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What I Have Learned from Marrying a Korean

The other night, I was asking my husband if he remembers “our song”. He said he remembers it, but he doesn’t know the lyrics, so I sang it to him. When I was singing the chorus, he remembered some lines and sang some parts, though most of the time he was humming. We were singing “our song” in the car, sometimes chuckling when one of us was out of tune.


An Interview with Joey Rositano, Photographer of Jeju Shamanism

Joey Rositano is not your ordinary expat. Hailing from Nashville, the Tennessee native has called Jeju-do, an island off the southern coast of South Korea, home for the past nine years. 


Things You Can Do to Make Your In-laws Happy on Parents’ Day

Tomorrow is a special day for moms and dads in Korea, because May 8 is Parents’ Day (어버이날). It has been part of Korean tradition to give parents carnation on this occasion as symbol of respect and gratitude.


TREEt Others The Way You Want to Be TREEted

Not Just A TreeIt’s the classic golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. But in the East, it’s more like: treat elders and higher ranking officials the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their position, whatever it takes.

Whether it’s a matter of age or authority, hierarchy is of the utmost importance in Korea. At all times, younger or lower ranking people make concious efforts to show their superiors the proper amount of respect they deserve; from the way they introduce themselves to higher ranking people, to the way they acknowledge or address them, to the way they eat and drink with them–as well as…how they plant trees for them.


Work Hard, Play Hard, Sleep Hard

As an American expat in Korea, some things, like eating piles of meat from a grill, are pretty easy to get used to. Other things, like sitting on the eatingonfloorfloor for the hour it takes to eat it, are quite a bit harder. My American education prepared me for a lot of things, but spending scads of time on the floor was not one of them.


Six Things You Need for a Korean Picnic

Is the weather not glorious right now?!

In sunshine like this, I refuse to be inside for any longer than I absolutely have to. This includes for meals. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in this weather is picnic. And with all the great green spaces the city has to offer (like Naksan Park, the Han River and the Dream Forest), a picnic can be had just about anywhere.


Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans)

My latest over at Sweet Pickles and Corn: Sometimes the things that foreigners like about Korea are the simplest (OK, except maybe for ddeok).

Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans).

via Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans).



Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans)


It Takes A Village

Starting last week my school moved to its new, permanent location about 20 minutes outside the city. The campus is absolutely huge and beautifully tucked into the valley of some small mountains with a distant view of the ocean (pictures to come later)! However, it makes for a bit of a longer commute and especially for me, since I don’t have a car, a slightly more complicated journey to and from school.


Vlog Entry #12: Student Video Projects

In another post I explain a little bit more about how these awesome videos came into the world. So if you want to learn more, you can check that out. Othewise I’ll just get out of your way and let you enjoy yourself!

A comedic introduction to some of the sports students practice at my school.

 


Hakrim Dabang: Seoul's Original Cafe

Although there aren't any statistics to back this up, I assume that Seoul, South Korea has a bigger concentration of cafes than any other city in the world. Which is pretty impressive, considering that coffee was practically unknown until the late Joseon dynasty in the early 1900s. Even then, coffee shops, or dabang as they were referred to, were few and far between, with Seoul's coffee culture only developing into what it is today in the 2000s.

Everyday Life in Direct Translation

A little look at linguistic and cultural differences via three everyday situations in London vs Korea.

Some quick notes:

Korean syntax (the order in which words and phrases are put together, basically) is pretty much the opposite of most European languages. This is very tricksy, as is the rule that you have to specify the topic, object and subject of your sentence by putting a particle after them. Except sometimes you don’t say the subject at all, especially if it’s a person. Like ‘I’, for example, or ‘you’. Yeah.


Monoculture?

This post started life months ago as the third in a series about clashing cultural norms. After more time in Korea and (hopefully) more understanding on my part, it turned into something a bit different…you can read where it all started here.

Here are some criticisms of the UK according to other Europeans:

1. Opaque communications: Our morbid fear of conflict makes our language indirect and gives us a reputation, amongst our continental counterparts, for being dishonest and sneaky. The rest of the English-speaking world, too, complains of the bafflingly high incidence of coded language in British English. For those new to this phenomenon, this handy chart should help:

image


Apologies...

Bit of a long absence, sorry!

Since I last wrote, quite a lot has happened, including but not limited to:

  • One trip to Tibet
  • One gruelling semester of teaching,
  • One gruelling period of Korean language study,
  • One engagement
  • One crash-course in Korean family politics  .

The final three points may be related.

Two weeks of desk-warming before I scurry off to be wed should provide lots of time to fill you in, but first, HELLO! It is lovely to see your lovely faces and I promise never to leave you for so long again.

Much love,

L xxx


A "Zen"-Course Lunch at Barugongyang Buddhist Temple Food Restaurant

Barugongyang offers up authentic Buddhist temple cuisine using only fresh, local ingredients. Read on for my personal review of the restaurant's peaceful atmosphere and thoughtful course meals.


