Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Another half day today and the sun decided to celebrate with me.

I got to spend quality time with teachers at lunch today and then my co-teacher, the older English teacher, and I went out for coffee. I took them to my favourite place. I think it was too hip for them!

It was so good to spend time with Rebekah (my CT) outside of school. I feel a bit bad because other teachers invite me to hang out and I go, but really I should be closest with her. She never initiates. Maybe I'll do it more in the future.

Anyway, she had to leave early so this other teacher took me to buy mandu. She was so sweet. She wouldn't let me pay. In her car we sang along to Les Mis. She loved it so much she bought both soundtracks but with their accents she can't understand what either of them are saying. Ahhh she's hilarious!

I made brownies with Shanna tonight and flip, they're good!

Monday, April 29, 2013


The poor students have stress written all over their faces because today marks the start of midterms. Their eyes are puffy from lack of sleep and there is no laughter in the corridors.

In contrast, I'm feeling like I'm on holiday. No lessons to plan, no classes to teach, and I get afternoons off today and tomorrow. Wednesday I don't have to come in at all!

Myself and two other teachers went to Palgongsan for a "hike". It turned out to be a 5 minute walk from the car to Donghwa Temple so we went a little further, but it was certainly no hike. More like a casual stroll.

Lanterns lined the pathways and covered the courtyards in a canopy. It was really beautiful. My camera did some great work, despite the pouring rain.

I love the two teachers that took me. They're so great. They look out for me all the time and make me feel so loved.

Afterwards, we went for a bit of shopping at some outlet shops and then to a cafe for cake and coffee.

It was a great afternoon and I feel like I've seen some touristy things to tick off on my list.

Fuelling up for the "hike"

A delicious treat after a hard dance class - homemade lemonade.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


The most awkward occurrence of my life happened today. A Korean guy I'd met previous weeks at church came up to me and said "Hello, you are from New Zealand?"

After I replied, he started leaning in as if to kiss me. I was very confused so I simultaneously offered my cheek as well as went for the hug. It just got worse after that as he tried again. I said a very firm, "no!" and waved my arms a bit.

Then he pointed to his nose and it took me a few seconds to click. He wanted a hongi!

I explained very clearly that it was JUST forehead and nose that touch before we had our Maori moment.

Korea just keeps surprising me!

Today I hung out with a real life Korean and she was so great. Her name is Chaejin and she's Bryan's cousin. We met at 5 and I didn't get home until 9! That's some serious hanging.

She saw on Facebook that it was my birthday so she bought me cakes from the best cake shop before we went to her favourite place to eat. It was Korean/Italian and so delicious. We stuffed ourselves and then we had 빙수 which is a shaved ice dessert. It was amazing.

It wasn't ever awkward and we talked forever! I hope we can keeping hanging out. Real Korean friends, here I come!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


My friends are so great. They spoilt me all day today as well. I got to pick the places and activities the whole day and I didn't pay a cent. It was madness.

We found the Krispy Kreme place and ate an original glazed each. It was absolutely delightful. I have missed that taste. So much better than any other donuts on the planet. We even got to see them being made! We gawked and took photos.

My birthday picnic was this afternoon and everyone came and brought so much food! It was amazing. We made ourselves sick practically with all the junk we consumed. Each time someone else arrived they added items to the giant pile.

A very confident Korean lad came and struck up a conversation with us, asking us where we were all from. We offered him Pringles. He said no, but his incredibly shy friend grabbed them and sat down, absolutely stuffing his mouth.

The cocky one started playing some Chemical Brothers on his phone and doing a dance that looked like a chicken pecking furiously. Korea's own head banging phenomenon. Of course we got up and joined him on his orders.

What a joy he was!

Then we ate some food at Buy the Book, a cafe/restaurant/book exchange downtown. It was so cool in there. So many books to browse and read! Perfect rainy Saturday hang out.

Then it was gin and wine at Berkley, where we state until late. It was perfection.

