New Blog!

Hello readers! It has been a while since I’ve been in Korea and updated this blog, but now I’m on a NEW adventure! Follow me across the country as I tell tales of my time on tour! I’m traveling with Childsplay’s production of Schoolhouse Rock LIVE, a fun and educational show featuring songs from your favorite fun and educational cartoon! Stories can be found here http://mollytheistic.wordpress.com/about/

Maybe we’ll be coming to YOUR town!!!

Sijang

Today’s Korean Phrase: Sijang = Market

First off, a mina hamnida is in order for not updating the blog this entire month.  My goodness things got VERY busy and most of it was work related so there wasn’t much I felt compelled to blog about in the first place. There are a few things I’m excited to share with you work wise that occurred this past month, but this weekend I finally got back out into town to explore more of Korea, this time at a traditional Korean Marketplace: The Kwangjang Sijang. 

So, first you should know the story of why we ended up at the market this Tuesday morning. Edutainer Nina is our resident Seoul Socialite in that she actually has made lots of friends outside of English Village.  She somehow got word that the Korean Tourism Board was looking for waygooks to come help them out with a news spot at this market.

Bindaetteok is a traditional pancake made with mung beans, pork and vegetables, and it is delicious.

Basically they want to promote the market among foreigners by showing that foreigners actually shop there.  The problem being, foreigners don’t actually shop there, which is why they needed to bring us in.  We traveled about an hour and a half to reach the market, and because of a late bus and traffic along the way we arrived about 15 minutes late.  In true Korean fashion the Tourism board decided to change plans and start the event early so we ended up getting there just in time to meet up with the President of the Board while he was helping make Bindaetteok at a small fry stand.

Edutainer Marc with Life-Sized Anime

There were about 50 reporters around us with cameras flashing and video rolling, and it was then that we realized why we were there: to be small white faced props.  They were doling out free food just to snap photos of us eating it and moving us around to take pictures with the President (aka the tallest man in Korea.  Seriously, huge) and these big mascot looking people dressed up in traditional Korean Hanboks that were truly hilarious.

About 25 minutes later we were told the event was over.  We were all given a free tote bag and a 10,000W gift certificate to use in the marketplace that day, as well as 50,000W that will be deposited into our bank accounts this week.  Not a bad trip! Plus, a friend of Nina’s found the footage on the news that night and sent her the link, so you can see me on Korean Television! That right, watch the video and you will see there is now a close up on my chest on international television…

The event being over we were free to explore the market on our own.  The first order of business was lunch, which was a little intimidating as this is what you saw everywhere you looked-

No, you’re right, that is indeed a pig face

Octopus, anyone?

I love the fishes ‘cuz they’re so delicious…..

We settled on a place called Suwon Ajumma, which basically means “Grandma’s Soup”  We got pumpkin soup which I was sadly not a huge fan of, so I just ate more Bindaetteok and called it lunch (I don’t believe it is supposed to be its own meal).  We continued through the market and discovered that most of it is a textile market.  There were lots of tailors and clothing stores, my favorite being a shop with Traditional Korean Wedding Hanboks.  They are so beautiful! I want to get married Korean Style! We also found an area that was wall to wall buttons (I ended up leaving with 10,000W worth of buttons. How did I do that?) and another area so full of clothing I thought I was going to walk out of it into Narnia.

I sadly had to visit the doctor in Itaewon that afternoon so I headed off while some people stayed in the garment district.  I got an old injury looked at now that I have great health insurance, which was a good idea as it needs some help… Now we’re on the right track with that, and I will always have my expensive buttons to remind me of my day at Sijang Kwangjang.

ENGRISH of the Month 3!

It’s that time again! I can’t believe I’ve been here for three whole months now. Almost any job I’ve had in the past has ended after about three months because of season ending or me moving, so it will be interesting to see how I feel about staying in the same job as we proceed forward. Luckily our lives here are pretty active and ever changing so I think it’s going to be just fine 🙂

Now, on to the important things!  Your monthly dose of the brilliance of Engrish!

oh boy! A Mikey fan! What a beloved character

Korea and I have very different ideas of what ‘dessert’ means…

Oh my goodness! That sand looks delicious!

This doesn’t seem all that bad. I mean, that baby looks happy, like he’s having a good time.  But wait, what is this at the bottom of the poster….

Um, what is that giant robotic drill-needle doing there? What does this Korean say? This doesn’t look like a good time… WHAT DID I SIGN UP FOR!?!?

You had better use this sponge with soap… or else…

 

This one isn’t exactly Engrish, but it did make me giggle-

yeah, I’d look pretty pissed off too if I found out my cookies were organic 😦

 

Thats all for now! I apologize for the low amount of blogs this month, things really got busy here but I can’t wait to share all the excitement with you once it calms down!  I appreciate you, dear readers, and have loved all of your feedback.  Tune in next time!

