Apparently I like writing, but I don’t do enough of it

I just started participating in an online course from Future learn. It’s a Fiction Writing course and will last 8 weeks. For more info, go here.

I haven’t done any online courses (#ds106 4 life), or writing courses since my last year of Uni in 2011. 4 years ago! CRAZY!  Time to kick myself into gear and be creative.

The first assignment is to write 1 paragraph with 3 lies, 1 truth and write 1 paragraph 3 truths, 1 lie. The purpose is to realize the relationship between fact and fiction.

Here’s what I wrote:

I hate where I live. This city is comprised strictly of grimy factories and giant apartment complexes that house the workers who slave away in the factories. The city has made a halfhearted attempt to plant trees around to help beautify the city, but the trees are scraggly and wasting away under the noxious air. If I didn’t wear a face mask, I would be choked by the pollutants and yellow dust that drifts over from China. My city likes to blame China for all of its air quality problems, not their stinking factories, but everyone knows better.

How did I end up here? Money. I needed the money. Even though working here pays only a pittance, it’s better than what I could make at home. At home, in a land far, far away, the economy is in the toilet. No jobs, no prospects, no future. I thought this place would be an adventure, and I guess I was right. I could have never dreamed that moving here would alter my life so dramatically. But has it changed me for the better? I’m not sure.


Can you tell what are the lies and what are the truths?


When a Korean criticizes the artwork you did just for fun

I showed my painting I did the other week to some Korean adult students I teach and that’s the first thing one of them said: “Terrible. It looks so childish. I did that when I was 10 years old.”


My friend Kate also showed a picture of our painting we did that night to one of her Korean co-teacher and the Korean said, “I looked at the paintings and they looked like elementary school work….”

As Kate put it: “Many Koreans don’t see the point of doing something unless it’s 100% or a masterpiece. The point of the evening was to drink and see what happens, not drink and vomit a Michelangelo.”

Exactly! If only I had a gif of someone vomiting a Michelangelo… anyone want to get on making that?

I find many Koreans are blunt. Too blunt. They often make comments about your appearance (weight, clothes, blemishes) and about other things which might be acceptable in their culture, but to a westerner it’s just rude.

One story I always remember is a friend of mine, Sara, told me how at lunch her female Korean coworker who had terrible English tried to tell Sara was a lot fatter than Korean women. Then, to make the point abundantly clear, when they later happened to be in the bathroom at the same time, this woman actually leaned over and grabbed Sara’s stomach and said “See! Fat!”

Sara isn’t even fat! She’s not bone thin like many Koreans, but she’s a normal size!

Korea, you’re killing me.

Blonde Moments: Buffalo

We all have so called “dumb blonde” moments where you say something really ridiculous and/or dumb and people laugh (either in their head or out loud if they’re jerks.)

And some of us have more of these moments then others.

An example from the past:

Talking with a teacher about where she is from.

T: I grew up in India but I studied in Buffalo.

Me: Oh, cool. My mom went to the University of Colorado.

T: (blank look on face–)

Me: Wait… You mean Buffalo, NY! I was thinking Colorado Buffalos for some reason, they’re the school mascot for the University of Colorado….

T: (Still blank look on her face)

Me:..ok I’ll just crawl in a hole now….


One of my middle schools just had a school festival and during that time a bunch of student art work was on display.

There was a whole section of tree art done by 1st graders (7th grade USA) and this one picture particularly stood out for me with it’s vivid contrast of Pink and Green.

This picture is poor quality and taken with my phone but you can get an idea of what it looked like.

Fast forward to a water color painting party with my friends. I decided to copy that painting colors and image because I really admired it. So here’s my version of the tree.

Haven’t tried painting with watercolors in years! Fun experiment.

I’m not sure if I can track down the student who made the original painting since I don’t teach them and the name is really blurred, but if I can I want to tell them their art inspired me.

I bet in a million years they would have never thought the random foreign teacher at their school would like their art so much she would copy it.

Best thing I’ve ever bought in Korea

Hands down, the best thing I’ve ever bought in Korea was this bike I got second hand from an English teacher who was leaving Korea.

