Friday, April 29, 2011

Our New Job at Andong English Village

As you know, Danny and I are staying in Korea for one more year due to taking a job at Andong English Village.  Although we are still teaching English I thought I would tell you a little about our new job because it is really completely different from last year.

Danny in Math Class playing the game BAAM.
Last year we both taught at boys high schools, worked 9-5 Monday through Friday, were the only native English speaker in our entire school, taught from a book, and usually taught with a co-teacher who was in the classroom with us.  This year we teach boys and girls ranging from 5th grade to high school, we work about 9-8 Monday through Thursday, we teach with four other native English speakers, we definitely DON'T teach just "book" subjects, and we teach all by ourselves... yeah a little different : )

Most people, even in Korea, are pretty confused what an English Village actually is so we pretty often have to clarify that, yes, we work at Andong National University, but we still teach kids English.   Basically it is an intensive English kids camp where schools send their students for 4 days to do a variety of English classes.  The kids even sleep in a dorm in one end of the building but thankfully Danny and I get to say goodbye after our classes are done, so we don't have to watch over them at night.  We get to play with the kids for 4 days and then send them on their way back to their usual teachers, so I like to think of us as the cool "aunt" and "uncle" teachers who get to do the fun stuff with them and don't actually have to teach them real stuff like the "parent" teacher waiting for them : )  I sort of miss building more relationships with the students, but honestly I kind of love that I only see them for 4 days... I don't get sick of them (well the bad one's I do) and they don't get sick of me ( I hope).

There are all kinds of different classes that we get to do at the AEV like Police Station class where they get locked up in jail, Science class where they make their own volcanoes, and even Cooking class (sigh... I wish I had that class) where they get to bake chocolate muffins!  Danny teaches Math, Hotel, Grocery Store, and Campus Tour and I teach Yoga (haha, I know), Bank, Post Office, and Theme class where we teach the students about different western holidays.  

Doing some poses in Yoga Class.
The way the AEV is set up, they want the kids to really feel like they are in a really different learning environment so it's pretty cool that we get to teach in such in a unique place.  Danny has a mini grocery store that he teaches his class in so the kids can feel and touch the food and I think that my pharmacist brother-in-law would even be impressed by our mini pharmacy : ) (Better come see it for yourself huh, Albert?)
"Do you have any pomegranates?"
Now we teach the kids all about these crazy subjects but we aren't actually focusing on the skills that you need to know to use English like in a REAL grocery store.  For example:  I'm not actually teaching "yoga" with the namaste and the meditating, I'm really teaching words that you might use in a class like that like body words, or "above", "below", "touch", etc.

It's pretty different going from high schoolers to grade schoolers, but Danny and I are both thankful for our favorite camp experience, Camp Elim, for preparing us for MANY years how to deal with kids of all ages.  The kids are fantastic to watch and MUCH more interesting than my bored and tired high school boys.  Kids are already pretty funny on their own, but add in the fact that they are hopped up on sugar and coffee drinks that they sell in the vending machine (I don't know why), and add that they don't speak great English and you have a hilarious situation.  What other place can you have an imaginary gun fight with 5th graders and come out with a few imaginary gun shot wounds and a heap of boys on the floor dying a slow and painful death of imaginary bullet wounds?  It's AWESOME!

Us teachers introducing ourselves to the students.
Besides the hilarity everyday with the kids, there are lots of other perks to the job that we aren't complaining about.  When we were at our other schools we basically didn't talk outside of class but now that we work with 4 other foreigners, it's nice to have other people to talk to throughout the day.  I also really enjoy always having 3 day weekends and I know when I have to go back to a 5 day work week I will do it with a heavy heart.  And lastly the most important perk: I get to work with Danny which is pretty awesome because I know that this probably won't happen again in our lives.  When the kids find out that we are married the usual response is something along the lines of a collective "Gasp!", then a round of applause, and then whenever they see us the girls chant, "Lovers, lovers, lovers!" while dancing around us.  These kids keep the romance alive ; )

Koreans love to do the "heart" pose.  Ahhhh.
It's a pretty nice place to work and we are enjoying ourselves.  Obviously, it's still work with it's good and bad days, but for the most part we feel pretty lucky to have such a good job... oh and the 7 weeks vacation doesn't hurt either... wink, wink!  Good times at Andong English Village!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gross but True... A story of Katy and her gall stones.

