Notes from Korea - Late March - Sandstorms, Trip To Japan & School Info

Once upon a time a thousand years ago (in 2002), I took a year long teaching job in Korea. I packed up my 9 yr son, his little white cat and 4 huge bags of "stuff" and we got on a plane and flew from Washington state to South Korea. We lived there for a year, came home for Xmas and then my son stayed in the states for 8 weeks while I flew back over the big pond to finish my contract(the first time I've ever been away from him for more than 2 weeks). We lived in a small town, with no native English speakers, no familiar food, and no real clue of what we were going to do. It was a great adventure!

I wrote long, sometimes boring, letters home. These are them, unedited except for the removal of the whining and begging to my parents to please send this or that. You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

Hey Everyone,
It's been awhile since I did an update -been keeping busy over here!

Where to start...

There was a warning put out across Korea to stay indoors and limit your activities this weekend, as the Yellow Sand is drifting over from the Gobi Desert in China. We didn't get the info until we'd already been outside and had been wondering why there was so few people out and about. Our world looks constantly foggy, but it's not fog. The dust is really small and we don't notice it's in the air, but the cars are a mess and anything left outside is covered in it...and I'm sure it's making a home in our lungs.

Andrew and I took our second trip to Japan, where we finally got our year-long visa stamps. Andrew has been excited to get each and every stamp in our passports and we are now (somehow) up to page 11! We did not have much time this visit and our hotel was very near the embassy, however, it was very far from everything else! We spent our evening walking around the area, enjoying the most wonderful park, right in the middle of the city. Then we headed to the only thing within distance of us-a mall, where we met a little monkey. The monkey crawled right up in Andrew's lap even. Andrew also had a chance to talk with the first English speaking child since January-we met a young boy who was travelling with his family. Then we went to see Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. We had to giggle every time we heard Philosopher, as it is not what we are used to.

The monkeys meet...
(Click to view photos from both trips to Japan)

Japan was so expensive! We were really shocked to see the prices of things.

Andrew, who might be the worlds pickiest eater ever (I'm sure most of you already know that), found some kind of Japanese meal as we were on our way to the airport and made me buy two of them since he liked the chicken so much! He scarfed them down and we rushed to the subway to catch our plane and it was home to Korea!

School has been open for a month now and it is really great. My classes are really small, which is fine by me, though it should be temporary. We hope to have a full class of ten students in each of the three hours I teach. I have my first class at three-the Kindergarten class. There is only four, but it really feels like there is ten of them! We spend each day by coloring, playing games and reading, but it really is a long fifty minutes! They are fun though. They will find pleasure in the smallest of things! I was having a great time with them yesterday...we were practicing counting and I would hold up my hands, but skip a number so that I would end up with eleven fingers and then act confused when they stopped me. We did that exercise for TEN minutes! Much more fun than any job I've ever had (ha!).
My favorite little Korean girl The second class starts at four and it is five middle school students. Only two of them really want to learn English though and the other three are just there to drive me crazy. It is a challenge to keep them from hitting, screaming and throwing things at each other so that I can try to teach anything at all. Every day we play bingo at the end of class and I give out candy to the winners. I think that is the only reason they come to class at all.

My scrapbook pages of my students-Click to view enlarged (I don't have these photos digitally):
Korean Teacher Scrapbook pages
The third class is a mix of junior high and middle school levels. My biggest class, with seven kids, but it is the easiest to teach. They are not as fun as the little ones but at least I feel like I'm getting somewhere with them.Korean Middle School English Class
We're a bit limited in the foods we eat thus far, but I have been trying to convince the kid that nothing will kill him with just a taste. We had success at one restaurant and Andrew found a food he likes. It's called Mandu and is almost like an egg roll, but they say it's more like a dumpling. Either way, it's yummy.

The greatest thing about eating the food here is that the restaurants will deliver for free! The food is so cheap, it's easier and cheaper to order in-as most of the English teachers here do. Unfortunately, Andrew has not moved on to anything beyond Mandu yet so we'll see....I found a great fried fish I like and the servings are so big and inexpensive-it's wonderful! It's served with 4 large pieces of fish, rice, and two tater tots (???). It is the biggest meal I've eaten here.

An interesting point about the restaurants: They deliver the food on the plates they use in the restaurant and when you're done, you just leave them outside your door and they pick them up sometime little elves cleaning up after you. LOVE that! No dishes to wash!

Andrew and I have set a goal to learn one new word a day and teach each other the word. Last week, he learned how to say "what's your name" (iram me moya) and I learned "friend" (chick-su).

We are off for now, off to explore the black market for some simple remedies to homesickness.

Until next time...


  1. Brandy said...:

    wow - you are really brave to just pack up and take off

  1. Brian Miller said...:

    i love it when you post is fascinating to me...oh how i wish to travel and see the world. cute scrapbook page as well...

  1. Pam said...:

    I want to move to Korea and have people deliver my food and wash my dishes. What a fun experience. I love reading these adventures of yours.

  1. carma said...:

    you look so happy in that photo of you with the older kids - what a rewarding experience!

  1. Heather said...:

    This post reminds me of the first time I came to your blog, you had posted one of these about korea. I was just as interest then as I am now.
    Love how you just up and went, not knowing the laungage. I'm sure it had to be a little bit scary. I would probably have starved to death, cause I'm a picky eater too!

  1. Suzy said...:

    I've been to South Korea 3 times, each time to entertain the troops. Our home base was Seoul on each trip although we made it up to Pusan and then the DMZ.

    MANDU!! I loved it so much and discovered I can get it here in LA in Little Korea, which is only about 15 minutes from my house. LOVE IT.


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