Unexpected Food Adventures in Korean Schools:

Coming to a new country I expected there to be odd moments with food. Moments which leave me confused, possibly delighted and possibly disgusted. I just thought I would share some of the memorable dishes I’ve eaten at my schools here so far.
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Episode One~The Shrimp: “Do you like shrimp, Lucca?” a co-teacher asked me hestitantly. I love shrimp. Those are the little pink things you eat in pasta with garlic sauce, right?  I nodded and all the teachers frolicked to the caffeteria excitedly. I paused as a heavy Styrofoam cooler was open to reveal massive gray prawns, their large black eyes watching me judgementally. There were “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” from all the teachers around me who love their food the fresher the better but I was still feeling a bit intimidated from the staredown and even more indimdated by the knowledge that koreans have been known to eat things live. I watched nervously but relieved as the teachers brought out pans and little stoves to cook them at the tables and jumped every time something hit the lid of the pan. The little guys sounded so angry and I was getting scared of them; this was my first time eating prawns and they seemed to have a lot of attidude. The lid finally opened back up to reveal pink, quiet food. In fact, they almost looked like the pasta shrimp I was used to having but they still had so many little legs all poised to attack and their little eyes still watched me so judgementally. I’m telling you, I have never been this scared of my food until coming to Korea. I probably would have sat for a very long time with my plate of sauce, nervously holding my chopsticks, if a kind coteacher hadn’t taken it into his heart to get them ready for me. And they were amazing. In America I usually buy food from the normal grocery store and don’t really have the time or money (or motivation) to go to do my own fishing or catching or growing. Here in Korea my tongue is getting spoiled with things straight from the sea or from the mountain gardens. So if my teacher were to ask again, “Lucca, do you like shrimp?” I would still nodd excitedly even though I know exactly what I’m getting myself into.
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Delicious but daunting for a girl who hasn’t eaten much seafood previously… 

Episode Two~The Little Squidlings: So, my life in Minnesota hasn’t included much sea food and when I moved to Geoje I was excited about the new wierd foods I would be able to discover dinning on an island. Now, when I see squid on the menu I get excited about having a familiar tasty food but this was certainly not always the case. I remember almost screaming the first time I found a baby squid in my pasta and taking about a half an hour before I build up the courage to close my eyes and eat it. But one of my first days the teachers table had a plate of beautiful purple squidlings. Ok, I’ll be honest, I don’t know if they were squid or octopus and I barely remember how they tastest. I was in shock at the fact that they did not appeared to be cooked, were as long as my hand, and were meant to just be eaten whole. I still am not sure if I liked them. My brain was still trying not to be afraid.
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I don’t think the ones I had actually had the eyeballs still but you get the idea..

Episode Three~The Tomatoes: Don’t they have tomatoes in Minnesota? Yes they do and I eat them on sandwitches and in salads if I have to, and I have eaten them in school lunches here on a fairly regular basis, but the other day they were in an unusual sauce. You can expect the sauces here to be really sweet or really spicy here in Korea and often both and you will never know until you bit into it. I’ve had apples in sauce that was actually peper sauce (that made me a bit sad) and I’ve had cucumbers and strawberries in a sweeter sauce (which surprised and delighted me). But today it was straight-up pure honey. I always felt like tomatoes as a fruit is a bit of a lie. I mean, in my opinion tomatoes trying to claim the same level as strawberries, grapes and mangos is just arrogant and untrue but drenched in honey I realized something. My goodness, tomatoes can be downright delicious. I realized this by the end of eating them, of course. The first few bites were pure confusion. Why was there honey on my tomatoes? That’s like putting honey on pizza! Oh, wait, Koreans do that too…
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Well… honey and sweet potato and corn and mayonnaise and shrimp and pretty much anything else you can thing of… 

Episode Four~The Salty Creatures: I really don’t remember what these creatures are called. I just sat down to lunch one day with my plate of veggies (drenched in lots of sauce of course). I am still pretty terrible at learning vegetable names here (there are so many new ones and they are all pretty similar) and I’m even worse at remembering those names. I thought what I was about to bite into next was some other vegetable but my chopsticks paused. They were a bit too silvery to be veggies, even though they were mixed with almonds and dressing like a salad. I stared at the unknown food item wondering if they would be sweet or spicy. I picked up an almond sliver for a flavor check. Salty. Very. Very. Salty. And I realized that all the little silver things had little black eyeballs. What is it with Koreans and food with eyeballs??! It is so unnerving! In fact, I still will not eat these little fishy things when they show up on my plate. Yes, I did try them at one point and yes, it was a bad idea. I do not like them, Sam I am.
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So many eyeballs! 

