Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Super duper Seoul weekend!!!

amazing delicious dessert at SweeTree Italian restaurant in Namsan Tower

Me and Rosie at Namsan Tower

Cheonggyecheon at night

about 10 minutes before our walking tour of Changdeokgung

about 10 minutes INTO our walking tour (it rained for the next hour and a half

walking around Insadong trying to dry our clothes

MOST delicious cheeseburgers in all of korea at the Hilton Hotel (i miss burgers so much!)

This weekend Rosie and I went to Seoul for about 24 hours exactly starting Saturday evening to Sunday night. It was the most amazing 24 hours of orientation so far. Rosie's dad hooked us up at the Hilton near Namsan Tower. We had dinner at the Italian restaurant in Namsan tower. It was a little foggy but we still got a pretty good view of Seoul once it got dark and lots of the city lights were on. The food was also sooooo delicious. I really was craving pasta! We then had amaaaazingly delicious dessert!!! We took the cable car back down to the bottom and made our way towards Cheonggyecheon.

We walked all the way from the beginning of Cheonggyecheon near the embassies towards Dongdaemun Market. It was probably around 11pm but Dongdaemun was sooo packed and crowded with lots of shoppers and other tourists. We walked around Doota for a long time and looked at a million different things. There were so many things to look at, I was so confused and distracted and it took so long to focus!!! But it was like an amazing mall and then some!!! We finally got back to our hotel around 1am and went to bed.

Sunday morning we woke up for the breakfast buffet. I looooooove breakfast buffets and this one was amaaaaazing!!! Anyway, we made our way to Changdeokgung and were really excited for our English tour and to see the secret garden. However, the sky became more and more ominous as we walked over and the SECOND our tour guide began talking it started to drizzle, then rain, then POUR all over us. I was so excited for our 1.5 hour walking tour....haha. Anyway, despite the rain the tour was really good and the palace grounds were actually probably more 멋있어 because of it.

We started walking to Insadong and the rain began to let up. Insadong was a little empty at first because of the rain but as we walked around it began to fill up with people and street stalls. Rosie and I bought little bookmarks for our teachers and fans for ourselves! We also bought a bunch of postcards to send home. Everything was pretty and sunny after a while and I was sooooo happy we weren't in Chuncheon. After Insadong, we went back to the hotel for lunch. We decided we were going to eat American food at the hotel since we'd have lots of opportunities to eat Korean food for the next year. BEST DECISION ALL DAY!!!

THE CHEESEBURGERS WERE SOOOOO GOOD!!! I was so happy and so excited and so hungry and it was just perfect. I really miss American food a lot and especially eating meat and carbs that aren't rice. =( I'm a little worried for the next year but hopefully I'll open up my palate to a lot more tastes. Also, my appetite has been shrinking, I think as a result of eating Korean/Asian food all the time. I don't like 한식 as much as my sister or some of the other students here so I think I've been eating less. =(

Anyway, we finally checked out of our hotel and headed towards a Sauna that a girl at the fan store had recommended to us. It was Rosie's first sauna/ddeh experience and it was so fun!!! We both got our ddeh exfoliated and mini-massages for 22,000 won, which is about the same as $25. It was the best money we spent all weekend. Then we had to high-tail it to the Seoul Bus Terminal to get back to Chuncheon on time for our 8:45pm meeting with our Camp Instructors for this week's lessons. We got on a 7:10 bus and got to ChunCheon at 8:40 exactly. We made it to our campus by 8:47!!! hehe, and then i had the great surprise of my CI told me my lesson plan was perfect and we didn't need to discuss it. Yayy!!

yesterday we went out for dinner with our Korean instructors! We had samgyubsal, Baskin Robbins, and then noraebang. It was a lot of fun!~ I love our two korean teachers!! One is a woman and the other is a man. They are both really sweet and funny and love to tease us. =) I'm going to be sad when orientation ends, just because we won't see them anymore.

