Saturday, December 8, 2012

"I Am Speaking Korean!"

Wow, two posts in one week?! I must be on a roll...

I thought I'd share a funny story from Friday night. If you read my last blog, you know that Andrew and I said no pizza for a month. However, before we even shook on this agreement we had one clause: We could only have pizza if called and ordered it in Korean (another bucket list item: order delivery).

Sadly, it had only been a week into our agreement and we were considering pizza. Before you judge, you have to know that Pohang had a bit of snow on Friday and the roads were covered in an icy mix. Koreans drive crazy when the weather is nice, we were not about to venture out in a taxi or city bus to get something to eat. This is where the clause comes in.

Before leaving school, I had asked one of my co-teachers, Belle, if she could quickly walk me through ordering a pizza. She said I can do it online with Pizza Hut. I thought to myself, this doesn't count, I'm not doing it in Korean. Then she showed me the ordering page and I quickly changed my mind. It was TOTALLY in Korean. Page after page, step after step, I decided right then that we were still within the clause. Belle was walking me through the steps and I was taking mental picture after mental picture to try to remember. Now I can read Korean just fine, but that doesn't mean that I understand it all. When we got to the end Belle said that she could just schedule the delivery for me, to have it delivered to our apartment at 7pm. I thanked her, informed her about our "clause" and said that we had to do it on our own....BIG mistake...

When Andrew and I got home from school, I wanted to show him the convenience of ordering online. We took a vote, and again, decided that we were without our agreement to order the pizza. This was no longer a craving was about safety, right?

We got on his Mac but sadly discovered that we had to use Internet Explorer to use Pizza Hut's online site. What, how strange we thought....Plan B. I was going to have to call.

We looked up the number and I practiced saying our address like 20 times in Korean. The thing is, I was told by my other co-teacher that delivery people would have a hard time with our apartment because it was a new building and it's tucked away. So I knew if this was going to work, I needed to have my pronunciation down pat.

Nervously I dialed the number. I had thought about my opening statement, "Anyounghaceyo, waygook salam baedal juesayo, Pohang Shi" which means "Hello, I'm a foreigner, delivery please, Pohang city." (Not like they wouldn't haven known by my horrible Korean). Then I was just going to lead with my address and then my order because I would not know which one she would ask for first.

"Ring, Ring, Ring," she answers. I go with my rehearsed line and then start with my address. She starts talking a hundred miles an hour and I have no idea what she is saying. I got nervous and tried my address again. She repeats two thirds of it back to me, incorrectly. Discouraged, I tried again. She says something and then hangs up.

I'm defeated at this point. I thought for sure I was saying our address right. Two minutes later my cell phone rings. I answer it and it's Pizza Hut! And the woman is speaking a little English!! WIN! I say my line, and then my address again, slower this time, really concentrating on my pronunciation. She asked me several times the name of our apartment building, I tell her over and over again and she's still confused. My guess is that she typed it into the system and nothing showed up because A) our building is too new, or B) My pronunciation is so bad she can't decipher what the heck I'm saying. You see, the name of our building is "Castle Ahoe." Even though castle is an English word, Koreans pronounce it differently, so I had to fake a Korean accent saying an English word if that makes sense.

We get through the address and the order and I even pay. She tells me it's going to be 50 minutes. I hang up and then celebrate a little feeling so proud!

An hour rolls around and my cell phone rings. It's the delivery man. He's lost. I can understand what he's asking me, but I didn't know how to respon in Korean, so frustrating and totally my incompetence. I repeat the street name because I know he is somewhere close. We end the conversation by him saying, "Ok, ok, ok." Andrew and I decide to go out and wait for him. Another 10 minutes passes and still no delivery man. I'm feeling so bad for the poor kid at this point. In Korea, delivery men deliver food via scooter. It's like 25 degrees outside and this sweet guy is lost and knows he can't call us back to give him better directions. I see a Korean man walking down our street. I stopped him, pointed to my phone and said, "Pizza Hut, hangumal." (Pizza Hut, Speak Korean)...embarassing Korean, I know. He's waves no and walks away. Two minutes later he comes back. Calls someone and hands the phone to Andrew. The guy on the other end begins speaking great English and then Andrew proceeds to tell him that we need to call this delivery man back, and have someone give him directions in Korean. Andrew gave the guy the number and then the nice man walked away.

We waited 10 more minutes out in the freezing cold. We think we hear a scooter and Andrew takes off running around the corner and was able to flag down the delivery guy. I apologized about a million times and we stuffed a tip into his scooter glove. (Tipping in Korea is not common, ever, but this whole situation was entirely our fault, and this guy deserved every cent of that tip.)

