not alone.

August 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

i’ve been home for

2 weeks, minus one day.

it’s estonishing to be apart of this

world here.

to see all the people

i’ve held most carefully and intentionally

while i’ve been on the other side

of the globe.

that the world here.

has continued to spin on.


people read the daily news.

they buy their starbucks.

they drive their cars.

they meet their friends.

just like nothing ever happened or changed.

life goes on.

despite the new debt-ceiling

{yes, claire hard to believe i know}.

but that other side of the world.

that held me, less than 2 weeks ago.

i wonder.

if. it. ever. happened.


and so i must remind myself.

of some of the last moments in that

world.

while they were a bit hazy.

they happened.

they were filled with pain.

but the people. the lovely lovely people.

made those moments…

those moments

ones i want to remember.

micaela and i

were so very far away from home.

but don’t think for one moment

that we were alone.

because we weren’t.

we were never alone.

and when the darkness seemed

to encompass all that i could

see

hear

touch

or taste.

friends came to sit with us.

to share the darkness.

and somehow the

darkness didn’t seem so dark.

and while i didn’t get to say

the goodbye to my students

that i had envisioned or hoped to someday

do with them…

i captured some moments and words

from one of me and micaela’s favorite

{and brightest, may i add}

classes.

it’s a bit long.

but take a peak if you like.


while it didn’t happen right away

we ultimately

left on amazing terms with the famous:

cindy-lou-hoo

&

boss lady: mrs. lee.

and when our moms’

arms were across the oceans.

this mom {our boss} held tight

and mothered us.

just for a few astonishing moments.


korea will never cease to amaze me.

even as we closed our bank accounts

and prepared to leave.

the bank’s decorative balloons

caused my heart to warm

with great fondness for

the quirky-ness

of this country.

our friends offered to help

get micaela to the airport.

bright & early

on friday morning.

they took us out for one more great

korean dinner.

then off to busan we went.

but when plans didn’t work out

quite like we’d expected.

we spent the night on the beach

writing messages in the sand,

shooting of fireworks,

and eating kimbab.

so here i sit.

on the other side from this world

that i just left.

wondering what it means:

emanation.

…the act of becoming apparent.

…coming out.

…causing to flow forth.

…the act of spreading outward from an inner source

…that which is the beginning

and i wonder what it might mean.

all i have is

my answer to most questions

posed to me these days:

i. don’t. know.


– natalie.

unexpected endings.

July 25, 2011 § 5 Comments

i’ve been learning this year.

that not all things end the way you expect.

the way you’d planned.

the way you envisioned.

somethings drag on.

somethings continue.

we all keep turning…

but somethings come to a sudden

halt.

it’s hard to write.

but i will.

because last week. in the early morning hours

here in Korea.

Micaela received the worst kind of

phone call imaginable.

she heard the news that her

father had

passed away.

so unexpectedly.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Micaela is home now.

she left here early Friday morning.

i am leaving to fly

home early Tuesday morning.

and the really hard

decision has been made…

that neither of us are

coming back to Korea.

i will post more information

about the funeral

and what you can do to

help the family during this time,

once i get back to America.

for right now.

send your thoughts

your love.

your peace

&

your hope.

until next time,

natalie.

You want to come to Korea, you say?

July 4, 2011 § 5 Comments

One year ago today….

I [Natalie] was neck deep sorting through recruiters all promising their exceptional excellence to find me good teaching job in Korea. Endless rounds of emails, phone calls, interviews at ridiculous hours of the day [due to the 12 hour time difference], at 7 am or 11 pm at night.

Here I sit. Exactly one year later and I consider myself extremely lucky for my current situation here in Daegu, Korea. I have a bit of a looney employer, but she always pays me on time [that is, after I remind her it’s pay day], I live in a nice apartment, in a great area of Korea, I teach under 30 hours a week…

and you know what? I’m enjoying my life.

It’s not perfect, but it never will be right? And what would i have to write about if it was?