This week has been super tiring, and kindof draining especially after such an amazing weekend. I have one more lesson on Friday and then we'll be only 1 full week away from orientation ending. kindof a bittersweet thought. the orientation has been trying and i hate living in the dorm, but also i like having all (most) of the other American students nearby and also my roommate will be far away from me once we get to our placements and I'm going to miss her. =(

Friday, July 27, 2007

My current mailing address

Christine Lim
The Office of the Dormitory
Kangwon National University
Chuncheon, Kangwon-do 200-701
Republic of South Korea

I'm only here until August 15 so you should stop sending mail about a week/10 days before that.

p.s. mail is really cheap to send from here. it was like 30 cents equivalent to send an international postcard and 60 cents to send an actual letter. so hopefully soon i'll be getting more than $35 dollars a week and can send more mail =)

my first lesson

a few of our yoga students

practice run of my teaching "hook" - my roommate was laughing so hard + i had rainboots and sweatpants

me teaching on friday =)

our adorable "models"

i taught my first lesson yesterday and it was exciting and tiring! this week was pretty busy consdiering that we didn't have any afternoon workshops due to camp shiny. so i keep getting confused with what i've written before, but camp shiny is an english immersion summer camp and on tuesday 7 ppl got to lead one club activity. anyway, friday was my first actual lesson that i got to teach. my class was "clothing and accessories" and i started with a million differnet clothes on that i took off as the students named them. this got a little awkward towards the end, (i didn't think this all the way through) but i managed to remember when to stop when i got to my actual outfit. haha. after that i set the kids loose with newspaper to do a "project runway"-esque activity. they were soooo cute.

so now we have our "weekend fun" activity in a little bit. my roommate and i are doing "blacktop games" so hopscotch, hula hoop, jump rope games, etc. then we're leaving for 24 hours (roughly) in seoul. =) i'm really excited! we're going to do cutesy cultural touristy things. so my monday/tuesday post will be a lot of fun hopefully.

i also was reading my tourguide book yesterday about cheongju where i'll be living for a year. i read about this huge catholic cathedral thing and they have english mass every sunday so i was telling my mom about that and she said that's actually the church where one of our family friend-priests is the head priest so she's really excited that i had been planning on joining that church/congregation anyway. i guess that's nice =)

also, my sister is really silly so i'll post my info up in a separate post in a sec. =)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


omg we get our placements later this afternoon and i'm kinda calm but mostly freaking out. i have no idea if it'll be good or bad (bad = SHIGOL = RURAL). but there's this like "ceremony" where we all get post-its with our name and have to walk up and match it with the map in front of everyone plus all the ajummas from the SHINY main office in Seoul. So i can't like cry or be upset (visibly) when it happens. I have no idea how i'm gonna wait until 3:30+. Ok, more later.

also will talk about songnisan!

ok. i got my placement today. i'll be living in CheongJu, the capital of CB province in the middle of korea. apparently it's not SO rural even though the rest of the province is just rice paddies and national parkish.

i was really upset at first because i wanted to be closer to seoul but i've realized that maybe this is better. i'm kindof in the middle of the country and it's really accessible to just about anywhere by bus or train so i can travel a lot. also i'm halfway between seoul and jindo (where my family lives) so i can visit both. i'm also in a city (even though it's really rural all around it) and there are 5 universities located in the city so there is a pretty good variety of available services and products for young ppl. i got my first mail from the states yesterday from Winty!!! it made me so happy!!! i was crying while i read it. i can't believe i won't see most of my favorite ppl for a year. that's kindof crazy to think about. so i'll try not to focus on it.

orientation is still going well. we're testing for our yellow belts in taekwondo next thursday. eek!

this past weekend we were at songnisan national park for a short break from orientation craziness. we visited popchusa temple and saw the biggest standing buddha in korea. i didn't hike but i played in this stream there all day with some other GIKs. it was really relaxing and nice and also we got a chance to see/meet ppl that aren't in my language class.

