España, I’m Comin’ For Ya!

The cat’s been let out of the bag, peeps! In a little over 4 months I will be calling Madrid, Spain my second home away from home! It took me a hearty nanosecond to get back to the thrill I had when I first clicked apply, but I have since found my way back and BOY, AM I FUCKING EXCITED!! Excuse the emphatic fuck, totally necessary.

This is coming as a bit of a shocker of shocks to at least a handful of you, I know, considering just as recently as Monday I was on the boat to make Shanghai my next hop. I talked to a recruiter in China, sat at my desk preparing a spreadsheet of countries I’d like to hit on a 4 or 5 month backpacking excursion, sent text messages attempting to recruit travel companions to India, and when that was a bust, because you know, people have jobs back home, psyched myself up to bite the bullet and hit India on my own to get down and dirty with myself. I began concocting this plan to travel through the end of the year, be back home for a few months to watch people tie their knots (and quite possibly go mentally insane), and then peace out after that.

That flipped almost instantly as soon as I got my 2nd acceptance from Spain.

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I applied to two programs that are specific in getting us North American’s legal working rights in the European Union. BEDA and the Ministry Auxiliares de Conversación program through the Spanish government allow Americans to work in Spain under a student visa for one academic year. This is huge because work visas for us are notoriously near impossible to come by in Europe, and well, my dream must be conquered!

I found out I had been placed with BEDA at the end of April, and decided to turn it down since the start date is 1 week after I finish my contract in Korea, the pay is super shitty, and that big of a move with zero time to decompress frankly stressed me the flying fuck out. The Ministry program in turn starts at the beginning of October and runs through June, meaning I’ll need to get myself to Madrid within the last two weeks of September to get settled and attend an orientation. The pay is still crap, albeit a teency bit higher than BEDA, but I will be working less hours than I would with BEDA, for a smidge more money, AND 4 day weeks! YAYAYUYUH! The program doesn’t provide housing, so I will be tasked with finding a little nook to call my own. That should be fun, considering the last time I was in Spain MayMay and I got horribly lost during our first hop on the metro, and my Spanish needs some severe help. Rosetta Stone I’m coming for you.

But we survived, and very much fell in love with Barcelona (and a boy named Giuseppe).

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I’m sure you’re curious about my sudden change of pace, right? Well, lately I had gotten the notion in my head that I’d be turning any offers from Spain down because I decided I fancied making a bit more money, something China would ensure, and up until recently, I thought I’d enjoy an extra cherry on top (read: man). Even though China still is a massive adventure I want to conquer, when this offer popped into my inbox, something snapped. I instantly remembered why I jumped through hoops in a flurry to make the application deadlines. I wasn’t basing my next move on the money, but on following my heart for the experience I’ve always dreamt of. Cue sappy music now and an ecstatic 4th grade (and 30 year old!) Danielle.

Not to mention, cobblestone streets, architecture adorned with character, paella, wine and delicious espresso need a fatass place in my life right about now.

I won’t lose my Asian touch though. That shit sticks with you like kimchi to your refrigerator and apartment and breath. Sorry Cori.

So now begins the annoying task of getting all my legal documents in a pretty little row. I feel pretty overwhelmed right now. It was a huge pain in the ass when I had to get everything for Korea, and now that I’m abroad I feel a little more flustered because there’s all that distance from America. I also have to get all these documents translated to Spanish to add another layer of fun. But it’s all in excited good flustering. Since all my classes were cancelled on Wednesday, literally all I did was scour blogs of people working in the program and it got me SO PUMPED!

To think, just a year ago I was on the phone with Papa Schaeff freaking out about staying a third year, and how my major goal to tackle in the next year was to really figure my shit out, because I was not going to stay in Korea for a 4th year. I’m quite proud of myself for sticking to it and putting myself en route to checking another huge experience off the ol’ bucket list.

Whether or not I will be home in between contracts is up in the air at the moment. I have plizans to hit up the motherland on a free flight that I get for being Bat Mitzvah’d and now in my 30th year (don’t ask), and pop on over to Greece to visit the man my family once asked to bring toilet paper up to our hotel room just because we wanted to see him (don’t ask again).

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So if I don’t see you in Korea before August, or home, I better be seeing you in Spain. I’m on a mission to get double the amount of visitors I had to Korea (and that’s a big number to top).

In other news, it looks like I’m gonna need to start brainstorming a new, broader name for the ol’ bloggy blog. I may just stick with Seoul Tapper because I am quite fond of it, but something all encompassing of the globe may be nice. If you have any ideas, please, help a sista out with your creative seeds.

Hasta luego purple people eaters!

