The First Thanksgiving

As most of you probably assumed, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in South Korea.  Santa was finding this hard to believe, “It’s just a day to be thankful. I think it should be a world wide event!” Kitty agreed, but it made her wheels start turning.  How did this holiday come about in the first place?  If her memory served her right Thanksgiving was when the Indians and pilgrims feasted together and gave thanks for the great harvest, or so that’s what she was taught in the first grade. Kitty drew a picture in her head of a big table with lots of food, both attending parties were sporting big smiles on their faces, while high-fiving over mashed potatoes.  Although Kitty was certain this is what happened on that lovely day, her memory was a little foggy, so she decided to phone a friend. Unfortunately her phone has been without service since their relocation to Korea, so Santa was the closest and only resource at her disposal.

As they walked home from school one evening Kitty casually questioned, “Why exactly is Thanksgiving a national holiday? I mean I know it’s important to give thanks, but what really happened that day?” Santa’s eyes grew big, “What? You don’t remember how Christopher Columbus sailed over on the Mayflower, killed almost all the Native Americans and then made the rest cook him Thanksgiving dinner!?” Kitty’s response “Wait what?? I knew Christopher Columbus came over and discovered America, and that he did some terrible things to the Indians, but I had no idea he was involved in this Thanksgiving business?!” Santa reassured her that Christopher was indeed present at the feast and that he had been the ring leader to mass destruction.

Kitty’s head was spinning and she decided she would need to double check and make sure Santa’s history lesson was accurate. Kitty was taught never to use Wikipedia as a credible source but it hasn’t let her down yet so on she read. It wasn’t exactly what she wanted to see, but it was the truth.  It turns out that Thanksgiving wasn’t the happy historical event that she remembered, but more along the lines of the story Santa had told her. With one exception, Christopher Columbus wasn’t mentioned in any of the gruesome details.  Kitty debated whether to tell Santa or not, but decided it may be a good idea before she started spreading rumors about who was on the guest list to this dinner. They both agreed to be thankful that Americans had started new traditions for this wonderful day.

After the history lesson was sorted out Santa and Kitty moved on to the next dilemma; what they would eat for Thanksgiving dinner? Without turkey (they don’t sell turkey in the stores here in Korea), a stove, or the stove top stuffing mix their options seemed limited. They gathered what they could find from the lotte mart, a near by bakery, and a few things that Kitty had received via mail from her mother, and attempted to create a Korean style Thanksgiving feast.

Thankful that they have a table to eat on unlike most traditional Korean homes

Corn, Macaroni and Cheese, homemade mashed potatoes, salad, dinner rolls from the bakery, and some Korean chicken with rice cakes

It might not look like a feast to some people, but if you could see what Kitty and Santa have been eating it really was. After giving thanks, they ate until they were stuffed, slipped into their stretchy pants, and capped the night off with a good Christmas movie:) It definitely wasn’t the traditional Thanksgiving that they are use to, but it was one to remember. This year they are thankful that they have each other as they continue this adventure, and the fact that they have the opportunity to explore the world. Next year they will certainly just be thankful to be at home spending time with their families! Gobble Gobble

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The birds and the bees.

DING.DONG.DING. “Teachers, today’s excursion will be a safety puppet show presentation in the 4th floor auditorium  See you up there!” DING.DONG.DING.

As Kitty and Santa walked up the stairs with their classrooms they vented about the relief of not having to sing on the bus ride that morning. A fun puppet show sounded so much better. They sat down with their classes in front of 1 woman who had a few bags by her feet. Hm, no elaborate Korean costumes or set, this is a first thought Santa. The woman began to speak in Korean and all the kids chanted back to her. She pulled out 2 dolls, 1 boy and 1 girl and continued to talk. Finding it pretty boring Santa and Kitty started to drift off into their own worlds but were gravitated back to the show when they noticed the speaker singing while undressing the dolls. Then they noticed the dolls had detailing they had never seen on a doll before. The speaker started to point to body parts. Kitty and Santa scanned the room and noticed their 7 year old (really only 5 year old) classes had their heads cocked to the side and jaws dropped. Kitty looked at Santa and whispered “Is this a safe sex talk?” Santa looked like a deer caught in the headlights and was non-responsive. The children started to chant something in Korean as the speaker pulled out a picture. Kitty and Santa’s eyes grew bigger. What in the world?

