Category Archives: Korea

111111

On November 11th, 2011, in Korea, it was known as Pepero Day in honor of Korea’s version of the Pocky sticks. They’re generally long and thin biscuits covered in some sort of sweet, sugary chocolate/frosting. Of course, there are several varieties out there and though Pocky hosts a lot more flavors, Pepero’s selection isn’t all that bad because it means I’ll eat less (or that’s the idea). There are the giant Pepero sticks the length of your forearm (this may depend on how long your forearm is but for the sake of visualising it, however long your forearm is is how long this particular snack is), the waffle-based kinds, the ones studded with almonds or peanuts, the strawberry flavored type, as well as Nude Pepero – which is my favorite. Nude Pepero is basically a hollow biscuit tube filled with chocolate.

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Khristmas in Korea

I wish I could say that it began to look a lot like Christmas starting from two months ago, as it would back in the States, but that was not so. I did, however, begin to see a hint of Christmas-themed merchandise being offered at the beginning of November at Costco, but that was essentially the extent of it. That’s not to say that Christmas was conspicuously absent. I’m just saying that you had to look for it and mainly focus in on the shopping malls. As for Christmas carols, I did see one “choir” made up of 3 people; they were outside singing for a church function. Oh yes, and one of the neighborhood coffee shops has a playlist of Korean-sung Christmas songs (some rather badly and one reminds me of a Korean William Hung). The truth of the matter is that Christmas was brought from abroad and even then, it’s seen as more of a couple holiday rather than a family-oriented one.

HOWEVER, let me give you my rendition of it through snippets of modified Christmas carols (two, to be exact) and pictures illustrating said rectified lyrics…

I’ve been dreaming of a White Christmas,
But it’s no longer a dream here!
Where the treetops glisten and couples are kissin’,
Amidst a sheet of snow…

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Revealing Ruminations, Resulting Revelations

NOTE: This was started approximately a month ago but had been saved as a draft since then. I tried to proofread it and edit as needed, but… I don’t want to dwell on the tougher moments of life. The following may or may not include everything I was feeling at the time, but consider it a rant and an insight to some things foreign teachers may go through.

It’s about time to make the ultimate decision of whether or not I stay or go.

This is also because the relationship between my Co’s and I have become more strained than friendly for the most part. It’s more like we’re used to each other and tolerate one another but we don’t truly care about each other rather than the superficial things that displays that we’re on speaking terms. I don’t know what’s going on in their lives and vice versa. In short, I just want to get it all over with. I still like my kids a lot but because of my Co’s attitudes, nothing’s as exciting anymore. It’s coming to the point where I just don’t care, though I’m under the impression a lot of fellow GETs are in the same fix as me.

It came to something of a climax on Friday during lunch when the one Co still eating started off a conversation where she told me that she didn’t want to tell me something and it’s hard to do, but she has to (this always means it’s something that may not very pleasing to hear – it’s a Korean thing that gets on my nerves most of the time but never fails to amuse me). Honestly, if it’s hard to do and you’d rather not do it, why tell me? It’s like they just make it harder for themselves. Just spit it out.

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Mama’s Pie


I was visiting one of my friends in the city earlier today and she told me about this cute little mom-and-pops place that sold pies. There are some things you can’t really get in Korean and authentic, North American pies are one of them (unless you make a trip to Costco). It’s a nice little place off the main road and around a 5 to 6-minute walk from Timeworld Galleria in Dunsan-dong by the name of Mama’s Pie (and yes, it does bother me how the name suggests “Mama” only has one pie). There’s also a really nice-sized terrace with some seating and tables offered, topped off with umbrellas to fend off the sun’s harmful rays (un-pictured).

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PC Bang: The Continuation

This is in continuation of my previous post on PC bangs.
You can say it’s a basic how-to/instruction post (with pictures) on how to register for an MMORPG game at a PC bang, focusing on Aion because that’s what I decided to play since after 4 years, I apparently forgot my log in information for WoW. >.>;

Since the first time I went to a PC bang, I went an additional two more times. I was so obsessed (I don’t want to admit it but that’s the truth) with playing a MMORPG that the second time I went, I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to register on a MMORPG to be able to play at a PC bang. it appeared to be a bit more complicated because I was foreign on top of how I didn’t know that much Korean. When I finally figured it out, I was in heaven. I had spent some time the night before registering on the Korean site for Aion because I was sure that I would end up playing on a Korean server. Before long, I got to the screen to download the game onto my laptop. Following my previous experience with WoW, I decided this was not a good idea for either my laptop or me. I decided to wait until my next trip to the PC bang.

I clicked on the MMORPG game icon on the main screen at the bang, and signed in on the pop up of Aion’s official page. Then, I saw this other button I could click. You’re supposed to register on another step with your registration number. No matter what, it wouldn’t accept my registration number, so I decided to do some googling. After all, there had to be other foreigners out there who encountered the amazing PC bang and needed to get their online gaming fix, right? Right. 🙂

I finally came across a post on waygook.org – a site/forum dedicated to foreign English teachers in Korea. (“Waygook” means “foreign” in Korean; “waygookin” means foreigner.) This helped me out a lot. I would tell you exactly how I finally got my Korean Aion account completely set up, but you can pretty much just click on that link if you want. All you need to know is that you need to (1) make an account on the Aion site (2) make another account on the I-pin site (3) have your phone handy because they’ll either call you or send you a text with the password/code that you have 2 minutes to enter [yes, they really do count down] and (4) you enter your I-pin log-in information into the Aion site under your account and you’re ready to go!

My third time going to the PC bang (which is, interestingly enough, the next day after my second trip because I kept on thinking about Aion), I decided to bring my camera and take some pictures of my computer station. I didn’t want to appear so obvious so I didn’t take shots of the entire establishment, but who knows? 🙂 Perhaps one day in the future… As it is, this is a good enough preview of what to expect.

