Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

Reasons Korea and I were meant to be… Part 3

1. You know that awkward moment in the restaurant when you’re on a date trying to impress the lady… she changed her mind and now wants a martini just as the waiter walks away. (I may or may not have been that lady… on numerous occasions)

And now you need to flag down the waiter. And you try. And you fail. Miserably. Like you look like you’re trying to land an airplane? Well. I present to you the Korean restaurant buzzer.

They have these at EVERY restaurant and they work like a charm. Press button. Wait 1.78 seconds. Waiter appears. It’s like maaaaaagic. And your airplane flagging days? Over.

2. If it isn’t apparent by all my other blog posts, let me make it official by including it here: I LOVE Korean food. the way to Tia’s heart? through her stomach. no doubt. And Korea’s got it down pat. Whoever said it’s difficult to be vegetarian/pescatarian/chickenatarian in Korea clearly never tried. It’s possible. And delicious.

Here’s evidence.The most heavenly thing on earth. (remember when I said that cake is getting a second date? I keep my word.)
The cake comes with a knife. Korea thinks of EVERYTHING.
Lady at Paris Baguette also asked me if I wanted candles. I should’ve said yes because then she and the other lady proceeded to have a conversation in Korean that probably went like this “she’s buying a WHOLE cake for herself!?”
Andddd I’ve fallen in love with Korean street food. Can you say. FRIED. STUFFED. GREEN. PEPPER?
3. How am I ever going to leave this place? It’s going to break my heart. I just know it. (I know that wasn’t really a reason. Stop judging me. I like it when things come in three.)
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November 29, 2011

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

With a title like that… you know this is going to be a looooooong post.

I’m the let’s-take-the-easy-way kinda girl. Because life is short. And if something can be done in less time and with less effort, then uh… why struggle? (I struggle anyway but that’s another story for another post.)

So I lovelovelove pretty views. I mean, I live for views. You know the kind that take your breath away? Those. Whether it’s from the top of the CN Tower or the Eiffel Tower or <insert your fav tall structure here> or… mountain tops.

But see, there is a slight technical difference between a man-made tall structure and… a mountain. They’re called elevators/escalators/lifts/flying glass cubes. Whatever you like to call them- I like them to come packaged with my pretty view. Like French fries with ketchup. Or samosas with chutney. Or crunchy apples with peanut butter. One without the other should never be!

So I brought 5 pairs of shoes with me to Korea: 4 heels and a pair of black flat boots. I figured the only kind of working-out I’d be doing is yoga so why pack runners?! But Korea is on a mission to change me. And I’ve gotta admit- she’s been showing some pretty solid game so far. Here’s the foot gear I wore for this view-finding-journey:


They were probably made for driving to, and walking around… in a mall. And to say I had a couple OMG-I’m-gonna-die-moments would be an understatement.

So the journey started with this pretty Jetsons-meets-nature path (doesn’t it look all futuristic!?)

Which led us to this beautiful pond/lake…  it felt all calm and serene and peaceful-esque. We went over to the edge and watched the fishies do their thing.

And then I made a friend. Isn’t she just precious?!

Then we passed this mountain of rocks. If I wasn’t with the most awesome 1/2-Korean-1/2-german-American I know, I would’ve thought it was one of those things Koreans just do. You know, pile rocks up in random spots on the mountain. Totally logical explanation. Only in my head. Like most other things. I digress.

So Noel told me to pick up a rock nearby. A ROCK TIA – not a clump of mud. I think he called it a tarp? terp? turd? Turd. And then you’re supposed to make a wish. And put it on the top. Here’s mine:

And then. AND THEN. the most random sight. EVER.

That’s right. A gym. On a mountain. In the open air. It’s like oh-hey-I’m-not-already-getting-the-workout-of-life-let’s-stop-and-REALLY-workout.

So this is probably where I should mention that Noel is a boxer. So is Sherif. And Jade? She climbs the mountain approx 3 times a week. No biggie. uhhh. NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY I STRUGGLED SO MUCH. You would’ve too. It took “us” 2 hours to climb up and down. And by “us” I really mean me. If I wasn’t there, it would’ve probably taken the 3 of them, oh I don’t know… 27 mins? In total.

To the left of that gym, is this cute washroom.

