Monday, December 21, 2009

it's that time of year...

...and I have been reflecting over my past year. Passed the CFA, quit my job, left DC, had the best stress-free summer at home, and moved to Asia to become a teacher. And that was only the last 6 months of the year!

New Year's Resolutions thus far:

1. Learn Korean!!
2. Update resume and weigh my career options in Seoul
3. Become a bboy


Today we had a special theme activity at school; "At the Post Office." Claire and I had the kids write letters to Santa then we pretended to be mail clerks and sold the kids stamps and had them mail the letters off. We had all of the kids in school before lunch then I had my normal Monday classes after, including Oak. I walk into my classroom and there are four pairs of eyes staring, tear free, up at me. No crying!! I inch my way to my chair, try not to make too much eye contact, and we start singing Christmas carols. Well I sang and they kind of hummed or talked over me. Then we colored. 35 minutes, alone with Lily, and NO TEARS. Knock on wood, I think the days of me horrifying this 3 year old are over.

Wednesday is cookie day!! We have our Christmas potluck (kids not teachers) and I'm leading a cookie decorating class. That's my last day living in Bongcheon and then I'm off to Vietnam for Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, I'll see ya in 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

networking fun

Thursday evening after a week of apartment stress, Susan takes me to a COEX convention center exhibition dinner. It's for industry only people, but according to my back story, I used to work in marketing back in Manhattan and am looking to get back into it now that I live in Seoul. We first arrive and head up for cocktail hour where we speak with these fun Brits about putting on your own convention. These guys seemed to be selling themselves more than we were. After I collect a bunch of business cards its time to go in for dinner.

Susan works as a Marketing Manager for COEX and gets to do these kinds of events every few months. How fun! Did I mention she's leaving in February and they're going to be looking to fill her position? She informs me that these events usually have some pretty crappy food. I take a look at the menu and it sounds good! Started with a delicious tuna dish, great mushroom soup, followed by sable fish with a cream sauce, and finished with a yummy pear mousse. I was impressed. Half way through dinner the lights go out. BBOYS enter the stage!!!! They put on a break dancing shoe in the middle of dinner. It must be a sign. I am meant to be a Bboy!!

After dinner there's an awards ceremony. At this point we've had quite a few glasses of wine, and I'm not that interested in who won "Exhibit of the Year." Then they make an announcement that one of the tables will win a prize. We were kind of far from stage, so I'm not really sure why they were doing this, but I knew that our table was going to win. 18!! 18!! 18!! I guess I was louder than I thought because they heard me and table 18 won!!! We went up to stage, probably in front of a few hundred people, and the MC asks if anyone has anything to say. Well you know I do. I gave a nice little speech and then she asked if there was anything I wanted to add. I kid you not, my exact words, "I'd like the thank the little people." Did that really come out of my mouth?? haha good thing most people there didn't speak great English. We go back to our table and open our gifts. It's a glass frame with a $2 (American) bill in it. Apparently it's lucky. The explanation was all in Korean, but I thought it was odd to give American money.

Afterward we head over to Blush which is a lounge in the Intercontinental Hotel the next building over. I had received an invitation for a free glass of champagne and Susan had a couple of free drink tickets from a friend. This place was nice, had a nice cocktail list, but no wine!? A few glasses of champagne (out of glass Loubiton shoes) and we head home. What a lovely little Thursday evening.

Now it's Saturday and I have to pack up my apartment. I'm going to move my crap over to Dave's then Krissy, Susan and I are heading out to Incheon (an hour away where the airport is) to see where Susan used to live. We're going to shop and eat then head home for a martini party. I love weekends in Korea!

apartment hunting sucks....

...when you've been looking for a two bedroom and your roommate bails last minute. Ahh. I have spent the past four days calling, touring, stalking craigslist, for a two bedroom only to get a phone call Thursday at eleven thirty from my supposed roommate. "Yeah I can't afford this now....I don't know how long I'll be in Korea." Um you didn't know this FOUR freakin days ago? I could have moved already!!! Back to square one. Oh and did I mention it's negative 6 out every night!?? Perfect weather to be apartment hunting in.

Anyway, I think I have a plan. My friend Tayler is moving to Taiwan in January with his girlfriend Paula. Tayler lives with Courtney who I know, and someone else, not sure who, and they need a new roommate come January 7th. They live in a great area right off the main street next to my favorite restaurant Indigos (3,000 won for glass of wine! and the best pesto sandwich!). The rent is super cheap, and let's be honest, anything is better than my current closet. So I will move my stuff into Dave's apartment tomorrow, go to Vietnam for a week, spend the Saturday I get back at the Mate Hotel (Susan's hosting another party), spend Monday on Krissy's couch and Tuesday through Thursday at Susan's. and January 7th I will be housed! Woohoo. I don't ever do things the easy way. I'm starting to think there is no easy way.

