Say what???

I spent a lot of time in Korea grading mind boggling sentences like the one above. Most of the time they weren’t funny and I was left to find a way to turn them into intelligible statements. But sometimes there were real gems that would make me and the whole teachers’ room explode in laughter.

Disclaimer: I know it isn’t easy learning a second language and I applaud all of my students for trying their best. I laugh at these from a good place not a mean one. I know that I sure as hell have made people laugh quite a bit while traveling and attempting to speak foreign languages. I wonder what incredible things my Spanish teachers from middle school heard me say. I’ve been laughed at around the world for my silly attempts to communicate, and the ridiculous pantomimes that go with it. I don’t take any of this too seriously and I hope you don’t either 🙂

With that said, here is a countdown of my all time favorites: Read more

It’s Raining Inside

apartment winter indoor condensation

One of the many quirks experienced while living in Korea is the variety of apartment issues that come with a typical Korean apartment provided to a foreign English teacher. Problem #1 is usually the itty-bitty size of the apartment. I was super lucky coming to Korea with my boyfriend because we were given a two bedroom apartment, so space wasn’t an issue. Others aren’t so lucky. I will say that we were very fortunate to be given the best and the biggest apartment in our building. In fact, after we left Korea, the director of our school moved into our apartment. I’m not sure he knew what he was getting himself into though… I think he was accustomed to a higher end of living, so I wonder how he’s handling all of the issues that come with living there. For the current teachers, I think they can add having their director as a neighbor to their list of nightmares. Here’s a list of the apartment troubles we did have to deal with and the ones our director is probably currently struggling with. Maybe he’ll actually fix them now that they’re his problem. Read more

Stop It America!

This one goes out to a lovely friend who’s about to repatriate to the States after a couple years teaching English in Korea. We’ve been messaging back and forth telling each other about our plans and recently I got a message from her that said I’m the only ray of light; the only positive person amongst negative voices that tell her not to leave “the safety net of Korea.” I just have to put my foot down and say STOP IT AMERICA! Read more

Frozen and Frizzy in Korea

cold and cranky
Frizzy hair and unrelenting cold makes me cranky!

I’m cold. Not in an emotional way, I’m physically cold right now. We just moved to Squaw Valley and I kinda forgot how cold spring is in the mountain areas. So what do I do? I put on more layers. I’m sitting around in leggings, sweatpants, a long-sleeve shirt, a fuzzy-fleece and slippers. As I chill here (pun intended) all bundled up, I am reminded of our winter days in Korea and my problems of fashion versus warmth. I’m practical, so warmth won every time. But still, I couldn’t help but compare myself to my Korean counterparts.

cold korea
A typical winter outfit for me. I still felt cold despite my puffy marshmallow look.

Korean women are incredibly stylish. They run around in stilettos all day with flawless hair and makeup, toting designer bags while sporting fashionable outfits. Amazingly they don’t seem to be affected by weather unlike myself. In the winter they wear the tiniest mini-skirts with only a layer of pantyhose and a thin jacket protecting them from the harsh weather outside. During my winter in Korea, I gawked at every skinny Korean girl that ran by me oblivious to the freezing temperatures. I was layered in long underwear, jeans, a down jacket, earmuffs, and a massive scarf and could still feel the cold. How do they do it?

Conversely, in the summertime, Korean girls are able to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants and not lose a single drop of sweat. Meanwhile, my hair frizzes out, I drip with sweat and I struggle to maintain an image of being cool and serene. It’s not easy to stand next to Korean women with their impeccable style and inability to sweat. It’s actually downright frustrating. In the winter I looked rotund in my down jacket and in the summer my head looked like a schvitzing frizz-ball, while the girls around me looked trim, fashionable, and pulled together year-round. Read more

6 Key Things to Look for in a Korean Teaching Contract

letter from student
If you teach English in South Korea, then you too could get funny notes like this one. I received this from a student shortly before leaving Seoul.

I’ve gotten enough emails regarding what to look for in a Korean teaching contract that I’ve decided it’s time to write a post about it. I’ve previously written posts about how to find and get a job teaching English abroad, but none were specific to Korea. Here are six things to look for in your contract: Read more

Getting Paid While Traveling: The Low Down on Teaching English Abroad

Please visit How To Travel For Free (or pretty damn near it!) to read my post comparing my experiences in Thailand and Korea. While you’re there take a look around. They’ve got great tips on traveling cheaply on their blog. They also sell an e-book if you want to know more.

Life as a Korean Kid

A shot from my elementary school days which were quite different from what a Korean elementary school child experiences today. That's me front and center!

Every Friday I walk into my classroom happy that it is almost the weekend and am always sad to find out that my students dread it. It almost seems like some of them would rather have it be Monday than Friday. A few of them have told me that Sunday is their least favorite day because they have to work so hard. Isn’t Sunday traditionally a day of rest? Read more

A Rather Honest Valentine

How’s that for a Valentine? One of the kids in my kindergarten class wrote this to one of her classmates. Chubby James didn’t seem to be too bothered by it, but I did catch him reading and re-reading it a few times.

In other Valentine’s related news, did you know that in Korea, women are expected to give men gifts on Valentine’s Day, not the other way around?! Women get gifts from men on White Day, a month later, on March 14th. And they made a holiday for all the single folk a month after that, called Black Day, where single people get to eat noodles with a black bean sauce and celebrate being single. Bet you won’t find Hallmark making White Day and Black Day cards anytime soon.