In the past two months, I have received a shocking amount of emails and Facebook messages from friends, friends of friends, extended family members, and complete strangers who have stumbled upon the blog. Do you know what the sudden correspondence is all about?

They want to come here. To Korea.

For many of them the story is similar to mine, they just recently graduated, they have big dollar signs of debt hanging over their heads, there is no work to be found in their hometowns, and a big big world is calling them to see a little more. And the lure of fulfilling these two enticing words: Adventure & Travel, cannot be passed up.

So, if you are considering living and teaching abroad in Korea, here are my answers to some the most commonly asked questions. Keep in mind that there is a wealth of information on the internet about teaching in Korea. I would encourage you to just Google-it and see what you can find.

Living and Working abroad or at home?

I fanaticized about coming here. About living abroad, about traveling abroad. It sounds so adventurous and much more exciting than my day-to-day, routine humdrum of a babysitting life I was living in Minneapolis. But I forgot one very important fact that having a job still meant I would have to work….

But least you too be fooled, living and working abroad are in many ways very similar to living and working at home. I’ve been here for 9 months now and you know what? I have yet to leave Korea. Plane tickets out of Korea are quite pricey and the coveted vacation times are not as frequent as I fanaticized them to be.

Not trying to be a downer here, just trying to offer you the more, unromantic reality that is my currently my life.

You should be aware…

From my experience here and the conversations I’ve had with people who have been here for a few years, the contracts schools are offering are not as juicy and amazing as they used to be. The job market here for foreign teachers is flooded. We are becoming more of a “dime a dozen” type commodity and more than willing to come….and in many people’s cases….stay a few years.

This means that pay, depending on where you live, hovers around 2.0 million won a month. Jobs that require the teacher to teach 30 hours a week are becoming harder to come by. Employers are roping teachers into teaching close to 40 hours a week. I’ve heard that many employers are no longer willing to pay for both your airfare to and from Korea, which is unfortunate for the teacher. Housing is still covered by the employer and healthcare remains pretty reasonable.

If you know how to be wise with your money and not party every single weekend, a salary of 2.0 million will allow you to live well, see many things, have a great time, pay your loans, and even save a bit.

Micaela and I came here together on a couples position. From what I can tell, these types of positions are pretty hard, but not impossible to find. You’ll have to search and search hard. But they are out there.

First decision: Private schools or Public schools?? That is the question.

Oh and what an important decision it is. I would encourage you to first: make a list of your priorities for coming here. Is it that you want to have a real classroom and do something similar to teaching? Public [EPIK as it’s called] school is for you. At a public school you will be teaching and have office hours from 9-5, like a regular work day.

If your priority is making and saving money, the private academies [hagwons as they are called] might be the place for you. Academies, which all Korean kids attend whether it be for English or math or study skills, operate after school hours. This would make your typical work day starting around 2 pm, and finishing in the evening…as late as 10 pm.

I got incredibly lucky, I am working for a hagwon, a private academy, who does its programing in the public schools. I work at multiple public schools, one day a week. My typical work day is 1pm to 6 pm. This kind of job is extremely coveted by the teaching community here. Normally people only get this job once they have been here a year or two and know what kind of job and employer to look for. Somehow, I got incredibly lucky.

Where to live?

Many teachers want to work in and around Seoul, Korea’s capital and largest city. Busan is a costal city on the east coast that is also quite a big city with a great subway system. Daegu is the third biggest city, tucked in the southern mountains. We can only boast 2 metro lines, but the bus transportation is amazing. Depending on who you talk to, they will tell you where the best place to live is. My own opinion? Seoul is incredibly crowded, Busan could be really fun with the water right out your back door, and Daegu. Well, Daegu is often compared to the Midwest of the states. People here are said to be friendlier, more kind, more laid back and aren’t rushing, rushing so much.

So where to live? Depends on what your looking for….

I want to come…how can I find a job?

Find a recruiter. Let them do some of the footwork for you. Look on sites like Dave’s ESL Cafe to find recruiters. There are tons and tons out there. If you are serious about coming and want to come quickly, you should be talking to quite a few at one time. This will increase your chance of finding a good job.

