Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why My Parents Rock:

Because they know EXACTLY what I'm missing from home:

Items include:

  1. Sour Patch Kids
  2. Red Vines
  3. Milk Duds
  4. Mike & Ikes
  5. Orville Redenbacher Kettlecorn
  6. EasyMac
  7. Nutella
  8. Jello Cookies N Cream pudding and pistachio pudding
  9. Cherry Jello
  10. Sloppy Joe seasoning packets
  11. Bottles of Dayquil and NyQuil and Dayquil tablets
  12. Hunt's tomato paste for Grandma Lucy's brown sugar/bacon 'sghetti
  13. Full size fitted sheets and pillow case

Hoooray! Only glitch - the Nyquil somehow leaked and got all over my sheets (boooo) but I just pulled them out of the wash and they are cough syrup stain free! Can't wait to put them on my bed and snuggle into them. I'm so sick of the hospital sheet the school gave me to put on top of the mattress.

Anywho this totally made my week. I am so glad I'm not sick anymore, plus I got open class over with, and now this lovely package came- the icing on the cake!!!

Everytime I pop a Milk Dud in my mouth or decide I need to treat myself to a cup of EasyMac, I'll appreciate my parents that much more for being so thoughtful and all around awesome.

You know how it was when you pulled your PB &J sandwich out of your brown bag lunch and not ONLY were the crusts cut off but it was cut into a cute shape like a heart or a star and you got a little handwritten note? Yep, that's how I feel. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

When Pigs Flu

OK So I don't really think I have the swine flu but I think I hurt myself rather than helped myself by going out on Friday night (and then spending a chilly/windy night out on the roof of St. Opistel).

Yesterday I met up with Dave at Butterfingers and had a delightful breakfast dinner (with hashbrowns, bacon, scrambled eggs, and pancakes). But throughout the whole evening I was hacking and coughing once again. My throat was pretty sore and I was trying to suppress the cough only to cough out my lungs even more.

This progressivly worsened as the night when on, and I was fearing a bruised ribcage as I would get up every 5 minutes to go spit up greenish mucus in my sink as I was getting ready for bed. I woke up this morning and immediately felt icky.

Got to school and my director asked how I was and I told her the truth: Not so hot. She immediately became concerned and said, well I hope you feel better soon. I thanked her and returned to my prep work for the morning. Stephanie had mentioned that a friend of hers at another hagwon was now being quarantined with the rest of the teachers because one of the teachers tested positive for swine flu. Seems like this swine flu thing can't die already!

As I was walking into my class, my director came up to me and suggested I go back and see the E.N.T. doctor. I thought that was so sweet of her, until someone pointed out the swine flu incident. By this time I was just hacking and coughing but of course by this afternoon my sinuses are fully congested. Grrrr~! I really hate this.

Anyways, my director wants to track my sickness and make sure I don't have a fever.

Oh, but the BEST thing of all. I went to the doc's and they GAVE me money because I had my ARC (Alien Registration Card) this time! I got 10,000 won back since I had to pay 12,000 won for my appointment last time.... Would this have happened back in America?!

So I'm back to my "Flu cocktail" and I decided to stock up on some Halls and Tylenol Cold. At least, I haven't waited a few days like last time. Hopefully I can nip this thing in the butt once and for all. I'm so tired of being sick here! I just want to get better so I can enjoy everything without feeling sick! It's 9:00 so I'm going to try to get to bed and get a good night's rest.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Forgive and Forget?

I'm not much of a sports buff... anyone can attest to this. However, the one time I took much interest in sports was unfortunately the Michael Vicks case and his involvement in a dog fighting ring.

Personally, I find this to be one of the most despicable and cruel offenses. Inflicting any sort of pain or death on animals for the sake of "sport" is a barbaric excuse for entertainment. I don't care if it's a part of culture or heritage or tradition. It ain't right.

Coincidentally enough, I was here in Korea when this news broke and I can't believe he is out already. Time flies by, wonder if it did for him while he was in the clanker? Now that he is out and ready to get back to playing with a pigskin, the Humane Society has approached him about partnering up for an anti-dogfighting campaign.

Honestly, this has been the only the article I have read as of yet, but nowhere do I see any sort of motivation for Vick to take this opportunity as a true chance to change and advocate against dogfighting. Did he partake in any sensitivity training or rehabilitation for his involvement in cruelty to animals? Will this just be something where he shows up for the photoshooot and maybe a press conference or two? I doubt he feels any remorse for what he did besides the fact that he was caught.

What are your thoughts? Should "second chances" be the answer to this? What would you do if you were the HS?

