WTF?! Wednesday ~ Would You Like Some Pig Midriff?

I’ve been super busy the past couple weeks, so apologies for my neglect on the WTF?! Wednesday front. I’m going to be moving when I return from Bali at the end of August, so Jeewon and I have been lugging our sweaty asses threw dingy shoebox apartment one after another until I finally found a cute little one bedroom to call my own! Praise all that is glorious and holy in this universe! My Vice Principal can finally lay off the overbearing mother role.

Now onto the weird.

This week and next week I have English camp, so that means I get off work at 12:40 everyday. This leaves lots of time to run errands and mosey around town in the sweltering dumpling cooker weather. On Monday I had to visit the US Embassy to add 48 more pages to my passport (!!!!), so I went on a long stroll after I was done with that.

The Embassy is located in my favorite part of Seoul, the Gwanghwamun/Jongno area. As I was just wandering down one of the tiny side streets in search of a naengmyeon restaurant to cool myself down, my eyes caught this awesome menu item.

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Yes, would anyone care for some PIG MIDRIFF for dinner? I don’t know about you, but when I think of pig midriff I think of a pig dancing around in a belly shirt circa the Britney Spears hey day era. It also comes by the “slaughter expert’s recommendation”.

So yea, instead of some pork belly, you get a PHAT slab of midriff. I hope it tastes sexy.

ByeBye, HeyHey ~ Off You Go To “A Whole New World”

I can’t believe I am even writing this post.  It actually pisses me off that I’m making myself do this.  However, I’ve come to use this blog space of mine to pay a little love to the people near and far who I want to give a big virtual hug to no matter where we both reside in the world at any present moment at any present time on any day of dire significance.

This one is dedicated to my beautiful Stephanie Anne Heyduck, who has become one of the nearest and dearest to my heart during this last year and a half in Korea.  It makes me really sad that her time here has expired, but that’s what comes with the expat territory.  Those who we become so close with weave in and out of our lives and that’s that.  I guess it’s what we indirectly signed up for in choosing a lifestyle fueled by wanderlust; bonding together with others who also thrive on that same passion to wander and move about this glorious globe to explore and conquer.

As we’ve cuddled, danced and traveled our way through an ever-growing friendship, it’s always been apparent to me that Steph is totally one of those people who is unbelievably wise beyond her 25 years.   Whether it be in matters of the heart or the world, she always manages to have the wild child in check with the mature adult who’s got their head screwed on straight.   She’s also one of those people that just knows something about everything, no matter the topic.  I only know a few of those kinds of people and she’s one of them.  It always kind of amazes me and I’m just like WHA?!  Where you come from?!  She’s a special one, and I love her dearly.

Now for a little journey thru some of my fave highlights of the past year and a half frolicking thru the far East together 🙂

The first time I met Steph was when Jeanette and Carmen were visiting.  It was maybe my 3rd week living in Seoul, and Jeanette and Steph realized they had practically matching tattoos.  Friends.Seoulmates.WHAT.

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Here’s the first time Steph, Katie, Abby and I officially became a foursome after each others hearts.  We hiked to the top of Namsan Tower and then struggled to take this photo in the geographical center of Seoul! Many of my “I’m so happy I’m in Korea moments” have been spent with these ladies, and they’ll all always hold one of the most special places in my little Korean heart.

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She introduced me to one of my favorite Korean foods, Shabu Shabu, in the Ying Yang pot, one freezing cold night after shopping our butts off in Myeong-dong. Nom.

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We’ve had some shenanigans, and this was one random night out on the town while everyone else got down on a bus filled with soju.  Hey, we all make mistakes. She dragged me, she loves me despite it 😉

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We got money hungry at the Trick Eye Museum. AKA the most fun museum EVER!

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Then we got ballsy and decided to eat some live octopus together for the first time.  Actually not so bad and kinda fun.

Somewhere around this time we decided we’d bare it all and get naked with each other at the jjimjilbang.  We did, and it was weird for like 2 minutes, and then it was awesome, and then we went again, and we became obsessed even though we didn’t do it as often as we thought we would.  But still.  It brought us as close as 2 naked platonic girlfriends can get.  Both in and outside of our sexy jjimjilbang attire.

Her family came to visit, got us smashed to pieces during her mom’s first date with soju, and then Papa Heyduck did a sorority pose in this photo with us all.

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There were a couple girls nights in.  This may have been what they started out looking like.

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And then the aftermath to the tune of some Disney movies and Twilight and makkoli and soju.

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Then we took on a bit of traveling together.  First came that unforgettable typhoon of a trip to Japan where we rode bikes around Kyoto…

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Got our plans “horribly” rearranged by an unexpected typhoon…

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And then relocated ourselves to the nearest karaoke room where Steph gave us this private show (before I inevitably hogged the mic).  Adele or Celine perhaps? The sake won’t allow me to remember.  Whatever the song, her voice sang it magically.  From this moment on we became noraebang obsessed.

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Shortly after, we went to go Barack the vote together.  We were VERY excited to make our voices heard.

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And after he won the election, the two of us rented out the VIP room at a local noraebang in Itaewon (because it was the only one available), drank ourselves silly on a Wednesday night, and sang our Disney hearts wild for 2 hours because we were so happy for our man Barry.  One of my all time fave Steph & Dani moments to date. “I can show you the worldddddddd……”

Of course by far one of my favorite things everrrrr that we’ve done was going to Thailand and Laos together this past February.  You don’t really know someone til you either live or travel with them, and we traveled really really well together.  We had such an amazing time playing with elephants and tigers, cooking exotic cuisine, crossing the border like a coupla Mexican cholas in the back of one too many pick-up trucks, and meeting lovely French lassies and gorgeous Argentinian men along the way. (I have majorly slacked in posting about that trip, but it will be coming soon, I promise. Eeeep!)

Needless to say, friendship is nothin if you’re not there to help hoist your friend’s fat ass up on top of a hormonal elephant…

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Or sit down next to each other in some tiger pee to get those one-in-a-million shots in life!

