Monthly Archives: April 2012

Functionally Illiterate

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Most of the time it can be completely frustrating to be basically, for all intents and purposes, illiterate. Especially when you are trying to purchase basic items. I’ve had friends who purchased cars in Korea and were signing tons of papers and had no idea what they were signing. I signed about 20 pages for my bank account. Do I know what I signed? Nope, not a clue. A good friend of mine once purchased toothpaste, paying close attention to the flavour and picking mint. It had a green leaf on it. Mint toothpaste always has a green leaf on it. Guess what? So does green tea flavoured toothpaste. Not the greatest surprise ever when you wake up and put green tea toothpaste into your mouth before you realise your error. I’ve even had a couple of instances that are too embarrassing to blog about.

Sometimes, however, it’s hilarious to be illiterate. You rely on symbols, pictures and prior knowledge. You buy products based off other’s gambles and successes. Memorizing the colours of a shampoo bottle or peanut butter product or laundry stain remover. I was pleased to find out yesterday that the same colour of jar lids for Skippy peanut butter versions in China also extends to Korean sold Skippy. (Light blue is creamy, dark blue is crunchy, yellow is honey and dark brown is chocolate mixed with peanut butter, in case you ever need that vital information!)

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I don’t drink too much milk other than in cereal, and in the States I started drinking almond milk. I don’t like the way the milk tastes at work in the cafeteria and in China the milk just tasted like water unless I bought this one certain brand (which was usually sold out.)  There’s more selection here but of course, I can’t read any of the labels. So I picked one that was moderately priced and tried it. It tasted pretty good so I’ve bought it three times now. Yesterday I found out why!

Renee and I went to go get her milk and she’s looking on the bottles to find skim milk. You’ve gotta look for the small 1% that’s on the bottom of the label on the back. I didn’t think about looking to find 2% milk in this way so I pointed to the kind I’ve been buying and said “This one tastes pretty good. I’ve bought it a few times.” I thought, Hey, I wonder if my milk is Skim, 2%, what not. So we turn the label around and around until we find it in about this > . <  size font “100%”.  So I’ve been drinking whole milk. LOL! No wonder it tasted so darn good! I guess next time I’ll be hunting for a different bottle now that my illiterate ignorant bliss regarding my milk has been shattered. 🙂

 

Napoleon Dynamite: [referring to Deb’s milk] I see you’re drinking 1%. Is that ’cause you think you’re fat? ‘Cause you’re not. You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.

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And you thought you had a bad day…..

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I know I haven’t had a new entry recently and it’s not for lack of material but for lack of time.  Each night I’ve sat down and began an entry in my head and then drifted off to Sleepyland after I talk to Jeremiah.

Today however, I had an experience that I’ve never actually had before, so I want to immortalise the moment.

Jeju is an island, so it is windy. I pretty much hate the wind, especially when its blowing in my face. Today however, it was in spurts and I of course had to teach, so I guess I just took it in stride. It’s (according to the internet) blowing strong as I write at 32mph and its the tamest spurt we’ve had all day. After the little munchkins were off to the bus and finished our team planning meeting, I headed back to Shelly’s apartment to take a nap. At five, Bryon and James and Renee and I all got in the car and went to Seogwipo to eat dinner and go to E-mart. Dinner was nice, a teriyaki bacon cheeseburger, and water. E-mart was pretty humdrum and no big stories there except for I tried to buy carrots and there wasn’t a twisty tie on the bag so the produce lady told me a whole bunch of stuff in Korean and took my carrots and put them back in the bin with the other bags of carrots. Then she walked away. Then another Korean produce lady came up behind her took the bag, wrapped a twisty tie on it and handed them back.

We stopped at 7-11 on the way back to get James some kimbap. I’ve eaten kimbap for a long time now, but I didn’t actually know that kim is the Korean word for seaweed and bap is the Korean word for rice. So there ya go. I did know a little bit of Korean. And it makes perfect sense because…. kimbap is…. (wait for it….) rice wrapped in seaweed! 🙂  Oh, and we also got the whole vehicle a round of Snickers bars.

So it’s dark and sprinkling misty rain and super windy. Bryon, Renee and I are sitting in the car waiting when a ton of papers blow by our car. Then some more papers blow by and up down the street into traffic. Then it hit us. “Is that MONEY?!?” we all chorused together. So we jumped out and started helping the poor gas station attendant try to collect the money that was flying all throughout the air. I actually broke into a run and was almost to the other intersection. We managed to gather a good amount between all of us but I still think we lost quite a bit of it. Bless his heart…. he did NOT look like he was having a very good day….poor fella!

We get back in the car and head home when we see more money down the road a ways. So Renee and I jumped out to get it and we drove back to the guy to give it to him. James and I threw in some of our own money in hopes of making up for the deficit of money he lost.

So there’s something that doesn’t happen every day… chasing down flying money. In the dark. In Korea.

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An Unexpected Layover….

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On Thursday it was clean out my apartment day, with distractions like my spin class, my sprints with my trainer and Jeremiah and a picnic. Somewhere around six, Lanny and Leah and Levi came with pizza and the five of us took a couch and a bed to a new home. After that, Amy came and helped with the final ‘get everything in gear and let’s do this’ cleaning/packing.