To top it off, Lucy and I assumed sleepover mode and chatted further once we got home. What a great day!

Got told off right after snapping this quick pic.

I've been wanting these for 2 weeks. Treat yo self!

Guess which one was the cocky one

Friday, April 26, 2013


I think a few people were a little worried that my birthday would turn out less great than I was anticipating. I mean, don't they always fall a little short? Secretly, I've been pretty excited over the past few days but it's safe to say that I've had a great day.

Here's what happened:

06:11am - I woke up and lay there, thinking about the bathroom that needed to be cleaned and the floor that needed to be mopped. I was strategizing, which took a few minutes.

06:16am - I had decided the best plan was to start with the bathroom, so off I went to scrub that place silly.

06:30am - The bathroom and the floor were sparkling so it was shower time!

07:00am - Everything was clean and dry. Time to make some breakfast.

07:15am - Skype breakfast with Mum, Dan, Amy, and Von. It was the perfect start to the day. They sang me a fantastic song. Here is the chorus:
"Katie, don't marry a Korean,
Katie, don't marry one of them"

It repeated a lot. The bottom line is they want me to come home.
Mum also did the birthday dance by holding her phone out in front of her. I picked up my laptop and jumped around like a loon in my room too. It was almost as good as the real deal, except slightly more dangerous because I nearly tripped up about five times on the power lead.

07:45 - I opened my gifts and oohed and ahhed. I love presents!

08:10 - I arrived at school and opened my package from Lucy. I love letters!

08:20 - My co-teacher came in with a little gift for me.

08:30 - I taught a normal class.

09:30 - There is a commotion in the classroom next to my office. There is whooping and giggling and my co-teacher comes in, candles in hand and asks me my age again. She laughs and tells me to stay where I am.
When it was time, I went in to see a beautiful cake, all lit up, and my teachers class who erupted into a very stilted rendition of Happy Birthday in English. I blew out the candles and cut the cake. Then they disregarded the slices and started digging in with schopsticks, using pieces of bread as plates. It was by far the best way to eat a cake.
One teacher sang me a song and then demanded I sing Pokarekare Ana while they sang along in Korean. After rounds of applause and many photos, we packed it up and went back to teaching.

12:30 - After lunch I went on a walk to the train station down the road with a few of my favourite teachers. It was hilarious because we got there and they broke into an yoga class, with the older teacher as an instuctor. We were swingin our arms, bending our legs, and stretching our muscles all the while completely cracking up at how hilarious we must have looked. It was a hoot.
One teacher just wanted to freestyle so we did that for a bit and I taught them how to shake their hips like I learnt at dancing. We were all giving it our best, which was not actually that great, when we realized there was a man in the station who was watching us, and possibly even recording us shaking our booties. We laughed and ran away.

15:10 - Just before my last class, three students came to visit me, armed with letters and snacks from the school canteen. It was so cute. Their letters were full of birthday wishes and lots of love. There was this one girl whom I could tell wasn't all that popular and one day she was wearing these awesome shoes so I told her. She wrote me a letter saying she had remembered my birthday from the first day I taught and really wished she could buy me shoes like hers'. It was the sweetest things and reminded me that I can have a huge influence on my students, even if I only see them once a week. Every little word spoken counts. It was a good birthday revelation.

16:10 - More snacks and letters after class.

16:20 - I went on another walk with a teacher and her university professor. He was a cool guy who knew loads about lots and his English was really good. He'd been to Cambridge so his manner was very British and it made it easy to relate to him.
He was a tad creepy though. He gave me a little notebook as a birthday present and then proceeded to kiss me on both cheeks, a very un-Korean thing to do. Then when I left he did it again!

17:30 - I rushed back to school to collect my things and raced to the supermarket for some eggs.

17:50 - As soon as I got home, I plonked in my armchair for a few minutes and read some Facebook posts and my cards from home. It was a nice little rest.