You’ll need more than your passport. Believe me.

The paperwork to come here…is…shall we say….pretty intense. Here is a good website that lays out what you’ll need.

In your Hagwon interview…ask lots of questions:

  •  ask about the circuluum the school uses…if its a hagwon the cirrculum should be provided for you. Public school you will be making all your own daily lessons.
  •  ask about class sizes. classes of 10-15 kinds are perfect, if not a little big. If the classes are bigger than 20, you might have a problem.
  • will you have a co-teacher in the room with you?
  • how many prep hours are you expected to have a week. One hour of prep a day is all you will need.
  • how far is the school from your apartment? is the school and your apartment on a subway line? bus route?

Myths.

  1.  you need your TESOL.  You don’t need a TESOL certificate to teach in Korea. People might tell you, even recruiters might try to convince you it’s important or that you’ll get a better job if you have it, or higher pay. Unless you are have your Masters and are wanting to teach at a University here, then a TESOL would work in your favor. Otherwise, public schools might be impressed, and they could pay you more. Hagwons don’t care, and they certainly will not pay you anymore.
  2. you don’t have to speak Korean. it’s true. it’s not a requirement to speak even a single word of Korea to come here and teach. believe me, I’ve met many people who have been teaching here for 3 + years and they only know a few words of Korean. I made the mistake of not studying a bit of Korean before I came. I regret this. If you are seeking to live and teach in another country … you should attempt to speak the language. That’s my own opinion.
  3. Employer don’t discriminate on appearance or gender. I’ll tell you right now, the schools look at your picture to evaluate if they like you or not. And if you are a man, it’s harder to find a job. The Korean teaching world is dominated by mostly female Korean teachers and generally schools want to hire foreign female English teachers. Hagwons now have the luxury of being more selective in who they want to hire, because there are, like i said, so many people seeking these teaching jobs.
  4.  I am interested in “teaching”.  I worked here for two months and kept saying over and over to myself…”i hate teaching. i will never be a teacher.” then one day, I was talking to a friend of mine who got her undergrad in teaching and she calmly put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Natalie, what we do here…it’s not teaching. We are entertainers.” And by and large, I think my friend is right. There are  some days, some moments, where I am teaching the kids something. But most of the time, I am expected to entertain the kids. I have accepted this now and realize that if I can give even half of my students a positive and enjoyable time learning this subject that is do-or-die here in the Korean education system, then I can call it a day.

And finally…

One of my sister’s friends was incredibly helpful to me as I was, just one year ago, wading through the confusion of trying to find a good teaching job here. The most helpful thing he did, was to look at the contract my employer offered me. It was nice to know whether or not I was being worked over. He pointed out a few line-items that he encouraged me to ask to have changed about sick days, vacation, teaching hours and salary. I of course believe in passing on the “goodness”, so if you find yourself in that stage of the process…send me an email.

At the end of the day…

I typically refer quite fondly to my students as my “little shit-lings”. At the end of the day, kids are hilarious. And generally that’s what wins out in my memory. You know what else? These kids are just too cute. You’ll love them. You’ll hate them.  You’ll swear you never want kids. You’ll want to take one of them home with you. It’s a back and forth relationship for sure.

Some wise words from my roommate, my BFF and life partner: Micaela.

“You should know that when you come here, you will have so much time on your hands. Life here is so comfortable. You need to have motivation to spend your time well. You should be highly self-motivated, to learn Korean, to get out and find what it is Korea has to offer. My life here is about so much more than the teaching at occurs during the daytime hours.”

– well said Micaela.

Once again, there are so many resources for information about teaching here. Spend some time and read up all you can. Here are just two of the best and most thorough websites I found.

Asia Pacific Connection and ALD

Happy searching,

natalie.

 

PS in case you have any doubt, I really appreciate and love Korea. So if you wanted to be convinced, here are ten reasons i would use to convince you…this post includes things like Korean bath houses, rice fields and squid with the old men. Click here to read more!

