Weeks 25 & 26

Haha. I sense a trend in two weeks in one blog post forming. I shouldn’t do this though because as already mentioned, I have a shit memory.

Thursday the 22nd, my smallest class composed of two boys with the same name – the Daniels, drew me and my co-teacher on the board. Notice how I have a new name and no arms in the rendering on the left. That’s from a boy who I taught six months ago. He still remembers my full name and how to spell it… I worked at the same company for three years and people still couldn’t remember how to pronounce, let alone spell my last name. I guess that just goes to show that my nine year old student is more intelligent that those people?

Saturday, June 24th, not one, but two of my coworkers got married… and not to each other. It was a highly interesting experience as every wedding I’ve been to, with the exception of one, were all with the same cultural background. Korean weddings, from what was kindly explained to me by other co-workers, last at most three hours. There is a short ceremony and then a celebratory meal and then everyone goes on their way. When I shared how long receptions go on in the USA, one co-worker was appalled and said, “if that happened here, people would be so offended and burdened!”

The first wedding we all went to was for our co-worker Kathy. It was a very grand affair with four forks per place setting and I was so happy to remember my home economics training regarding these types of place settings. When we arrived, we went to the “bride’s room” and took pictures with Kathy. She looked gorgeous, as always. She had a western wedding dress for the first half of the ceremony and then changed into a hanbok – her husband also changed from a suit to hanbok. They had a western style meal with, what seemed like an endless supply of courses. Unfortunately, we had to leave before dessert to head to the next wedding. ☹️

I’m sure we were all a sight traveling on the subway in our wedding garb. We traveled for an hour and a half to the next venue. I was a creep and took photos of two my coworkers sleeping on the train. hahahahahahahahaha. It was a long journey and I had to keep entertained, okay? We arrived at the train station and were running through it, I’m still not entirely sure why we were running but it worked our in the end because we caught the last shuttle from the station to the venue. We arrived just as the ceremony ended and they were taking group photos with family and friends. I’m sure it looked bad as a foreigner collective showed up just after the ceremony was over but just in time to eat the meal. This wedding seemed more modest and comfortable. I didn’t have to think about which fork to use for what. The food was Korean and delicious. The couple, again, changed in to hanbok and thanked everyone for helping them celebrate their marriage.

I got curious about cruises and accidentally sorted them by highest price… and stumbled upon a $30,000 cruise that lasts for 134 days. ONE HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR days on a cruise boat floating around the world. I get irritated being away from my “home base” for more than three days, I can’t even imagine being on “vacation” for that long. Could you even call it that? Maybe if I were more monetarily inclined and didn’t have plans for the next, what, six months I’d do it… but that still seems too long.

My students got a hold of my phone and took this picture of me. I think it looks nice.

I swore for the first time in class on Thursday. In my defense, I almost shut and locked us in a room with a broken door handle. So as I caught myself automatically closing the door as class started, I said, “oh shiiiit,” rather loudly. My students were like 😮 “TEACHER! WHAT DID YOU SAY?!” and then started to chant, “oh shit! oh shit! oh shit!” It was really difficult for me to keep a straight face, tell them to stop, and apologize to them. After I apologized, they let it go…for a little bit. They also told me they wanted to call my mom and tell her I was being bad, but honestly my mom wouldn’t be shocked at all to hear of this. I’m just really proud of myself that it took ten months for this to happen. *pats self on back*

Friday my highest level class had to decide on a person to interview in their class and they chose me. It was was so hilarious because I made each student think of one question they wanted to ask me. They were mostly generic questions until we got to the only boy in the class who came up with: teacher do you like to exercise? I laughed and laughed at that and replied, “does it look like I enjoy exercising!?” and he was called out by the girls for being rude… I thought it was funny. His mind is very interesting because he tried to back peddle with, “teacher do you like food?” and the girls verbally attacked him again. Finally, he settled on – do you have a pet? The first question that was asked was, “how old are you?” and when I wrote the answer on the board everyone was so dramatic in their shocked reaction because my face is “젊은 얼굴” which they told me means young face. Shout out to my dad for giving me 젊은 얼굴!

Lately, it seems like the littlest accomplishments seem like the biggest victories to me. I figured out how to get an I-pin to verify my identity on the internet because Korean seems to like security protocols, which is in my best interest. I now have a point card that is usable at Baskin-Robbins so that’s an awesome thing that came from that. I also finally had to call my bank in the USA to let them know I can’t access my account because it wanted to send a confirmation text to my phone number that I no longer have and got it set up to send me a validation email instead. Woo-hoo being over 30 is so thrilling.

