2013. In review (in no particular order):

1) My first nephew was born! ...yay I became an auntie ^______^  ...and thanks to technology, he has been the youngest person I've ever Skyped with; I think he was a few weeks old (thank you Skype!)

                                                Proud papa with his munchkin

2) My tía gave me a namesake ...meet Selene Valentina.
The little cute one in the middle
3) I moved to Seoul AND started the job I've been wanting.
One of my favorite classes so far at DWU
4) Made new amazing friends

5) My mom visited me in Korea . By the way, I never wrote about it, but that would take me hours to write about not because we did a lot of things, but because many things changed err um I guess you can say emotionally? ...Starting with her treating me like an actual adult. Yes, I know! Biggest surprise ever! I'd always been the "immature" one of the family according to her, but I guess when she saw that I was doing well on my own, she finally acknowledged that I am 27. Before flying out, she even asked me if I had enough toilet paper and dishes for two; she was surprised to see that I own cooking stuff haha.

6) AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Though I got the news just yesterday, IT happened in 2013, and OMG I can't wait!

7) Got to see NIN in concert!

8) I traveled to my twelfth country (not counting the US and Mexico), Japan! ....12 only? Ew I gotta fix that ASAP ...Cambodia here I come!

9) I reaffirmed that where I am is where I'm supposed to be. I always doubt big decisions (studying abroad, doing my MA, moving to Korea) and it sometimes takes me a little while to analyze what I've done, good or bad. But this year was good for me to (re)evaluate it and you know what? It's all good, no, it's perfect. Though at times I'm a little jealous of people back home, deep down I know that if that were me, I wouldn't be 100% content for many reasons.  My point is that when I read about "Things you should do/learn in your 20s" or "Things to do before you marry" bla bla bla, I can say that I've done/gone through most of those things. I know there will always be more and more that I will probably want, but up to now, I am beyond happy with everything, EVERYTHING! 

10) Home made cheese ...ha!

11) I surprised myself with err umm some new things hehe.

12) I was able to check off a few things from my bucket list: paragliding, water rafting, color me rad race, volunteering at a dog shelter (I had been putting it off for waaaay too long), and bungee jumping.

13) I decided to adopt a cat. I've always said that I'm not a cat person, but that's because I've never had one (Titi doesn't count because I only had him for like a month). I originally wanted to adopt a dog and even chose one from a shelter, but my landlord said I couldn't have one in the building. But that's ok, I'm up for the challenge and become a crazy cat lady. Anyways, I am currently waiting for the one I want from one of the shelters ...cross your fingers!

14) Sooooo surreal to see my big brother finally tie the knot (Thank you Skype once again) ...Lucy, welcome to the Familia de Locos! 

15) And lastly, one of the biggest ones, my not-being-able-to-let-go problem has gotten much better.  It's still a work in progress, but I can definitely feel a change. It has gotten much easier to breathe knowing that shit is not in the way anymore. I've been thinking a lot about past shit (being abroad has helped me see things in a different perspective) and I was able to take the good out of it (as bad as it was), and transform it into something useful making it that much easier to just let it go. 

So here's to a great 2014! ...Let the adventures begin.

Cheers and Peace!

Update on #6: I can finally announce it ...I'm going to be a BFF-Auntie!!!!! Yaaaaay! ...My beast friend is 4 months pregnant today (Jan. 28, 2014) ...and the best part is, I will be home for when the baby arrives. OMG I can't wait!! ..Finally a birth I won't be missing.