Notes From Korea: Boring Daily Life Stuff

Once upon a time a thousand years ago (in 2002), I took a year long teaching job in South 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.
April 29th, 2002
We went to the Korean Folk Village just outside of Seoul last weekend. It was pretty interesting-a lot of good Korean history. It was a really great day and great scenery. My friend from Canada met us there and we hung out for the day. We missed the last bus back to Wonju though (by about two minutes). We almost had to take a subway to Seoul (20 minutes), transfer and take another subway to the train station (15 minutes), to catch the train to Wonju (60 min). But then we found a bus that would get us to a neighboring town and I called my director, who called the school partner, and he picked us up and delivered us home! VERY nice guy, especially since he was sick as a dog. Unfortunately, he speaks no english at all, so we aren't able to really chat.
 
Things are going good for Andrew. He spoke to the piano teacher and told her what the F-word means in Korean (thanks to my jr high class) and she talked to the other kids about them saying that word to Andrew. He's more excited to go to the piano class now!
 
No new students yet, but anyday, I'm sure. I like my classes small so I'm not complaining.
I've had to put my foot down in my jr. high class, as they say the word Shit a little too freely. Now when they swear, I have them stand up with their hands in the air for five minutes...heehee....it was a spur of the moment idea-something I could easily draw on the board: SHIT = [insert stick figure with hands up]. At one point I had half the class standing up like I was robbing them! Ha! The three of us in the class still sitting thought it was funny.
 
We're going to the international school in Taejon (about two hours away) next Sunday/Monday to visit their library and get Andrew some books. We are going to stay the night at the house of a single mom I've been talking to there. She has a daughter, but she's seventeen, so probably not much interest to Andrew, but we get to stay at their house for free. It'll be nice just to have some English speakers to chat with all night. They are actually from an area in Oregon not far from where we used to live!
 
Oh yeah, some interesting info on prices I keep meaning to tell you - a new store opened nearby our apartments so we've been buying meat there each week (I hate going to the butcher). I paid about $4.50 for a steak for Andrew (and Tasha (our cat))-about the same as back home, but the potatoes I bought with it were insanely expensive! They have them pre-bagged for you. You get four in a bag for $1.50. Isn't that crazy?? FOUR potatoes-and they aren't really good-sized, they're much smaller than we are used to...which sucks for those of us not eating the meat portion of the dinner!!
We were really excited to see cut-up chicken there too, and even though I think that all the guts and gizzards still in there-I bought some. However, the next day, our fridge smelled SO bad!! So we're sticking to steaks for now (for Andrew anyway).
 
Did I tell you that my allergies are more worse than anyone in the world? Yep-the worst. My eyes are itchy and red most of the day and I sneeze and sneeze, and blow my nose all day. Andrew found Xyrtec in the pharmacy so I think I'll try that. Otherwise, I'm going to head to the black market for something different!
 
May 2nd, 2002
Not much time to chat, just wanted to let you know we got two more packages - Andrew's croutons and granola bars (which are all gone already!) and another box of my summer clothes. Thanks again for sending it all. I think the post man wasn't as thrilled as we were though-he had to make the trek up to the fourth floor here days in a row this week.
 
We're mailing gifts out tomorrow morning, but I never know what rate/class they're going, so it might be eight weeks.
 
Andrew is supposed to start art school today, but we'll see if he actually goes. We ordered a large pizza this week and they delivered it with a gift of a large art set-with paint, a brush, oil crayons for making "real" art pictures, etc. It's a pretty nice set, even though the carrying case is partly pink (which Koreans seem to like)...so he's pretty jazzed up to go use the stuff at class.
 
Children's day is Sunday. I don't know what we're going to do to celebrate it, as that's the day we are going to Taejon. We'll still have fun and I'll spoil Andrew a little extra to commemorate the day.
 
May 10th, 2002
Email to grandma from Andrew:
 
Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
My cat Tasha is having a lot of fun. She really likes the environment-the heated floors are great!
 
My favorite part of homeschooling is that I get to stay in my pajamas! I really like to learn about the Presidents. It is my favorite subject besides math. I know the first twenty.
I'm learning a lot of Korean.

I really miss you guys.
 
I got your package finally! The one with granola bars, easter candy and kool-aid. I really liked the easter candy. Mom had one bite, but I ate the rest. I shared the granola bars with some kids at school. They liked it!

4 comments:

  1. Brian Miller said...:

    nice...i love these posts actually...kinda neat ont eh art set with the pizza...my boys love to do art...

  1. Lynn said...:

    Hey there I wanted to say thanks for visiting my blog and I am looking forward to visiting yours as well, have a great day! :o)

  1. Raven said...:

    Wow, what an experience that must have been! Love the pics, they are great. I couldn't imagine living in a foreign country for a year.

  1. Heather said...:

    I'm still stuck on the potatoes!! That is just crazy!

    Great letters, I love reading these.

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