Cheongdam Style

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Our hostel

Our hostel

i kind of wanted to live there

i kind of wanted to live there

walking around Cheongdam

walking around Cheongdam

walking to the venue

walking to the venue

1988 summer olympics-10 points if you can guess where the 2018 olympics will be?

1988 summer olympics-10 points if you can guess where the 2018 olympics will be?

a very pretty area

a very pretty area

we're here!

we’re here!

you're not allowed to take pictures during the concert so this was a very covert mission

you’re not allowed to take pictures during the concert so this was a very covert mission

Right around the block from our hostel

Right around the block from our hostel

right around the block from our hostel where we had really good icea black tea lattes

right around the block from our hostel where we had really good icea black tea lattes

Yes the title is my own spin on “Gangman Style”.  Oh the irony.

I know I usually post on Fridays but I was very busy in preparation for my trip to Seoul and also wanted to have something amazing to blog about so that is why I am posting on Monday.

My friend Whitney had invited me to go see a KPOP idol band called VIXX. I have a friend (FLO) who loves them so I figured I would see them “for the both of us”.

I traveled up to Seoul on Saturday morning about 1030 am.  I chose to take the subway because it is cheaper and it drops me off at the exact station I needed to.

For the sake of this blog actually helping anyone planning on using the subway system in Korea, I will explain what I did.  I took a cab to the AK Plaza in Pyeongtaek and too the “metro” yellow sign with “M” on it.  The “trains” are green with no letter on them.

I bought a “t money” card.  Unlike most american cities you can’t buy a “day pass”.  Also unlike the PT system I’m used to (SEPTA-Market/Broad) the way you pay is based on the location you want to go.  All in all it’s much eaiser if you just buy one of these cards at a conviences store. I think it was about 2.50$ to buy the card and then I put 10$ on it.  I stayed on the subway until I reached Gasan Digital Station-transferred over Line 7 and rode that all the way to Cheongdam.  While yes it was a long ride and I stood the entire 11/2 hours with a backpack, it was bearable.  I guess I’ve become cheap.  NO NOT CHEAP-FRUGAL!!!

After that I wandered in the wrong direction for about 20 min before finding the right street.  It was a nice walk, and it was such a shock.  In Korea foreign brands are a symbol of wealth.  Micheal Kors bags, Mercedes Benz, Beamers.  Back home, for me those things are at the best standard in my neighbordhood.  Yes I come from the third richest county in America.  But after not seeing Audis or BMW for a month, I can now appreciate the rarity and status of them.

Cheongdam is in the Gangnam area.  Yes that song. Its a very nice area but just from walking around you can tell that it’s very wealthy.  There is even a road that is even called “rodeo drive” because of it’s similarity to the California road.

I however stayed in a very nice hostel called Cheongdam Stay Hostel.  Literally right down the road from JYP Entertanment and Cube Entertainment.  Despite its proximity to the main drag of Dosom Daero it was very nice and quiet.  I told Whitney we should get an apartment in the area and move to Seoul together.

All in all a very good area and nice place to stay.

My hostel was much better than what I feared.  It was only one bunk bed, and walked out to a balcony.  It felt basically just like my dorm in college with the benefit of not having to shower in a locker room style bathroom.

Whitney had gone to the venue to purchase “merch” what I learned in the nickname for merchandise.  I wandered around Cheongdam and bought a starbucks.  Now I have been completely content with having Korean drinks, bread etc.  But just for old times sake I bought a passion fruit ice tea lemonade-grande.  It was over 5$.  That is the last time I buy starbucks in korea.  Honestly with the amount of coffee shops you don’t find yourself missing starbucks unless you are just simply one of those people who can’t live with out it-aka my dad.

We took the subway to the venue-Olympic Park.  It was really cool to see all the left over things from the 1988 olympics and with the 2018 winter olympics just around the corner it was pretty awesome timing.

The venue itself wasn’t huge which was nice because no one was that far away.  I had gone into this concert with an open mind and no expectations.  I had been listening to a few songs that week to familiarize myself with their work.

I wanted to be happy and entertained for Whitney.  I know what it’s like when you’re going NUTS and then person you came with is just “……”. But after a while I found myself genuinely enjoying the show and the songs.  Granted I wasn’t crying like Whitney during some ballad or screaming but I had a lot of fun.  I think what was most impressive was their ability to sing/dance/perform live.  You don’t always get a group that can do all well. (sorrry Girls Generation).Through their UTOPIA concert VIXX made me fan.