18:15 - I put on my new apron, cracked into the lemon curd, and it turned out spectacularly! Then the lasagne was in the oven, and I in the shower.

19:20 - Lucy arrived just as I was taking out the lasagne and finishing my face. She made me a card! I love homemade cards! And she also bought me an assortment of gifts which I love, especially this delicious moisturizer.

19:30 - Dani arrived, laden with champagne and garlic bread. Flip I have cool friends!

19:45 - Nicole arrived with a cake! Also gifts for me, including some muffin cups which I am going to use to make souffle and individual desserts. I am spoilt indeed.
We ate, we drank wine, we laughed, we sort of watched Cool Runnings, and we had a really, really, really good time.

11:45 - After the girls left, Lucy and I talked for ages and sent messages to her family members and friends. They wished me a happy birthday in their awesome Irish accents, because it was still the 26th where they are.

All in all I felt incredibly special and loved. I am very blessed to have so many beautiful new friends. It was one of my favourite birthdays yet!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Today I did my preparations for birthday dinner so I went straight to Emart for ingredients.

While I was looking at containers, I heard a small voice say "Hi!" I turned to see a girl in a trolley who was slurping taster noodles from a cup. We had a pretty great conversation after that and I just spoke to her like any preschooler back home. Her English was great.

I chatted to her mum too and found out she had just taught her at home. She seemed like such a cool lady and a really good mother.

I keep meeting awesome Koreans in places like that or on the street and I just want to be their friend for real but I can't and it makes me sad.

We could've had a language exchange or something. Ahhh well. It's too creepy!


Mini veggie lasagne. Was yummy!

At lunch time I went to a greenhouse place and he gave me a free plant! It smells amazing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


After small group tonight I was checking out some socks by the subway station and I suddenly realized I had left my phone at Afia's house! I was so annoyed because it would take forever to walk back and then I'd be home so flippin late. Luckily I was with another girl who called Afia, who offered to jump in a cab and bring it to me. It was one of those simple acts of kindness that I really appreciated so much!

I love it when people do things like that.


Here is a golden story that didn't happen today, but I can't remember when so we'll pretend:

Today felt like a long day. The last period was difficult. I had to keep quieting the class and we all just wanted to zone out, so when it came to the end I was about ready to go home and plonk on my bed for a few moments. My coteacher said, "Goodbye, see you tomorrow..." and I went to my office and packed up my things. I locked up, headed out the door, and down the road.

I thought something seemed off, but kept walking along, distracted by texting. I looked up from my phone and was aware that the usually jam-packed bus stop was empty. I then realized that I hadn't met anyone walking out of school except the groundsman, whom I said a cheery goodbye to.

In horror, I checked my phone and groaned audibly as I realized I had left school an hour early. What an embarrassing mistake. I turned around reluctantly and tried to sneak back in with nobody seeing, but I'm sure they did. It's a good thing I did though, because an English teacher visited my office to ask about an exam question.

Just another installment of "Katie Does Stupid Stuff in South Korea".

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


 I have a favourite class. It's just so enjoyable. They walk in smiling, even though it's last period, and they all say hello to me. One girl made a heart on the board with magnets and told me she loved me. When a boy came in and started rearranging them before class, she yelled at him and hit him and told him, "Teacher is mine!"

Blinded by all this love, I foolishly told them about dancing last night. Huge mistake.

Before I knew it they were chanting, "Dance! Dance!" and my co-teacher joined in. I went the brightest shade of red to match my jacket and hid in my hood. They showed no signs of letting up so I gave them some hips.

To this they all applauded and cheered. I really felt like Beyonce.

Afterwards, I cleared my throat, assumed the teacher voice, and became very serious in an effort to cover my embarrassment, but it was no use.

One student piped up from the back, "Teacher, you red like apple!"

They are never hearing any secrets ever again.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Today was hilarious. I woke up all stressed about being unprepared for my lesson, but it worked out ok in the end.