And then we reached the top. (The I climbed the CN Tower in 27:13 tshirt I’m wearing in that picture? Total coincidence. I didn’t plan that AT ALL. And if you were wondering when I did that cray-zee thing… it was when I worked for HP and and they did a fund-raising climb in partnership with WWF- World Wildlife Fund. Like I said before, I’m an elevator/escalator kind of girl usually.)

And here’s a plaque we found on the way to check out the helipad.

And here’s the helipad.

And the rest is a blur because I was so hungry and my legs felt like mashed potatoes.

Until of course my new friends took me to the most awesome-est restaurant ever: Seoga & Cook. (Every restaurant I’ve been to so far has been awesome. More awesome-r than the one before. That’s what life is like in Korea. It just gets more awesome by the minute.)


Then the food came and I forgot to take a pic before we devoured it. So here’s a collage of a half eaten plate and a pic of the pic of the full plate on the menu.

And like with every night in korea, the night just doesn’t end until you’ve had a little kiwi-soju-lovin’.

Mountain climbing. Wishing on a Rock. Gym. On said Mountain. Awesome food. And a little Soju. All in a day’s work.

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

November 26, 2011

Ninjas, Chanel & Having this Moment for Life

This is going to be a quick post… because, well, I have really important saturday things to do. LIKE SHOPPING! (Mission find-a-swiffer-sweeper is still very much incomplete)

And and if this post had a soundtrack, this would be it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7GW8TYCEG4&ob=av2n

I wish that I could have this moment for lifeeeeeeeee.

Last night I went into downtown Daegu for the first time. And here’s me living life on the edge. On a normal day, I struggle crossing the street. But crossing it. taking a picture. with a car coming at me. and CENTERING the car!? You might as well just go ahead and call me SUPER TIA now. I’m not gonna lie. I’m pretty impressed with my skills. Maybe I’m becoming a Ninja. You know, like, being all smooth and sneaky and skilled and stuff? No? ok.

So downtown Daegu is like one of those street style blogs come to life. Every. single. girl. was impeccably dressed. I’m all about Chanel quotes like…

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

And Daegu girls? They’ve got this Chanel business down pat. (pun intended)

When I learn a bit of Korean (so I don’t look like a creeper trying to take pics of random girls) I’ll go into town and take pics of some of these girls and their amazing outfits so y’all can see what I mean.

P.S. I’ve tried a lot of new authentic Korean food in the past few days but editing the pics to make the food look yummier than it did in real life takes a bit of time… so hopefully I’ll be able to post in the next couple days :) PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE MY DEARS.

LOOOOOOOOVE, Me.

November 23, 2011

1 Plate of Randomsauce

I was feeling all scholarly so I decided to coin a phrase. Plate of Randomsauce. For one, it sounds yummy…AND it fits the purpose of this post- a collection of random thoughts. So, not only am I coining a phrase with this post, I’m also starting a post series. “X Plate(s) of Randomsauce” Told you I was feeling scholarly- scholars are way ambitious.

So now that that’s out of the way… we can move on to more important things. Like. Tube Coffee.

I come from the land of Tim Hortons and the continent of Starbucks. But coffee never really got me excited. I mean, sure, I’d occasionally have a latte but it was never something I needed. Cut Tia from the Toronto doc. Paste Tia in the Korea doc. And all of a sudden, I can’t live without this stuff.  I’ve been having 3 cups… approx every 2 hours. And AND the cup says “maximize your happiness” So I figure I’m hitting two mangoes with one stone. Totally justified. And mangoes are delicious.

Moving right along, I know this has already been plastered all over my fb… but I want to do a blog-official-shout-out and CONGRATS to my bestest of Bests: MANJOT on passing his black belt. That’s right, virtual internet peeps. Don’t mess. I got legit-real-life backup.

Here’s a picture taken at his grading looking all Leo-in-the-departed meets Bruce-Lee-ish. I have no idea what I just described but I wanted it to sound gangsta.

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because for as long as I’ve known Manjot, getting his black belt has been a dream of his. And witnessing a best friend achieve his dream? Priceless.

Speaking of dreams, I recently caught up with a high school friend who’s getting hitched next year (knowing my obsession with weddings as conveyed in my previous post, I don’t need to tell you what the main topic of discussion was) but he did have this to say:

So ok. Maybe my feeling all scholarly had something to do with hearing Varunan’s dream. And maybe…just maybe, my book will be called A Plate of Randomsauce. Bam. Two mangoes, One stone. I’m on a roll today.

