About me: I am an avid daydreamer, non-stop dancer, overly-wordy writer, loyal friend and a delicate mixture of an extrovert/introvert. I live for laughing and learning something new everyday. After graduating in May, I realize more and more that the life we plan for ourselves is limited by our imagination and that the life that is waiting for us may be more than we can actually imagine.

Note: This blog is for my experiences during my Fulbright grant year (July 2010 - July 2011) in South Korea. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


This “adventure” began with meeting my old, yet very cute vice-principal and my sophisticated and wise co-teacher, song-sunsangnem, at the Departure Day ceremony at orientation. My vice-principal is VERY QUIRKY – he kind of reminds me of my dad. He told me:

“if you ask me a question, I will not answer. But if you do not ask me a question, I will answer.”

In an odd way, this made me really happy because 1) I miss my dad terribly 2) I love quirky people <3

My co-teacher and I ended up talking for the whole two hours until the meeting with the Fulbright Executive Director, Mrs. Shim. Of the many things we talked about, I told her that I want to 1) learn something new every day and 2) laugh at least once every day. She really liked that and said she wanted that as her goal as well. I then introduced the idea of “accountabilibuddy” to her. And guess what?! I am so happy to say that co-teacher is now my accountabilibuddy :)

picture from the plane of some smaller islands/large rocks? off the coast of Jeju

picture of the sunset on Jeju and my co-teacher, song-sunsangnem, on the side!

I then met my principal and my other co-teacher, yungenyang-sungsangnem, at dinner. I have to admit I was quite nervous to meet my principal.. the principal has extraordinary power in the school in South Korea. Emilee L., an OC who was at my school the previous year, also told me that she doesn’t speak much English. So when I finally met her, she said:

“PRETTY! You have a small face! In picture they sent, looks big face! You look like movie actress!”

My honest thought at this moment was “am I being pranked?! Where are the hidden cameras?!” You see, the whole plane ride over I had envisioned the conversation with the principal and co-teachers and kept practicing all these things to say in Korean. I mean.. I was almost SWEATING (okay, I was.) from this initial meeting because the first impression means so much in Korea. And, I did not for once think that she was going to say that! And out of all things say something like “YOU HAVE SMALL FACE!” South korea, you keep me on my toes. As for the rest of the conversation, the principal’s English was limited to those first sentences but the co-teacher helped translate. She told the co-teachers to tell me that I was very funny and charismatic. Win.

And then at 10 at night, I met my host family for the first time. At first, I was a little disappointed when I realized that both my hostparents do not speak English, especially because I envisioned having a very strong relationship with my host mother. While it does not mean that we cannot still a strong connection, I just didn’t realize how hard I’d have to work to overcome the language barrier. Yesterday, my host mother and I spent about 10 minutes passing back and forth my Korean-English phrasebook just to understand where on Jeju Island we lived (and yes, this was all in front of a map). This was a really humbling experience because towards the end of Korean class, I was FINALLY beginning to feel like I was understanding Korean.. that when someone was speaking korean, it wasn’t some terrible BAD joke that I wasn’t understanding the punch line to anymore.. but now, it really feels like I’m back to square 1 ..Though I am grateful that my host sisters know some English and translate as much as they can.

I have two host sisters – Kwon En (14 years Korean age, 13 years American age) and Kwon Ah (12 years Korean age and 11 year American age). Kwon En is very mature and loves to read. I really look forward to reading with her at coffee shops nearby. Kwon En is very playful and loves games. I ADORE them. The other day, we bought a small soccer ball and we played throwing/kicking games together, which just ended up in them teaming up against me and me being the goalie. I taught them HOP-SCTOCH today! Now, Kwon-Ah can’t stop skipping on foot haha.

Its funny how at orientation we kept hearing how Korean mothers will NOT let you in the kitchen. Well, I guess “it really does depends” because my host mom grabbed me for our first dinner and put gloves on my hand! I made kim-chi from SCRATCH. YES, that’s right.. Shreya Trivedi was in the kitchen and made KIM-CHI. I did a little bit of charade hand gesturing and signaled my hostfather to take a picture with the camera. I am pretty sure he was confused how this was exciting enough to take a picture. Mom, I hope this makes you proud.

i taught my host sister and her cousin how to french-braid hair and they were trying it on each other.

our (my host sisters' and mine) hands! its funny how you can bond over just about anything.. even about having two bracelets on

after dinner, we went to go see the waterfalls at night!

Off to Gapado Island (and very small Island off the shore of Jeju Island) for a small family vacation!