Thursday, August 24

Work and a Wedding

Dear Diary,

Today was my first official day back at work. I'm very excited to be returning to O'Connell and see all the returning teachers. My new math co-workers are all experienced teachers and we should make for a good team.

Ok, enough of the cheese, though that's how it felt this morning. It is good to be back, my room is mostly set up and I'm mostly ready for kids on Monday. That's largely due to the fact that we're running a freshman orientation week to really teacher our students what it means to be a freshman at O'Connell. We're really hoping for a strong academic push this year with 2 hours of homework a night per student. Toto, this isn't middle school anymore. The freshman test scores were the only ones at our school to go up last year and we'd like to make that consistent across the school.

However, that's the last work day for me this week. Tomorrow, William and I fly to Atlanta for my best friend, Karla's, wedding! I get to wear a big Barbie pink dress. Stay tuned for photos!

Monday, August 21

Sweden photos!

Go check out all my "Sweden - " sets on my flickr account.

Monday, August 7

Seoul - The 5 Star Way

Sunday was William's birthday and we had a day and a half off from teaching. So I checked around the various travel sites and found us a room in Seoul at the Sofitel Ambassador, a five star hotel, for $135. Mind you, our beds in Yeojoo, where we're teaching, are more box spring than matress, seriously uncomfortable, plus we can't sleep together as they're way too narrow. Also, Korean pillows are the antithesis of what I consider to be a comfortable pillow. Their pillows are densley packed and huge, laying on one, I feel as though my chin is being forced into my chest my head is so high.

So, we decided to go ahead and spend the money. I mean, after all, we do have full time jobs back home and we're getting paid to be here. Then, we get to the hotel and since it's low season they offer us an upgrade to the "premium" floor which includes free use of the sauna as well as breakfast and a 3 pm check out for only $44 more. We splurge. And boy was it worth it!!!

The first thing we notice is the attachment sticking out from the toilet with 15 different buttons. What the f%@&??? I, of course, took pictures, but you'll have to wait until I'm back home to down load them. Ok, so the different buttons, after sitting on the pot for many, many minutes playing around, I figured out 1) heat the seat 2-4) in 3 different temperatures 5) a bidet feature with 6) a front option for ladies (unfortunately this wasn't working), 7-9) the bidet feature came in three speeds 10) a drying feature 11-13) also in three speeds and 14-15) a delay shut off. Oh my god!

The bed was everything I dream of and more. King sized, a feather top with 4 fluffy feather pillows. Of course, we had to crank the A/C down low to sleep under the feathers, but it was heavenly. Rather than heading out the the Dongdaemun night market, we were asleep by 9:30 :-o

Breakfast was Western with a few Korean options. Rye bread! Museli! Yummy!

I had to check out the sauna and while it was newer and more shiny than the one in Yeojoo, the dry saunas in Yeojoo are nicer. But I still enjoyed my soak and steam.

We then had a great Sunday afternoon roaming around various markets and malls. I'm on the hunt for crazy t-shirts and have only found one worth buying. It reads "Bunny is pet name for a rabbit." And better yet, it was only $2!

Now we're back in Yeojoo and I'm sure this last week will just fly by. I no longer want to strangle my demon child, though he is still a struggle every day. Today we did "Christmas" with the kids. And tomorrow it's outdoor Olympics. My class is going to be Sweden! Heja Sveirge!

Friday, August 4

Korean Sauna Experience

We just passed hump day. It's getting to that high frustration level where everyone wants to kill someone. For me it's one student in my class, I want to tear off his head and play soccer with it. However, all my frustrations were alliviated last night by a trip to the sauna. Matthew and I had discussed doing this last year, but it never manifested.

So, a Korean sauna has many areas and features; thankfully, I had a seasoned sauna veteran with me though who could help with the translating and just general "this is what you do now." At this one in Yeoju, first you enter the lobby and a man hands you a key to a locker where you put your shoes. Then you pay him 9000 won (~$9) and enter into the ladies (or mens, respectively) changing room. However, this is more than just a changing room, there's a tv, several mats, lots of floor space where if you wanted you could spend the night. Also, in this room was a people sized oven, seriously, it looked like something I'd bake bread in on a Wonderbread scale. Anyway, once safely nestled in the changing room you proceed to get buck naked. And, as we all know, that's when the fun begins. You enter the shower room where they have "western" wall showers and also the hoses with nostle attachments. There is a large hot tub as well as a large cold plunge. There were also two wet saunas each with a different theme, one being charcoal for it's purifying characteristics. Next to the tubs there were three massage tables, except these tables are covered in vinyl. You can pay an agima (an older Korean woman) 15,000 won (~$15) to scrub you while you lay upon one of these tables.

Ok, so if I'm going to a Korean sauna, I'm going all out so, of course, I got the scrub. The agima is naked save for a pair sheer leapord skin grandma panties (she is old enough to be a grandma after all). You lay on the table and she puts on a pair of gloves, which are essentially socks, that feel like brillo pads. She rubs you ~all~ over for a rough 15 minutes. There were rolls of dead skin sheeting off of me. It looked like I was surrounded by all these grey little bugs. Yes, that part was disgusting. The scrubbing was almost painful at first, but then I got used to it. I won't really say that part was pleasurable, but it was in that really gross "I just popped a big zit and look at all this stuff that came out of it" sort of way.

Anyway, after the scrubbing has ended (at that point you've laid on your back, your sides and your stomach, as well as sat up to have your back and neck properly scoured), the skin scraps get washed away by several nice bucket-fulls of warm water. Then, back on your back, you get soaped up. She then gets you to flip over and I felt like I was on a slip and slide while your back gets soaped. More warm water. Then a very brief oil massage with clapping hits along your buttocks, shoulders and calves. It was so cool!

After all that, I showered off the oil in order to enjoy the tubs a bit more. Oh, one glorious thing is that the tubs aren't chlorinated! Ok, so you've been scrubbed, showered and now you put on some sauna-provided lounging clothes to head up to the co-ed area. In the co-ed room, there's another large wooden floor with mats for sleeping, if you choose, a few coin operated massage chairs, and three more dry saunas, again with different themes. These were really cool with different mossaics. Well, of course after being in the sauna I needed one more cold plunge, but this time opted for the cold shower. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!

It was awesome!