I finally got the results of my brother’s Ancestry DNA results back. And they probably the most underwhelming results ever. My mom did one of these tests a few months ago and both hers and my brother’s responses were identical – “well no surprises there.”

Until next week(s),

B

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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 11, 2017

Last Monday was the Monday-iest Monday ever. I got bit by a child twice in the span of ten minutes because I wouldn’t let him open the door.

Tuesday was White Day – some sort of extra Valentine’s Day that some Asian countries celebrate. I still don’t know what it’s all about. Our director gave us a Beauty and the Beast chocolate rose lolly though, so that’s cool. Some of the kids in my classes also gave me candy; like this pirate’s gold!

Wednesday the child that bit me was a bit more calm because the Korean teacher scolded him. Nothing else of substance to report.

Thursday two of my classes had to write a report. Since the example was about Korean symbols, one class decided to pick American symbols.  They wrote about the American flag and what the components meant and the national anthem. I thought that was pretty cool.

I lost my pencil while grading book reports and when I looked in the mirror this is what I saw. I’ve officially lost my damn mind.

I saw this cool clown car.


Friday wasn’t that great.

Saturday I went to Korean class. I have to wear a face mask because the yellow dust and pollution are irritating my respiratory system. I think I look like a thief.


Our class was only one hour long instead of the normal two because we had orientation. I was trying to take a selfie and my classmates photobombed me.


We sat there for an hour on plastic stools that made my butt go numb. Then, my class went for lunch.

My classmate that can be seen in the center of the photobombing, Tien, sat next to me at lunch. We were chatting with other classmates. Tien made us guess how old he is…because, you know, that game always works out… I guessed that he was the same age as me. He confirmed that I was born in 1986 and was like, “so you’re 31?” My response was, “no! Not yet!” So he asked me when I’ll be 31. I said May. His eyes got big. “Me too! What day!?” “The 19th,” and his eyes got really big and he hit me on the shoulder. “Me too!” And come to find out he has the ~EXACT~ same birthday as me. He asked me what time! I told him I’d look at my birth certificate when I got home to let him know. We even whipped out our alien registration cards to prove it. So the class was making jokes about how we’re twins separated at birth and how we’ll have to have a joint birthday party. I’ve met people with the same birthday as me before, but not the whole month, day, year same! It’s pretty cool.

After all that, I went to Suwon Station to get a hair cut. The man who cut my hair caught me off guard by offering me money to help him with his English. I would, but my contract specifically forbids this and I don’t think it’s worth the risk of being fired/deported. Next I went to scope out one of my favorite stores and it was closed! I don’t know if it merged with the men’s store that was down the street but it definitely packed up and left its building. So I wondered over to LOHB which is an equivalent to CVS and I found the mother load of imported foods. I was especially impressed enough with their selection of Campbell’s soups that I took a picture. I got off the bus early and walked along the stream back to my house.

 


Sunday I didn’t do much. I did some loads of laundry and went to a Korean barbecue meat buffet with Asia.

I forgot to post this before… it’s official.

 

Until next week,

B

Week 10, 2017

Monday… since I don’t remember what happened it must not be important.

Tuesday: On the way to work I saw the egg man. Legit. I laughed about it. The day was going well until my last class of the day and I somehow got confused about when break was. I ended up taking my break when it is on M-W-F, when I’m supposed to be in class on T-Th. So I was at least 15 minutes late to my class. The kids were cool about it and asked me if I was late because I was pooping. So that was nice of them. Immediately after class I went to apologize to the director because I felt really bad. She told me that it was okay, only because I finished the pages for that day.

Wednesday was tiring because of the two “baby” classes back to back. I am still trying to work out how to wrangle them and keep them all on track even though we don’t understand each other.

Thursday I went to break at the correct time and I will forever be paranoid about that now. After class, all the foreign teachers went to trivia at The Big Chill, a foreigner’s bar in Suwon. I got a bottle of soju and talked to the people one of my coworkers invited.  My team ended up winning trivia! I was so jazzed. I never win anything! yaaaaay me! Two random Korean guys came over to talk to the table and we had some pretty good conversation.