Episode Five~The Oysters: The vice principal came rushing into the teachers office with a massive styrofom box and proudly took of the lid. A massive cloud of steam floated out and all the teacher gathered excitedly around. My co-teacher told me “Gool.” I staired at the container confused. Honey? Nope, my bad. Not Ggool, just gool. Oysters! I don’t remember having oysters once back home. I’ve had them here in soup and been rather confused but found them pretty tasty. But when they opened up the package this day there were mountains of shells some still salty from the sandy seaside. (By the way, back home I love collecting seashells and any shell is exciting. Here, sea shells are just like peelings and I can’t tell you how strange that makes me feel. It’s waking up and finding out gold is just the dust that keeps collecting on the mantel piece. Not the most annoying thing in the world but just something you have to deal with. It makes me feel oddly wealthy or spoiled, I guess. And yes, I still collect seashells but not from my plate because that would be weird!) My co-teacher handed me a shell containing a massive oyster.
MY GOODNESS oysters are amazing!!
And, I really wanted to open one up myself. I got so excited about cracking open the shells you would have guessed I was pearl hunting but I didn’t even need to eat the oysters at that point, I just had fun opening up sea shells and finding the perfect little meal inside. Of course, I also enjoyed eating them and ate my fair share and my co-teachers told me that here are they are ridiculously cheap. I’ve actually seen them all over the rocks by my school but never really made the connection before.
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So these are a couple of the food adventures I’ve had at my schools so far. It doesn’t even count all the voluntary food adventures I’ve put myself through. Like the time I found bugs as a side dish for my octopus, the initial shock of finding out that beans are a main dessert ingredient here, or the time I found an whole massive octopus in my soup (or the time I found an octopus running away down the side walk for that matter). Moving to Korea has made me think more about where everything comes from and it has taught me to value fresh and local. I see all the fisherman in the morning pulling in the fish that ends up at the markets by my house and watch the ajummas collecting oyster shells in the afternoon. Of course, there are moments of unpleasant suprise, but overall all the meals here including (and especially) school lunches fantastically delicious. In fact, I am afraid I may be getting very spoiled indeed. #IslandLife
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A Day of Teaching in Korea

What does my day look like?

I was always really curious before I came to Korea what my day would look like. Of course, everyone has really different lifestyles but here is one EPIK teacher’s typical day:

7am: When I am supposed to get up but usually I sleep in and then make a mad rush for the door and barely catch the bus. It works and I still have then next 20 minutes-30 minutes to fully wake up before I get to school and start teaching. Many people walk to school which sounds nice to me (public transportation used to really scare/overwhelm me), but I have to catch a bus since all of my schools (I teach at three) are pretty far away. Living on island though definitely has its perks—the ride is absolutely gorgeous and has become something I really look forward to. IMG_6001.jpg

8am: I usually get to school around this time and wish all my co-workers a good morning, collect my materials for the day, drink tea, and check emails. My schedules are different at each school so class start time is different each day. I teach Elementary level and absolutely love all my adorable students.

IMG_5831.jpg12pm: Around this time I get to stop teaching and eat lunch which is always incredible. The schools provide large healthy meals which is another one of my favorite parts of the day. Lunch is a time to connect with the students or other teachers, practice Korean, try new foods, and learn what they are all called.

1:30: After break it’s back to teaching. I usually only have one afternoon class and many of the teachers I have spoken to don’t have any so after lunch it is just time to lesson plan. I peruse Waygook.com and the rest of the interwebs for game ideas and type up my schedule for the next day and usually try to get ahead or the next week as well to keep it less stressful for myself.

3pm: At this point I usually am done with lesson planning and start blogging or check emails or study Korean or talk with my co-teachers which is a nice relaxing way to end the afternoon.

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4pm: I leave different schools at different times but around 4 is when it’s time to start packing up. Time to trek to the bus stop… which is always lovely! I still have not gotten over how beautiful Korea is. Somedays I go with my co-teacher to play a game of volley ball or go out to dinner which is always a great way to mix up the daily routine and get to know my fellow teacher better.

