Nope. Not blown up yet.

11:27 PM Jmo 0 Comments

Despite what you've all been hearing on the news lately, this little Korean peninsula is still alive and kicking with K-pop and sugary coffee.
The threats from the North have done little to upset the normal flow of everyday life here. One of my friends put it best: "To all my friends and family outside of South Korea who keep asking if we're ok: All I have to say is I have dinner plans this weekend."
 Really! Truly! Everything's ok. My coteachers don't even talk about it. They're more concerned with what we're having for lunch or whether or not I wore makeup today. Sure, I was a little taken aback when North Korea told all foreigners to leave the country (Hey! That's me!) and started carrying my passport with me just in case I need to ditch. But really, nothing will come of this. Moving on!

I bought a bike! Tony took me to a used bike shop in Youngmun and we haggled the shop owner down to 120,000 won for two bikes. Yep. My new ride only cost me around 60 bucks! The shop owner threw in a lock and a bell too. I used to bike everywhere back in Grand Rapids and was missing the wind in my hair. Biking in Korea is a little different than biking in The States though of course. It's more crowded. You need to be more aggressive. Cars are not your friend. And the close calls are...closer. Hence the bell! It's almost like your playing a video game tooling down the sidewalk. Ring the bell and watch people dive out of the way. Ride or die. Riding along the river is fabulous. You can see so much from your view on the pedals. The other day I spotted this street lined with cherry blossoms across the river and I made my way over. Weaving in and out of side streets and taking routes that you would not normally take walking gives an entire new view to this city I've been living in for 7 months. I love it.

Another holiday in Korea: Easter. Friends are family here. And my Korean family happens to love cooking and eating just as much as I do. I was invited to two Easter get-togethers over the weekend: One at my friends place along the river and the other at a park by City Hall. Tony and hopped on our bikes and pedaled to our first gathering on Saturday. This route was intense. Hills, hills, galore. He forgot that he's a marathon runner and I am not. He forgot that he's a gymnast and I am not. He's forgot that he's in shape and I AM NOT. Woof. By the time we got to the party I was a sweaty, sweaty mess. Happy Easter! Get this girl a drink.
I tried my hand at cooking for a group by making tofu lettuce wraps, spiced with ginger and oyster sauce. I think they were a hit considering I came home with an empty tupperware container. The weather turned for the worse on Saturday, so we ended up cramming approximately 25 people into an apartment half the size of mine. Only two noise complaints! And Sunday in the park wasn't much better. But playing badminton, soccer, and...tightrope walking (Yes. That happened.) helped though. Saturday night was ridiculous amounts of fun. A few friends and I ended up singing in a norebox into the wee hours of the morning. There's nothing quite like waking up in the morning with a sore throat because you powered through two attempts at Summer of 69. "When I look back now...that summer seemed TO LAST FOREVER!"

I joined a gym! I was not bluffing when I said I was sick of my sedentary lifestyle. (Looking back at pictures of myself when I first came to Korea is...traumatizing.) My gym is located by City Hall in Dunsan. One subway stop away from where I live. So, after work I hop off one stop early, walk straight, and start pumping iron like Arnold. *aughahhgh!* I chose this gym because it's the most similar to anything back home. But of course, even gym etiquette gets the Korean culture filter. You can't wear your outdoors shoes inside the gym. You need to wear either the ones provided for you or buy your own pair and leave them there. (That was fun trying to figure that out one my first day. A lot of pointing, saying "aniyo?", and making "X's" with my hands.) You also have the option of wearing a gym uniform. As I've mentioned before, I'm a larger person here in Korea. And the fact that I've put on a couple pounds doesn't help anything. So, when I was offered a pair of shorts the other's what I got: The trainer held up a pair of shorts, looked at me, smiled and said "Extra Large-ee?" Thanks Korea. Way to make me feel even more like Godzilla.
And then there's the locker room. Now, I get stared at a decent amount in normal, everyday, situations... Add a locker room to that and you get one awkward cocktail. haha But! I love my gym. I feel comfortable there. Comfortable enough to turn this Buddha belly into a Lou Khang six pack. (Too many Asian references for one sentence? Maybe.)

Last night was date night and we went to this fabulous Indian place downtown. Yes, I know. I just got done talking about the gym. But you gotta live it up sometimes right!? I mean, how can you turn down naan? No one can turn down naan... But Indian food! Yes! Divine vegetarian fare to remind me of back home. My Mom and I used to hit up this little Indian place every once in a while when we had errand days together. It was our lunch date. So, I got spinnich paneer to gustatory reflect. Pair Indian with a wine bar for dessert and you have one successful date. Pay days are great, amirite??

Today I had one of my best teaching days to date. My 5th graders are the highlight of my week. I made them laugh, they made me laugh, they were adorable and they were enthusiastic. Every time I'm with them I'm thankful I will be gone by the time they graduate to middle school. I've graduated from Jessica Teacher to Crane Teacher thanks to one boy and I've perfected the art of the 'high-five' thanks to many others. Is it weird that I'm already thinking about how much I will miss them?

-There's still much I need to talk about...but! I'm off to badminton. Feathers are gunna fly...


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