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Archive for June, 2010

Beat It

No doubt that Michael Jackson was a worldwide superstar. Some Korean artists from Fluxus Music made their own version of MJ’s song Beat It using iPhone apps. Pretty neat!

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Haircut and Magic Straight

I got my hair cut a couple weeks ago. Thank goodness my bangs didn’t turn out bluntly cut across my forehead. I went to a place downtown that one of my friends recommended. Since it’s ridiculously hot and humid in Daegu, I thought it’d be a good idea to straighten my hair before it gets really frizzy. This turned out to be the best decision of the summer!

When I told the stylist that I wanted to straighten my hair, she was like, “Have you ever experienced Magic Straight?”. All I needed to hear was the word “magic” and I was in. I’ve gotten my hair straightened before, but never by magic!

Here’s some info I found online about the magic straight procedure in the US.

My natural hair

One of the few pics of my naturally wavy hair. Ignore my face please.

 

My hair in the summer

Frizzzzzy

It could be worse. My hair got really dry and frizzy from the humidity.

 

My hair after Magic Straight

Shiny and new! Ignore the shot please.

 

Magic Straight – How its done

  1. Shampoo and rinse unwashed hair. First, she cut my hair since I wanted it shorter. You don’t need to get a hair cut before you do the magic perm, but if you’re getting your hair cut anyway you can just do it all in one go.
  2. Brush in the straightening product. It’s almost like getting your hair colored. The stylist brushes the product on in sections and makes sure every strand is coated.
  3. Wrap hair in plastic. They put on a plastic shower cap over my hair.
  4. Apply heat. They placed a revolving heat disc machine behind me and it orbited around my head. I hardly felt the heat so I wondered if it was working. This probably lasted about 30 minutes, I’m not sure.
  5. Rinse out product.
  6. Blowdry hair. Two stylists blowdried my hair at the same time.
  7. Straighten hair with flat irons. This is the second part of the magic straight – shaping the strands straight. After the straightening product is applied and rinsed out, hair can be molded into shape. Two stylists used skinny flat irons and straightened my hair in one inch sections. Pretty time consuming procedure. They had to exaggerate the shape and curled my hair at the bottom so the ends wouldn’t just be stick straight. When she curled my bangs I freaked out and she reassured me that it wouldn’t turn out like that in the end.
  8. Wait for hair to set.
  9. Apply deep conditioning product. This step is optional but I wanted to get it done since my hair was feeling dry and damaged from the crappy hair dryer I’ve been using. After applying the product, they put sections of my hair in rollers to maintain the shape.
  10. Wash hair.
  11. Blow dry and style.
  12. Voila, straight and silky hair!

How long does it take?

The hair cut, magic straight and deep conditioning took about 2 hours or a little more. I was surprised by the stylist’s speed. She must have a lot of experience with magic straightening.

How long does it last?

Most people say that hair should stay straight for 4-6 months. It really depends on how wavy or curly a person’s hair is and how well it handles chemical products. I think my hair stayed fairly straight for about the same amount of time, if not longer. Of course only the part of my hair that was straightened, not the part that grew out after.

  • Important tip: If the stylist forgets to tell you (or if you forget to ask), remember not to wash or shampoo your hair for at least 24 hours. The hair hasn’t completely set yet and it’s best to try to leave it as it is, like don’t put it in a pony tail either.

How much does it cost?

In Korea, it costs around 100,000-130,000 won, which is about $84-$110. It’s significantly cheaper than the price in the US for magic straight or the other kind of straightening. The price depends on where you get it done. I got my hair straightened in a salon downtown, which is more expensive than more local places. But the salon I went to has a stylist my friend recommended and she speaks English pretty well. She’s also really nice :). She will give you a discount if you pay in cash. I think many places in Korea offer a cheaper price if you pay with cash instead of card. Stop by the bank before you head to the salon.

Where can I get it done?