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve saved biking to and from work and also money from biking to and from downtown instead of taking the  bus or a taxi.

Taxis are actually quite cheap in Korea compared to many countries like the U.S. or England. But still a 5,000-10,000 won taxi ride (roughly $5 -10 USD) adds up over time.

Buses are also cheap as well, about 1,100 won ($1) to use, but normally they are quite crowded, especially during rush hour. Also, the bus drivers slam on their breaks frequently which means that all the times I’m standing (which is most of the time) I end up flying into some Korean.  Yay~

Wouldn’t be surprised if this happened in Korea ^

I’ve rented a car a couple of times in Korea to do road trips with friends and while I don’t mind driving on the highway and in small towns, driving in my city is ridiculous.

Korean drivers don’t always follow “the rules of the road” especially the taxi cab drivers who cut in and out of lanes and drive through red lights.  It’s really stressful to drive in the city because I know if I got in an accident, the police would favor the Korean person over me even if it wasn’t my fault.


I still miss my car, but if I can’t have my car my bike is the best option. Plus  color coordinated bike outfits are fun.

#tbt Talking about Bikes vs. Cars with my German Friend Marieke

This blog is dusty


Apparently it’s been over a year since I’ve last blogged. Where did the time go? I think I must have been abducted my aliens….

I’ve been busy, sure, but one year without posting is a little ridiculous….

Sorry everyone!

Really going to attempt to brush up on my blogging and art projects because it’s been so long I think I forgot how to do art. Noooooo!

Diversity Comics, Year 2

This is Year 2 of teaching my students about Diversity in America.

My lesson originated from some Middle School students’ comments “Teacher. Black skin, not good.”

In Korea they are all about having porcelain skin. If a student has darker skin they often are teased “You African! You India! Black skin!”

Every time I hear this I am shocked because I view people of all  skin tones equally. I would  never even think darker skin= bad, because to me that is such a narrow, old school world view.

In a effort to expose my students to more diversity I talked about my friends at home and how they are all different from me in terms of languages, skin tone, religion, etc. Then we watched a Simpsons video called “Mypods and Boomsticks” which discusses how Homer believes Muslims to be terrorists until he learns the error of his ways.

Then I discussed my experience of living in Korea as a “FOREIGNER!” Everywhere I go, everything I do Koreans watch and observe me or try to interact with me. I don’t speak Korean fluently and I didn’t know much about Korean food or KPOP before I moved here. It  was and still is at times hard to live here.

With that in mind I created the following scenario:

Imagine you and your family move to a new country: Mexico.  You look different from most people. You can’t speak the language (Spanish). You don’t know what music the kids like. You don’t know the food they like to eat.

You meet a Mexican Boy or Girl who wants to learn more about Korea and you. What do you talk about? Korean food? K-Pop? Clothing? Make a comic discussing something about Korea.

Here are some of the best comics from this year


Note that a lot of the “Mexican” characters have blonde hair and blue eyes… I think they were using me as a model, despite the fact I’m not Mexican.

While I think that this lesson got some of the students thinking about how different things are in America, I think it would be better to have the students get a chance to interact with more diverse people.

In my city there aren’t a lot of people with darker skin. If the students see a person like that, they probably see them from afar and don’t get to actually interact with them.

I hope one day they can all go to America or another diverse country and experience diversity for themselves.

Dude, I’m like so blonde, riiiiight?

A while ago I posted about  Sarah Kay’s Ted Talk on Spoken Poetry.

It made me reflect on my own style of talking and how much it has been influenced by various factors probably one of the most important being I was born in California.

I spent most of my young life in California before moving to the East Coast. While I may have spent more time on the East Coast than I have lived in California, I still talk like a Californian.

Look I even got linguistic test results to prove it:

Linguistic Test

Linguistic Test


I remember when I first moved to the East Coast I thought to myself:  People here sound different than the people at home.

Then I all but forgot about it after being on the East Coast for many years. Then when I was in college I took an Alternate Reality Game class. While working on a group project I mentioned to my group members that I grew up in California.