Booking of Love

So last night, me and the YBM IA gals aka Vanessa, Stephanie, and Anna went to our first "booking club." While I wouldn't say I'm completely assimilated into Korean culture, I would say that I'm comfortable with most of it. You should let old people push you on the subway and be ok with it. You should realize your boss isn't being AS critical as you might think when they are criticizing everything you do. Patting kids on the rump is PERFECTLY acceptable and openly done, even by strangers...

That's why I was intrigued when Vanessa mentioned a club she wanted to go to in Apgujeong that wasn't a typical western night club. While I could spend a bit of time trying to explain what a booking club is, does a pretty good job of summing it up:

Here's a little rundown that I got from their site-

The "booking club" is a social club exclusive to South Korea, and is a unique compromise between modern Western ideals and the preservation of traditional customs. "Booking" is very popular in the capital, Seoul, and can be found in some of the larger cities outside the country where there is a sizable Korean population (e.g. New York City, Los Angeles).

Women and men come here to be introduced to each other through the use of a go-between. Instead of entrance fees in Western clubs, tables are "bought"; you rent out a table for the night with a group of friends... Tables for girls are substantially cheaper than tables for guys, and for good reason: first, to encourage them to come to the club, and secondly, because most girls never sit at their table for a long period of time...

Men's tables are very expensive, especially the private rooms; a single night out can cost up to US $1000 (~1,000,000 won) for men, not including additional drinks and tips, depending on what kind of table is bought. Each room has several waiters serving it; You might be asking yourself, "Why would there be a waiter if there is food and drink already on the table?"
The waiter's primary purpose isn't to get more food and drink (though they can be). What you order from a waiter are women.

The men in a private room will observe tv screens to pick and choose among the women dancing (as if they were no more than menu items), and will then give their "order" to their waiter. The waiter will leave and return with one of the items in your "order", dragging whatever girl you especially liked enough to make a request for. She'll sit down next to you, and the waiter will depart to serve someone else.

So what do you do now?
You make small talk, of course. You introduce yourself, and try to impress her in the short time you have. While it's true that you chose her and that the waiter dragged her over to you, she's free to leave if she doesn't like the way you look, or how you spoke. If you're lucky, you'll exchange email addresses/phone numbers, but you know it's over when the girl says that her friends are waiting for her at the table (a blatant lie; her friends are being shipped around from table to table, too). Hopefully by then you've snagged her number, and you can always call her later if things went well.

This is where the benefit of buying expensive tables come in. Having a private room and expensive liquor on the table is a not-so-subtle way of saying, I have money. Lots of money = good job = good university = good potential husband. Also, lots of money = lots of presents. It gives you a marginally better chance that the girl will stick around to really talk to you; nobody likes a cheap desperate loser.

Girls, however, have a very different night in comparison to guys. Upon reaching their table, girls will usually head straight for the dance floor, which has several video cameras. They can dance for as long as they want; as long as they're on the dance floor, they will be undisturbed by a waiter. It's only when they get off that the real action begins. Sometimes a girl will make it back to her table to rest before a waiter comes by, but if she's pretty, she definitely won't make it and she'll be disturbed the moment she gets off the floor. A waiter will come up to her, and politely inform here that someone is interested in seeing her.

The token and obligatory answer is, "No." It saves face for the girl; she has made her "good girl" response. She doesn't really want to go, that's not something she's interested in doing... the waiter will simply ignore her responses and take her by the arm to drag her, "unwillingly," to whatever guy wanted to speak to her.

The girl will then sit down and chat with the guy; if she's not interested, she'll politely excuse herself and leave. If other men have requested her, then she'll be picked up by another waiter again and conveyed to the next guy. It's very likely that she won't see her friends for the rest of the night, which is why carrying a cell phone ("handphone") is very important.

Now the observant might be asking themselves, "So... what happens if the girl really means 'no' when the waiter comes?" It doesn't happen too often unless the girl's tired. If she really does mean no, and makes that clear to the waiter, he'll let her go. He won't force her, of course; there's no point. But no waiter will touch her for the rest of the night. So the girl will be sitting at her table for the rest of the night, and a boring (and expensive) night that will be.

These sorts of clubs are very popular with the university and young single professional crowds, despite the expense. It's a quick and painless way to meet a lot of new people in a very short time (kind of like speed dating). It frees men from the hassle of trying to pick up girls (since they all come to him), and it frees women from the social stigma of meeting men. If anyone's in South Korea and has a few friends, it's one of the few "must try" things, if only to appreciate the way a compromise has been worked out socially.

(Another cultural note: many booking clubs are run by local gangpeh (a gang; similar to yakuza) of some sort, so if you ever have the interest to go to one of these clubs, it's best to make sure you've got the money. It's not all that wise to run up a huge bill and not pay. You will end up paying, though maybe not in the way you expected to.)

