Weeks 23 and 24¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Uhhh so I guess I forgot to write two weeks worth of life? I have a bad memory so this doesn’t surprise me. 

As mentioned previously, we started the new term on June 1st. Things seem to be going ok so far. I like the majority of my classes. The Korean teacher and I have had some issues with one of the girls in a higher level class being rude to us and not being a pleasant person. I scolded her in class and my coworker called her mom. Another one of my classes is probably the worst behaved class I’ve had my entire time here. There are four or five students in the class that are angels and the others…well they’re just not motivated to be there or think it’s social hour. 

I asked the director at my school if she would like me to stay an extra term and she seemed shocked that I suggested such a thing. But honestly, this came about after I had talked to a recruiter for a different job I was interested in and even though I would have about a month between the jobs, I wouldn’t be able to go home. I thought about this and decided it wasn’t ideal for many reasons and let him know I would wait a term and apply later. So, expect me stateside ~December and January at least. 🎄✌🏻

Everyone in my family is/was on baby watch. My brother’s wife, Hannah, was due to give birth to their second child any day and being 14 time zones away is a bit difficult to stay in the loop. On Monday June 12th, Astrid Jean joined the Hokanson clan. 

This year is going to be interesting because three of my cousins and a friend are also pregnant, all due one month after each other… it will certainly make coming home in December all the more exciting. 👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼

Friday I went out with four of my coworkers. The first bar we went to had ladies night with half priced drinks. Anything other than beer or soju is generally expensive in Korea so we took advantage of that. Then we went to a dance club. I somehow lost my apartment key while dancing. I went to the dj to ask if they had a lost and found, they didn’t but he was kind enough to announce to the whole club I’d lost my r2d2 Lego keychain 🤦🏼‍♀️ and maybe 30 minutes later the bartender comes up to me with my key! I hugged her so hard. I’m honestly really lucky in the fact that the unlucky things that happen to me turn out waaaaay worse than they could. After that debacle we danced for an eternity. I ate McDonald’s breakfast before staggering home around 5:45am. 


Saturday I was not hungover! Yay. I didn’t do much because, although I didn’t have a hangover my body hurt from all the drunk dancing I did. I did laundry and tidied up. I met Asia for pizza and went back to doing nothing at home. I watched Supergirl on Netflix.

Sunday slept in and met Asia and Sharon for 샤브샤브  for a late lunch. I did not eat 샤브샤브 because it’s hot soup and it was hot out. I had a super huge and equally delicious salad for lunch. After that we decided to go walk around a different part of Suwon. I walked over 11,000 steps so I’d say it was a productive day. 

Until next week,

B

Week 7, 2017

Can you believe we’ve already made it through seven weeks of 2017!? Me either.

So… after I posted my blog last Sunday my computer decided it’d had enough of the abuse I put it through, being an over glorified Netflix player, and die. Like full on dead. I tried a lot of different things and ended up having to do a full system restore so I lost everything that was saved to my computer. Luckily, I’ve learned from my horrible electronics karma in the past and had important documents saved on Google Drive and an external hard drive. Strangely enough, doing a system restore fixed whatever was wrong with my webcam and Bluetooth. So now, I essentially have a new computer.

Last Monday, I still didn’t know if my computer would be fixed for sure or not by the time I left for school and I was pretty bummed. When I got to school I found out I had two parent meetings straight away at 12:30. I was not in the greatest mood. Buuuuuuut, the day got astronomically better when I received a giant box from my BFF Valerie!!!! That honestly made my day. I opened it up right away because I can’t stand surprises. I knew I was at least getting a shirt because I asked her to include one; I opened the box and there were EIGHT shirts. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see eight shirts from Target ever in my life. This was a welcome surprise as a majority of my short sleeve shirts are totes gross from wearing them for six months.

Tuesday, after I realized my computer no longer had Microsoft Office I panicked a bit and left a frenzied voicemail for my parents… sorry about that Mom and Dad. They were able to provide me with a product key and got that squared away so now I can play around with and edit my documents and stuff.

One of my classes hates having their pictures taken so of course if they’re bad I threaten them with taking pictures.

For dinner on Tuesday, I went to Tony Burger; a weird cowboy-esque themed burger restaurant. I ordered a burger and when it came I was not disappointed but confused on how I was going to manage to eat it. I was, however, disappointed with the lack of napkins provided as this burger was exceptionally messy.

On the way home I saw a crane fishing in the stream with the moon/lamplight rippling across the water. It was super pretty so I took a video.

