Wednesday, October 24, 2012

24 October 2012... Such a great lunch :)

Wow! I'm sitting here at my desk with a full tummy and an enormous grin on my face. I just had a rather exceptional lunch. I eat my lunch at the school cafeteria along with the students and the majority of the other staff. It has been a great introduction to Korean cuisine but it can also at times be quite daunting for me. You see, I don't eat seafood. I'm not allergic to it or anything. It's not a strict rule either. If the inclination strikes me then I will indulge in a piece of fish or some Mozambique-style prawns. However it is more a matter of personal taste. I just don't like seafood. Perhaps it comes from having studied marine biology or perhaps it stems from having had pet fish in my youth. Either way, I'm not fond of seafood. I've even boycotted certain family meals because seafood was served. Over the years my family has realised that this is something I will not easily budge on and now cater non-seafood alternatives just for me. Got to love them... and I don't think they mind too much, more prawns for them!

Hmm... I've strayed a bit from my initial point. Oh yes, today's lunch... What made today's lunch rather exceptional was not the food being served but rather the kind service. Wednesday tends to be treat day at the cafeteria and I look forward to seeing what will be put on my tray each week. So far treats have included delights such as fruit salad and chocolate cake (not at the same time though). Today however I was out of luck. They were serving seafood! This normally is not a train smash. In the event that they do serve seafood, I usually just eat the rice, kimchi and soup. Today though they not only served fish but  the rice itself was cooked with anchovies! You can imagine my horror as I'm about to take my first bite of rice and there, staring up at me with their sad dead little eyes, are a pile of anchovies! Lunch suddenly seemed rather bleak. It was just going to be soup, kimchi and some sweet potato for me.

Thankfully, Mr Jung, one of my co-teachers whom I absolutely adore, came to my rescue. He's been somewhat of a father figure to me here. He even called to make sure I was okay recently when I fell ill. I really appreciated the gesture considering that I am so far from home and without the comfort of family. Anyway, he left his meal, tracked down the wonderful lady who runs the cafeteria and explained to her that I don't eat fish. She was then nice enough to bring me a bowl of anchovy-free plain rice. I was beyond touched my the gesture from both of them. I hadn't known the reason that he had gotten up until she arrived with the rice. It was so thoughtful of him to consider my dietary preferences and it was so thoughtful of her to indulge me. She even brought me a bowl of this really yummy sweetish dried-seaweed-covered-in-sesame-seeds stuff that I love and when I was leaving, she also offered me some extra sweet potato. So thanks to the kindness of two very thoughtful Korean peers, my lunch went from being bleak to absolutely great. No one can ever fault the South Koreans when it comes to their hospitality and for that I am ever grateful. Its these small gestures that make life here a pleasure.

And finally, on completely an unrelated  but happy note, I would like to wish my bearded-lumberjack-loving friend (you know who you are) a very happy birthday and on an unrelated but sad note, to the family of my ex boyfriend, I know that tomorrow is the anniversary of your mother's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with your family at this sad time. Rest in peace Aunty Romilla.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10 October 2012... Rain rain go away!

Hello again.

Would you believe it? Its raining again! The last typhoon that I mentioned put the fear of God into me. On that treacherous walk back home, my umbrella was promptly ripped to shreds by the wind so I ran my by then drenched self to the nearest shop and bought the biggest umbrella I could find as well as a rain poncho. I definitely learnt my lesson. I keep everything in my backpack in plastic bags so should I ever get stuck in the rain again, at least my electronics will survive. I really hope that it doesn't happen again but I think I'm safe between the plastic bags, poncho and heavy duty umbrella. I am such a sissy when it comes to the weather. I'll be the first to admit that. I guess living in Durban has completely spoiled me. I'm way too used to sunshine and warm days. Although the irony is that since I left the weather in Durban has been a little crazy!

It's only October so early Autumn here and a lot of the foreigners are already feeling the cold. I've swapped my jersey for a thicker coat these days. I regret not packing a gown but weight was an issue for me. I sure could use one now for those chilly mornings. I have since also invested in a proper coat; the multi-layered type that can get me through the snowy winter. Luckily for me it was going on sale so I saved quite a bit. I also bought a Spirithood type thing but instead of an animal, it has a 'Nightmare Before Christmas' theme. I love it. I'm going to be running around freaking out the adjumas (old ladies) in winter. Lol.

