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.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


So, when my older brother Jason was in med school (can you guys remember that far back? 10 years or so...maybe? I dunno) we went to visit him and Aunt Marj and Trevor and I took skiing lessons. I spent most of my time skiing sideways down the mountain PETRIFIED of going fast!

I also, lost a ski on the lift, dropped my stick, forgot to get off, fell getting on, the guy running the lift thought I was Secret Shopper or something making sure they could handle all situations.

So...when a bunch of couchsurfers wanted to do a midnight ski run for 40,000 won...I said yes! Why not? I've done a lot stupider for a lot more than 40,000 won (umm less than $40).

Surprisingly enough I like skiing, I am not very good...but its fun! Granted Alex was gracious enough to help me! But I only fell once (and in my defense Eugene did manage to try skiing through my legs at that time meaning I skied partially down the slope riding ... Eugene?)

By the way what the heck are those sticks for? I see no purpose except helping me up when I fall.

Oh and for those curious, I am still San Diegan cold intolerant. In those photos I am wearing:

Legs: tights, knee high socks, pj socks, normal socks, pj pants, jeans
Tops: Tank top, t-shirt, long sleeves, vest, jacket, sweater, big jacket

And then gloves and scarf (I survived the temps)

Anywho..photos! Because I know you don't come here to read my nonsense

At this time I figured this was the last picture I'd take as I was about to die

The group before we head up! From left to right: Juanita, Me, Eugene, Alex, Ethan, Jon and ... I think That's Josh

Before the lift

Wohoo! I made it on the Lift OK!!! And off! And now I am going to try and get down...Acks

I repeat ... ACKSSSSSSS!

Friend from Singapore

Back in Singapore one my my exchange friends was Nicolas (I circled our faces in an old photo of us before one of the Singapore nights everyone went out for)

So anyways, after my teacher's going away dinner I ran to the subway to catch a train to get to Seoul to visit my friend from Singapore who was here on a business trip to have dinner ... again... I know I too am confused as to why everyone else loses weight abroad and I do not ... hmmmm

So, he asked for food he hadn't tried yet, so we took him out for "Potato soup" I don't remember the name in korea but that's the translation. My favorite part about this is there's like three potatoes in the pot, but we call it potato soup!

Really, its a soup made from the spine of a cow (like ribs, but with the spine) it bowls down with veggies and makes a yummy stew thing and then you eat the meat from the spine (tough with chopsticks but we prevail!!!)

SIDENOTE: This is one reason that mad cow disease is a worry for Koreans I guess the mad cowy part of a cow is stored in the spine...or something, maybe not its just what I was told

Pictures of him playing the flicky game (of course!) And Gaeul drinking because she lost :(

Graduation/Losing my Co-teacher

Some people feel things in Korea move slowly...that only recently did the law allow women to wear short skirts (though really if you go to a club it seems they are QUITE used to that!)

However some things in Korea are FAST!

For example, this Monday I was told my my co-teacher in March she would be at a new school. I was sad, but I planned to get balloons and a going away present, besides...she would be here another...two weeks or so!

So Wednesday is graduation

Typical Korean event, lots of motions and bowing and stuff

Wednesday I was told Friday would be her last day.


OK, ummm...WOW

Well I'll get things together for her after school Thursday since Wednesday is graduation:

So I buy balloons get ready for all that and then Thursday I am told at lunch, "Today is my last day" Ummm...WHAT?


So we all went out for dinner to celebrate the teachers that were leaving. I ate oysters with chopsticks..the METAL chopsticks, man I rock! Oh, and after the owner rocks it out on his harmonica...woot!

And the guy sitting next to me stars beating the chopsticks on the bowls...it was pretty awesome.

Oh! And I didn't get a picture of it, but my principal and my department went head to head. Who would finish first? Her drinking a whole bottle of soju? Or him drinking a bowl of cold noodle soup?

He won...no one puked, but I did leave early to meet a friend so ... maybe later

Monday, February 16, 2009

What's Black and White and Red all over?

Well Red for Valentines Day

Valentine's Day in Korea is "February 14th"

Valentine's Day is kind of the opposite of back home. The girls are supposed to buy presents for the boys. So you make (or purchase) chocolate and give it to a guy you like as an expression of your love. Guys prefer to get handmade chocolates and it is then more likely that the girl reallly likes you and isn't just giving you chocolate because she wants something.

White for "White Day" (March 14th)

Now, on White Day, if you received chocolate from a girl you are supposed to return the favor. This means you (the male) are supposed to multiply how much you think the chocolate cost by about three, and give something worth that much to the girl. Normally these presents are little things like cookies, underwear, white chocolate, marshmallows and then something "fancier" like jewelry, or stuffed animals.

Black for "Black Day" (April 14th)

Now, single people of the world UNITE! For we have our own day here. Black day is for people who neither gave nor receieved presents on white day. We all sit together ALONE (but together!) and eat jjajangmyeon (짜장면), white Korean noodles with a black sauce. Its actually kinda depressing and I see many tears, but I dig the 짜장면 so its a good day for me :-)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Colorado Springs

So way back when I went home for a few days in the Winter...