on tuesday i taught my first "lesson." Fulbright runs a 2week summer camp for english immersion. part of the camp is that the students get to choose "club" activiites that they do every afternoon. my group did "YOGA" and so we did a 2 hour lesson on yoga in english. i got to lead the part with breathing and posture and actually doing the sun salutation and warrior A and B. it was a lot of fun and i'm really excited for teaching my first real class "lesson" on friday. yayyy.

also, i'm going to seoul this weekend, so i hope my first Fulbright check clears before then. =)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Elementary school visit

Today we visited an elementary school in Wonju to see what it was like. The current GIK showed us her classroom. She was really lucky and the school built a mini-English Village just for her. They had combined the space that was originally two classrooms and had converted one half into lots of little English "corners" (restaurant, movie theatre, home, store, hospital) that had clearly had spent a lot of time spent on them. it was amazing. there were signs on everything and all the corners really looked like AUTHENTIC american places.

the other half of the classroom had tables with chairs, a smartboard (touchscreen projector screen), and it was more like the academic half of the room. the school had SUCh an emphasis on english and it made me think that a lot of other schools would have at least the same enthusiasm if not the same resources as this school. it's really weird for me to see korean schools (and knowing that other countries are doing the same) put such an emphasis on english. it's a little like, umm well have pride in your own culture and country and put half that enthusiasm into those efforts. but at the same time i know korea is doing this so that it's citizens/economy can become more competitive.

on that note, i felt really lucky to be bilingual/bicultural and have access to both korean and english (not just the language, but the whole community that opens up for me). i felt so lucky and blessed to have been born in america, and have learned english somewhat effortlessly, or at least with much less difficulty. i also feel lucky when i see the GIKs in beginner korean struggling with the new language and alphabet and culture all at once.

at the same time i feel a social responsibility to really represent the best of both my worlds and that i am always being judged by americans and koreans AS BOTH an american and a korean. i have two (for the most part) separate scales and measures to live by and live up to. maybe i just think too much and take this all too seriously but i really feel a burden(?) to be a good american and a good korean.

sometimes those two things come into conflict and that's when i get confused and, i guess, grow. one of the first times this was put into STARK contrast for me was in the world cup whenever it was us vs. korea. also the whole apollo anton ono thing. usually i'm on korea's side i've found. maybe it's just becuase korea is usually the underdog. but also, there is a part of me that feels loyal to korea (regardless of the fact that i've never lived here or anything until now). and there is also a part of me that feels an intense need to defend korea a lot more than i do america. there really is a "jung" in korea that i most likely don't think i feel for america. although that's where i live and have citizenship and was born and everything. i'm sure i'll delve more into this later.

also, mental note: write about reunification and NK and july/students' drawings.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

First lesson plans, and church

i went to a korean church today. it was surprisingly a lot like the korean mass at home. although they sang a lot of the responses a LOT more slowly than we do. also, the priest said "the body of christ" in english to our group of 5, even to me at communioin. i had seen him looking at us in the beginning of mass a bit and i was both impressed and surprised by his switch. i've been thinking and i think i might "join" a church once i get to my homestay. i think it would/could be a very surprising support group/outlet that i hadn't really considered before. it's been a while, but maybe i'll start going regularly again.

First lesson plans (Camp Fulbright)
i submitted my first lesson plans tonight!!! during our orientation program here, kangwon national university hosts "camp shiny" an english sleepaway summer camp for kids 4th to 12 grade. the regular classes are taught by outgoing GIKs and us NEW GIK have to teach one lesson each week (2 week camp) to get us into teaching in a "supportive" environment. we get to split a 90 minute session with another GIK the first week so we only have 45 minutes each.