I have enjoyed Kraft Macaroni & Cheese so much this past week thanks to Valerie. Also, blueberry soju. Aaaah so delicious!

Thursday after work we went to trivia at The Big Chill and I got grapefruit soju. That was really delicious as well. Because I don’t imbibe often some people seemed shocked that I was. We got our trivia on and Sean and I stayed later and danced to S Club 7 and other random requests we could think of. Oddly enough, I still got home before I normally go to bed so I was able to shower and still get in almost nine hours of sleep.

Saturday Fitbit informed me that I’ve lost 17.9 pounds since coming to Korea! Fuck yessss!


I had an appointment at 1pm to get my eyebrows microbladed. ( see What is microblading) I was getting a bit nervous because the technician drew my eyebrows on super dark and I looked really weird. Numbing gel was applied to my eyebrow area and after 15 minutes, she started blading away at my face. It was super weird because I could hear her scraping my skin but I couldn’t feel it. After an hour she sat me up and made some finishing touches. Then I was released back into the wild with my brand new eyebrows. Since I don’t really know much Korean and the technician didn’t know much English I paid her the incorrect amount. After I ate lunch I went back to give her what I owed her. I then went and walked around a bunch. I bought some acrylic paints and plan on painting something dope as soon as I figure out what I want to paint.

My eyebrows before microblading

The scary during photo.

After microblading! Yay! I have eyebrows now!


Yesterday, I went out to eat and sent this to all my Snapchat friends. lol.

Until next week,

B

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah

It’s been pretty mild here, weather wise. None of that crazy snow and subzero temperatures you all back home had. In fact, it’s been so nice that the trees have become confused and started to bud again.

Wednesday and Thursday it rained quite a bit. On Friday there was snow in the morning but the only evidence was on the windshields of parked cars.


At work this week we started phone speaking, where we call the kids at home and ask them questions one would generally be asked when meeting a new person and some questions from their lessons. We talk to each of our students for 5 minutes. It gets a bit tricky because we hand out a schedule about a week in advance but of course, some kids lose them, never show their parents, forget; you know normal kid things.

Thursday and Friday we had Christmas activities for the kids which were balloon volleyball and writing three wishes on a paper ornament. The staff also handed out lollipops which caused whining of all sorts because kids wanted a specific shape and a lot of kids disliked how they tasted and some of them turned the kids’ mouths black.

Back: JiYoung, Nick, Andrea, Kathy, Summer, Alicia, and Sean
Front: Olivia, JiEun, Chloe, Jessica, Jinny, and obviously me

This is Daniel, he’s an interesting fellow. He asked me what my last name was and without thinking about it, I told him. Now in class for answers in class and in his book it’s, “Britt Hokanson…”

Thursday I went to eat Korean Barbecue with three of my coworkers after work. One of them paid and told us to pay her back whenever (because she knows where we work…) So after this, I went to the ATM to withdrawal some monies and the @#$@^##$@ ATM shuts off as it’s counting my money!!!!   zoom-in-castle-gasp-gif


I’m panicking and continue to touch the ATM like it’s going to “wake up” and continue it’s job. Luckily, there was an ajusshi (an older Korean man) and his wife waiting in close proxmity to my broken down ATM and I approached them to ask if they knew English and to ask them for their help. The wife pushed the husband toward me and poked him, so that was a good sign. I told him what had happened and asked him how to fix it. He tried the service phone the ATM’s little cubicle, but it was out of order… He then located the number and called on his personal phone to the ATM service people. During this time, hid daughter had come from her academy and they seemed restless to get home. He seemed a bit put out that the ATM service man said it would take 15 minutes to get there and I reassured him I’d be okay waiting by myself. So the nice family left and I was waiting…waiting… waiting… until I saw someone walking extremely fast toward me out of the corner of my eye. The ATM service man! YAY! He was really attractive. He opened up the machine and retrieved my card and I was like, giphy
“Thank you!!!” with the dumbest look on my face probably, I don’t know because I can’t see my own face.

Friday, I was rudely awoken by my doorbell. Luckily it was for a good thing… I got a package from my friend Carly! It included a super cool Christmas card and some random goodies that made me smile. Carly, that Cadbury bar was bomb!

Saturday I went with Sean to his friend Tim’s in Jamsil for a Christmas lunch/movie get together. There were lots of people there and everyone brought amazingly delicious things to share. We watched Elf, Bad Santa, and a good portion of Die Hard. Video games were played. Alcohol was consumed. It was good. I left with Nick, my coworker, around 7 or 8 I don’t remember, and we caught the train and bus back to Suwon.