So what was it really like? This article had the experience pretty well summed up. I must admit I was a little apprehensive going into this. I think all of us girls were a little nervous and not quite sure what we were exactly getting ourselves into.

First, I feel there's a stigma attached to it by foreigners who have no clue what it really is, and even by Koreans who don't "get it." I was in this camp 2 seconds before walking into the booking club. I wanted a familiar night out in Hongdae up until we were ushered in and seated at a table at the top of a loft overlooking the "controlled mayhem" occuring below me.

As we were sitting at our table with a beautiful display of... fresh fruit and really gross beer, below I saw men running around in orange vests grabbing and dragging (and this is not an exageration) Korean girls (who spent a LOT of time dolling up) all over the place. Across the room, up the stairs, down the stairs, to partitioned booths and tables, out of bathrooms. I sat there and thought, "This is really creepy and in all honesty is a step above prostitution...." What did I get myself into?! Would this be considered a legal form of human sex trafficking?!

Anna and I were in need of a restroom so we decided to brace ourselves and make a run for it, leaving Steph and V behind. In an attempt at humor and relief, Anna pretended she was a Booking Waiter and grabbed my arm, urgently dragging me somewhere important. It certainly lightened the mood and we made it back without any drama.

After waiting several more minutes, a waiter comes up to us and asks Vanessa if she'd like to go with him. Ok, here comes the point of no return. The waiter tells her that it's a room of university students who can speak English. She asks if we all can go together and the waiter shakes his head, grabs her arm, and *poof* no more V.

And then there were three. Next another waiter comes and takes Steph by the wrist and says, "let's go." Anna and I are sitting there looking at each other, like "what the hell just happened?" We have no idea where Steph and V went. Finally a waiter comes and begins to grab me but I pull him down and say, "Chingoo" pointing to Anna and I take her hand and say "Katchi-ga-yo" (Go together) and the waiter says, "OK."

So here we go, we are led outside the main dance floor area into a hallway. The second rotation of "Single Ladies" fades in the background and there's just a lot of muffled noise. I wasn't scared but I was nervous, and of course a little excited. Where we were going?! Who was in the room?! What do we do if we don't want to stay? Before anyone gets nervous - Hi Mom and Dad- I just want to let you know, I never felt I was in danger, at any point in the night. Thanks to my sorority days, I know the rules. Never take a drink you haven't seen poured in front of you, travel in packs (yay Anna), and always go for the eyes and nose if something goes wrong.

We are led into a room that is similar to a noraebang room and we look around, BOYS everywhere... and VANESSA!!! She's sitting at the corner of a long table talking to some Korean guys and the waiter ushers Anna and myself to two guys sitting at the corner of the table. After awkwardly scooting to the far end, I'm introduced to "Kenny" a university student (21) who studied econ in Hong Kong and his friend, "Sam," a business mgr student who is back for the summer from.... PURDUE! OK, they were a lil young so I (hooray!!) lied and told them I was 23. Does that make me an official cougar?

After several moments Stephanie comes in and we chat up the guys and drink the free booze. We head to the dance floor (just us girls) and then we are booked to another booth and talk to some more guys. The second group of guys are in a curtained booth (less $$ than the private room, but the first one had about 10 guys and this booth only had 4 or 5) before we decide we've been booked enough and headed out to Hongdae.

All in all, this was a very fun night. Jury is still out on whether I would go back again but I'm glad I did it. One more thing I can check off my list. Honestly, it was nice to talk to Korean guys who I didn't know as acquaintances first. I always thought Korean guys were too shy and intimidated by Western girls so I wrote them off. Now I won't be as quick to judge.

Now it's time to spend a quiet evening with Gatorade and the first episode of Glee.

I don't think we took any pictures at the club but if so, I'll make sure to post them.

Till then. XOXO

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kimbap Documentary

So I am not sophisticated enough to embed this but this is the documentary that Adam was a part of.... there's a cameo of yours truly at the end! :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blogging with One Eye Closed

Just checking in, quick status update, my cold/"swine flu" has gotten slightly better although I was sounding a lot like hoarse Aunt Gertrude, you know the one who smokes 5 packs a day? Ugh it did not sound good. And on top of that, you try to make sure the little kiddies can hear you alright so it only got worse through out the day.

Like I said, I'm surprised at how "ok" I feel despite everything. I'm still happy and I don't want to give you the impression that I'm complaining or even feeling sorry for myself... Ok I'm lying, I feel a LITTLE sorry for myself but I'm just doing my best to roll with the punches. Anyways this all would have been fine and dandy but it really got pretty poopy when I woke up this morning. Caution, this entry is kinda graphic/gross. You've been warned.