My partner is doing a lesson first on parts of the body. then i'm doing my lesson on clothing and accessories!!! we're going to emphasize what you wear on WHERE to link our lessons together =) my main lesson has two parts. one game with a "clothesline" on the chalkboard and when i call out either the clothing or the part of the body and teh children get to tape up pictures of clothing on flashcards. then we're going to do a "project runway" and the kids will make their own outfits and model them and describe them to each other!! i'm so excited!!! =) yayyy!

hehe, ok, i have a korean quiz (ADVANCED class ... haha) tomorrow morning so i better study, and write in my real journal. =)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Homesick, and how lucky I am

practicing hanji (paper crafts) with my roommate

my teeny tiny room

this is the view from my doorway. it's so little!!! prob like 100 sq. ft.

today i went to 모굑탕, or a public bathhouse, with some other GIKs and our OCs. It was a lot of fun. I was talking in English with one of our Orientation Counselors and this little girl came up and stood RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME just staring at me. haha. so i said, hello, and she just kept staring at me. i guess it was weird for her to see an asian girl speaking english.

i talked to two of my friends from home this morning on Skype and it made me miss home so much! I guess I'm really lucky to have people to miss and stuff like that. I can't believe I won't see these people (my friends!) for a year!!! Especially becaue I'm so used to seeing them EVERYDAY!!! whenever i want!!! this is crazy!!! haha. oh well. i guess i knew all of this when i made my choice. but it will be hard. i hope i'll make a few really good friends here for when i miss my duke/home friends. =]

i had amazingly delicious samgyubsal today. we had green tea samgyubsal and "herb" samgyubsal (really it was just seasoned with salt and pepper and something else). it was sooooooo good. maybe becuase it had been a while (a week) since i had just meat. which, if you know me, is one of my favorite foods (PROTEIN, MMHHMMMMM!!!)

but i think my taste buds and taste is getting less picky and more open by being here. it's really embarassing to explain to the other American GIKS how to eat stuff and say it's good and then for me to not eat it or explain that I'm not eating it because I don't like it. So today with my SSAHM i ate the scallion (pa) salad and actually it was SO delicious. I can't believe i've never eaten it in my ssahm before. also i ate the cooked kimchi from the grill pan. and that was SOOOOOO delicious!!! i can't believe i've never liked cooked kimchi!!! OMG!!! haha i'm happy that i'm trying "new" foods in korea. =)

Shopping excursion!

Me hailing a cab, oops-in Korea it's TAXI, for our scavenger hunt

me, amelia, and rosie (my roommate!) sitting on these silver star seats for the Winter Sonata tourists in MyungDong

Today after our workshop my roommate, me, and two other girls went to MyungDong in downtown Chuncheon to walk around the shopping area. There's a huuuuuge underground shopping area and a giant mall and shijang (market) above ground, and also a bunch of streets lined with nicer shops and american brands, too. It was really interesting to walk around there. Winter Sonata (korean drama) was filmed partly there so there were all these touristy pictures of the actors and big metal stars and fake xmas trees lining one of the pedestrian streets. it was pretty cute.

It's really weird to see poor Korean ppl and especially poor OLD Korean ppl. I don't know how to react to that. This has been bothering me since I first got here. I guess what they say about getting outside your own reality helps to uncover your biases and all that. The first few times I saw Korean ppl doing menial tasks, it was really weird. Like not having Mexican busboys in restaurants, Korean janitors, Korean ppl at the airport collecting the empty carts, etc. I hadn't realized how accustomed I am to other "people of color," Hispanics and Blacks in America doing jobs like that. It's really really REALLY odd to see my "own" people doing these jobs that I thought were reserved for recent poor immigrants and other low SES people.

