Wednesday, August 31, 2011


This is going to be another quick one.

Today, I made Terry laugh not once, but twice.

I found a website that has all sorts of lesson materials for Americans teaching English in Korea... these materials are public domain and created in accordance with the different books.

I met my principal and made a good enough impression on him that he invited me to come to dinner with himself and some other teachers (so, of course, I went).

I have now completed two lesson plans and am ready to go for tomorrow... my first day teaching. :)

Here are some photos of my classroom:

This is the fake restaurant. (The desk you see is mine.) 

In the fake restaurant, the students learn how to order food. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The worship remains
Always, the word is Christ
Christ, healing all believers

Since coming to South Korea, I've been somewhat locked in an epic metaphorical soccer game (probably to the death... well... my death at least).  For those of you who haven't been keeping score, let me catch you up:

My team and I tramped onto the field, jet-lagged and motion sick, immediately after disembarking the plane.  Korea showed no mercy, scoring a point within the first few seconds, as we fell on a moving sidewalk and attempted to keep me from getting sucked under (I'm telling you, if it actually could have happened, it would have happened then, so assure your children that they are safe).  Korea 1, visitors 0.

We took the penalty kick for having grounded one of our players (me), and despite the disheartening first minute of the game, we managed to start working together as a team, scoring a return point before ever making it to Cheonan.  We bonded as a team on the van ride home, which may not sound like much, but has been such a blessing.  Korea 1, visitors 1.

A lot of blows were parried, through battles with doorless showers, overly friendly Korean children, language barriers, and more.  I'd say the number of goals we've managed to block has been pretty successful.  However, Korea scored two goals on Sunday, as we committed a huge cultural foux pas, turning down a tour of certain parts of the city.  (It could have happened to anyone, as we didn't think we were committed to it, but because the other Americans at our church had committed themselves, it, in turn, automatically committed us.)  They took the penalty and scored easily.  The affects of that goal have yet to be seen.  Another easy score was my blood sugar crash on Sunday... I skipped breakfast, since I was singing in church, and lunch ended up being mostly noodles.  They got the goal, but I scored again on the penalty kick, figuring out ways to battle the encroaching loneliness that comes with being unmarried in this particular group of teachers.  I have turned my minority to my advantage, using this time to ask my questions about marriage and really listen to what the couples have to say as answers and free advice.  BAM.  Take that.

Soooo... as it stands now, Korea has 3 points, and the visitor has 2.

My first meeting with my head teacher, Ms. 구 ("Koo")
There are a couple of things that are going to be ongoing battles point-wise, like how my relationship with my head teacher turns out (right now, it's looking promising, especially since she is very willing to call me Anne!  Of course... I had to employ my Hangul skills and tell her that my name is 앤, not 애나, but we got there.), and whether or not I can make Terry smile (it's a 50-50 shot right now).  But, here's the main thing that I've learned as the moral of this story: It's not what does or does not happen, it's how I choose to look at the situation that will make or break me here.  By viewing everything here as an opportunity to block a shot and then return fire, I somehow feel like I have more control of my emotions. I don't have to just let it be a bad day, I can revel in the fact that I'm just preventing things from bringing me down. It's an interesting thought, yes?

Oh, and as a final thought, Jenny (who is a Korean) scored a point for the visiting team by telling the restaurant we were at today that it was Lisa's birthday.  Jenny explained that it was a white lie, and therefore okay, and, well, I've been trained not to argue with Koreans.  Whatever the moral decision on the action, the result was quite fun, and almost had smiles all around (still working on Terry)... which means that Jenny managed to tie the score up: Korea 3, visitors 3.  The jury's still out as to which team she's actually striking for.
Celebrating Lisa's "birthday"
Okay.  I love you all bunches and bunches.  I hope you got what I was trying to say... but just in case you didn't here's my whole post but in man-speak (I've been playing translator here a bit):

Some situations may get you down, but change your perspective to look at the positives of it, and it will not be as bad a situation.

:)  Still waiting to know what more you want to hear.  Talk to you later.

Alex, I haven't forgotten you... I'm just waiting to write about playing my violin until after it's already happened. xoxo

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's unavoidable...

It's pretty much as unavoidable as Darth Vader being Luke's father: My name is "Anna" while I'm here.  Somehow, they got that one into their heads, and, even though I've corrected it, it still gets written that way in every paper introducing me.  I sang a solo in church this morning (on request), and this is how I was introduced:

Hopefully, you can see that.  My name is near the bottom.  Anyway, all day when I introduced myself, I was corrected.  So.  I'm Anna.  Great.

