Things I’ve Learned in Korea So Far

  1. How to eat grapes
    – Don’t eat the skins.
  2. When a Korean child uses that yells-everything-at-an-unreasonable-volume voice, my listening comprehension goes from >10% to 0%
  3. How to get water

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Step 1: Get metal cup
Step 2: Dispense water
Step 3: Drink water
Step 4: Put metal cup in hole under cup cupboard thingy

Seriously. Everything seems so easy and yet so unfamiliar. Do you have to pay for the water? Why are there two dispensers? (One is hot water the other is cold.) I had to sit and stare at people drinking water for 15 minutes in order to figure out literally how to pour myself a glass of water.

4.  How to order food at the Lotte Department Store’s food court.

5. If there are no open tables, it’s perfectly fine to sit across from a stranger.

6. When you’re food is ready, you can leave your cellphone, purse, and wallet in front of said stranger as you go get your food.

7.  There are phone charging stations at most cafes that you can use for free.

8.  You must buy 쓰레기 봉지 (trash bags) at the grocery store check out counter for your non-recyclable waste.

9.  How to use the Naver maps app.
– Seriously a life saver.

10.  How to order something for take-out. (포장해주세요.)

11.  My Korean name is probably the English equivalent of “Bertha.” It’s unattractive and old-fashioned. When I tell Koreans my birth name, they respond by laughing or telling me I can change it. My favorite response was Shepard’s, “Ohhh. That is… unexpected.” ^^

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Miryang Rompings

September 12, 2015
I’ve mentioned before how awesome my co-workers are. They make an effort to talk to me and make sure I’m comfortable. The first few days in Miryang were a little hard on me because I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know how to navigate around the city. I would take walks around my neighborhood but never found more than a few restaurants, convenience stores, and a car wash. I was sure I landed in the Mansfield of Korea.

My co-teacher, Sunny, told me that one of the teachers lived in the city and could show me around. Jeong Hee is the same age as I am, single, and male. I can’t know for sure, but I’m fairly certain that many of the teachers tease him about me and another female teacher that started the same time as I did. Jeong Hee agreed to show me around the city and took me to some of the touristy spots. Our last stop was a coffee shop. Just outside the coffee shop, we ran into three of our students who immediately burst into squeals and screams upon seeing us. I couldn’t help but laugh under my breath but Jeong Hee kept a straight face. Jeong Hee said something to them before going into the shop. As he ordered, I could see the girls outside the window taking pictures of us on their cell phones. We took our food upstairs to the dining area and saw two more of our students. They didn’t make as big a fuss as the other girls when they saw us, but Jeong Hee was staring them down. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I stared them down too. The girls sunk down into their seats asking, “What? What? Why are you doing that?”

Work should be fun on Monday!

Last Day in Changwon, First Day in Miryang

September 1, 2015
Woke up this morning to Cho Eun making me promise to visit again. Se Eun must have told her about my squishy chest because Cho Eun tried to discreetly poke and rub at it. Hee Jun wished me off well and Se Na drove me to the orientation site.

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Orientation
Why do they call this day orientation? It was more like a meeting. All of the new Guest English Teachers (GET) met up in a lobby where our interviewer, Daniel, told us the city we would be working in. By the way, Daniel was actually really personable contrary to his demeanor during the interview. A half hour later, we were called one-by-one into a conference room to meet our co-teachers. We were able to chat a little and work out some of the jitters. Then the co-teachers were informed in Korean about what they were supposed to do regarding our bank, housing, immigration, etc. Daniel translated in English. After an hour, the GETs split our separate ways to start our new lives in Korea. Continue reading

Mountain Hiking in Changwon

August 30, 2015
Hey Andrea. Let’s hike up a mountain!
Okay. Have you ever hiked up a mountain before?
No. But I like hiking back home so how bad can it be?

Heh. “How bad can it be?” My host Se Na gave me directions to the mountain trail entrance. She used a temple as a landmark. Piece of cake.

Temple 1

Success! But where was the trail? There was a sign that blocked the road. A few translations came up with “grounds, worship, silence, spectator, forbidden.” Well that can’t be the right road. I asked help from a couple doing yard work at their home. The man looked at the map sketch Se Na gave me and explained I was not at the right temple. He walked me across the street and motioned where I should go, all the while talking in Korea. He watched as I went on my way until I couldn’t see him anymore.

Well crap

Well crap. Did I go the wrong way? This is where Sena said the entrance was. Where does this trail lead?

Where does this leadlead

Success again! This time I got the right temple.

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The actual hike was a lot of fun aside from the 100% humidity and the fact I was wearing jeans, Chuck Taylors, and carrying a purse. A few side trips led me to some really cool sights. And seriously? What’s the deal with the exercise equipment ON THE MOUNTAIN? And there were multiple outdoor mini gyms. I passed at least three.

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While I was huffing away, I passed by two older Korean men. They later passed me when I took a rest. As they passed, one of the men handed me two pieces of candy and told me, “It’s hard to reach the top.” Eventually we all reached a plateau where we sat and picked up a conversation. The other man gave me a bag of what looked like some brownish green liquid. Turns out it’s some kind of onion juice. “It’d be good if you drank it all,” he told me. Uhhh- ok. Down the hatch! It actually didn’t taste bad. I’d drink it again.

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It was my second long conversation in Korean since I got here. They told me I should marry a nice Korean man, asked about my adoption and family back home, and talked about wild pigs that lived on the mountain. They also advised me that this was a good place to turn around and head back down.

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I originally took this picture to try to capture the baller Korean hiking gear that everyone donned. Little did I know that these two men would turn a fun little hiking adventure into a lasting memory.