Another more common site now is old Korean ppl with carts, and sometimes flat cardboard pieces, along the street selling fruit, gum, candy, etc. I really don't know what to do. Honestly, it makes me feel really uncomfortable to be around Korean adults/senior citizens, who I've always been taught to respect and "insah" to, who are poor and basically pleading for ppl to buy their goods. I can't even meet their eyes and walk past really quickly because of how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I don't know how to reconcile this. I guess this is one of the manifestations of the problem of modern Korean families/children abandoning their parents rather than living with them and taking care of them. I don't know, I guess as a result of the whole Confucian tradition we don't have a good social security system or any other way to take care of our old ppl if their own kids don't. I don't know, i don't have any answers or anything, but this is something that really keeps bothering me and hurts me to see. I wish I could just go around and buy all the ppl's wares so they could go home with money for food and stuff. But there has to be a BETTER solution than that.

Oh, well. This was supposed to be a lighthearted entry about how I don't fit into Korean clothing which is mostly "free size" (one size fits all). Shirts are all crazy tight on me and a lot of shoes don't come in bigger sizes so they don't have my 7.5/8. Well, that's one thing that has been on my mind. =T

Good night. =)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter does Korea

Ok, so about half of our group went to go see Harry Potter tonight. (No spoilers, I promise) even tho the book tells you what happens. Anyway, I LOVED it. It was just like the NYTimes review said it would be and I liked it a lot. Though I think it presupposes that most viewers have also read teh books and takes some (a lot) of liberties given that assumption. I think it definitely deilvered given it's shorter running time than the other movies.

Anyway, I've gotten a lot more respect for Daniel Radcliffe as an actor. I think he and the other actors/actresses have developed a lot. Although I've always thought Ron was kindof awkward and stiff but maybe that's just part of his character. As usual, I think the Weasley twins have gotten cuter. I'm really a fan. And Neville is HUUUUUGE. He's like 6 and a half feet tall. If he didn't have to be so mopey faced all the time I think he'd be kindof plain but good looking. The girlwho played Luna is a complete non-actress. She read the book and decided she was the onlyi person who could play Luna. And I Totally agree. I thought she was soooo good and perfect at being Luna. I was a little disappointed by Grawp and the Thestrals. I expected them to be a little differenet in my mind.

But anyways, the main point as I was watching this, was how much Harry Potter reminds me of JJ Redick. Yes, I'm a complete weirdo Blue Devil, I'm sorry. First of all their jaw lines reminded me of each other, and sortof the faces, too. But moreso the character. I feel like Harry was put under the microscope and public eye much too early and it was out of his control and ppl have all these expectations of him and he's always supposed to be nice and good and know just what to do and how to act under pressure and fire. And there are so many critics and haters and all that but he somehow just manages with grace (usually) and just deals, which I think is pretty mature. So, yea, Harry Potter totally reminds me of JJ Redick. (go ahead, laugh all you want - Ashley, I so hear you!!)

2nd point: Dinosaur
How many Koreans does it take to demolish (is that the verb for demolition?) a building? The answer is 4. One to handle the dinosaur truck to tear it apart. One to maneuver traffice around the surrounding sidewalk where debris is showering down. Another to hose the dinosaur mouth to keep the dust from going all over is my guess. And a fourth to sweep the falling debris (which is huge and dangerous) as it is raining down upon him. I wish I had had my camera but who knew I would get to see such exciting events on the way to/from a movie? So they are destructing this whole building and chunks of concrete and metal structure poles and s tuff are all falling down on the sidewalk and this one ajussi is just underneath with NO helmet nonchalantly brooming the dust into a pile. Which is pretty useless because more dust is raining down as he does it and he's basically just pushing dust around whilst concrete blocks are dropping all around him. It was pretty ridiculous.

On a Korea related note, the movie theatre was so clean and cute. The seating area was smaller (less seats) than in the US but it was set up really well given Korea's land constraints. Also, we get assigned seats. That was interesting. I've also finally gotten the REAL point of what ppl mean when they say Korea is a couples' culture. EVERYONE EVERYWHERE is a couple. I felt like i should just grab my roommates hand/waist so we could fit in. I mean, literally 80% of the people at LEAST that we saw were couples. And some wore the matching couple tees, and EVERYONE was holding hands/waists, etc. I'm not really sure what everyone means by saying that Korea is not a gender-crossed skinship culture. There is so much "casual" skinship all over the place. However, the couples are not that attractive. I know that's a mean thing to say, but I really feel like the couples are together just so they don't have to be alone.