Anyway... this is a picture of the couple I flew over with - Lisa and Cameron.  We'll be joined by another couple tomorrow.
 Annnnd, this is a picture of me enjoying really yummy Korean food.  Koreans LOVE taking photos, so, unfortunately, I had a bunch of water in my mouth when this was taken.  Fortunately, I still managed to look cute.

 Finally, I saw this in the mall the other day.  It made me really happy, especially since it was moved to cover all the Yankees gear:

So there you go... this is a quickie, but I think it's still a goodie.  Enjoy, and leave me comments with what you want to know about!

Friday, August 26, 2011

My address!

Hey! If you want to send me mail, this is my address:

Anne Nicole Royster
Korea Nazarene University (Attn. Jenny Kim)
#115 Faith Hall (Miteumgwan)
456 Ssangyong-Dong Seobukgu Cheonan City Choongnam
331 718 South Korea

Sorry it's so long, but that's how stuff works here. :)


Ahhhh... culture, culture, culture! There's a lot of it here, and definitely a lot to learn. So far, I've realized that Koreans love English (whether or not that extends to its speakers, I have yet to decide), but they all take the opportunity to exercise whatever level of English that they have. I cannot tell you how many times complete strangers have said hello to me on the street... but that's also part of culture. Whenever I see, well... anyone, really, I'm supposed to give my "안녕하세요?" and bow. I don't mind, really... it's kind of fun to see them smile at my attempt to use Korean. (I impressed my employers with a "반갑습니다," today. They were almost as excited as I was.

Everything here is very much a hierarchy. For example, of the three Koreans with whom I work most closely (Jenny, Terry, and Jeff), Jeff is the newest to the program, so when we go out to eat, he is always the one who has to go ask for more things at a restaurant or take the annoying jobs (like taking us on a tour of the city), and he happily does so. (I don't know if all Koreans are content in this system, because Jeff is just a generally happy guy, but I get the impression that they're okay with it.) Anyone who is of a higher position than you is to be shown extreme respect and addressed by their title. For example, I will be "Teacher Anne" (if I'm lucky... somehow, they got it into their heads that I'm Anna... which worries me, because most of their English is learned from movies and pop culture...), and my principal will be "Principal [whoever]" or "Dr. [whoever]." You don't call someone of a higher respect level by their first name... ever. (Think of manners in the Deep South.) Eye contact goes with this too... You're not to make eye contact with someone of a higher respect level, or else you'll be seen as confrontational... You're more of to aim for the chin or neck, which is just as well, as I'd prefer to be attempting to read lips when I'm working with non-native-speakers, anyway.

My 아파트 is a pretty good example of Korean culture, from what I've been able to tell. It's small, of course, but things its previous owners decided they didn't need have been left here (apparently my bed frame is included in that list... not all the teachers have one). Mostly, it's about functionality, with lots of tape residue all over the walls, but that tape is also evidence of another part of Korean culture: a love for hanging "cute" things all over the wall (all the 3M hooks were some of the things left by previous owners). Also, Jenny, Terry, and Jeff, made sure to leave me a shelf full of essentials, so I wouldn't have to worry about finding these things in stores while I'm still jet lagged. Some of those things have been dispersed through my apartment (for example, the blow dryer they left me has been moved, box and all, into the bathroom, in the hopes that I will convince myself to learn to use it), but I was so grateful to them for this that I almost started to cry when I saw them. I was also left a pair of house shoes, and shower shoes, that are most helpful... which brings me to the shower itself. Like I said before, Koreans are big into functionality over aesthetics, so prepare yourself...
Ready? Here we go:
Yup... no shower curtain. The whole floor is made of a waterproof plastic tile, so it is just expected to go everywhere. It's always been dry by morning, so I assume the system works. It's really not too bad... it just is taking some getting used to.

Okay, I think that's probably enough information overload for you today. (Trust me, though, this doesn't even begin to touch the overload I'm currently feeling... but I think this is a good overload.) I want to reiterate that I love it here... almost as much as I love you all. Have a good rest of the day! And, seeing as I see the rest of the day before you do, I can tell you that it only goes uphill throughout the day. ;)


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I made it to Korea! But what is slightly more shocking is that I already love it. Unfortunately, you're going to have to deal with the brief version here, but I hope that as I get more adjusted to the time zone, I will not be as tired throughout the day.

The flight from Dulles to San Francisco was my first flight on Virgin Air, and let me say, that airline definitely has its own style. The plane looked like it wanted to be a club, and the people on my flight acted like they wanted to be in one. Also, I was entirely surrounded by bratty, shrieking children. Luckily, I had popped two chewable Dramamine and slept the whole flight. All in all, I think I'm going to avoid that airline whenever possible, but not as much as I try to avoid Delta. Southwest is definitely still firmly locked in as my favorite.

