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Posts Tagged ‘Daegu’

Not really. I had such a great year teaching, traveling and having fun in Korea. I didn’t leave my heart behind completely, but it feels like something’s been missing since I left. Unlike many of my friends who went straight home after finishing their contracts, I decided to extend my time abroad and stay in the Philippines. I haven’t been home in over a year now, but I don’t feel ready to go back quite yet.

I’ve been thinking about Korea a lot lately – wondering at odd hours of the day what my friends must be doing (deskwarming, hanging out downtown, or drinking in any combination). Wondering if my students miss me or if their beloved Maria Teacher has been replaced ㅠ_ㅠ (I hope not!). Wondering what new cosmetics must be out. I could go on. Instead, I’ll make a list of things I miss from my life in the 대한민국.

Korea Miss List:

  • 제 친구들 – My friends!! I met so many great people and I miss seeing their goofy, drunken faces. Just kidding, we weren’t always drunk, right?
  • My co-teacher – She is such a great person. I miss her! Seriously, I was crying on the bus ride to the airport after she dropped me off ㅜ_ㅜ.
  • My students – I loved being a teacher. Not trying to gloss over the stress and frustration I often felt while teaching in Korea. But, my experience was overwhelmingly positive and most of that is thanks to my students.
  • Foods – Let me make a brief list: kimchi, samgyeopsal, samgyetang, kimchi jjiggae, doenjang jjiggae, Korean wings and fried chicken, bibimbap, freakin banchan, kimbap, rice cakes, ddoekbokki, street snacks
  • Egg Tarts – Not what Korea is famous for, but I always used to hang out at the egg tarts place with my pals after dinner.
  • Shopping – Because let’s face it, where did half of my salary go every month.
  • Cosmetics – There are so many and they’re so cheap! I’m also obsessed with cosmetics and Korea just made it worse.
  • K-pop – The soundtrack of my life in Korea. What’s new nowadays??
  • K-dramas – DUDE what’s new nowadays??
  • Nature – Never thought I’d say it. I kind of like nature now thanks to Korea.
  • 4 Seasons – I think it’s a nice concept.
  • Internet – I miss the high-speed internet!
  • Mobility – It’s pretty easy to travel in Korea. I can’t travel as easily here in the Philippines so I feel very limited.
  • Hair salons – I need a trim! I miss Ji-won at Serrano!
  • Korean – I miss hearing Korean! I feel like following around the Korean students I see here. I know, that is just creepy. I won’t do it 😛
  • Traveling – There was always somewhere new to see or return trips to Seoul or Busan. I felt like I could do anything I wanted at any moment.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things. I’m so glad that I took a chance and went to Korea. I learned so much and I have lots of great memories and stories to share with everyone when I finally return home.

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Korean Classes in Daegu

Calling all Daegu-kins! (Daegu + waygookin)

Just got an email from the YMCA in Daegu about Korean classes this spring. I recommend first-timers in Korea to take at least a basic-level Korean class to learn how to read hangeul and to learn some survival Korean. You don’t have to take Korean classes. But, I found it very helpful to take a class because I’m too lazy busy to study on my own. And overall, learning Korean helped make my experience in Korea a lot easier.

Also, the instructors at the YMCA are great (they volunteer to teach)! They’re really nice and helpful. I took the Regular Korean Class Level 4. The class sizes are usually small, so you’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice and ask questions.

Daegu YMCA Korean Class Schedule:

(1) Regular Korean class (Each class 12 weeks), 130,000won ~$115

① Saturdays, 11:00-13:00, April 2-June 18, Level 1-8

② Tuesdays, 19:00-20:50, April 12- July 5, Level 1-5

Four language skills are cohesively integrated into the class curriculum. Each class is taught by 2 instructors and is held 1 time per week. Compared to Intensive course, the Regular courses concentrate more on Speaking skill by putting more time into practice and review speaking in Korean.

(2) Intensive Korean class

① Tue & Fri, 10:30-12:20, March 15-April 29,
3Levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced),  180,000won ~$160 (7weeks, 14classes)

② Mon & Thu, 19:00-20:50, April 4-May 26,
3Levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), 180,000won ~$160 (7weeks, 14classes)

This is for students who want to master Korean in a short period of time. The classes are held 2 times per week and is taught in fast pace in a smaller environment(6 student max.) This course focuses more on grammar based speaking to enhance preciseness and fluency. The Intensive course will suit those who are willing to put their time and effort in learning Korean.