A guy in my group said, “Oh! That makes sense.”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

“You sound like you are from there.”

I was curious. “Really? How do I sound like?”

Then he seemed to get a little flustered, like he didn’t want to say I sounded like a valley girl or something. He ended up saying something along the lines of “The way your voice rises and falls sometimes, it just sounds very Californian to me…”

Hmmm. Okay then.

I never found out if he meant “You sound like you’re from California” as a good or bad thing…..

Good or Bad?

Some of the most common Californian things I say are as follows:

I say “like” waaaay more than necessary:  “So I was like, I need some, like, space because I, like, feel stressed out by this, like, whole situation.”

I would be more than willing to scrap this part of my vocabulary which as I use as a filler word. Actually, I feel my time in Korea has cut down on me using this word, except in situations when I am excited and talking extremely fast to English native speakers.

I say “I know, riiiight?” whenever someone mentions something I agree with.

I say, “Totally!” and “Dude!” all the time. I have even said “DUDE” to my mom before  a couple of times which makes her irate: “I am not a DUDE!” Nope, definitely not. Not sure why I say it, but it just feels normal to say it to everyone.


Funny story: A older Korean man at my middle school dropped his keys as he was walking down the hallway. I noticed, picked them up and then since he was so far away from me and headed downstairs, I started saying “Hey! Dude! You dropped your keys”

Of course, he didn’t turn around; thankfully another Korean teacher yelled “Seonsangnim!” which means Teacher in Korean, and he turned right around.

Later I thought about how I called him “Dude” which, if he had understood me, would had annoyed him since “Dude” is not a respectful term of address. Korea is all about titles of respect.

Overall, I like that some people can identify me as being from California. It’s my homehomehome.

You can read and write Korean?? **GASP**

Something I encountered back home  in America which I wasn’t expecting to encounter is the fact that people here, my family included, seemed so surprised that I  can read and write Korean.


Wow! You can read Korean!?

Maybe it is the fact that they have little knowledge of the Korean language.

When I first moved to Korea knowing no Korean I thought it would take forever to learn how to read and write it.

And it did take me a while, more than some people who moved to Korea at the same time as me.

But to me it seems ridiculous to live in a country for 1 year and never learn how to read the native language or write basic sentences.

use your brain

I would compare my level of Korean to the level of English some immigrants to the USA have.

I know Survival Korean. I can understand a little Korean, I can read signs (even if I don’t always know what it means) , I can say essential sentences like “Where is the bathroom?” “This is delicious!” “I will meet my friends tonight to go shopping.” “Korean is hard!” “My head hurts.”

If I can’t fully get my point across in Korean, or the Koreans I am talking to can’t speak English too well, then I use hand gestures, body language or my trusty friend called Google Translate.

Actually, Google Translate sometimes does such a horrible job of translating, but it’s better than nothing when you are desperate.


According to an article I read, Korean is ranked as the 9th toughest language for a English speaker to learn. I would agree there are times I find Korean quite challenging in terms of pronunciation and also remembering when to speak politely and when you can speak normally to your friends.

But, what helps a great deal to learn Korean is that the writing system is really easy once you have memorized the characters. Also, the pronunciation of words is mostly phonetic, with some words trying to trick you here and there.

While I have taken various Korean classes and have studied with friends, colleagues and students, I know my Korean could be a lot better than it is now.

However, most Koreans, especially young people, want to speak English with me to practice their language skills. If I say something in Korean they will often answer in English assuming they don’t start giggling hysterically.


I can get by in Korea fairly easy knowing only a little Korean.

Definitely  my students liked me more  once I made an effort to speak  their language. They find it amusing the “foreigner” tries to speak their language.

I am not sure how much longer  I will live in Korea, but I am doubtful it will be forever. So while I am game to learn more Korean, I know that my ability might only go so far because learning  Korean is not my  #1 priority living in Korea.

Regardless where I will end up next, I know I will learn the basics of the native language so that I can survive.

survival of the fittest