The flight to Korea was looooooooooong, but I had two amusing guys sitting in my row, and few children anywhere within ear shot, so that definitely made the whole thing better. I flew Singapore Air for that flight, and with every bit of me that would recommend against Virgin Air and Delta, I would highly recommend Singapore Air. Everything I would have expected of first class, from good food, to decently roomy leg areas, to hot towels, was there. But don't worry... I saw first class, there's is still a definite distinguishing factor (for those of you who saw Inception, just know that they actually make first class cabins that look like that). I would also recommend choosing one of the special meals; it means you get served first.

At the airport in Korea, I began the course of action that has ultimately led me to agree with the rest of the world in their thoughts that Americans are stupid. Cameron, Lisa, and I met one of our bosses, Terry, who led us and our carts of luggage onto a moving sidewalk. Unfortunately, none of us thought about how to steer the incredibly heavy carts off the sidewalk. As a result, we all fell on top of each other, somehow managing to not catch anyone underneath a cart. Terry, was, sadly, less than impressed. We couldn't stop laughing about it, though.

Today, I blew up a power strip, because I didn't have a voltage converter (although I thought I did). I really thought I was going to catch the whole building on fire. Luckily, the only damage was to the strip.

Speaking of the building, this is the view from my porch:My whole back wall is a sliding glass door. I absolutely love it. My bosses were also really sweet and left each of us some essentials. I almost cried when I saw it, but I didn't want to freak Terry out any more than the nasty cut on my hand already had (one of my old suitcases bit it on the flight over, as predicted. Its brokenness broke me too. I'm fine). Terry does not like blood.

We bought a sort of charge card today. We know for sure it can be used for public transportation, but we're thinking that if we load enough money onto it, it can be used like any normal charge card. They're really cool, though, and the best way for me to try to explain it is with this photo. Yes, that Hello Kitty charm in my hand is my card. I love it. You charge it like any other metro/subway pass card... mine just happens to look pretty freaking sweet.

Also, I've been assigned to an elementary school, and I couldn't be more thrilled... unless you count the fact that I have yet to try a Korean food I don't like... or that my bosses are impressed with my Korean... let's just leave it at this: I'm really excited to be here. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thank you

You people are so good to me. I can already tell that you've been praying. Whether or not these people read my last post, I don't know, but today a bunch of people spent a bunch of time telling me the high points of Korea and how much I'm going to love it. It's helping. All I have to do is get on the plane, and everything will be all right. I'm the same way with roller coasters... I get nervous when everyone's getting strapped in at the station, but once we start up the hill, there's nothing I can do, so I sit back and enjoy it all.

I think the most reassuring comment I've heard today is the comparison that was made between the German people and the Korean people. I already love the German people and their culture, and have learned how to fit in with them. This person was saying how the Korean people view time management and organization in very much the same manner. That's good. That's familiar. I can deal with that.

Keep them coming, guys. Call me selfish, but I really need your support right now. Thanks. Love you all!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Soon and very soon

Exactly four days from now, I will be located roughly seven miles above the Pacific Ocean.

Four days.

(Don't let the plane fool you... I'm flying Singapore Air.)

Guys, I'm not going to lie to you... I'm really excited, yes, but that's starting to be overtaken by days of dry-mouth and nights of cold sweats. My Korean learning has not come along as well as I would have liked, and every time I turn around someone is telling me how I'm going to hate the weather or how the food will make me sick. I'm so scared, but I know this is where G-d wants me... so I have a request:

For the next four days, will you, please:

1) Pray for me? I need it more than anything. Pray that G-d will loosen my tongue, soften my brain, and open my ears to the Korean language. Pray that G-d will open my heart to the Korean people. Pray that G-d will give me a courage beyond my own to step out of my parents' car on Tuesday morning and get on the plane.

2) Pray for my family and friends? These people mean so much to me, and right now I can tell that I'm hurting some of them by leaving. Please pray that G-d will show them what He has shown me - that this is where He wants me right now, and that He is going to take care of me, as He always has.

3) Tell me how excited I should be? Share the stories of the things you LOVE about traveling and things I can look forward to about Korea. I need to be reminded of that now. I know that there are a lot of things to be uncomfortable about, but I don't need to think about those things anymore. I've already made this commitment to G-d and my employers, so will you please help me make the absolute best of it?