Now this isn't my normal kind of post, but I just thought it was so interesting that I had to share it...

So some of you know that I, Katy, have been suffering gall stone attacks for the past couple years.  Occasionally I get a severe pains in the gall bladder region due to these stones so I finally decided to do something about it.  I wanted to try to get rid of my stones naturally (even though most people suggest surgery) and I have been reading about different ways online so this week I decided to DO IT!  I had no idea if it would work at all and honestly I more lingered on the side of it not working, but I thought, "What the heck!" and so the past week I have been doing a "Natural Gall Bladder Cleanse".

I won't go into specifics (but if you suffer with gall stones, give me a shout and I will tell you more) (and also I hope this doesn't gross anyone out ; ) but I will basically lay out what this cleanse looks like.  For the past week I have been eating noting but 6 apples a day and a small salad at night.  This is supposed to "loosen" the stones and get then ready to pass.  Then on the last day I only ate two apples in the morning, then drank 2 cups of salt water (yuck... oh my goodness... yuck) and then proceeded to drink about 2 cups of fresh lemon juice and olive oil mixed (another big YUCK).  Now you might be saying, "This sounds like a disgusting thing that someone would dare someone to drink!" but I found many websites with various versions of this recipe.  THEN after all of those "lovely" beverages, I was supposed to go to bed laying on my right side.

Not feeling that anything was happening, I began to wonder last night if I put myself through drinking some not  great-tasting drinks, and missing eating pizza with Danny, and skipping an Easter BBQ for NOTHING!  Never fear though, ladies and gents, because this is a tale of success and not defeat!

I finally woke up this morning and had to use the bathroom.  Now, skipping many details, I basically found that not only had this cleanse WORKED but it worked marvelously!

I am simply AMAZED at how many gall stones I had in my gall bladder!  In the picture there are a lot, but there were probably 50 more small stones that I didn't even save.  Now I know there are many people who laugh at the "natural" way but I just have to say that a week of changing my diet for an empty gall bladder is worth it to me instead of surgery.  That's right, I think the score now is Katy: 1, Gall Bladder: 0. Sucker!

Well now I feel like a new person and ready to face the world gall stone-free!  That is my tale of me and my gall stones and, again, I'm sorry if it grossed you out ; )

***Disclaimer:  The information on this website is not medical science or medical advice. This information is not backed up by scientific evidence. This is just for your information. This information and these products have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, disorder, pain, injury, deformity, or physical or mental condition. Results are not typical. Individual results may vary.
Because every person's situation is different , the author of this article will not be held responsible for any negative results which come from reading or acting upon the information in this article. Use at your own risk.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Danny: The Kimchi Man

So our week of teaching has just come to a close and it's only Thursday.  I love this job!  
I received this paper on my desk today from a fellow teacher's broadcasting class.  Apparently, the students have to create a character and they chose the strongest looking yet most uneven armed man they could think of.
That's right, it's me.  
Apparently I've been working on my muscular physic by squeezing Kimchi as hard as I can, and as you can see it's been working.  
Plus I'm wielding a massive hammer titled USA.  I don't know how he knows so much about life in America, but I like it.
Life continues to be interesting teaching Korean kids.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beware of Fan Death!

As spring finally is here, I have to warn you about a very serious problem that is approaching... fan death.  Yes, that's right, you heard me... now say it again in a serious and scary voice...FAN DEATH.  Now you might be asking "What is fan death?".  You are in luck because never fear, I am here to warn you about a horrible and painful fan death that may get you before you know what hit you! 

Fan death is a serious and dangerous problem in Korea. (I tried to type that without laughing, I really did!; ) As the weather gets warmer, it becomes necessary to use air conditioning and fans, and with that comes fan death.  It is believed here in Krazy Korea that if you turn on the air conditioning or a fan without opening a window, you WILL suffocate.  The air cycles and doesn't ever get replenished so eventually you will die from lack of oxygen... dun, Dun, DUN. 

Danny and I started to notice at our schools that Koreans would open the window as soon as the air con was turned on and that was when we were introduced to fan death.  Now some might think, "Aren't you wasting perfectly good cold air by letting all that hot air in?" but you can't be too careful when it comes to breathing.  Danny said that growing up when he would leave a door or window open in the summer, Papa D (his Dad) would say, "Were you born in a barn?" but if you don't open the window the Koreans say, "What, do you want to die?!"