I even bought some incredibly woolly thick socks. I also got some amazing sheets and a lovely warm comforter from The Arrival Store (TAS). They really do offer amazing service. If you are coming over, be sure to check the site out at As you can gather, I'm rather terrified of the cold so I'm slowly making my preparations (kind of like a squirrel with nuts except in my case it's clothing). I am terrified of heaters (long story) so I'm going for layering to keep me warm instead. I am however looking forward to winter for two reasons. The first is snowboarding/skiing. Its one of those things on my mental bucket list. The second and far more important reason is that I have applied for leave. If it is granted then I will get to visit my sister in Doha. I miss her and my beautiful nieces so much. I'm so sad that I can't go home for Christmas. This will actually be my first Christmas away from home but at least my sister and her family will be visiting South Africa so the only one who will be having a lonely Christmas is me. I'm sure I can figure out something to do with my friends to lift my spirits. In the mean time however, we have been having lots of fun.

In the previous post I mentioned going to Seoul for the Zombie Walk. It was absolute fun! I had such a good time and made new friends. It was amazing what a good job we did with budget make-up and a bit of fake blood. I even made a grown woman cry. It wasn't my proudest moment but at least it proves that I would make an excellent zombie. Hehehe... it will be quite a while before Hongdae recovers from the day the zombies took over.

The next day was also awesome fun but in a more touristy way as opposed to the previous day's craziness. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. My word... it took my breathe away. It was so intriguing to learn about South Korean history and to walk through the palace grounds. I saw and experienced so much, from the changing of the guards to the folk museum. It is something I would advise any South Korean tourist to do. It wasn't expensive either and it was such an amazing experience. Be prepared to walk though. The grounds are huge! (PS. There are birds in South Korea. I finally saw some!)

I do not in any way regret my decision to move to South Korea. It is still difficult. I don't get lost as much anymore and am getting used to the weather, culture and language but home-sickness is certainly the most difficult aspect. I miss my family, boyfriend and friends so much. I am really blessed to have such great people in my life but at least Skype makes it so much easier to be away from them. I have never felt more South African than when living out of my home country. I guess I suddenly realised how good we have it back home. The food is cheap (trust me, it is) and delicious, the country is beautiful and clean (well cleaner) and we have such a rich heritage. The only down side is probably the crime and corruption but regardless, it's still home. I can honestly say I am proudly South African and furthermore proudly South African Indian. I made sure that I celebrated Heritage day even though I'm in South Korea. I don't have any Indian clothing here but I have my South African rugby shirt so I wore that and my friends and I went out for Korean BBQ (a substitute for a good old fashioned braai). It felt good to celebrate even though I am so far from home.

I also plan on observing as much of a traditional Diwali next month as I can. I found an awesome website that stocks Indian food and items (  I'm going to invite a few friends over and attempt to cook a proper Indian meal, light some candles and celebrate the Festival of Lights. Being in South Korea doesn't mean that I have to give up who I am or lose my sense of self. If anything, this move is helping me discover who I really am and what I want out of life.

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." -Neale Donald Walsch

Work has been okay. Some times its frustrating, other times boring and at other (rare) times, I find it completely gratifying. It all depends on which class I've just taught. Some learners are so passionate and motivated and despite their lack of English skills, they are ever eager to learn more. Other classes provide a constant challenge in trying to keep them awake yet alone motivate them. I did however pick up some very handy knowledge at the Autumn 2012 GEPIK orientation. It was 3 days of fun and learning. The summary of which can be seen here: 

I'm glad I ended up in the GEPIK program. The hogwan teachers sound like they have it much harder. I also finally got my alien registration card (ARC) so I am now all legal. That in turn means I got paid so I'm eating a little better (and shopping a lot more... shoes!) which was completely necessary as I had developed anemia  Food is generally expensive here especially fruit so come prepared with multivitamins. You will need it to compensate for you limited diet. Korean food is very carbohydrate rich which I'm not really used to so its hardly surprising I developed anemia. I don't have access to the iron rich food sources that I had back home. At least the problem was easily solved; 30 000 KRW later and I now have a 2 month supply of iron supplements. My ARC also meant I could finally get a phone. I was told that they do not have sim cards here and that it would be near impossible to find one here. BULLSHIT! I managed to find one at the SK Telecom/T World in my small town and it only cost 9 900 KRW as opposed to the 70 000 KRW I would have had to have spent for a second hand cash phone. At least with the sim card option I got to use my own nice clean new smartphone. Just make sure that your phone is unlocked (can work on any network) and will be compatible the networks (in terms of the frequency the operate on) in South Korea if you plan on bringing your own. Blackberries are not compatible as far as I know. Well I guess that's all there is for now. I have some more touristy things planned with my friends in the future so I will keep you posted on my adventures. Work is officially over so I'm off to my apartment for a nice rainy afternoon curled up in bed with a good book. Later!