Zumba & A Chop&Dye

As a foreigner in this far eastern land, there are a couple life necessities that are quite difficult to find that reach top notch western standards. One of those is a good hip gyrating Zumba class, and the other is a solid ‘do chopping. Well, the hair has actually been covered for quite a while, as my post on the gloriousness of Lucy has received much traction on the interwebs. However, I have recently tested other waters because, just because, and well, Danielle is happy.

And well, the connection between the two is that one who cuts yo hair also gets you to shake yo azzzzz! Sexy for sexy!

I Zumba’d quite regularly before coming to Korea, and the class was taught by a girl I used to dance with at Retter’s, so it was legit. Then I came to Korea and took a few classes, all totally made me sweat buckets, but totally sucked on the Zumbaness factor. The teachers just didn’t know what they were doing, or it felt like they were just making the dances up as they were going, or, um, they just didn’t look like they danced hardcore on a regular basis. Apologies, but you want your instructor to look like they get down and this ish works.

Then Veny enlightened me to the HOTT Zumbaboyz, who are HOTT. That’s with a double T. Dan and Jin are magical and so much fun and exactly what a Zumba class is supposed to be. They have classes that they teach together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Latin American Center in Kyungridan for 10,000won/class, or you can get a card  for 10 classes and pay 80,000won. Win win.

Kyungridan is on the opposite side of Hae Bang Chan, so go out Noksapyeong exit 2 til the underpass and cross under. Cross the street by Noxa and just walk straight, it’s just past Millions of Milkshakes and a taco place.

Dan also teaches at the Body Star in Jongno-5-ga on Tuesday nights and Jin at the Body Star at Sungshin Women’s University exit 4 (my hood!) on Thursday nights at 9pm.

Token photo with them the first time I went to one of their classes. They had a big fancy opening party with disco balls and flashing lights. Totes approps.

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As mentioned above, this post is two-fold. Not only is Jin a mover and a shaker, he’s also a hair chopper! He recently opened up JP Hair in Hae Bang Chon, just up the main road when it curves around to the left. That wasn’t supposed to sound dirty.

You see, I started cultivating my glorious “Garden of Gray” at the ripe age of 25 while stressing out over JLo, but it was manageable until the day I turned 30. On that fateful day in January, the garden started looking more like a forest each time I gazed in the mirror. It was a minor horror at each glance. It had to be dealt with immediately. My virgin locks had to meet dye for their first time. That, and I needed life brought back into my limp mane.

So I put my trust in Jin.

Since I am not a #selfie #narcissist I don’t have any just-after photos for documentation, but I actually told Jin just as I was leaving how much I loved my hair and that I never usually like how my hair looks when I leave a salon. He curled it, which looked divine, but to be expected, they fell by the time I reached the bus stop. Stupid hair.

So foreign AND Korean ladies, you should totes check out Jin for your next ‘do revamp! He’s a pro, speaks perfect English and his studio is centrally located and greatly priced. 20,000won for a cut and 50,000won to have my roots dyed. Not too shabby.

To get there, just walk out Noksapyeong Station exit 2 and into HBC past the kimchi pots. Walk allllll the way up the main street, and when you see it fork off just turn left and it’s around the corner above the 7-11.

Happy thrusting and sexifying!

Graduated Korean Kiddos Who I Love

I’ve realized that in the entirety of this bloggy blog, I so rarely write about the kiddos that I’ve come to adore, and are the reason I’m allowed to keep living legally in this second home o’ mine. So, I’m going to take a hop skip and a jump a couple months back to the third 6th grade graduation that I’ve attended. In fact, this was my favorite graduation to attend, mostly because I really didn’t care much for this last batch of kids and was thrilled to get them out of my hair. Sorry.

That’s mean to say about kids, but I seriously never connected with them. That is, except for a good handful, a handful of kiddos that I absolutely heart swelled for.

Let me introduce you, shall I!

Here’s a group of boys from 6-2. This was their last lunch as elementary school students, and every single one of these boys was one of my faves, minus Eric in the left front. He’s a little bizarre. But the rest – sweet hearts, and actually pretty good at English for little monkeys.

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As a teacher I don’t think you’re supposed to have favorites, but that’s a crock. I, along with every other teacher I know, has their favorites, and this one was my absolute favorite 6th grader. Olivia welcomed me to Nowon back when I first arrived by writing me letters and giving me little trinkets each time. She’d tell me about the boys she liked, the drama with her girlfriends, and the songs that made her cry. We were pen pals until about half way through her 6th grade year when I guess she grew up a little. But, though she stopped writing me letters, she always came to sit and talk after lunch.

