In case you're wondering what the hell I've been doing with my life since leaving Korea (super sad face- I miss Suwon!) you can check out my new blog:
The Urban Farmgirl
I hope you're all doing well and enjoying all that Suwon has to offer!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Posted by Janinel at 9:08 AM
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Well, readers, it certainly has been awhile since I last posted on this Godforsaken blog, and while I hinted that something was keeping me quite busy, I never got into full details. I'm not entirely sure I am still able to, but let's give it a shot!
So several, long months ago, I was asked to write a guide to Seoul for high end (aka, not those teaching ESL- although I'm sure there are plenty classy teachers out there!)expatriates for Expat Infodesk (dot com). I foolishly (?) agreed, thinking it would take a month, at most, for me to bring the world up-to-date on the wonderful city of Seoul (a city I have never resided in) and educate those in the process of/thinking about moving to the city from abroad. Mainly from Western countries.
It turns out, what I though would take a month ended up taking about six. Seoul has turned out to be the most impossible city in the world to obtain correct information on. Income tax? Shipping your car? As a lowly teacher, these are things I have never really thought about. And it took me six months to find the best answers to questions like these. It was hard. I am finished, though, and I am glad.
But in the meantime, having taken up this task, my time in Korea has also come to an end. A permanent one. Patrick and I are finished in Korea and won't be coming back- at least not as teachers- anymore. We both want to start (in Pat's case, restart) our careers. Korea was a wonderful place to get some perspective on my life. I'll never forget my experiences there, and will never forget the amazing people I've met who I'll remain friends with forever. In short, I really love Korea. I'll always miss it. But I am happy with my memories and am ready to move on!
I'll miss this blog, too! This was my first one, and I will never cease to be amazed with the fact that people read- and what's more- ENJOYED this blog. You're all great. Take care, and many happy returns. I hope Korea (and particularly, Suwon) is as good to you as it was to me.
As promised, here are the pictures from my last weekend in Busan. We had a great time! We stayed in the Haeundae area (no tsunami warnings, but we were only allowed to swim in a tiny little area). Since it was September, we were practically the only people on the beach since beach season is officially over after August (even if it's still boiling hot and the water is lovely!). We sunbathed a bit, partied a bit, swam a bit, and took in the gorgeous surroundings. Say what you want about Busan, but Haeundae continues to be my favourite Korean beach... aside from Hamdeok in Jeju-do, of course. Enjoy the pics! And... thanks for reading.
Sara and Sophie, catching some of summer's final rays!
Pat was clearly enjoying himself...
The pasty ones stayed under the umbrella.
And I figured I got enough sun in SE Asia, so I stayed under too.
Monday, September 7, 2009
If you're wondering when the hell I'm going to start blogging regularly, I'm sorry to disappoint! Actually, I have a bit of an online project on the go that's taking up a lot of my time... I'll tell you about it when it's finished ;)
Until next time...
Oh! I went to Busan this past weekend. It was lovely. I'll defs post about that as soon as I can. In the meantime: go to Busan. I love that city (it keeps me coming back...).
Thursday, September 3, 2009
New cities are popping up all around Korea, and that's nothing new here. Imagine this happening in Canada!
"Oh, by the way, the government has decided to build a new city here... next to the old one."
It just doesn't register, right? I mean, let's not even go down the philosophical road of how exactly one builds an entire city... sure, you can build buildings- apartments, commercial areas, parks can be landscaped... but to build a city... one usually assumes that people would be the first necessity. But it's not. You're wrong. We're all wrong. Because Koreans build cities first, and then the people come. They rent buildings for their businesses, they decide to move there because it's sexier than the old city... it just works. I doubt this would have the same results in Canada.
I live in a relatively (relative in Western terms) new city. Sure, I live in Suwon. Suwon is really effing old. But I live in a new city in Suwon. I live in Yeongtong... Suwon. Are you confused? I was when it was first explained to me, as well. Yeongtong wasn't really around 20 years ago, and today it's the "coolest" place in Suwon (again, speaking relatively). It has the hippest bars and restaurants, the nicest apartment highrises, and the highest concentration of hagwons and other educational institutes, which also means lots of foreigners. Oh, and we house the majority of Samsung workers from the headquarters... which is located just down the road.
But Yeongtong can step aside- it is not the cool city it once was. People are getting bored. They need a little more pizazz. Enter new Gwanggyo City!
These cities always look cool in the blueprints, but they are pretty much the same as any "new " Korean city. In any case, I'm interested to see how this one turns out. I drive by the construction site every day on my way to work. The best thing about this new city, in my opinion, is that it might take over the area of Woncheon Amusement Park- a place I still have nightmares about.
Anyway, this new city will be located in Northern Suwon, near Ajou University and, of course, Gwanggyosan- every Suwonite's (?) Suwonian's (?) favourite hiking spot. Stay tuned...
Friday, August 28, 2009
If you're a foreigner living in Korea, chances are you have enjoyed the Asian phenomena known as "Effed Up English". Am I right? I know I have...
As my time in Korea gets shorter and shorter, this blog has turned from a "gotta inform newcomers" kind of thing, to a "gotta make sure I don't forget this" kind of thing. Sorry, I'm being selfish. I'll make it up to you all later... maybe. If I feel like it.
One of my favourite things about Korea is the hilarious tee shirts you randomly find with botched English written all over it. Some are grammatically incorrect, but cute all the same, while some are just plain offensive. The best part of this whole genre is, usually, that the wearer has *no idea* what their tee shirts say. English is just plain sexy- does it even matter?
I have a few shirts myself, that I just couldn't resist buying. One has a picture of an angel and a cat holding hands- very cutesy- on top, and on the bottom it has explicit gangsta rap lyrics. Very explicit. Another has a picture of doughnuts on the front with the words "Who am very delicious" written on it. On the back it says "dognut poisoning".
