Archive for the 'food' Category

Market Photos

I have decided to post some photos I took at the local market the other day.  There are more below the cut.  Enjoy.

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Women sit on the street selling their wares.

  Continue reading ‘Market Photos’

Uh…

Lunch today was spam.

>.<

 

Supply trip!

Went into Gwangju yesterday afternoon to go to HomePlus and pick up some food, a smaller suitcase (for weekend trips), and some other assorted goodies.  I am now the darling of the camp because I have a big ol’ box of instant coffee (which is actually astoundingly good here in Korea), and a big bag of Snickers minis that I dole out to those who help me with stuff like translating (most of the other teachers have been here a goodly amount of time and can speak decent Korean).  I also got two massive bags of high-calorie dog treats (high-calorie because most of them need to *gain* weight not *lose* it) which I will be giving out to the various nearby strays back in Jindo.  There’s a stray here too, a sweet white Jindo girl who looks like she’s had puppies at some point, and so I’ll be giving her some as well.  I also may use them to help me lure that stray back in Jindo home.

I also bought a hunk of cheddar while there.  I hadn’t had cheese in almost three months!  When I took a bite, I realized that I had almost forgotten what cheese tasted like!  What horror!  I think Marc’s mother would be scandalized, haha.  I will be going by again before I leave in 2 weeks, to pick up some cheese to take back home to Jindo.  They had brie!  BRIE!  And emmentaler, camembert, and boursin.  It’s phenomenally expensive (my hunk of cheddar cost me around $8!), but damnit, I must have my cheese!

Friday we have a field trip to….somewhere.  I haven’t been informed yet, in true Korean fashion.  We get back Friday afternoon, and then if the weather looks good, I think I’m going to go down to Wando for the weekend.  There are a couple teachers from there here at JETI, and even if none of them have a spare couch, I can at least follow them home and figure out how to get where I need to go.  Wando has one of the best beaches in the country supposedly, and I want to see what all the hubbub is about.

On a final, random note, the vocabulary of my students here is way, way, way higher than my students back in Jindo, and so I have found myself coming back to my room between classes to look up the etymology of words on wikipedia.  Man, English is one bizarre language.  Quite the melting pot indeed.

Stuff

1. I had dinner yesterday with the two expats I get along with most here (A Nova Scotian and a North Dakotan – seen above with her dog) and a Korean co-worker, and they are all really glad that I stood up to my supervisor. They say that I have really done a service for whoever works after me, because everyone before me let the supervisor push me around, and now she knows that she can’t always do that to foreigners. So, maybe she will be less likely to push so much in the future.

One thing that I didn’t talk about here was that when I went in to talk to the supervisor about the housing/etc situation in regards to me quitting, I went in with the phone number of the labor office and an English-speaking employment lawyer (they’re cheap here and often work for ESL teachers who are getting jerked around) on an index card, which I had labled in both Korean and English. When she started to make a fuss, saying that she felt her “alterations” to my contract were within reason, I pointed at the card. She quieted down and grumbled. Then after I said “If you do not follow my contract, I will quit, like I said I would.”. She fussed again, and said that if I quit, she would not write me a letter of release (which they are required to do if I leave after more than a month of employment), and so I pointed to the index card again, and said “If you don’t, I will call.”. She fussed some more in Korean, and I picked up the phone and started to look at the card, and she freaked out and told me to hang up, and then her English mysteriously improved (we had been speaking through a coworker who knew a little more English than usual) and she said she would see what she could do, which is how I got to where I am now. 

That’s definitely the Adams genetics coming through there. I don’t take no for an answer, and I *will* take things to a higher level if I have to (I really was going to call the labor board), and I will not sit down until we have come to some sort of agreement. I am not someone you really want to try to fool, when doing so may piss me off. I generally see right through that sort of thing, and I will have none of it, and if you *really* piss me off, I’ll probably try to take you with me. And apparently, if I were to leave this job, I’d be taking the supervisor with me, especially if I involve the labor board. The Korean at dinner confirmed this.

I swear, I’m not really an automatically contrary person, I just always seem to be underneath someone who thinks they can push me around by lying to me. I get more naturally contrary every time this happens though, and it has happened a lot in my life, so by this point, I have how to deal with these people down *pat*.