Off to the gym (I think i had 3+ pieces of chocolate cake at school today :) ) then to pack. Yey Friday night. Going to be a wild one. At least tomorrow there's a martini party!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

apartment hunting sucks... December. It's 20 degrees out and I have to run around Haebongchon and Kyungridon looking at garbage apartments. This was fun in DC in May when I had a month to figure out where to move. Not so much when it's freezing and I need to make a decision within 3 days.

So here's the story. My head teacher Hanna informs me on Friday that our new foreign teacher, Michael from Cali, will be joining us at the end of December. And I thinks to myself, where will Mike live??? I HAVES AN IDEA! Why doesn't Mike take my place, this will save BITS the hassle of finding a new place and putting down more key money, and I'll take one for the team and move out. Hanna says she'll run this by Christine, the school Director, and get back to me.

Monday, December 14th, I'm in class and Hanna comes in and tells me I have 350,000 won allowance a month for rent and I need to be out by Dec. 27th. I leave the 24th for a week for Christmas vacation. This gives me exactly 10 days to find a place, pack, and move out.

So I immediately begin searching places and calling realtors. Monday evening I go and check out a place with Simon realty. It was kind of smelly and had waaaay too much lace going on. It was ok but Liz and I decided we could do better. Then after Alejandra (craigslist) shows up an hour and half to meet me [she was at the police station getting finger printed for punching her boyfriend...yeah] she shows me her place. Cheap, good area, fully furnished. Definitely an option.

Tuesday. I have appointments with two more realtors. The first lady shows me a super cheap eh-apartment. It's in the basement and doesn't really have too many redeeming qualities. Apartment 2 is a three bedroom (I'm looking for a two) and it's pretty nice with fridge and washer, but no furniture. Eh pass. I text to see if Alejandra's place is still available. Response: GONE. crap.

Realtor dos. This dude picks me up and says he only has one place in my budget (actually a lot cheaper than my budget) so we're off to go check it out. He drives around. Parks. Runs around looking at numbers. Gets back in the car and drives. We repeat this a few times and he finally gives up and says he can't find the place. ugh seriously?

I'm feeling beat down, stressed, and COLD, so I head for the metro. As I'm walking I notice Itaewon Realty Consulting. I stop in. The woman speaks no English but gets a translator on the phone to find out what I'm looking for. We head out in the cold and she shows me the best place!!!! 3rd floor Kyundridon, roofdeck, wrap around balcony, 2 good sized bedrooms with beds!, cute blue kitchen, cute blue bathroom, and some storage. PERFECT. I totally love it, so now it's up to Liz to check one more place tomorrow (cheaper and fully furnished) and this place and we'll make a decision. Yey to getting out of boring-Bongcheon. Hanna and I were laughing at how lame Bongcheon is today at work.

Now I won't have to move out on the weekends, just commute 40 minutes back and forth all week :) I'd rather commute to work than to the bars...

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I did everything (except ice skating bc the line was 3 hours long) I set out to do this weekend. And I didn't even go to Sam Ryan's once!

Fri- play (which was awesome and now makes me think i can be a bboy. i just need to add 4" of muscle to each arm and learn how o spin on my head)
Sat- gym, clean, laundry, shopping, krissy's and hongdae
Sun- (slept til 2 but...) gwanghwuman snow competition, emart, home early

Aza. I win.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Today at school was one of those days that reminds you that you are amongst five year olds; in a good way. Firstly in my Willow class, Erika wrote her journal about a vacation to the ocean. After they write a few sentences they draw a picture. Her picture consisted of two people swimming, naked, with full on penises. haha i guess that's ok. Made me laugh certainly and they're not as prude as us Americans anyway, huh?

Then I was teaching my Juniper class and handed out stickers for doing a good job on their journals. I explained my mom mailed these stickers, from America, just for them. Tina (6) goes, "Your mom is the coolest. And so is teacher. And teacher is beautiful today. Teacher is beautiful everyday." Tina A+ and an extra sticker for that comment. I <3 her.

At lunch Henry (5) looks at me and in perfect English says, "and how are you today teacher?" Who knew they could be so thoughtful!? These are they kids who call me Piggy Teacher because I eat all of the kimchi at lunch. The same class later on comes into my room and ask if it's game day. It is. I tell them no, we're not playing games anymore, only taking tests (I don't give tests). They all put their heads down and refuse to talk to me. I tried to explain it was a joke; just pulling their chain; sure we'll play games. It was just way beyond them. I don't know if they'll ever trust me again. haha.

Kids are funny.


But yey it's Friday. After a lovely evening of red wine and friends last night, tonight's chill night at the play should be a good change of scenery. "The Ballerina and the B Boy." Bring it.


Last night, after 3 months of searching, I found a pair of men's shoes that actually fit. They were narrow. Fit in the toe. Blue. Not totally ugly. And not some no name company (Adidas!) Tomorrow the running begins again. Screw you toe.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

10ks are killing me

Roughly 2 weeks ago I awoke to a swollen and most painful toe. It's the one next to the pinkie on the left foot, and no other toes appear irritated. I let it go for a few days and then it started peeling off. Then the nail started falling off. I even wore my school slippers out to the bar Friday (which was a poor choice because it ended up down pouring!! soft slippers soak that freezing rain up!) and it was no better for the lack of shoes. After about a month of "Yeah your health insurance card is on it's way" I decide my toe is looking grosser than ever, although less painful, and I can't take it anymore. I have Jasmine teacher hook me up with a dermatologist.

