Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bowling with the Stars

Well, not really stars, just me and Gina and Brian. Anyway, we went bowling last week and had a blast. I think the best part was that I made my highest score ever: 94!!!!!!!! That's a marked improvement from my last game, which resulted in a miserable score of 71. I'm improving, folks...South Korea is good for your game!!!

practicing my form

I think I totally missed all the pins on this one....oh well...

The bowling champions!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


School is going well still. I am getting into the groove of teaching and I can even remember all the students' names! I'm even finding comfort in the "normal" things....hearing my little trumpet player as I walk to school, exercising with G in the mornings, lunches with the other teachers, hugs from sweet Linda, taking off my shoes at night and putting on my "house shoes", my daily hello to the sweet lady who runs the store beneath the's these little things that have become the norm that help me feel more at home here. I may not speak the language, but I'm feeling a lot more comfortable!!!

Learned something new tonight: if you spend over 20,000 won at the supermarket (about $18 US), they will deliver it to your house for you! How awesome is that?! No more schlepping tons of water and green tea back home! I bought 4 6packs of 2L bottles of water tonight and it's being brought to my door tomorrow morning. I think I like this a lot :) Now if only E-mart would deliver fans.....

Please keep in prayer:
- safety as G, Brian and I travel this weekend to the western coast of Korea for some much needed away time
- that God will provide more fellowship opportunities
- my many of you know, the past year hasn't been the best for me in the health department...I've been seriously ill almost 10 times, but I have been completely healthy since being here. Please pray that God will continue to protect my health.
- that God will continue to draw me closer to Him and that my desire for time with Him will increase

Thanks so much, guys :) All the emails and letters are so encouraging!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I just got back from an overnight English church retreat and I'm still recovering! It was fun but many little kids speaking so much We slept on the floor on mats (remember those blue mats from PE) and I was surrounded by legs, arms, and heads all night long. THANK THE LORD I brought my earplugs....I could still hear chattering through the "snore proof" plugs, but at least I got SOME sleep :)

Some of my kids from the school were there, and it was cool to hang out with them apart from the classroom. We were also in a GORGEOUS mountain area, so it was very cool (but buggy!).

This is a picture of our dinner Friday was the coolest picnic ever! There are tons of these raised platforms everywhere here. There is even on in the park near my apt. People grill out and have lunch or take naps all the time on these things.
Anyway, we had Korean BBQ and it was really dip the pork in the red sauce (sam jang?) and wrap it in lettuce with kimchi. Delish! The kids were everywhere and we had so much food...we even had an after dinner snack of hot dogs (spitted on chopsticks, naturally), roasted purple sweet potates, and this really starchy corn that, I swear, athletes should use for energy...the kids ran around like banshee children after that snack!

We went on a mountain walk (to exercise) early Saturday part of the day :) Sweet Julie (who is TINY) was lagging behind, so I gave her a piggy-back ride to help her out.

More pictures are on Facebook, for those who are members. If you aren't a member of Facebook, get with the times and do it already. Everybody else is :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Teaching moments

Ansley: (explaining adding the -ing to a verb)) Ansley is teaching the class. Repeat after me: Ansley is teaching the class.
Student: Ansley is touching the class. Ansley is touching the class.

Ansley: (practicing a dialogue) Do you have any rice?
Student: Yes, I have lice! Would you like some lice?

Student: You have strange. (pointing to his eyes)
Ansley: I have something in my eye? (feels around eyes, looking for eye boogers)
Student: No, you have strange....eyes....strange. Not like us (points to other students).
Ansley: Yep, I'm weird and different, that's for sure.
Student: What? No understand.
Ansley: Never mind. Read your book.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Seoul Train

Ok, I only named this post "The Seoul Train" because every time I talk about going into Seoul, my dad cracks a joke about getting there on the Seoul train...and yes, it's still funny every time.

All week, I've been looking forward to heading into Seoul with G for a sushi buffet and shopping. Really, just the opportunity to get away from Yangju and do something fun really kept me going. After the dreaded fan incident, I needed something to look forward to.