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Tonight after Abby and I had to fight back premature tears while saying bye to Steph at our 2nd to last dinner together, we were talking about when we first signed up to move our lives to Korea.  We had envisioned living amongst a new culture, with new foods, new experiences, new travels, a new language to make up the white noise in our background, and we knew we’d make friends abroad.  But, we both made the connection that neither of us had really put much thought into the relationships we were going to build and who would soon become our family whilst carrying on our new lives.  I guess you don’t really plan or think about those types of things because they’re organic and happen as they will. With the ending of year one a slew of great loves left, but Stephanie is my first great girlfriend who’s been there since the beginning, to leave Korea, and that’s a killer. Great girlfriends are not easy to find, and she is just one of those friends that I am so lucky to have snatched up.

To wrap it all up, I love you Stepaneeeeee, and I’m gonna miss you, like, times 10 million to the max.  But, I know we are both wanderers and this is just a BIG “see ya later”.  My time spent in Korea would never have been quite the same without you in it, and I hope this next chapter of your life is a lot less (kimchi) smelly, but just as fulfilling as the past 2 years have been.  I love you to infinity and beyondddddddd.

<3,

Dani

A Pupu Platter Of 2012 Whathaveyous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

Wow, another year has come and gone, and I must say, 2012 was my favorite year of my almost-29 years gracing this planet.  So much that I had always dreamt of in years past same to fruition this year, and I can honestly say I am in the best place I have ever been in my life.  And it feels damn good 😉

I had made the resolution in 2011 that by the end of the year I would be living a life abroad ~ check.  In 2012 I promised myself I would do absolutely as much traveling of Asia as possible.  I came to Korea to conquer this continent like a blaze of fire, and in looking back I can say I did just that.  Along with the travel resolutions, I really put my best foot forward to work on getting what I really want, and making that start from within.  I try my best to communicate what I want, but a lot of time it fails when walls get put up, or life just gets in the way.  So, I’ve really tried to be as self-aware as possible just be the best version of myself and hope that it brings with it what I truly want.  That being said, 2012 has definitely been the happiest and most honest year to date 🙂

Now I’m just gonna throw together a few highlights from each month of 2012. Badabing herrrrrr goes!

I began the year on the beach in Koh Phangan, covered in florescent body paint and drinking liquor by the buckets with one of my dearest and oldest friends on the planet ~ my fave biatch and sista from anotha mista, Miz Diamond ❤

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January marked my first birthday to be celebrated away from everyone I’ve always shared my (obviously) favorite holiday with.  I felt a little down about it, then in flew a gift from THE BEST sista ever ~ Sista Schaeff in the flesh, in Korea!

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On her last night here, she snuggled my foot to sleep.  BY CHOICE! ❤

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In February I visited two of my favorite countries so far ~ Vietnam and Cambodia. I saw some of the most beautiful snorkeling waters, caught my first fish, shot my first gun, ate a bowl of pho a day, wondered why they allow Americans in, and saw my life flash before me about 1million times while in ‘Nam.

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In Cambodia I visited the most breathtaking temples I have ever seen, spent an afternoon with beautiful children in an orphanage on the river, saw insurmountable beauties in some of the deepest poverty stricken eyes, and struggled to hold back tears while walking through a living history at the Killing Fields and S-21 genocide museum remnants from the Khmer Rouge of the 70s~80s.

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In March I visited the happiest place on earth, AKA the DMZ, for the second time.  This time we rode bikes along the most intensely guarded border in the world, all while Obama paid the peninsula a visit and peered over to the North with us.

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April means Passover, which also means the sea parts in Korea.  I made the trek down south with a homie and we met Moses, crossed the parted sea and drank makkoli while doing so, obvi.

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Later in April, my favorite story to date came to be.  A couple morons went to a Lady GaGa concert.  They got all gussied up in the hottest of pink and the tightest of attire, only to miss the whole thing whilst trying to attain the most coveted seats in the house during the “GaGa cover band”…. *face palm* At least we looked sexy.

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In May, Wawa came for a visit.  We did many things, but by far our favorite day was our “Day of Culture.”  We visited Gyeongbukgong Palace, learned about the creation of Hangul (the Korean alphabet), ate a traditional lunch, drank tea in a lovely tea house, dressed up and cracked up in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress), and wrapped up with a journey to the Noryangjin Fish Market.  Twas a wondrous day!

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Then came June, and Buddha’s birthday.  A crew of us high-tailed out of Seoul to Gangneung, a little beach town on the East Sea. There were makkoli and soju spurred chicken fights, sexy man-wrestles, toasty bonfires, crashing of high class fancy Korean booking clubs and frisbee games resulting in broken pinky toes and racial slurs. The Buddhaman had an awesome birthday!!

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Then came July and two events which could be classified as the greatest events of the century. One more than the other, but one got more hype than the other according to the Facebook.  You can use your own judgement on that one.  One required us to dress to the nines to bid adieu to all the homies we grew to call family, and also the ones we grew apart from because a lot of people that came with us were weirdos, let’s face it. The other required some prior temple-sculpting, lots and lots and lots of soju, mudmudmud and practically no clothes. Mud Fest was by far my favorite event of 2012.  Shit was CRAY TO THE MAX!

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August was the most bittersweet month of the year I’d say.  It was sweet because I took a 2.5 week summer jaunt on over to the Philippines with my lovely lass from home, Brianne.  We saw some of the most picturesque islands, snorkeled and ate our faces off, hiked miles in our little warrior Havaianas, posed with stalagtites, missed the whale sharks, got in a fist fight with a very mean typhoon, and let tempers fly with shitty budget airlines.

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August was bitter because our contracts ended and some left KoKo and I had to face the harsh reality that the world as I knew it was shattering before me.  Well, that’s an over-dramatization, but that’s how it felt at the time dammit. I also got thrown into my deathbed by some plague I contracted in the Philippines.   So, not only were my friends leaving, but I was deathly ill and partying with an IV in the hospital, unable to hand out proper goodbye hugs. NOT COOL WORLD.