I am literally in there 10 minutes. The Dr. takes one look says it's irritated (oh yeah, good call buddy) but it isn't a fungus like I was afraid. NOTE: Last week I had my best week of Korean running. I ran a 10k (hasn't been done since August) and the next day ran a 5k. I think I ran 4 times that week. Well, apparently that has caused me to lose my toe...well the nail and the skin on top. Doc says no running for 7-10 days. It's already been 7!!!!! Ahhh. No running. Has he ever met me!? At least my biggest fear wasn't realized; amputation....this time around. Pray for my poor toe.

This is what happens when you wear the same shoes for 6 months too long. But KOREANS don't make shoes bigger than 250. I wear a 260. Mens shoes are too wide. If anyone has some new shoes they'd like to send me for Christmas, I would greatly appreciate it (9 1/2 American) I like Mizunos, Saucony, Brooks, and anything by Gucci.

Today at school we FINALLY have mac and cheese day! The whole reason I wanted to do this at school was because a) cheese is expensive here and b) you can't find mac and cheese anywhere. So as I'm looking through the ingredients this morning and I realize we're missing some. I tell Claire teacher and she runs out to get them....Singles (like Kraft but some Korean version) and the most Philadelphia cream cheese I have ever seen!! I think she missed the point here.

Anyway, I decide to make due. The recipe I had was from Jessica Seinfeld and was all about sneaking veggies into kids' favorites. Because the don't have butternut squash here I decided to use pumpkin. Class 1 I make it with the kids and it's surprisingly good by my standards, just more pumpkiny than cheesy. The kids were disgusted. They thought I was crazy. They're like "THIS is your favorite food." Well some variation of THIS. Class 2- same grossed out reaction. Class 3- Cedar my homeroom- ate it up! They thought it was delish!!

Lesson learned. Mac and Cheese doesn't appeal to the Korean palate. I suppose good luck trying to get an American kid to eat kimchi or dried squid....

Christmas we're making cookies. You can't mess that up right? Kids love cookies! Have you ever tried a Korean cookie....?? :(


Tomorrow it's off to a going away party, then Friday I'm headed to a play with my co-teachers Jay and Joel. Jay is leaving BITS shortly so it's probably our last (well and first) hurrah. The play is roughly translated to "The Ballerina and the B-boy." haha should be interesting. 2 plays in one week!!! Saturday- back to the wine tasting and out for some going away/birthday/DJ parties. And Sunday, I am sooo pumped, I'm going up to Gwanghummuan (totally spelled wrong) for ice skating and a snowboarding contest. How you have a snowboarding contest in the middle of a city I don't know, but if anyone can pull it off, it's those crazy Koreans. Love em.

Monday, December 7, 2009

i spoke too soon

Lily cried the entire class today. She eventually fell asleep from crying so hard.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

no more tears

It's official, Lily has stopped crying at the sight of me! And now, with the prompt from the Korean teachers, she will even approach me on her own. Today at school we had a special; Cookie House Day! I read Hansel and Gretel to all of the kids and then we made cookie houses. The cookies houses (I guess they don't have gingerbread here) were cardboard boxes covered in Saran wrap. Jasmine teacher informed me they didn't use Saran wrap last year and when they went to eat the cookies off the houses, the box would stick and the kids would eat it anyway. Good to see we're making improvements. Anyway, so all of the teachers got one house, one class and a bowl of corn syrup and a paint brush. As we painted the house the kids stuck either wafers, crackers (I'm talking saltines), fruit loops, chocolate cereal, chocolates and pepero to the houses. None of these things, except the chocolate bits, held any appeal to me. Next time I'd like to be consulted about the cookie selection.

After lunch (which sucked today, fried crap, potato soup, and dried fish with peanuts- I ate the kimchi!) the kids were let loose to eat the houses. Holy god. You would think these kids hadn't eaten in months. They demolished the houses and were licking the corn syrup off of them. Ew. A few minutes into this and Lily walks across the room to me, looks up at me, and hands me a saltine dripping with syrup. It just about melted my heart. Then I see Sienna and Amy teachers (who I'm pretty sure don't like me) clapping and cheering Lily on. Even though she had some coaxing, she still delivered, and most importantly, didn't cry.

It was a good day at school. Tonight I am going to an event at Vino Vin, a new wine and tapas bar in Itaewon, for a diplomat event. I am not, believe it or not, a diplomat, but I know one. And I guess for 10,000 won that's good enough to go network, sip wine and snack on tapas. Afterward I'm off to Haebongcheon for a birthday celebration for Jo. I think this is her 31st and she's trying to play it low key. Whatever. More wine I'm sure.

Tomorrow= mac and cheese cooking class! Nice way to end the week :)