 

 

 

Chim Yobeob

Today’s Korean Phrase: Chim Yobeob= Acupuncture

Being a performer can take quite a toll on your body, especially here at English Village. We perform around 12 shows a week, when we’re not performing we are painting sets and in rehearsals, and while it is very nice to live where we work, it also means no one has a car so to get anywhere in Paju we rely mainly on foot power.  Because of this, and to fulfill a life long curiosity, I went down the street to the local medical center to check out acupuncture.

The clinic is about a 20 minute walk from GEV, which normally wouldn’t be a problem at all. Sadly today was a blazing 95 degrees Fahrenheit and around 70% humidity so by the time we reached the medical center we were soaked through with sweat. We walked into the glorious air conditioned lobby and hoped that the nurse took long enough on the necessary paperwork for us to cool down and dry up. This was not the case, and I went in to talk to the doctor a sopping and surely stinky mess.  I discussed my recurring upper back pain and he brought me into a little room to lay down on a heating pad for a while (exactly what I needed….ugh) Around five minutes later I was feeling pretty relaxed and the doctor came in with the needles.  Usually I am a little squeamish when it comes to needles but these little guys are so tiny that you really can hardly feel them.  There was only one that got put in my calf muscle that really felt weird and made my whole leg want to twitch. I only had them placed in my right arm and right leg to begin with, but Edutainer Ryan (who has troubles with his lower back) said when he went he had them placed in both his temples.  Creepy.

Franken-ryan…

I laid there in my heated bed for around 20 minutes with needles in my body until the doctor came back to remove them.  Now, Korean acupuncture is a little different than other cultures, and you don’t actually have that many needles stuck in as you do pressure points hit.  Koreans really only use the needles in the extremities, mainly the hands, so they have other methods of dealing with the pressure points on your back.  One of these ways is a machine that looks like a device used for milking cows.  They spray water on a sponge inside each fist sized tube, and using electric pulses these tubes massage your pressure points with a feeling similar to an octopus attacking your back. It’s a gentle attack though, it feels really excellent.

The Octopus Milker

The other method they have for hitting pressure points is what is called “cupping.”  At this point I was laying on my stomach so I was unable to see what was going on behind me, but here is what I heard: “woosh-schloop, woosh-schloop, woosh-schloop” I rolled my head to the side just enough to see the cause of the sound was little ceramic cups being held over a flame quickly and then suctioned tightly to the skin on my back.  The feeling was different to say the least, and I’m not quite sure how this process gets through to the muscles on the back, but I’m not going to questions thousands of years of Eastern medicine. Though the cupping was not painful at all, it left my back looking like the Hickey Monster had done quite a number on me.

The Hickey Monster being, of course, the most popular Muppet on the Street…

I’m glad I went to see what chim yobeob was all about, and while I didn’t feel immediate relief from it like some of my co-workers did, I will continue to go over the next year to see if I can make a dent.  Plus, the entire hour long process only cost me 9,000 Won (around $8.50 USD) so in true Korean fashion , when it comes to taking care of your body, the price is right.

Susong

Today’s Korean Phrase: Susong= transportation

Living in Paju is very nice. It is green with a lush forest, our campus is quite lovely, and there is a great art village just down the road (which I will blog about at a later date).  The problem is, if you want to go into town to eat at a non-Korean restaurant, see a movie, get a drink or basically just get out of GEV, Seoul is about a 45 minute bus ride away. As I’ve grown more accustomed to living here in Korea I’ve been going out with friends and using Seoul Metro quite often, so I thought I would share with you some fun facts about how I get around here.

We’ll start at the very beginning: After the amazing week spent in Virginia at Amanda’s wedding, my parents drove me to Washington DC for my Korean Air flight to Seoul.  I arrived at the airport with 2 huge suitcases, a rolling carry-on, and a backpack.  Well, unbeknownst to me there was not only a weight limit for your checked baggage, but for your carry-on items as well.  They made me weigh my backpack and rolling bag, and I was WAY overweight. Luckily, Expert Packer Mom was still with me and helped me shift things around, paid $200 in overweight fees, and I was off through security.

**Soapbox moment** If they are going to limit our carry on weight, shouldn’t they weigh the person along with the baggage? I feel at my 135lbs I should be allowed to bring more stuff than the person weighing 300lbs if it is a question of weight allotment in the cabin…

The beautiful flight attendants take incredibly good care of you on Korean Air (and bring you as much free wine as you’d like!)