The day is almost done here and I have to take care of my cell phone data problem I will leave the rest of the trip for Friday’s blog.

Next Time On The Real Black and Dog Archives of Korea: me running around Seoul on the metro like a psycho, sore body parts, Paingry-food!, shopping that turned into nothing, reunitng with my apartment, the subway ride from hell

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2,592,000 seconds, 30 days, 1 Survivor This is Survivor: Korea

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the best strawberry smoothie from Yoger Presso

the best strawberry smoothie from Yoger Presso

a typical lunch

a typical lunch

So I know that I am supposed to post on Fridays but today or technically yesterday was 1 month since I left my home in Ellicott City, Maryland.

To be honest it doesn’t feel like a month, rather it feels twice as long.  I know the saying is “Time flies when you’re having fun” but the truth is time isn’t flying BUT I am having fun.

I have yet to really venture outside of my area just for monetary reasons.  But with Seoul and Busan coming up I think I will be able to really broaden my horizons.  But more on that on Friday.

This blog is solely devoted to leaving America for Korea.

Things that are great!

I am a person who does love to be around my family and friends but I also definetly love to have my own time.  I would come home from a hellish day at PETCO-usually a jammed packed Saturday or holiday and the first thing I would need to do was be alone.  OK shower all that stank off and then be alone.  Usually this consisted of watching a K-Drama on my bed until dinner.

At my apartment it is my own place.  Yes it’s small but I don’t really need a lot of space for just me.  And yet somehow I still manage to make it messy.  I have a routine to that some may seem really boring but when you don’t have a lot of money, the weather bordering on cold winter/nice spring, and the sunlight not completely summer time light yet, it works.

A typical day consists of going to work, coming home, doing errands if there are any, taking a shower, making dinner, relaxing with a DVD (I just finished marathoning modern family), and then going to bed.  Yes, boring.  I do change it up occasionally.  Sometimes I go the the other grocery store or movies or go out to get dinner.  Right now I’m even sitting in my favorite coffee shop “Yoger Presso” because I didn’t want to wash my dirty dishes. (I sound like Cam).

But it works for me at this time in my life.  I live in a residential area so it’s hard to really go out and do things and meet people but more on that later.

I love how cheap somethings are-socks!  Usually about the equivalent to 1$.  There are so many designs  I need more feet.  My mom says “You buy socks so you don’t have to wash them.” While yes that is easier there are just too many cute socks in Korea!

All of my Korean facial products also don’t have that nasty import inflated price.  I can walk down to the huge Lotte Market and pick up what I want.  Also they always give you a lot of free samples. I may never have to buy a face mask ever again.

I will never be able to eat kimchi in the states ever again.  I have now officially become spoiled.  Not only is my lunch every week day a good healthy korean meal, but the kimchi is amazing!  Every meal has a different kind of kimchi.  I think my coteachers think I’m funny.

All of my colleagues have been very nice.  My three other English teachers are very supportive and always there to help and answer questions.  My principal always tries to practice his English with me which is very cute.

I had trouble at the bank and one of the other teachers who doesn’t speak English helped me get my Debit card (called check card here in Korea). Somehow it got around that I was sick and the Vice Principal cornered me and asked me why I hadn’t gone to the hospital-granted in the US i wouldn’t have gone to the hospital, I would have popped some DayQuil.

But it’s very comforting to know that the people actually give a damn about me and my well being.

About half of my 5th graders are amazing and great.  They are willing to learn and eager to participate in class.  In some classes I have students who are more advanced than others and occasionally will ask them to help translate things to their classmates.  I know it can be annoying or boring for them to maybe relearn everything so I try to have them “help” others .

My day care kids are too cute.  But I am grateful I do not have to teach a full class of them.  They are in that stage where they don’t really follow rules or directions and are distracted easily.  But the good thing is I get about half or less than half of a full class-about 8-15 kids.  They love stickers and watching Disney parades and like to look through my cell phone.  Today they got to choose English names.

It was cute watching some of them choose “old fashioned” names.  For example: Herbert.

We took a picture today and the little girls made me hug them.

