December 29, 2010

The Holidays

This was my first year spending "The Holidays" away from home. It was a little weird at first but thanks to the amazing friends I have made in Korea, I have had an amazing time.

Thanksgiving: My friend Sam Lazar hosted a Thanksgiving pot luck at her massive apartment in Namyangju. We ate, drank and played football and banana grams. It felt like a typical family thanksgiving! Here are pictures of the food spread and Sam and Zoe with a bottle of North Korean Soju (alcohol) that our friend Eric brought back from his trip to the DMZ.
Christmas: Last weekend was Christmas. A couple of the girls and I spend Christmas Eve at the Nutcracker in Seoul. The show was beautiful and exceeded all of my expectations. Here is a picture of the Nutcracker crew during intermission and one after the show in front of the Christmas Tree.
After the show, we headed to a Korean fast food restaurant chain called "Kimbab Nara" to enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner.

The whole crew spent the rest of the weekend in Guri (Eric's town). We woke up Christmas morning to Mimosas and Secret Santa presents. I got a great scarf and an awesome t shirt from a bar I really like in Seoul (thanks Julie!).
My friend Justine got an amazing Secret Santa present, that I am going to share with you. Her Secret Santa was Joanna, who works at an Elementary School here. Justine loves Korean children. I mean who doesn't, they are the best. Joanna got one of her cutest kids to say a little something to Justine on camera. (We call Korean children street meat: a code name. This was done to try to make our obsession with them less creepy).

We spent the day hanging out in Guri and playing games. Christmas in Korea is actually spent with your friends. Korean's usually go to church with their families and maybe exchange a couple small presents. Then they spend the night going out with their friends. Which means the clubs in Korea are packed on Christmas. Our group didn't want to miss all the fun, so we went to Monkey Beach in Apgujeong.

Happy Holidays from Korea!

December 23, 2010

KPOP Friday Merry Christmas!

Happy Friday and Merry Christmas!

Today was a great day at school! I received two packages from the States, one from my Mom and Dad and one from my older sister Shannon! It is always so nice and comforting to get something from home. It made my day (Christmas Eve). Mom, Dad, Shannon, Megan, Ali, Katie thank you so much for the presents and I miss you!

Presents from American at my desk at school!
Christmas plans: Tonight I am going to the Nutcracker in Seoul put on my the Universal Ballet Company. I am a huge Nutcracker fan; I have probably seen it over twenty times (thanks Mom and Dad) and it never gets old. After the show, most of my American friends and I are going to have a Christmas slumber party at my friend Eric's apartment in Guri, full of egg nog and attempted Christmas Carols on the piano he found in his apartment. Tomorrow we are planning on opening our Secret Santa presents and eating a home cooked brunch. A pretty solid holiday if I do say so myself!

During the last two weeks of classes I have been teaching my kids about Christmas and Hanukah. Each kid had to write a letter to Santa in English, telling him what they want for Christmas this year. Here are the top 5 things kids in Bucheon want for Christmas.

1. So much money
2. Girlfriend/Boyfriends (one kid wrote hotties)
3. House
4. Ipad or Galaxy Tab (Samsung's Ipad)

Going along with the holiday theme, I am going to leave you with a little Korean holiday music. The first video is of SHINee and Kara performing Christmas songs at a Christmas special. The next is a Christmas themed commercial for Korean Baskin Robins. It has 2NE1 guest starring in it!

Kara and SHINee: Christmas Special

Baskin Robins Christmas commercial guest starring 2NE1

Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2010

Doggy Bags and Preview of English Pop Song Contest

After living in a different country for a couple of months, the cultural differences start to fade. You get used to bowing and taking things with two hands, forgetting it was foreign to you at one point in your life. Today a cultural difference stuck out to me, one that I thought I should share.

When you want to take food home from a restaurant or cafeteria, they normally just give you a box to put your left overs in and a paper bag to put the box in and then you are on your way. But in Korea they just give you a plastic bag.

For example, we had red bean soup for lunch today at school. This is a special traditional Korean soup, eaten during the Lunar New Year to ensure there are no ghosts in your life during the next year.
Since it is an important meal, my co-teacher gave me a left over bag of it to eat again for dinner. This is how all take out/doggy bags looks in Korea.
For some reason it always makes the meals less appealing.

Moving on.... I wanted to give you a little preview for what is coming my way tomorrow. My middle school is having an English Pop Song Contest tomorrow afternoon. All of the homerooms (30 of them) chose an English song to sing and dance to. Yesterday was the first round. I was a judge for the 3rd grade classes. Only 3 homerooms from each grade could move onto the final round, which is being held tomorrow (Christmas Eve).