Anyway, I was off and away on my direct 14 hour flight to Seoul International Airport.  Korean Air is a wonderful airline.  I had such a great time on the flight I didn’t even need to use my sleeping pills I had brought just in case I started to get cabin fever. They fed us two more than decent meals, there were movies and television to watch, video games to play, and even Korean Language lessons to take. I got some reading and knitting done and before I knew it I was passing through customs looking for the driver who was sent to pick me up and take me to GEV. After the initial panic of not having a phone and not having a clue who or what I was supposed to be looking for, I felt like a rock star when I saw the driver waiting for me with my name on his sign.

After that I enjoyed the seatbelt-less, 45 minute taxi ride to Paju, where I learned that taxi drivers in Seoul take rules of the road more like suggestions.  Red light running, nearly 90 miles an hour on the freeway, and whipping around corners like a bat out of hell.  After living in New York you’d think you’d have had the worst of the taxi rides, but just wait until you get to SK. Luckily I arrived at English Village safely, but we still take taxis to Costco and movies and such, so the horror continues…

TV makes everything better…

The best way to get into Seoul from Paju is to take the 2200 bus.  Sadly, the busses here are  not only driven by the same kind of maniacs that drive the taxis, but they are all manual transmission, so they jerk back and forth so much that even I start to get car sick. However, they do have little TV’s on the bus that play the most delightful cartoons! They only play a couple times per ride and they don’t get new ones very often, but they make the queasy bus ride just a little more bearable.  Do yourself a favor and watch this little cartoon, you’ll thank me later 🙂

Once you get to to Hapjong station, its time to transfer to the subway.  Where the busses lack, the subways here are top notch.  Always on time, you’re never waiting for more than 10 minutes for a train, clean as a whistle and hardly ever a bump or a jerk.  They have information in both English and Korean so you never feel lost, and every entrance/exit portal is numbered so it is very easy to give directions on how to get somewhere.  All the stations are like little mini malls with clothing stores, electronics and other kiosks as well as coffee shops and food stands for busy Koreans on the go!

Clean, roomy, and no one trying to do backflips in your face for money

Another way the subway system here is superior to New York is in the fare transactions.  I believe the method is similar to Washington DC, but it keeps track of how far you have gone and charges you accordingly. You scan the same card on the bus as you do for the subway, and if you take the bus to get to the subway station (like we do) it gives you your subway ride at a discount. The place you scan your card is so sensitive that you don’t even have to take your card out of your wallet as you pass through, and they actually have different gates for in and out so you don’t have a stare down with someone trying to come out the path you are trying to go in like you do in Manhattan.  The stations here are also ridiculously clean, with is odd because it can often be almost impossible to find a trash can.  However the subway tracks are closed off by glass doors so you can’t throw your garbage down in a sewery pit like NYC…

There is also a darker reason why the subways tracks are all shut out: sadly, because of the pressure put on young adults here to succeed academically, South Korea has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the world.  About two years ago the glass doors were installed along most subway lines to prevent people from jumping to their death in front of an oncoming train.  To aid in this fight, the Seoul Metro waiting areas are filled with “happy music” like Fur Elise and Stand by Me to keep spirits high and try to ward off the desire to suddenly end it all on the windshield of the subway.  There is a very interesting article about this subject here.

Getting around Seoul is incredibly easy and actually pretty darn pleasant.  It helps also that there is cell phone service throughout every inch of the subway tunnels, so you are free to catch up on work, emails, or enjoy a classy youtube clip of a cat while you use the susong of the city.

Seriously, you can get anywhere in this city

PS.  About a month ago, all the edutainers got to be a part of something very special: the marriage proposal of Matt to our head teacher Stephanie.  His proposal was beautiful and he recruted all us theatrical types to recreate moments of their love story as she walked through English Village while their song played on the loud speakers overhead. Check out the video footage here! (I make a very small cameo in a brown dress with a gold piggy bank)

ENGRISH of the Month 2!

Hello friends! Today is my two month-versary here in Korea, so you know what that means! Time for this month review of the comedic gold that is Engrish.  This months examples come mostly from the dentist’s office and a delightful tote bag stand in the subway station. Enjoy!

We’ll start at the dentist. They tried really hard to make sure their English speaking patients felt comforted, so I really do appreciate the attempt.

“we are medical team who take responsible for”
for….what?

Priceless. Now the totes bags…

*sigh* if only happiness were that easy, little Korean kitties…

This says “bros” all over the little heart. I guess the owner of this bag really enjoys frat brothers?

If you can’t see it, it says “you are my shin sunshine shine”

It sounds like someone needs to get this cat to a hospital STAT.
And whats with the house? And what does “plip” mean? So many questions…

I don’t even know where to being with this one. This is epic Engrish. I made the picture larger so you could all try to decipher.

And now one of my very favorite that I found last month, but somehow neglected to put on my blog.

oh boy…

To be fair, with as much fun as I poke at these examples of Engrish, I have to hand it to how hard the adults here are trying to make sure their children are bilingual. I’ll leave you with this picture of Edutainer Matt playing hangman with some Korean Kidlets outside Tom N Toms.  This round, the little boy made up the word for Matt to guess. I challenge Americans of his age to spell “complication” perfectly like this kid did. Way to go, bud, you make us feel like we might actually be making a difference here.

