Friday 31 December 2010

New Year's Eve! Let's make it a good one...

So last New Year's eve I would never have guessed in a thousand years that I would be spending this one living in South Korea! It's crazy to think how much has changed for me in just one short year... 2010 was certainly a year of big changes. I'm looking forward to what 2011 will have in store for me I've a feeling it's gonna be a good one! Anyway we never made it to E-mart on Wednesday but went to a smaller one called mega mart.. still fairly class bought a pair of jeans for the equivalent of ten euro and the best part is they are the right length of me!!!! How class is that? :D Thursday in school flew by I am really getting the hang of my class and I think they are getting used to me as well. Thursday night we headed over to another English couples apartment to watch tv downloaded on their laptop, so nice to watch english soaps. CNN and the discovery channel are interesting but sometimes you just need to chill!! Today in school was fantastic... it was the birthday party! They hold a big party once every 2 months so all the kids that had birthdays in November and December had a party together today! We played in the morning then had the party which was so nice... so much food too. Pizza, chicken wings, gim-bap (Korean rice rolls), cherry tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, Korean rice dessert, biscuits and of course chocolate birthday cake! YUM!!!!! I officially like Korean birthday parties!! Then just before I finished at early (3pm) one of my little kids gave me a card saying "Happy new year teacher Lisa. I love you. 31 December 2010." That just melted me then and there... I will upload a photo of the card when my camera eventually gets charged.. still no charger so I wont have any photos of Seoul tonight.. well none of my own anyway I will be relying on everyone else. There are like 8-9 of us heading there together so should be really good!! Cant wait... party Korean style!!! On that note I hope everyone has a very very happy 2011..

Wednesday 29 December 2010

One week in Korea...

Hard to believe I arrived in Korea one week ago today... the time has flown and yet I've done so much in one week! I'm really starting to settle into a routine but I still have a lot to learn about Korea in general and about my work. Yesterday morning when I woke the ground was covered with snow not like the snow we got back home. It was deeper than I've seen before up to my ankles. When I arrived at the kindergarten I joined the other teachers shovelling snow away from the door so that the kids could walk in through a path we had cleared for them. The morning went good and then lunch all normal.. after lunch the kids and teachers all had a snowball fight and made a snowman. Such fun.. the afternoon flew by as well! After school I went home for a few minutes and then back to the school to meet all the teachers to head out on our staff night!! Dinner was Korean again, side dishes and a mains but instead of meat it was like a fish stew in the centre of teh table, bubbling away!! It was strange but tasty afterwards we all sang Noreabang (kareoke) I hadnt had any alcohol so I tried to refuse to sing but no such luck.. I just picked the first song I recognised so I ended up singing "Brown eyed girl".. lets just say it this way after I finished they complemented my dancing!!! Still I can imagine that with a few drinks in me singing will be a great idea in the future. This evening we are going to get a bus that leaves the school and brings us to a big supermarket called E-mart, I still have a lot of things to buy for my room. Bits and pieces just to make it more homely and practical as well. I really need to find an adapter because my camera is dead and I really want to be able to charge it before our first night out in Seoul on Friday night for New Year's!! A big group of us are planning on going to Seoul together, heading out and then sleeping in either a noreabang room (which you can rent by the hour) or a jimjaelbang ( a sauna room - apparently this sweats the alcohol out of you so you wake up totally clear headed, sure I'll try anything once)!! All in all Korea is getting a thumbs up so far!!

Monday 27 December 2010

St. Stephen's day... very far from hunting the wren!!

One of the school's Christmas trees
So yesterday was St.Stephen's day and I started it having a lie-in (a well deserved one), Dee has to work Sundays for four weeks due to a winter camp that the school is holding so I met her and a few more of the teachers for lunch in the canteen. Once again the served the little dried fish things that I confused for noodles the first day. I had tasted the "noodles" and commented they tasted fishy to be informed they were infact fish and not noodles at all... Dee likes them but they taste like cod liver oil to me so they wont be my favourite food anytime soon. I spent a little time preparing class then and sorting things for today. Yesterday eveing then a group of us went to the local village to a pizza restaurant we found during our christmas morning walk. It was SO good.. I like the Korean food but still tasting that pizza was heaven!! After the pizza a few of us went on to a Haf house again for a few more beers.. I am gonna come home with a right beer belly on me..although the Korean food seems really healthy so it might just balance out. Plus the school has its own gym that we can use anytime so my aim for new year is to start going there a bit..(gotta buy some runners first) and during the summer we can use the schools outdoor pool..!! We headed home fairly early though because we all had work at 8.30am so we didnt want sick heads. Charlie and the chocolate factory (the Johnny Depp one) was on tv when I got home so watched a bit of that but started falling asleep before the end... guess I am still getting accustomed to the time difference a little!! Up early this morning and into school and so far its been a great day.. classes went well this morning the kids were good and lunch turned out to be lasagne and chips...a very welcome and delicious surprise!! After lunch went well too...I taught them words about new year and they really seemed to enjoy it! I've a little time now before my next class at 4 and that class is only an afterschool class for an hour so its perfect... gonna have a quiet night tonight and try to sort out my suitcases and unpack...although I have no wardrobe in my bedroom yet so I'll have to use the closet in the hall for now! I have a staff party tomorrow evening with all my kindergarten co-teachers which I was told about today which should be good, we will go for dinner first and then to a noreabang (a Korean kareoke room... where you rent the room for a group of people and sing your hearts out!! God help my co-teachers.. I'm sure once I sing once they will never suggest I sing again!!) :)

