SIMON, CATCH!

Sometimes I think I should constantly carry a notepad with me at school because of all the random stuff the children say.

Yesterday, the kindergarten student that I tutor had an extremely hard time focusing in class.  How did I make him focus?  When he finally had a question for me, I answered his question with a question (Socrates was such a wise man).  We did this for forty minutes straight.  Only stopping for a minute, to put our “thinking” hats on (he has a hood that he disconnects from his jacket…it kind of reminds me of a blue storm trooper helmet the way it bobbles on his head, haha).

Also, months ago I taught the Torch Kindergarten class how to play “Simon Says”, but now every time we enter the gym, I morph into this “Simon” character.  Yesterday, we were doing an obstacle course and the boys needed to keep a ball in the air as long as possible as one of the “stations” and whenever they’d toss the ball to me, they’d say in a almost whispering voice “SIMON, CATCH!” and I don’t think they knew they were doing it because they were getting so into the game?  So, now whenever we’re in gym class, they always want to throw the ball to (in an intense, whispery voice) “Simon” because they know I will (usually) catch it and get them extra points.

Coming to you straight from the breakfast table (aka my kitchen counter),

This is (in a intense, whisper voice) Simon signing off!  Happy hump day, everyone!

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Gwangju International Food Fest

Never play with your food, unless you’re planning on making a 10 foot cookie sculpture.

I love my neighbor: the Kim Daejung Convention Center.  Whether it’s a lunch break spent outside gawking at the international men in suits or random adventures within the convention center itself, the KDJ center keeps me entertained.

This weekend, a bunch of teachers and I all visited the KDJ for the international food festival.  It was overwhelmingly crowded with people and booths from all parts of the world.  You enter the festival and one of the first booths welcomes you with several different flavors of beer.  Then, one weaves through a maze of baked goods (I was in heaven with the amount of carbs at the festival since they’re hard to come by here in Korea).  My favorite part was the candy sculpture area, I felt like a child lost in Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, all that was missing was an endless stream of chocolate and Oompa Loompas.  

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Dutch beer in one hand, Korean beer in the other!

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I really had to fight the urge to tip an entire tray of these goodies into my purse!

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Incredibly detailed cakes!

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Oh you know, just a dragon sculpture made entirely out of COOKIES!

I also enjoyed the international booths.  I splurged on some Kenyan Mandazi bread which is basically a sweet bread, taste tested some Turkish ice cream, and almost bought a beautiful Pakistani floral scarf, but instead settled for some Korean bamboo wine.  

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Very potent bamboo wine.

In spite of it being an “international” food fest, we still received an overwhelming amount of stares and random “hellos” from people.  I even had an older gentleman ask to shake my hand, saying I looked like a famous person.  It’s always entertaining being in the minority, what’s really funny is whenever I randomly pass a foreigner (someone who looks just like me) in the streets, I now do double-takes as well!  

Midterms and Midnight Haircuts

Mid term season is here.  I find myself getting test anxiety for my students.  I’ve never been a good test taker.  During my driving test, I was so nervous, I knew I would forget “right” from “left” so I ended up writing the directions on my hands.  Honestly, I like the anxiety; the nerves push me and it’s all about using the energy in a positive way.

Anyway,  I thought nothing could beat the feeling of receiving an “A” on a paper or exam, but was I ever wrong.

Watching my students whiz through the exams, then confidently turn in their paper to me: THAT is the best feeling in the world.  The numerous times I had to pound into their heads the difference between an adjective and an adverb, a proper and common noun, subjects verses actions, and watch them unquestioningly speed through those sections, that is what makes this all worth it.   Watching the children grow in their studies and use their knowledge later makes my heart swell up with so much joy and reminds me that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

Friday night at 7:45 pm marked the end of proctoring exams and I sped into the teacher’s room to find the other teachers ready to go get haircuts.  I decided to join in since I haven’t had a hair cut in years.  I quickly googled possible new styles and we were off!

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A salon full of beautiful Korean men primping themselves for the night.

I was one of the first to dive into the haircut experience (That is, after the salon cleared out of all the K-pop boy banders getting their hair styled for the night).  It was honestly quite painless and went something like this:

I plopped into the seat, showed her the picture of Zooey Deschanel’s bangs, pointed to the layers, she nodded, I nodded and seconds later I had several inches of my hair on the floor.  Somehow, it was lost in translation that I actually wanted bangs.  So when she started styling my hair, I had to take out my phone again to point at the bangs, but she eventually understood.  I really enjoyed getting my haircut here, there was no awkward pressure to make small talk with the person cutting my hair (and I DESPISE small talk).  I just sat there, and she cut.  Every once in while she’d stop and gesture for an approval.  All in all, I was very happy with my hair cut experience.  My advice for anyone who wants to get their hair cut in a foreign country, make sure you have pictures of what you want, it just makes everything easier.

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This is my nervous smile.

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Finally, the bangs I’ve always wanted!

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Very excited for my new “do”

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Bangs and berets…my favorite winter combination.

Interesting Facts:

When you get your hair colored here, it’s called a “manicure”.

Salons stay open into the wee hours of the morning.  I had my haircut at midnight and the salon was reasonably busy.

10 Foods I Never Thought I’d Eat

I’m a very picky eater and by picky, I mean I may have been borderline vegetarian the majority of my life.

Coming to Asia has introduced me to a whole new type of cuisine, sometimes not the most appealing but always entertaining.

Below is a list of foods I never would have thought I’d touch until I came to Korea:

  • SPAM: it’s in just about everything here so it’s very hard to avoid it.  Just now, I made some rice pouridge for lunch that was labelled “vegetable” but sure enough, little pieces of the ultra processed meat were floating in my bowl.
  • Fish heads and raw fish: I actually don’t mind it as long as the head isn’t facing me.
  • Radishes: they’re everywhere and are used as a source to clean your pallet, but I honestly just eat them because they taste good.
  • Sweet pickles: I HATED these at home, but somehow Korea makes them taste appetizing.
  • Hairy meat: Not sure if I was supposed to eat the hair, or cut it off…either way, I wasn’t too impressed.
  • Seaweed: cooked, dried, by itself, or paired with a dish…I’ve had it all.
  • Unidentifiable pieces of meat: I try to avoid this, but in soups and other dishes it is kind of hard to avoid and sometimes it’s surprisingly good, but watch out for hidden bones!
  • Kimchi: I’ve developed cravings for this famous side dish.
  • Dried Squid: This has replaced my jerky obsession since jerky is so expensive here.
  • Prepackaged Boiled Eggs: They’re surprisingly delicious and some even come soaked in soy sauce!
  • Boiled eggs make a great on-the-go snack!

    Boiled eggs make a great on-the-go snack!