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Then on rolled September.  Grabbing my bearings on who was still left in my Seoul-cial circle happened naturally.  I got back in the go-out mode (at least for the time being), and some friendships from the previous year had the chance to blossom.  Late in the month for Chuseok holiday, a group of us gals decided to pop off to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan with boy toy Joshy. We frolicked by bicycle all over Kyoto, made the most of the typhoon stricken city by stuffing our faces with enough sushi and sake to fuel an army, and tore up (literally) a karaoke room.  Best weekend ever!!!

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October was of course Halloween, and we got down with our bad selves…and Bob the Builder.

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In November I actually had a REAL Thanksgiving, none of that Pho shit (pardon me, it’s just not suitable cuisine for Thanksgiving).  Josh Rich was also in town as my 6th visitor to the Orient. A Happy Happy Turkey Day it was!

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And last but not least, I think the winner for best December event goes to my dance crew’s (WORD TO YO MAMA’S HIGH WAISTED JEANS) epic ass kicking in the 90s dance battle for the African kids. Real winners put in the effort, and effort we put in. Obviously you would know this had you been at our latke-rehearsal party, our cheese and crackers rehearsal party where Matty ripped his jeans, and our final rehearsal party that almost interfered with us attending the actual party because we were too focused on perfecting our dance.  What a BOMB DIGGITY way send out 2012!!!

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As you can see, 2012 was quite the year, and it’s been a pleasure looking back on it with you. Here’s to an even better 2013, and going home to America in 10 days!!!!!!!

PEACE & CHICKEN GREASE, HOMIEZ.

WaWa & SchaeffSchaeff in KoKo

I just had my 9 month Korean anniversary last Thursday, May 17th. Holy shit! In the 9 months that I could have been with child, I have had 5 visitors, 4 of which hail from the Orient.  Damn I’m popular, especially amongst the Eastern folk. The last most amazing friend in the world to trek their ass across the world for me with a bag full of cheese and other American delicacies was my lil WAWA!!! Her 10 day visit definitely warrants a posting.

I was so freakin excited to see Wawa! I haven’t seen her since I think my birthday last year (I think), but of course we have kept up to speed on all the juicy gossip that’s gone on in our lives in between.  But, I was especially excited for 10 days of good old fashion girl talk, rehashing past relationships, current whatevers, what went wrong and adding further insight to the past, that we’ve since gained in our old age. Oh, and play tour guide of this country that is now my home away from home.  I was a little nervous to play tour guide because the pressure’s on, but it was probably the closest to relaxing yet jam-packed trip possible. Twas awesome.

Wawa and about 10 pounds of candy came to school with me 2 days of the week, so she helped teach and squeeze the cheeks of my 3rd and 4th graders with me and Jin.  My classroom is also on the 6th grade floor, and since she didn’t come to class on days I taught them or 5th graders, they could only get candy if they asked Wanda a question.  Most of them asked the same shit, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” “Where are you from?” and just dug their dirty hands into the bag of candy, but then they had to actually ask her good questions.  Especially the smart ones. I made them. Some were actually good “Who’s your favorite Hollywood star?” and of course “Do you have a boyfriend? No? Why not?” Our favorite question EVER. Both days that she was here this is what it looked like just outside my classroom.  I had to play zookeeper to a bunch of candy crack babies  a couple times. That was fun.

Wawa is also no longer “solo.” I knew she’d come to Korea and find a boyfriend ASAP. This is her and her new boyfriend Julian. They even dress like a kouple.

Our absolute most favorite day of her trip was our “Day of Culture.”  That day we went shopping in Insadong where we got down to tradition and cried of laughter as we posed in Hanbok. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace and got a taste of celebrity when some middle schoolers asked to have their picture taken with us, saw the King Sajong statue, ate some bomb tofu and pajeon (Korean seafood “pizza”), drank tea at a lovely little tea house, and went shopping for a fish and live octopus to eat at the Noryangjin fish market. I ate live octopus for my 2nd time. Jesus.

Here’s a video of us eating that octopus.

We also had some very ladylike evenings.  We caught a jazz show at  my favorite location in Seoul, Jazz Story, in Hyehwa, and had a night of vagina at Vato’s Tacos followed by some vagina pops at a Vagina Monologues show.

We went to Gangnam and did what you do in Gangnam. Take glamour shots and hang out with very sophisticated men.

We also hiked, or rather walked 50 million flights of stairs, up to Namsan Tower to lock up our love (next to mine and sista’s) to forever overlook the smoggy sky of Seoul, and found our first epic Geocache.

All in all, it was soooo much fun having my lil Wa here! I’m so happy she came and it’s always nice to have visitors because it gives me a chance to feel like a tourist once again 🙂 Here are a couple other highlights of her trip.

Our new Vietnamese family.

Eating fried potatoes with some new male suitors.

Eating a hot dog wrapped in a pancake.

Swapping manicure secrets.

Shopping with ajummas, her new favorite breed of people.

Schaeff Schaeff loves you WaWa! Now come back soon! Mwah!

The End of The Beginning & The Beginning Of The End

Today is the first day of school, and I wore my new vintage blue plaid blazer because you’re supposed to look your best on the first day of school, right? I also wore my new Koreanized spectacles which my amazing-not-anymore-co-teacher told me look very expensive. I’m fancy.

Since it’s the first day of school and I never wrote about winter camp or the end of the school year, I’m just gonna kill 2 birds with one stone.

Winter Camp came and went, thank god.  2 weeks for 3rd & 4th graders, 1 week of 5th & 6th grade little shits. We did Hollywood Week and it went fine.  I think the highlight for me was teaching myself iMovie and making them these music videos which I showed on the final day…A Day at the Academy Awards.  I taught them a song, they illustrated, I threw these together.

Weeks 1 & 2 / 3rd &4th graders: Hot ‘N Cold by Katy Perry.  Taught them oppositessss.

Week 3 / 5th & 6th graders: Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus. Taught them about LA…and gerunds (-ing words).

Korea’s weird in that we had winter vacation end of December to beginning of February, then came back for a couple weeks, the 6th graders graduated (cue waterworks…and I did), and then we had  spring break for a couple weeks and now we’re back a grade older.

