Monthly Archives: January 2007

last day.

it’s 9am here, my last day. the kids practiced their final presentation yesterday and it was pretty hilarious. i wonder what their parents will think of it all, the fact that its all in english and there is no interpreter should add to the amusement.

Ha-na and Pil-jin came from Seoul to visit me here last night. that was pretty sweet of them. my Apa and Opa asked the dabong-sunnim (kunsunnim is away on business or something…) if we could go out for a “farewell party” last night, but he wouldn’t allow it so we had to enjoy ourselves at the temple. the girls ordered dopoki, odang, hota and teegim (just for fun. i always get teased for the semblence of my name to this tasty fried dish.). it was a pleasant evening. the dabong-sunnim asked me if there was anything that i really wanted to have (foodwise) before i left the country. as i thought about it i realized that i am actually completely content with the turnout of this exciting trip.

i got the kid’s emails yesterday. i’m going to miss them a lot, and something tells me it’s mutual….

my warm bed awaits my return in northern wisco. my cats are probably ten times bigger than they were when i left, considering all of the venison they’ve been fed. my upcoming research design class is waiting to kick my ass and plans for a maymester trip to Bosnia to study war and peace need to be laid. this has been a challenging and exciting adventure back to the only other country i have been to outside the US (i formally make a pledge to you all that i will go to canada this year…)


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mmmmm… earth sandwhich!

another perfectly gorgeous sunrise, dsc00672.JPG

such a delicious-looking location to make an EARTH SANDWHICH!

i’ve wanted to make an earth sandwhich for awhile but spaced it last time i was here in Korea. now, i realize that the actual other side of the planet, from Youngju, South Korea exactly, is probably somewhere in the middle of the atlantic ocean. But no sandwhich is completely geometrically balanced, right? what kind of sandwhich would have the top slice of bread placed exactly in line with the bottom? and in this case, the “bottom” and “top” of said sandwhich are awfully hard to measure.  so i’de say that yeilds a little flexibility as well. here it is (it may turn out to be more of an earth burger, given the bun-like consistency of the only bread i was able to locate….)


yum! I can’t wait to get home and finish making this sandwhich. Is anyone else feeling hungry? (sideways because it’s not finished yet. i’m basically suspending it in my hand for three days until i can get to the other side….)

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of dok-bop-kuh and passing time


it’s Tuesday here, almost lunchtime. the class has mostly been working on tying up projects that we have started in the past few weeks; working on their lesson books, finishing their posters, memorizing songs and practicing the play that we will present to parents on Thursday. yesterday was Kunsunnim’s “lunar birthday” (I’m really not sure how they measure these things, but it means that he wasn’t really born on this day…) anyhow – somehow I missed the singing part, I was taking a bowl-bath at the time, which is really too bad because it was finally a chance for me to put my English to use. we had a disgusting cake from some cakery, in Seoul perhaps (Bosarnim spent the day there and one of the sunnim’s sisters came to cook and smoke in the bathroom, incidentally). We also had insamju, which is ginseng flavored soju – very, very strong – and doughnuts from “Dunkin’ Doughnuts”.

it’s really hilarious the aspects of American culture that these people are attracted to. this weekend in
Seoul my friends took me out for pizza, American enough, right? but it was potato pizza with a generous helping of yellow corn to accompany it under the cheese. the salad bar was really weird, too, being that it consisted of more jello and unidentifiable foreign objects than it did of actual leafy veggies. we all shared one bowl of the concoction, of course, but went back for refills three times.
I am one of four young women now staying at the temple, including Ji-in, Hay-gyung and one of the sunnim’s children from a past marriage. its kind of cozy in our little room.
I don’t really miss Xiao at all. it’s actually been a  bit of a relief to have him gone, there’s too much going on here as it is.
this morning, after breakfast, Bosarnim proceeded to add dok (a traditional rice cake, in this case sweetened) and massive amounts of rice to the leftover pot of kimchee soup. it looked really repulsive and i was surprised that this was a korean recipe that i hadn’t been warned of or seen in the past. she proceeded to take the bowl outside and feel it to the dogs. ha! the puppies eat this kind of stuff everyday. how do they do it? i’m not sure. i’m tempted to feed my kittens some kimchee soup when i get home just to show them what animals in other countries have to go through. maybe it would make them appreciate their warm home and dry kitty food and venison more.

ramble on. get ready for class. only three days left….

those sticks look delicious, Bosarnim!   not. 칡, or “shiike”, they are actually edible, but barely…


this is clearly not a case of unrequitted love… tee hee


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a chance to breath

is it ironic that I am trying to read one of the Dalai llama’s books right now but am being distracted by the kunsuhnim’s (head monk) TV next door? hilarious.

I had a relaxing weekend in Seoul, visiting friends and staying at Ji-in and Gwan-oo’s house (the two of Hay-gyung’s friends who came to the temple earlier this week). their parents are just ridiculously awesome and the family is so peaceful. Ji-in came with me yesterday to meet with Eun-hye, Song-bo, Min-chur and Jae-hun. it was a really sweet time, and it was especially wonderful to see Eun-hye again. friendship here means so much. part of me feels like I’ve never been gone (to the US) but part of me is brutally awakened by all of their comments about my physical appearance. while the comments are to be taken as compliments; I have grown so unfamiliar with Korean custom in this regard and it makes me feel more uncomfortable than anything.