First I must preface with the dream that woke me up. It involved a Real Housewife from NYC and I was tearing her a new one on how horrible she was as a mother, a model, and then I had the audacity to throw out, "and yes you're the least favorite Housewife." In the dream I got pretty worked up, so frustrated that I started crying. Well have you had those kind of dreams where you then wake up (in real life) and your face is wet with tears? Well I woke up this morning and I felt as though I had cried my eyes shut. I tried to open them but couldn't. After lying in bed for a few minutes (noticing that I could hear rain softly falling outside), I could finally open my right eye but my left one was still completely sealed... like a newborn puppy or kitten. So I got up and dragged my feet to the bathroom to look. Yes it looked as though I had indeed cried my left eye shut.
While I'm showering it slowly begins to open so I'm excited. I'm also spitting up less phlegm and mucus than I had the day before. But I spoke to my parents last night and was resolved to go see a doctor just to be safe. Stepping out, I realize, crap, my cold has turned into a sinus infection. I quickly self-diagnose myself and decide- yes, it's a sinus infection. Thanks Web MD!

So I walk to school in the rain (bought myself an umbrella from 7-11) in my slick wellies from J. Crew. I didn't think I would get to put them to use so quickly. When I get to school I talk to the director and she thinks it's a good idea to go see an E.N.T. specialist (Ears, Nose, Throat). After trying all day, I finally get my appointment at 5:30. However during the course of the day, I had another teacher come up to me and various students asking me what was wrong with my left eye. I said, "Oh I just think it's a sinus infection." Until one of my students said, "No teacher, it looks like little red worms." What?????? I run into the bathroom and take a "peek" and yep, it's the blossoming of pink eye. Now I had pink eye in South Korea before. It lasted about a day but was only in one eye. However this case seems to be much more aggressive.

Surprisingly my left eye is just slightly irritated... It spread over to my right eye by early evening, around 4:30. Now it's oozing with this thick discharge and filming over so much so that as I'm typing, I'm keeping it closed so that I can see clearly. It also feels incredibly dry and itchy. I put eye drops in my eyes this morning but I fear that it didn't help. So I'm doing my best to just leave be, but I really hope this clears up. While typing just now, I inadvertently closed both of my eyes and found myself doing the Stevie Wonder head bob. Ok, it MUST be the drugs that Korean doctor gave me.....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Seoul, the Ultimate Indian Giver

Just when I think I'm through the woods and that I've conquered jet lag, I woke up this morning not feeling too hot. I tried my best to stay mellow all day and not get myself worked up about anything but really it's too darn hard to not be enthusiastic with some of my kiddos.

By the afternoon classes I was ready to pass out, but the afternoon head teacher came up to me and asked if I could teach a make-up class. Rather than wanting to come across as a stubborn and sissy foreigner I obliged. It wasn't too bad but my head progressively got hotter and hotter.

Oh, did I mention I was supposed to move into my apartment today? I had two parcels shipped to the school, waiting to take them to the new apartment so I took these and a lovely big purple floral comforter (no really. you shouldn't have.) via taxi to my new digs. First impression, liveable. Second impression, the door is going to fall off in the bathroom. The only only thing I wanted to do was plop on the naked mattress and curl up into a ball. But Andy, the Korean guy who gets to do most of the grunt work, said, "Ok, we go old apart-uh." I didn't think I'd make it but I soldiered on to Seocho Station and concentrated really really really hard while standing on the subway. Finally when we reached Apgujeong I turned to Andy and with my arms crossed in an X just said, I need to eat and sleep. I have not felt this type of exhaustion in a very long time. The draining fatigue wrung all my willpower out and it wouldn't have surprised me if I fell into a heap on the bus.

I shoved a kimbap down my throat so at least I wouldn't go to bed on an empty stomach and then I stood under a scalding shower for about 20 minutes. It definitely helped and so will the Nyquil gelcap I just took. The only reason why I'm writing this rght now is because I'm not sure when I'll be able to blog next since my apartment does not have internet and cable set up.

Bright side? Tell me please!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Man oh man, I just had the best night of sleep for a very long time. Went to bed around 10:30 and got OUT of bed at about 11:00.... First time since I've been here that I haven't woken up at 4:00...

I stirred at about 6:00 but put on my eyeshades that I bought at the airport. Worked out perfectly. It also got pretty darn hot in my room but with the windows open a cool breeze drifted in.

Very well rested for my Children's Day activities!!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Here we go!

This morning I officially take over Yellow Class and afternoon teaching. It's literally like the first day of school, got my clothes picked out, new supplies, the works.

Tomorrow is Children's Day so we celebrate with the kids by playing games up on the roof. Works for me since I'll be playing most of the day and then easing into the afternoon classes.

Wish me luck!