It’s a nice way to end the day despite the reality that it can be exhausting.

Just about everywhere has WiFi and it’s good WiFi.  While I am impatiently waiting for my ARC (Alien Registration Card) to arrive-they said a month, April 3 will be a month)-I am relying on public wifi.  It’s funny because I get the  WIFI best in my bedroom but if I get up and go to the next room over it sucks.  I am glad that I can get the public wifi but it’s unstable so I haven’t been able to watch anything on it.

Emily and Rob are great! We went to Osan last weekend to the outdoor mall “Sinjang Shopping Mall” right out side the ABF gate in Songtan.  It was amazing.  I bought a big thick black and silver fuzzy blanket, a white scarf with pale pink and purple butterflies, a black ski cap for next winter, a snapback, 5 pairs of socks (for $2.80!) and two knock off Chanel purses.  Apparently the knock off purse industry is huge here!   It was a beautiful day but the really nice part was the place was international!  Because of the base there was so many nationalities there!  It was like being back in America.  Yes while I love Korea I do miss seeing different ethnicities.

Not so great.

Yellow dust. Apparently pollution mixed with dust from the Gobi desert hits Korea and it tints the sky yellow and you have to war a mask because it makes you sick.  Luckily I’ve only seen one of those days.  But somehow I’ve managed to become sick. When you become accustomed to sweet fresh suburban air, city air can seem nasty.  Actually it is nasty.

But as much as I live in the “city” I don’t really.  I live in the residential area on the outskirts of the city.  While I do have a lot of stuff around me I have to take a cab or bus (which I have yet to try) to get to downtown Pyeongtaek which is where the train station is.  I do wish I lived closer to the downtown area (heads up I’m trying really hard not to type Downton).

Because of my inability to really go anywhere outside my immidietate area I have become a little lonely.  There was one Saturday where I went the say without speaking to anyone.  It’s hard to make friends because my colleagues either live far away or are married with families.  I don’t think I will ever resort to online things though.  That’s just not my style.

So that other half of the 5th grade?  They just don’t care.  I understand that some of them might not know any English.  But when I have 9 classes of 30 students a week it’s hard to remember which class is which let alone have time to help those kids who are struggling.  I am now grateful that my parents sent me to private school  I never understood the importance of having smaller classes until this very point in my life.

Missing Logan is so hard.  There are times when I think to myself I can do it.  I can stay here for 2-3 years but then I think of Logan.  Yes he’s a dog and has no concept of time but I do.

So what is expensive is PEANUT BUTTER and HONEY! For a small jar of PB it costs around $9 and honey costs like $12!

While I’m not as annoyed as some people would be about the language barrier but it can be frustrating .  I have found a solution though-google translate!  I had to go to the pharmacy to get headache medicine-so I typed it into google translate and BOOM! Instant solution.

I miss having my care.  The freedom to go where you want when you want.  HOWEVER the driving here is INSANE! I’ve never seen anything like this before-it puts Jersey drivers to shame on the scale of psycho drivers.

So that pretty much sums up my first month so far.

Until Friday!

To B(lack) or Not to B(londish brown)?

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It’s Friday! Friday gotta get down on Friday! Everbody looking forward to  the weekend, weekend!

 

Yes I went there. Why? Because as annoying as that song was and still is, it does bring up fond memories of the beginnings of college.

Sitting in the basement of CAT: Center for Automation Technology as  Criminal Justice major waiting for my “History of Western Civilization 101”.  Needless to say, obviously “Friday” was great in more ways than one.

 

I said I would mention my new makeup routine, my lunch and….something else that now I don’t remember..oh that’s right it is in the title of this article!!!

 

So getting down to business.  I have never been that great at applying makeup. Why? Because I have teeny monolid eyes which is the great nemisis to eye shadow.  I spent most of my days packing on the eye liner.  But then I grew up, saw that I could wear eye shadow and ta da! Now I even have a make up routine in the morning.

For those of you who aren’t aware Korea is a very physical apperacne driven place.  Think high school, but it never ends.  Having a small face, having an even smaller body, and then having large eyes and there you have it.  What every Korean woman strives for and if it is not natural than well you are in the plastic capital of the world.

Now I’m not knocking plastic surgery.  In fact I have plans to even have the double lid surgery.  It would make my life and make up routine a hell of a lot easier.

