Happy Saturday! This post will reflect the last few days!
April 15, 2015
Wednesdays are tough! They are my busiest day at school and the only break I normally have (during “brain-up”) was taken away from me this day because we had our April birthday party. The only time I sat down was when I was able to steal a few minutes during class time. Being sick, I pretty much collapsed upon arriving home. Thanks to our handy dandy VPN, I was able to indulge in some Netflix in bed. Finally, a chance to watch some feel-good House Hunters. Who doesn’t love that show? I believe it to be good medicine for anyone!
April 16, 2015
I woke up to the best surprise! Those who are my friends on Facebook will already know what I’m about to say. Let me tell you some background first.
Korean apartment bathrooms are not known for their luxury in the small apartments that teachers get. If you are interested in coming to Korea to teach, you have surely watched YouTube videos of teachers’ apartments, disappointed to find out you won’t have a proper shower, but able to accept the fact before you step foot in the country. We thought we knew what we were getting into.
Our shower hose is connected to the sink and hangs from the wall to the left of the sink. We have to pull out a knob if we want the water to come out of the shower, and push it back in if we want it to come out of the sink. Unfortunately, even in sink mode, the water comes out of the shower. So we don’t get wet, we wash our hands and brush our teeth in the kitchen. It’s a lifestyle to which I have now grown accustomed.
In order to take a shower, one can use one hand to remove the shower head from the wall and use the other hand to rinse hair. This poses quite difficult when you have long, thick hair as do I. Therefore, I have been leaning very far back in order to rinse my hair over the sink with both hands. It hurts my back and neck but I’m resilient, eh?
Lastly, we have to turn the hot water on every time we need it. It doesn’t matter for how long it’s been on, it never stays hot in the shower for more than a couple minutes. It comes out cold, quickly becomes scolding, and even faster returns to lukewarm, followed by cold. In order to shower with only warm-ish water, I have to shower without water for much of the time. I have been pretending I’m back on the Solway Lass (tallship) in Australia, where we were only allowed 2 minutes of water time. Turn on water. Rinse. Turn off water. Lather. Turn on water. Rinse. I recently found online that if you use less pressure, the water may stay warmer longer, and it seems to be working a bit. It’s progress.
We knew our bathroom would have a proper toilet (though there are plenty of public bathrooms here with squatting toilets, be forewarned!). What we didn’t know was how much we (I) would hate the seat. You know back in the early 90’s when people all had padded toilet seats? I totally remember having some in our house when I was little. I’m pretty sure America has outgrown that trend, but it’s all the rage here! The cuter the better, too! They sell happy face ones, princess ones, sparkly ones. You want it, you got it! (They also sell some really high-tech toilet seats that come with heaters, bidets, etc., but I digress). It’s not the padded-ness that makes me hate the seat with such passion; but the state in which the padding is in. The padded toilet seat is kind of like an upholstered chair. There’s some foam or cushion, over which the plastic or fabric is stretched and stapled for security. Well, I don’t even want to know how old this toilet seat is, but the plastic is cracking, so much so that I can see the foam underneath it and feel the cracked plastic while sitting. Unpleasant.
So, back to the start of this day. What is the best surprise I woke up to, you ask? Take a look!
While I was sleeping early on Wednesday night, Kevin went to Home Plus and bought (& subsequently installed) a new shower head holder and toilet seat!!!!!! The toilet seat is still padded but at least it’s unused, clean, and in proper condition. And finally we can take normal showers, less the shower enclosure and constant hot water, but still! I was so happy I cried. It’s the little things, right?
April 16: We Remember
It would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge the importance of this day. It seems as if everyone has something to “remember” on April 16. To start, it was the 8 year anniversary of the shootings at our university. That’s a day I will never forget and has made an impact on the person I am today. What I’ll always remember is the generosity of humankind and the countless displays of support, not only from Virginia, not only from America, but from the whole world. The sense of community and compassion was so strong and we were all so thankful.
April 16 is also Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is important to me as well due to my family’s history. My grandma, who will turn 99 this year, is probably one of the oldest living Holocaust survivors. It was during the Holocaust she met my grandpa, and a couple years after the war, my dad was born. I had the great opportunity to visit our extended family in Sweden, and it was there they brought me to the Synagogue and showed me the names on the wall of all our family members who didn’t survive, including all my grandpa’s siblings (except the one in Sweden) and his parents. Heartbreaking.
Lastly, April 16 is also the 1-year anniversary of the Sewol Ferry disaster that occurred here in Korea. I’m not sure if the anniversary was on the news in the States, but it’s a big deal here. The families want answers. They want the ferry to be recovered. There was a large protest in Seoul last weekend that we happened to see. Being in Korea, I have a greater understanding and appreciation of the devastating accident. The country still mourns.
April 17, 2015
There’s no easy segue to go from that segment to the next day of my life here in Cheongju, but we acknowledged what was necessary and we cannot dwell; we must move forward.
After Brain-Up time at school (remember, like recess), the kids line up in their classes and sing a song with one of the Korean teachers. The “Superman” song is our [foreign teachers’] favorite, mainly due to the hilarity of it all. It’s got some, err…, questionable dance moves. Here’s a mediocre video I took of it yesterday. I suggest clicking on full screen for the best viewing experience.
After school, Kevin and I walked around trying to find a new restaurant. The main options in Cheongju, particularly our neighborhood, are Korean, Korean barbecue, and Western. By Western, I mean Burger King and the random pizza joint (Italian, I know). We found a nice path that goes to a big pond or lake. Since it was getting dark and we were hungry, we didn’t follow it, but we will need to go back to do so!
After much searching, we ended up eating at a restaurant we had eaten at once before but really liked. It has a nice vibe because there’s actually a lot of people in there always. Too many times have we been the only people in the restaurant because eating at 7:30 or 8 is early here. It’s also the only restaurant we have seen that offers side salads!! Hallelujah!!! And they were huge:
I ordered the cajun fried chicken pizza, which wasn’t spicy at all. That’s very surprising since Koreans love spicy food and normally things are too spicy for me!
Anyway, I’m still sick but feeling a lot better! I can breathe more often than not now and I’m not requiring as many tissues. 🙂 Onward and upward!