I spent the night at her house, and fell asleep only to have my alarm set for 4:30am. We left for the Atlanta airport and made great time, arrive in advance and with no problems (other than my barely making it to the check in counter with my 3 bags!)

I didn’t have to pay any overage on my bags, they were both 48 pounds exactly thanks to Jeremiah and I’s stealth packing and soon I was through security. I am a be in the airport way far in advance sitting at my gate for an hour kind of girl.

However, we didn’t get on the plane to Chicago when we were scheduled to, due to a ground delay and thunderstorms. This is the story of the unexpected layover…  and probably the only time in my life I’ve been glad for a missed flight.

When I finally arrived in Chicago, I had missed the most important leg of my flight: the 14 hour flight to Seoul where I would then connect to Jeju. I got my bags and walked to Terminal 5, hoping that Asiana would help me re-route on a different flight and that I could still possibly make my connection in Incheon. When I arrived at Terminal 5, the Asiana counter was gone. They rent space from Swiss Air, and when their flight is gone, so are they. The Swiss Air gate agent told me that the person for Asiana was sitting over in a little waiting area with another passenger who also missed the flight due to weather. So, I went over to talk to him and it turns out not only does Asiana not fly any more flights that day, but that on Saturday they don’t even have a flight. Sunday is the next flight from Chicago to Seoul.

If you my readers, are screaming “Not good!!!” at this point in the story, you would be right. I did not want to be in Chicago for 2 days ,as lovely as the city is. So I started running backup plans in my head, including — “Who do I know in Chicago that I can crash with for a night?” and “Will American Air re-route me?” and “How can I get my bags that were checked?” and possibly most importantly — where and how soon can I get some food??

The very nice Asiana man looked at my bag check tag and went to try to find my bags and see if they were in Chicago. Meanwhile, the other poor lady didn’t know what to do, so while I was on hold with the Customer Service rep for American Air, I counseled her on the ways to get food vouchers, and hotel vouchers if need be. At this point, the Customer Service rep was busy trying to re-route me through either Beijing, Shanghai, Narita,Tokyo or Hong Kong. There was a three o clock flight and it was sold out, but if I went back to Terminal 3, a gate agent could put me on standby. So I had a moment to choose…. wait and see about the bags or just go and see if I could get this flight out.

I chose to go with the flight — a big leap of faith in the baggage world — and handed poor nice Korean lady my name and cell phone number to give to Ishamel if he ever came back with information about my bags. Back on the train, back into another queue. I met some girls going to Iceland and had a good talk with them for awhile. Then it was my turn and I had Koleen. She was AMAZING. She spent about 45 minutes total with me, trying to find different routes and when Ishmael called about the bags (he had found them!) she coordinated for them to be sent back to American Air. She was trying to go through Narita when she saw a flight open for Chicago – Seattle and then the next day Seattle – Seoul – Jeju on Korean Air! When I told her that my parents lived in Seattle she was really really excited and she did everything she could to get me an earlier Seattle flight. About this time, my dad had called because he thought he had missed me in Chicago. I said “Hey, can you pick me up at 6:30?? I’m re-routed through Seattle!” and he was soooo excited. He told me that he thought he had missed his chance to talk to me before I got on my Seoul flight so when it turned out I was not only going to get to talk to him, but to SEE him that night, we were both very excited.

The flight to Seattle was great — even with my middle seat. My mountains. My Puget Sound….!!! My clouds and mist and rain and Starbucks and family! Unexpected layover turned out to be just what I needed. Dad and I drove to Sharis Restaurant and met Amelia, Jeff, Isaac, Kim and Jeff’s mom. (Josie was at CIY… I still love you too mei mei!)  We had pie and spoke Chinglish and gave falling over hugs and hair-braiding and Isaac was pretending to be a penguin and it was so PERFECT!

I spent the night at my parents house — a little bit jealous of all their books and too tired to read any of the titles I briefly gazed at and was interested in… piles of National Geographics, Kiln Fired Glass Art and a ton of Bible commentaries that I didn’t remember seeing last time. It was really nice to get to see my mum and dad even if it was less than 24 hours.  Katy came with Evie and Ella this morning to get me and we went to Starbucks. After that we took some family pictures and I was once again off to the airport.

I checked in and there was no bags so far. Korean Air said they’d look and see if they could find them. Dad and I went down to American’s claim office who said they were scanned for the Seattle flight but that they were still in Chicago. We prepared for the probablity of filing a claim in Jeju and I had my Korean address out and everything. Then about 14 hours of nothingness happened (my flight to Seoul) with the most exciting thing being the movie Hugo and the hot towels the stewardess gives out. The transfer was the best part… because when I went through immigration… MY BAGS WERE THERE!!!! Yay! Korean Air had given me new baggage claim tickets halfway through the flight and said they’d found my luggage but you never know until you know… and that’s when you see them and put them in your hand!!!

The flight to Jeju was good… I was very sleepy by this point and then after one hour, we were landing. I stepped outside to palm trees and the cool night air as Shelly and Rachel helped carry my bags to the car. So far, this place rocks. More next time (with pictures! I don’t have any yet cause it was dark!)

Christina