Most salons in Korea should have a stylist that knows how to do this procedure. Magic straight is pretty popular, as are perms and dyeing hair. I think it’d be best to go to a salon someone can recommend, like a friend or teacher at school. Also, it’d be good to find a stylist you can communicate with if you don’t speak much Korean.

Does it work on all kinds of hair?

I’m not quite sure. Everyone’s hair is different and some hair responds better to chemicals than others. If you have really thin or damaged hair, the chemicals might be too strong and further damage your hair. If you have very thick or curly hair, it might not be as effective or it might not stay straight as long as 4-6 months. I don’t know how well magic straight would work for black hair so I would recommend going to a salon and asking a stylist. They might not have much experience with black hair, though. And if you already have chemically treated hair, you should ask the stylist if you can get it chemically straightened.

How do I style my hair after magic straight?

I love having my hair straight. But I hate the effort it takes to get it straight. Magic straight made my hair super straight. It’s also soft and shiny, which could be due in part to the deep conditioning treatment. Styling my hair in the morning is much easier. I only have to blow dry it and run my hands through and use a brush for minimal styling around my bangs. Takes about 5 minutes. I don’t have to use straightening products or even anti-frizz serum, glossers, balms, etc.

UPDATE:

It’s been almost 5 months and my hair is still shiny and straight. I only have to use straightening products along my hairline since it’s grown out the last few months. I think using good, salon-quality shampoo and conditioner has helped maintain the shine. I think my hair has stayed straight because I have fine hair and it wasn’t too wavy to begin with. How is your hair holding up?

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FIFA Update

So excited that Korea made it to the last 16! It’s only the second time they’ve gotten this far in the World Cup. Lots of people stayed up to watch the South Korea v. Nigeria game at 3:30am. I didn’t stay out to watch this game, but I’ll definitely be there for the next game. Korean fans are amazing!

I know almost nothing about soccer and the World Cup but I’ve been reading articles about South Korea’s next game against Uruguay. After the Argentina v. South Korea game, I’m nervous about another game against another South American team lol. So I decided to check out some stats.

This quote really made my hope falter:

Manchester United midfielder Park is focused solely on the upcoming game against Uruguay, who the East Asians have not beaten in four previous attempts.

Stats are not on the South Korean’s side in this game. But, like others have been saying, this World Cup has seen a fair amount of upsets so far. So, we’ll see.

I’d like to see Korea play hard in this next game. The last two games weren’t their best. So let’s see some more goals 대한민국! I want to see them go far.

As for team USA, their last game was a nail-biter but they made it to the next round thanks to Landon Donovan. I’ll go out to the next USA game too. Wow the World Cup is getting more and more exciting.

If both Korea and USA advance, then they’ll be facing each other in a match that is guaranteed to disappoint USA and Korea fans one way or another. My loyalty will be divided if and when that day comes!

UPDATE: South Korea and USA both lost their games in the same night :(. I went home at 6:30am tired and defeated. But, they made a good effort considering the horrible officiating by the refs. 대한민국 and USA did us proud!

Also, England is out mwahaha. Just kidding. Sorry about the loss. Now I don’t care much who wins the World Cup.

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Maybe it’s the other way around, but I’m in Korea and I’m a fan of Rain so in this case Usher can be introduced like that. Why am I even talking about Usher???

Well, one of my many hobbies is watching TV in Korea because I love pop culture. One day I suddenly saw a familiar sight. A sultry-faced Usher wearing an unbottoned shirt in front of a wind machine. I thought OMG what is this, cologne? And it turns out Usher is having a concert in Korea! One of my friends messaged me about it this week and I was like WE GOTTA GO!

Urshurr in Seoul

This knocks off about 4 things on my To Do List in Korea: Attend a concert, see Olympic Park, see a big celebrity, and MEET RAIN. How, do you ask?? Well, I have a RAINdar and it tells me that Rain will be there.

Okay I actually have evidence to support my RAINdar senses. A few years back Usher made an appearance at one of Rain’s concerts. He came up on stage and he and Rain did some kind of secret handshake. So Rain and Usher know each other. Since this is Usher’s first concert in Korea, I think it’s the perfect opportunity for Rain to return the favor.