5pm: After school it’s time for Korean class, coffee with one of my Korean friends while we practice each other’s language, volley ball club, a work out at the gym by my house, an adventurous dinner with another expat teacher, a movie night, or a mini hike before the sun goes down. There is never a dull moment! The city I live in is pretty small compared to a lot of places my friends ended up at so there isn’t as much to do really (no big official language exchanges or events) but I still feel like I have an overwhelming amount of options and try to do just enjoy every moment. I’m always trying new foods and really trying to learn the language.

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Playing around with the heavy bag!

??Pm: I get back home and pack my bags for the next day (which helps me when I make the mad dash the door the next morning. If I don’t pack the night before I will probably forget something). Due to the time difference my friends at home are usually just getting up at this point so sometimes I end up skyping them till late hours of the night. Then it’s time for a quick shower and bed to rest up for the next busy day.

So there you have it: a day in the life of an EPIK Teacher. I am so grateful for where I ended up at. It’s the perfect blend of city and natural beauty but, then again, much of Korea is like that. I am so grateful for all the new experiences I get on a daily basis. It really is incredible!

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5 Reasons You Need Duolingo

If you don’t know me I’m obsessed with languages and I would really like to learn a bunch fluently in the near future. I am definitely not the only one with this dream and or the only one struggling to make it happen. If you are at interested in languages in any way, shape, or form, I have found something you need to see:

Duolingo.com

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But why should you listen to me? There are hundreds of guaranteed, well-tested language programs and they all tell you that they are miraculously easy and make you completely fluent. Believe me, I know because I’ve tried a crap ton of them and done research on substantially more. I have done hours of research and would like to share with you why I think that this site is amazing!

1. Free! There are so many sources out there that you don’t have to pay for, I am personally very against language sites that make you pay. It’s hard to believe its free but I’ve been using it for a couple months now and I haven’t paid a penny for my advances in Italian, Spanish, and German! Ok, and even if you have already found a program that you pay for and that works perfectly for you, this is perfect free review so you should still check duolingo out:)

2. Time Efficient. I work all hours of the day, and you probably do to. Even if you don’t, it’s nice to have a program that maximizes your precious time. The lessons are generally 20 questions long and you can set how many how many lessons you want to aim for in a day. They are condensed enough so that you can actually learn something in that fragment of time so you don’t need to spend hours studying. Even if you have hours to study (don’t laugh, some people do during vacation), I would use duolingo as part of your curriculum because it is good practice:)

3. You Can Hear the Language. It’s one thing to be able to read the language; learning to associate the quickly spoken sounds with the words we’ve learned on the page can be tricky. Duolingo really helps this process. Make sure you have headphones or speakers so that you can hear the language being spoken at the same time. They also have a microphone option so that you can practice speaking it. I practice it whenever I am using my phone but don’t on my laptop. Which brings me to my next point…

4. It’s Portable! You can get the app on your phone so you can practice it wherever you go! Talk about time efficient. I used to do mine on my lunch break or when I have a couple extra minutes in the car. It’s super convenient.

5. Makes Grammar Bearable. This is a personal plus. I love to speak languages with friends or listen to the way they sound but the technical grammatical side of languages is my bane. This program seamlessly ties in grammar with the rest of the lesson so it’s not painful at all. I would recommend adding some additional studying in this area because it might help to actual see grammar rules and such, but it is really helpful in solidifying your skills in this area.

The duolingo owl is being cool.

The duolingo owl is being cool.

So lets review, you will learn grammar painlessly and be able to understand the language when your hear it spoken through this portable free program that makes the best use of your time. I’m pretty excited about this! I hope it helps you to! 🙂

 

Mini modern adventures…recalculating…recalculating…

I get lost. Frequently. Not on purpose. But those little escapades sure give me ideas for stories:) And even when they don’t, I can at least laugh at myself.

I am coming from a long day at school to go to volunteer at a theater. Perfect energetic way to end my day, right? I’m all dressed up and feeling pretty sophisticated. Fast fact about me: dressing up raises my energy levels and makes me feel so darn girly! *little girly squeal* And sure I normally get lost but I had a GPS that talked to me on my phone.

Turn right. 

That friendly GPS lady, where would I be without her?….literally…

Keep straight for 1.7 miles.

Oh my gosh I love down-towns!!! Soaring towers try to touch the sky and are patterned with light. People of every color and dress are walking the streets and you can feel the energy of the city even at night.

Turn left.

