Archives for the month of: August, 2014

Bibimbap was one of the first traditional dishes I had after arriving in Korea (I even had an airplane version on the way over,  and though it was quite tasty for airplane food, it didn’t compare to the real deal).  It basically translates to mixed rice and traditionally consists of warm rice topped with seasoned vegetables, an egg and a modest amount of thinly sliced beef.  Bibimbap is famous in the city of Jeonju where it was first found in a cookbook—Siuijeonseo from the 19th century—and is believed to have been a royal dish/snack from the Joseon Dynasty.  (I was lucky enough to enjoy a large bowl of traditional Jeonju bibimbap during my EPIK orientation, but unfortunately didn’t get a picture of it.)

Usually, bibimbap is served either cold with a fried egg on top or in a sizzling hot stone pot with a raw egg which cooks when you mix everything together.  The latter, called dolsot bibimbap, is my favorite. The stone pot is lightly coated with sesame oil and because it’s so hot, the bottom layer of rice gets slightly crispy.  Gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) is typically served right on top in the bowl alongside the vegetables and the egg.  Once mixed together thoroughly, you’re in for spoonfuls of deliciousness (yes, Koreans eat bibimbap with a spoon, not chopsticks).

Dolsot bibimbap is served in a sizzling hot stone pot. The raw egg starts to cook when you mix everything together.

Dolsot bibimbap is served in a sizzling hot stone pot. The raw egg starts to cook when you mix everything together.

Before eating bibimbap you must thoroughly mix everything together.

Before eating bibimbap you must thoroughly mix everything together.

David's first time enjoying bibimbap, which was of course accompanied by an array of side dishes (banchan), as well as beer (maekju) and soju.

David’s first time enjoying bibimbap, which was of course accompanied by an array of side dishes (banchan), as well as beer (maekju) and soju.

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After spending an amazing two weeks exploring the east coast of South Korea with David (hence the lack of posts lately), I am back at work and already daydreaming about future vacations.  It’s been a rough transition back to reality, and it was really sad to see David go home to Denver, but once I get back into the routine of the second semester of school I’m guessing my next adventure (aside from the daily adventure that is teaching in Eumseong) will be here before I know it.

Eventually I will get around to posting about all the amazing places and food we experienced.  In the meantime I’ll give you a sneak peak into the adventure that went like this: Incheon→Seoul→Sokcho→Seoraksan National Park→Gangneung→Gyeongpo Beach→Jeongdongjin→Busan→Jeju Island→Eumseong.  We didn’t hit as many places as we’d originally planned due to some bad weather, but had an incredible time nonetheless.

Sunrise Pavilion in Sokcho

Sunrise Pavilion in Sokcho

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park

A giant feast of the freshest sashimi on Gyeongpo Beach.

A giant feast of the freshest sashimi on Gyeongpo Beach.

View of the East Sea from Sun Cruise Resort in Jeongdongjin.

View of the East Sea from Sun Cruise Resort in Jeongdongjin.

One of the few sunny days we had was spend building a sand castle on Haeundae Beach in Busan.

One of the few sunny days we had was partially spent building a sand castle on Haeundae Beach in Busan.

View from Busan Tower

View from Busan Tower

Jeju Olle, Route 1

Jeju Olle, Route 1

Black pork bbq in Jeju City. It was delicious.

Black pork bbq in Jeju City. It was delicious.

Oedolgae Rock on a Jeju Island.  It was quite stormy that day.

Oedolgae Rock on a Jeju Island. It was quite stormy that day.

David and I having dinner at the end of the adventure in Eumseong.

David and I having dinner at the end of the adventure in Eumseong.

The air has become hot and heavy, rainstorms are frequent and monster mosquitoes seem to be everywhere I go.  That  means the first semester has ended and two weeks of vacation are just around the corner.  As I look back on the past five months, I can’t decide if my first semester teaching in Korea flew by or dragged on at a snail’s pace.  There are times when it feels like only yesterday I stepped off that incredibly long flight on that bitterly cold day in Incheon, not having any idea what I was getting myself into.  Then there are times when it feels like I’ve been here forever.  Either way, I’ve learned a lot since arriving in February, both about myself and Korea.  Here are a few brief and random thoughts on the experience so far:

Living and working in Korea has been much more challenging than I’d anticipated.  So much so that I’ll admit there have been days I’ve wondered how I’ll make it through a year here.

This whole experience has been nothing like I imagined it would be.  It seems that all EFL teachers’ experiences here greatly differ depending on where they’ve been placed (big city versus rural town) and how they are treated by their school and co–teacher.  I have to remind myself not to compare my situation to those of others.  I’m where I am for a reason, and that reason may not have shown its face yet.

My co–teacher thinks I’m strange for not eating rice at least once per day, every single day.  However, I am suddenly finding that I miss it if I go several days without it.

I will never get used to having cockroaches as roommates.

My students get very excited when they see me outside of school (well, most of them anyway), and that makes me happy.

When I hear a Korean say maybe I now know that means yes.

I still need to work on not being a perfectionist.  I find myself not posting on this blog as often as I’d like because I’m worried about making each post perfect, and sometimes I just don’t have the energy for that after a long day at school.  Clearly, they’re not perfect anyway.  Nothing is so why worry about it?

The homesickness that I thought would go away after a month of arriving is still lingering, heavily.  I feel that has something to do with living in a small town, which can be quite isolating at times.  That being said, I still can’t say I would rather have been placed in a large city.

Learning foreign languages is not my forte. I try to study at least a little Korean everyday, and it’s just not sticking (the speaking part, at least).  It’s amazing how much you can still manage to communicate with someone even if you don’t speak the same language, however.

I really do love kimchi.  I think I need to learn how to make it for when I return to the States.

That’s all for now.  This week and next I am busy teaching summer camp, which tends to be more relaxed than regular classes (more games and less grammar), and then I have a full two weeks off.  I am very excited, as David will be visiting from Denver and we’ll be exploring the eastern coast of South Korea, as well as Jeju Island.