All in all, that pizza was WELL within the clause and I had never worked so hard for a pizza in all of my life. We didn't mind in the slightest that it was cold... YUM!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Random Happenings

It’s been a good month since my last blog. Nothing blog worthy has really happened in the past few weeks but I felt like I was abandoning all of my eight readers.

We are good and settled now, stuck in the inevitable routine. You think when you completely change your surroundings you escape monotony. So not true.

It’s getting really cold. Korea has winters about like the Midwest just minus all the snow with only a few flakes here and there. However, it is making our 45 min walk home a lot less enjoyable. We have caught ourselves paying the extra cash for a taxi or just taking the crowded city bus with all the other frozen commuters.

I am pleasantly surprised that my school has heat in the classrooms, it’s a HUGE bonus! My old school did not and I wore my coat, scarf and gloves all day while teaching. It’s so much more enjoyable to work when you aren’t suffering from frost bite.

Random Happenings:
I found out today that one of my co-teachers, Alice, and I are “runners-up” in a co-teaching video clip contest that we decided to do on a whim. I quote “runners-up” because that is what EPIK is calling it. However, it’s more like a consolation prize for participating because we were on of sixty…haha…runners-up. We were also the only ones from our province, so that has to count for something. Most participants were from Seoul and Busan.; the bigger cities with a lot more access to materials. I’m not making excuses though. Honestly, I wasn’t really proud of what we submitted. We had to video tape a 40 min class, then slice it down to a ten minute clip and submit an essay and our lesson plan. I was in charge of slicing the video clip. It was only the second video I have edited using a free program on Andrew’s Mac. I would like to participate again next semester and put more than two days of thought into what we were doing. If you want to watch it you can, I apologize for the cheesiness in advance. And I'm embarrassed to say that my cheesiness was actually scaled down...

A few weeks ago Andrew got roped into participating in a” teachers dance” for his schools fall festival. Let me tell you, he was super pumped (sarcasm). He would kill me if I posted the video of him dancing, so here is the link to the exact dance that they copied from YouTube. I personally like the wiggle and heart improvisation. Gives the classic YMCA dance some new life.

Andrew and I also started volunteering. It’s been pretty difficult to find a place because of the skepticism they have about foreigners, and it’s understood. But we visit The Deaf and Mute Cultural Center once a week. The woman who runs the place, Mrs. Kim, is so adorable and grateful to have any help. She holds classes for adults and children who are deaf or mute. Andrew and I entertain the children of deaf or mute parents in the back room while they take classes. None of the kids thus far, have issues of their own. The few people that work there, the cook and front desk woman are deaf however. We just hang out, and make up games as we go. Andrew brought Jenga this week and that was a clutch move. I sat and made bracelets with the girls.

Andrew and I also have this "Korean Lifestyle Bucket List" of things we want to do to better ourselves while we have the extra free time here. There are many random things on this list, and we are only in the middle of a few. I am proud to say that as of today, we are 65 days into our Bible reading plan. We wanted to read the bible together, cover to cover. I have an iPad app that tells us which verses to read to finish the bible in 180 days. We have't missed a day since we began! December is also our "no fast food month." This would be WAY easier if we didn't live abroad. This means no McDonald's, not even an ice cream cone, no pizza (my weakness), no quick convenient store junk food to hold us over on city bus trips...nothing! I also just figured out how to make brownies in our toaster over, but Andrew said that counts too...ugh. It's going to be a long month. I should have argued for February.

We found out that our ten allotted winter vacation days are set for January 21st-February 2nd. My school ends Dec 21st. However, I have to come in and teach, alone, to get my contracted 22 teaching hours in. Andrew and I only get Christmas day off. We will both be working Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day…boo.

It seems completely pointless and it is. Most likely, I will be teaching about 6 students for four hours a day, then sitting at my desk until my contract time is over, 4:40pm, alone. This will go on for the four weeks until my vacation. Then, we come back to school for two weeks and the students have another week off for their “spring break” before the start of the new school year which begins in March. I however, will not be getting the week off. I will be coming to school, with one other contract teacher, and sitting for eight hours a day. Unless I can convince them to give me the week off as unpaid vacation since Andrew doesn’t have to go into school….grrr. Does it sound confusing and dumb all at the same time? That’s because it is.

I will try to post again soon. Hopefully something awesome happens and gives me something to write about!