And just one more dallop of randomsauce: besides feeling scholarly, I’ve also been feeling pretty worldly recently. Here’s why:

If you don’t understand what this means, clearly you’re not worldly. Or scholarly. Booyah.

November 23, 2011

Dancing in the Kitchen, Crack Cake and Best Friends

Somerfield’s Cadbury Gateau

We had a ritual. No, ritual isn’t even the right word. It was more like a well-choreographed, synchronized dance. We all knew exactly what to do. And somehow, 30 seconds after getting home from Somerfield’s, the three of us would sit around the table. in silence. To enjoy two of life’s simplest pleasures: best Friends. and cake.

It wasn’t just any cake. We called it crack cake. Layers of melted chocolate between slices of warm cake and… a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It was so addictive. And so good.

And today. Today a conversation about samosas somehow turned into a conversation about our beloved cake.

 

November 20, 2011

My (first) Short, Sweet Korean Wedding!

Let’s start this post with a… !   !

Ya. Uh. I saw this shop on the drive to the wedding. And the 11 year old inside me giggled then prompted me to take a pic. Blame it on the ah ah ah eleven-year-old!

My awesome awesome director got hitched on Saturday- my FIRST short sweet Korean wedding. Get it? It’s a play on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” No? Doesn’t work? Ok… moving right along.

So Korean weddings are really short. The ceremony lasts about half an hour and then everyone eats. Did I mention that watching the ceremony is optional? As in, you can walk in… greet the groom/groom’s parents. Walk over to the bride’s room. Say what up And then peace out. To the buffet. Like. SERIOUSLY?! And that’s what most guests did. People would also get up and leave. Talk. Walk around. WHILE THE BRIDE AND GROOM WERE EXCHANGING VOWS!

I heart Korean weddings. Only as a guest though. I’d feel gypped as the bride. I mean if I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life. And running around like Bridezilla in the months leading up to the wedding then I better get (at least) a WHOLE day of undivided attention. And not a moment less.

Traditional Hindu Tamil weddings last a day… but recently the trend has been to borrow additional events from our Hindu friends up north like the mehendi. This is also one of the reasons I secretly hope to have a Gujarati or Punjabi wedding. These weddings last up to a week! (and come pre-packaged with days and days of undivided attention) Like hellllllooooooooo, where do I sign up! And uh Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m totally kidding. OBVIOUSLY.

Sorry, let’s get back to the wedding I went to and not my own hypothetical wedding…

Here is a pic of all the lovely ladies I work with (there’s a few more who couldn’t make it) What’s that? Is there anyone you know? Of course there is! Kayla is standing to the far left. I think she’s the only one I’ve written about so far… but the others are just as lovely. LOVE them all :)

So like I said before, you walk in and greet the groom and his parents. Here’s a pic of my director and his parents at the entrance to the hall. His mom is wearing the traditional Korean dress: a hanbok.

You also go and check out the bride. She sits in a room on the other side with a photographer ready to snap pictures of her and the guests. (It’s kinda like the brown wedding group photo op post wedding. Only difference being the koreans do it pre wedding and don’t invite the groom to this party.) We passed on that one, the photo op I mean. Because, well… we didn’t really know her. She looked gorgeous and I absolutely loved her dress. Especially the back of it.

Here’s a pic:


Next up… the ceremony starts and this part is like most church weddings in the West. Although, there are no flower girls or bridesmaids. And it’s not in a church.

AND this part really bugged me: the bride doesn’t get a grand entrance. Let me explain. So in this pic the groom is standing right in front of her. He walks down the aisle, bows and then takes his place at the front. (as opposed to the groom waiting at the front before the bride even enters the room) THEN she just walks down the aisle with her father. There is no opening of doors or a grand revelation. Or anything like that. I would’ve been like REDO please. As in just pretend you didn’t see me and let me walk in again. I digress. Again. Sorry!

Here’s a pic of them making it officially official. Doesn’t she look like a fairytale princess right out of Disney?!

I don’t have any pics of the bride or groom from the front – only videos. And I have no idea how to upload videos yet. So when I figure that out, I’ll update this post :)

Then. It’s time to EAT. (granted, most people were already eating as the bride and groom were making it officially official) But Kayla and I stayed til the end. We walked over to the hotel restaurant and this was the view (if you look closely you can see mountains!)