The kids chanted and screamed….was this some kind of weird game? OH, Gosh yes. Yes, it was. The louder they screamed the faster the sperm traveled to its final destination. The kids went wild when it finally reached the egg. The students had their game faces on and the teachers were all giggling like 5 year olds. “Ok, well I’m happy thats over” Kitty said. It wasn’t though, not even close to it. The speaker then brought out another doll, this time the doll was pregnant and wearing a moo moo. The speaker proceeded to put her hand up the moo moo and with the help of the cheering children pulled a baby, out of the baby doll. This wasn’t the cute kind of baby doll you would give to your 5 year old on Christmas morning. No no, this baby doll was very premature and fully equipped with an attached umbilical cord. The kids reacted appropriately with an ewww.

Next activity! Who wants to be pregnant?! At first the kids didn’t know if this was a trick question, but after one hand shot up in the air they all decided they wanted to be with child. The speaker chose the lucky guy. The little boy approached the stage with caution. The speaker pulled a pregnant body suit out of the bag and showed him. Speaker: “Do you want to wear this” Child: “aahhhaaaaaaa (awkward laugh)” He was regretting his decision instantly and managed to escape before she dressed him in the flattering pink suit.

“Looks like we need a new volunteer!” of course Santa’s student, The Fonzi, jumped on the opportunity.

Kitty’s student didn’t seem to mind the suit but the speakers face is telling her other wise.

After the “safety” puppet show had come to an end Kitty and Santa looked at each other, “Wait, are we going to have to write an excursion report on this?” An excursion report usually entails writing about all the fun things the students got to do on their weekly trip, and this one wasn’t going without documentation.  As they sat in the front of the classroom asking the kids what they had learned the responses were well, hard to put into words.  Let’s just say there were a lot of visuals as the students scanned their english vocabulary for words that described what they had experienced that day.  Kitty and Santa usually help them make the sentences flow, but were drawing blanks themselves.  Nothing like getting the sex talk before shipping off to first grade at the public schools.  We would have gladly grabbed the mic on the bus that day if it meant sparring ourselves the brutality of the so called safety show. Until next week…

Bears at the dump.

Kitty and Santa were so lucky to get 2 excursion days this week. The first being a trip to the Gwangju City dump! Image

When Kitty saw the dump excursion on the week schedule she questioned Santa in a frenzy.  “Do you think we are going to the dump or the recycling center? The dump is really dangerous, I dont think they would take us there.” Santa was a little confused “Well, ya I probably wouldn’t want my kid going to the dump. it’s disgusting but I don’t think it’ll be that dangerous.” Kitty was in shock. “WHAT? There are bears at the dump Santa!” Still in confusion Santa replied “Wait, what? There are? How do you know?” “Aaah YA there are, I know! I saw them when I was a kid. We were in Canada and my dad wanted to see some bears so he drove us all to the dump and we watched one eat a couch in front of our car. It was so scary. I’m just saying I don’t want to see any bears again”. Santa was in tears but she respected the validity in her point. She didn’t want to see any bears either.

Rest assure there were no bears at the dump, just trash and outdated technology. Kitty and Santa felt like they had traveled back in time as they toured the plant. The 1970’s control room, resembling something out of Apollo 13, was fascinating to see still being used in todays era.

ImageThe monotors with just flames really added to the special effects.ImageIf the kids weren’t with us Kitty and Santa would have lit up some cigars and did the countdown to take off! 10.9.8….

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A grungy korean man approached them all like “Check this out” to the kids. He was definitely the coolest guy in the room hitting those buttons and navigating trash in his space chair.Image

Kitty and Santa were actually a little jealous of his mad skills. He could win them a lot of teddy bears at an arcade. Image

On excursion days the co-teachers always act like paparazzi with photos of the kids and everything they are doing. It usually consumes about 95% of the trip, waiting to take photos. This time the lights didn’t seem to flash at all. Although Santa did see one co-teacher making her kids pose next to some steam pipes. Way to keep it dangerous and edgy teacher!

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without seeing how many people they could fit into an elevator ride. 2 classes? no, no…lets go for 3 classes AND the teachers!! Clearly it wasn’t this co-teachers brillant idea but they were successful. 3 classes and 5 teachers deep. Image

“Teacheeerrrr, Jack too close” haha he loves to terrorize.Image

Lessons learned here: Always watch for bears at the dump. The garbage man’s job is like playing in a jumbo arcade room & never underestimate the size of an elevator.

Only in Asia….

Kitty and Santa wanted to provide you with some holiday cheer. Not our photos but pretty much the gist of our experience with english translations. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Kitty!!

Well it finally happened, she’s all growns up. Kitty turned 27 in South Korea, but every where else in the world she’s only 26 years old so we’ll stick with the real facts.

Kitty was a bit nervous about ringing in her 26th year of birth. She was feeling old. Where had the time gone? The years felt as though they were flying by. She remembered the day she had asked Santa to be her best friend at her 16th birthday party. It felt like it was yesterday, and that had been over 10 years ago!  Kitty and Santa would have never thought Asia is where they would be galavanting for their 26th year of life.

