Hangouts in Daegu

Last week Nate and I had an awesome opportunity to show some friends around Daegu!

For me they were brand new and for Nate they were 50% new.

Nate went to high school with Soonja and Soonja married Dane and Nate married me! Soonja and Dane were traveling Korea (and taking loads of photos) for a weekish and Nate took some time off of work to show them around. I can’t take off work during the semester but my evenings were free, so I managed to meet up with them downtown for some fun evenings.

The first night was a Tuesday, and I took no pictures because I was too busy eating 감자탕 (gamjatang) which, if you don’t know, is pork spine stew with dark greens and potatoes. Aka Amazing. Wednesday night we went for 찜닭 (jjimdak) which, if you don’t know, is steamed chicken with glass noodles, carrots, potatoes, hot peppers, and a brown sauce that has the addictive properties of illegal drugs. Again, no pictures. Thursday night was a Japanese restaurant that is on my top 5 meals ever in my life. We got there right when it opened and the owner/chef was so kind. He brought us out some free dishes, including a skewered pig skin that was slightly like bacon, but we just called it Candy Pig. Sweet and salty and chewy and smoky and moist and…I drooled on my laptop. And I took no pictures.

Then: Waffles.

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All the glory.

We closed it out at Old Blue. Old Blue is a jazz bar and I had a few gigs there back when I was still doing the live music in Daegu. It’s such a cozy classy place and it was fun to be back.

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In the mornings and afternoons Nate took them up Apsan Mountain and exploring Seomun Market, and we all together hit up the stationery stores and trolled the underground shops for Konglish Tshirts.

hazy days at Apsan!
hazy days at Apsan!

There were so many good ones but Nate and I came away with these:

we wear these in public
we wear these in public

Nate’s got the yellow-Freud-rainbow-square and I have taken the other slogan as my new motto. It’s got…something.

Our little mid-week break with Soonja and Dane was especially great since Nate and I have become Old Married People who NEVER stay out late, and since Nate works evenings, are NEVER downtown on weeknights. We got to take them to all of our favorite places and discover some new stuff too, PLUS we did noraebang (Korean karaoke). Which was no small thing, since S&D are both trained, super-pro musicians and Nate and I were coming off of bronchitis.  We had a blast anyway. And…duh…closed out the night with ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’ Soonja and Dane gave us the chance to go out, explore, eat, and play tourist in the city that’s been our home for 4-5 years. Thanks guys 🙂

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We tried so hard to get a group picture…and this was the best one. #yikes

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Student Emails

emailshotI have a really great job.

I am a professor of talking. It’s amazing.

My strong suit is being in front of the students. I get along with them and I like them. My weakness is doing teachy things: curriculum development, lesson planning, being more than a week ahead of myself at any given point in a semester. jk. but real talk.

The beginning of the semester is always a little stressful: finding classes and making sure you’ve got your schedule down properly and aren’t forgetting things or materials and the printers always break halfway through your syllabus. Every time.

The nice thing is that the first week of classes is lite on actual instruction: it’s my chance to assess their levels and try to break through their inevitable English-speaking antipathy. No college freshman wants to mess up in front of a group of peers and English is hard to learn, y’all. So for the first week we play games, and the homework is simple: email me your answer to this question:

Why are you taking this class?

And no matter how stressful the first week is, those emails, man, they make it so so so so beyond worthwhile. Because bless them, how hard they do try to answer that question, and bless them, how some of them do not try at all. (as in, out of something like 75 students I have 58 emails.)

Here are this semester’s tallies:

  • Times I was called ‘sir’: 1
  • One sentence or less in length: 13
  • Paragraph-plus length: 13 (due largely to my upper-level content course)
  • Obviously written in Korean and then crunched through Google translate: 20
  • Unintentional Poetry: 6
  • Unintentional Sass: 5
  • Emojis: 6

Here are my favorites. From the Unintentional Poetry category:

I don’t speak english very well
and I don’t understand english well
but I want to be improving my english skill
this is my answer to your question

to all questions.

i want to good at english

but i am not

so i will try to!

Bless.

From the Unintentional Sass category:

i came because i wanted to see a teacher

Like…that’s the whole thing. okay? Success?

From the Google Translate and Paragraph categories, subdivision Delightful:

I wanted to learn English like a professional may come from the old and in college and live in the future, so important Hebrews sseuyigi like they’d better put up the good work going to work hard to help me because I go to vacation again when traveling overseas trip I hope doeteumyeon

Yes. My thoughts exactly.

If one week age I had no idea about the university and professor, entrance ceremony day be absolutely kept in the dark about course application, but teacher question me why are you taking this class? I talk it was destiny, I believe destiny
entrance ceremony course application time I just focus number 1485 and teachers name: collen I think Wow!! another country people I confidence this class is perfect so I choice 1485, frist class time I feel wonderful I have very best choice
teacher image is very similar my ideal english teacher.
Thank you^^

Just reading these puts me in the best mood. Because darn it, they are trying, and they are failing spectacularly, and that is being a student. And it doesn’t stop in university or adulthood or everrrrr. A reminder that I need all. the. time. So bring on the semester, kiddos. I believe destiny! You believe destiny! Let’s destiny together! Wow!!

My Lasik Experience

(If you want more detailed information about LASIK or Hanbit Clinic, feel free to comment or to send an email!)