I’m a bit nervous to be honest. My amazing co-teacher Leni is now a 6th grade homeroom teacher, so we won’t be teaching together anymore 😦 Jin and I will still be teaching together, thank god, and I have a new co-teacher, Mr. Jang, who I taught English camp with. I’m nervous about that because his Englishee is pretty bad and he giggles whenever I say hello to him…uh oh

This is our last lunch as a 3some because Leni now eats lunch with her students in her classroom. Sad face.

Thought I’d post some of the photos from the 6th grade graduation, because I freakin love those kids. I think I’m the only one who loved their 6th graders. I actually cried at their graduation.  Who cries at a 6th grade graduation? A loser cries at a 6th grade graduation. If I’m like this watching kids I’ve known for 6 months graduate elementary school, I’m embarrassed for my own future children.

Billy on the right was my favorite 6th grade boy.  He is so f’ing smart. and Jessi, on the desk (who spells his name like a girl) is a little rascal. Here they were writing their pen pal letters to Kendra’s class in LA!

Heartbreakers

I’m impressed that they’re not covering their faces!

Money & his lil bro Rainbow ❤

Zidane. Oh how I love him. So smart and slightly cocky, but with a little heart of gold.

Billy & Ben

Sweet lil thang was crying!

The lil peach on the right is Sally.  My fave 6th grade girl 🙂

So yea, new school year has begun, the frigid cold has dissipated and spring is upon us.  Ciao ciao winter coat! I will leave you with another disgusting thing that I have tried.  This is that ugly ass fish I like to call the penis fish.  To be politically correct, it’s actually called gaebul, but penis fish is more suiting.  I tried it with Leni when the whole school went on an overnight trip to Gyewah about 3 hours out of Seoul. Wasn’t too bad, but won’t do it again.  As you can see, I’m also a wiz with chopsticks. When in Korea!

Bucket Lists, Birthdays, Butchered Octopi & A Bomb Ass Visitor

 

When deciding to move to another country, especially one so different from your own, you obviously put together a list of things you have to do when you’re there.  I made a Korean Bucket List during my whole research and application process,which has continued to grow since getting here, and in the past month I can say I’ve successfully checked off 3 big things. Therefore, this will be a somewhat video-heavy post topped off with my old lady laugh in most.  Hope ya don’t mind-uh.

1. Eat octopus.

  • This first time I ate it in a fishy soup with co-workers. I watched it go from breathing to boiling to death in a scalding hot pot, then cut up with scizzors on my table. Sad but whoa, Koreans don’t mess around.

 

2. Eat octopus…again.  This time purchase a living, breathing octopus and then eat it while still alive.

  • I spent a lovely and smelly afternoon at the Noryangjin Fish Market with Steph, Abby and Nick, Steph’s boyfriend. We walked through a massive fish warehouse while we mustered up the guts to finally choose a baby octopus, go to one of the little inside restaurants with our bag of octopus, then have them cut it up and serve it to us.  I don’t think this video or my words could actually express how nervous I was to do this.  It actually didn’t taste like anything and I didn’t even really feel the tentacles stick to my throat or mouth like the others, probs because I doused it in sauce then threw it back.  So sick, but I’d do it again for the novelty 🙂

 

3. Go to the DMZ.  AKA the De Militarized Zone AKA the most heavily guarded border in the world.

  • I have been wanting to go to the DMZ since before I arrived, because honestly, who can say they have been to one of the most intense borders in the world?  Not many. Well, the perfect opportunity presented itself when Sista decided to put her impulse buying to the test and booked a flight out to see me for my birthday!  Me, Sista and my friend Casey ended up going on Sunday, which also happened to be Mama Schaeff’s birthday, so we decided to keep our plans to ourselves until we were back in the South in one piece.
  • There are 2 different DMZ tours that you can take, the one we went on that takes you to the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel (the 3rd of 4 discovered tunnels dug by the N. Koreans after the war, discovered by S. Korea), the Freedom Bridge (when the war was over, this bridge connected the North and South and allowed those to come to the South), the Dorasan Observatory (where you can look thru binoculars into the desolation of North Korea), and Dorasan Station (the station that will ultimately be the link between the North and the South, whenever, if ever, they unite one day).
  • The 2nd tour is the Panmunjeom, which is the most Northern location within the South Korean border.  Here civilians can go to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and see the North and South Korean soldiers guarding their territories together.  I must do this at some point!!

De Militarized Zone. There’s barbed wire with a flower on the “M”

The ribbons behind us have notes on them that many families have written to family they still have in the North, and hopes for a unified peninsula one day.

On the Freedom Bridge, where people escaped the North to the South after the war.

Just trekked it down and thru the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel.  Got our exercise in for the day!

It’s forbidden to take pictures past this yellow line.

Us with a backdrop of North Korean mountains.

South Korean soldier at Dorasan Station.

Creepy propaganda.

In addition to quickly checking things off my list, I celebrated my first Korean birthday.  And as if turning 28 wasn’t enough, I’m technically 29 according to Korea. Blah.  The way that works is that when you are born in Korea you are considered 1 yrs old, and then on the 1st of the year everyone gets another year older, then another year older on your actual birthday.  So I turned 28 on the 1st and then 29 on the 20th. Bahumbug.

ANYWAYS, digging myself out of that sad old hole, JACQUIE came to visit me for my birthday!  I don’t think anyone has ever done anything that nice for me before!  I made the 2 hour trek from the Dontgogay to pick her up at the airport last Wednesday (and another 2 hour journey back!) and she came to my last 2 days of camp with me on Thursday and Friday.  She of course fell in love with how cute the kids are, especially one little peach named Lisa, who gave us both matching gold rings on my birthday 🙂

One of my other most adorable 5th graders, Jena, gave me a notebook with glasses on it, a white board pen (because mine are always running out of ink) and some candy.  Adorbz and so thoughtful.  I love her.

When camp was over all the little girls wanted pictures with me and Jacq, so it was the perfect completion of Hollywood week.  Nothin like getting caught in the middle of a paparazzi storm, especially with little Koreans pumpkins.  Trust me, I’ve been involved in a paparazzi storm or 2.

