Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pet Peeves

I miss animals. I miss walking in the front door and being greeted by a fuzzy four- legged creature. I miss waking up in the middle of the night and feeling a cat nestled against my feet. I miss every about my Atticus other than cleaning his litter.

Most Koreans don’t have pets. I rarely see animals around the neighborhood and when I do, it’s not enjoyable. The dogs are either chained up outside and forgotten or they are dressed like little humans. I suppose I should mention that the worst fated pups are the ones that I haven’t seen. Those canines end up in dog soup..

The few cats I’ve encountered have behaved like strays. Whenever I see a kitty, I crouch down and meekly try to call it over. My warm intentions are never enough to shake them from their fear of humans. I often wonder if they’ve been mistreated..

As of late, I have also heard a lot of foreigners say they don’t like animals. I seem to be submerged in an anti-pet environment! Was that part of the application process I missed? Obviously, I’m joking but I sometimes wonder. People who don’t like animals have always confused me. In fact, my mother raised us to question the ethics of anyone who dislikes furry critters. Should I question the ethics of the entire country? If I decided to, I would only being hurting myself. Korea is a beautiful place, and It would be a shame to disvalue any of its goodness! Instead, I am trying to open my mind and damper my judgmental thoughts.

I don’t know how long it will be until I return to Atticus. A cat is not enough of a reason to go home but it’s one of the reasons I would like to. Although it may sound silly, I think he would prefer for me to stay here and be happy, than to come home and be sad. I hope in the future, all the things I love will settle on the same side of the world and I can stop choosing between them. That would be purrrfect.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Playing with Colors

Yesterday I received my green belt in Taekwondo. It is the fourth belt out of nine. Graduating to a new color is fun because It’s a visual representation of ones achievements. The excitement is comparable to collecting passport stamps or school certificates.

When I was a kid, my mother made me take swimming lessons. Similarly, the levels were marked by colors. The day I received my first badge, I was so proud that I slept with my swimsuit on. Although I do not feel the need to sleep with my taekwondo belts, I enjoy climbing a 'color ladder' as much as I did when I was a child.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eatables 3

Yesterday, I made shepherd’s pie. It has taken me quite awhile to figure out how to cook in Korea and I’m proud of myself whenever I do. One of difficulties in making a ‘Canadian’ meal is finding the ingredients to do so. Luckily, there is a variety of imported foods at Costco.The second challenge is cooking without an oven. I am slowly figuring out ways to improvise but some dishes still seem impossible. I shared my shepherd’s pie with Na Yeon at our weekly language exchange. I don’t think she really liked it. Even so, my disappointment in her inability to finish my food was quickly evaporated by the chance to eat it myself!

Show and Tell

Today I received some christmas presents in the mail! The box my mother sent was mailed in November and we've both been anxiously waiting for it to arrive. The other gift is from one of dearest friends at home. Thank-you Jenny and Mom! You are good family to have.

Here is a little glance at my Christmas in January:

Tea, hot chocolate and bath products from Jenny:

An Advent Calender. Perhaps since December is over, I should eat a chocolate every hour of the day tomorrow.

Shoes! A little scrunched but still wonderful :)

This was supposed to be part of my christmas dinner. Instead I had ox bone soup and a hot dog. Better late than never!

My mouth is full of chicken bones right now. I keep saying to myself,
" just one more.." but I can't stop eating them.

National Geographic magazines:

This shampoo is my guilty pleasure. I didn't need it but I wanted it..

The best surprise of all!! Slippers:

What is a life without Hollandaise sauce? Luckily, I won't have to find out!

I thought this was going to be a necklace but as you can see, it is clearly not! Chili peppers:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eatables 2

Every tuesday, my friend Na Yeon (나연) comes over for a language lesson. She is teaching me ‘survival’ Korean and I’m helping her speak conversational English.