Meet Gina, my new Korean BFF

We headed out about 11am and it took us awhile to get there, but it was worth every second on that subway. As we walked into Muscus (pronounced moos-coos, and no, it has nothing to do with mucus, thanks), I smelled the most wonderful smells and realized this must be what heaven is like. Row upon row of delectable sushi, a salad bar with 8 different kinds of lettuce, 3 different kinds of sprouts, my favorite kiwi dressing, mushroom bisque, thinly sliced beef, shrimp salad, etc...I almost didn't know where to start! We had 2 hours and we were both determined to make the best of that time. We had grand visions of pacing ourselves but w e were both so hungry (no breakfast for it a space saver) that we devoured our first plates within minutes. After that, we realized our mistake and took our time. We talked about life, love, travel, faith, and everything in between, all the while feasting on all that fabulous food. I was a happy girl when I left :)
doing damage to plate # 1

damage done to plate number 3

After we ate, we headed to Coex Mall, where I promptly found the bookstore and proceeded to become even happier than I was while eating all the sushi. I found the foreign books section and browsed for while. I managed to restrain myself and only bought the first 2 Harry Potter books (I've been wanting to re-read them for awhile) and a workbook/CD set for learning Korean. Good times for Ansley.

We walked through the mall, stopping for long periods at diffferent make-up counters (who knew I could be so girlie?) and I swear, I should have made commision on all the stuff I convinced G she needed to buy. We also went into a bunch of high end stores. I set off a small alarm in Gucci (a white-gloved lady quickly turned it off and handed me the item, as if I could afford a $700 wallet) and we quickly left that store. We browsed through Hermes, Armani, Gucci, and other nice stores and I'm totally sure we had them thinking we were rich enough to spend $3000 on a purse. Whatever.

My favorite part of the day? Walking through the food court a couple hours after the sushi feast and G asking if it was too early for her to be hungry again....this is what I love about this tiny Korean woman...she can (almost) outeat me at a sushi buffet and then be hungry again 2 hours later when I'm still walking feeling like I ate a small army.

When we finally headed home, we put together my bookshelf and did face was such a fun day and I look forward to many more excursions to many more feasts :)

We now have plans to have a weekly dinner at my place (first one is on Monday and features spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad), monthly trips to Seoul for a sushi fix and shopping, and a monthly date to explore a different part of Korea. I'm liking these plans! Korea, here I come!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'm trying to figure out how I can get all the way to Bundang by myself without drama but I can't get to E-mart and back without having to call for help and almost crying. Bundang is almost 2 hours away by subway, changing lines at least 5 times. E-mart is one 10 minute bus ride away.

I really needed a fan. It's been super humid here and we've had a couple days of steady, hard rain, so I didn't want to do laundry and have my clothes mildew. That's just gross, and I don't want to be that smelly American girl. I've always prided myself on being a fabulous laundress and smelling rather nice, so my pride is definitely at stake here.

ANYWAY, so I needed a fan. I decided to head over to E-mart to get one since it seemed pretty easy when I went with G last week. I'm thinking, I'm a smart woman and I'm confident. I'll look like I know what I'm doing and I'll get this freaking fan! So off I go...I catch the right bus (78), all the while thinking, these people must be impressed that I'm so natural and comfortable here, swiping my card, getting off at the right stop. I've even perfected the "sleepy subway look" which is also used on buses. People get on and immediately close their eyes and slump down. They look fast asleep but as soon as it's their stop, they pop up and head out. Sleepy subway. So, I use the sleepy subway look and manage to get out at the E-mart. Great.

I head in and I love this place. The bottom floor is the grocery and the second floor is household stuff and clothes. At 5'10" and $@& lbs, I just skip the clothes and head for home goods. Wall hooks! Cleaning supplies! Organizational stuff! School supplies! Decorative hangings and stands! It's like paradise! I easily found the fans (all by myself, thanks) and pick out the one with a remote control...I'm all about controlling things from the comfort of my bed. I got a few other things (i.e. more wall hooks...I'm obsessed), all the while keeping in mind that I have to get all this stuff back to my apt via the bus and walking a good distance. I also shopped a bit in the grocery store, trying to figure out what everything was based on the pictures on the sides of the packaging. Good times.

I check out with no problem (still looking like I'm in complete control and have lived here for ages) and then head out to catch the bus back to my place. Hmmm....there's no bus stop here. Maybe I'll walk a bit and get to the next one. Keep in mind that I'm carrying a big box full of a fan and a bag of other things (including milk...very heavy). I walked for about half a mile, cursing myself the whole way for not caving and just getting a taxi. I have visions of my apartment with the AC on....instead I'm lugging this crap down the street, looking for a bus stop at night. I tried to remind myself over and over, this is an experience, this is making you into a better person.....