(3) Korean Grammar in Use

① Thursdays, 10:30-12:20, March 24-May 19,
High Beginner to Intermediate, 90,000won ~$80 (8weeks)

② Wednesdays, 19:00-20:50, March 23-May 11,
High Beginner to Intermediate, 90,000won ~$80 (8weeks)

This course will boost students’ Korean skills by looking into differences between similar grammatical constructions and practicing variety of expressions used in same situations from true to life dialogs. The course also covers all grammar points covered by TOPIK levels 1 and 2.

(4) Talk Time

① Mondays, 11:00-12:50, March 28-May 23,
4 Levels (Beginner 1/2, Intermediate, Advanced), 90,000won ~$80 (8weeks)

② Wednesdays, 19:00-20:50, March 30-May 18,
3 Levels (Intermediate, Advanced, High Advanced), 90,000won ~$80 (8weeks)

This course is for those who want to practice SPEAKING in Korean. The class aims to help students improve their conversation skills without memorization by creating their own dialogue according to a given situation and explanation of the flow of the dialogue and vocabulary.

(5) Dynamic Writing

– Saturdays, 14:00-15:20, April 2-Jun 11,
High Advanced, 90,000won ~$80 (10weeks)

This class aims to help students to write properly and logically in Korean. Starting from preparation, this course will throughly guide students in writing in Korean by leaning techniques to write and exploring various types of dialogs.

(6) TOPIK Preparation

– Saturdays, 14:00-15:50, March 12-April 16,
High Intermediate to Advanced, 50,000won ~$45 (6weeks)

This course is designed for students who prepare for TOPIK(Test Of Proficiency in Korean) administered by the Korean Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation. The test is divided into four parts: vocabulary & grammar, writing, listening, and reading.

(7) Special Class “Korean start”

– Mon & Wed, 10:30-12:20, March 14-March 23, 40,000won ~$36 (4weeks)

– Tue & Thur, 19:00-20:50, March 15-March 24, 40,000won ~$36 (4weeks)

This class enables students to read Korea and through basic grammar students will learn simple conversations such as introducing themselves.

– For students who came to Korea recently and want to learn Korean for the first time.

– Content : Korean alphabet, basic vocabulary, basic grammar, basic conversation.

Those who have taken this course are eligible to enroll in Regular Korean class LEVEL 2/ Talk Time Beginner1.

(8) Korean Art Program “Minwha”

* Morning class: March 16 ~ May 4 (8weeks), Every Wednesdays 10:30~12:30

* Evening class: March 21 ~ May 16 (8weeks), Every Mondays 18:30~20:30

* Tuition fee: Each class 50,000 won ~$45 (Extra materials charge. approx 50,000won)

Minwha is paintings in which the artists paint folk tales and the lives of middle and lower class Koreans in ancient times.

★ Application period: From Feb 21~

★ Application procedure: E-mail or visit the YMCA to fill out the application

You can sign up the class through e-mail or visit the YMCA. Also you can take a placement test to determine your right level if you want through email (ymcatg@naver.com) or visit YMCA.

Directions to the YMCA:

Line 1 or 2 to 반월당역 Banwoldang Station. Take the escalators out of Exit 13. Look to your left and the YMCA is across the street. Their main office is on the second floor.

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Daegu in Motion

Got free tickets to Korea in Motion performances from the DMOE (holla). I saw three shows this past weekend: Break Out, Return, and Sachoom. All I have to say is – I love bboys. They are automatically hot in my book.

Korea in Motion Daegu Brochure

Break Out was a hip hop/bboy performance about a group of prisoners that break out of jail. The show was hilarious! Even though it was a non-verbal performance, the actors/dancers did a great job telling the story. I especially liked the ‘tunnel’ scene. Really creative! I would’ve gone to see it again!

Break Out

Return was an excellent dance performance. Just what I expected from Korean bboys (and bgirls)! Gorilla Crew has got some talented members. The story follows Gorilla Crew battling against the crooked Brooklyn Monkeys to win the $500,000 prize. Great energy and choreography! The guys and girls seem really nice, too. We had the chance to take photos with them after the show and they seemed very gracious when I told them that I really enjoyed their performance.

