"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." - Saint Augustine

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kimbap and no TV...

Care Package

Today I finally received my first piece of mail/package from the U.S.! My parents sent me a box on September 17th and it was here within 10 days! My mentor teacher didn't realize that she forgot to put "South Korea" on the address she gave me so I had friends and family back at home send me letters/packages that were recently returned to them since they were missing that bit. I went from laughing to tears when looking at the contents of the box from my parents. It's funny how the little things can get you!

My favorite things that were sent to me: A pen from The Bob In (our favorite ice cream place in Northern Michigan), Von Maur mints (me and my mom's favorite store to shop at), a bunch of articles (I love to read these kind of short articles at home all the time and my mom always saves good ones for me!), and a cute Halloween notepad. :)

Everything I got! My mom is so Polish. I love how she double bagged all the honey!

I’ve been going to Taekwondo for almost a month now and though it’s not like the typical amazing cardio, endurance, strength training, etc. activities that I'm used to doing I enjoy going to this class because of all the children (ages 8-14) that are in the class with me! From the very first day they were very curious about me and I have enjoyed this time to get to know them and their culture a little bit more.
Some of my Taekwondo friends. :)

So I’ve decided I’m going to go without TV for the five months that I’m here. A lot of people are shocked by this, but really I don’t watch that much TV back in America since I’m constantly busy working, attending school, and spending time doing things for the organizations I’m involved in! If I do have free time (not an often occurrence for me) I would rather exercise or read anyways! No worries, I’m not going to be totally disconnected from the current events in America and the rest of the world since I’ll be staying updated through the internet.

I’m a very reflective person, but I’m doing it far more here in Korea than at home. Everytime I’m walking somewhere or after having an interaction, teaching….I’m thinking about something and usually end up with a smile and happy thought. There are lots of challenges and differences but these are the things that are making me learn so much about Korea, myself, and life in general. :)

Kimbap, anyone?
Last week Katie and I stumbled upon a restaurant right outside of my apartment building where we can get delicious kimbap, kimchi, and soup for 1,000 won (about $1). The whole experience was kind of funny because we sat down at a table for five minutes before we realized we had to go up to the lady when we knew what we wanted. We of course couldn't read the menu but saw kimbap on the table. "Dul Kimbap Juseyo" (2 Kimbap please). That was that.


Our second trip to the restaurant!

Korea's Kids Just Like Ours, 100 Years Ago
Mitch Albom wrote a very interesting article on his recent trip to Korea where he compares modern day Korean children with children in America 100 years ago. His article says:

"It is not uncommon to see children in school uniforms walking home late at night. It is not uncommon to see them studying through weekends. There is private English education on top of the public education. Families split apart to improve a child's training. You hear stories about schooling that runs from sunrise past sunset, with breakfast, lunch and dinner being served in the building."

I have definitely seen this in action around my city, Cheongdo. I leave my Taekwondo building at 8pm and see students leaving the high school right across the street. My mentor teacher Eunhye told me that a lot of high schoolers stay at school until 11pm and then (most students) willingly do an additional study group until 2am! She says they do this in their Junior year when preparing to take their college entrance exams, but it sounded like these practices occured at other times as well. I also know of many students that have school on Saturday. Hogwans (private schools that are attended after school) are very popular, and actually my Elementary School is trying to bridge the gap between the "haves" (families that can afford Hogwans) and the "have nots" (families that cannot afford Hogwans) by offering 28 after school classes (like my English class) for 5,000 won (about $1) per class/month. Many families are choosing to keep their child at school attending the after school classes because it is much easier than transferring their child to another location. This way you have more children on the same page and getting educated much more similarly. At first I was surprised how many (nearly all) children attend the after school program, but then I found out that their school day ends much earlier than ours does in America. 1st and 2nd grade finishes at 1pm, 3rd and 4th finishes at 2pm, and 5th and 6th finishes at 3pm. Of course you need to add 3 or 4 hours onto each of these times and you will then see what time the children are really going home or off to more classes, lessons, private tutoring, etc. I usually leave school around 6pm and find a somewhat decent amount of children still in the halls and on the playground.

Some children walking home from school.

Many children stop at convenience stores to buy candy, ice cream or little toys on their way home.

Here are some of my 5th grade students on their way home.
It's quite fun to walk home and talk with them.


  1. how cute &sweet your parents' package was!! i love that you commented on double-wrapping the honey. my mom would totally do the same, haha! also, those vanilla chai tea bags are my favorite!!
    super funny about forgetting the 'south korea' part on the address!

  2. my mom is so polish...lol that really cracked me up! looks like you got a nice care package there, so sweet of mama glowski!!

    everything seems so cheap there i've noticed..

  3. Thanks, girls!

    Kristy, most things are cheaper here (transportation, food, most clothes) that's for sure! Some things are a little pricy though!