I found a bus stop and started waiting. You know me, so good with numbers...I'm looking for bus # 73.....waited 20 minutes and then called G, who reminded me that I'm to get on bus 78. Ok....10 minutes later, here comes 78. I got on and settled in. We keep driving. People get on and get off....we keep we're in the countryside, on little curvy roads that look WAY too small for a big bus....still driving....finally, I'm the last one on the bus and it pulls onto a dirt lane and into a dirt area with a little shack at the far side. I'm now firmly convinced that the bus driver is going to rape and kill me and steal my fan. I call G again and I give the phone to the bus driver, who has been yelling at me in Korean since we stopped. He yells at her for awhile then gives the phone back to me and gets out. G tells me that I got on the right bus going in the WRONG DIRECTION. So, she doesn't know where I am and tells me to call Taeyeon, my boss (it's not like 9:30pm). He tells me to stay on the bus because it will eventually get back to Deokjeong.

45 minutes later, I know where we are and feel a little better. But now, the bus driver is telling the people on the bus about me, and everyone is laughing at me. I may not speak Korean but I know when people are laughing at my ineptitude. A woman comes up to me and asks me if I'm scared and nervous in English... I actually wasn't scared anymore, just frustrated at my stupidity and really hoping my milk hasn't gone bad yet. She tells me that she used to live in Atlanta and we are almost to my stop....which I knew at this point. When we hit my stop, everyone on the bus starts gesturing to me and speaking loudly (in Korean), showing me my stop. I get off with as much dignity as I can muster with an armload of fan and begin my walk home. After 10 minutes of walking, I am home and safe.

Ok, so this is supposed to make me a better person and build character, right?? UGH!!! I know I'll laugh about this (just like my mom laughed when I told her abt it on Skype right after I got home) someday but right now, I just want to sleep a bit more and forget this ever happened. Lesson for the day? Cross the street and get the bus going in the right direction.

I swear I'm smart.

Monday, August 10, 2009


It's official: I'm obsessed with bibimbap (pronounced bee-bim-bahp). The girls and I went to lunch today (as we do every day now) to one of the many little restaurants in our little neighborhood. This really has become my favorite part of the day because I get to try so many kinds of traditional Korean food while getting to know my co-workers better.

Anyway, today we went to a little bibimbap place where it's almost like a buffet. You get a really big tin bowl (almost like a mixing bowl!) and you get some rice. This rice is actually more like a barley type grain, so it's probably much better for you than the typical sticky white rice. Then, you can fill your bowl with all the organic veggies that are offered. There was some kind of cooked eggplant, cabbage and carrot mixture, something green and leafy, almost like spinach but smaller, lettuce, kale, kimchi, and bean sprouts sauteed in spicy sauce. On top of all this goodness, you put a dollop (or two, if you are my Korean friends) of spicy pepper paste and a couple drops of sesame oil. Sit down at your table, mix, and enjoy! It was delicious and actually very healthy. I could definitely be a vegetarian here. Well.....maybe a vegetarian one day a week :)

So, lunchtimes are good times. This is my day when I'm done early: 6:15! I almost don't know what to do with myself! I've been invited to hang out with Gina when she goes to her English tutor at 8, so I think I'll probably do that. Until then, who knows...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Abode

The living/dining/computer/ is in front of the bed. I've cleaned up a bit and organized since this photo was taken, don't worry.

This is my very condensed bathroom...note that I take a shower in front of my mirror, which is still very strange for me. I do like how I can clean my bathroom while in the shower though!

My wonderful bed...the fabulous bedding donated by my mom, the pink blanket is, of course, my Me-maw blanket, and the bear is Antonio, from Chris. I love my bed!!!

So, this is my apartment, for the most part. While small, it completely works for me. I continue to add my own little touches here and there, and hopefully, it will soon feel like home :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

One week in

Yep, I've been here a week. How weird is it that I live in Asia? I'm still not totally sure I know what I'm doing here...I mean, I'm all adventurous for a few weeks at a time, but a whole year? Hmmm...processing still....

Anyway, several of you have asked about school and how my first few days of teaching went, and I'm glad to report that they went well. I'm getting used to the system and the schedule (which, for me, is very confusing), but the other teachers assure me that I'll get used to it soon. I'm teaching a variety of classes and ages...from reading to science (yep, me teaching science...) to random English stuff. It's a lot harder than I anticipated (didn't I get a MA in this stuff??) but I've seen how just being familiar with the material I'm working with is huge.