Actually, before the show, the guy dressed as the clown stole the tickets right out of my hands. I had to play rock, paper, scissors with him to win them back! I was able to win back 3 out of the 4, but he ran away with my last ticket! He eventually gave it back just in time for us to take our seats.

Gorilla Crew

I think Gorilla Crew toured the Philippines with their Bboy and Ballerina show about a year ago. According to the brochure, they’ve also performed on Broadway! Here’s a review of the show, Return.

Return bboy performance

Sachoom was a medley of different styles and dances that reinterpreted the story of love and life. I fell asleep for part of it since I came straight from hiking Apsan and couldn’t help dozing off. But I liked that parts that I saw. Especially the re-enactment of sperm trying to fertilize an egg. It was really creative!

Sachoom

The performances were very entertaining! I think Korea in Motion is a great way to showcase and support the arts in its many forms. Thanks again for the free tickets, DMOE!

 

Photos from: brochure from the DMOE email, Korea in Motion website

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I always knew that I liked fall and now I know why. It’s so colorful! Why don’t the leaves change in California? Now I understand why people travel just to watch the leaves fall.

Downtown

Near Apsan

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As a Southern Californian, I’m not accustomed to (reliable) public transport. Actually, I’m not accustomed to riding in something other than a car. One of the biggest changes for me was learning how to use public transportation and how to navigate it in Korean. My descriptions are overall pretty positive because I think that public transportation in Korea is relatively convenient and reliable. But I’ve experienced problems, as well.
  • City Buses – I have to admit, the first time I got onto the bus I was freakin scared. The bus starts moving before you even get on. I think the average time the bus stops at each stop is between 1-2 seconds. So once you’re on, brace yourself! It took me a while to get on the bus again because I didn’t want to fall on my ass. But, the buses are really convenient since there are only 2 subway lines in Daegu so they don’t cover many areas. They come about every 12-15 minutes. Also, it’s super easy to sleep on the bus. Somehow people here (myself included) wake up in time to catch their stop.

 

  • They usually announce the name of the stop in Korean and in English. FYI: This stop – it means the stop coming up. Next stop – it means two stops away.
  • In Seoul, you have to scan your card before you get off because it calculates the distance. Not the case in Daegu.
    UPDATE: As of February 2011, buses in Daegu now have card scanners for transfers.
  • Transfers are free! If you transfer between any combination of subway lines or buses within 1 hour (up to 3 transfers), then it will only charge you once. Unless you’re coming back the opposite way on the same line/bus. It’ll charge you again.
  • Intercity Buses – These buses make traveling in Korea that much easier. Most foreigners in Korea don’t own a vehicle, so taking the bus is a good option. In the major cities, there are buses that go everywhere. Some smaller cities aren’t accessible by train and sometimes the bus takes the same amount of time as the train to get somewhere. There are plenty of times to choose from and it’s easy to show up at the bus station to buy tickets on the same day you plan on traveling (unless it’s during a holiday). Bus tickets are pretty affordable. The price depends on the destination. It costs about 4,000won to get from Daegu to Gyeongju, but it costs about 12,000won to go to Jeonju and 23,800won to go to Seongnam.
  • Airport Buses – In Daegu, there are buses that go straight to Incheon, Gimpo and Gimhae airports. The bus drops off passengers right in front of the Departures terminal. It’s much more convenient than taking the train since the train stations are far from the airport. It’s also cheaper to take the airport bus than buying a train ticket. They load luggage on the bottom so you have plenty of room on the bus. Also, seats are reserved. Buying tickets in advance is highly recommended (up to 1 week in advance). The only downside is that the last bus going to Incheon leaves around 3pm, which isn’t very late.
  • Subways – Riding the subway makes me feel like a true urbanite. The subways in Daegu, Seoul, and Daejeon are relatively new, clean, reliable, and pretty speedy. I feel like the subway in Busan is slightly older and slower. But places are more spaced out in Busan so that could be the reason it feels slow.

Daegu's 2 lines

  • Navigating the subway system in Seoul is kind of a headache. I recommend learning how to use the subway map on your cell phone, or if you have an iPhone/iPod, download an app called Jihachul (only in Korean) that relieves you of the hassle of having to navigate the best route. Also, if you are telling someone what stop you need to go to, say it and spell it right!! Saying the line number and what exit to meet at are also very helpful.