Shiro and Erin

2. It looks like Marc will be coming in on the 11th! That’s like, 16 days from now! Today at work I will be writing up a letter confirming the dates they have listed as my vacation, which I am going to make them sign. Basically it will say “Kelsey Freeman’s personal vacation days (days on which she may leave the country) are from July 17th until July 27th.” but in much fancier, more official language. Once they sign that, if they fuss about it, “the index card” will come out of hiding again. I don’t want to use the “I’ll quit!” threat if I don’t have to, but unfortunately it seems to be the only thing they listen to. Hopefully things will quiet down again soonish. Not counting today, I only have 14 teaching days left before my vacation, then I have my vacation, then a camp, then a 2 week workshop, then I start the new semester, and hopefully that after the craziness of all that, things will fall into place a bit more. Well, at least until winter vacation comes around and I get to go through this whole rigamarole again.  

3. Now that I’m almost positive I’m staying here in Jindo (well, somewhere on the island, at least), I’ve started to get a couple more things to make my apartment nicer. I got a second rug, since the first one has been relegated to in front of the sink, and so this one now sits next to my bed. I want to get two to three more, depending on what the new house is like. I want one for my feet to rest on when I’m sitting at my table/desk, and I want one for right outside the bathroom, because I often have to get out of the shower mid-way and turn the water heater back on (it sometimes turns off at random), and the linoleum takes forever to evaporate the water, so sometimes it’s still there when I get back from work! I also need a fan, unless the rumor that the house in Gunnae has AC is true.

4. Koreans are really into acupuncture. The other day, I said my throat was bothering me, and one of them took out this little pen with a tip similar to the metal tip on a high-quality mechanical pencil but with no lead or anything, and then started poking at and pressing on various points on my middle finger with it. It was a very strange sensation. Not sure it did anything, but who knows. My throat *was* better the next day, for what it’s worth.

5. Lisa showed me a restaurant one block from my apartment that serves pizza. It’s pretty good, but they stuff the crust edge with sweet potatoes instead of cheese. It’s weird, but surprisingly good. I actually eat the crust here, instead of putting it aside.

6. It hasn’t rained in a few days, but it hasn’t been sunny either. The clouds are extremely low, covering the tops of the mountains that cover the island, which are generally only about 1000-1500 feet at best. It’s very pretty, and reminiscent of cloudy days in Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, but it means it’s very damp too.

7. Here in Korea, you are considered to be one year old when you’re born, and you also gain a year at New Years in February, I’m 24 by western standards, but I’m already 25 here, in September after my birthday I will be 26, and in February I will be 27. It’s weird, and I always have to remember to subtract a year or two from someone’s stated age. Until I started stating my “Korean age”, people kept saying “You’re so young!”, and now I know why – they were thinking I was 22 years old! Oops.

8. As much as I rag on the Koreans, most of them are incredibly nice people. The other day, I taught my co-teacher here at Jindo the Americanism “favouritest”, and I used the example “some of my favouritest foods are fried chicken and watermelon” (hellooooo southern upbringing…), and just now they brought me a whole tray of fried chicken and watermelon. This is literally one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me, right up there with when Peter broke into my room while I was gone to Boston during Valentines Day to work on my Div III (he was an intern, with access to keys, though entering a student’s room is a huge no-no) and left me a cute handmade valentine on my desk, back when we were dating.

Update

Sorry for taking so long, but I’ve been working and I don’t have reliable internet yet.

My first few days here were hard.  The culture shock was pretty heavy, even for me.  I have traveled a lot, but Asia is, well, non-Western, and it’s a much bigger shock than I had anticipated.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it here, but the place is growing on me.  So, take some of the negative things I said at the beginning with a grain of salt.  It was more frustration than anything, I think.

In other news, I’m able to eat more western food than I thought I would, here.  I found yogurt, so in the morning I have yogurt, sausage patties, and eggs.  It’s a bit protein-heavy, but I get tired during the day.  My students are very tiring, as they are quite ill-behaved.  Korean food is mostly carbs and vegetables, with a small amount of pork or fish as a side dish.  It’s good, but not very conducive to keeping me awake.

