Well, I am living abroad...yet again. After Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Korea the Netherlands (and returning to Spain for a Masters) I've unpacked my backpack a little closer to home in Mexico. I live in Culiacan where I am trying my hand at teaching English to University and high school students. Below you'll find random updates as I go to festivals, explore my city or just feel like sharing a random story.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sooo...Friday night was Jasper and Charolotte's goodbye graffiti party!
A graffiti party is where everyone wears a white shirt youhand out permenant markers and then you write away to our hearts content! Its great for going away parties because you get a souvenier of your great friends :-)
Plus I owed them money for the gas money road trippy thing a while back soI figured I'd buy them booze for a going away party, especially since they dont drink and I do :-)
So we had good times, and FONDUE! :-)
Saturday I headed to Seoul early to meet up with Amy, Critophe and Olivier. They needed to get cameras or something and I wanted a PHONE! I learned a while back its best to have a Koreanspekaing NON Korean raised friend to help you with these things. So I dragged Amy with me. Let me tell you thoughI LOVE Konglish.
You get the idea :-)
That night was Eugene's birthday party! We went to the Outback since he wanted a steak and ended up at a bar called Queens
Observe the outfits! (yes smart ones a gay bar)
It's ok though mommy daddy don't be worried I only had a little to drink, see:
Thats me saying I'll only have a little!
Sunday I met up with some friends for book club (kinda), returned Patrick's camera so he'd have it for his three week vacation (sooo frigin' jealous), and had lunch with the ladies before coming home to prepare for summer camp.
So far summer camps been good, a little fursterating, but hey, that's life, right?
Song, Aaron, Me, Jessica (new friend!), and Patrick!!! All muddy
Craig me and Patrick all muddy
Eugene, Me, Cherith, and some dude...all muddy...well I just got out of the ocean I think...but I am muddier than I am on a normal day.
We got really luck the weather was AWESOME, beautiful sky, lovely sun oooh my beach bum spirit was soooo happy!
So anyways the the Boryeong Mud Festival is this annual festival that is basically a BRILLIANT marketing ploy. The city of Boryeong figured out that using its mud (which is rich in minerals) for face masks and spa treatments was making WAY more money than using it in the fields. And then they thought, hey how can we make even more money out of this?
Ahh yes, a festival! It usually attracts about 1.5 million visitors to Boryeong.
They have mud slides, mud wrestling, mud pits, a shallow warm water rinsing pool (which we're pretty sure everyone pees in so we preferred the ocean) live bands playing, and the friggin' paparazzi. Pictures were CONSTANTLY being taken of me.
ok, this is embarrassing...
So I lost my flip flops one day (they came off in the mud) so I bought a new pair and they have the Korean flag on them. So you can't actually wear flip-flops in the mud (they get stuck) but I found a piece of rope so I tied them to my bikini bottoms and voila! Instant sandal carrier.
So, I am walking around with my friend Mike. And these photographers point to me, point to my sandal and point to him. Now at this point I am ENRAGED. I am tired of these people taking advantage of us, I mean yes, we get lots of free things but if they ask me to hug, or pose with one more person I am going to SCREAM!
So they ask me again, me, sandal him. And I (and Mike) tell them "NO ABSOLUTELY NOT!" we're putting our collective foot down, "I WILL NOT SPANK HIM WITH MY SANDAL" so we say no a lot more and are feeling very proud of ourselves when one of them finally put together a little English, "You, He, hanguk" ooooo they just wanted me in the picture with him and the flag...no spanking involved...oops! Hey its not MY fault, Mike's mind went there too! I am sure its what lots of people were thinking...ok...maybe not...
So anyways...yeah..we smiled for the picture...damn papparazi.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Two days ago my light bulb changing husband of a friend David got some bad news from home and had to leave on a family emergency. His work wouldn't give him time off so he quit.
Studying abroad was always hard as well. You meet these GREAT people become AMAZING friends and then suddenly they're all gone.
Teaching abroad is different. Most of your friends are on one year contracts. So sporadically throughout the year you start to lose these amazing friends. Its like slowly these great bonds you made are gone...it's a crappy feeling. But you adjust, you smile knowing that you made FANTASTIC friends you will now have around the world!!!! YAY!!!
However, once you finally start getting used to people leaving constantly you also get used to the fact that you have a heads up, you know that in October Aaron leaves, in February I lose Patrick, and in April...well in April I'll lose everyone because that's when I LEAVE!
But having this, having someone just leave without any warning...SUCKS!
