Friday, December 17, 2010

Cultural Differences

There are a number of things that Koreans do differently than Americans. Which, duh Caroline. Anyone with a brain in their heads can tell you that different cultures do things differently. For the most part I like to think that I am a pretty easy going person. I'm not so set in my ways that I can't be a little flexible. Besides, it's kind of fun to do things the Korean way (I have the rest of my life to do things my way, amIright?).

Since I got here I have tried extra hard to be patient and to try new things. I have tasted foods I never would have otherwise (hello, kimchi!) and have had experiences that I would never have been open too a few years ago. But, there is always another side to each story. Along with the good that being here brings, there are still a few things though that I just can't deal with:
  • Constantly being asked to explain myself.
    • I have to explain my opinions (Do you like this? No? But why?). Or why I don't want to eat a particular food (You don't want it now? But why?). Or if I had breakfast that morning (No? BUT WHY? - also, this is always followed by a sad shake of the head. You always eat breakfast in Korea, apparently).
  • Fish.
    • For every meal. Sometimes with their heads still attached. And the bones. All the time forever and ever, ugh ... can we please just eat some chicken for lunch?
  • Leaving the windows wide open while the heat is blasting.
    • Or leaving the windows open without the heat on at all. Really, the whole idea that I have to wear a coat and scarf while I'm in the school building.
  • There are no sick days until you are actually dieing. For real.
  • There is no toilet paper in the bathroom stalls.
    • You have to get it from the community roll that is next to the sink. Not taking enough paper is a huge pain in the ass (also, gross).
  • Speaking of bathrooms, they aren't heated.
    • At all. In fact, the window to the bathroom on my floor was open up until last week.
  • There are still mosquitoes in this freaking country.
    • MOSQUITOES! Don't they know it's DECEMBER?!
But for all the little things that bug me (or make me really, really cold) I still am having a super awesome time here and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baskets and Babies

It's that time of year again, folks. The time of year when you put all your pocket change into the little red kettles (because the ringing bells make you feel like they're calling you out if you don't). The time of year when you get phone calls asking you to give to a good cause. The time of year when just about everyone is trying to get their hand into your pocket.

And I'm here to toss my cause into the mix as well. I promise it's a good one. It involves babies. And you love babies, don't you?

Midwife Lilly and my god-daughter

When my friend Ashley found out she was pregnant, she decided that she wanted to give birth in the most natural way possible. So she went out and found the Women's Health and Birth Center in Santa Rosa. They provided her with pre-natal care as well as emotional support to make sure that she was ready, both physically and mentally, to have her baby.

Due to some complications during labor, however, Lilly (her midwife) made the call to have her transfered to the hospital. It was a call that ultimately saved the lives of Ashley and the baby. Lilly even was kind enough to stay with her during the rest of the birth to help out however she could.

But, because Ashley was transfered, the center will not be getting the delivery fees from the state for Sephie's birth. Belly Baskets for Babies is a way for us to give back to the Women's Health and Birth Center for everything they have given us.

My totally sweet flyer.

Please consider buying a Santa Belly Basket this Christmas to help the babies. And you can't help, please send the information along to someone who might be able too.

15% of every basket sold between now and December 20 will be given to the center. Plus, the Santa Belly Basket is adorable and will last you (seriously) forever. Adding assecories to the basket, like a lid and protector, will increase your total donation!

To order, just go to and type Santa Belly Basket in the search box. Or you can shoot me an email at cjepaul [at] gmail [dot] com and I will take care of you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thoughts on a Thrusday

This is my actual journal entry from yesterday:

December 9, 2010
I hate this day.
- Caroline
Pretty much sums it up.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Korea is a silly place episode 1: Attack of the Recorders

In between the last two classes I teach at my main school, my co-teacher and I go and sit in the music room. It happens to be on the same floor as the 5th graders that we teach and at that point in the morning we are too tired to walk down all the stairs to our office.

The other day, however, instead of coming in and sitting to stare at the kids who are cleaning up her classroom during the 10 minute passing period (child labor builds character!) we walked in to find the music teacher seated on a piano bench while two students were taking turns smacking her back and shoulders. At first I was completely shocked, but the look on the music teachers face made it pretty clear that she was actually enjoying getting beat on by her students.

My co-teacher later explained to me that she was getting a massage. I guess she had had a rough morning and needed some TLC ...

After about 5 minutes of non-stop back slapping, the boys were clearly tired (smacking your teacher is hard work, yo). They grabbed their books and their recorders and started to head out the door.

But then their eyes locked and they slowly glanced down at the recorders they had in their hands and (I'm not even kidding) both their heads swiveled, horror movie style, back to their teacher, who was still sitting on the piano bench waiting for more of her "massage". They grinned at each other as one of the boys walked over and tapped the music teacher to see how she'd react. When she didn't say anything, both of the boys started to wail on her (and I mean wail) with their recorders.

And she was smiling. She actually looked relaxed.

And that's when I almost fell out of my tiny, Korean desk chair crying from laughter.