I’ve always had jobs that require me to be “dirty”.  No not like that you small minded crotch grabbing men.  I have been in the animal business and I loved it.  I got to wear jeans and sneakers and spent so much time physically moving all day.  From kennel cleaning to bathing to walking to feeding, there was no reason to even wear makeup because inevitably it would just sweat off and then I would end up looking like that lady in the painting with the face melting (clearly I am not an art fan and I’m happy to say that).

But for the first time I get to wear nice business casual clothes, wear makeup and the real kicker, have a manicure! To some people this might seem crazy, but to me it’s a miracle.  I don’t have to worry about chipping off my manicure on locking a kennel door or filling my entire left half of a nail off with a dremel.  It’s the small things in life that really do it.

 

Now onto to lunch.  I’ve always hated packing lunch.  Microwaves are weird and thing just don’t taste right when they come out of there.

But here, not only do I get to have lunch cooked fresh but IT”S ALL KOREAN! It’s always some variety of rice, soup, kimchi, vegetable and fruit or drink.  It’s always good, some days more than others, but you don’t feel heavy or full afterwards.  Yesterday was bibimbap and yes I was in heaven.  It’s nice because my co teacher told me the entire lunch is approved by the government.  If I don’t lost weight eating Korean lunch every week but the weekend, then something must be clearly wrong with me.

Now onto the question of the season: It is officially Spring, should I dye my hair light brown or stay black?

I have heard horror stories of people’s hair turning orange or a weird shade of half blonde.  My friend Sarah reassured me that because I have “korean hair” I should be fine.  I like to change my hair color at least three or four times a year-I know it’s unhealthy.

I was going to wait for warmer weather (and more money to come in) before I make my decision. But warm weather is here today, and I will be getting my first paycheck within the next week.  So I guess I no longer have an excuse?  Knowing me I will debate about it, think about it, and then one random day I will decide to do it.

 

Next time on The Real Black and White Dog Archives of Korea: diet plans suck, review of the new Cinderella movie, my adventure at the korean bank where I watched the bank teller pull out an english dictionary of bank terms and it was cute.

Hard Month’s Night

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Daycare students-very cute!

Daycare students-very cute!

my smartest fifth grade class

my smartest fifth grade class

I hope that people will get the title.  I feel if you are like at least 40 or older, you should, or if you happen to be one of 2010 hipsters still around that needs to learn to GTFO. If not, it is a nod to the timeless Beatles movie “Hard Day’s Night” which I will be honest turned myself a previously Beatle hating lonely person into a “Bought the entire physical collection of albums and movies” kind of person.  Yes I ate my words big time.

Last time, I said I would talk about my hormonal fitth graders, adorable first graders and bad students.

Though it has been longer than a week (I make no apologies) not too much has changed. I have decided that blogging at school is the easiest thing for me to do and starting tomorrow I will blog every Friday morning due to the nature of my classes.

Getting right into the entire reason why I am even in Korea, TEACHING.

One might think it’s natural that a young and beautiful 25 year old single lady would love children.  Clearly that “one” never came in contact with me.

As an only child growing up I was lucky and didn’t have to share my parents or dog with anyone else.  It is probably the reason why I struggled with sharing to be honest.

Children and I have never really connected.  They are messy and loud and act out and you can’t smack them to make them shut up.  I know what you’re all thinking-she’s crazy.  But it’s not just me.  Children for some reason always avoided me and loved my friends.

For instance my best friends Treasure and Savannah are obsessed with kids (well Treasure is NOW).  One year we all went to Universal Studios for Spring Break.  The two of them proceeded to see all the adorable children and say out loud “Oh he’s so cute. I WANT TO STEAL HIM.”  Ladies, do you know where we are??! Needless to say I informed them that saying those words in an amusement park, one of the largest in the country, was not the best thing.

But I digress.  Back to my teaching.

First Day: It didn’t go so well.  I was nervous, and felt out of place.  30 kids stared at me.  I had my co teacher who can seem a little scary and she keeps the kids in line.  Any notions I had about teaching and children went out the window.

As the week progressed and I got more comfortable with the lesson, I began to relax and have fun.  I felt more confident and soon I realized they were still 10 year olds who aren’t completely uninterested in rewards, games and their teacher being funny.