Look, here’s a video if you still don’t believe me. Usher shows up at 1:50.

It seems the stars have aligned for me to have another chance to see Rain.

P.S. I would totally die if Usher wears that white silky jacket to his concert LOL!

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Oh yeah. Rain recently won the Most Baddass Award at the MTV Movie Awards and I knew it would rekindle his rivalry with Stephen Colbert. Check out the video at the link.

Stephen Colbert has a rivalry with Rain because Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people listed Rain as the number one most influential person, with Stephen Colbert ranked second. So Stephen Colbert made a K-Pop video in an attempt to beat Rain at his own game. He also had a dance-off with Rain lol. I can’t find the videos on youtube but check the links to watch on Colbert’s website.

WordPress sucks at embedding videos.

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File Dump

I FINALLY updated my Lesson Plans page! It’s on the top right left corner above the catchy blog title. You can find links to download lesson Powerpoints and handouts I’ve made. Things that are not mine I have linked to other websites. I hope you find my lesson materials useful!

I still need to add my Travel page. That will take much longer since I need to finish writing posts about my trips and I need to upload some photos. I plan on working on it tomorrow since I don’t have to teach any classes!

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Thanks to my fellow English teacher friends for sharing your honest perspectives. Cheers to our own unique blend of Korea! This post is for all of you English teachers out there!

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There’s a special kind of tea called omija cha, or five flavor tea, that is known for its unique blend of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent flavors. I really like omija because of its sweetness, sourness, bitterness and tart-ness. It’s almost like pomegranate juice, except all the flavors kind of hit you at the same time. And that’s actually what makes the tea so special.

oh me jaw

Why am I writing about omija tea? I think it’s a good way to describe what Korea has been like for many of us English teachers. A strange mixture of sweet, sour, bitter, and even pungent experiences that come at us all at once. This is something I’ll to refer to as the Five Flavors of Korea. I know there are a myriad of “flavors” (good and bad) in Korea, but just go with my little omija metaphor! I asked some of my English teacher friends to describe their experiences in Korea. Everyone had a different response. Many described their experiences as sweet or bitter, some sour and some even said pungent.

  • Sweet
    Most of my blog posts are about the sweet side of living in Korea. I was fortunate to have been served a sweet blend of omija tea in Korea. I love my school and my co-teacher. My administrator is very generous and all my co-teachers are very good. Even my landlord and landlady are very nice. I don’t have much to complain about to be honest and I feel a bit guilty sometimes when I know some people have worse situations.
    A fellow teacher said, “I was prepared for the culture, as I grew up around it. Moreover, I can describe it as sweet, because after overcoming the many obstacles here, I really feel a sense of strong satisfaction”
  • Bitter
    As one of my friends describes his/her experience, “It’s like experiencing the good and the bad, but having the bad things outweigh the good. Although bitter is something not so horrible, it stills leave this bad taste in your mouth.” Not palatable at all.
  • Pungent
    Another friend describes the transition as very sharp and drastic, like a “crash landing.” “Korea is in the far east! Meaning its friggin far from home!!!! Not only distance wise but also cultural wise! I think I had major culture shock in the beginning! I think my advice would be not to do too much research. I over researched and thus had expectations and thought I knew what I was going to get! Nothing panned out as I had imagined it! Whereas when I worked and traveled in England for a year I had very few expectations thus fewer disappointments! Korea is like a crash landing. It’s rough and wild and completely disorientating, but if you can make it through the impact and find your way through the rubble I think you will be fine! And last, there is a lingering odor of sewage in some parts of town.” How pungent!
  • Sweet-n-Sour
    “Everyday there is something that goes wrong. Or something that is a pain in the ass. Or something that I don’t like. Some days I want to cry and call my mommy.”
    “Then there are days where I literally want to skip to work. Where everything is exciting and new. Where I just want to dance through the streets and smile at every ajumma and ajosshi”
    “Anyway, the experience has been an overall pleasant one with some bumps. I think what it is, is that if you keep an open mind, you’ll have fun. If you’re set in your ways and want the world to change for you, then you’re going to experience problems.”
  • Bittersweet
    “Things are getting easier, but living in a country like Korea is never easy”
    “I love it here! I love challenging myself! And I am having such a great time being here and experiencing everything new! Even teaching, it’s much better than I imagined it would be! I love it here, but the bitter sweet part is that I miss my family and friends so much! On one hand I am sooo happy, if it wasn’t for the missing everyone factor! that’s the hardest part!”