This phenomena is not just limited to tee shirts, though- oh no. If you've read some of my earliest posts (back when I was sent into giggling fits by any kind of broken English) you'll see restaurant signs, bar signs, even boxes full of "cacktail napkins". It never stops being funny.
My favourite these days, though, is something I've noticed my entire time in Korea, but never blogged about it or even said anything until recently. It's so perfect, so fitting, so obviously true, I can't believe the Korean people have gone through with it. Of course, I'm talking about the names of their gas stations.
There are one or two with regular names- like SK or GS or whatever- but I'm not interested in those. The gas stations I'm talking about are called "EnClean" (unclean) and S-Oil (soil). Who thought of these names? Did someone from Greenpeace infiltrate the Korean gas companies and name them as some lame act of revenge? Like, "the joke's on you guys, your gas stations are dirty", etc. etc.?
I'm just not sure how they could have knowingly given themselves such names. It's hilarious. I chuckle every time I pass a gas station. It's actually one of the first things I noticed when I was driving to Suwon from the airport on my first day in Korea. "Why would they make themselves sound like dirt?", I remember thinking...
Maybe they just aren't in denial about what they're doing to the environment...
That's my weekly rant. Thanks for reading! Here's one of the worst tee shirts found yet. My friend Michelle found this guy at a palace in Seoul and he had no idea what it meant. Could a shirt possibly be more inherently racist? I think not.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The girls at Yeongbok are always up to something, and my coworkers are always kept busy judging pieces of art or their school work (competitiveness is a huge asset in this country). This week the girls put homemade dolls on display! They will go to disadvantaged girls in poverty stricken countries, via UNICEF. Pretty nice of them, huh? Well, that's just how my students are...
I'm beginning to notice a trend here: students work and work, and I always end up reaping the benefits. They clean my coffee cup, empty my garbage basket, erase and wash my blackboards, set up the AV stuff for my computer... and make cute dolls for me to play with on my break. Hmmm.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yesterday was the final day of work for the Principal of Yeongbok Girl's High School. A man who I have said "hello" to once, "nice to meet you" once and, now, I can add "congratulations" to that very short list of personal exchanges.
I was told there would be a dinner, but didn't think much of it. I thought it would be like every other staff party: held at a restaurant with lots of soju, speeches and noraebang, but I wasn't told exactly how important retirements in Korea are (depending on how important you are, of course).
First of all, it was not just the retirement party for our Principal, but also for our head librarian. The two men had worked together at Yeongbok for thirty years, but they had also gone to university together, so are quite close after all this time. The party was a joint party, held at a fancy wedding hall, and their wives were dressed to the nines in their hanbok. I was wearing what I wore to school, my hair was a mess, I wasn't wearing any make up... I basically looked a disaster. This didn't stop the Principal from wanting to be seen with me, though, and I stood, smile frozen on my lips, as the photographers snapped photo after photo.
I stayed for several speeches and then left early as I had prior engagements- again, I didn't think it was such a big deal...
In any case, thirty years of committed work in one school is something worth celebrating, right?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Let me start by saying how much I enjoy Korean food. When I first arrived in Korea over two years ago, it took me longer than the average person to get used to Korean food. Maybe this is because I'm a country girl who comes from a place where the most exotic food you can get is Canadian Chinese buffet. Maybe because I had yet to wrap my mind around the concept of eating seaweed as a snack, or marinated roots (aside from the obvious root of choice in Canada, the potato). Or maybe, it's because I had never travelled abroad before coming to Korea. In any case, I think it took about six months for me to really begin to enjoy and look forward to eating Korean food- even galbi (a foreigner's lifeblood in Korea). You know what I really think it was? Sesame oil. We never use sesame oil in our food back home, so it took me awhile to get used to the strong aroma and flavour.
Anyway, what's past is past. I love Korean food. But that doesn't mean I don't miss food from home immensely. I missed lobster season for nearly the third time this year, which is a special time of year for any Cape Bretoner. My Mom's pizza has been calling my name for months now (I just can't get my dough to taste like hers, even though I use the same recipe), and during the summer I can't help but miss the nightly beer and BBQ on the deck with my Dad. Maybe I just miss my family...
I like to go to Itaewon to eat, sometimes, is the point I'm trying to get at. Sorry for going so off topic. Usually it's a Mexican food fix that needs delivering, but sometimes I like to go for some Italian or the fare at Wolfhound's Irish Pub. I knew that there was a Greek restaurant somewhere, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out exactly where it was. We tried to find it last year for my birthday dinner but never thought to venture out behind the Hamilton Hotel (where, duh, all the great restaurants are located) and it wasn't until I ventured out to Scrooge's Pub with the rugby people that I finally found it. Santorini's!
Alternately, I could have just gone to Seoul Eats and read their review. It would have told me exactly where to go. Such a great website; why am I always forgetting to check it out for restaurant reviews?
This tiny place can easily be missed, except for the massive sign and it's excellent reputation among foreigners and Koreans alike for fantastic and authentic Greek fare (did I mention Greek is my second favourite ethnic food? Right after Indian...). The prices are a bit high, with the average entree coming in at around 19,000 won, but the house wine is nice and they give you extremely large portions. You definitely get what you pay for. The souvlaki is pretty much heaven on a plate. And the tzatziki! Ohhhh, the tzatziki.
That was my Saturday, and it was bliss. After dinner we went to the Bungalow where we drank the equivalent of six drinks each... for free! They were having a bit of an anniversary, I think. After enjoying the cocktails we went home, full and happy. I could probably eat at Santorini's seven days a week and never tire of the place. The next time I go, I'm splurging for dessert, and I suggest you do the same...