I can see the glowing dome of a church that’s all lit up that’s so eerie it gives me shivers but so beautiful that I make a note to myself to put that on my list of things to visit some day when I’m on break. Its awesome! Wait??? Turn left?

Recalculating…

Recalculating

I managed to get my GPS confused and my destination wasn’t even that far away. I’ll just keep going straight for now. At a stop light and I tried to take a quick picture but I could capture the glittering majesty of it of all the man made beauty around me. Plus my windshield was dirty:P

Turn left.

Which left?! I’m at a six way stop. Have you ever been to one of those intersections in the cities? They just leave me so confused!

Recalculating.

Guess it wasn’t that left…hehe.

To any concerned-I did make it to the destination without being too late. But the moral of the story is that enjoying life and dealing with the little wrinkles in your plans can end up being kinda fun.

Was there any time that you got lost and it inspired a story?

Inky Experience Turning to Dusty Memoir

While studying with my back against the rough bark of a large tree just starting to be tipped in green, I can’t help thinking about the future. Dead leave whisper across new Easter grass; the last signs of a decay hesitantly skidding across the ground and blowing away as spring green emerges.

My heart is adventure. It wants excitement and novelty, thrill and beauty. Stagnate sounds like an unbearable curse. I want my soul to be like an ever constant spring where signs of depression and decay always flutter away making way for color that we have nearly forgotten and new life that comes from a hidden source. 

College has been an adventure. But I know I’m growing close to the ned of this book. Soon this amazing experience will be an amazing memory. At the end of May, it will never be a breathing experience again; the page I’m writing won’t be wet with the ink I’m blotting on the page, it will be a memoir I pick from the shelf.

Netted clouds stretch across an April sky and fold into thick blue billows. If I lay on the damp ground and stare up long enough, I can imagine that any moment I might fall forward and land on them.

The question is how I can make my adventures alive like the grass and clouds instead of like the dead leaves and stagnant water. As I move through this world, a tiny piece in a big picture, how do I head in a direction when I can’t see where I’m headed yet?

College was a dream but had a goal. Life now floats like the clouds above my head and I don’t know where either of them are going. But I am ready to chase the dreams I can see. I am ready to begin a new ink spotted chapter.

 

Wooden Water

“Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?”

Poor Hamlet! I’m totally asking the same question right now. I’m a senior; it’s ok if I have the tendency to question whether I should do homework. It’s called procrastination. I do it well. But I’m a writer so I am going to let you know how I feel. Hopefully, it won’t be an obnoxious rant. (Or a slightly more educated rant like this.) I’m going more for melodramatic prose which borders on poetry (which can also be obnoxious. I thought I should give you fair warning!). Just think of me as an up and coming (and hopefully surpassing) Sandra Cisneros;)

Wooden Water: paper sheaves  which drown me underneath their weighty impact on my life. What is an A or B stamped across the crafted page? It’s a label which stains my work and perhaps my future for better or worse. A stain which may color the fabric of a transcript and color me into a category: failure or nerd. Magna, summa, or no honors at all. 

What does it matter? But how can it not? Never study so hard that you forget to live life. A grade is a color but only one in a grand scheme. Ask deeper questions like what does it mean? 

Ok, I’ll be honest, I scratched this down while in class and just thought I’d share it. My life stance seems to take a exponentially more pessimistic view when I am in certain classes and an overly optimistic view when I’m in others. Who knows, maybe the two extremes will leave me a very balanced individual 🙂

The Final Memoire

So….it has finally come to this.

Today is the last day of classes and finals week is finally here. This is always an interesting time. Interesting in the full Minnesota sense of the word (meaning when you say it, you raise one eyebrow distastefully and nod your head slowly).

Being busy means creative writing is out of the question…Or is it? I don’t have time to tell you a story but I can tell you what has been good and bad about this week so far:)

Good: Warm windy sunshine which means my solor powered mood skyrockets.

Bad: Papers in disciplines that I’m not very familiar with….Toto, I have a feeling I’m not in the English Department any more….

Good: I bough nutella to make nutella filled pancakes 🙂 🙂

Bad: I have not made nutella filled pancakes yet 😦 😦

Good: I wrote an academic paper revolving around Once Upon A time. Um, yes please!

Bad: I have to say good bye to the OUAT characters for three whole months after watching the crazy season finale *sniff* I don’t know how I am going to survive! (And what will I do to procrastinate now?? O.O)

So overall verdict: Good. Now I’m off for some paper writing:)

 

Shakespeare Without the Words

Isn’t that like saying Shakespeare without the reason he is Shakespeare?

