Saturday, July 20, 2013

Not ready for the U.S.A...

Not ready for the U.S.A?  What does that mean?  

Well, let me start with tonight's dinner.  After hearing from many people about this restaurant called "Brooklyn Burger", we finally decided to venture out and try it.  Since we've both been doing really well eating healthy & clean, we decided to have a "cheat night".  WE REGRET IT.  This restaurant is mainly unique because they serve everything imported from the U.S.  Even its' Tabasco sauce.  It was in this charming little area that they refer to as "French Village", because a lot of its' architecture resembles Europe.  

My toasted marshmallow Nutella milkshake.  Very good but holy richness!  I didn't even finish half.

My grilled cheese burger.  So much grease (like most American burgers) that it was borderline obnoxious.  The taste was great but didn't finish...oh yea, and those fries in the background?  Combined, we didn't eat half.

So, you're probably thinking, what does that have to do with the U.S.?  The plain and simply fact is our stomachs have changed, along with our palettes.  We almost never crave anything "American", and find us always migrating to different ethnic foods.  It has become a way of life for us, especially traveling through several different Asian countries (and soon-to-be European).  We were on the way home, feeling so stuffed and miserable because we aren't used to eating foods at all like this anymore.  Even our portion sizes have reduced, probably to less than half.  Instead of criticizing the differences, which I admit, was very poor at in the beginning, we now learn to embrace the differences.  When we first moved to Korea, I had a really hard time accepting what was considered "Korea's norm."  Mike explained it so perfect to me, that just because it isn't normal for US doesn't mean it is normal for them.  Sounds so simple, right?  But that was a true "A-Ha" moment for me.

A lot of people that I interact with at work (mostly U.S. Soldiers), are typically complaining about being here and have the notorious "How Many Days Left in Korea" countdown.  But my question to them is always, why?  Some people DREAM about traveling the world and yea, maybe not to Korea, but why not take the short time you have and open your mind and open your eyes.  I think people these days live in too small of a world and are so afraid to venture out.  That doesn't necessarily mean leaving the country.  How about just saying "Let's do it!" to somewhere new?  It never fails, every person who expresses these types of mentalities, I always tell them that if you have a poor attitude coming into a situation your outcome will likely be negative.  

People also ask where we are going next and I tell them Germany, a popular response is "Man, you must hate the states".  Why?  Why does that imply that I don't like the U.S.  That is my HOME and it always will be.   We know that one day, we will be in the U.S.  Which, is why we are so excited and anticipating Germany because..the way we see that we are given this amazing OPPORTUNITY, why not seize it? 

Most of you know that Mike & I had originally planned to come visit home (Florida/Ohio) for just under a month in October.  There has been a major change of plans.  Instead of coming home, we are now flying directly from Seoul to Frankfurt.  We will get our house, get our things all moved in, including the furniture that has been in storage for 3 years stateside, and get fully settled, taking leave back to the states sometime in the March/April time frame, we are guessing, before Mike's deployment.  This is the best route for our us and our fur children!  

I truly hope this doesn't upset anyone.  If anything, the reunion will be that much sweeter :D.

I hope everyone has a happy weekend!  Get out there & try something new or different..perhaps even out of your comfort zone.  I promise you, the outcome is always worth it.  Just wait till next week...I have some HILARIOUS stories for you!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hanji anyone?

Han-ji:  a strong, thick rice paper.  Can be decorative and paired with silk.

You're probably thinking, great?  This week (today, actually) I started a class offered on the base that teaches you how to make a traditional Korean style art.  I just call it a "Hanji class".  Two Korean women volunteered their free-time to teach us how to make this really neat hobby of theirs.  It is becoming more rare because most of today's generation is going more towards a, as they call it, "Western-style" way of living.  (I would just call it normal ;)  ).  We are starting with a tissue box for the first project.  Basically...that is the only project that is free, then we have to start paying.  AKA...that is all I will be making.  LOL.  Not that I don't think it's worth the money..but the large round thing below costs around $200 to make.  I think the tissue box is memorable enough......especially for my wallet.  I do love the multi-colored mini drawer piece though.

The reason for the cost is purely the time and intricate details that go into each design.  These obviously can't be manufactured by machines, thus making each piece a one-of-a-kind.