Friday, the second of the “baby” level classes made me so annoyed. There is a boy in this class that is, I think, 5 years old. He doesn’t know how to write in Korean let alone in English. He thinks this class is play time; it is not. He clutched on to the back of my shirt and wouldn’t let go for what felt like an eternity, but was probably ten minutes. When I said something to the class he mocked my tone of voice and thought it was the funniest thing ever and laughed until his face was almost purple. He hid under the table a couple times and I just started to ignore him. There is another child in this class that likes to instigate things with the aforementioned 5 year old. I do not enjoy that class because of those two children. I went and got a pepperoni pizza and went home.

Saturday was the first day of Korean class. I woke up at 8:00 and was upset I couldn’t sleep in.  The weather was super nice so that kind of made me less of a grump. I am just not a morning person. My class is pretty diverse; there are two Americans, one Irish lady, a Polish lady, a Mexican lady, three Indonesian ladies, two Vietnamese men, an Indian lady and a Pakistani man. I’m a bit nervous about how it’s going to go as it progresses because the stuff we went over was stuff I was already familiar with and it still seemed like it was a bit too fast paced.


After class I went to Suwon Station to meet up with one of the guys I met on Thursday at trivia. I told him I wanted to eat Original Pancake House in Itaewon so we hopped on a train and got to Itaewon but his app gave us a really unnecessary, illogical mountain climbing “long-cut” to get there. At one point we were walking up the mountain at a 45 degree angle. It was awful. I do not like mountains. We finally reached our destination and it was magical. After I inhaled my food, we left and of course we could have been there on level ground by just going around the corner. TL;DR don’t trust your phone when it tells you to hike up 45 degree angle mountain faces when you know you could be there in 5 seconds around the corner.

Today I did laundry and pretended to watch Netflix. I fell asleep multiple times but the show’s episodes I was watching are repetitive enough that it didn’t really matter.

Week 9, 2017

I feel like it’s getting more difficult to differentiate between days, weeks, months the longer I am here…does that mean I’m more comfortable because things don’t stick out as much? That I’m finally acclimatized to things and how they’re done here?

I have no idea what happened last Monday other than it was the last Monday of the 2016 Winter term.

Tuesday was our head teacher’s last day. It was really surreal feeling. It didn’t seem real; she’s been here the whole six months I’ve been in Korea and has been a super cool head teacher.

I got eyelash extensions before school because why not?

Wednesday we didn’t have work because of Sam-il which celebrates the first demonstrations and resistance against Japanese colonialism in Korea; it is credited with gaining momentum for the Korean Independence Movement.

I’m not 100% sure but I’m pretty sure I stayed home and watched dramas all day… I also sent 203943890 snaps to my friend Lee. They said this snapchat filter is my ~true~ form. I agree.

Thursday was the start of the new term. I have the lowest level of learners once on Tues-Thurs and they are so cute! I have a pretty good mix of students that I’ve taught the previous two terms and new students.

Friday I had two more of the lowest level classes right out the gate. I’m a bit more worried about my Mon, Wed, Fri classes because the the lower level classes keep trying to talk to me in Korean and I, obviously, keep talking to them in English then we reach an impasse where we just stare at each other. It’s so awkward! So cute, but damn, so so awkward.

Saturday I went with our new teacher to sign up for Korean class! I woke up at 8:30 on a weekend… *shocked* We took a taxi to Yeongtong Station in Suwon. It was such a hilarious trip because we had the most adorable, dad taxi driver. He picked us up and immediately wanted to know where we were from. After he learned we were from America he proceeded to unlock his phone and show us a photo of his daughter who goes to University of Kansas. He wanted to know which states we were from and why we were in Korea. He asked us if we were military and my mind immediately went to,”lololololololol, what you playin’ at old man?!” I told him we were teachers and he immediately rubbed his hands together to signify his approval of our money making ventures. Oh man, he was a hoot!

We finally arrived at Yeongtong Station and after the most ridiculous confusion we realized we were not lost and there was a sign right in front of our faces about the class we were looking for. We got in and registered for our classes. I suddenly understood how our new students feel when we ask them if they have an English name because that happened to me here. I was good because I already have a Korean name but dang that’s some pressure to put on someone. I’ve studied Hangul previously I was placed in level one. Asia was placed in Hangul class. Another teacher at our school, Olivia, registered also and will be in the same level as Asia. We were there for probably five minutes and finished; I was told I could buy my book that day so we made our way to the front desk. Come to find out I already have both the text and workbooks from attempting to self study. So yay! 🙂

After that, we hopped on the train to Suwon Station because Asia wanted to return some things she bought and didn’t need. We walked around, got lunch, and got her a SIM card for her phone. A pretty productive day so far if I do say so, and it was only about two in the afternoon at this point.