It's only been fairly recently that we've learned how eating greener and cleaner rather than focusing on calorie and fat counts can positively affect the health of our bodies and minds. With trends like CSAs, detox diets and green smoothies becoming all the rage in the nutrition world, we're taking a step forward toward healthier lives.

However, the Buddhist monks of Korea have been slightly ahead of this trend. And by slightly I mean by hundreds of years.

Wait for Me Until I Become You

Recently I’ve been giving my students mini essay assignments each week on various topics to improve their persuasive and creative writing. Below is the work of one of my strongest students. I asked him to write a letter to his future self in the year 2020. Check it out! It’s pretty great!

future

Dear myself in the future,

Hello, myself. I’m yourself. Precisely, I’m yourself in the past. I heard you’re 23 years old. Though you are older than me, I will not treat you politely. I have many questions. Most of all, what is your college? Seoul University? Really? You did a good job. And, did you go the army? Where? Katusa? Oh, I think you’re very good at English.


10 Things South Korea Does Faster

One of the first Korean words I learned after my arrival to the peninsula was bbali (빨리). Meaning "fast," it's a term used frequently and, in my opinion, perfectly summarizes the entire country in two syllables. After all, the nation rose from the ashes of the Korean War in a mere six decades to become one of the world's greatest economies. In general, Koreans do a lot of things fast. Here's 10 of them, in no particular order.

Transportation

I’m Ready for My Close-Up: An Interview with TLTalk

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Janeth Ignacio for her up-and-coming blog, TLTalk! You can find the interview, which covers everything from culture shock to teaching ESL, here. Enjoy!



My First Korean Tarot Card Reading

"Oh God," I wince as the card I have just drawn from a well-worn deck is turned over to reveal an ominous image that instantly reminds me of the woman from The Ring. "That can't be good," I note as my eyes take in the oriental ink sketching that surely, in my mind, is indicative of looming death. The man across the table freezes and his eyes meet mine for the briefest of moments. His weathered skin and honest, understanding glance indicate that he's the real deal.



“Wish Ko Lang” Grants Wishes of Filipinos in Korea

Last Saturday, “Wish Ko Lang”, a popular television program in the Philippines that features inspiring stories of ordinary Filipinos and grants their wishes, played fairy godmother in South Korea. The show granted the wish of a dedicated Filipina teacher from Bulacan to come to … Continue reading

Vlog Entry #6: Lantern Festival – Jinju, South Korea

During the first weekend of October I went to the Lantern Festival in Jinju! To read more about the festival, view the related post here!



Vlog Entry #5: 2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

This video takes you along with me as I travel to Andong, South Korea for the 2014 International Mask Festival! To read more about my experience, check the related post here!


2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

Masks:  Pretty cool!

Food: Pretty good!

Performances: Okay.

Location: Okay.

Overall: Pretty…okay.


“Discover-Korea-in-your-country” Contest

With the increase in the popularity of K-pop, K-drama and almost everything Korean, it isn’t surprising to see snippets of South Korean culture anywhere in the world.


Children Banned from (Some) Restaurants and Coffee Shops in Korea

When two restaurants in South Korea were asked to pay damages for two separate accidents involving children who were dining with their parents, some restaurants and coffee shops in South Korea started banning kids from their establishments. As expected, many parents protested. For them, the ban is nothing but a form of discrimination, not a way for restaurants to avoid mishaps and legal concerns.


I Can't Stay but I Don't Want to Leave

I'll be moving soon, and this fills me with some conflicting emotions. On the one hand, my current place is a sort of glorified dorm room, with no kitchen to speak of and barely enough space to do, well, anything. On the other hand, my landlords are some of the sweetest people I've ever met. It's not unlike renting an apartment from your friend's grandparents.

My First Korean Birthday: 3 years older, 1 year wiser (maybe)

From the boys!

From the boys!

September 18th, 2014 was the official one-month mark for me being in Korea! More importantly, though, it was my birthday!


“Biyaheng Bibimbap” on I-Witness

Last night, an award-winning documentary television program in the Philippines called I-Witness featured one of South Korea’s most popular signature dishes, BIBIMBAP.


I’m Back and I’m Giving away a K-Pop Book! ^^

Ideas and Tips on Gift-Giving in Korea

If you’re new to South Korea, you’ll notice the hundreds of specialty shops that dot the city streets that offer more goods and gifts you could ever hope to buy for yourself. A great way to take advantage of these amazing shops and indulge in their wares is to immerse yourself in the rich tradition of gift-giving.

Many Asian cultures value modesty and graciousness as staples of their culture, and South Korea is no different. This translates into the gift-giving culture as a wonderful way to express gratitude towards others who have shown their kindness. If you are new to the culture, here are a few tips to help your gift-giving in South Korea go smoothly.

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