    Seoul's bajillion lines

 

  • 무궁화 (slow train) – We like to call it the ‘slow train’ because it’s much, much slower than the KTX and it takes a windy route that stops every 10-15 minutes. It travels so slowly, I feel like I could drive faster in reverse. It also plays the “We will be arriving in _____” music really loudly. I took it twice to try to save money. Never again. I had to take it like 3 more times since other trains were sold out. Never say never.
  • KTX – By far, the best way to get from Daegu to Seoul. The KTX is fast, smooth, and usually on time. I’ve missed the train twice because they’re so on time (and I’m not). KTX is the most expensive form of public transportation, costs twice as much as the slow train, but it’s worth it for those long trips from Seoul to Busan.
  • KTX 1st Class – Costs 15,000won more than a standard ticket for a little more leg room and a little more silence.

Some useful tips:

  • Buy tickets early. Especially for the trains and airport buses. Especially during weekends and especially during holidays.
  • Plan on being there early. You might have trouble finding the bus or train or you might have a really slow cab driver. Things happen!
  • Discounts. Find 3 friends and buy the family seating tickets on the KTX. Even ifyou can only find 2 friends, it’s still cheaper for 3 people to buy family seating than to buy their own individual tickets. Family seating sells out earlier so plan accordingly.
  • Get a transit card. It beats having to buy a single ticket coin every time or digging for cheon won and some loose change. Each city has its own transit card that also provides a discount on the bus and subway. 
  • Check the websites. You can look for trains, intercity buses and city bus routes, etc. The info is out there somewhere! 
  • Have a map handy. Or at least try to memorize which direction you should be taking on the bus or subway.

 

Downsides:

  • Crowded. During rush hour, buses and subways get crazy packed. The pushing doesn’t help either.
  • Bad timing. I seem to have this problem when I’m in a hurry (Murphy’s Law??). Just missing the bus, subway, or train is the absolute worst.
  • It takes long. Sometimes the bus or subway just doesn’t cut it. Driving might be faster in some cases, when the roads aren’t too jammed. There are always taxis around.

I have to admit that recently I’ve been getting frustrated with the public transportation system. Having to wait so long for the bus (especially the express bus) I feel like I waste a lot of time just waiting. Even though I think public transportation is usually very good, I’d prefer to drive or at least have it as an option.

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Farm Tour

Went on a DMOE and Daegu City Hall sponsored trip on Saturday. Free tour around Daegu – heck yes! They provided tour buses and activities at each destination. Here’s our itinerary (we ended up going to half the places originally planned):

1) Mt. Palgongsan
2) Bullo Memorial Park
3) Guam Farm (picking fruits, riding tractors, making tofu and rice cakes)
4) Herb Hills
5) Spa Valley
6) Herbal Medicine Village (drink Korean herbal tea, help package herbal medicine, receive foot therapy)

I guess we were running late so that made our schedule tight. First, we went to Guam Farm. We made egg baskets out of straw, which I have no talent for.

Straw to construct into an egg holder ?

Looks really bad but I fixed it later

Two "eggs" in

I wasn’t that bad, but the guy teaching us how to make them just grabbed mine when I was on the very last step, tying off the handle. He ended up making a brand new one for me o_o;; sad.

Thanks for never giving me a chance 😦

My egg basket!

Then we picked cherry tomatoes inside a green house type of structure. It was so freakin hot in there. I don’t eat uncooked tomatoes because I don’t like the texture or flavor, but these tomatoes were really really good! Freshly picked off the vine. They gave us a plastic container to fill with tomatoes to take home! I think this was the best part of the trip.

Greenhouse effect? Yeah, aptly named.

Don't they look perfect?

Then we helped make some rice cake. We pounded rice with large wooden mallets. And ta-da! Rice cake!

Pound

Roll, Cut

Eat

At Herb Hills we made candles and soap. Pretty cute activity.

Herb HillZzzz

Soap making tools and ingredients. Not what I saw in Fight Club...

Then we had free time to walk around. I rode one of these giant, walking, stuffed dogs.

Coin-operated mobile dog

Then I went to the petting zoo.

The most donkey-looking donkey I've seen

Gonna eat my camera!

And I got to pet a baby bear. It was a really cute bear. Yeah I’m surprised I found a baby animal cute. The bear’s fur wasn’t as soft as it looked. It was pretty funny to see parents practically throwing their children onto the bear. Not a good idea, even if the bear wasn’t that dangerous.

Safe around young children

On second thought...