 

 

 

to the red. white & blue.

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

if there is one thing i can get pumped about…

it’s a picnic. picnic tables. the smell of charcols grilling things. watermelon. lawn chairs. sun and sunscreen. lakes and more lakes. yard games. and fireworks. lots and lots of fireworks. oh man. i think i’m starting to drool already.

so, it’s hard. it’s hard not to get siked out of your mind for the all-American holiday of: 4th of July. in fact…it can’t get much more American than that.

now i realize that this particular 4th of July weekend has not been all fireworks and fairy tales for many of you from my home state of Minnesota, what with the government forgetting how to compromise and work for the good of the people, instead of staking out in one’s perspective political corner, which has lead to a full government shutdown.

but i hope this weekend you are able to sit with some friends or family, grill something, enjoy a refreshing beverage, find some piece of grass to relax on and eat as much watermelon as your stomach can hold.

because besides for being on the constant look out for anything

RED, WHITE & BLUE…

[i think these pastries count].

…. and consuming amazing food like cinnamon rolls….

Micaela and I are doing just that: consuming all the watermelon we can get our hands on…

happy 4th of July.

from both Micaela and I.

shoot off some fireworks for us, won’t you?

with love.

– natalie.

visitor: my mom.

July 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

now you tell me.

what is better than having visitors? hard to say, hard to say, really. maybe 4th of july fireworks? salmon grilled up on the back deck late summer? ice coffee on a hot morning?

after much thought and deliberation over this one…i [Natalie] still have to say: visitors just can’t be beat [even in my daydreams of summer food from home!]

so guess what? my mom came for a visit. to korea. to daegu. to my little apartment in chilgok.

some of the highlights from the 10 days together:

( one ): just having her here in my apartment. making tea together in the mornings. and just talking and talking and…talking some more. oh! and, it’s still wonderful to have your mom make your favorite breakfast for you.

( two ): we did some amazing day trips around Daegu. first stop, Haeinsa Temple . it was a beautiful hour bus ride from the southern bus station in Daegu. nothing beats Korean countryside in the summer. the rice fields are curvy, rising taller and taller as the driver weaves in and around and down the narrow roads mountain roads.

Haeinsa is the home to the Tripitaka Korea, which is the world’s most comprehensive and oldest version of the Buddhist scriptures. there are more than 81,000 small wooden blocks containing the wooden script.

the temple was absolutely lovely, though a main part of it was under construction.

we both were intrigued and decided to meander through a labyrinth type structure at the base of the temple.

we had a lovely stroll around the temple and the Tripitaka Korea, where the Korean tourism man stationed in that area was pretty convinced that i spoke a moderate level of Korean [it must have been my convincing “uhh-uuuh”], because he kept insisting that i “translate” what he was saying about the place for my mother’s benefit. he was very impressed and excited to see her. he was eager to tell her all he could about this very important landmark for Buddhism and for Korea.

Koreans are extremely proud of their mountain water. bottled water is drunk throughout the cities, but once you enter the magical surroundings of trees and stream water, everyone is drinking their fill. and let me tell you. the water tastes brilliant. so cool. so fresh. and so free. no plastic bottles confining the movement of this liquid.

in fact. these little water spots have become one of my most favorite things to photograph.

3) one of my friends Hayley, who Micaela and i happened to meet while hiking one weekend…invited my mom and i out on sunday to explore the sites of Geyoungju. located an hours car ride outside of Daegu, Geyongju is the largest folk museum and showcase of traditional Korean life, being that it was the Korean capital during the Silla dynasty. for those of you not fresh up on your Korean history, the Silla dynasty existed here from 60 BC to 930 AD [respectively].

we spent the better part of the day exploring and roaming around to all the fascinating temples, fields and tombs there. with such a great crew like Hayley, her brother and his amazingly beautiful girlfriend, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Hayley is currently in the midst of writing a book, so obviously, my mother, the author and my new friend Hayley, currently awaiting the title of author, had much to talk about. how inspiring it was to sit and listen to them talk about how it was scary at first, and sometimes still is, but they are both living out a dream. and you can tell, their voicers are stronger and surer because, they both decided somewhere along the way to listen to  that voice inside and do it: write.

inspiring?

i certainly thought so.

