Pancake Day

Tuesday, March 8

When my friends talked about having pancakes on Tuesday, I honestly thought it was just because they were missing pancakes. I had no idea there was a reason behind it until that night. I stopped by the store on the way and picked up real maple syrup, which was super expensive (18,000 won, which is about $16.50 USD), but you can’t have Pancake Day without syrup, right?? Apparently there’s a super cheap Korean version of syrup that isn’t bad. I’ll know for next time.

Anyway, Pancake Day is an actual thing. My friends from the UK all celebrate this day. They didn’t really know how to explain the significance other than on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) you get together with your family and eat pancakes. Apparently, many people in the UK really only eat pancakes on this day.

So about 10 of us all got together in Beth’s apartment and had pancakes. We ate them British style, with a squeeze of lemon and sugar sprinkled over top. We also had chocolate chip pancakes and we had regular pancakes with syrup. It was such a great time.

* Click on the pictures above to see the full size image *

Food in Korea

When I told people back home that I was moving to Korea, one of the questions that was asked the most was, “What are you going to eat?!” I really didn’t know, to be honest. I knew Busan was a coastal city so there would be lots of seafood so I was just hoping that there would be options for me since I am not a seafood lover. I do tend to take a lot of pictures of the food here because I know everyone back home is curious about what I’m eating.

I’ll have to admit that when I first got to Korea I was worried that I was going to starve. I wasn’t impressed with the food at orientation and my neighborhood didn’t really seem to have a lot of options. I definitely craved Western food.

I do have a few options close to my house. I have fallen in love with a bakery called Paris Baguette. The one by my house is quite small in comparison to other locations, but I have found some things there that I love. There is also a Caffe Bene close by. They have tiramissou!

I have become great friends with one of the English teachers from my school. She took me to Home Plus to help me find some things I need for my apartment and treated me to dinner in the food court afterwards. It was different, but pretty good. We had some sort of fried pork. It was nice. The salad was good also. I still don’t know how I feel about the rice stuffed omelet thing, but it was a nice meal overall. The longer I’m here, the more the food grows on me. There are a lot of really great restaurants in Busan and it’s fun trying new things.

I was pretty pleased when I went to the movies in Korea for the first time. I saw Rango (in English with Korean subtitles) and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was also quite lovely because I got to eat nachos!

My friend Faith and I went to Seomyeon one Friday night to meet up for dinner. Seomyeon is like the city center and has loads to see and do. There are also many restaurants, including several Western options. We opted for TGIFridays. It was so yummy. I had a burger and Faith had fajitas.

I don’t just eat Western food here. There’s a lot of really good Korean food, as well. One weekend I got together with my friends Cilla and Sonal and went for lunch. We ate at a really great chicken place. The chicken was lovely, but it was quite spicy.  The waiter scared us a bit because when we ordered this dish, he did his best to warn us that it was spicy and even pointed and something different on the menu. I really enjoy the spiciness here. We all shared the spicy chicken and then did some walking around before we dropped by Angels in Us Coffee for some dessert… hot chocolate, cheesecake and a blueberry waffle.

Pictures of my School

Here are some pictures of the elementary school I teach at in Busan, South Korea…

My main English classroom. We have a Smart Board!

The main entrance

The English hallway… and a student that really wanted to be in the picture

The back of the classroom

Curious students

English story books

Our school doesn’t have a cafeteria so each class eats together in homeroom. The food is kept in these lunch carts.

Together We Can Do It

Students are responsible for keeping the school clean

Entrance to the bathroom

Bathroom sinks

This is one of the toilets. You have to bring your own toilet paper.

The stairs… no outdoor shoes are allowed upstairs

More stairs (keep right)

The students leave their shoes here. The pink shoes are the girls’ indoor shoes/slippers and the blue ones are the boys’.

Character Building Room – I’m not sure what they do here, but this is the best named classroom at my school. First time I walked by this room there were students fighting. Talk about character building!

This is the view from one of the hallway windows

Another view from one of the hallway windows

English Teachers’ Office

English Teachers’ Office – This is where we sit and drink tea & coffee.

I finally have my own desk! But no computer yet. 😦

The view from my office. My apt isn’t far from the high rise apartments in the background.

Across the street from my school

Crosswalk

School Zone

The walk towards my apartment

Busy, busy, busy!

I am loving Korea so much! I have been in my apartment just over a week now, and it is really nice. It is a studio style apartment, but I think it’s just enough room for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to inherit furniture, appliances and cleaning supplies from the previous EPIK teacher at my school. He also left me peanut butter, which made me quite happy (and I’m all out now, which makes me quite sad).

I have had some ups and downs since being here, but things have been getting better with time. I started teaching last week and things at school are going very well. I really like my co-workers and I think they like me too. I have made some really great friends here, including these 5 girls…

I have so much to say, but not enough time to write it all down. I just wanted to write a short post to let everyone know that life in Korea is good. I will post an update very soon.

Happenings

2010 was a great year for me.

I spent a lot of quality time with friends and family

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Went to Puerto Vallarta… twice

PVR Mexico PVR Mexico PVR Mexico

 

 

PVR Mexico PVR Mexico PVR Mexico

GRADUATED from university

University Graduation University Graduation University Graduation

 

and went on a cruise!

honduras cruise honduras cruise honduras cruise

 

cozumel cruise cozumel cruise cozumel cruise cozumel cruise

 

 

What’s in store for 2011…

For many years I have dreamed of living somewhere overseas. I considered many options, but teaching English seemed like the way to go. I did a lot of research and weighed the pros and cons of each possible country I could teach in and I finally decided on South Korea. In October 2010 I began the application process to apply for EPIK (English Program in Korea). EPIK places Guest English Teachers in public schools all across the country.

The entire process is very long and costly. The application was 10 pages long and required me to write an essay. I also had to gather documents, including a state and FBI background check, transcripts from every college I’ve attended, passport photos, a resume, letters of recommendation, etc. I had to get documents apostilled (and had to learn what the heck an apostille is). But most of all, I had to have patience. After submitting my application, I was interviewed. The interview lasted about 20 minutes and I felt like it went pretty well. Two days later, on my way back from a trip to Austin to get documents apostilled, I was notified that I passed my interview.

After passing an EPIK interview, all documents must be sent to South Korea for review. Placements are made on a first come, first serve basis so it’s important to get everything in early to secure a desirable placement (you know… somewhere that isn’t out in the middle of nowhere). My documents were in by the first week in November… and I waited… and waited… and waited. Placements are not guaranteed so for months I was on pins and needles. I was given final confirmation of placement in early January and my contract arrived a few weeks later. I immediately sent my visa application to the Korean Consulate General in Houston and within days I had my visa back and booked a one way flight to South Korea.

So, ladies and gentlemen, for the next year I will be living in Busan, South Korea. I leave in less than 2 weeks (February 15) and I will be in Korea until February 26, 2012. Once I’m in Korea I will go through a week long orientation in Busan and on the last day I will find out what school I will be teaching at, and what age level. I will also get to meet my co-teacher, and possibly the rest of my co-workers.

I am a level 2 teacher, which means I will make 2 million won every month. My school will provide me with my own apartment, and I will only be responsible to pay utilities and maintenance fees (if charged by my apartment). I will be living in Busan, which is the second largest city in South Korea, so there will be plenty of things to do and see.

I will be updating my blog constantly before I leave so please check back soon. If you have any questions for me, please leave a comment below. I’m going to try to update again tomorrow with more information about Busan.

Thanks for reading!