Sunday 26 December 2010

Life in Korea so far...

The Christmas concert
Korean style dinner
Arrived safe and sound in South Korea last Wednesday night, the 22nd of December. The flight was perfect. Smooth the whole way... long enough time to be on a plane all the same though and it was great to get off and be able to walk around the airport properly.Had our first encounter of Korean cuisine on the flight. We had a thing called bi-bim-bap which I had already read about, basically you mix veg with rice and a spicy red pepper paste.. it was nice but kinda cold though I imagine in "real life" it'll be much nicer. After falling into bed and sleeping soundly I had my first day teaching then on Thursday.. still quiet tired but everything was so new we didn't really get the chance to notice how tired we were. 

              The school itself was so impressive driving in even at night the buildings are class looking. Dee and I are sharing an apartment.. its perfect, kitchen, living room, bathroom and 2 bedrooms. Its clean and nice and sure thats all we need. We met the school education director that morning and a few more people then I was brought to the kindergarten school and Dee to the elementary. I am teaching the 7 year olds (so the are about 5-6 in irish years) there are 8 students in my class. The first day flew by and Thursday night I fell into bed again...wrecked!!

                                        On Friday we had a Christmas party for the kids with a magician. All the kids loved it and I'll admit I was impressed myself at times! :) After the magician Santa arrived!! So cute watching the kids get so excited over their presents. The school is lovely, the classrooms are so bright and colourful. At the moment my students are learning Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, it's so cute. Also we are putting on a talent show in Feb and they will be doing a little play of the ugly duckling so we will be starting rehearsing for that soon. Our school is about 30-40 mins walk return (5mins drive) from the closest village and on the subway we are just over an hour for Seoul. There is a big beautiful Christmas tree in the courtyard outside our apartment, it looked so pretty on the first night with the lights when we arrived. I have lunch from 11.30-12.30 everyday with the students. Lunch is Korean food.. I try a bit of everything and it is yummy for the most part. I had difficulty using the chopsticks at first so lunch on Thursday and Friday was eaten with just a spoon!! :)Then on Friday night a we went out with a group of other foreign teachers (ex-pats) here who successfully showed me how to use the chopsticks and I am very proud to say I have now eaten three meals using only chopsticks!! We then went to a Haf house after for beer and soju (the Korean drink). A really fun night was had plenty of laughs and I will agree that the soju is a lot stronger than it tastes, a very good Christmas eve!Drink is so cheap here too.. all in all a lot of fun nights ahead I'm sure.

                                           Yesterday was Christmas day and so we chilled in the morning, then went to the local village of Yongmun which was a lot bigger than we assumed and we bought a few bits and pieces for the apartment. Last night we met with another group of ex-pats in Yangpyeong, a bigger town 2 subway stops away and had a traditional Korean meal. Basically they bring lots of side dishes to the table such as rice and veg and salad and then a plate of raw meat which you cook on a grill in the centre of the table yourself. It was so good, the meat was really tender and tasty... has to be the most unusual Christmas dinner I've ever eaten though. Ireland and its turkey and ham dinner seemed so far away as we sat cross legged on cushions on the heated floor around a low table. So far Korea is a turning out to be a wonderful country with such friendly people.. I cant wait to see what else the future will bring here!

Ready, get set....go!!!

So just arrived in South Korea... ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Still can't believe it's actually happening, although in another way it seems like I've been talking about going for months. Myself and my friend Dee both decided back last May that Korea seemed like a good option and since then we've been working towards going. We had a few hold ups such as waiting for our official degrees until the end of October, then the wrong date of birth being put on my police clearance, being offered unsuitable jobs, etc. but now it finally seems like everything has fallen into place. We were offered what seem like the perfect jobs teaching English in the perfect location...fingers crossed!! So far so good...exciting but scary all at the same time. I know I'll miss my family and friends loads but this is just a chance of adventure too good to miss!