It was on politeness in Western culture and each group had to act out a scenario such as on the subway or at dinner. It was so funny.

Some personal highlights were when a girl used scraps of paper as cookies and held them up to her eyes to demonstrate that she was Batman. What a hoot!

And it was also great when they forgot their lines and a team mate became frustrated enough to hit them and mutter it under their breath. That happened in almost every class.

After all the laughter at students, I got a chance to laugh at myself tonight during Kpop dance class. Ahhhh it was so good to be dancing again. And everyone was so good!

We did such an extensive warm up full of stretches and exercises, followed by an ab workout which was pretty sore! But it all reminded me of doing jazz in high school and I loved each moment. Especially the parts when we got to lay there for a few seconds.

She put on the track we were going to dance to and I immediately got secretly excited. It was PSY's Gentleman! I had been hoping for it.

The dance was pretty great, and even though I feel like I was quite behind everyone else skill-wise, I'm determined to improve. Who knows what's in store for next week!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I am in with the kids at church! I got invited to have dinner with them afterwards. My favourites were there, so it made it even more of an honour. It's feeling more like home every week.

It was really nice to be part of a group of already-friends. They didn't feel like they had to be polite to each other and they just spoke their mind. I feel like these days I'm watching myself quite a lot with everyone, but with these girls it was nice because I could join in on the hassling and not feel bad about it.

One girl asked for it by ordering a poutin (a whole lot of fries covered in gravy and melted cheese). It was twice the size of her. I already liked her a lot, but now the respect level is through the roof. She took a doggybag home in the biggest polystyrene container I've ever seen.

It was also cool because they've been in Daegu for a while already and I found out about some new places to go. There's even a baking store which will be my dream come true apparently!

Today I also went to the worship practice before church. I kinda was a little bitter about it because Lucy was here and I wanted to hang with her and also the songs were all unfamiliar and seemed super lame.

It was actually heaps of fun though because we danced and sang and laughed a lot. The girl who roped me into it in the first place is a blast. Also, one of the best things about being in the band is that the leaders bring us lunch each week. Today was BK Whoppers and they tasted exactly like home. It was so delicious and I don't even eat Burger King in NZ.

To top it all off, I had a lengthy Skype to L.Collins. What a great way to end the week!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Today I was meant to meet a real Korean for lunch! It didn't happen though because she was sick, but I did make plans to meet another girl next weekend. I'm gonna have so many photos with Koreans and you won't be able to tell me I'm no good at making friends!

I Skyped my grandparents this morning which was so lovely. A highlight was when Nana stuck her floral headband on Poppa and we all told him how lovely he looked.

Also, Lucy came and we went to meet Nicole at the cool subway station with the art gallery. I stupidly forgot my camera as per usual. I really like hanging out with those girls though. Scotland, Ireland, and NZ are a good mix.

We met everyone else and ate Indian food that was delicious. I had fake butter chicken. It wasn't butter chicken like I'm used to but it was yum.

I like it when it's someone's birthday. I feel like everyone has the common goal of making that person feel special. It's much more festive and cheerful than a usual hang out. There's something in the air.

On our search for a taxi we stumbled upon a whole lot of people setting up music equipment and sitting around tents. The road was blocked off and we thought maybe they were filming an indie music video.

Almost as cool, they were having a 2am Earth Day performance and sleeping a few hours in tents on the road. So weird.

This guy started shredding on a guitar, not very in time to the backing track and people were clicking away and grooving. One guy joined him onstage playing along on his umbrella. It was all very Korean!

Friday, April 19, 2013


I woke up after a 9hr sleep feeling worse than I did yesterday. How is that even possible!?

But yet again, I did not cave and use a microphone.

The students were actually really nice to me when they heard my throat and they were telling each other to be quiet like they cared about my wellbeing. It made me feel loved.