( four ): Sonya, one of my many wonderful Korean co-teachers, said to me the week before my mom came, “well Natalie, since your mom is here [big sigh], i guess she should have a Korean-home experience. you’d better come over for dinner with her, that is, if you like.”

i nearly jumped over myself with excitement. a Korean-home experience?! that was my first home invitation i had received since being here. i made the mistake of becoming a bit too excited.

we had so much fun together the first night, Sonya asked if we could meet up again later in the week. this time, just her and her daughter Sophie met us for a little dinner, coffee and a walk around Susung Lake.

you must just love the mother-daughter moments when they come along.

and we did.

( five ): i took her of course to….

Dunkin Donuts. how could i not? this little haunt got me through some hard months here. what with the fabulous porch and lawn chairs. of course i made her try the carrot, tomato and spinach donut. you’ll have to ask her what she thinks about that Korean creation.

( six ) i made her buy some fabulous new….

glasses!! what with all the millions of styles and colors here for next to nothing…she bought two pairs and didn’t even put a dent in the wallet. have you seen any of the new ones she’s sporting? does she not look fabulous?! because let me tell you. she does.

( seven ) i loved watching my mom be a celebrity in my classrooms. my students, from the youngest to the very older, adored her.

they sang for her, bowed to her, shook her hand. one of my co-teachers even had prepped everyone of her classes to say, “hello Becky, nice you meet you.” i melted.

it was quite a few proud moments when i got to see my students walk courageously up to her and try to ask her a question or just speak with her. remembering how painfully shy and timid most of them were when they first saw me compared to how they were just stoked out of their minds to meet my mom…oooh proud teaching moments. : )

and hey, i don’t really get so many of those moments here.

( eight ): traditional Korean dinner with co-teachers Sarah and Silvia up in the gloriously green mountains of Palgongsan.

i loved having two worlds become one that evening. my mother, sitting with my best girl friends here, talking about the things girls talk about. fashion, how they first met husbands and boyfriends [i had little to add here…], dreams, hopes, most recent chic flicks…ladies, you know what i mean.

we laughed and had too much fun perhaps. it was that perfect.

( nine ): Seoul-travel

the weekend before my mom left to go back to the Americas, we traveled up to Seoul together were we strolled along Insadong admiring artists creations and doing a bit of shopping for the loves at home.

baseball is a big deal here. and i’d heard…that a professional baseball game here was similar to going to a high school or college sporting event in the states. i mean, it’s hard to explain. but i’ll give it my best…

there is a cheer-leader. a man with a microphone and some clappers.

there are a few female cheer leaders. these ladies are busting out cheers and dance moves left and right.

the people. the fans. i.e. my mother and i. we watch them for what, when and how to cheer.

and in case there is any confusion, people are going nuts the entire game.

at one point, my mom turns to me, “whew! i’m sweating so much, i don’t think i’ve ever been so tired at a baseball before!”

i encouraged her to take a breather and rest up for next time we were up to bat.

oh yeah and did i mention we were there supporting one of the Seoul teams, the LG Twins?

copyrights are not really that big of a deal here.

for sure one of the best activities i’ve done in Korea so far. even the family sitting next to us [who by the way brought their 9 month old son, who i got to hold for a bit] were jumping up and down through the entire game.

