May 2012 archive

All of my Dreams Came True at the Hello Kitty Cafe

My friends Alicia and Chris from Busan came to visit Johnny and I last weekend, and we went to have lunch in Hongdae. As we were walking down the main strip, something pink and magnificent caught my eye.

BEHOLD!!! THE HELLO KITTY CAFE!!!


Anyone that knows me/if you’ve been reading for a minute, you know that I am utterly, over the top, RIDICULOUSLY obsessed with Hello Kitty. Being in Korea has only intensified my love. I even bought the Hello Kitty toilet paper when it went on sale at Emart. AND I HAVE NO SHAME EITHER!

It’s been my ultimate dream to go to the Hello Kitty cafe. So when I saw it on top of the hill, just as beautiful and pink as ever, I squealed like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. My friends and I decide to go to the cafe after we had lunch, but I could barely contain myself to wait that long.

When we finally got inside the cafe, my heart exploded all over again. Pink, pink and more pink everywhere. Hello Kitty waffles! Hello Kitty tiramisu! Hello Kitty green tea lattes! Hello Kitty chairs! Hello Kitty tables! Hello Kitty Bathroom! Hello Kitty everythinggggggggg! It was like my childhood x450435734895634. I was in heaven. Hello. Kitty. Heaven. Nothing will compare! (except the Hello Kitty plane….yes…it exists and YES! I will fly it one day)

Oh yes. That is Hello Kitty’s face in a green tea latte. Heart = exploded

I need to find this bathroom mirror IMMEDIATELY.

The Hello Kitty cafe is slightly overpriced, but the food and drinks were actually really good. Honestly, I’d pay anything for the Hello Kitty cafe, but I’m also slightly biased. I plan on going back a few more (ahem, a LOT more) times before I leave here…because seriously…HELLO KITTY CAFE!!!!!! You definitely cannot find one anywhere in the States.

I am terrible with directions, so if you want to get to the Hello Kitty Cafe, Eat Your Kimchi has wonderful directions and a map!

Tales from a Korean Gym

This week, I finally joined the gym here in Korea. I know, I know, you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, Sheryll! There’s tons of mountains and parks and running paths! Why the gym?!”

Well, I hate working out outside, and monsoon season is fast approaching, which I’ve heard from various sources that monsoon season here is the worst thing ever. So… gym membership it is. And boy, has it been worth it.

So I live in a very, small, countryside area, so my gym is pretty small, but it has everything I need. The first day there, I got some curious glances from people, but nothing major. I ran, did some leg exercises and went about my merry way.

The next day, I was running on the treadmill when an ajosshi (middle aged Korean man), came up to the treadmill next to me. He turned to me and said, “Korean?!”

“No. Sorry!” I said politely, as I started to put my headphones back on.

So then, he decides to give me a mini lesson in Korean on how to say hello, when to bow, etc. etc. Meanwhile, I’m just really wanting to get back to my run. I didn’t want to be rude, because for all I know, he’s probably the dad of one of my students. So I just smiled and nodded, patiently waiting for him to leave.

THEN.

He points to the clock.

“Aerobics class! Dance! Now!” He calls over a woman who I presumed to be his wife, or someone related to him. He points to me, talking to her in Korean.

The ajumma (middle aged Korean woman), takes my hand and leads me to the aerobics room. “uhhhh!” I protest. But homegirl was NOT having it. “Fun! Aerobics dance! You like!”

Well…if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

I walk into the aerobics room where the most glorious spectacle I’ve ever laid eyes on is before me. Ajummas are decked out in 80s style lyrca shorts and bedazzled side split pants. Some are even wearing lyrca halter tops, something I’ve NEVER seen since women in Korea definitely never ever ever show their boobs and rarely show their shoulders in any capacity. ESPECIALLY ajummas. They are the ones wearing fucking visors, long sleeves, gloves, socks, boots, in the summer as to avoid the sun.

The instructor walks in, looks at me, and is obviously surprised to see me there. I mime to her that I will watch her. She nods…and starts the music.

The warmup was fairly easy to follow. “I got this!”, I foolishly thought to myself.

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

The second songs starts, and the instructor begins an elaborate set of 80s style moves that EVERYONE seems to know already. I’m talking about an entire Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation style routine set to old school K pop music. It was INSANE. For the next hour, I fumbled and bumbled around and tried to not look like an idiot.

During entire time of the class I kept thinking,”How is this my life right now?” “Am I really in Korea taking the MOST ridiculous aerobics class of all time with a bunch of ajummas wearing bedazzled halter tops?!”