Today, Na Yeon brought over the ingredients to make kimchi jjigae (김치찌개). This is the first Korean dish that I have learned how to make. Unfortunately, there was a little accident with the hot peppers and the stew is extremely spicy!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


The days are rapidly passing by but I don’t have much to say about them. I’ve decided to take a break from my usual thoughts and allow myself to be consumed with more present ideas. I have been thinking about taekwondo, Thailand and shoes. Here are some details about each..

Taekwondo: I just graduated to an orange belt and have a green belt test in two weeks. My flexibility is a problem and I have legs like an old race horse. Consequently, I need to work out more in between classes. Here is a video of our next test's poomse:

Thailand: A birthday present to me! I am going in February and am already anxious to sit in the sun. While most of the trip will be a solo adventure, some of it will be spent with a friend. Right now, I am trying to make general decisions about where to go and how to get there.

Shoes: My sandals are falling apart and I want new ones. The problem is that shoes in Daegu do not come in my size. I am investigating my options.

This is my life in blog form. I don’t intend on being any more exciting anytime soon. As a result, all important and pressing matters will have to find me for a change. At least I’ve narrowed down where I can be found!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This weekend I went to my friend Jinah’s wedding. Unsurprisingly, Korean weddings are different than they are in North America. A Korean ceremony often takes place in large wedding halls, where lots of other people are getting married at the same time. I have been to two Korean weddings now and both incorporated the use of electric violins, fog machines and neon lights. The ceremonies take about an hour and this includes the toast, cutting of the cake and photos.
Afterwards, everyone is invited to eat at a buffet while the family has a more traditional ceremony. I imagine that Korean weddings are similar to those in Vegas.
It is easy to chuckle over the differences in our matrimonial customs; however, western weddings are as equally strange! Like most things pertaining to love, there seems to be no right or wrong way to follow your heart.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eatables 1

Since moving to Korea I have been eating something new almost every week. This habit was born from my curiosity and love for food. I keep thinking that eventually I’m going to hit the Korean jackpot of awesome snack foods, but so far most of the items have been pretty funky. I rarely finish eating what I’ve started, and the left over products end up in the garbage, toilet or in someone else’s mouth. Usually, someone at school will accept my half eaten gifts. I’ve decided to start keeping track of my mini taste adventures. Why not?!

This week’s food of choice is hot squid jerky. It is spicy, extremely tough and very fishy. The flavor would be passable if I could chew it faster but it’s too hard. Nonetheless, I’m going to try and finish it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Presents from Above

Today it is snowing! This is a rare occurrence in Daegu and everyone seems as excited as I am. The air is warm, the snow is soft and happy children fill the parks. What a wonderful way to start the day/week/year!

Some pictures of the neighborhood:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mountains and Molehills

It is new year's day and I just woke up in a new apartment. My first thought of the morning was, "I am warm." My second thought was, "It is quiet." Which was followed by a sigh of relief because this hasn't happened in quite awhile. For me, this move is another example of the power of perseverance. If things are bad, push forward until you can make them good. Like most people, this concept is a recurring theme in my life. It is also the reason I titled my blog, “The Little Engine That Could.” I hope this morning’s glee is an omen of more great things to come in 2010.

Notable Memories of the year 2009:

  1. I learned what it means to be self-employed.
  2. Had a life changing epiphany about choices and self control.
  3. Volunteered with a music therapist and spent time with an isolated senior citizen.
  4. Completed a 60 hour TEFL course. However, I didn't finish the other 40 hour course I signed up for. Oops.
  5. Got my first A+ on a university exam! I even studied while I was fishing ;)
  6. Reconnected with some old roots from home.
  7. Moved to Korea.
  8. Started a comfortable and secure job.
  9. Learned how to read Hangul and speak extremely basic Korean. I practiced on old boxes..
  10. Climbed the Great Wall of China!
  11. Sang my first karaoke.
  12. Visited my first temple.
  13. Went on a tour to the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea.
  14. Started Taekwondo for the second time.
  15. Ate my first and only bug.
  16. Met some incredible people.

I’m sure the list goes on but I suppose it’s time to start looking ahead and stop thinking about the past. Best wishes to you all for a happy and love filled year.