I had gotten home and I got a message from a guy, Sung, I have talking to saying we should go to the seashore. So he picked me up and we drove for about an hour to Daebudo, an island in the Yellow Sea on the western coast of South Korea. That was probably the longest I’ve been in a car since I arrived in Korea and took a taxi from the airport. We got to our destination, walked along the mud flats, looked at shells, and then Sung said he wanted to watch the sunset. So we got back in the car and drove to the western part of the island that is known for sunsets. It was getting chilly so we headed to a restaurant for dinner. He talked me into eating octopus. <_< We got seafood stew that had octopus, crabs, clams, and shrimp. It wasn’t that bad. He also ordered seafood potato pancake. I wish I would have taken pictures because this stew looked like a work of art. Then we came back to Suwon, he dropped me off and went back home to Seoul. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday I planned on doing laundry all day. I got a message from a Korean teacher at my school asking if I wanted to join her and another teacher at the mall for shopping. That sounded a hell of a lot more fun than laundry so I agreed. Apparently it was their mission to find me a pair or two of pants because a comment was made previously in the week about how my pants are too big. While this was done with the best intentions, finding plus size pants here in a regular store is next to impossible. Even back home, finding pants to fit me in a store is difficult. She thought she found pair that looked like they’d fit… I couldn’t get them over my knees because of my chunky thighs. I appreciated the gesture and effort, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We walked around and looked at all the stuff in the mall, ate some pretty cake, and had coffee. I started to feel really tired so we parted our ways and I went home. I went straight to bed because I developed  a headache. I slept for an hour and then did some dishes and read for a bit.

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

Week 1, 2017

This week we started “Winter Intensive” classes because the students are on winter break from their public schools. This means we start earlier at 10:30 am and end at 6:30. This also means that aside from normal classes, “fun,” extra classes are added. Normally, we arrive at work by 12:30 and start classes at 2:50 which gives us prep time; now we arrive by 10:30 and start classes at 11:05. Depending upon when your break is or if you have multiple breaks can make for a rather exhausting day.

Monday, I forgot we didn’t have the usual preparation time and failed to bring myself lunch. I think I had a bagel in my desk which was the only thing I ate until 7 pm. I made my way for some dinner and gorged myself on mandu. Afterwards making up a song about taking Courtney to the mandu shop to the tune of 50 Cent’s Candy Shop. Later that evening I went to the convenience store to get some snacks for the next day and I considered buying the Spam fried rice but it I don’t even recall if I’ve ever even eaten Spam before so I passed on that.


I don’t really recall anything of significance happening Tuesday and Wednesday… just the usual; wake up, go to work, eat, come home, repeat.

Thursday morning I was sorting my trash so I wouldn’t be the subject of the passive aggressive notes about the trash and recycling that are left in the common area of my building, and I found an important looking letter from the internet company in the bin. Checked my internet connection and wouldn’t you know, it’d been disconnected. So I went to try to pay it at the machine in the bank and that machine is turned off. Just my luck.


Friday I left early so I could pay the bill and/or express concern about the machine still being off. It was back on and the man at the bank essentially paid the bills for me save punching in my PIN and my phone number… I still don’t know how to do this myself. Get home from work after grocery shopping and my internet is still off. If I were smart, I would have gone to the store where I got my cell phone and asked them about it, but I’m clearly not. So my internet is still off and I’ve been using my phone as a hotspot.

Saturday, Nick and I went to Gangnam because I wanted to go to the Kakao Friends store. We left around 12:30 and were in transit for just under a hour and a half. We got a bit lost in the subway station because, as I’ve told you before, I’m directionally dumb. We got it sorted out and emerged from underground. Nick expressed excitement to see a Taco Bell so we ate there. Then we went to the Kakao Friends store. It was so packed in there I was being pushed about so much. I bought some junk and he did too, then we walked around looking for something else interesting. If you know me I’m not really a planner. I just like to go places and see one specific thing then see what’s up. There wasn’t a whole lot else besides the Taco Bell and Kakao Friends store that we can’t see closer to home so after I got some Jamba Juice, we headed back home… and it was still daylight out!


Later that night I went out to get food before the shop closed. As I was walking back I saw a former student of mine, Peter, walking with his parents. I waved and he seemed really shocked to see me. I said hi and bowed to his parents and went on my way. As I was getting ready to cross to the other side of the street I heard someone running behind me. It was Peter and he gave me some sweet potato snacks. Interactions like this make me smile. I bowed again and continued my walk home.