The buffet consisted of a variety of korean food – everything looked and smelled absolutely delicious!

But of course everything was either pork or beef and I wasn’t up to the challenge of eating raw seafood so I stuck to veggies. I had kimbap, kimchi, tofu, soup and noodles. It was SO good. I was so full I didn’t even go to the dessert table. Ya. You read that right. This is why I always say: Eat Dessert First!

And that was it. To be a little sentimental for a moment, (hey, I just witnessed two people commit themselves to each other…and sure I didn’t understand a word but that’s beyond the point. wedding = free pass to be emo) I just want to say that I’m so glad my first korean wedding was my director’s. He’s honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I wish him and his new wife all the happiness in the world. <3

After the wedding the other teachers and I decided to drive back to Chilgok and hang out for a bit. We went to this cute little coffee shop with the cutest name:

Andddddd here’s random photo of the day. I call it… I whip my hair back and forth.

November 20, 2011

Reasons Korea and I were meant to be… Part 2

1. I only believe in well behaved obedient children. Those are the only kind that seem to exist in Korea. They call you teacher, bow to greet, and never speak back to you. The fact that they’re also ridiculously adorable never hurts either.

2. 24 hours everything. Moving from Toronto to London was painful. I mean don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with London. But that’s another story for another day. The ONE thing that upset me about the city, though, is that nothing is open past 8. Oxford st shuts down at 8. How random is that!? It’s like oh hey we’re gonna tease you be all cool and stay open past 6 but not 9. Oh no. That would be ridiculous!

And if you wanted food in the middle of the night, you had to go to tinseltown. Again, LOVE the place but it’s not everyday that you want a thick chocolate-y milkshake. Wait. Did I just say that. All this kimchi must be getting to my head. But the point is, Korea is my seoulsister when it comes to this. (clever word play, no? I’m going to pretend I made that up and take credit for it.)

24 hours is how life should be lived. And sleep is so overrated. Especially when you get this sudden urge to clean at 3am and you’re out of cleaning supplies.

3. They pick up garbage everyday. No waiting for your weekly neighbourhood garbage pick up day while upping the funk smell factor in your garage. How AWESOME is that!?

4. In Korea, I’m a millionaire. Sure, a bottle of water costs 1250 won. But my bank account? In the millions, baby.

November 19, 2011

Birthday Cake & Chopsticks

OH. HEY. What’s that you ask? Oh…nothing…just a box of DELICIOUSNESS. This stuff was literally the bestest. cake. I’ve. EVER. had. It was so fluffy and soft and melt in your mouth goodness. It had a layer of strawberry stuff in between the fluffiness. And even the fruit on top was perfection. You can bet your bottom dollar this cake is getting a second date. CAKE, I’LL BE SEEING YOU AGAIN ;)

Our awesome director got it for us to celebrate Susan’s (co teacher) birthday on friday. And we ate it with chopsticks. I struggled. obviously. but totally worth it.

In Korea, you can have your cake. and eat it too. with chopsticks.

November 18, 2011

Firsts, Un-comfort and the Natural Spontaneity of Life

I’m the kind of person who takes all the best bites first. Wears all the new stuff in her closet first. Asks to hear the good news first. Because life is short. And you never know exactly how short. That and…what if I’m really full by the time I get to the best bite. Or what if I save the new stuff for an “important” event and there are so many other newer things to choose from by then. Or what if the world.ends. in the hot minute between the bad and the good. Yes, I leave no possibility behind.

So mission teach-english-in-south-korea wasn’t a difficult decision. People assume I gave up comfort and the known for un-comfort and the unknown. And that I must be crazy. They can’t be further from the truth.

I’ve never had a plan. I don’t know what tomorrow holds and I like it that way.

The whole let’s-plan-and-worry-about-the-future-and-completely-miss-out-on-the-present-moment just isn’t my thing.

“I love the natural spontaneity of life- the randomness and rawness that makes life so beautiful.” -Tia

Ya. I just quoted myself. in my own blog. I’m clearly way too cool for school.