4) Pray for me again? I'm going to need all the prayers I can get as I jump into this, so that I can keep G-d at the center of my life and His goals ahead of my own. I want to do this right, and that means doing it G-d's way.

Thank you all so much for your love and support. It means a lot to me to know that as soon as I hit the "publish" button at the bottom of the page, some of you will start on this list.

I love you bunches and bunches.

P.S. If you click on the title of this post, you will be linked to several intercessory prayers. If you're not sure how exactly to pray for me (or anyone else), please try these out, even the one for "healing." My body may not need healing right now, but my emotions do. Reading through these and thinking someone may pray these words for me is starting to make me cry tears of relief.

Really, I love you all so much.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


All the details are done.

I've filled out the paperwork.
I've sent it all to Korea.
I've gotten my VISA approval.
I've gotten my VISA stamp.
I've bought my plane ticket.
I've made arrangements to be picked up at the airport.

The only thing left is to get myself there.

This is the part that gets hard for me: the part where I'm wrapping everything up and saying goodbye to people. I often find that I come across as cold and uncaring during this time, but please understand that that is not really what is going on. If I were to give in to all the emotion at this time, I would never leave. I know that Korea is where G-d wants me, and so I am going to do what it takes to get there.

However, I never want you to doubt that I love you all.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Did you know?

It's crazy cheap to fly to Seoul. Yup, I just got my one-way ticket for $786, including fees and such. Baggage fees aren't too bad either. Therefore, you should come see me while I'm there. That is all.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bureaucracy is annoying.

Well, on Monday I was able to take my paperwork in to the Korean Embassy in Washington D.C. I dressed up in preparation for the interview I was told would occur, but I had enough foresight to wear my flip-flops and pack my beautiful but half-size-too-small pumps in my purse along with an excess of paperwork. I got there and handed over the worksheet I'd printed off from online and dutifully filled out. The girl behind the counter started asking for a plethora of other papers that I was silently thanking G-d for giving me the initiative to copy before leaving Nashville. Then, she asked for the $45 fee, and I pulled out my checkbook.

"No," she said. "We only accept cash or money order."


So I trekked over to the ATM in the lobby, which was, of course, not working. I smiled at the metal detector guy and went in search of an ATM. Carmen the Garmin was with me and graciously directed me to a nearby Wachovia ATM. I'm sure you've already gotten the flavor of this story enough to know that said ATM was blocked by a big fence announcing the construction of a new building there. I found a gas station, paid the fees for using an ATM not associated with my bank, and withdrew $40 to add to the $20 in my wallet.

Let's see if you see this coming.

I walked the half mile back to the Embassy, all the time the sky growing darker, smiling at the Gandhi statue on the way and hoping that he could help me keep my cool. I murmured a hello part 2 to Metal Detector Guy and went back to the window, where Nice VISA Clerk Girl had been replaced by Personal Call VISA Clerk Guy, and he was not happy to see me. I waited, organizing my papers on the counter. He got off the phone and glared at me, so I took this as a cue to hand him my stuff. He proceeded to find fault with a lot of things that I had filled out according to instructions, the most frustrating of which being that I had to have a Korean phone number already. (I ended up giving him my employer's.) But here was the best part - just wait for it: He looked at me and said, "I don't have change."

I explained what had happened with the cash and how I'd had to walk a mile for a working ATM and that it only gave twenties. He folded his arms across his chest and said nothing. I asked, "Could you help me please?"


So, after saying goodbye to Metal Detector Guy again, back out into the 100 degree heat I went. Luckily, I found a woman, Scottish I think by her accent, who was willing to break my twenty. We talked for a while about how unkind Americans are to foreigners, and I tried to put on an accent... any accent at all. Then she said,

"It's about to storm."

Of course it was.

Anyway, I returned to Metal Detector Guy, who was steadily growing more and more amused by me. I had everything this time. Personal Call VISA Clerk Guy was back on his personal call, and was even less excited to end it this time, but he was willing to take everything from me this time. He handed me a ticket and said, "Come back on Wednesday," and put my passport on a corner of his desk. I pretty much was panicking as I left, but managed a cheery "See you Wednesday," to Metal Detector Guy, who was no longer able to refrain from laughing and started cracking up. I did too.

Luckily, my friend Cody has moved up here to attend UMCP. We met up for dinner, and he was able to salvage my day.

TODAY, however, was very different. Nice VISA Clerk Girl was back. So, after saying hello to Metal Detector Guy, I went up to the VISA window and was able to get my passport, complete with VISA stamp back in a matter of minutes.

So here's the moral of this very long story:


That is all.

Have a lovely day. :)