Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Season of FIRSTS...and Some Seconds, Too

This week has been the hardest week for me in Korea so far. I believe it has to do with the fact I was battling a cold, we hosted our biggest group of students thus far, and I was just plain ol' homesick.

But do not be dismayed! This has not prevented any new adventuring, and the week actually rapped out very nicely. I also have a slew of new videos and a couple of still-lifes (I know, who does THAT anymore?) to bring all of you a little closer to me--cause I'm selfish like that.

First things first in the week of firsts, cute little kids! Ok, so this is not the first time I've seen them, but this was my first chance to get video of the wee ones. These kids are part of the One Day Program (ODP). They usually arrive around 10am and wander to the different facilities throughout the day. Unfortunately, we do not get to work with them. It's probably a good thing or I might die of cuteness overload.
Our next first: riding the subway! All of the people who worked in the Special Programs department during the month-long Vacation Intensive Program (VIP) went to dinner together. We rode the free EV Shuttle into Ilsan, then took the subway to WesternDom (pronounced Western dome). Another first involved is you meeting my fabulous co-worker Patricka. Love her!

The next first is getting to see WesternDom itself. They have an IMAX theater there (note: In Korea even going to the cinema your seats are assigned like when going to performance theater--kinda strange, but the theaters are nice!) and lots of shopping and food. We ate at UNO's (for my Western US friends who were clueless like I was, it's a pizzeria that was started in Chicago).

Following that we have the first look at some of my Korean classes. The first group, boys from Buchan Middle School were my "home room" (we basically play games and just try to have fun with the boys, also take them shopping on Market St. and teach them language-centered lessons about going out to public facilities like travel agency, post office, clinic, bank, police station, etc.). The second group, girls from Buchan Middle School were my language/content area students. All of the really language-intensive lessons are in the morning and I was able to work with these girls. Later in the week I was also able to work with them on the M2NE1 (Message to Anyone) project in my content area (which is Arts, Broadcasting, and Communication or ABC).

On Friday I went with Adam's content area to lunch (the video is us proving the true meaning of HOV in Korea). Not far from where we live is a Shabushabu restaurant. Rather than me explain, I recommend you Google what it is, because I'm sure my limited understanding will be too narrow in defining it. Basically we had a huge salad bar that you could take as many trips to as you liked (it even included a chocolate fountain) and the actual shabushabu. It was really good! We'll probably be going back. But next time we'll likely be on foot...

Speaking of food, I had been craving some good American fare and asked Adam when we got paid if we could go back to Johnny Rocket's. So we did! But this time, we went with friends :) So this first is you seeing Brandon's first time to Johnny's and meeting our friend/co-worker Caleb.

While we were at the outlet mall where Johnny's is located we happened to spy a little "mall security." I may or may not have shouted, "PAUL BLART, MALL COP!" as I attempted to get my camera out and film as much as possible. But Dude was fast, so there's not much.

The next series of videos and stills document our FIRST excursion into Seoul! Honestly, we were surprised at how many people cared so much that we hadn't been yet. So Saturday we went (mostly because it involved books and because we are such bookish people we made it a priority).

Our first stop was in the foreign-district of Seoul called Itaewon (ok, so we pronounce it ee-tay-juan but Korean's kind of drop the W and it sounds more like ee-tay-ohn). Lo and behold, our booking at What the Book--

oooh! Doesn't that just look like home?!--(which you can visit here) took long enough that we didn't want to walk far to eat and right there, next door was this...

Real hamburgers TWO days in a row! It was bliss. They also had a special for ice cream. Two cups were 1000won (roughly a buck). So we decided to enjoy some. The taste was a little off (like they used powdered vanilla and the sugar was cooked too long), but it was the best we've had so far! Plus we had really cool utensils to eat with. Check them out!

Our other stop was in an outdoor market called Namdaemun (nom-day-moon). The very first thing we saw when we rounded the corner was Seoul City Tower.

(look mom! Proof that Adam is, in fact, alive and well!...and that I still have sad, ugly hair)

I took this video and Adam snapped these stills walking down our first street in the market (let it be known that we walked at least 6 or 8 different roads and still didn't hit them all, not to mention we skipped all the alley-ways in between).

It was so fun to see, and I even got to do a little bartering (Mama you taught me well and would be so proud!). These are my purchases for the day:
From front left: a clutch or "wristlet"--you can't see the strap because it fell backwards, but it's the cutest little bag for about $15! Sunglasses (these were 10,000won--roughly $10--I bought these after seeing another pair that were going for $135,000). A FABULOUS new purse--it has pockets, pockets, pockets galore (literally 8 zippered pockets and two open spaces). It's when I did the bartering. 

The guy told me, "I give you discount." He punched 120,000 into the calculator and said, "Price, but!" then he erased it and typed in 95,000 and said, "For you." And smiled. I grimaced and said, "I don't know. Let me go ask my husband." He didn't want any of that, so he said, with a very pained expression, "Ok, ok, ok, how much you pay?" Then he handed me the calculator. So I typed in 65,000. You would have thought I hit him with a baseball bat, but he relented in the end! And I also the super great slouchy cap (it totally reminds me of you b and Tia, too!). It's still a little too warm to be sporting the hat just yet, but September is here so the time is short!

The last first, at least for this post, was getting to see a new species of crab. The owners of Tom 'n Tom's Coffee Shop here in the village had them on display. Their daughter caught them at a little inlet not far from here. We asked if they would be kept for pets or if people would eat them. The woman made an awful face and said, "inside" and mimed lots of bugs crawling around.

I don't know if I could eat them either...

So in spite of the week being less than good, I think it turned out pretty alright.