And on that note, here’s a totally-unrelated-to-this-post-but-still-SO-AWESOME k-pop video (I believe k-pop means Korean pop):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw9CALKOvAI&ob=av3e

November 17, 2011

My guardian angel footprint is probably HUGE

A friend posted this link (http://www.slaveryfootprint.org/) on fb and I wanted to share with my peeps because, well, awareness is the first step to action. The site asks a series of questions and calculates your “slavery footprint” It’s very insightful and I love it when organizations convey an important, pressing message in a creative way. 

Speaking of footprints, my guardian angel footprint is probably huuuuuuge. And they probably all work overtime too. If you’re reading this GAs, I just want to say: LOVE Y’ALL!!

If you couldn’t tell by that intro, this is going to be one random post so get comfortable and play this:  Yes, this post is so random it has a soundtrack.

Let’s start with FOOD. So before Korea, the only crab I liked was crab curry. Specifically, my mom’s. I wasn’t even that into crab sushi. Insert Paris Baguette. I am in LOVE with this stuff. I could eat it all day everyday. And I do. Ask me what was for lunch and dinner (and breakfast sometimes too!) for the past week. I even walked to TWO paris baguettes one night because the first one didn’t have any crab. I’m determined like that.

The first is mini crab salad burgers and the second is crab salad in a buttery croissant type wrap. Oh! The mouth-watering! Goodness!

Since so many of you have been asking about polyps-deciduous boy (P.D. boy), here’s an update: found out from Kayla that he will be moving to my Harvard class starting next month (ya, all our classes are named after US unis)

Currently I have 4 very bright, outspoken boys in that class. And I’m not sure how P.D. boy will fit in. But I think it’ll be good for him. Also told Kayla the story of how I bonded with him and she was thoroughly impressed. (I think)

Moving right along…I met some more foreign teachers Wednesday night and had this drink:

It’s called Running home run. And if that name doesn’t paint a clear picture, let me just say: Don Draper would have been proud of me.

And here’s proof of my awesome teaching (and drawing skills). 

My director’s wedding is tomorrow! (Saturday) and I’m so excited for my! first! Korean! wedding!

November 15, 2011

We’re basically best friends now.

He walked into class with his usual game face. If it had a name it’d be called she ain’t gonna crack me.

Today’s passage was about deciduous trees. Because I actually knew what it meant and how to say the word, I was way confident. Between every reading activity, I’d do the usual.

Me: So what’s your fav movie?

Him: blank stare.

Me: Did you see transformers?

Him: blank stare.

This went on for most of the class… and then I remembered something a friend told me. Everyone has dreams. Get him to talk about his.

Me: So what do you want to be when you grow up?

Him: Bat

Me: Pardon!?

Him: Bet

Me: Can you write it down?

Him: *writes V-E-T*

Me: REALLY!? I LOVE animals… I have a dog.

I knew I had hit gold and I wasn’t about to let it pass me by. I pulled out the trusty iPhone and showed him this pic:

and the rest, as they say, is polyps-deciduous tree history. He told me about his 2 pet hamsters named Happy and Luck. And his 4 huge goldfish the size of his hands.

We bonded… and we’re basically best friends now.

And that, my friends, is how it’s done.

November 14, 2011

Solo Teaching, Polyps and Polka Dots

Yesterday was my first full day of solo teaching, sans Korean teacher. (I thought the sans would be appropriate since the Korean are obsessed with their French pastries and it makes me sound so sophisticated… you know, now that I’m an English Teacher.)

Ok, who am I kidding. I’m not. I have no experience teaching bar the few kids I tutored during high school and my short stint at chuck e cheese. I mean, sure, I love kids and I played school all.the.time as a little girl. I remember the first teacher I fell in love with. Her name was Miss. Wolf and she was beautiful in every sense of the word. She had these perfect french manicured nails that I’d admire while she turned the pages during story time. And she wore these beautiful polka dot blouses. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. And here’s me making that dream a reality: I got a shellac french manicure the day before my flight and made sure to pack all my polka dot stuff.

But… I’m slowly realizing that it’s going to take a lot more than a manicure and polka dots to really make this dream a reality… the one of not just looking like a teacher but of actually being a good one.