Kitty & Santa at 16 years old

Kitty told Santa she didn’t want to do much celebrating. Slothing and catching up on American TV was all she wished for, but Santa wouldn’t have it. She surprised Kitty on the morning of her birth with some of her favorite fuels; a massive cinnamon roll, a cheesey bagel topped with more cheese, chocolate milk,  Starbucks latte, presents, and decorations that hung all over their Asian living room. Kitty felt like a kid again. This is what Cindy (her mom) use to do for her growing up (not the adult size buffet, but the decorations and gifts).

As she skyped her family and opened her presents she became a little emotional. Cindy had sent a cute/creepy frame of herself with a recorded birthday message. The laughter turned to tears. This was kitty’s first birthday away from her family. She might be 26 but she missed her family all the same. She soaked up the tears with her blankey and headed to school.

nothing makes us miss home more….

Thanks to Santa, Kitty’s co-teacher and all the kids were highly aware it was her birthday as well. She was greeted with lots of hugs, happy birthdays, chocolates, pictures and one of the best birthday presents she could of asked for. Kitty’s kindergarten class along with her coteacher had been working on a poster size card with messages from each student. As you can see from the pictures below the English lessons are really paying off:)

Kitty even got a second cake from the bosses at the weekly meeting. Their true feelings were revealed with the 3 small words on her cake.

After school all the foreign teachers went out for some dinner and drinks. It was so nice of them to come out and help Kitty celebrate. We all made sure to be tucked in bed by midnight because we had to be at school the next morning. I guess when you get old you also become willingly responsible. It was the perfect end to the perfect birthday. Thanks to everyone that made it so special!!

Lost in Transportation

Kitty and Santa headed to Seoul to really celebrate the big birthday. Seoul is the biggest city in Korea and they decided it would be a perfect adventure for the weekend. They had plans for shopping, dinning, exploring, and indulging in a few well deserved cocktails. After about a 3 1/2 hour bus ride this is exactly what they did. They checked into their hostel and had lunch at Subway (upon kitty’s birthday request). No 5 dollar footlong, but it was worth every won. They Shopped until they literally almost dropped. Then had dinner at a delicious noodle house. Enjoyed a few glasses of wine and hit the streets to celebrate a long but successful day in Seoul.

New purchase: all the cool kids in Asia wear fake focals…just trying to blend.

Bunk beds, favorite part of sleeping at hostels.

Kitty and Santa found a jazz bar that featured Frank and the boys, sipped on some Jameson and talked about life and all the different kinds of money hanging above them. Ironically,  Santa went to buy the drinks and handed the bartender what was equivalent to $3.00 USD, he gave her the “What’s this” face and she knew she messed up. Good thing Kitty always has enough money to bail her out. Apparently she thought she grabbed $50.00 for the night out and only took $5.00. She will probably learn the currency just as they are leaving Korea, Kitty is worried she will have to relearn what a dollar is upon returning home.

Kitty and Santa will spare you the details on how the rest of the night went and fast forward to Sunday morning….

So there they were, sitting in the subway station at 11 AM while soju was seeking it’s revenge from the night before. SIDENOTE: When life gives you lemons and you act cool and add soju, nothing good comes of it.

Santa had her head down on the table at McDonalds praying that if it was going to spontaneously combust that it would happen soon. Kitty plopped down in her chair staring in confusion at the 2 meals that sat in front of her ” Either I’m seeing double or I think they misunderstood when I ordered a double cheeseburger”. They finished what they could and Kitty packed up what they couldn’t. “We gotta get home, lets do this.”

They thought they had mastered the subway system the previous day, but in their hazy stupor they would soon find out they were sadly mistaken. They purchased their train tickets, hopped on the train and after a few stops realized they were going the wrong way. They ran off, pushed their way on the packed car going the other direction, and finally made it to the blue line to transfer. This is when things really went wrong.

They followed the signs for their transfer train, but when they tried to enter with their purchased tickets the gates came down on them hard, real hard. Kitty and Santa looked at each other in confusion, backed up, and returned to the machine where they purchased another ticket. They crossed their fingers and tried a second time with success.  They got down to the train and realized they were about to get on the wrong one. At this point kitty and santa were exhausted. They wanted to click their heels and be back in Gwangju. They ran back up the stairs, but as they tried to exit the gates flew up and almost took them out AGAIN.