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field trip





I’m feeling so entirely despondent today. everyone had a beautiful time at the temple and the kids really got into writing down ten things they saw in English. I think Xiao thought it was pretty cool, too. it’s 9:30pm now and I have no lesson plan for tomorrow or a plan for myself and where I am going to go for the weekend. I have to teach on Sunday so I really don’t want to go all the way to Seoul, plus its so expensive. Apa talked to me today about how the whole money situation is going down and it’s not extremely pretty so I’m concerned about spending…. but many of my friends are in Seoul so I’ll probably just go for it. Xiao is leaving tomorrow, which is way too soon, though a few days ago I thought it couldn’t be soon enough. my pretentions have really gotten in the way with having him here – I think it was hard to have another American on my turf, and not having seen him for 2 years and then being so heavily associated with him was intense. now I think we’ve had some time to relearn each other and I’m feeling really close to him again. but he’s leaving. tomorrow. damn you tegan.

this whole sexism thing drags me down too, and now I’m projecting that anger towards the rest of the culture. I’m just tired of it all. except the kids, of course. I never get tired of kids. oh, last night at the jimjilbag the MOST ADORABLE kid EVER was wandering around and being cooed at by everyone. it just so happened that I walked down the steps as he was making his way slowly down and he looked up to me with his big, dark eyes and reached his soft little innocent hand out – we walked slowly down the stairs together. he then followed me over to the water cooler and we drank together. it’s interactions like this, truly human, full of life, love, trust; that I really live for.

I haven’t touched my cell for days but picked it up today realizing that I had to make weekend plans and have since found out that I’m totally missing meeting some of my best friends while I’m here. the time is just too short, I guess. many of them have winter school – my beloved Ji-min is taking a TOEFL class right now that lasts everyday from 9am to 11pm. that’s not a typo. it’s a 14 hour class. my other good friend is beginning his army service this week. another good one is in Australia. a bunch of them are just scattered across the country in various inconvenient locations. sigh. the funny part is that my chances of seeing them are probably as likely as the chances of seeing some of the random friends that I’ve got scattered throughout my own country. it’s all a meticulous balancing act – who really matters to us? – what really matters? – why do you love someone? – what is sincerity? – what is real friendship and what does it feel like? – can you ever really have too many friends? I was reading a book of Korean Buddhist stories a few nights ago. one of the stories was about the infinite capacity of the human mind. I wonder if that infinite capacity can be applied to human relations and carried over into infinite love…

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살앙해유 침칠방!

we spent last night at a warm jimjilbang in nearby Young-ju which was a welcome change. there were so many rowdy young people at the temple that it was probably a relief for all. the other kids woke Xiao and i up at 7:30 though, which was a ridiculous decision being that we actually had the chance to sleep in until at least 8! needless to say, we were slightly irritated. i slept in the wierdest jimjilbang accomodation that i have ever come across – a cavernous hole in the wall built for one. i felt like a polar bear, a warm and happy one…

Hay-gyung being molested by one of our high-schooler companions this morning, she screamed “piunte!” (pervert) at her, but it had little effect –


my deliciously cavernous dwelling –


we are visiting the nearby Bulseoksa temple this afternoon with the kids for a fun little excursion. i’ve been there before and it really is a striking ode to korean buddhism and buddhist structures, being the oldest standing wooden structure in the country. i really wanted Xiao to see it before he leaves (tomorrow) and coudn’t think of any other way than to take the whole class. so. each student must write down ten things that she/he sees on the excursion in english and then we’ll talk about what we saw.


i keep having bizarre dreams and dreams about school. a few days ago i dreamt that i missed all of my classes on the first day and didn’t remember anything on campus, so i printed off my schedule and went over it. i think that i am just excited about being home and in charge of my life again, and i miss my kittens and the joy of college. there is such a comfort in knowing what my mission is and what comes next; college is a strengthening, self-fulfilling project that at once yeilds boundaries and goals and also felxibility and personal empowerment. i love it. i miss it. but i don’t want to miss it too much because i don’t want to forget to be here right now, knowing that when i am back i will miss being here and laugh at my own idiocy in being excited for homework and 8am classes. ha! could i know myself any better?

i don’t make new year’s resolutions, but i want to spend more time outside this semester, especially enjoying the lake. life is so short.

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kids rock


I woke feeling out of sorts today (until i saw this ridiculously awesome sunrise…). after a good dose of the internet and a sound nap I was feeling miles better. the kids each brought something in for show and tell and we all talked about our hobbies. it was a great way to practice speaking and its always interesting to see how these kids are different from American kids. they brought in everything from martial arts sparring poles, traditional calligraphy brushes, origami and handmade toys. sometimes it amazes me the children here can be so entirely similar and yet so completely different from American kids. their behavior is similar, in general. I understand them the same way that I understand American children and I can feel their moods and needs in the same ways but some of their behavior and basic life understanding is so different. when practicing foods none of them drew processed foods – they all drew fruits and veggies, many of them close to their source; like onions and cabbage with roots and dirt, cherries, grapes and bananas still attached at the stems. but their limited perspective on physical appearance as demonstrated through how stunned they were at the length of my neck and the “weird” shape of my head. they also tease me all of the time about my Korean pronunciation and proficiency in reading, but I think its important to maintain a relaxed relationship with them and give them a space to relax and just be kids – while speaking as much English as possible.

in general, I think I’m a doing a pretty decent job with the class although it does get chaotic at times. there are so many different levels that I find myself constantly juggling them and trying to accommodate everyone’s ability and needs. this is great for the students and a challenge for me.

my classroom prep table –


some of the kids, doing their awesome kid thing.  i don’t believe in the standard ESL practice of assigning western names to my students, so it has been a fun challenge for me to learn their names – causing me to often be reprimanded for mispronounciation, especially when butchering cute little Jay-suk’s name…

Jay-suk and Byung-gwan –


Gi-tek, Ye-ji, Jay-suk, Byung-gwan, So-youn –


Gi-tek, Hyo-jung, Ye-ji, So-youn –


i love ’em.

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