Korea has much to teach me about how to value, honor and respect the “olders” in our society. everywhere we went my mom was “ooohed” and “ahhhed” at. the cutie old ladies on the subway and buses would always pat the seat next to them and invite her to take a sit. they used me, hoping i understood more Korean than i do, so they could speak to her.

kids moved out of the way for her on the street, gave up their seat on the bus rides and even opened doors for her.

once you reach the coveted old age here, you receive this kind of respect, because you’ve arrived. you’ve, assumedly, worked hard, lived a long life and now it’s your time to relax and have things a bit easier. age is not something to despise here, in fact, the more numbers you’ve got and the higher they are, the more special treatment you deserve.

i loved getting to watch my mom enjoy that. and to see the Korean people give it, as no particular special event, just because…that’s how it works here.

the goodbye was hard. and the train ride back to Daegu was sad for me [read more about it here]. but i am so grateful. thanks mom for making the journey and having part of my story from these past 9 months become a part of your story too.

oh did we have fun. see you soon.

and with one final peace sign, she disappeared inside the milky security walls.

we both walked away to what await us, our hearts a little fuller, our breath a little deeper and our memories together a little wider…

– N

ps my co-teacher Sonya, asked me yesterday if my mom had made it home safely and if she planned to come back anytime soon. i laughed and said, i don’t know, maybe she’ll want to come back again, i couldn’t say for sure.

Sonya replied with, “now that she knows how nice it is here, i don’t know how she could stay away! and she shouldn’t leave your dad at home this time. he should come too.”

so, Mom when you make your travel plans to come here again, Sonya says, bring dad. and also Sonya told me to tell you, that when you both come back for another visit, you should stay with her. because she would like to have some company. and also, she’s pretty convinced that my apartment is just too small.

these are the beautiful souls here that i am privileged to call my friends.

the hair experiment [a working title].

June 27, 2011 § 17 Comments

Part 1: the conversation

While I [Natalie] can’t remember the exact words exchanged, but I know the general concept went something like this:

Micaela: “Ahhh Nat.”

Natalie: “Uuuh?” [this is a Korean sound that covers any and all meanings possible, include ‘sure’, ‘what’, ‘yes’, ‘ok’, ‘i agree’, ‘go on’, ‘oh! that’s interesting’ etc.]

Micaela: “So I’ve been reading this urban homesteading blog, you know the one I talk about like everyday?”

Natalie: “Uuuh, uuuhhh.”

Micaela: “And I’m pretty heavily considering…ahh…yep. Well, I think I’m going to stop using shampoo and conditioner  on my hair and see what happens. Like an experiment. You interested? You want to do it together?”

Natalie: silence. a slight head tilt followed by a: “I’m in. totally. I mean…whoa wait. Let me do a little research, but I’m in, for sure.”

That was in the month of March. And here I sit, late June upon us, with the rain pounding the pavement outside my window, the beginning on monsoon season here in Korea.

Part 2: the reasons why.

Now, I [Micaela] know what you are thinking…”ewwww” and “do the herbal essence commercials not mean anything to you!”

1.) The cool-kids are doing it.

I follow blogs rather religiously. One in particular is called the Path to Freedom and it’s by a family living in Los Angeles county who is choosing to have as little impact on the environment as possible through urban homesteading (aka having a large garden, generating their own electricity, and simple things like not using shampoo). I pretty much think everything they do is the bees knees. So, when I came across this article I was pretty inspired. And figured if the cool kids over at this blog were doing it, I should jump on the band wagon.

2.) I am 23 and I still use Johnson and Johnson Tear-Free shampoo.

Upon further investigation (read: googled it), I found that not only is it good for the earth to refrain from using chemically manufactured shampoo, but it is also good for your body. According to an article on CopperWiki.com, “shampoos could contain toxic ingredients — chemicals that are found in anti-freeze, engine de-greasers and brake fluid — which are absorbed through the skin into the body and the brain three times faster than water!” So, when you are putting some shampoo onto your head you are not only exposing your scalp to dangerous chemicals, but you are flushing them into the sewage system which in turn pollutes our water.

One of the main ingredients in shampoo is sodium laureth sulfate, which, on the mild side has been proven to irritate skin and eyes (have you ever really thought about how strange it is that we massage shampoo into our skin…and yet it burns when it gets into our eyes?).