Deutsch: Shakespeare Denkmal Sommer 2004 in Weimar

The Word Wizard

Ok, words may be feeble vehicles for carrying the full wieght of human passion but if you think about it, even people are feeble vehicles for carrying the full weight of human passion. We have so many feelings, so many values, so many experiences and we just want to show them to others somehow. The funny thing is, we don’t just struggle showing ourselves to other people but to ourselves as well. (And that’s when we get great songs like this.)

But words are powerful. Words on paper can change a persons life. Yes, in the sense that fiction can tranform our ideas but also the fact that paper contracts bind us in real ways that we don’t often even think about. Although I do rant about the Top Five Reasons I Hate Being Literate. The point is that words are really important.

I think Shakespeare is powerful because of his control over words. He can manipulate twisty turns of double meanings while keeping an internal rhythm which captures the hearts of the audiences even if they can’t define the rhythm. He is able to capture human passion,” Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” but he makes our cries and rants beautiful because he has not only captured human emotion but tied that to artistically stunning sounds.

Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Hea...

I wonder if I ranted in iambic pentameter if it would be more effective?….

What is the point of saying all this? Making Shakespeare “accessible” is running a huge risk of dumbing him down to the point of being worthless. His words are hard but people are hard to and sometimes struggles are worth it, when there is something so wonderful complex that you are trying to figure out. Struggling thorugh Shakespeare has proven to help your brain (duh), it gives you a sense of satisfaction, and it opens up new ways of understanding…not just understanding the broad concept of humanity but hopefully yourself as well.

Sketch of William Shakespeare.

Is dumbing him down fair to either him or the readers?

 

So the question becomes, is Shakespeare worth translating? The sublties of words can get marred when passed to a different medium. Tranlations of words always fall short. Is he worth dumbing down so kids can understand the basic story line before they can understand his tricky early modern english?

What do you think?

The Geeky To-Do-For-Fun List

It’s spring break!!:)

Which means I get to catch up on homework. But also means that I get to do what I want with a little more of my time. I don’t know about you but whenever I have extra time I create a great big list of awesome things to do! So I have a geeky to-do-for-fun list. Do you? 

Over Spring Break I want to….

Memorize a Shakespeare Monologue. A new one…because that would be cool (and in the Top Five Reason’s I Hate Being Literate I commented on how people don’t memorize things enough. I figured I shouldn’t be a hypocrite)

Finish a couple of fun books. I have so many that I haven’t even tried to make a list. I just pick up the one that is closest. I have been reading Erasing Time and am really creeped out/over joyed to find that  I could actually survive in a distopian. Seriously, the character of Sheridan reminds me of myself…a lot.

Finish Griffin Tamer. I have been editing it like crazy and have gotten someone to read over it. The verdict: needs some major revamping but I’m excited to have a new direction to go in. I am going to hash out the characters and draw all the action which was piled at the end and make the beginning more exciting as well:)

Write a spoken word poem. Because…why not? 🙂

Work out. I have a 5k coming up so running important. I also do Jillian Workouts because they make me suffer quickly and efficiently. And I get results:)

Do you have spring plans? Any literary ones or work out ideas I just need to know about?

Happy Spring!!!!!!!

Top Five Reasons I Hate Being Literate!

As an English major, this post may be my death wish…but… here it goes: Five reasons I can’t stand the fact that everyone in our country is literate!

1. Oaths are made via paper

We just don’t trust spoken promises as much anymore. Now instead saying it on our honor, we with a signature which we put on anything legal and binding. Really?

2. Oral Tradition is lost

When is the last time you’ve memorized Beowulf? Or any other story for that matter? If you have done this lately, you’re cool. But you probably still see my point: story telling is getting lost. Passing down oral tradition via mouth and tales are lost as well.

3. People believe everything written

Not everyone what they read but a lot of people do.This is dangerous when they read things like newspapers which are always biased one way or another. Sketchy!

4. Our tests tend to suck

There aren’t as many oral tests (at least not in America). They aren’t as personal. They aren’t face to face. I see where more personal exams would be hard but still, making things like tests so generalized…blurg! Do they leave room for creativity and the human person?

5. This one is very personal: spelling matters.

Is this point important? I won’t even try to pretend it is. But my life would be easier if we didn’t have to spell.

I’m done venting. And with that, I am going to go write my paper.