Living in Korea is like drinking omija cha, it’s hard to put a finger on its “flavor”. Is it sweet? Bitter? Good or bad? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell! So we often find ourselves frustrated and confused. Or sometimes it’s hard to decipher our feelings because they change so fast. One moment everything’s as sweet as pie and the next, sour lemons. Wae, omija/Korea??

Or maybe it’s because the flavors seem to blend together. Things aren’t simply sweet, sour or bitter just like things aren’t simply good or bad. It’s everything at the same time! Good and bad and “so-so”. With some input from my English teacher friends, here are five things we’ve learned and observed about living in Korea:

  1. Things will not always be clear-cut. There are times you’ll feel unsure and uncertain. At some point, you’ll feel like that all the time.
  2. Things will not be what you expect. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Definitely keeps you on your toes.
  3. You’re not alone! Use your seonsaengnim network – foreigners and locals. Help each other out.
  4. No matter what people tell you about their experiences, you really won’t know until you get here.
  5. And, every day is a different day. To put a little spin on a classic quote, “Korea is like omija cha; you never know what you’re gonna get.”

We all get served a different mix of this blend. Some have it more bitter and some have it more sweet, but it’s all the same Korea. That’s the good and the dark side of it all. In the end, all I can say is…

Korea is definitely a unique blend

This post is my way of coping with the different facets of living and working in Korea. It was originally a post about how grateful I am to be at my school but how unfair it is that some people are placed in really bad situations. But, it slowly transitioned into a different kind of post. During the process of writing, I realized how much we have in common as English teachers despite how different our experiences have been. We’re all in it together – swirling in the cup of omija cha that is Korea.

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대한민국!!

It’s Korea v. Argentina tonight at 8:30 local time. Should be another good game! Actually, it’s their toughest match up in this group. I guess Argentina is heavily favored to win, but Korea is hoping to carry the momentum from their win against Greece. I totally paraphrased that from the article I just read.

Argentina are the best team in our group. They have a lot of top international players. People are saying they could make the Final. Of course there is a difference in standard between the two teams but the unexpected can happen in this World Cup, and that is what we are looking to do.

I watched the Korea v. Greece game in Busan last weekend at Haeundae. Amazing experience! I’m not a big sports fan, and I know nothing about soccer, but I must’ve caught a little World Cup fever. Especially in a country that is so excited about playing in the World Cup. Plus they got Kim Yuna and Big Bang to collaborate on the anthem. So I was pretty much sold.

Out on the beach in Busan

I got a Shouts of Red t-shirt and the red horns and the inflatable bats. Supporting Korea of course! The game was really exciting. And everyone was so damn happy to see Korea win. And I guess everyone was a winner that night lol. Apparently, condom sales skyrocketed in Korea after the World Cup win. Five times more than in 2006, when Korea didn’t so do great in the World Cup. Also convenience stores and chicken joints benefited from the Korean victory.

I should’ve gotten in on the action! Sell some condoms, beer, chicken and snacks and root for another win! I don’t know…but I have a good feeling about tonight!! GO 대한민국!

Vendor selling World Cup merchandise

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Korea was outmatched by Argentina. I don’t watch soccer, but I could tell Argentina was in control of the game. It’s not that Korea played terrible, either. They just couldn’t get close to the goal. Plus the unfortunate accidental goal when the ball bounced off the Korean player and went into their own goal. A sad night for Korean fans everywhere :(.

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