I got to see me niece and nephew and had a blast (though it was only for a few short days)

Just wanted some people to see some pictures from home as well as abroad

My students can be cute

I have a winter camp assignment where my advanced students have to make a recipe. So they are drawing the food and writiting their food words (cut, boil, fry etc.) and one boy comes up to me.

"Teacher....ummm... what is food..... ummmm .... that is popcorn?"

So I sit and think..."You mean corn?"

"Ahhh, yes teacher, thank you"


And the day before I had two students show up late, punctuality isnt really counted in Winter Camp as they have other camps they are attending and it is technically optional.

So I hand them the workshet we are working on and they continue with the class. At the end I get everyone's name for attendence, and when I come to them they smile, "Teacher we're not student...today we're shopping"

Awww, they came just to hang out, that's pretty cool. These were the students that wrote you Thanksgiving and Christmas cards... *HUGS*

I'll miss them!

I just sumitted my notice that I do not intend to renew my contract and I am dealing with untangling some red tape now, but I have faith it will all work out!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ice Festival

Walking to the festivals we found random masks

The crew


Me and an igloo...COOOLD

Pretty ain't it?


On a weird sled thingy

Giant snow fish thingy and ME

Me and a giant dancing soju bottle

Snow sculpture

Flying fish...kinda

This cost $4,000,000,0000!!!!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jim Jil Bang 101

A jjim-jil-bang is a truly cultural expereince that everyone should enjoy, it is a place for family, for couples, for the younger generation and the older generation. The most recent jjim-jil bang I went to (and the one photos are of below) is actually rather famous and much fancier than the little one near my house.

"The Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa is a charcoal sauna permeating an oak fragrance created by heating the facilities through traditional techniques.
The jjimjilbang and spa facilities offer a sweating room, open-air bath, seawater bath, salt room, swimming pool, and a health center. The main hall of Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa boasts a Chinese concept design and luxurious interior designs that have been used as a filming location for various Korean television broadcasts."

To give you an idea of what to expect (and so you have no reason NOT to go) the following is a quick jjim-jil-bang introduction. When you first arrive at a jim jil bang go to the counter and pay for entrance. Sometimes it is a flat fee, sometimes they charge more after a certain time (8pm or 10on or so). Sometimes you pay less if you don't get the clothes to change into in which case you'd only be using the hot tubs and steam rooms and showers. (Easy Korean: Han-myeong juseyo Translation: One person please)

They will give you a key with a number that you wear like a bracelet (or those with really small wrists anklet). In fancy places you'll need to tap the number (as you would in the subway or getting on the bus with your t-money card)

Then you take off your shoes, and find the little cabinet matching your number. This is where you will pull your shoes.

From here we head into the lockers. These are obviously separated into women and men.

There are usually a few halls of lockers.

Find the one with your number.

And put all your fun stuff away.

From here you only have your towel and your key card.

Obviously scenes from here on will not be photographed...needless to say you're naked. You'll probably want to cover up with a towel at first, but really no one cares. No one stares (well ok a few people will). While I am not a male I have heard that most western men leaves jjim-jil-bangs feel very...umm... hmmm... content with their self esteem?

After you've soaked in the different tubs (some of them filled with teas, or scented oils, others of varying heats. They have some steam rooms, one is usually filled with salt; if you start exfoliating with the salt be aware that older women will be likely to offer to scrub your back...and they will usually scrub your booty while they're there...its normal...and a cultural expereince! Once you're done with the naked part you can head to whatever your heart desire. This jjim-jil-bang was pretty nice and had a lot of options: PC Bang, Media room, Pool, some co-ed saunas, massage rooms, and more!

In these photos you'll see the very attractive outfits they give you. You wear these anywhere where both sexes congregate. They have options like salt rooms. They are so hot you have to wear socks. The 100 percent pure salt is subjected to 1,800 degree heat for 42 days. It is supposed to penetrate into the body, eventually purifying troubled skin. Some say it prevents osteoporosis; honestly...not one of my favorite rooms.

The jade room is a room that is supposed to help you refocus. It is also heated, though not as much as the salt room.

They aren't all jade and salt; they also have traditional saunas made from Korean pine wood.

If you are tired of being hot and sweaty, check out the pool (outdoors), if hot and sweaty is your thing then check out the outdoor sauna as well. The pool is comfortable(it is warm but not hot), the hot tub isn't too hot and overall the entire experience is enjoyable.

If you decide to spend the night at a jjim-jil-bang, often cheaper than staying in a hotel, you'll use one of these brick looking like things as a pillow.

Head to the common area and you'll be sure to find a spot. Otherwise check out the oxygen room, or some of the saunas that are turned off at night for more room to sleep.

Now throughout the jjim-jil-bang expereince you may buy food, massages and extras. You either pay for these on the spot, or in fancier jjim-jil-bangs you use your key. It will tally your total and when you leave the person at the counter will tell you how much additional you owe.

I spent a lot of time in Korean bathhouses and truly loved it! If you give it a shot, let me know what you think!