One of my classes (the TOEFL level) has just one kid in it. This kid is smart. And knows more English than I do. I know this is the public domain and at the risk of thoroughly embarrassing myself (after that Clorox story, I figure anything goes here) I’m going to admit that I had no idea what polyps was. While preparing for this particular class, I freaked out and had to plug in my headsets in the teacher’s lounge (for obvious reasons: not to oust my stupidity in real life too) to hear how the word is properly pronounced. Just in case I had to correct him during reading. And this kid? He just breezed through it. Even knew what it meant. DO YOU KNOW WHAT POLYPS MEANS!? 

Anyway, he’s smart. Can read. and knows the meaning of words like polyps for god’s sake! But he refuses to speak to me. The only words that come out of his mouth are… words on the page. And answers. The correct ones. But conversation with Tia? Nope. He wasn’t having any of it. So I did what any sensible teacher would do.

Googled child psychology. English teacher tips. How to teach English abroad without pulling your hair out.

So that’s my story. BUT I’M NO GIVER UPPER! I’ll be back for more. And I’m going to make this kid talk. If my life depends on it.  Yes, I’m kinda dramatic like that. In the meantime, if you have any tips on how to make a 15 year old shy Korean boy talk, please send them my way.

And because every post is better with a picture… or two…

Wanna know what the BEST part about living in a country where you don’t understand the language and therefore the signs is? You can amuse yourself to no end making up sign meanings … I think this one says “DON’T TAKE PICTURES IF YOU’RE WEARING STRIPES AND POLKA DOTS… AT THE SAME TIME.”

Oh and Mom, this picture is for you… LOOOOOOOOVE ME

November 13, 2011

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend

If there is a right way to do your first night out in Korea then I’m pretty sure last night was it. Met some pretty cool foreign teachers from all around the world. Okay, so the majority of them were from America. And Scotland/England. That’s all-around-the-world ish enough, right? We started off with dinner then went bar hopping. And ended the night in true Korean style – at a noraebang (Korean Karoke)

Shot of SOJU! (Korea rice wine) This stuff is STRONG and tastes so yummy when mixed with juices. (Pictured here with mango juice)

So I’m pretty sure this little holder thing exists elsewhere in the world but I get excited about stuff like this, okay? HOW COOL IS THAT! (no pun intended) and here’s a fun fact my new friends were impressed with when I mentioned it: 4 degrees is colder than the average temperature in a fridge – 7 degrees.

You know those moments in life when you can’t believe how much you’re struggling? And with such simple things too? No? Never had a moment like that? Ok. Well in that case, let me bring some colour into your life. I’m just going to come out and say it. No sugar coating. I have no idea where I live. I mean I don’t even know how to say my address. So you might wonder how in the world I got home last night? Bar hopping and then getting home in your own town is mission enough. Well, let me introduce to you.. USE #358468 for the trusty iPhone:

Ya, go ahead and laugh. I asked my head teacher to record my address in Korean so that I could play it to my cab driver at the end of the night. And that’s exactly what I did. Laugh all you want. But I got home. Safe. Booyah.

And here’s me living life on the edge this morning (aka breakfast of champions aka I have-no-idea-what-I’m-about-to-eat and hope it’s nothing outrageous)

The important thing is I had a game plan. It was an epic fail. But it was a plan nonetheless.

My plan was to show the girl at the family mart the picture of chicken while nodding yes and point to the picture of the pig while shaking my head no. (the Koreans love their pork- everything is pork) but I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to think to download a pic of veggies before I left home (in the case that they didn’t have chicken) Now I know. And in the meantime, I’m going to pretend this is vegetarian. If you know for a fact that it’s not, please don’t tell me.

November 11, 2011

McDonald’s does FREE DELIVERY!

I found out today that most fast food places in Korea do free delivery. AND GET THIS. Proper restaurants? They do too. The South Korean quirk, though, (isn’t there always one!) is that they do their delivery with proper plates and cutlery. And once you’re done with it, you leave it outside your door and they come back later to pick it up. Great Food. Delivered to your door. AND no dishes?! Like. SERIOUSLY? I heart Korea.

But… isn’t there always a BUT in my life! I live in a new building so my local Mcdonald’s won’t deliver to me just yet. (and by new I mean the buildings across the street are still being built) So my head teacher calls to tell me this (on a saturday morning no less) and I ask her if she’ll see if any other restaurant with chicken anything will deliver. Half an hour later she shows up at my door with this. (that’s a Shanghai spicy chicken combo if you’re wondering and it was as good as it looks)

I’m so floored by all this kindness I don’t know if I can take it anymore.