My birthday was absolutely lovely, despite being a little sad that I wasn’t spending the standard January birthday-sharing with my MayMay lover, and of course all my friends back home.  It was definitely amazing having Sista here to fill the missing-home void.  That night a bunch of us went to a wine buffet at the Artnouveau Hotel in Yeoksam, which I must say, was quite the classy venue.  I’ve been invited to it a couple times in the past and always flaked, so when I wanted something out of the ordinary to do this year it seemed like the perfect idea…and it twas!

WOMEN.

California Girls…we’re unforgettable 🙂

I’m convinced that Texans are the best people everz ❤ Benji Boo Boo Bear

M.E.N.

Well, after who knows how many bottles of vino and how many pieces of delicious sashimi, the night took a turn for the trashy as we headed to the not-so-classy Monkey Beach in Apgujong (like the Beverly Hills of Seoul).  Since it was my birthday, I got a free bottle of tequila.  Eeep! Soon enough tequila shots, buckets of booze and Abby’s ass were flying all over the place.

See?

All in all, twas a wondrous birthday!  The rest of the weekend I took Jacq all over Seoul.  We were literally out all day everyday and we were exhausted and freezing!!!  Even though it was so tiring, it was nice to play tourist again and revisit some of the spots that I went to right when I first arrived.  One of my fave places in Seoul is Namsan (or Seoul) Tower, which we hiked with Abby.  It wasn’t so cold walking up, but once we got to the top we reached a level of cold that I have never felt before (except for the night in Insadong with Jacq!) Our fingertips felt like they were gonna fall off it was so cold, so we ate pancakes, took pictures with the love lock trees and even locked a lock of our own up there reallllly quickly!

It’s hard to believe that my 5 month anniversary just passed, that I’m off to Vietnam and Cambodia in 3 weeks and that my freakin sista was just here!!! Time freakin flies when you’re having an amazing (sorry for the cheesy) time! Now, I will leave you with this fantastic video of quite possibly the best, most enthusiastic teeny bopper of a cab driver ever.  Sorry it’s dark and don’t hate on my loud old lady laugh, I warned you.  Enjoy!  Now I sleep.

So I Was A Huge Fatty.

So I was a huge fatass this past weekend and I thought I’d share that with all of you. The food was just that good that I felt I needed to urgently (or not so urgently since I saved this as a draft and am just now getting to posting it) report back about my indulgent weekend. Nom nom nom bitches.

This past week was Canadian Thanksgiving, and as many of you know I have met an over-abundance of Canadians in the past 2 months.  And I am of course thankful for them because they are the freakin nicest people ever. No joke! This was the 2nd Thanksgiving dinner that another group of friends of friends had this week, so of course when the invitation was extended to the American, I came.  I love food and good company and any excuse to gather with people for the holidays.  Plus, I’ve been feeling like crap for the past few weekends, and being all the way out in f’ing Dontgogay, I’ve been feeling a wee bit of anti-social Danielle creeping in. To top it off it was pouring rain on Saturday with thunder and lightening, the whole shebang. Anyways, after not going to the Expat Festival I decided to pack a bag and make the hour trek in the rain to Canadian Thanksgiving in Hae Bon Chong (HBC). There was mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cheese, rice, squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and cheesecake and some chicken filling in for the turkeybird. Not to mention, lots of wine, something I haven’t had much of since arriving.  I never see it, and if you do it’s really expensive.  Hell, a $5 bottle of Yellowtail at home apparently costs $20 here!

All in all, twas delectable and just what I needed.  It just reminded me that my absolute favorite time of the year is finally upon us.  It also made me think of how much I miss all my friends from home and that I won’t be spending the holidays with them this year 😦 Needless to say, it was really nice to be in a warm apartment with a bunch of people cooking, drinking and just enjoying each others company. I couldn’t help but reminisce and get a little homesick for all of my friends.  I miss weekend and holiday brunches at Club Charnock and KP Hizzy.   Love you guys.

Heaps of nomz.

That night was the celebration of 2 of my friend’s births.  My Aussie friend Jason and my precious plane buddy Casey.  It was at a freakin flashy club called Eden.  Apparently it’s the top 7 club in Seoul.  Whatever.  Anyways, Abby and I carted our bloated and scantily-clad selves all the way to the Ritz Carlton in Gangnam for the flashy affair.  The club was nothing spectacular to me, but twas a birthday and we had fun. We watched our friends spend a lot of money for a table, fended off handsy Koreans and then watched a sea of Koreans stand and video tape the apparent celebrity DJ, instead of dancing to the music.  Interesting experience to say the least.

Back to the food.  Abby and I headed back to the HBC after Eden, but made a pit stop in Itaewon for a monster Egyptian sandwich.  It was not necessary but our taste buds really wanted it, so we indulged.  It’s basically a kabob on a roll.  Chicken or beef, onions, delicious sauce and who knows what else.  Here’s the fat happy man preparing our 3am meal on the side of the street.

Abby and I cuddled that night until my alarm startled us both in the morning beckoning me to rise and make my way to my temple food date with the music teacher from my school.  Her name is Choi Jung Soon and she is so sweet. She is taking me under her wing to teach me about Korean culture, and in return I’m going to help her with her English (which is already so good!) and help her read Mary Poppins, and also teach her how to make latkes.

I briskly made my way through the 3 subway transfers from HBC to where the temple was near Insadong, which is a very holy area in Seoul.  The temple we went to, the name which is slipping me, is the most famous Buddhist temple in Seoul.  Across from the temple is a Buddhist center and on the 5th floor there is a restaurant serving temple food, which essentially is delicious vegetarian food.  The Schaeff fam would enjoy this! I ended up arriving about 15 minutes late after getting slightly lost, but it wasn’t all my fault!  She apologized to me because she gave me incorrect directions after coming out of the subway station.  Nonetheless, we found each other, and I plopped off my backpack and sat against a wall because my whole back was sweating like a disgusting man.  I debated ducking into a bathroom somewhere to change to my top from the night before because I felt so gross and sweaty.  It went from thunder, lightning one day to scorching hot the next.  I did not pack appropriately! Whoa is me! I decided to suck it up and let my back dry through lunch lol. Sexy, I know.  From gross to delicious (pardon me), check out some of the delicious food we ate during our 10 course meal and my best effort at descriptions!