In America, (maybe I am an ethnocentrist) I feel like ppl are usually together because they like each other. Somehow I kept getting the feeling that these ppl were just together because it beat being individuals. I'll try to find a better way to word that more clearly to get what I'm trying to say.

so, main points: korean demolition is dangerous. and harry potter = jj redick = i heart them both so much

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First Korea Post

delicious asiana bibimbap!

So, I swallowed some gum today and I feel like I might die. I swear I can feel it BOTH stuck in my throat AND in my stomach. I remember when we were little ppl would say that if you swallowed gum it stayed in your system for like 8 years and I don't know why but that thought is terrifying me right now. I seriously don't remember the last time I swallowed gum. The worst part is that I totally swallowed it by accident. I have no idea how it happened, but it did and it is totally very much completely freaking me out. I can't think about anything else and I swear it's just lodged behind my throat and I will die very soon. Since I am in Korea and my family is far away, this is not a comforting thought.

On another note, I will probably have some time to write my thoughts on Korea so far.

i'm so proud of nyc.

so, back to korea. i've been here for a little over 3 weeks now, and in general my i've gotten a pretty positive impression of stuff. it's definitely developed a LOT in the past 11 years. stuff is much more comfortable and convenient and ppl have gotten nicer about foreigners and ppl who speak english and all that (in my opinion).

it's been really good to meet my family members (some for the first time, esp. the younger ones). i think i might just learn to love this country. i had a funny story i wanted to add but now i forget it. i miss my friends and home a lot. i missed speaking english to ppl and hearing it but now that i'm at orientation i'm pretty much surrounded by american students so that helps. the workshops and lecture type things so far have been pretty informative if not fun.

i'm already worrying about winter break and about how i'm oging to leave in 13 months. sometimes i am ridiculous in worrying way ahead of time. i need to just relax and focus on the now. i find that i am not always totally in the present. haha that sounds really hippie-ish but it's true. i'm always worrying about something that MIGHT happen or something that already has. my mom always tells me that i need to keep my body and mind in the same place/moment and since i'm always separating the two that's why i'm so tired. haha she has some kind of a point.

there have been 2 beetles in our room already. oh yea, the rooms are so small. i will photo it soon. there are two of us in here and it's smaller than ty's single in wayne manor this past year. and i'm not exaggerating. we have a bunk bed but no lofting and wardrobes that take up half the room instead of in-wall closets. it's kindof a big change from my 300+ sq. ft. room this past year and the apt. i had last summer. it's even smaller than my single from geneva. oh well, the room isn't half as bad as the bathroom situation. the toilets and showers and sinks are all in 2 separate bathrooms and it's so ghetto. i guess duke's spoiled me with wonderful relatively new dorms.

ok i'm getting tired and it's like 11:15pm at night. i'm an old geezer. i keep losing track of my thoughts. i want to go to seoul this weekend but we'll see if that happens. i hope it does. yayY!!! if not, i guess i'll have to make some friends with the other GIKS (english teaching assistants - that's what we're called officially). tomorrow the official SHINY office staff in korea is coming to visit. i hope i remember to dress nicely. ok, time for my written journal (thanks, priss for the gift) and then sleep. haha.

oh yea, this is one of the things i wanted to write. if you want to IM with me or call me, these are the times i'm usually by my computer and free. i'll put it in korea time and us eastern time.

Korea mornings: 8am-8:45am = US nights: 7pm-7:45pm
Korea nights: 7pm-11pm Mon, Tues, Fri = US mornings 6am-10am

weekends, we'll just have to wait and see

I'm taking taekwondo starting next monday, and that's Mon-Thurs. Calligraphy is Wed 7-9pm and Hanji is Thurs 7-9PM.