And in other recent news...my school has treadmills, pool tables, ping pong tables, a little put put golf room, and one of those waist massager thinggies..we're pretty fancy I tell you!
Oh and also, from a WHILE back when I posted about that festival we went to that was really cool with Patrick's co-teachers, he made some videos on it so voila:
Friday, July 11, 2008
First all the numbers:
My school just opened, October 4, 2005!!!
My school's library opened November 14th, 2006.
Our English hall just opened! December 13th, 2007!!
My school has 4 stories (I think we have 5 actually), 20 classrooms, 657 students(someone else said 653) and 49 teachers(someone else said 44).
There are 7490 books in my library.
The motto is, "Righteousnessand Wisdom" (ok some other student wrote Be Honest and Wise, and another stduent truth and wisdom)
Our school flower is a rose, and our tree is a pine tree.
The school is called a green school, so we can be friends with nature and learn to play safely with fresh air to breathe.
Did you know my school's website won an award? Something about EQ and management...I don't know.
The library is called the dream hall!
DIRECT QUOTE FROM A STUDENT'S SPEECH, "We have lots of handsome male teachers"
We have a school band called "Chungcularam" (I have been wondering what the heck that band was called! They're pretty good, CONSTANTLY playing, "you give love a bad name")
I can't get a new contract because my old contract is still valid.
I can't cancel my phone because I haven't had my contract for three full months.
I can't get a new phone with the same contract because my contract says I have to have a phone for three months before I get a new one.
So lemme get this straight, I want to GIVE THEM money for a new phone...and they say no? Because....
yep don't get it
But if they get a used phone turned in they will rent it to me for free until my contract expires and I can cancel it...does this make fiscal sense to anyone???
Anyways, after a few friends (fellow Gyeongi-do public school teachers) and I headed down to the bowling alley...first off, what kind of bowling alley doesn't have a bar?? REALLY?
We managed to have fun anyways, did ok the first game, sucked majorly the second game
Viva las zapatas de...erm...bowling? Lyall and Anton
Really his shoes has like gold speckles, sooo much fancier than mine.
Paying for everything at the end (Zarah, Eugene, Anton and David...oh and the nice cashier lady)
Awww look how happy bowling makes people!
OK, I know we're not blood related (well that we know of) but really, isn't that a Peck face?
Da boyz...erm..drinking, looking very serious and half grinning
He probably just bowled a strike or something, he was actually pretty good!
I think he's avoiding the camera
The damn ball is a pacifist! It doesn't want to hit the pins!!
OOOOK, see that blue thing it is your soap. Its like soap on a stick...ummm...yeah
The bowling alley, pretty easy to spot
Once again I wonder what goes on in here....
Yeah he's thrilled, eh
Soooo, yeah that was my yesterday...my today I meet Patrick at the bus station and tomorrow we head to the mud festival! Woot!!!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
OK so fast blog just to keep you updated on what's going on in my life.
I officially have December 20th-Jan rd off from work, plus one more miscellaneous day to be decided later, so if anyone is planning a visit to Korea let me know so I can make that one day when you are here.
I also found out that during summer camp I don't need to stay on campus until 5:00, THANK GOD! I get to leave at 2:00. So during the summer my schedule in 9:00-2:00 with the students leaving at 12:10...except for the third week where they leave at 1:00...but I get that Fridau off, so it's all good :-)
I am still working on summer camp but I am really happy with the general way things are planned, I just need some mmore games and to make the powerpoints, worksheets, etc.
Other than staying busy planning summer camp I also have a very active social life. Why, just the other day I invited my friend (actually he's a Peck as well who has taken to calling me his wife, really i don't nag THAT much) over to help me change my bathroom light bulb.
Now really Carissa, you can't change a bloody light bulb? I can, really I can!! But, I couldn't take the light shade, I guess you'd call it, off the wall. In my defense even after David came over it took us a butter knife, high heeled shoe, and about an hour to get the damn thing off the wall.
Tomorrow I go to get my phone (since the last was was...erm...lost) I might get to go bowling tomorrow, we'll see how long it takes to get my phone. Friday night a friend comes over so that we can head to the mud festival together YAY for lots of mud this weekend.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I was pretty confident...until we got in the car and he couldn't figure out how to put it in drive. And then he put on the windshield wipers instead of the headlights, and then he went the wrong way in the parking lot, and finally as we'r epulling out of the parking lot he couldn't roll the window down...
But we manage to get on the freeway with (few) problems and all limbs in tact.