Our 10 course menu!

Potato and vegetable pancakes, salad in a very fresh and tasty dressing, vegetable dumplings, tofu, rice wrapped in lettuce with spicy sauce and my fave radish kimchi.

Cold taro root soup. Mom and Michael, I guess this is the root your fave taro frozen yogurt is made from!

Fried mushrooms and peppers in a super spicy sauce!

The most delicious rice.  Boiled in a lotus leaf and stuffed with dates, pine nuts and jujubes.

The rice with some tofu and seaweed soup.  Sort of like miso.  By this course I was stuffed!

Bibimbap fixins which I didn’t eat because I was already so full. Except for the kimchi, because I love it!

Dried root vegetable, orange and seaweed chips.  Lotus root, sweet potato and potato.

So yea, I ate a crapton last weekend.  The Koreans don’t mess around.  It was lovely though.  I’m glad to have all these cool new cuisine experiences. Last night Katie, Abby and I also had a ladies night in Hyewa with some soul-warming pho followed by a decadent dessert at Beard Papas.  They are Japanese massive cream puffs.  I first tried Beard Papas in LA because some of the Japanese dancers used to bring them in for us at bloc.  They can be filled with strawberry, chocolate, vanilla cream, etc.  The one I had last night was chocolate filled with what I think was green tea cream or custard.  It hit the spot, along with the nomtastic hot cocoa and a tiramisu type dessert Abby got.

Beard Papas!

Oozey goodness

My new fave pic and sweater.  Thanks Abneetika!

That concludes the food portion of this post! I am off to Busan for the weekend on Saturday.  There is a fireworks festival going on so a bunch of us are making the journey down south.  I am so excited to go to Busan, I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about the place.  It’s on the beach and on the side closest to Japan.  I’m sure there will be lots to report back next week.  And now I’m off to fetch me a Halloween costume.  Ciao ciao lovers! ❤

 

Drugs, Discos and Other Decadencies

Pardon my excessive delay and the length of this post. But I know for many of you this blog is the sunshine in your life, so I promise it is filled with lots of eye goodies. Do enjoy the recent happs!

I must admit the last couple weekends I’ve been pretty lame because I’ve felt like a pile of crapola. But, you will be happy to hear that I took myself to the doctor to get some drugs like a mature (pronounced like matour) a-dult.  Back at home I was pretty bad about taking care of myself, mostly because I didn’t have insurance for a while (UGH), lived crappy paycheck to crappy paycheck, and tried to refrain from the already incessant credit card usage.  Therefore,  I would just let the fake smoker’s cough grow and grow and I’d slowly die at my desk in my thick cloud of Mucinex.  Well, you will be pleased to know that I will be taking care of myself over yonder because 1. I’m terrified of getting sick here, especially when it starts to snow, and 2. it is SOO freakin cheap! This jew likey!

My co-teacher Leni took me to the “hospital” (as they call the doctor here) down the street from my work on Monday.  It’s a bit like Urgent Care back home where you can just walk in anywhere and they will see you.  All I have to do is show them my ARC (Alien card) and it covers as insurance.  So, we left work early at 4 because apparently if we got there after 4:30 we’d have to wait for 1 hour.  I walked in, they took my temperature right in the waiting room, which I thought was hilarious, then I sat down and waited 5 minutes to see the doc. I walk in, sit down and he just looks at me.  I was expecting to need translation and just use big hand gestures, but once I started speaking a little slow he was like “yes yes, elaborate” and I was so excited to see he spoke damn good English.  I told him the usual symptoms, I coughed to show him how gross it is, he squeezed my glands to prove they were swollen (which hurt) and then did a lot of talking in Korean to Leni who then relayed all the info to me. The doctor was super nice and asked me where I was from.  When I told him LA he got excited and asked “where in LA? My-uh parents lives-uh in Las-uh Virgeneees.” Well isn’t that a small world. I told him my family is from Agoura Hills and he was vaguely familiar with the suburb. That made me feel a wee bit more at home.  We then said goodbye and thanks, I paid the measly 3,000won (about $3) to see the doctor and then walked next door to get my drugs. For 7,000won (about $7ish), I got a bottle of Nasonex, and 3 days worth of a cocktail of pills (I have no clue what I’m taking). I literally lept to pay and sign and then told the pharmacists (who also spoke English!) that a bottle of that same nasal spray (or one similar) back at home cost me a whopping $150 fat ones! Screw you American medicine.  Given the cheapness factor, I’m also highly considering getting Lasik done while I’m here.  Total it’ll probs cost be a little over $1k for both eyes.  Nice-uhh.  This is how my drugs came prepared for me. Silly Asians and their silly ways.  And yes, that’s and outdated copy Elle of Justin and Mila in the background. Nom. Girl needs her eye candy.

Moving on to the things that I HAVE been doing despite my glorious sickness. A couple weekends ago was a long weekend here, I think it was for the independence or creation of Korea.  One of the two. What that meant for us teachers was long weekend!  I got Monday and Tuesday off (all my other friends only got Monday off), so it was very very nice.  This was the weekend I began feeling not too hott, so I stayed in that Friday and Saturday night like a responsible adult in hopes of getting better.  However, I did decide to go on a rigorous hike on Saturday with my lady loves.  I don’t really know what I was thinking given the fact that I’m not a big hike lover to begin with, but I never want to miss out on an exploration opportunity so I just suck it up and go because I know I’m gonna want to see that amazing view from the top.  So, I went with Katie, Abby, Steph and Liz to hike Dobongson mountain, which is actually fairly close to where I like in NorKo.  What started out as an almost vertical incline at the base (UGH) turned out to be more like rock climbing as we got deeper.  That was fun, though I’m such a freakin girl when it comes to getting my hands dirty.  I kept commenting on how every time I place my hand down I’m looking for the least dirty spot, and then I always dust my hands off immediately after hoisting myself up. I am actually really glad though that it was more rock and rope climbing because it’s way more fun, even though I’m way more scared of climbing up things than jumping off them.  Normal right? Anyways, we trekked thru but didn’t end up making it all the way to the top.  We met a sweet little Korean man who befriended us and told us we should probably consider making our way down because we still had a little ways to go and wouldn’t want to get stuck up there when it got darker.  So we made our way down the very tricky trail.  We insisted our new friend come to dinner with us, to which he found us a little bibimbap place, ordered 2 bibimbaps for the 5 of us girls and thought that would fill us up. No no little Korean man.  We are North American women who like to eat and didn’t pack lunches for our hike. He ordered us 3 more with the most shocked look on his face, and then sat and watched us eat.  He later told us he wanted a hamburger.  Go figure.  Here’s some pictorals of the beautiful hike, view of Seoul, and the gorgeous temple we saw along the way.