The class was neat..but I can't help but get one part of the 2 hour meeting out of my mind.  I walk into the Arts & Crafts room, to be called (and recognized) by my first name, which sounds a little like "OOOooo Buh-lit-tan-nee!"  I must have looked at them like they were from Uranus because they said:

"Oh, you no remember us?"

I, then, remembered when my landlord volunteered 2 hours (which really means 5 hours) of my time to speak English with their conversational-type English class.  If you know anything about Korea..know that it NEVER just stops at a class.  It is a class, dinner, ice cream, a walk to "walk off" the "heavy foods", and it just keeps going.  This happens with work, too.  It's like, can't a girl just eat her kimchi and PEACE OUT?!  So as my memory flooded back, here is how the rest of our unbelievable conversation went (I'll type it exactly how they talk/pronounce..remember I am GOOD at this:

Her:  "So wat you been dOO-eng?"

Me:  "Besides working full-time at the bank for the past couple of weeks and probably through July, I've been teaching Korean children."

Her:  "OH, wheh you teach them?"

Me:  "My house, they love the atmosphere and feel like it's their little "getaway" place."


Me:  "What?"

Her:  "YOU breaking da SOFA needed da VISA to make da money.  Otherwise you need only volunteer".

***Now, comes in the Arts & Crafts worker, whom I have known & spent a lot of time with when I do my art.  And he says:

"JUST LEAVE ALONE.  Korean government doesn't care about that one!  They do since 80's, no problem Buh-lit-tan-nee!" 

Talk about AWKWARD.  Not only did I not have a clue I had to have a work visa to earn income (which now that I think about totally makes sense) but the people who I tutor for sure don't care!  They'd have to arrest me and about 45% of the other spouses, the American children who do modeling for Korean companies, AND everyone else with round eyes. I literally laughed out loud at the sheer disbelief that she'd even call me out like that.

And...that's when I remembered her...and her nosey-NOSEY nature.  After drilling me, she proceeded to ask one of the husband's there (who has been a pilot for over 15 years in the Army) how many helicopters were at K-16, what type, etc.  I mean, who are you?  A North Korean?  Sheesh.  I know she means well but she really gives "pushy Asian" a new title.  With people like that here, you just have to shrug them off, laugh about it, and keep on makin' that Hanji.

(This is the paper that will line the inside of the tissue box)

So, slowly we are seeming to collect a lot of Germany booklets on tips, "must-sees", "must-trys" know..a whole lot of things that are a...must.  I am PUMPED, ugh, so pumped.

I hope, next year around this time (if Mike isn't deployed), we will be skydiving in Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland.  Random?  Take a LOOK at this place.

Who is up for ittttt?  I'll probably freak out, pee, spit, who knows but whatever it is..I know it'll be worth it and a once in a lifetime.  And I mean hey, if my parachute least I went out with a BANG.  ....Can you tell I'm convincing myself of this?  Either way, I want to be there around this time.  I heard July-September is the best time just because of the sheer cold/rain.  I always joke to Mike, since Europe generally has such crummy weather, the ONE day it is clear and sunny out it's like they make a continent wide announcement :  "EVERYONE, TAKE YOUR PICTURES NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE".  Bottom line?  Europe weather is totally depressing.  I think I mentioned the statistic this past year in Germany, a total of 100 something hours of sun...the entire winter.  It totaled out to less than a week.  

So, as much as I'm complaining about this humid-hot-hell we are having in Korea, I guess I should be soaking up the sunshine.  If only the sun didn't make me feel like it was cooking my retinas.  


As many of you may know, Koreans believe some pretty unbelievable things.  Some I have mentioned before.'s a new one.  This past week at work we were talking about the Korean mudfish that are commonly found in Korean rice patties.  How they got there..nobody knows.  They look like this:

Basically skinny, long, slimy fish.  Now, we all know that it would be considered a bottom-feeder.  Typically, bottom-feeder fish are considered a "dirtier" fish because of what they eat.  Tilapia and catfish would fall under this category.  So..I said:

"Do you guys eat those fish since rice patties are kind of nasty"

Him:  SURE we love dat one.  Nod dat durty!  Dat fish good for summer time because gives da energy.

Riiiiiiight.  Doesn't all food give you energy?  Aye-go!  In Korean meaning "Oh my".  They crack me up.  Maybe I should write a back "K is for KrAzY kOrEaN"

Have a great week <3