I am too lazy to insert pictures right now so follow along later
Picture 1 Charlotte being afraid...or happy...not sure. and then we head to Picture 2! Our first toll booth! Then there' picture 3! A windmill. I had to take a picture I was in Korea on a roadtrip with two Dutch and I see a windmill...what are the odds.
Well Jasper is a typical male and seems to think any car in front of him is questioning his masculinity. So after convincing him passing every car was NOT neccassary things were ok.
We passed by picture #4 a truck that had a big stciker on the back reading "UFO+DNA=Human" LOVE IT!
Oh in addition to being smart enough to go driving with two people who have never driven alone before I was also smart enough to trust them to have a fully charged phone....erm...no
So, yeah their phone died and we had to pull over and get directions from ... someone... we bribed them with chocolate.
We met up with Aaron and had dinner with him (lots of pictures) and talked him into coming with us to Patricks that night.
Oh my LORD! They'd never driven at night. As Aaron put it, "There were no Atheists in the backseat of that car" we were scared for our lives! Because people who love me and worry too much already are readng this I'll leave out the specifics but let me say Aaron actually kissed the ground when we got to Patricks (oh the one picture of Aaron with a wine bottle outside the car was him trying to direct Jasper into reverse....yes we had a wine bottle with us, not for the drivers for me and Aaron it calmed our nerves!)
Next picture is Patrick making breakfast!!! I have stayed with Patrick...twice now? (both times with Aaron!) and he makes awesome brekkie! I helped!! I cut the sausages...YAY cooking!
From there we went to the caves really close to Patrick's house (once again we prayed a lot due to driving) and I got to wear the sexy yellow helmet Korea seems so insistent on putting on me (rafting, subs, caves etc) granted Patrick did hit his head a lot, so I suppose better safe than sorry. Lots of cool rocky cavey stuff (caves are over 500 million years old!) and the picture of Charlotte and I in our hats, we're near a sign that says watch your head...or something
And because it is just SOO easy here's a video I snagged from Patrick's page
Then we went to the beach...Charlotte and I tried to be good, we tried to just put our feet in...but...we ended up swimming!!! And I resuced a kiteboard that had floated astray YAY me! (and those are bathing suit bottoms...not just random undies)
From there we dropped Patrick off (he didn't want to hang with us anymore) and headed to the Unification Park. It had a sub that was from when North Korea tried to invade South Korea, but the sub got stuck, oh and bunnies.It had bunnies...check out the bunnies (rabbit in Korean is Toki by the way).
Then there's us in the sub, we went the wrong way since we found helmets at the end...ooops...oh well Aaron and I took an "oops" picture for the fun of it! And then there's my beautiful picture with the blow fish...I am trying to be blow fishy..
From there we dropped Aaron off I feel asleep inthe back, we stopped and got dinner and then dropped me off at my place! YAY for a fun filled weekend with good friends!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
You know how the best part of traveling is talking to the old man selling the vegetables, or having the guy sitting next to you on the bus tell you about the small little soup place under the college campus that has AMAZING clam chowder. Its finding out about the places only the locals know about that really make visitng a city fantastic. Yes, Las Fallas was an AMAZING festival! But, was it my favorite? NO! My favorite was this small little fair festival in a small little town near Alicante in Spain, and I NEVER would have known about it if it weren't for couchsurfing.
Now that you know WHY I do couchsurfing, I am going to try to explain WHAT couchsurfing is. Its a website that connects travelers to one another. In addition to being able to message people personally and get itinerary help when you are heading to their city/state/province/country you have the option of trying to meet up with them for coffee, an event or even staying at their house and "surfing their couch." Now the couch can be anything from the floor, a couch, a futon, a pilates mat, an extra bed, an entire apartment or basically anywhere else a traveler can rest their head.
WHO uses couchsurfing? Well, me, Lisa, Lilia, Brandon (a little) and many of my other friends you know and love. Basically you have to be 18 to get an account and from there on the sky's the limit. I have surfed with people much older than me, with families, with freshman in college, with my peers, those slightly older than me and so forth. All have been AMAZING expereiences. I've stayed with people who were broke, people who were well off and people in between. But regardless of their situations most of my hosts/surfers have had one thing in common. They are travelers. Whether they traveled in the past, want to travel or are traveling currently we all have the heart of travelers. We love travel stores, we tend to be open minded and we love to have fun!