Apparently, the news reports at least a few fan deaths each year so that keeps all the Koreans nice and afraid and wasting air conditioning everywhere.  Danny and I personally risk death every night in the hotter spring and summer because we like to live on the edge, but BEWARE and be CAREFUL of all the air conditioners and fans that surround you... they could be silent killers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Danny's Birthday Extravaganza in Gyeongju!

My Buddy and favorite person had his 28th birthday this past Monday.  Who knew that we would be spending not one but TWO birthdays in this foreign land called Korea?  So because I am VERY glad that Danny was born, I decided that we had to celebrate with a proper Birthday EXTRAVAGANZA Weekend, and boy did we!

This past weekend had some birthday fun in Gyeongju, which is about a 2 hour train ride from Andong.  We went out to the resort-type area near Bomun Lake which is a big tourist area in Gyeongju.  Unfortunately all the cherry blossoms weren't quite blossoming yet but there were a few and it was a great place to go either way.  I like Bomun Lake because it makes you feel like you are really getting away for a fun vacation weekend and there is a lot of fun things to do. 

We stayed with our friends Greg and Gabi in a "love motel" called Hotel Valentine because it was much cheaper than the high end resorts that surround the lake.  Even though we knew we were in Korea and it was extremely unlikely, ney...IMPOSSIBLE, that our hotel would have a breakfast buffet, Danny, Greg, Gabi and I found ourselves dreaming about bacon and eggs and pancakes on Saturday morning.  We were resigned to eating granola bars from a convenience store when we stumbled upon manna from heaven... The Hilton breakfast buffet!  Yes, it was $24 a person but who can put a price on a delicious birthday breakfast? (Yes, I know that I just did put a price on it ; ) 

What can we say... When it's breakfast time, it's Hilton TIME!  We walked around with drooling mouths, filling our plates with fresh fruit, french toast, REAL bacon and sausage, eggs, and soooo much more.  Of course in a Korean hotel buffet you will still find kimchi, weird salads, and fermented stuff but DON'T WORRY we steared clear of all of it.  After an hour, our bellies were about to burst and it was on to the next adventure!

After breakfast we walked down to the lake and discovered one of the best kept secrets of Gyeongju... renting mini motorcycles!  This could be my new favorite thing to do.  How can you not laugh at grown adults putting around on "Dumb and Dumber-style" motorcycles?  You pay about $10 for one of the funnest hours of your life... seriously.
Our first biker gang.
Danny and I even liked it so much that when our other awesome friends Seth, Anna, Pam and Josh came to hang out with us later that day, we went for round #2 and played motorcycle tag.  It was rather exciting/ (maybe) dangerous but we survived and felter tougher because of it.

"Bad Ass Mama" trying to tag me!
Our second biker gang... man we look tough.
Of course you need to pick tough biker names when you ride around on a sweet hog so you can be an official biker gang.  I was "Pine Cone Crusher" (said in a very angry, loud voice) and Danny was "Sir..." (said in a hesitant way...Danny was trying to be Sir "Tough Guy" or Sir "Something or Other" but he couldn't think of what else to say so he just ended up with "Sir..." ; )

In Gyeongju you can also rent kid-sized remote control cars that the adults control.  I don't know who has more fun, the dads or the kids, but I definitely know that I hope to be as cool as this girl one day : )

After laughing a ton we finally finished our biker gang adventure and headed to a birthday dinner.  The dinner wasn't anything to write home about but I must say that the birthday cake was something to remember.  I present BACON Better than Sex Cake (yes that is the real name) but I think I will rename it to either Bacon then Sex Cake OR Better than Sexy Bacon Cake... both sound delicious to me.  Basically it is chocolate cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and then covered in a layer of peanut butter (OH YEAH) and then fresh whipped cream (MMMMmmmmm).  Then to finish it all off you crumble up some delicious BACON (I can hear the oooo's and ahhhh's now) and sprinkle on top...YUM!

I was really proud because it all turned out even though I steamed one half in a pot and "baked" the other half in a Croc Pot. (I have to be creative now with NO oven.)  And the best part was Danny said it was the best cake he ever had! AWESOME.

Overall it was a GREAT weekend and we hope to go back again and play "motorcycle polo" or ride around Korea some more trying to scare the locals!  Gyeongju + mini motorcycles = EXTRAVAGANZA.