By Thursday I felt pretty good.  I felt as if I had a handle on my lesson.

The following week I began to get a sense of which classes were lower level speaking, which ones had a tendency to talk, which ones were well behaved etc.

I also got to start my daycare class.  I never really  cared for children before.  Until now.  They are so cute and entertained by videos and stickers it’s too cute for words. Yes they have temper tantrums and yes they can act out but for the most part they are cute and much easier to deal with than hormonal pre pubescent fifth graders who want to be anywhere else than English class.

 

This week has been challenging.  The lesson is rushed due to having a test the last 30 min of class.  For some this isn’t a problem, but those who already are a lower level, it seems to have a negative effect on them and they start talking.

This has been the “talking week from hell” even some of my best classes have talked themselves into taking away poins and “negative” points.  I am attributing it to the nice weather outside.

It is a week like this that even my coteacher Yeong Jun notices and says things like “You seem tired.”  Yes, refraining from stiking some of my students with the inflatable hammer seen in “Weekly Idol” is tiresome.

Despite what many of you think corproal punishment is no longer allowed in Korean Public school.  Though one of my older co workers seems to miss it. We threaten them with “Kkam Ji” which I am guessing is some sort of writing lines.

Now with that out of the way, onto more intersting stuff.

This weekend I am going to hang out with Emily and Rob.  Rob has his softball team and Emily and I are going to get manicures and waxing because, this unibrow and lip hair is not becomming no matter where you are.

We are also going to Osan which is North of where we are to go shopping as well.

Then to continue on we will sit down and have a Hobbit marathon this time.  Excited!!

Now Emily has offered her services to me on her journey to becoming a personal trainer.  She has worked up a diet and exercise plan for me.  But I have to keep a food journal.  Blah.  I tried to keep one of those one time and it didn’t work out so well.  But I was able to lose about 40lbs in 6 months last time I was dedicated so here’s to losing another 40 at least.

Unfortunetly her dog has cancer and there isn’t much she can do while he’s in America.  Having gone through a similar situation with Calvin (Logan’s predecessor) I know how draining and mind consuming something like this can be so I am determined to make sure she has a fun weekend.

 

The weather was rainy and cold yesterday but it seems to have brought warm and lovely weather today.  I guess because most Koreans have a body fat percentage of 2 everyone is still wearing jackets and long pants while I personally feel like I could wear shorts and a t shirt.  Or…maybe because I was used to such freezing cold tempreatures that I now am a little off kilter when feeling the actual temperature.  That could be it. Let’s hope so.

I realize this blog has been less funny and more boring but now that I got the boring part out of the way next blog will hopefully be more interesting.  Now that I have  a set schduele I have managed to find a time to blog.

So here’s to next time.

Next time on The Real Black and White Dog Archives of Korea: (aka tomorrow) How my lunch is always provided and amazing, my new makeup routine in the morning, the first day of Spring and the ever long debate: should I dye my hair?

An Unexpected Journey (through every emotion known to mankind)

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10968334_10203844843821425_1180258026691436736_n[1]Well I have been in korea for a week as of yesterday.  A week ago I had nothing in my apartment-like I couldn’t even go to the bathroom because I had no TP (wtf). Now I am sitting…ok laying on my now comfy bed (thank you two layers of foam egg crate), well fed (and surprisingly well balanced) from a home made meal, and warm…ish.

As I await my friend Emily to whisk me away to laundry and a LOTR marathon I shall reflect on the past week.

Buckle your seat belts because…well as Treasure would say when i told her I don’t use a seatbelt.”we don’t want to have to scrape you off the windshield.” my best friend ladies and gentlemen.

so I guess we left off with san fran! the flight over was bad-6 hours on the plane with no food, hard ass seats and smushed into the window seat.  come to find we have landed in LA. in my mind LAX was bright and beautiful at least that is how all the shows make it seem. NOT! i was trapped in my terminal with one small food plaza and a pan pizza and an ice tea costing me 20$. oh hell no!!!

this i vow, I will never live in LA and I will never complain about anything costing a lot in baltimore ever again.

once that fiasco was short lived thanks to the modern family LAX episode (Lies!) I hopped a short ride over to san fran and wow. the first thought was….my ski parka was way to heavy for the 60 degree weather! i’m sure the locals thought i was nuts out in shorts and a light sweater for a night on the town but coming from 0 degree weather…well yeah duh!

so san fran.  I wish i could have seen you in the light.  I got to see where the reigning champs played (for those of you who seem to be confused as to who they are and what they are the champs of…clearly you might be following the wrong blog (ok ok san fran giants world champs baseball-see how nice i am)), the gravity defying hills, and some of those town houses that seemed to resemble a lot of 90’s movie/tvshows-charmed, full house, mrs doubtfire i’m looking at you.