OK...so I go on the internet and stay with random people...really Carissa...REALLY? ARE YOU CRAZY? Well couchsurfing does have some safeguards in place. HOW is it a safe site? First off let me say I have been surfing for practically two years now(that's the WHEN I guess). The ONLY reason I started was because I was meeting my friend in Valencia. I asked her what hostel she was staying at only to be told she wasn't. She had found this guy on this website and was staying with him...but I could go as well if I wanted.
IS SHE CRAZY????
I agreed to go with her only because I figured it would be safer for her if she had backup but talked to a hostel who assured we could come there that night if needed.
That night I met Juanjo, and went to a fire festival. I believe I've told you all the story, if not...IT WAS AWESOME. My singualrly FAVORITE event I have EVER been to, and I never would have found this small little town without my host!
So, now, I was dying to ONLY travel using couchsurfing, but how did I know I'd get so lucky every time? Well couchsurfing is a prett safe site. Every member has references. So if I stay with someone and have a blast I can leave them a reference, "Lilia is AMAZING she knows the BEST coffee places, and can give you an amazing tour of Balboa park. Her couch is very comfy and while we did party one night (fun times!) she can definately just sit back and relax on the couch swapping stories." There's also vouching. Vouching is a VERY big deal. Its the biggest trust symbol you can give someone. You can only vouch for someone if you have been vouched for three times, so we're the uber special ones.
And finally, WHERE , well couchsurfers are found everywhere, we have a few in Antartica, though they admit it is a tough climate to host in, and not a very central location.
OK, I think that covers the 5W+H, but if you guys have any questions please let me know. I swear this isn't as silly as it looks and it truely is the best way to travel.
Oh, and today marks my third month of being in Korea. YAY for being here 25% of my contract and surviving!!!!!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Do people not realize that women now-a-days have enough issues with their bodies, we don't need any more!!
I realize Korea has their own issues. Ladies are often given eyelid extensions for their birthdays or upon graduation from high school (similar to cars when in the States). I mentioned it to a Kiwi friend and she mentioned she had read an article on how students receiving breast implants from their parents in Los Angeles when they graduated from high school. Sadly, it is probably true.
Anyways, random stories about body image in Asia:
~It is not considered rude to mention someone's weight in Korea. It is quite commonplace to be told you are looking, "rounder," "fatter" or "much skinnier" than the last time the person saw you.
~I was teaching an article on eating habits in Korea and it mentioned that Mexico is the number one for worst food because of the lard. I mentioned I was part Mexican and that explains the fat. My co-teacher (defending me) says that I am just robust and buxom! Oh curse those darn online thesauruses.
~Walking around in tourist areas in Korea and seeing signs saying, "Western Sizes Available," "American Sizes" or "Big Sizes Here."
~Walking into a store and being told "No fat sizes" (That one's Singapore, I am afraid to shop in Korea because Singapore scarred me)
~I was hanging out with my European friends the other day and one of them was asking me what I cooked. Erm...I have a bachelors fridge, I tried cooking for like...month, I kinda liked it, but I just don't have the time or energy lately. I have beer, some cheese, bread...butter...and...garlic and noodles...I can make emergency pasta. But its not a big deal, I make toast in the morning, have a big lunch at school and don't normally eat at night unless friends and I are going out. So she asks me where I get all my food from.... I say again that my cafeteria provides my lunch. She repeats her question and finally it dawns on me. "Oh, you mean why do I weigh more than you?" Yeah...that's what she wanted to know.
~That same friend was walking with me and another friend. He was telling me the man we just walked by must be American because he's fat. I said, "Hey, there are fat people in other countries you know" and my other European friend agreed with me saying, "That's true, if its just one person they could be British, if its a group of fat people they're American" Gee...thanks guys!
OK, boys this is where you stop reading. If you keep reading you've lost the right to roll your eyes.
I have boobs here. Its not the big change I had like in Singapore. In Singapore I had boobs and was really really tall. Here Koreans tend to be taller than most Asian countries I backpacked (that's just personal perspective not anything statistical). So I am tallish, but not tall (like in San Diego). But the boobs! Geesh, Anessa, Mel, Lilia, Caitlin, Rachel etc. Bring tape if you come to Korea, you'll be like an odd alien creature!
Its very very odd to me when people say things about the boobies. Back home they don't exist, they're figments of my imagination or perhaps a very flattering shirt and a push up bra! But yeah you would be surprised how often in casual conversation my boobs get mentioned(and this is in a normal t-shirt!), VERY WEIRD!
In conclusion, I might be a fat American, but at least I have boobs...so ha!