It was then I realized I was having probably one of the greatest/funniest/best/insanely ridiculous moments of my life.

And moments like that will turn into memories that will last a lifetime.

The Awesome Time I Taught My Students What a ‘Hot Mess’ Means

I love my job.

But it has pros and cons. I don’t have to teach from the book, my school actually doesn’t even want me to look at the book. I’m there to be a real life, walking, breathing, American culture expert. So while it’s kind of cool I don’t have to teach from the book and I can seriously do whatever I want….I also have to think of things to teach and go outside of the box. This a huge task when you realize you can literally teach pretty much anything (obviously within reason).

Insert my brilliant idea to teach the students, ‘Sheryll’s Slang of the Week’ as my class warmup. This week, I’ve been teaching them my favorite phrase of ALL time: Hot Mess. And they LOVE it.

All week, my students have been coming up to me and impressing me with their retention skills.

“Sheryll teacha! The weather is a …….. HOT MESS!” *proud grin*
“I am feeling like a hot mess today teacha”
“Lunch was a hot mess today!”

It is amazing. I didn’t really expect them to retain the information, let alone actually use it. Maybe because I told them they’d be super cool if they did.

So after my ‘Sheryll’s Slang’ warmup, I’ve been teaching a Konglish lesson, where one of slides features a picture of a sign that says “Clean Blue Crap”. The students are supposed to tell me what’s wrong with the picture…obvious being the word crap instead of crab. Here is a recap of what went down in my 8th grade all boys class (10 students, thank God):

Me: Yes. Crap is incorrect. Does anyone know what crap means?
Student 1: YES TEACHA! *stands up and makes poop motion*
Me: ….. *trying to keep composure* Yes. You are right. Crap is a slang term for ….
Student 2: SHIT! shit shit shit shit shit shit!
ALL of the boys: *screaming, laughing, yelling the word shit*
Student 3: *pointing at his friend* YOU ARE A SHIT! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
All of the boys: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT

I look over at my coteacher and her face is beet red and she’s trying to hold back her laughter.

Me: OKAY! Yes…you are right. The word “shit” is also another word for crap. However, it’s highly inappropriate to use in America, and pretty much all of the other English speaking countries. It’s a BAD BAD BAD word! You can’t say it!
All of the students: *blank stare*
Student 1: *raises hand* Sheryll Teacha! Is …….. that word a…….. hot mess?
Me: ……Yes. Yes, it is.*mentally gives myself a pat on the back*

WINS. FOREVER.

I Just Want a Turkey Sandwich

I’ve been in Korea for 5 weeks now. I’m currently on my second day of deskwarming, better known as sitting at my desk and watching TV shows and painting my nails. The students were on a field trip yesterday, and today it’s ‘club day’. I don’t know what club day means other than the students aren’t wearing their uniforms and they all seem to be doing fun things like playing the guitar and drawing, but hey, this just means I have an extra day to lesson plan and watch Breaking Bad.

This is what I've been doing the past 2 days. Nail polish and movies.

Things here have been great. I’m really, really, lucky to work in the school that I do and have Johnny so close to me. My students are hilarious and smart and seem generally interested in English and really seem to like me.

I’ve connected with an awesome group of expats in my area and we have dinner every Wednesday. Two of my really good friends from high school are here too, so I really do have an awesome network of people. I’m rarely lonely anymore.

But damnit. ALL I want in life is a turkey sandwich.

Korean food is delicious. Bibimbap, samgyeopsal, mandu, kimbap, kimchi jjiggae, etc. etc. the list goes on. But this turkey sandwich craving has been killing my soul. I spent 2 hours on Google the other day trying to find a turkey sandwich in my area. It’s THAT bad.

My dinner of samgyeopsal last night was DELICIOUS. But all I want is a turkey club on sourdough, with avocado and tomato. SIGH.

