Day 359 -- Final Dinner and World Cup


This past weekend was the final dinner for all us F*bright ETAs. We got together in Seoul for some delicious American food and general discussion about our years/year to come, depending on if you were leaving for good or coming back for the 2010-2011 grant year.

One of the ETAs -- our sole 3rd year ETA -- gave a speech that I thought was particularly good. He talked about how, when he first came to Korea, he wrote pages and pages about every little thing because every day, something was new and different and changing. Over time, though, things got to be routine and even feel like "home". He compared it to writing versus proofreading -- when it's new and exciting, you just write and write and write because you want to record everything. Going back to "proofread" what you wrote, you think that you sound a little naive and foolish for thinking such common things were cool.

So true.

The whole point of me writing this was to show people at home what the other side of the world was like, so even if it's routine and common for me, it probably isn't. I'm just adapting.


As of this past Saturday, Korea had been all about the World Cup. Korea in general is pretty obsessed with numbers -- test scores, world rankings, competitions -- so there was a lot of excitement about the chance for their soccer team to continue their success from the last World Cup and get the country recognized.

Things were nuts here. Everyone was donned in red (the team's color), people bought devil horns (the team's name is the Red Devils), and bars filled up every night Korea had a game. Popular music groups made songs and chants. Commercials all featured the team and expressed (company's) hopes that they do well.

Big Bang (my favorite pop group) teamed up with YuNa (the figure-skater-turned-goddess-of-Korea) to produce the national soccer anthem:

And faithful Korean fans memorized the dance:

...including Doyup, who recruited one of his soldier friends to stand on a table at a bar, do that dance together, and lead the crowd in cheering.

Saturday night after the Final Dinner, I went out to watch the games in HongDae (a youth club district). Unfortunately, Korea went down, much to the dismay of the decked-out-in-red fans. Later, after getting about an hour of sleep between games, America also lost. It was not a great night and I'm still sleep-hung-over from it all.


So I still don't have pictures but omg guys, delivery food in Korea. Amazing. You can get anything delivered in under 10 minutes. Sure, there's the usual Chinese food and pizza, but you can also get things like ice cream and soups and stews and craziness. The other night, Doyup was hungry. He wasn't feeling Kimbab Nala (like a Korean fast-food joint) or Chinese, which are his usual go-to's. Instead, he decided on this beef-and-mushroom stew type thing. I figured this thing would get delivered in a big bowl or something.


When I answered the door for the delivery guy, there was a giant tupperware storage box. Inside said box was a wok-style pot filled with all the ingredients -- beef, veggies, clear noodles. There was also silverware (not plastic or wooden), a pack of unflavored ramen, a water bottle filled with broth, a ladel, and A TABLE-TOP GAS-RANGE.

That's right, this delivery guy brought us all the necessary things to cook this stuff ourselves right at home.

I mean, I thought it was kind of neat that delivery food here comes on actual plates with real silverware. When you're done, you just put the plates and bowls and stuff outside your door and it magically disappears (when the delivery guy collects it). I'd never seen this though with a whole-freaking-stove.

So... "little things" still amaze me. haha


Day 354 - Apartment Arrangements Made

I am *so*, *so* relieved to write that all the arrangements are made for my apartment next year. Most of the foreigners here in Nonsan live in tiny one-room apartments (the standard set-up since we don't get a big stipend for monthly rent). Also, those apartments are a good 25-30 minute walk from the bus stop I get off at, so it would've been a huge pain or a huge taxi bill to get myself home every day.

However, I got lucky and one of the kyopos (i.e. speaks Korean fluently, so was able to strike a deal) had set the standard at a different apartment building. This place is only a 10-ish minute walk from the bus stop, is in a great part of town with plenty of restaurants and convenience stores, and I'll be able to live in a two-room apartment (not two bedroom, but a kitchen room and a bedroom) without going over the monthly rent stipend (400,000W). Assah!

Some numbers on my mind lately:
22 days >> until I move out of the homestay
23 days >> until I go to America
28 hours >> of class
12 days >> of school


Day 351 - Busan Shark Tank Diving and Video Dump


At the Busan aquarium, they have the pretty nifty opportunity to go scuba diving in their shark tank. Being terrified of sharks ever since I saw JAWS as a child and completely inexperienced with SCUBA, this seemed like an awesome idea.

Since I can't post pictures with the proxy, here's a link to a video:

I shook like a leaf the entire time (according to the GI who was my dive partner). In my defense, it wasn't just because I'm *incredibly* brave like that, but also because the water was pretty cold and my suit had a big rip on the knee. Having the scraggly-toothed sand tiger sharks (because sand tiger sharks sounds way more badass than "nurse shark") swim right up to your face, just past you, eye-to-eye, was a really cold (also horrifying) experience. As I was descending into the tank, a huge manta ray swam right by me. Also awesome.

The scariest part, though, was the actual SCUBA experience. If you've never done scuba, I found it unnerving to be breathing underwater. I'm normally not particularly claustrophobic, but with the goggles on and being only able to breath dry tank air through a tube I was definitely freaking out a bit. After ten or fiften minutes I got more used to the experience, but not everybody was able to adjust; one girl left the training lock because she just couldn't get comfortable with breathing through the regulator.