Nick and me 

Me and Lizzie
Today I did nothing special; laundry mostly. I, of course, had the most traditional of Christmas meals today… grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch and McDonald’s for dinner. McDonald’s was poppin’ too. I got there right before a rush of people came through.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah,
Britt

Not much.

I’ve had the same song in my head for what feels like an eternity… seriously. This song can just die. I have never hated a song so much because it’s been in my head since, like, Thanksgiving…

I don’t really feel like much happened this week at work. Went through the motions and then it was the weekend!

I was informed by my sister-in-law that she is pregnant on Thanksgiving and that they found out on Friday it’s going to be a girl. I was also informed that I did not jinx them by giving them girl clothes before I moved in May. So that’s happy!

Saturday I walked to HomePlus to buy some random crap to send to my family for holiday gifts. Don’t think I’ll make it to Post Office to get the stuff to you by Christmas, sorry guys. So it’ll just have to be a Happy New Year’s present or something.

As I was walking I stopped to sit on a bench by the lake in Manseok Park and watch the ducks and an elderly man was sitting on the bench adjacent to mine, we made awkward eye contact, and I bowed my head in the customary non verbal way to greet people. When I was walking back home some two hours later, I saw the same man walking around and he waved at me and smiled. Huh, that’s cool. While I was shopping a random kid, probably around age 9, came up to me and said “Hello, I like your hair,” and skipped away. As I was at the last crosswalk before my house, there were two kids on bicycles waiting for the walk signal, an older brother and a little sister. They were staring at me like I was zombie unicorn that poops money so I said, “hello.” They looked frightened and the boy said, in Korean, “let’s go find mommy.”

 


Manseok Park


Manseok Park


I was surprised there was ice on the lake as it’s been really mild lately. Manseok Park

Today I didn’t really have a plan. Maybe go for a walk along one of the streets I’ve been on many times while taking the bus to check out the shops. Maybe I’d go to the movies. Maybe I’d just sit at home. Sunny messaged me that she had some news and that we should meet so we agreed to meet at a coffee shop at 3:30. We caught up on things, had some laughs, and decided to go to Suwon Station to get some Dalk Galbi for dinner. After we ate, we went over to the mall and walked around. We went to some shoe stores to inquire about UGGs because I love me some UGGs. When we finally tracked them down, they didn’t have one single style in size 9. I totally accept that I’m larger than “normal” in clothing sizes here but come on, size 9 is only one size larger than they carry!! I shouldn’t be that surprised because when I checked online with GMarket, all the shoes in my size were those that are unisex like Adidas, Vans, and Converse. Waaah


Sunny and I about to eat some Dalk Galbi

 


On the bus to Suwon Station they were playing clips of Maury Povich and I was so tickled.

I’m beginning to think there will not be a white Christmas this year as it’s been pretty warm up until this point staying around 40-ish degrees Fahrenheit and next week’s forecast seems to be a bit warmer in the 50s.

~Britt

It doesn’t feel like it’s 13 days until Christmas…

It doesn’t seem like Christmas is as close as it is. There is no snow, I killed a mosquito on Friday, and no one is really talking about it.

The week started off as any week would, there was a Monday… it was tiresome. Tuesday was a test on my patience. I have a class this term with three boys who have very high English comprehension and vocabularies. Two of them thought it would be hilarious to comment about how I have such a big butt, big stomach, and am equative to that of an Elephant. While I don’t deny that I am larger than the majority of Koreans (and even Americans), these boys did not stop commenting about this after I asked them to stop. After class I went to vent to my coworker and the director, as we all share a room. The director said she will talk to them on Thursday about it. And boy did she ever!

Wednesday made up for Tuesday because my cute class of all girls wanted to play “teacher draw…” where they shout out things from the story we read and they laugh at my horrible whiteboard drawings. Well, my bat wasn’t up to par with their expectations so they decided they wanted to try to draw it better. This turned into them drawing me on the board. Super cute.


Thursday came around and the director took the two boys into a private room and scolded them. I have no idea what she said because I had to look after the other student but when the two came back to class they looked so depressed and offered me a very insincere apology. Later that day, I had a class of learners who are lower level English learners and two boys from that class were not very behaved either. I had to write a list on the board of things they were not permitted to do in class (photo below). After warnings, I sent one kid to the desk team twice for disrupting the class. He clearly doesn’t care that it’s somewhat shameful to be sent to the desk to be scolded. Another kid from the same class was sent to the desk once and was on the verge of another trip.