In my mind SF was ok because yes while I did overshoot my stop by 15 stops, and had to take an expensive taxi home, I still could communicate and my phone still worked.  it was like a mini vacation but I had to remember that i was not going back home.

Fast forward to the next day…the airport…the huge ass plane.  Normally I think anyone’s emotions would have been a minefield of WWII. However I had already been out of it leaving BWI so somehow, I was calm and collected.

Walking past those business class seats made the little green envious monster pop up because damn they were nice.  My seat was the next cabin behind business about the fourth row back and smart me I “checked in” the night before and wound up with a middle aisle seat.

WORDS TO LIVE BY: if you ever had the choice to sit anywhere on a 3-3-3 plane choose the middle three and choose the aisle-not only is it an aisle but the middle person has the choice to make you or the other person move when they want to get up, and trust me everyone is getting up.

It was surprisingly comfy! Right away warm towels, a toothbrush and paste bag, givenchy socks and blankets, a pillow, headset…i mean i have been to resorts and hotels but I have never seen service like this…unreal.  This kept up the entire trip-you felt like you were in first class the entire ride. water and OJ ever hour, two really good meals, trash collector…and so many movies i didn’t get to watch all of them.  I did however manage to watch : 2 episodes of downton abby, 2 modern family episodes, mutant ninja teenage turtles (don’t ask), mockingjay, and another one i forget.  I wanted to watch like three others (maze runner how could i forget you) but IRONIC there wasn’t enough time in the 13 hour plane ride from heaven.

Landed and easily went through customs but then the hassle came-carting 100lbs of baggage…and three suitcases.

I managed to find the shuttle to my hotel and come to find…it would be the introduction to the rest of my new life in korea.  Bed hard as a rock, heat in floor no central air, no carpet, and plebeian bathroom.  If only I had known what was going to come.

The next day picked up and whisked away to my school where I met my principal and co teachers.  Then they took me to my new apartment…aka what i saw as hell.  I didn’t want to be rude and I can live with small but….not only is it old but it’s korean old. AKA heating in floor, hot water heater that doesn’t work so well, no AC, bed on floor every fear come true.

My new shitty place combined with a sudden overwhelming amount of loneliness I put my sheets on my bed, crawled in and sobbed for an hour.  I thought to myself I may never get up or out of the this bed-literally I was sinking into a depression.  I fantasied about ways I could leave-call a cab, buy a plane ticket back home.

All I can say is luck or God or both.  Lucky I had met Emily this summer at our teaching class.  Lucky I kept in contact with her.  Lucky I was moving right near her in Korea. If it hadn’t been for Emily letting me stay at her home I might have never come out of that room again.

She knew that had nothing-no comforter, no TP, nothing.  So she graciously allowed me to spend the night, cooked me dinner and gave me a warm comfy bed.  The next day she took me shopping for all the things I would need.

Of course I can’t not mention her amazing husband Rob.  I was a little hesitant that he might be annoyed that I was invading their home, but he has been so nice and gracious and kind.

They have been like friend/parents-taking care of me and helping me set up my apartment like parents would and feeding me.

You don’t find such lovely and amazing people like this everyday but damn the world would be such an amazing place if you did.

Now its been a week and I’m settled in roughly.  Though some moments are harder than others I’m getting into a routine and I find that school has helped me a lot-getting me out of the apartment and with the weather looking up, jogging may be closer than I thought.

Next week will focus more on school and students but yes this has been my emotion journey of the past week.  I hoped you enjoyed your trip and please come again!!

Next time on: The Real Black and White Dog Archives of Korea (yes I love real housewives get over it) hormonal fifth graders, cute first graders, and the brat that called my dog “delicious” in Korean and thought he could get away with it because I don’t speak Korean.