P.S. Here were just a few of the first spring blooms that we saw which is exciting.  It is starting to get a little warmer, and let me tell you I can't wait for Korea's winter to be OVER!  Also if you are ever in Gyeongju there is a cute little restuarant near Bomun Lake called Titi Caca... yes a ridiculous name but the have decent hamburgers and great chicken strips and fries.  Go check them out! : )

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Singapore...An English Oasis

After our relaxing time in Tioman, Malaysia, Danny and I spent a three  great days in Singapore. Singapore is the ONLY place in over a year that Danny and I have been that has English as their first official language and it was wonderful... and weird.  It is strange hearing others speak in English and being able to listen in on conversations.  Usually I just tune out all sound because I don't understand it ; )

Singapore is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen in Asia.  It has awesome architecture and just feels like a western oasis in the middle of Asia.  I love living in Asia but sometimes you just really need a break, so if that is you... go to Singapore.  There is great food, beautiful city scenes, the huge ferris wheel called the Singapore Flyer, an awesome night safari and lots of shopping.  Singapore is called a "fine city" not only because it is nice/fine but they love to penalize/fine people.  Everywhere you go in Singapore is beautiful and extremely clean because they give HUGE fines to anyone who breaks the rules.  A sign on the subway made it clear that you can't eat, smoke, or light things on fire in the train... and my absolute favorite was NO DURIAN! (man, that fruit stinks!) You can't even chew gum on the subway!

Singapore is probably most famous for the shopping.  Danny and I usually aren't big shoppers but when we saw the huge Crocs store, we couldn't help ourselves.  We bought 2 pairs each and got a free Crocs heart pillow out of it! (Danny thinks it is the ugliest thing ever but I am currently enjoying it at work ; )  There are malls pretty much wherever you turn in Singapore and they are some of the nicest malls I have ever seen!  At one mall you could even take romantic gondola rides around the mall.

The fanciest mall I have ever been to.
Since Singapore is a mixture of western and Asian culture, you see a little bit of the familiar and a little bit of the unfamiliar wherever you go.  For example, Danny and I were walking around a grocery store oogling at all the great food you can get in Singapore and we saw a aisle with different Pringles flavors in it.  Normal right?  Well sorta... they were Pringles but they were some CRAZY flavors.  Who knew that seaweed, shoftshell crab, and blueberry/hazelnut Pringles were popular?  Danny and I tried the blueberry and hazelnut Pringles and decided that if a blueberry muffin and a crunchy chip had a baby, that is what you would get.  They were delicious!

Mmmm...grilled shrimp Pringles ; )

Danny and I stayed in the "Little India" section of Singapore.  It was full of life, temples, and smells of curry so it made me feel like we were right in India.  People were lighting incense to different Hindu gods at every shop and we saw lots of people buying flowers for their shrines.  All the blaring "Bollywood" music mixed with the flower and curries smells wafting through the air made for a great and lively atmosphere.  I would highly suggest going to Little India.

As usual, one of my favorite parts is trying the local food and Little India didn't dissappoint.  Danny and I chose a random open-air restaurant and decided to just point to the best looking dishes to see what we would get.  I actually don't know what we ate but I think it was the best Indian food I had ever had!  Freshly fried naan bread, califlower curry, and a few other spicy dishes were exactly what we wanted.  Even though we think one of the dishes maybe had some goat in it (which Danny hates with a passion) we walked away happy and full.

If I had to describe Indian culture in two words it would definitely be loud and colorful.  All the shops and buildings are a variety of colors so it was a nice change of pace from the same ol' scenery of Korea.

Colorful buildings were all over Little India.
We walked around downtown and stumbled upon an awesome restuarant street filled with the famous "chili crab" of Singapore and a variety of other genres of food.  In Andong we basically only have Pizza Hut to give us a little variety in food so any chance to have a change, we take it. 

We have especially missed Mexican food so we were estatic to find Muchos.  Right near the river you can find Muchos serving chips, margharitas and Fajitas.  Unfortunately Mexican food is one of the most expensive foods you can buy in Asia, even though in America it is one of the cheapest, but sometimes you just gotta splurge.  It was no El Taco Rey in Colorado Springs but it made me smile and think of home.

Over all, Singapore was a great end to a great vacation!