Quite possibly my favorite thing about her is that she is totally well-adjusted and not into the super girly Korean way of *boing boing* selfie cutesy life.  While her friends would come to hang out in my classroom at lunch and take a never-ending stream of selfies, she always kind of scoffed at their narcissism and told me how silly she thinks they are.

Now that she’s graduated, we are Kakao buddies.  She’s always asking about makeup brands, the countries I’ve visited because she can’t wait to fly on a plane one day, and how to say and write things correctly in English.  Love her.

I actually met her mother yesterday while leaving school, and she gave me the biggest hand shake and smile, and Olivia translated how happy her mom is that she had me as a teacher.

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Kelly is a freakin smarty pants. She lived in Nebraska for a year when she was 4, and speaks English as if she’s a foreigner. She throws lots of  “likes” into everything she says which sometimes made me feel right back at home. Super smart girl, and always curious about who I am and where I’m from.

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This little Jack was my favorite boy hands down. When he was in 5th grade I knew there was something different about him. Anytime we did art projects, his were always excessively more creative than his classmates, and while he maintained the quirkiness, his English also skyrocketed. He has been to Canada once, and is obsessed with Canada. He’d come to my classroom a few minutes before class started and always ask to go on Google Earth to show me the little motel he lived in for a couple months while taking an English intensive course. It was a run down strip motel and it was like the happiest place on Earth to him.  He’s also addicted to Apple, and asked me everyday when I was getting an iPhone 5S. When I did finally get one, he exploded into shrills of excitement and had me open my phone with the fingerprint over and over again.

Jack also got very excited when he saw me Skyping one afternoon. He showed me the Skype app on his phone and added me. Now I’m just waiting for the day I get a call while sitting in front of my computer hungover and Jack just wants to know why teacher just declined his call. Cute kid.

Here I am as part of their family. His dad is a designer, and everything made complete sense as soon as I met him.

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These brothers are a couple of wild boys with ADHD, but in the sweetest, most fun way possible.  David, on the right, always came to my class after lunch to just sit and talk about whatever. Nothing ever too special, but he’d come sit on the ground at my feet next to my desk and ask me questions and it was the cutest thing ever. And he is a jokester, and I love jokesters. His little brother Benny boy is in 5th grade now, and used to climb all over the desks as a 3rd grader. That is, until I told him “keep your butt in your seat or X!” Everytime I tapped my butt he’d giggle, but enough butt taps and X’s and his butt stayed firmly in that seat.

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This tall little girl is Shelby, who’s English sucks, but who is sweet as can be.  Every time in class she’d call me over to her seat just to tell me “Danielle Teacher love!” When we took this photo she hugged me so hard and just kept crying.  Saying goodbye to me was the end of her world as we know it, obvi.

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Oh my, John, the little red spectacled nerd stole my heart this year. When I first came to Korea, up until he was in 5th grade, he annoyed me so much. He is so smart, and he didn’t understand that I needed to give the other students a chance to answer questions. When he got to 6th grade he finally learned that teacher knows he’s smart. His English is through the roof, and he always came to talk to me about how much he loves Twitter and politics. Politics! He wants to be a computer programmer, and every Tuesday morning when I asked what they did that weekend, his answer was always “I build my computer program. It’s just demo but it is very fun to me!”

He’s a chatter box and is one of those A+ students who fully embraces any knowledge that is thrown his way. Any song we sang, John was the loudest singer. He thought my riddle about scrambled eggs was the funniest thing he’d EVER heard. During the Golden Bell competition, when he lost right at the end, it was as if his world came crashing down. He’s a huge nerd and the girls think he’s weird, which he is, but nerds will run the world one day. Watch out girls!

I wrote him a letter that I gave to him on graduation, and when I happened to be at the same restaurant that afternoon for lunch, he was so proudly reading it to his family.  My heart just smiles when I think about this kid.

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Last but certainly not least, I got a surprise visit from two of my all time favorite already graduated kiddos, who aren’t such kiddos anymore! You might recognize my now taller-than-me ex-6th grade boyfriend, Jinho, and my other peach, Max. I love these boys and was thrilled when they ran up  and threw their arms around me.

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Graduation also marked the last time I’d teach with the best co-teacher in the universe. Here is the last co-teacher photo of me clinging onto Jin’s arm. I love her, and probably would not have decided to stay as long as I have if I hadn’t been blessed with her awesomeness.  Major sadface day.

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So there you have it. I’ll leave you with this video of the group of girls who drove me insane all year. The condition of me being allowed to record this was “Teacher! No show anyone, ok!”  Sorry I’m not sorry, girls.