November 11, 2011

11.11.11 – Pepero Day

When I walked into the teachers’ lounge this morning and found packs of pepero sticks on all the teachers’ desks, I had no idea it was for a NATIONAL holiday. Imagine having a holiday modeled after a particular brand of chocolate. Like REESE! Now THAT’S a holiday that would have my full support. Anyway, back to Pepero.

According to Wikipedia, Pepero Day is an observance in South Korea similar to Valentine’s Day. It is named after the Korean snack Pepero and held on November 11, since the date “11/11” resembles four sticks of Pepero. The holiday is observed mostly by young people and couples, who exchange Pepero sticks, other candies, and romantic gifts.

So my day started with this (from the director):

and then one of my kids gave me this half way through the day. HOW ADORABLE IS THAT MESSAGE.

At this point I still hadn’t figured out the significance of Pepero Day. Mostly because this kid gave me his previous day’s snack too. I felt so bad taking it from him but he insisted that it was “for you teacher” My heart has melted so many times during the past couple days I don’t think you’d recognize it as a heart anymore. Koreans have this way of making people feel loved. SO loved. (Here’s a picture of what he gave me yesterday)

It was DELISH. I remember eating something like this as a kid. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t called Ghana though.

And by the end of the day… this was my collection (not counting the zillion boxes I had munched on throughout the day)

JOB PERK.

Adorable Kids. Lots of Love. Pepero Sticks. What more could a girl ask for?!!

November 10, 2011

The Pink Hair Dryer

My director’s English isn’t that great so whenever we have a lot to talk about, Kayla (the head teacher) translates to make it all smoother. I know I said it before, but let me say it again. I HAVE THE BESTEST DIRECTOR. EVER. He treats me like he would his own daughter. Below is one such example. (btw, I don’t know his name and everyone calls him “director” so I do too.)

Kayla: Tia, director will walk with you tonight so you know the way to your house

Me: uh ok sure. (my apartment is a 10 min walk from the school. ON THE SAME STREET. but the director had driven me to and from the school up to that point. Maybe he subconsciously knew of the multiple times I got lost… with my GPS… in my own city…)

Kayla: Ok. Is there anything else you need?

Me: Ya actually I wanted to go to Homeplus to get a hairdryer and a few other things. How do I get a taxi from my apartment?

Kayla speaks to Director in Korean

Kayla: Director doesn’t want you going out alone at night. He will buy you a hair dryer and bring it to your apartment tomorrow when he comes to fix the wifi.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT!?

And then while walking to my apartment he says to me:

“Tia, Director English not good. But Director happy Tia is smart.  Also, Tia not open door for anyone. Kayla or Director will call before come to Tia house.”

My heart just melted.

So today he comes over with his assistant to fix my wifi and hands me a bag with my hair dryer. A PINK ONE.

AND if all that wasn’t enough…I was finally allowed to walk home alone today so as I’m leaving school he tells Kayla to tell me to call one of them as soon as I’ve reached home.

(Heart. Melt.) ^ side ways 8

May God bless him <3

November 9, 2011

Reasons Korea and I were meant to be… Part 1

1. My training video literally had the following quote in its about Korea section:

 ”Korea: the land of last minute everything”  

and that right there? That’s when I figured out Korea and I were soul mates. All my life, I’ve been trying to convince everyone and their moms that last minute dot com is THE way to live. Duh. And this entire time there was a whole COUNTRY who believed the same!

2. The Koreans are obsessed with removing their outdoor shoes and wearing house slippers/washroom slippers indoors. And by obsessed I mean when we returned from shopping and I wanted to step into the kitchen to put down all my new pink house stuff, my director said “no no no.. remove shoes!” Did I mention I still had one foot in the designated shoe area… and that THIS WAS IN MY OWN APARTMENT!?

So rewind back to first year Western when Heidi and I shared a dorm room in Saugeen. Google Saugeen and you’ll see why what I’m about to say would be considered ridiculous in ANY dorm room but ESPECIALLY so given the special place Saugeen holds in the spectrum of dorms. (read: THE party dorm in THE party uni of Canada) So obviously asking our new and potential friends to remove their shoes while entering our little haven would put us in the uncool category. Banished forever. (Did I mention we lived on the all girls floor which meant we were already considered pretty uncool) SO using my little grey cells I came up with this GENIUS idea to buy white carpet to put over the existing carpet in our dorm room. Ya, you read that correctly. White carpet. In a first year dorm room. Saugeen, no less. Problem solved. Now we had a legitimate reason to ask our future friends to remove their shoes.