3.) Boyfriends 존재

Well, one perk of neither Nat or I having anyone to impress (read: boyfriends, employers, potential-employers or even cute-boy-at-the-record-shop) there could not be a more ideal time to experiment with greesy hair.

Most of the blogs I read said it could take 2 to 6 weeks for the oils in your hair to normalize. Essentially, using shampoo strips your hair of it’s naturally produced oils. When you use shampoo, your hair adapts by producing more oils. In order to get your hair to normal pH levels, you need to refrain from using shampoo to allow your hair to produce the amount of oil it needs. So, we’d figured this would be as good a time as ever to test it out.

4.) Those expensive organic shampoos

To be quite honest, I [Natalie], have been a purchaser of those natural…organic…green…very expensive….beautifully packaged and bottled…shampoos and conditioners. I love them. I love how they smell. I love how soft they make my hair. But they cost me my pay check. And that I’m just not so fond of.

So there’s got to be another way, especially if you are buying organic shampoos and conditioners for the whole family. And I’m here to tell you, there is…keep reading…

Part 3: just gotta get in the shower.

Exhibit A:

This is what we were originally using for showering and cleaning purposes; purchased around the corner at our local Lotte Mart and down the street at Homeplus superstore.

As you can tell, they are locally produced and endorsed, especially the DeBON [which we first read as DeBone], made by LG. You probably are more familiar with this company as the producer of your cellphone or washing machine, but here in their home country, they dabble in just about everything.

Exhibit B:

Start first with some baking soda, not to be confused with baking powder [we’ve learned from experience through an extremely unfortunate mixup of the soda and the powder]. The powder will be your downfall…so stick with the SODA.

Ours we purchased in a little sack for about 45 cents. It isn’t even half gone yet, and we’re pushing a few months now.

So when you are standing in the shower, dump a little baking soda, quarter size amount into the palm of your hand. Turn off the shower stream, let a few drips of water hit the baking soda, creating a little creamy paste substance. Flip your head over and direct the paste-like substance into the roots of your hair.  Focus on the greasiest areas of your scalp, the crown of your head and your part.

Now, give yourself a little head massage for a minute or two. Some articles say that the massaging of the scalp stimulates hair growth.

If you are looking for creating a lather by massaging the baking soda into your hair, I better tell you right now, that you won’t find it. In fact, it feels kinda gritty. But I’ve when you choose to learn a new kind of normal…you get used to it. And you know what? I even like it now.

Exhibit C:

While living in Korea, sometimes you run into troubles. Like all you are wanting to find is some apple cider vinegar to condition your hair, but all you can find is apple vinegar of some kind. It kinda smelt the same and it was in our kitchen for other culinary endeavors, so we decided to try it.

But upon Micaela’s arrival back from the States, she brought many essentials like, homemade cookies, sour gummie worms, skittles and….exhibit D.

Exhibit D:

Apple Cider Vinegar, compliments of Trader Joes, directly imported via Micaela’s backpack compliments of crossing the oceans by Asiana Air all the way to Chilgok, Daegu [yes, we understand the irony of the carbon footprint].

We’ve taken two tablespoons of the vinegar into a small travel size spray bottle, filled the rest of the way with water. After the baking soda, spray a bit of the vinegar/water mix on the ends of your hair. Let sit for a few moments, similar to using conditioner, then rinse out.

And there you have it.

Another tip we’ve picked up from the Urban Homesteading blog is, if it’s available to you, grab some coconut oil before your shower and add it to the dry ends of your hair. Let it sit for a few minutes before jumping in the shower.

part 4: be one of the cool kids.

Micaela and I are pretty into this. In fact, we love it.

We both sorta missed on the finer points of our science education [not because our mother’s didn’t try their darnest], but now, every time we step in the shower it’s a bit of an experience. Perfect.

Which, might I add that, overall, I step in the shower with the intention to wash my hair significantly less often. Today is…what?…Monday. Last time I washed my hair?…Tuesday. That’s correct. A full 6 days ago.