All the native English speakers and a few of the Korean teachers went to trivia on Thursday. It was pretty fun but after round 3/5 for trivia and adding more and more alcohol to the mix, people lose their attention spans or it becomes boring. The bar has this really good ginger beer, Crabby’s, so I imbibed. On the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s and either said the wrong thing ordering or was misunderstood. I got a double quarter pounder – one quarter pound of beef on a burger is perfectly enough for me. When I paid I thought, “dang that seems really expensive…” but clearly didn’t care that much. I didn’t eat it until I walked home five minutes later and my fries were cold to discover why it was so spendy.

Friday night after work I got some jjajangmyeon, a Korean Chinese noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (a salty black soybean paste when unheated), diced pork and vegetables, and had a Netflix party with my bad self. I also decided at 3:45 am, that it was a good as time as any to start cleaning my apartment; I swept, Swiffered, washed the dishes, and took out my recycling.

Yesterday I went to HomePlus with my coworker Nick. I bought a lot of random things, but I found fajita mix in the foreigner food aisle! I bought a toaster oven, toaster, and groceries. I also found some raspberry sparkletini and bought two because it’s delicious and it reminds me of good times had with friends back home. After taking a taxi home with Nick I realized he took one of my bags of loot home with him. Thankfully he did because I started to look for my phone to message him as the taxi drove away. WHERES MY PHONE?! In the taxi! I swear to you, I have never ran that fast in my life!!! I got him to stop, retrieved my phone off the floor, and thanked him for stopping. That’s enough excitement for one day. 😑


Today I went to Myeongdong, Seoul to buy some gifts for Christmas. After some shopping I saw a hair place that was recommended to me. I went in, said I wanted a hair cut and was on my way to what would work out to be a two hour adventure. This place was far fancier than any other I’d ever been to. They take your bags and coat and put them in a locked locker. After that they give you a robe to put on and escort you to the shampooing room where it’s dim and relaxing. They put a thin tissue over your eyes so you don’t get splashed and cover you with a blanket. Then after the wash, they take you to the stylist’s chair and you get a cape and proceed with the cutting of hair. My intention was to just get a trim but while cutting my hair the stylist said, “why not get a straight perm?” Since I had been thinking about it, I went for it. After the initial cut, I was moved to what looked like a dining room table. There I got my perm chemicals applied by not one but two people and was put under a heater twice for five minutes to bake the chemicals into my hair. Then I was back in the shampoo room, taken back to the chair for blow drying and flat ironing, got some more chemicals put on my head, and had my hair washed for a third time and blown dry a second.

After all that, I did some more shopping and decided to go home. I got lost…again. I successfully got off at the correct subway station to catch my bus but I got on the wrong bus at the bus stop. I got on and things were going okay until I realized this bus was super old and didn’t have the tv that tells you which stop is next and I started to panic. I got off at some random stop when I looked at google maps and realized I was not where I should have been. My friend Sunny was able to help me figure out how to at least get to some place familiar and get home from there.

Now I’m home with my soft straightened hair and get to start it all over again tomorrow.

First Hostel Experience and Itaewon Travels

Friday after work, Sean, Brittany, and I hopped on a bus and headed to Seoul a little after ten and after getting off the bus and taking the subway the remainder of the way, we arrived at our hostel not long after an hour had passed. We dumped off our packs and headed out to explore. Elizabeth, who works on the other side of Suwon, was arriving a bit later and met us out and about.


Expensive cars errywurr, yo.


We went to this bar that had really random taste in music but seemed to be a pretty popular place and the beer was reasonably-ish priced. We met a really attractive Egyptian man who was there on business and he bought us a round of drinks after he realized I was drink-less. (So, being cheap and refusing to buy your own drinks, while not being a huge boozer to begin with, pays off sometimes.) He dropped off our drinks, we said thank you, and he went on to the next group of peeps to mingle with.


That says, “transgender bar,” I don’t know what all that entails but Sean and I were pretty proud to be able to read that.

After that we decided we wanted to actually dance and went to a club down the way. The music was better, but still not really my taste; I clearly didn’t mind because I danced so much I had sweat invading my eyeballs. My back started to hurt and I got tired around 3 am and tried to walk back to the hostel alone without getting lost. (I really should stop being confident about where I’m going, because I have no clue.) I stopped off to get a travel kit at the convenience store and didn’t realize the hostel was right across the street. I did, however, cross the street but just kept walking then realized I didn’t recognize anything and turned around. *face palm*  Then I had to walk up four flights of stairs, ew. I showered; it was awkward because I haven’t used a communal bathroom for like twelve years so it caught me off guard every time I heard the door open, but I was honestly too tired and a little tipsy to care.