The homerooms were amazing, so enthusiastic and happy to be singing and dancing. They had been practicing for weeks in order to get the moves and harmonies right. I was so impressed. However, I made a major mistake and forgot my camera at my desk for most of the first round, missing taping a rendition of "Baby" by Justin Beiber and "As Long As You Love Me" NYSNC. I ended up getting two performances on camera "Honey Honey" and "Seasons of Love." Check out the short videos below to get a little preview of the show to come.

"Honey Honey"

"Seasons of Love"
PS: at the beginning of this video the head student in the class calls attention and then tells everyone to bow. This is what all the students do at the beginning and end of each period at school.

More to come next week on the English Pop Song Contest. PS: I am the MC for the actual contest (in front of then entire school). Should be interesting!

December 16, 2010

KPOP Friday

Happy Friday!

I woke up to the first snow storm that actually stuck to the ground, and I could not have been happier. Here are some pictures from this morning!

View out of my apartment this morning.
On the walk to my bus stop (Jungang Central Park).
Bugok Middle School neighborhood covered in snow.
My school and the view from my office window.

Tonight I am going to meet up with some friends in Apgujeong, the Manhattan of Seoul. We are planning of getting a nice dinner and go bowling at a trendy spot. Should be a good night.

For this weeks song, I wanted to show you that KPOP is really going global. Kpop may ubiquitous on the Asian charts but the KPOP style is breaking into main stream American music too. The music video for and Niki Minaj's song "Check it Out" is completely KPOP-ified. Complete with hangul, Kpop wardrobe and dance moves, this music video screams Korean. I am excited to see where KPOP shows up next in American pop music!
Minus the fact that "Check it Out" has Kpop influence, it is a great weekend jam. I hope you enjoy it ! (PS from what I can tell the Korean is correct in the video, but I am going to ask some of my students to double check for me!)

December 15, 2010

Korean McDonald's Home Delivery

As the Korean winter starts to settle in, the temperatures continue to drop and the scarfs and gloves start to come out. Being from Chicago and going to college in Wisconsin, I am no stranger to cold weather. I in fact love winter; however, Korea seems freezing to me. Last night the temperatures dropped into the single digits and my apartment heating was being stingy, so the last thing I wanted to do was venture out into the cold for dinner. So I got McDonald's delivered to my front door.
I have seen McDonald's delivery mopeds driving around Bucheon before, but this was my first time trying the process. It was extremely easy. All you have to do is call 1600-5252 and they will ask you for your address. Be prepared to tell them your city and district, along with your apartment information. The women who helped us spoke English (which made everything very simple!) You can pretty much order anything from the normal menu (including breakfast---best discovery yet). The delivery took around an hour; however, I have read on other sites that it is usually must faster. Overall, a great experience and something this lazy American is definitely doing again.There's something about eating McDonald's while living in other countries. I barley ever eat it in America, but abroad I crave it! Dana, Sarah and Lisa can attest to this considering the insane amount of McFlurries we ate in Prague. (Photo below)

December 9, 2010

KPOP Friday

Happy Friday!

This week was good; however, I got pretty sick and have been trying to recover so I can fully enjoy my weekend. I ended up taking a sick day on Tuesday; which we have 15 paid sick days for the year (awesome). Tonight, I am heading to Swuon, a southern city, to a good-bye dinner and party for our friend Alex Kimball who is going back to the States this week. We will miss you in Korea!

For music, I am going to give you a video by Lee Hyori called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. "Lee Hyori is the love child of Beyonce and Lady Gaga"--Prez Hilton. She has the style of Gaga and the dance moves of Beyonce. Nothing less of fully entertaining. Check out her video for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (the name of the song itself is comical). Don't miss the dance break at 2:25.

Enjoy "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" by Lee Hyori

December 8, 2010

Tell Me Something About Yourself

During my first couple of weeks as a teacher I did an opening activity with all my students. I had them write down at least three things about themselves that they wanted me to know. Here are some of the best ones I got back. Enjoy.

December 2, 2010


Happy Friday!

I had a great week including some scrabble and the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra. A Co-Teacher of mine, was kind enough to invite me and a friend to their performance last night. The concert was actually held in the province's art high school auditorium, Gyeonggi-do Art School, which happens to be right next to my apartment. It was a beautiful and interesting show: a two hour classical music orchestra concert with songs from the Westside story sang in Korean accents.
For this week's music post, I am going to give you an older jam. Sam said he heard this Korean song while he was studying abroad in China in 2008; however, I have been hearing often in the Korean clubs here. So I think it is still quite popular. The artists are Korean DJs and call themselves DJ DOC and the song is called "Run to You". Anyways, great Korean party song. Hope you enjoy it.
"Run to You" DJ DOC.