God I love long weekends. That Monday a bunch of us met up for a day in Olympic Park.  It was such a gorgeous day out.  Twas super chill and just nice to hang out with good peeps and drink the Makkali (sp?).  Makkali is this milky soju alcohol that is sort of fizzy and weird.  But it’s aight. My lovely recruiter Dia, who I LOVE came as well, so that fulfilled the Korean quotient.  Some friends played soccer with the cutest little Korean baby, some lounged and read like scholars, some listened to music and drank to happy times, and all gazed up at the phallic statue towards the sky. It was a lovely lovely day had by all.  Take a gander will ya.

Then Tuesday rolled around, and I had been planning to venture into Hyehwa to show myself around the artsy part of Seoul since I had the day off and I had been dying to go there.  The day turned into a full on walking tour with a British lad.  He lives 2 stops away from Hyehwa,  so we met at his exit and walked there.  There wasn’t much going on since it was during the day, but I got an idea of the area and decided I needed to come back at night.  We then walked further to Dongdaemun, which is what I would compare to the Fashion District in Downtown LA, but with a huge temple in the center.  We walked along the river (at quite the brisk pace because he walks too fast) where there was some religious group performing on the river stage (interesting), and then got caught in the huge textile building that we thought was going to be a mall.  Holy hell was it hot and clusterfuckish in there.  Moving on, we made our way back through Myeong-dong, which is hardcore for the shopper.  My feet were killing me but it was a pretty awesome day, and the company wasn’t too shabby either. Shockingly, I snoozed on the photo taking, but here’s a couple of the ones I took.

Random street in Hyehwa

Love this!

Dongdaemun Palace

I did end up going back to Hyehwa at night, which I will get to in a bit.  Before that though, I would like to say that I can check off going to a silent disco from my bucket list.  God bless you Hongdae Park and your random happenings.  This past Saturday night I was about to send myself home early after a long day of voice-overing (saving that for another post) because I was feeling like crap again.  But thank god I didn’t.  The silent disco cost 3,000won for the headphones and it was just a party in the park and freaks all over the place.  I think you can imagine what it was like, so here’s some pictorals.

Back to Hyehwa! I went back Tuesday night after my plans to go to a soccer game got changed.  I went back with that British lad  for dinner and then a jazz bar.  I must say, it has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and just never did.  This one was called Jazz Story.  It was so cool and I’m glad it was my first. Twas delightful company, the ambiance was gorgeous inside (I kept thinking their interior decorator did a bomb job lol), and the band was divine.  It was an all Korean band but they sang pretty much all English songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s with a few Korean jams thrown in.  I think I really got off on the right foot when the first song they sang was the theme from “Grease” (aka my favorite movie ever). They also sang some Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and some Hotel California amongst others. LOVED. IT.  This is their sign which I just love.  It’s made from car headlights!

I know this was an intensive course in the past couple weeks, sorry, but I hope you enjoyed the visuals 🙂 Today and tomorrow my 5th and 6th graders are gone at some Halloween/Talent show camp so I’ve got my days wide open which is an awesome and welcomed break.  I got to Skype with Kayla and Mama, Papa and Brotha Schaeff and show them all my classroom too.  I will leave this post with 3 different images.  One that will leave a disgusting taste in your mouth (or eyeballs), and two that will make you giggle.  Enjoy until next time. Mwah!

Just some innards of a fish being sold on the street. nbd.

Drunk, passed out Korean man occupying a few too many seats on the subway, and oblivious business man.

This is what my parents look like when they Skype with me. Love you 🙂

Mini Internal Freakout Take 1!

My co-teacher, Leni, asked me last week if I wanted to join the “Nowon Club” at my school.  Basically, it’s all of the teachers and school people getting together over Korean BBQ and lots of soju with a side of cider (the equivalent of Sprite) a few times a month after school. I said of course I would join since I think it’d be fun to hang out with all of them even though I need a translator 24/7.  But, they’re all so freakin funny so I don’t mind being the odd ball out. You know me 🙂

So I’m sitting there, the sides come out, the drinks come out, the coals come out, and then the plate of meat comes out.  On the drive over Jin told me it was probably going to be pork, so I already had in my mind that I’d be eating iceberg salad, kimchi, and turnips for dinner (and would just fill up on brie later at Jason’s cheese/housewarming-ish gathering).  But, when the meat came out, there were two different types, so I asked Jin and Leni what they were.  They said pork and what I thought to be DOG.  I instantly went into internal freakout-wanting-to-vomit mode.  This was THE cultural moment I have greatly feared since before coming here.  Jin started placing the meat on the BBQ and I just kept thinking omgomgomg this is what cooked dog smells like and I kept thinking of my little Presley and Cilla back home.  They asked me if I had ever tried it before and I said “Noooooo. It’s too weird for me. I just think about my baby puppies at home. It’s just too weird. Sorrrrrry!” Apparently this didn’t translate though, and they nodded like they understood it was weird for me.  The meat keeps cooking, and then Leni asked me if I wanted to try LOL and I repeated again how it’s too weird and how I just think about my puppies. To which she goes “It’s DOCK! DOCK! Swim in the water!”  I instantly lost my shit and let out the biggest sigh of relief.  Between the 3 of us we couldn’t stop laughing allllll throughout dinner.  They asked me AGAIN  if I wanted to try DUCK (since it clearly wasn’t DOG), and I’m sorry judgemental Mama Schaeff and Jacq, but I tried it.  I had never tried it before, and for those who know me, I used to be a vegetarian, so I’m pretty finiky with meat.  But, I know duck is like a delicacy in a lot of Asian cultures so I gave it a whirl, and was actually quite pleasantly surprised.  It actually tasted pretty good, however I smelled like shit the entire rest of the evening at Jason’s.  I showered that night, and when I was on the bus this morning I smelled the stench again and realized it was my purse that still stunk! AHHHHH! DOCK DOCK! QUACK QUACK! STINK STINK!