We all woke up, my back was still killing me, and went to eat traditional Korean food for lunch. We originally decided on Indian but it was too expensive for everyone’s budget. I was pretty disappointed I couldn’t eat Tandoori Chicken. We went to go to the fish market because Brittany wanted to eat the wiggling cut up octopus; as I’m morally against eating one of my favorite animals and my back was killing me I opted to sit at a cafe, chug water, and take ibuprofen. Sean wasn’t into some aspect of the fish market either and he stayed behind with me and we people watched. We also had a time trying to find a western toilet. Having back pain plus only bringing one pair of pants for this trip, I was not about to fuck with those squat toilets – no thanks.

We went back to the hostel, made friends with some people that were staying there, watched random Korean television, loafed on the couch, and ordered in Koreanized Chinese food. We were supposed to go to Namsan Tower, which I’m sure was beautiful, but Elizabeth, Sean, and I weren’t feeling it. Brittany tried to go by herself but the bus didn’t stop at her bus stop so she just came back. The hostel had a beer pong night set up so I watched and everyone else played. We talked more to the others staying there and it was pretty cool – lots of seasoned travelers.


View from the top.


Later we went back to the first bar we went to the night before with a new hostel friend. The atmosphere was totally different. Better music and more people. There wasn’t really a designated dance space but if you know me, you know I will dance just about anywhere. While dancing I befriended a really REALLY drunk girl from Uzbekistan, so that was cool. She seemed really stoked that I was the first Uzbek person I’ve talked to. Because of the amount of people in the bar and influence of alcohol, I wasn’t really paying attention to what my hands were doing or where they were going – I was twisting my arms about my body when my hand made contact with this dude’s butt. He was like super annoying about it too saying shit like, “If you’re going to touch my butt, at least let me know first,” and I was all like, “dude, no. I don’t want to and didn’t want to. It’s called we both weren’t aware of each other’s proximity to each other, fuck off.” I danced some more and called it a night shortly after. I took a shower and decided I was against eating my random bag of cookies in my bunk so I went out and chilled in the common area with some other people.

Elizabeth went to church and Brittany and I went to Gyeongbok Palace. I had to purchase a new transit (T Money) card because I seemed to have lost my other one. It was raining so it made out commute a bit more interesting. There was a National Geographic DSLR exhibit on our way out of the train station. We got to vote on three photos we liked the best.


While we were en route, Sean messaged saying that he was just going to go back to Suwon. We made it to the palace and there weren’t loads of people there because of the rain, which was a perk. It was super pretty. I would have liked to roam around more but my shoes were soaked and I was still tired from the night before.


On our way back one of the escalators was out of order and I thought I was going to die! Brittany and I already joked that I was too good for stairs before seeing this and I said “oh helllllllllllll noooooooooo,” when I saw that. There must have been over 100 stairs I had to climb with people behind me so I can’t stop or go slow. I never want to see that many stairs ever again.


After all those stairs we decided we wanted to go home too. Two train transfers and a cab ride later, I was home by 3:30 and then it started to downpour. I did the bulk of my laundry immediately so I don’t have to anything tomorrow and can be the loafer I was destined to be.

Yes, I am a crazy cat person.

Lately I’ve been thinking about some weird things I didn’t think I would but I will undoubtedly miss while I’m in South Korea for a year and some things I won’t miss too much.

Things on the list I’ll miss:

  • My friends 😥
  • The excitement in my friend’s children’s voices when I go over to their house
  • Hay bales randomly plopped in fields along the highway
  • Miles of green seas of corn and soybeans
  • Iowa sweet corn
  • Seeing the giant tractors at the Farm Implement store on the way to my house
  • Culver’s ButterBurgers
  • My family, probably

Mostly, what I know I’ll miss is my kitty Emily.

Emmy Face

Seriously though, for those of you who don’t know, this cat is 21 years old. I’ve had her the majority of my life and she’s been there with me through all of my journeys to date with an exception of the four years I lived in Minnesota; two with my aunt and the two years went to Winona State University.

Mom and I took Emily in to the veterinarian this past Thursday and made me cry because I realized that I might not be able to be with my kitty for the final year(s) and adventure(s) of her long, healthy life. 😦 I’m glad that she has a home with my parents who will be caring for her while I’m away but I just wish she could come with me so I can snuggle her in the twilight of her life.