Another plus, I'm not a carrier of TB. A couple of days ago they injected something under our skin on our arm and they checked to see if it was swollen today. If so, that meant you were a carrier so you have to take medicine and have a blood test. But mine was 0% there. Hooray! No more needles!

This tree always makes me feel lighter on my way home from school.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Today I woke up feeling like someone was punching the inside of my throat. It wasn't great.

Teaching like that was a bit fun, but I did not give in and use my microphone! The Korean teachers use them all the time, but I don't want to. I want the students to respect me enough to be quiet when I speak. Surely, if Kiwi kids can do it, they can! If I had to use it, I'd feel like I'd lost.

Everything is a competition.

I just sipped on a whole lot of honey water, peed a lot, and made it through the day.

The best thing about today was being in bed at 9pm and so ready to drift into dreamland!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Today I did not wear weather appropriate clothing, but I looked cute.

I was expecting more of the same sunshine and heat today, but man I was wrong. It was absolutely freezing outside and I didn't have a coat at all!

Another great interaction happened today with one of my quieter students. I opened the office door to a petrified first grader who handed me a bag and said, "you...present." I took it from her and discovered it was full of maps and little cards. She told me it was for me to study about Korean culture and history. I said thanks so much and inquired further. I wanted to know if I had to give them back, and if they were from her or if she was just delivering them.

As I was asking, she went into a state of despair because she didn't understand me and threw herself against the shelves, head buried in her arm, making little welps. It was all very dramatic.

I wanted to end her suffering so I said thank you once again and let her escape out the door.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I don't know what to say about today except that in the calm before the storm that is my grade 2 class today, a couple of students came up to me and told me how beautiful I looked today.

I was a bit taken aback and totally flattered because these two students never pay attention and it takes a lot of effort to wake them up (literally) and get them to do any work.

So when they complimented me I thought I had won brownie points and I said a genuine, "thank you" right away.

Without missing a beat, and with the perfect inflection, the boy said, "these are just empty words." I was taken aback once again! The wiseass!

But I had to laugh. The look of cheek on his face was too delightful.
The internet company sent me these vouchers for E-mart. It covers a month and a half of bills!

I had a whole lot of tomatoes that had seen better days so I baked them with garlic, onion, salt, and pepper, and made this stuff, It's pretty nice.

Monday, April 15, 2013


I have finally used my oven to create lemon chicken! It is a great day.

Dani came over after school for some culinary creativity. We chopped, squeezed, tasted, and fried for our lives. Me, with the chicken, and her, with tofu and kimchi nachos.

Both things worked out fantastically. Eating them with chopsticks out of a tray, off an upturned cardboard box while sitting on the floor and watching TV was a very satisfying thing indeed.

While shopping for ingredients I had to ask for help and as I was explaining my need for chicken stock to the lady, she turned and hollered at someone for help. Over sauntered the extremely cute guy who was promo-ing coffee sachets. I was fighting the heat in my cheeks as I explained what I wanted, but as he looked at me and said they didn't have any, sorry and then grinned, I completely lost the battle.

I walked past him later, following another staff member on the hunt for honey, and I went bright red again as he smiled at me. I wish it didn't happen!

The kimchi nachos

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Recently I've gone on walks and had many chats with a certain teacher at school and I promised to visit her church. She and her husband picked me up and took me this morning. It was such a cool experience. Her church is very small. Only ten people were there, and they were all so lovely.

It was all in Korean, and apart from the word, "hallelujah" I didn't really understand anything. Despite the lack of numbers, the minister preached as if to hundreds. He seemed like a really wise man and I enjoyed the way he spoke.

Afterwards, it got a bit awkward as they set up for lunch and I was told not to do anything. But lunch was my fave, jeyuk bokkeum in my honour. It was freaking delicious.

I sat next to a girl my age and I think we made friends over movies and books. I want to go back so I can see her again.