Before you go blasting me for my lack of personal hygenie, I would just like to say, let’s remember back to the days of reading Laura Engels Wilder and how the knobby-kneed-Natalie admired her all the more when I read she only bathed once a week. Obviously she’s my [weekly] inspiration.

So, we are writing all of this to say, you should try it! And let us know what you think! Have you already been doing this kind of thing for years? Do you think this is the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard? Do your own research. Let us know what blogs, articles or research you find. We’d love to learn more!

Anyone who is interested in joining the experiment for at least 6 weeks, Micaela and I would love to take you out, once we are state-side, and hear about what you thought. We’ll even bring you an Endangered Species chocolate bar.

And if that doesn’t inspire you. I don’t know what will.

Until next hair washing,

yours truly,

signing off,

M & N

The Comings and Goings

June 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hey folks, Micaela here. It’s been a bit, I know. But, don’t worry I am alive and well here in the land of Korea (who are we kidding, you know all of this because my counter part, NBP, blogs and let’s you know the deets!).

Wanted to give you an update on the comings and goings.

Comings:

-I met this great student, JaeWon Choi. She is moving to Canada soon to go to high school there (stay tuned for the goings portion of this blog) and I had the opportunity to hang out with her and work on her English before she makes the leap.

-The Choi family, JaeWon and her parents, took Natalie and I on the most wondrous day trip. We drove up to the city of Andong. It is about and hour north of us and a destination for both tourist and Koreans alike because there are many remnants of traditional Korean living. We visited a museum, ate delicious Andong chicken (At the best restaurant ever, we got to wear bibs!) and visited some friends of theirs who have the most lovely homestead along the bank of a river.

-Nat and I and a friend from Seoul went on a camping adventure in Juwangsan National Park. We had high hopes of camping inside of the Park, but when we arrived, we discovered it is actually not so much a mountainous park as a super-high-steep-rock-cliff park (which is not conducive to setting up a tent unless you are like Chris Sharma or something). So we set up camp at a quaint little camping area just outside the park and had our first Korean camping extravaganza.

-We laughed because our tent could have fit ten times inside of our neighbors tent. They laughed too. One moto we have here is “Koreans, they think of everything”. Which is why I was slightly surprised that no one at the camp site had brought the kitchen sink with them. Instead they had huge grills, foldable picnic tables and tons of food.

-We introduced our camping neighbors to s’mores and the concept of roosting marshmallows over the fire (just when you though I was soaking up all the goodness of Korea and not giving anything back…) But when I mentioned the concept of roosting hotdogs over the open flame I knew I had gone to far.

-The travel itch. It’s coming. For sure. I know, you are thinking, “You are living abroad, how can you have the travel itch?!” Well, google Kathmandu and you will have it to (I was born to rhyme).

-Becky, Nat’s mama, is coming for a visit! She is arriving tonight and will get to experience Korea first hand (You see, she is our most dedicated blog-commenter, so she has already experienced Korea in a second hand kind of way). Welcome to Korea Becky!

Goings:

-Well, JaeWon is moving to Canada really soon. I am so excited for the opportunity to experience a different culutre and education system for her. But, I am going to miss her. Korea through a 16 year old’s eyes is fascinating.

-I went rock climbing. Which means that the I-am-pretty-athletic feelings I secretly harbor have gone out the window (hence the fact I placed this in the goings section) and been replaced with a bit of a vendetta with a 5.8 (if you’re not a rock climber-like me-it’s a mediocre level climbing course).

-I am FLYING HOME tomorrow morning. Yep! Crazy, I know. A lot of CO2 emissions, I know. But, one of my lifers and best friends is getting hitched and I am going home to celebrate like 1999, or 2011. And I miss my mom! There I said it. And I miss my family and friends! (Read between the lines: I am spending a months wages to go back to Minneapolis and eat a burrito from Chipotle! I know, shameful. You’d think I missed my mom’s lasagna the most! Or my Grandma’s cookies! But, usually I am dreaming of the veggie bowl with chips and guac on the side)

Well, that’s all for now.

-Micaela-