Today I decided to get on a random bus and go for a ride and get off at a place that looked interesting. I walked around in a park and looked at the shops in a hilly part of town. I came back to my point of origin and walked around more in my immediate area. I found the post office so I longer have that excuse and a hospital that I never would have known was in the area. I watched some dudes play soccer for awhile and came back home. I did four loads of laundry this weekend and had to bring my drying rack inside my actual apartment because the “chilly” 50 F wind wasn’t drying my clothes fast enough.

Over the past week I read two books – over 700 pages. Since I got a new Kindle for Christmas I decided I might as well make good use of it. I’ve set my reading goal for 50 books this year and I definitely have well over that number of books I’d like to read, the only problem is, as always, motivation.

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

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.

The week my cat died.

This past week has been spent preparing for the new term at school. This also brought the departure of a coworker and the arrival of a new one. I’m no longer the “new” one, so that feels a bit unreal.

Tuesday we were told to come in early for a meeting which was implied that we would go over schedules for the new term. We all get there and there is a new director for our school! I had heard rumors about getting a new director but I didn’t really give it much credence. As with any management change, there are already changes in procedures and it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. And if any of these changes would influence me to stay here by extending my contract or not. Now that Sean and I have to have our desks in the directors room as of last Friday it makes me a bit more nervous than it did initially.

Wednesday I felt off and sad for no particular reason. After work I went home and just sat in my bed in the dark. I had a weird feeling that I should call my parents house knowing full well that they were at work. So I messaged my mom to ask about adding something to the box of clothes I ordered and had sent to their house. She responded that I should call their house because my dad was home sick. I called at around 1 am my time and I was informed that my cat, Emily, had passed away. After we talked about some other news, I hung up and cried until 3 am. I woke up again at 7:30 crying.  I don’t know which would have been worse, feeling guilty that I’ve been away from her in last three months of life or knowing that if she were living with me when she died I’d be even more of a wreck. Rest In Peace Emily 1995 – 2016. The last 21 years wouldn’t have been as good without your cuddles and company 💔😞

Thursday was the start of the new term and I had a bit of an anxiety attack when I got to work because my computer background is a picture of Emily’s cute dumb face. I was trying to quickly to change it to something else and was just getting more irritated. I was telling Sean about my cat dying and was crying – all while the new director is looking at me probably like, “what is wrong with this mess?” Sean was kind enough to tell her for me while I sobbed. Then I went to get something from the copy room and I ran into the foreign head teacher, Andrea, and she asked me if I was okay and I lost it and made the ugliest crying faces I’ve ever made. I am the world’s ugliest crier so that was probably a joy to see. Other than a couple tears leaking out, I think those are the only two times I cried at work, thank God.

My classes this term seem like they’ll be good. My classes are significantly smaller on Tuesday/Thursdays which I don’t mind at all. I feel it makes it easier to get things done and focus on extra things if needed. The classes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday are bigger but are older students for the most part. I had a new student on Friday who wanted to make an English name and I was caught so off  guard by that. I was not prepared to name this child! I asked the class for suggestions, added some of my own, and had her pick because she didn’t have a name in mind.

I had to work yesterday for “Open Class.” When prospective students come to our school and check it out – we give them an overview of what classes would be like and gauge their abilities. My experience was unique as there were only two students scheduled and only one showed up. The past two weekends, they’ve had open class as well and they had over ten kids both times.

After open class I walked around and then came back for a nap. Later in the evening, I met up with Sean, Brittany, and Nick and we went to Jamsil-dong in Seoul. Sean has a friend, Tim, who lives there from his previous teaching job; he and his girlfriend were kind enough to host us all for a movie night. We were supposed to meet up with Elizabeth at the subway station but it seems that some miscommunication happened and Elizabeth was at the incorrect station and decided to go home as she had been in Seoul all day. We watched Popstar, which I didn’t really have any desire to see but it was really funny and I enjoyed it a lot. Then we moved on to the The Good Guys, I was having a great time until my stomach started to get crampy and angry and that movie seemed like it was going to go on foreverrrrrr. Everyone else wanted to go a bar and I was going to catch a cab and go back home because I was not feeling well. Our gracious hosts gave me some tummy meds, got me a blanket, and let me stay at their apartment until they came back from the bar so I could split the cost of the cab fare with the others.