See what I mean? We get each other. Koreans and I = match made in heaven. We’re both germaphobes.

3. My apartment isn’t very big. I don’t have great spatial sense but I’m going to guess and say it’s between 400-500 square feet. And that’s probably being generous. Most apartments of similar size in North America come with a decent sized coat closet. You know, space to hang your coats AND store shoes. But Korea takes that concept and does it the TIA way. (it’s important to note here that Korea has similar weather to Toronto – i.e. cold winters and hot summers) My apartment doesn’t have a coat closet. Oh no. It has a built in SHOE closet. A floor to ceiling cabinet that can probably comfortably store between 30 to 40 pairs of shoes. My only problem now is that I only brought 5 pairs of shoes with me… and I have ALL this extra space…

My experience in Korea can be summed up with this simple analogy: Korea is like that guy you dream of meeting your whole life and when you finally do, you can’t help but think WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE!?

We just MESH. SO WELL.

November 9, 2011

There’s a reason clorox doesn’t come in spray bottles.

Rewind to yesterday. I arrived bright and early at my final destination and home for the next year- Daegu! It’s as beautiful as the pictures. My school director and his boss picked me up from the airport and let me just say it now. I LUCKED OUT. BIG TIME. I’m pretty sure most other school directors don’t take their new teachers shopping. Oh did I mention he’s getting married next saturday and I’m invited? Not even 24 hours in the country and I already have a wedding invitation.

So I forgot to buy toilet cleaning products on that shopping trip. Fast forward to this morning. I wake up at 6am and realize my washroom hasn’t been cleaned the Tia way. (Tia Way: a cleaning technique that ensures all surfaces have been wiped free of bacteria) I muster up the courage to throw on a jacket and go to the corner store (Mom, corner store really means NEXT DOOR.)

Anyway, I walk in and act out a toilet seat… then proceed to sit on said toilet seat… then get off it and start cleaning it. Lady gets it. Hands me clorox. SCORE. (did I mention all of this happens in a glass store with people walking around outside… ya.)

I get back to my apartment and realize there is too much surface I want cleaned and not enough dabbing and rubbing time to do it all. So I look around my room and eye my bath and body works japanese blossom spray (which, by the way, was 2 sprays in and still very brand new) and get the brightest idea in the world. To pour out the spray and use the bottle as my new makeshift clorox bottle. Kids, please don’t try this at home. So I get all happy spraying away… and spray some more. And then it hits me. The bleach is in the air. In my eyes. In my mouth and nose. I start coughing. A little at first. Then it gets worse. I want to cough my insides out. I didn’t have time for the whole freak out and then think of a plan thing since I was already in the middle of coughing my insides out. (I guess that counts for freaking out) I open all the windows and let the bleach air out. Crisis aborted. Could crisis have been prevented? Probably. But hey in my defense, I was a little shaken up with the whole time difference and being in a new country and it being 6am. GIVE ME A BREAK. How was I supposed to know a body spray bottle would disperse the clorox and get it all air happy?

There’s a reason clorox doesn’t come in spray bottles.

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November 9, 2011

From Ballin’ as in tears to ballin’ as in $$$

I missed my flight from Seoul to Daegu. Before you bring out the “TIA, you’re not SUPPOSED to be fashionably late for flights” line… HEAR. ME. OUT. So my flight from SF landed in Seoul at 6:40pm. And since bags must clear customs at first port of entry, I had to go through immigration/customs/baggage claim and then RE CHECK IN for my flight to Daegu at 7:20pm. 40 mins to do all that isn’t enough time regardless of how much awesome you’ve got.

SO I missed my flight and the next flight to Daegu wasn’t until the next day. And then I had 2 choices: freak out or think of a plan. I did both. In that order.

Checked into hotel on the verge of tears- main reason nice hotel lady gave me ridiculous room. I was going to get into my room and start ballin (you would too if you were ALONE in a country where you didn’t speak the language) but then I saw the room and thought a room like this and crying just don’t go together. So I decided to keep it cool. And then caught a flight in the morning. ALL’S GOOD IN THE HOOD.

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