Then the teacher came to my church. It was so different with the full band and general foreignness but I think she enjoyed it. She told me I make her happy and bought me cake from the bake sale so here's hoping it was a hit.
The cute church

Skype with Sarah this evening was awesome.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Today was spent cleaning and baking. I don't know if I can imagine a better Saturday. I know it was a beautiful day because I set out for E-mart and completely regretted my outfit decision. I was absolutely boiling.

This evening I went downtown to watch a bit of amateur theatre. It turned out to be absolutely hilarious. There were three mini plays as part of a competition. A few friends were involved and they did a fantastic job.

Plus I ran into some great people from church. It was such a bonus!

There is a time for staying home and a time for being social after all.

Found these guys in E-mart

Welcome to America, aka, Korea.

I amde lemon muffins and lemon curd. It was delicious.

Scarier each time.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Nicole and I went on quite an adventure tonight to the cinema.

It began with us meeting in the station and venturing out to get our tickets. We used the machine outside the theatre and it worked! We were proud of ourselves.

Then we went and got some food. I had amazing mandu and we got carried away chatting and eating. When we looked at the clock we found that the film had already started!

So of course we stuffed ourselves and went up to the cinema where we purchased an all-necessary hot chocolate before finding the theatre.

We handed over our ticket to the lovely young man and he looked at us strangely. At first I thought it was because we were 20mins late, but actually we had gone to the completely wrong cinema!

The movie was actually playing across the road in the department store. Very confusing.

But also hilarious.

We made it in the end and didn't miss too much. It was an amazing film. Possibly in my top 5.

Leon: The Professional

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I received my first care package today! It was full to the brim with Easter goodies. So much chocolate!!! There was also a beautiful rose headband and some cards, plus a gift from Debbie. I'm not opening that stuff until my birthday though. It'll be special.

I tried to use it as a reward for when I finished my lesson plans but that didn't work. I caved pretty quickly.

The bunny helped me get through so it was successful.

Another exciting thing happened today. I went to a baseball game with the students who stay in the dormitory. It was so much fun. It got a bit cold, but between innings we all jumped up and danced and cheered.

I also got to see the kids outside of school context which helps heaps with the getting to know them and being familiar.

I also think it is hilarious that the teachers brought beer along. Korea has many different rules. No hands in pockets, but a few beers is just fine!

Chicken for dinner.

Samsung Lions

Getting into it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


This afternoon I got home from school, turned on Modern Family, ate too many jellybeans, and nearly fell asleep in my bed.

Just when I thought it was too late, I received a text with the directions to homegroup. It was one of those things I had planned to do, but I wasn't so gutted that it wasn't going to work out. I was contemplating a wee nap and I was very comfy.

When I got the text, I begrudgingly got out of bed and raced around to do everything before I left. Even if I had gone straight away I'd be late.

After the long subway ride, and the long walk in the dusk, I made it.

It was really refreshing, actually. I'm glad I went. There were only four of us, so we got to have some good chats about life and the Bible.

It was really cool. And I really like Sanjtie, the leader. She's just real about stuff.

I'll definitely be looking forward to it next time.


I love it when I see a class improving. Today I was prepared to have a bit of a battle with my last two classes today. They're not bad or anything, they're just a bit chatty and excitable. I thought I'd have an issue with the lesson plan which was pretty involved.

They actually listened and I didn't get a sore throat to be heard or anything! They're great students. I do love them.

Aaaaaaand I'm typing this from my cafe that I found on Saturday. It's so cute!

A couple of my students came in before to study and they were acting very cute. They got me to draw something in the cafe guest book and we talked about bands. They waved at my parents on Skype even! It was awesome.

Plus I got a free iced coffee. A Dutch Coffee. They offer it at heaps of places and now I know what it is finally. It's a special filter that looks like it's straight out of a laboratory. It's great.

 But man I've gotta peeeeeeeeeeee.

I made tiramisu with the jelly belly's. It was surprisingly good.

I can add plumber to my list of handyman skills.

Said beverage with heart on it.