So my day looks a bit like this (definitely subject to change):
730am - wake up, shower, breakfast, green tea, at least one ep of The Office, reading, Skyping with friends and family, etc
1030am - off to school to plans lessons
1245pm - speaking class for summer school...this is done Aug. 21
130pm - lunch with fellow teachers (is it bad that this is my favorite part of the day? I really like Korean food!)
215pm - classes until either 630 or 8, depending on the day
630 or 8pm - home, to a bowl of cereal or spicy noodles, quick rinse off in the shower, Skyping with friends and family, etc
10pm - reading in bed for 30 min or so
1030 or 11pm - lights out!

So, as you can see, it's really riveting, my life...actually, having a set schedule is kinda nice right now. I may get bored with it later and have to switch things up, but right now, it serves me well.

By the way, I really do like Korean food. I've had really really spicy stuff that made me cry but tasted so good I couldn't stop eating, weird combinations of foods that I never would've tried had I not been here, and even a radish that was literally the color of a yellow Hi-Lite marker. I usually go into meals asking, "What is that?" and no matter what the answer is, I try it. I haven't been disappointed yet! Now I'm just waiting to eat some dog.....

Monday, August 3, 2009

Yang-ju City

By the way, did you know that the name of my city (Yang-ju) literally means "western liquor"?? True story.

ANYWAY, flight was uneventful. I got here and all my luggage was first out...yay!!! That's NEVER happened to me, in all my world travels! Yay for Korean Air (they serve GREAT food, btw). T, my boss, picked me up right away (again, so relieving to not have to search for a man I don't know!) and we drove the hour or so up to Yang-ju. We stopped by a LotteMart on the way so I could get some supplies and food. I basically just got cleaning supplies and bread, peanut butter, cereal, apples, and milk...all were desperately needed that next day! I pretty much went to bed right after I got "home"...I was completely bushed.

I spent Saturday morning cleaning and familiarizing myself with my apartment. I was thinking, jet lag whatever! But, at around 1 or 2pm, I lay on the bed for "just a minute" and woke up at 2am very disoriented! Cleaned some more and then decided to put on my big girl panties and figure out how to get to Barry, who was about 2 hours away by subway. Needless to say, I figured it out (the Seoul subway system is GREAT....gets you anywhere you could want to go, has both Korean and English, and is super clean...I think I'm going to love public trans!).

The OMPC team and I went to a Korean folk's a lot like Williamsburg is for us. It was really cool to see how Koreans lived way back when. We also got to eat with one of the team members host families, and it was SO GOOD...lots of veggies and mushrooms, meat, rice, and my favorite, bibimbap! I love food!!

I ended up spending the night with the Morehead's and we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace the next morning. Holy hannah, I want to be Korean royalty! It was so beautiful, with gardens and ponds, water lilies and exquisite trees...tons of space for the queen and her entourage! My favorite part was the concubine's quarters though :) A couple friends and I went looking specifically for the "ho house", which was definitely not as cool as the queen's quarters, but still pretty nice. The history behind the palace is fascinating...built in 1395, destroyed and desecrated by the Japanese in the early 1900's, and then rebuilt (restoration is still actually going on) in 1990. Very cool.

After the palace, (and a really long trek to find the van), we had a traditional Korean meal that was sit on the floor on cushions, eat with flat metal chopsticks (harder than I thought), and the food just keeps coming for about an hour...yum!!! Then, full sated and almost waddling, we headed to a street market (I forget what it's called) that was filled with art and antiques...I only bought one gift though, because I'm practicing discipline :) The rest of the team went to a big mall while I hopped back on the subway to head home. A fast shower and a quick meal of cereal (this habit needs to stop!) and I was in bed with the lights out! Not a bad weekend, if you ask me!

Today I got to talk to a bunch of people, and I SO appreciate your support and encouragement. This has already shown itself to be a challenge. I didn't mention the tears Friday night as I fell asleep, wondering what on earth I'm doing half a world away from those I love. I know there will be more tears, but I honestly couldn't be here, doing this, without you. Many, many thanks. I'll be buying an air mattress in the next month or so, so any of you willing to brave a 14 hour flight, you are more than welcome!!!

Hello, my name is Ansley and I have not been kidnapped.

I know, I know...I had some of you worried (read: Mom) but I really am alive and kicking over here in Asia. It's been a busy few days but I was sans technology there for a couple of days and, while liberating to some people, it really just make me antsy. I could just see my mom freaking out and calling the Embassy to send out the search dogs.

Needless to say, I'm here. I just got back from a 24 hour stint in Seoul with OMPC folks (it really is appropriate, Barry) and I'm pretty tired...I'm going to head to bed on my newly made bed (thanks's all perfect!!!) and do this right tomorrow. To come: figuring out the Seoul subway all by myself, Korean food, peanut butter, and concubines.