Then we went back near downtown Daegu to the herbal medicine center. Really interesting but I would’ve liked to try some herbs and drink tea. It was more of a self-guided museum tour.

Medicine Museum

Teas ?

Herbs

I hope the DMOE hosts more tours. I’d definitely go on another one. I wouldn’t have thought to do any of the stuff we did on that trip. And it was free! Also nice not have to plan a trip. And the City Hall representatives stressed very strongly the goal of making Daegu a top tourist destination. So, here’s my plug for Daegu!

Come to Daegu and visit the places I’ve written about! It’s COLORFUL DAEGU!!

Putting Daegu on the map

Really, I love Daegu. I have tons of fun here :D!

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Woobang Land

On Thursday the third graders went to Woobang Land for their school trip.

Great weather!

Since no one was at school (first and second graders on their “experiential learning” trip), the rest of the teachers went too. So, I went straight to Woobang Land and got a special adhesive badge as my ticket into the park. This badge was like an all-access pass that allowed me get on the rides and to take the cable car up to the tower.

The weather was great that day and it was my first time at the amusement park so I was looking forward to it! Of course I didn’t expect it to be anything like Disneyland or Six Flags since it’s a lot smaller, but I wasn’t there to complain or compare it to something else. Just looking forward to a good day!

Colorful

My students were all surprised to see me. They still act like they’ve seen a ghost when they see me outside of school. Like Oh My God, Maria Teacher rides the bus! Maria Teacher goes to E-Mart! Maria Teacher goes to the dry cleaners! I don’t know why they haven’t gotten over seeing me yet. Anyway, I hung out with a bunch of them throughout the day. I had fun getting to know my students a little more outside of school.

Not my students, but from another middle school! Scandalous!

First, I went on Viking, which is a boat that swings from one side to the other. It was a pretty good ride. I sat in the back with some of my girl students and they were all screaming their heads off.

I spent the rest of the day at Woobang Land riding almost everything, well all the good stuff. I think the 3 biggest roller coasters are Camel Back, Boomerang and Hurricane. I liked the first two, but Hurricane was painful. I kept bumping my head on the guard rails during the ride.

Pretty fun

Hurricane

After going around the whole park, I went up to Daegu Tower.

Daegu Tower

The view from Daegu Tower is great. It was a clear and sunny day so we could see almost everything. The tower is 145m tall I think. Walking around the city, I never realized how crowded Daegu looked. From up there the buildings looked so close together and you could get a sense of being in a valley surrounded by mountains.

Different view of Daegu

The bathrooms are pretty interesting. There’s a peep hole into the men’s room.

Don't worry, he's posing!

And an unconcealed glass window in the women’s room.

Toilet view

In addition to a bird’s eye view, Daegu Tower has the Sky Jump. It costs 40,000won for one person or 30,000won for each person if you buy two tickets at the same time. One of the young male teachers at my school asked me if I wanted to do it, so I was like okay sure, if you go first!

Sky Jump rules

So he, another native English teacher and I all suited up and jumped from the tower lol. They made us wear blue and yellow jumpsuits that made me feel like an astronaut-clown. It’s a great view from up there. It’s a 123m fall, but it looks a lot higher since the Tower is on top of a hill and overlooks the surrounding area. The ground is a lot farther down than 123 meters! I had a lot of fun doing that with the other teachers.

Actually, the Sky Jump is not a bungee jump or a free fall, really. They connect your harness to a cable and they drop you really fast but slow you down at the end before you hit the ground. It’s still fun and worth a try if you’re interested. They give you a certificate and two photos as a souvenir.

After Woobang Land, I hung out with the young teachers. We went to Duryu Park, sat on the grass and chilled. We ordered fried chicken and bought some beers and snacks and had an afternoon picnic.

Relaxing afternoon at the park

They all told me that their English is not very good (modest), but I was happy to talk to them. Not many teachers at school talk to me because they aren’t confident in their English ability. But they’re all nice and talk to me in Korean (I just nod and smile) or send me short messages in English over Cool Messenger :). It was such a nice day. I had fun hanging out with the other teachers. Now that we broke the ice, we can hang out at school lol. I’ll invite them downtown sometime!

That was a great mid-week break from school. Even though I only taught for two days last week, I felt really tired. I’ve been working hard the past few weeks so I appreciated the break just to relax for a bit and have extra time to finish my lesson plans.

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