Now they were mad. They had paid twice and were not going back for round three. They busted through the gate and made a run for it. They were finally in route to the correct train, but in order to get there they had to bust through a few more gates. Now breaking the law is unlike Kitty and Santa, but when no one speaks English and they have no way of explaining themselves, sometimes there just isn’t any other way. They hopped on the right train, the doors shut but they weren’t moving.  After 5 minutes Santa broke into a sweat and almost had a panic attack. “Do you think they are looking for us? Should we turn ourselves in? I can’t believe we are going to go to jail in Korea.” Kitty started getting defensive ” Look, the thing is if we are on camera, we’ve paid twice and haven’t gone anywhere! I’ll tell them Santa. We’re not going to jail today!!” Just as they were about to make a scene in front of the Koreans swarming around them the train started to move. They both took a seat and kept quiet for the rest of the ride. But don’t you think for a second that Kitty and Santa didn’t pay for what they had done. Their legs bare the consequences of their actions. Regardless of the bruises and bumps they had made it to the express bus terminal and that’s all that mattered at that point.

After their subway switchup they couldn’t have been happier to see their bedazzled bus. Kitty and Santa were finally out of the woods….or were they? Immediately upon entering the bus they reclined in their seats, pulled their eye masks down and it was lights out.  They felt like it had been minutes when the bus came to a screeching halt. They sat up and realized they were at the half way point. They stumbled off the bus partially still asleep to use the bathroom and  grab a drink for their extremely dry pallets. As they scurried out to the parking lot they stopped dead in their tracks at what lay before them. There were a million different buses that all looked the same. Which one was theirs??

Kitty and Santa immediately broke into a sweat and their hearts started to race. They were going to be left behind. These bus drivers didn’t do a head count like in kindergarten. They walked down the line of buses but none of them looked familiar, or they all did. Thankfully Santa remembered their bus was blue. That narrowed it down, but there were still a dozen blue buses in the lot. They split up and started running onto each bus checking their seat numbers for their belongings. After running on and off what seemed like hundreds of buses Santa had found their ride seconds before the bus driver slammed the door and punched the gas.

Kitty and Santa were speechless. They slumped back into their seats and let out a huge sigh of relief. Better luck next time…

Public transportation: 2

Kitty and Santa: 0

A Place to Call Home

As many of you know Kitty and Santa didn’t have the easiest transition when it came to their living arrangements here in Korea. They started off in a one bedroom with rather small furniture, no storage space, and a location just about as close to the school as you can get. AKA Boss lady once asked them if they went to bed early the night before because she saw that their apartment lights were off when she left the office at 9 PM. Little awkward.

After a month they were excited to finally be moving into a two bedroom apartment. The excitement quickly turned to disappointment when they found quite a bit of mold hanging under a few layers of wallpaper. And by a few layers they mean a dozen layers of wallpaper, it almost looked like they were trying to fix the major mold issue by covering it up? Smart. They immediately alerted their supervisor and were informed that they would be moving as soon as possible. Since moving to SK Kitty and Santa also learned that “as soon as possible” to Koreans meant at least a month.  Another month passed. Kitty’s allergies were through the roof anytime they were inside the apartment and Santa was sleeping on a couch in the kitchen, which was now their living room, which was also basically in the bathroom, which reeked of kimchi. Are you following? The apartment was cramped but being the good sports that they are they made light of the situation.

Finally, Kitty and Santa’s boss let them know they had found them a new place. They couldn’t help themselves and started dreaming of what this new castle in the sky would look like. Their standards of what “really nice” is has changed quit a bit since moving from their favorite beach front apartment in San Diego just a few short months ago.

To Kitty and Santa, really nice now means: mold free, a bathroom where they dont have to take a shower over the toilet (yes, they have been doing this), a kitchen that isn’t their living room, a fridge that isn’t college size, hot water, a couch that allows them to sit off the ground, a closet, a microwave and if they were lucky… wallpaper that wasn’t a hideous blend of Asian floral. Well it looked like they won the Korean Lotto because when they arrived at their new place they were pleasantly surprised. They got almost everything they asked for…the Asian floral couldn’t be avoided but they are more than happy to call this place their home for the next 10 months!

Their mini kitchen…no oven but they have a toaster oven!! Not sure how this will help them with thanksgiving this year but they are still thankful.

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Where Kitty and Santa relax after a long days work. 3 chairs for a coffee table, blankets, electronics, clock set to Chicago time…their tanning light on full blast to keep them warm. Living the dream, right? It’s an adventure : )

In Korea, there is no difference between the shower and the bathroom. That shower head you see hooked up to the sink is how they get clean. There was no avoiding this situation because its just how things are done here but they were happy to get more room in this bathroom. No more getting clean over the toilet.

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The Asian floral wallpaper they cant seem to escape.

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