So yes, I can go to Costco. But it’s a little far and apparently a nightmare. Subway is here, but they don’t have turkey sandwiches apparently (THE HORROR!). Quiznos is in Itaewon, but that’s a good 2 hours away from me. I am dying. It’s really the only food I’ve craved since I’ve been here. I’ve had plenty of delicious Mexican food, so I haven’t fully exploded yet. But yeah…gimme a turkey sandwich! (and hummus. SIGH. hummus)

In other important news, Korean cosmetics are EVERYFUCKINGTHING. I should just go ahead and give Innisfree, Etude House and SkinFood all of my paychecks from now on (oh…and stationary stores…but I’m not even going to get into that yet..LOL!). My skin is actually clearing up from using the products here. In my experience, it’s fairly easy to spot products that are for whitening, as it will usually say ‘whitening/brightening/lightening/etc’. I always ask a sales associate just in case, but Innisfree and SkinFood definitely have some English on their labels so you can read them. And I always Google product reviews too! After spending SO much money on acne stuff from Sephora, buying things here is like heaven. It’s inexpensive and they actually work! I’m currently using:

SkinFood Green Tea Milk Foaming Cleanser: really good for taking my makeup off at the end of the night
SkinFood Parsley and Mandarin Toner and Emulsion for Troubled Skin: this stuff has SAVED my skin. I don’t know what it’s doing, but I’ve seen a dramatic difference in my blackheads and breakouts. For someone who is suffering from the terrible, sad, awful, worst thing ever known as adult acne, this stuff has been a godsend.
SkinFood Black Sugar Mask Scrub: I’ll be buying 4 tons of this stuff to take back to America. It smells like heaven, it’s a great scrub, and a little goes a long way.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Ash Pore Mask: MIRACLE WORKER I TELL YOU! I read reviews about this stuff from a beauty website and it looked promising. It’s everything. You can use it as an all over mask, or as an overnight spot treatment for stubborn pimples. I used it as a spot treatment last night and my problem areas are visibly less red and the few pimples I had seem to have shrank. The night before, I used it as an all over face mask and my skin felt super smooth afterwards, and my pores were definitely smaller.
Etude House Lash Perm Mascara: I originally saw this stuff and laughed out loud. “LASH PERM!?” But it’s possibly one of the best mascaras I’ve used…and I’ve used a LOT. To me, a great mascara is equal really thick, really black formula and a great brush. Lash Perm has both. My eyelashes look fake!

My medicine cabinet is already getting full and I've only been here 5 weeks!

This doesn’t even cover the lip glosses, nail polishes, face masks, and other stuff I’ve bought. And whenever you buy from any of these places, they always throw in a TON of free samples for you to try. I’ve just been taking them all to Johnny ‘s apartment so I have stuff over there when I stay over. It’s a win all around! And the price point for most of the products in the stores is about 15,000W or less, or roughly $14.50 (being the most expensive thing there). All of the things I’ve talked about were about 9,000W or less. YES!

This weekend I think I’m probably going out with one of my friends from high school to Hongdae. I haven’t been to a club here yet, and I’ve been dying to dance!

Bau House Dog Cafe = Best Ever (especially if you miss your dog like crazy)

I miss my puppy Jack.

I haven’t seen him since before Johnny and I left for Europe, almost 7 months ago. It’s tough. Whenever I see someone walking their adorable, toy sized pooch, my heart melts. During my ice breaker/intro week, I showed my students pictures of Jack, and they all screamed, “CUTE–UH!” Sigh.

So, what’s a girl to do when she needs a cute puppy fix and she’s in S. Korea? Go to a dog cafe!

What’s a dog cafe? Well, it’s a cafe, filled with dogs. You buy a drink, and hang out with them for awhile and hopefully go home a happier person. AKA it’s one of the best places of all time.

A few weekends ago, Johnny and I went to probably the most popular dog cafe in Seoul, Bau House. And it was everything I’ve always wanted, and more. You’d think that small cafe filled with at least 15 dogs would be super gross and smelly, but it was actually very clean. There were at least 8 people working, all armed with cleaning sprays and paper towels the SECOND a dog used the bathroom. And all of the dogs were walked regularly! While I was there, the bigger dogs were walked twice, which is great because it *is* a small space for some of the huge ones.

You have to buy a drink, and a coffee is about 7,000W, or roughly $6.50ish, so it’s sort of pricey. Johnny and I got beers for 5,000W, or like $4.50ish, which to me is a little more doable. To me, it was totally worth it!

And yes, the dogs do whatever the fuck they want. Including walking on tables, laying on the windowsills, laying on the booths, or just chillin’ on the floor. You can buy treats to feed them for about 3,000W, and Johnny and I definitely took advantage.

Pure joy, I tell you. And how could you not be the happiest person ever? Just look at these faces!

See!!!!

Bau House is in Hongdae. I found the directions here. Even if you don’t miss your dog, or you maybe even hate dogs, I think Bau House is an awesome place to visit one of the quirkier cafes in Korea. You definitely won’t find a dog cafe anywhere else!

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