Yeong-eo Ma-eul

Today’s Korean Phrase: Yeong-eo Ma-eul= English Village

We finally had about a week or so of really nice sunny days, so I was able to get out and take some pictures of my surroundings. I thought now might be a nice time to take you faithful readers on a photographic journey through the campus I now call home: Gyeonggi English Village!

You’ll start your day here driving into the lovely little town of Paju

Turn up the hill and you’ll arrive at the front gates of GEV! For some reason we don’t quite understand, we have a replica of Stonehenge in the parking lot 

One of my favorite parts of campus is the front gate, and honestly one of the reasons that I decided to come work here is that it is a giant castle  

As you walk through the gates to the ticket counter you’ll see the Seal of the Village 

So, you know, we’re legit.  Next we’ll take a walk down Main street

Lots of shops for you to enjoy along Main street, like the English Book Store, EV Gift shop, and so much more!

Since you got here nice and early, you might want to stop at Tom ‘N Toms for a cup of coffee, tea, or blended Tominccino.  We edutainers spend WAY too much money here.  If you’re lucky, there might just be some edutainers waiting outside Tom ‘N Toms to play some outdoor activities with you.

Tasty Tom ‘N Toms treat in tow, you might see this lovely building down the street.  It’s the Little Theatre! 

Stop on in and help the Edutainers defeat the evil Zlor  in “Journey to Imaginationland” You might even get to dance with a robot 

The Little Theatre Shows are all done with very little set, but there is an interactive Power Point that plays on the white wall through the whole show. 

It is a lot of fun to do this 25 minute show because we get to play with the audience quite a bit.  On your way out you’ll see little signs telling you where all the Edutainer’s imaginations take them. Mine is a little shout out to Arizona!

Heading back out to Main street you’ll come across a few gems, like the lovely Secret Garden 

After some moments of reflection, you might want to check out some of the classes the One Day Program teachers have to offer.  They will bring you to real life situations like Post Office and Bank Visits to teach you how to converse in English

You can find these classrooms in the Exhibition Hall

Also in the Exhibition Hall you’ll find the Library.  This is where the Edutainers host a 45 minute game show! I’m designing the show for next season based on Science and Technology, but this season the game show is all about fairy tales.  Perhaps you’d like to play the game with this cute little Edutainer? 

Head back out to Main street and at the end of the road you’ll see this beautiful building

This is where I come to clock in every morning.  Right next door to here is the Cafeteria, so this area of GEV always smells like Ramen. 

Here you’ll also see a poster for the all the Edutainer’s shows, including Main Stage Musical, Jack and the Beanstalk! 

Jack and the Beanstalk is playing here, in the Concert Hall 

Now, when I first got to GEV we hadn’t started J&B yet, I jumped right into The Princess and the Crown (after only three days rehearsal, yikes!)

After three weeks of being this Girl in Green (my character was the “brave” part of the Princess on her journey) I now play the uptight narrator trying to tell the story of Jack and the Beanstalk while dealing with my obnoxious Narrator in Training 

Here are some more production photos for you to enjoy.  When you see the shots with all the fairy tale characters, I play the Hare from Tortoise and the Hare so I’m in the white track suit.

Jack Romano and his family in their pizza shop

Jack gets the beans from Old Man Herbert

Jack meets all the other Fairy Tale characters in Cloudy Town

“Gimmie a C, you got that C, you got that C.
Gimmie an L-O-U-D and get loud! Gimmie a Y
“Why?”
Cuz its CLOUDY!”

You’re probably hungry after your big day at English Village, so why not stop over at the Double Decker Pub for a Sausage and Beer! 

You’ll find the pub right next to the Trolly Cars! A popular photo taking spot in GEV 

If you’d like to come up and visit me, I live here in the Jupiter staff housing building

I’d take a picture of my studio apartment, but just assume it is a tiny room with a huge mess

I live next to the EV Kids building.  We have no idea what happens in there, but outside the building is this happy sign with all the lovable EV characters! You can sing the GEV theme song, after which this blog is titled.

“Drama, drama, I like drama. Music, music, I like music. It’s great, it’s fun, it’s English Village!

It’s not the best song in the world…

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit here at English Village.  Enjoy the beautiful South Korean sunset over the odd South Korean stonehenge on your way out. 

Come back soon! You’ll want to tune in next week for a new installment of Engrish of the Month!

**Note: In case you were wondering, I got my stitches out today and my mouth has recovered well.  The doctor said it would take about a month for my mouth to recover fully, so i guess I still have an excuse to eat all this pudding I stocked up on…**