After quite the hearty meal (these Korean’s like to EAT), the soju imbibing carried on, and my Principal poured me a shot and then said something to Leni in Korean to translate to me, along the lines of “I think you will be a great teacher and wish you lots of good blessings and luck.”  I poured him one in return and we took our shots. Twas a lovely evening, but I had to cut it short to go help Jason and friends dig into the big wheel of brie that he bought.  I said “ahn-yang-haseyo” to everyone, and then the Principal asked Leni if it was ok for him to hug me goodbye LOL.  Apparently this act is very rare.  We hugged, and everyoneeeee cheered and screamed and applauded.  They like me! They really like me!

On top of them all liking me, and successfully completing my first full week of teaching, I received my ARC card in the mail, so I’m officially a resident of Korea!!! Today Leni took me to open a bank account in Nowon, and we attempted to get me an iPhone, but they wanted me to buy the phone up front for 800won which is absurd, so I will be getting an iPhone in Itaewon on Wednesday after the Chuseok holiday.  They hook it up for foreigners there in terms of 2 year phone contracts and just paying for the phone as part of your monthly bill.  So, all you pesterers, you will be able to WhatsApp and KakaoTalk me as of Wednesday of next week.  Hold your horsies.

Now, I nap.  I’m going to have a slumber party with Katie, Abby and Liz tonight at Abby’s since we’re getting up at the crack to catch a bus to Muuido Island for the long holiday.

 

 

 

 

An I’m So Happy I’m In Korea Moment

There have been a couple times so far since arriving in Korea where I had an “I’m so happy I’m in Korea moment.” The first was during orientation when we were at the folk village.  We were watching dancers do a native dance where they had these crazy streamers on their heads and it was like they were dancing with their heads, but they were also jumping and playing drums. It was just so cool.

Last night I had another one of these totally feel-good-about-my-decision moments.  It was my Vice Principal’s last day at my school and all the teachers went out to a Korean BBQ dinner at a super fancy restaurant close to school. My 2 co-teachers felt awful because I don’t eat pork and that’s what we were eating, so they ordered me this cold noodle dish in a super spicy red sauce. I completely forget what it’s called, but I thought it was bomb.  And their version of spicy is not comparable to mine.  I want more spicy!  We also ate probably the 100th different type of kimchi I’ve tried since coming to Korea, salad, raw onions in this soyish type of sauce, and some other dish which I have no idea what it was and neither do they.  It seemed sushi-ish and was tasty, but I’m clueless. For dessert we had this rice cake type cake that none of them liked, but I thought it tasted like bread so I enjoyed it haha.  The dinner was awesome because I got to actually hang out with my co-teachers and meet some of the other younger teachers.  Many of them don’t really like to speak English because they are nervous about the language, but they were speaking with me, so I felt quite happy about making them feel comfortable enough to talk to me. The night went on, we ate, talked, and drank. And drank. And drank. At one point I looked over and saw my Principal downing shot after shot of soju with some of the other teachers.  I think he kind of looks like my 5th grade teacher Mr. Miyamoto. Only I never saw Mr. Miyamoto taking shots.

Here are some pictures of the food and of my 2 co-teachers and some of the others. Leni is the girl on the left making a peace sign, and then Jin is the one in the picture with me 🙂

THEN the fun continued.  To those of you who don’t know what a Norebang is, it’s karaoke, but in your own private room.  The Koreans are nuts about this shit!  SO, you have about 15 happy drunk Koreans and lil ol’ American Danielle piled into a room, tambourines are handed out, water and more drinks are brought in on a tray, and the book of songs is opened for people to pick their song. I never karaoke.  As many of you know, you probably don’t want to hear me sing because I am that god awful. But no, I was forced to sing. And I was forced to sing a duet, in English, to a song I’ve never in my life heard before…with my Principal (who doesn’t speak a lick of English, but knew this random song).  He was dancing like a little Asian man and I was dancing and singing and laughing the entire time. OMG it was fun. Everyone has to sing, and Mr. Principal was not letting me get off the hook by only singing with him.  I had to sing again.  This time I sang with my adorable co-teacher Leni.  OMG she is so cute and loves to sing, and she’s super teeny so she was super drunk! We sang a song by Lenka that she chose because I didn’t feel comfortable enough yet to whip out some Bieber Fever.  In due time it shall come.

This brings me to the moment I had that “I’m so happy I’m here” feeling.  After everyone sang, we all stood in a circle in this little tiny room filled with tambourines and disco lights and held hands.  Principal sang a song in Korean which I had no idea what he was saying, but I could just feel it was a happy/sad song.  The Vice Principal then went around the circle and gave everyone hugs and cried a bit.  I only met her a few times but she was so sweet.  It was amazing how I didn’t even know the words, or really her for that matter but I really did feel overwhelmed, but maybe just because I was so happy in that moment to be there.  The teachers are all so kind and sweet to me, and I love watching them bow whenever they say hello or goodbye.  I used to think it was a little weird and awkward, well, I still kind of do, but it just comes off as so respectful and you can just tell they’re all such nice people. Anyways, I had my moment and it was awesome.

I’m sure I’m going to have many “get me the hell out of here” moments too (like when the little 3rd grader with severe ADHD came and took over my classroom yesterday), but it’s nice to know that these ones just pop up out of no where 🙂

Now I shall leave you with a video of my amazing duet with my beautiful co-teacher Leni.  Enjoy the norebang (before my memory card space ran out) and my super sexy singing voice!