I’ve worn glasses since the 4th grade, when my post-bedtime hallway/closet light sneak reading caught up with me. My favorite (only) hobby was reading, and no parent-imposed bedtime was gonna keep me from it–but it came at a price. To my parents. Because eye care is expensive, y’all.

I wore glasses exclusively until I was 21, when the glasses I wore every single day for four years of college and half a semester of grad school snapped over Thanksgiving break. I’d saved up a little bit of money and was able then to get new glasses and a year’s worth of contact lenses.

Contact lenses were amazing, but the cost of replacing them and the upkeep got annoying. I have very sensitive eyes; like my eyes are total wusses. I squint outside even when it’s overcast. There was only one kind of contact solution I found that didn’t majorly irritate my eyes, and I couldn’t leave lenses in too long or my eyes would get mad.

like dis
like dis

When I moved to Korea, I decided that Lasik was definitely an investment I’d be interested in, but I put it off because of other things (student loans, trips home and abroad, getting married). But with our farewell to Korea now looming, Nate and I decided that this was my best shot.

I talked to one of the deacons at church, who was an eye surgeon until he retired a few years ago–but luckily, he was able to set me up an appointment with an English-speaking eye doctor at a clinic downtown.

I went to Hanbit Eye and Laser Center, located just outside of Banwoldang Exit 12 on the 3rd floor of the KEB Building. Here’s a map:

hanbit

I went in twice before the actual procedure: once to for a thorough going-over and a few days later to ensure stability. The surgery itself was happily scheduled in the morning on Friday, which meant Nate could come with me.

They’d mentioned that my eyes (which scored super low on the dryness test, apparently) would need artificial tears as well as the medicated eyedrops they give standard, and they’d also explained that the actual procedure would take about ten minutes total (if that–each laser was about 20 seconds per eye) and that I would experience ‘mild discomfort.’

But you see, my eyes, they are wusses. Total wimps. And ‘mild discomfort’ is the relative-est of terms.

I didn’t think I’d have any problems because I’m not squeamish about touching my eyes and never had trouble popping contacts in and out–but there’s apparently a big difference between me touching my eye and plastic suctiony ring of death touching my eye. Nate anticipated this, which is why he kept asking how I was doing in the morning before the surgery, and was surprised by the breeziness of my responses. Once that suctiony ring of death latched on, I actually thought I might black out, which I have never done. But I muttered a prayer and dug my thumbnail into my index finger and got through it. I donned my serial killer eye guards and hid my face in Nate’s shoulder to block the light out all the way home. It hurt a lot more than I’d anticipated, but Nate took excellent care of me, fetching me ibuprofen and folding one of his shirts over my eyes to block the light.

(Since I kept my eyes shut basically all day, I thought that shirt was a towel, and blew my nose into it, which is gross either way, but hey, #marriage.)

The ‘mild discomfort’ lasted basically until I woke up from the nap I took that afternoon, where it became actual mild discomfort that lasted until the next day. Now, five days post-op, I’m totally fine aside from dry eyes. I got to wash my face today, and I can run again tomorrow, the eye guards will be our bedfellows for only 10 more days, and I can wear eye makeup again in…three weeks! Small, small, price to pay, friends and neighbors. I’m mostly excited for losing the eye guards, because then I’ll get to live my fantasy of waking up, looking across the room, and knowing instantly what I’m looking at.

I’m really grateful that I live in a time and place where this is even possible. It was so fast, and so easy, and golly. geez. jeepers. Thanks, Lord, for this gift.

Laser eyes

PSA: Glasses are not cool.

Were not cool, I should say. The hipsters have taken them and now even people who have never ever squinted or had to change seats in grade school to be closer to the board are sporting thick frames and pretending that reading is their fav. LATE TO THE GAME, HIPSTERS. Where was your irony when I was in seventh grade and looked like this:

look at those cherubic, glasses-less siblings.
look at those cherubic, glasses-less siblings.

I ASK YOU.

I have a long history with glasses because I have 1. predisposed genetics and 2. a terrible habit of reading after bedtime by the light of my closet. Nothing so sophisticated as a flashlight under the covers for me. I wore so many pairs, broke so many pairs. Lost a pair in the ocean once.  Rude.

Glasses are cool now, but know what’s cooler?

Lasers. And, affordable health care. Both of which are plentiful here.

That’s right, kids. Come Friday, I’ll be saying buh-bye to glasses.

Unless I decide to follow the hipsters and get a pair of empty frames, because fashion.

(a little bit of a disclaimer, because the poor person in me is aghast at the expense: first, getting lasik now will save a LOT of money in the long run for contacts, solution, glasses, checkups, et al. Second, this procedure in Korea is just as safe and a zillion times cheaper than in the States. Yes. A zillion. One zillion. I did the math.)

I have always dreamed of waking up in the morning, and–seeing. No strain, no fumbling for glasses or stumbling to pop in lenses. SO weird to think it’s just a few days away.  I’ve had the idea to get this done since I moved to Korea. Now that I’m on vacation, I’ve got the time to recover without worrying about juggling work. I asked our friend at church, a retired eye surgeon, for a recommendation, and he set me up that week with an appointment.

Initial checkups have shown that my eyes are stable (though dry) and I’ve met my doctor and primary nurse. They’re both wonderful and I’m totally comfortable with them. The procedure is on Friday, and the recovery time is just a few days resting m’peepers at home.

The future is bright, people. And crisp, and well-defined. Let’s do this! I’m totally not panicking.