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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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…
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).
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.
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. 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.
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.
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):
I don’t eat meat. I don’t like spicy food. It’s funny how one of my favorite ethnic cuisines included Indian back in the States, though I suppose the fact that Indian food is vegetarian friendly helps as well and as long as I had a cup of water at my side, I was safe. It’s also funny how I chose to live in Korea. Well, I finally visited an Indian restaurant in Daejeon last night while meeting some friends and their friends; they had come down from Chungju.
I was so excited.
This post has taken a long time to be written, but I finally found the time!
For Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving, my friend and I decided to take a day trip to the fourth largest metropolitan city in Korea, with Daejeon being the fifth largest. If you didn’t know, it’s Gwangju. The city’s to the southwest of the country and when my Co’s first heard of it, they told me it was a horrible idea. Why? Traffic sucks during Chuseok, when families tend to get out of the cities to visit their families and have huge get-togethers, especially if you’re traveling south. In fact, this was what my head Co told me:
Last year, my brother came down from Seoul to visit and he fell asleep on the bus. When he woke up, he was still in Gyeonggi-do*! It took him almost six hours to get to Daejeon**.
* Gyeonggi-do is the province surrounding Seoul
** It normally takes around 2 hours by train to get from Daejeon to Seoul
The other week, I saw these curious stands popping up at intersections in my neighborhood. They were orange and had these plastic covers around the stall itself – usually clear – and there were the hangeul 흑쌀 잉어빵* (heukssal ingeobbang) scrawled across the top. To translate, it’s basically a fish pastry with a sweet bean filling encased in a thin wheat and glutinous rice flour dough. What made this place even more special is that there’s 흑쌀 (or black rice) included in the dough so it comes out slightly golden but with a grey-ish undertone. I broke down one day and got three for 1,000 won. What makes this even better is that they come in this bag:
There’s nothing better than eating fish (to me, it’s eating fish) and knowing that the bag the fish was in (and therefore the fish themselves) were telling me to be happy. But they’re seriously very cute – and good! I actually got them two days in a row because the first time I got them, I forgot to take pictures. But it’s dangerous! The stall is on my route home from school, so I pass it once a day at least, and when I exercise self-control, my nose can smell the delicious scent of it cooking in the metal molds. It’s heavenly. ^^ It’s a good thing that it’s too early to be open when I’m walking to school every morning or I can imagine I’d gain weight fast.