Awesome experience, totally recommend it. It was only ~100,000won for everything -- aquarium ticket, equipment rental, SCUBA lesson, and entry to the shark tank. The aquarium is also right on Haeundae Beach so it makes for a nice weekend adventure. Since I'm already shamelessly advertising, here's their link:


I uploaded more videos too, since I've been slacking with pictures. That said,

1. Jungle Camp in Borneo, Malaysia (
Where I camped for 3 days, 2 nights. I got a few emails asking about it, so if you're interested in this, I did it through

2. Wild Orang-Utan in Borneo, Malaysia (
On the last morning, we finally got a good view of a wild orang-utan eating his fig breakfast by the river.

3. TOEFL Writing Class (
Yes, I do still teach English. Sometimes.


Day 345 - Malaysia and 6 Month Anniversary

Malaysia was amazing!

Getting out to the camp site was not a fun time involving a bumpy, scary plane ride to get out to the east cost. Once we arrived, there was a stomach-turning car ride to get to our boat, which sped us up the river to the camp site. Along the way, we saw lots of monkeys and birds. Later that night, we saw crocodiles, flying foxes, and the next day we even spotted wild orang-utans! While trekking, we were able to get up close to sleeping kingfishers and a whip scorpion. Definitely cool. Not so cool? The fire ants.

Camping itself was crazy times. I hardly got any decent sleep from the variety of noises and the animals drifting around and in our door-less camping hut. Monkeys roamed the camp site one night and rats scurried around the entire time.

The Malaysian guides were awesome and hilarious. The other travelers were also cool -- everybody had a different story. One night I shared a beer with a New Zealander who was cycling around SE Asia and we swapped stories about teaching in Korea while a German doing contract work in Kuala Lumpur told us about the last time he'd visited Borneo during the flood season. Really interesting people.

The pictures are pretty amazing, so I'm disappointed that I'm still stuck with this school connection and a proxy... someday I'll dump a bunch of photos.

Today also marks Doyup and my 6 month anniversary. I can't believe it's been that long, but time in general seems to go quickly in Korea. I've been here nearly a year but it certainly doesn't feel like it! Last year at this time, I was stressing about cramming both my Korean language skills and my suitcases. I was stressed about finding appropriate school and leisure wardrobe and excited to meet my homestay family.

Now, I'm carefully considering what I *won't* put in my suitcases to keep them as empty as possible when I visit home next month. I'm signing up for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) at the beginning of July and counting down the days until I move out of my homestay and into an apartment. I almost never wear the expensive teaching clothes I carefully picked out, opting more often to put on whatever's lying on my bed (usually jeans and a sweatshirt, although I'm dressing nicer in the warm weather now since my summer clothes are almost exclusively sundresses).

That got a little off topic, but whatever.


Day 339 - Malaysia-bound and Upcoming Grant Renewal Events

I'm in Incheon International airport now waiting to board my flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! I'll be meeting my friend in the city tonight, then we're boarding up again to catch a quick flight over to the *other* half of Malaysia, where our rain forest camping trip will be held. Exciting times, exciting times.

I always get wishy-washy during the planning-stages of travel, which is pretty much why I never traveled during college when almost every middle-class white kid does their obligatory European study abroad. I definitely wanted to, but it was always "right now isn't the most convenient time" or "I should have more money" or whatever. Getting the grant to teach in Korea helped me open up to how easy it is to travel, especially since being in Asia with a steady income and little responsibility means laughably affordable plane tickets to crazy, adventurous-sounding places like Cambodia and Mongolia.

Not a bad way to live the younger years of your life.

So I'm really looking forward to meeting up with Ashley in Kuala Lumpur, since I envied her south-east Asia travels throughout my senior year of college. When I was stuck in a research lab dreading every day, she was putting up a new Facebook album nearly every week of her doing amazing things in different countries.

After complaining to a friend about how much I wanted to travel and how I envied everybody for seeing the world while I wasn't, he gave me some good advice: "Don't get jealous, get even."

So now I'm trying to be more adventurous, and meeting Ashley for a rain forest camping trip surrounded by crocodiles and monkeys with no electricity or running water in a third-world country sounds like a good way to "get even".

In less exciting news, my grant program has accepted my intent to renew my scholarship in Korea for a second year and email confirmation has been sent to my school, so in the next month before I head back to Americana for a few weeks, the following two amazing things will be happening:

1. I will be finding an apartment.

2. My original co-teacher will (tentatively) be returning.
(read: Chill, fluent-English-speaking, Western-style co-teacher whose 10 years of experience with my grant program will make my life in Korea infinitely more comfortable and convenient, both professionally and recreationally)

Just one more hour until boarding, so it is time for me to scarf my Subway sandwich and carb-load just in case it turns out I don't like whatever "native Malaysian cuisine cooked by locals" they serve at camp. (That particular line is why there is a pocket of my backpack stuffed with Pepto-Bismol.)


Day 334 - Cute Trainer at New Gym

At the gym the other day, I was on the treadmill minding my own business when all the sudden some dude walks up to me and says "SDKJF Lindsay?!"

It was Cute Trainer from my old gym! He works at my new gym now. Funny.

In other news, Malaysia next weeeeek.