In other news, it’s almost June and I just turned on my heat.   It gets down to about 55-60 at night (last night my thermometer said 14˚C).  Before this, I had slept with my windows open, to allow some air circulation, but 60 is a bit chilly for that.  Unfortunately, the heating is done through water pipes in the floor.  While it’s very nice when you’re sitting on the floor, or walking/standing, it takes awhile to dissipate into the air.  I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually.  One thing that I’m having trouble with is remembering to turn on the water heater in the morning.  You see, when you have the heat on, it’s *on*, kind of how a stove is on until you turn it off.  It doesn’t turn off when things get warm (well, the floor heat does, but not the water), so if you’re not careful, you’ll go through heating oil pretty fast.  So, if you’re not using hot water, you turn the heater off.  But, it takes about 10-15 minutes to get up to temperature, once turned on, so you have to plan your showers accordingly.  All but this morning I have forgotten to turn it on.  Sometimes I get in the bathroom, turn the water on, and then stand there for three or four minutes before remembering why it’s not hot yet.  I have made myself a note, that I have taped to the door between the main room, where my bed is, and the rest of the apartment (the kitchen, bathroom, entryway, small second room).  I keep that door closed at night, to limit the sounds from the rest of the apartment (pipes, etc), so in the morning, it’s the first thing I see.  My morning routine is such:

 

  • 1. Boil water.  Since the water is not generally good to drink here, I boil a pot of water in the morning and put it in the fridge.  I use that to brush my teeth, wash my face, etc.  I use bottled water to drink
  • 2. Turn on hot water.
  • 3. Put boiled water in fridge.
  • 4. Turn off stove gas line.  (I also have a note about this on my door.  I’m so worried about leaving the apartment with the gas on.)
  • 5. Turn off hot water.

 

Sometime today I’ll do a video walkthrough of my apartment, and stick it up in the podcast section.  My apartment isn’t bad, but it certainly has “character”.

 

Cute Dogs and Cultural Revelations

I need to figure out how to befriend the family that lives in the house next door to my apartment building.  They have three adult Jindo-gae, one adolescent one, and a few puppies.  They are all really adorable (especially the puppies), and I want to take some photos of them.  Maybe I can get my co-teacher to translate for me, or something.  The dogs are everywhere on this island, and they’re generally very sweet when they’re not guarding property.  I had two of them run up to me yesterday while I was out walking (they sort of run wild in the town), and they laid down and let me pet them.  I have yet to meet one that is not a total sweetheart.  It’s too bad that it’s illegal to take these dogs outside the country (they are a national treasure), because I could totally see myself with one of these as a pet.  They remind me of Akitas (one of my favourite breeds), but smaller and less aggressive.  If I get to know the ones here, maybe I will look for a breeder in the US.  There are a few out there, but not many, as you have to basically apply to the Korean government to get permission to export them from the country.

My current concern is how to get money.  Korea is a very cash-based society, and I have discovered that the ATMs here do not accept Mastercard, which is what my debit card is.  My credit card is not currently set up to be able to get “cash advances” from ATMs, so I’m not entirely sure what the hell I’m going to do.  I exchanged about $100 at the airport, and I have about $60 that I can exchange here on Monday, but other than that…I don’t really have anything.  In a week or two I get my settlement allowance, which is $300, but it’s going to be a long week or two if I have to live on $60.  It’s doable, but difficult.  If I only needed to buy food, that would be fine, but I really would like to buy myself a non-sketchy blanket, and a lamp, at least.   I had Marc call my parents last night at like 4am their time to tell them what’s up, and so hopefully they called the bank and figured out what I can do.  Without access to a phone or regular internet, I am very limited in what I can do regarding stuff back in the US.

I have been pleasantly surprised at what I am able to get here, regarding food.  I had been told that yogurt was rare, and that American candy was virtually non-existent, among other things.  When I was at the grocery store yesterday, they had three different varieties of yogurt, and they had Dove chocolate (and Lindt!) and Snickers bars.  I expected there to be Coke here, but there’s also Fanta and Mountain Dew.  Most of these import items are priced similarly to what they cost in the US, thought there are other American items that are available but less common, and they cost a fortune.  For instance, I found a pint of Haagen Daaz ice cream yesterday for almost $9.  I don’t mind Korean food, and much of it is not very difficult to make, so it’s not too bad.  I think I will miss pasta though – I didn’t see any in the grocery store, or even any flour, for that matter.  There’s a “French” (I’m skeptical) bakery in town that had bread, and I may go down there today to check it out.  Even if it’s not very good, it’s better than no bread at all.  I found a microwavable meal that claims to be spaghetti, so we’ll see if it really is anything like the real stuff.  Again, I’d rather have sub-par pasta than none at all.  I never really noticed how wheat-flour-based the western diet is until now.  Everything here is based on rice, and it makes a huge difference.

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