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Marathon – Me??

I like how people here like signing me up for things without truly asking for my opinion. (If you didn’t catch it, as it’s hard to through mere text, there’s a sarcastic tone present.) Sure, they may ask, but I think they just do it to be polite if they do. One such instance was for Hermes Camp. Now that I think about it, they didn’t even ask – my Co had volunteered me for it. I’m not exaggerating; she was at the meeting and she raised up her hand for me. Thanks for that. I don’t particularly hold it against her, but still!

Well, this habit appears to be a characteristic of Koreans, or so it seems. O_o My taekwondo instructor mentioned this marathon to me a month before. Next thing I know, he goes, “Iris, you go, yes?” Uh… how about “no, I’d rather not”? It’s just that I’m not really into running; I have a sense of self-preservation left in me. Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because what I say doesn’t really hold, because three days before (the same day he tells me about the belt test two days later), my instructor excitedly calls me into the office to show me my running number.

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The Next Step Up

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! ^^
Okay, this post isn’t about that, but it is Halloween and my Halloween rocked at school. 🙂 So I thought I would like to share the joy. Onto the point of this post:

My life revolves around school and taekwondo – it’s a fact. However, it’s something I don’t mind too much. Well, it’s also because I use taekwondo as an outlet for whatever happens at school and a new thing I added to my life called an “active lifestyle”. I find I quite like it, since it keeps me on my toes. I’ve also taken a liking to the feeling of sore, aching muscles, but I digress.

My brown belt test was last Friday. I was informed two days before.

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PC Bangs

I heard about these so-called PC bangs, or PC rooms/internet cafes, long before I set foot in Korea. I used to love playing PC games, see. Perhaps this was to make up for the fact that my parents never let me play video games so when I got my first laptop, I played the heck out of it. ^^ Not the point. Anyway, I also took a Korean popular culture class my last semester in college just for fun. ^^; Anyway, I guess I still love playing them but I have no time… but mainly because I get really obsessive over it. (I suppose I would have time if I could play for merely an hour or two.) Same with dramas – I have to finish it as fast as I can. I don’t know why because it’s not like there’s a life-or-death situation looming over my head if I don’t finish the 16+ episode drama before a certain day (usually the third), but if I don’t finish it, I literally can’t do anything else. Well, I can, but I’ll be rather distracted. Hence, once I got that full time job at the restaurant and now that I’m over here teaching, I haven’t truly played any games, whether they be MMORPG’s or strategy games.

Once upon a time, I was an avid WoW player (Yes. WoW.) and I even dabbled in Starcraft for a while. This was back in 2007, the second semester of my first year in college. Or was it the end of my first semester in college? Either way, it was back then. I only played for a month and a half, after which I stopped because I didn’t want to pay the $15 per month, but it still nagged at me. Also: it consumed my life. My laptop’s video card couldn’t take the graphics of WoW, but that didn’t stop me. My roommate would let me borrow her laptop to play (she had gotten me into it) into the early hours of the morning and then even a mutual friend would let me borrow his on campus to play. If I wasn’t in class, I would head straight back to my dorm to continue. At the end of my 6-week stint, I had 3 characters under my account with the maximum level of around 23 for all three of them. It could have been worse, but it was bad enough.

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Eyes in Korea

Along with the stereotype of how Asians are good at studying – I’m beginning to see why and how this came about, living and teaching here – Asians also tend to need visual correction. I, myself, needed the aid of glasses to see perfectly in the third grade. I got my first pair of contacts in the sixth grade because I got tired of my glasses slipping down or needing to take them off or put them on while changing for gym. Approximately 87% of my coworkers that I share a room with need glasses as well, but most opt for the visually-pleasing contacts.

With Halloween coming up, I wanted to dress up but since I’m the school’s first foreign teacher from North America, I’m the first one to bring up what they plan on doing for Halloween. It seems like they never had this happen before as their previous native teachers were from New Zealand and South Africa, respectively. Apparently, Halloween isn’t very big in either of those countries. Either way, I’m American and I like Halloween. The fact that I get some fun out of this doesn’t hurt, either. 😉 However, since this is somewhat of a new concept – though the after school department at my school’s also trying to do a little Halloween celebration – I decided to tone down my dress a little and so I wanted a little something extra to spice up my lack of festive clothing: colored contacts.

Today, I took a trip to the local optometrist to get my first pair of colored contacts. This was what I got (just guess how much  I paid for it):

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I finally did it!!

Today, I took my first ever sick day ever since I arrived in Korea. 🙂

This may seem like such a small matter – you’re sick, you take a sick day, period – but not here. I also addressed this previously, as I’ve gone through this dilemma of whether or not I should take advantage of the handful of sick days I’m privileged to because the truth is that people here don’t really have this luxury. I’m sure they might, but so far, the only time I’ve seen a teacher absent is if they’re on official business or they’re on pregnant leave. Teachers here generally don’t have substitute teachers and on top of that, there’s this idea of showing to everyone else what a hard worker you are. Hence, after you see your Coteachers so sick that they don’t put on make up (trust me, this is a big thing) or come to school after they sliced open their thumb and got stitches at the nearby hospital, you begin to feel bad for taking a sick day because you’re sick.

It still baffles my mind but the truth is that my body cannot deal with this. I usually only get sick once a year, but in Korea, it’s as if I get sick once every two to three months. It’s ridiculous but the truth and I don’t think my body can undergo this constant beating against my immune system for much longer without a proper day of rest and low-key activities. As a result, I told myself regardless of how bad I would feel for taking advantage of my sick day (as odd as that sounds), I would take it because I didn’t want it to draw out an additional week or two.

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