Thursday, November 27, 2008


someone once told me i should marry a linguist.  a small part of me is realizing more and more how incredible that would be.  

as i break through the surface of this world across the world from "home," i begin to indulge my unknown desire for languages other than my own.  sure, i learned a bit of spanish, a bit of Russian, and even a bit of Ukrainian, but i have never been immersed into an unknown culture speaking an unknown tongue for so long before.  it's incredible.  being here hearing nothing but Korean spoken everywhere i go forces me to listen intently to the patterns of speech with what little grammar patterns i know.  i watch expressions, listen for vocal inflections, and hear each and every phrase or small word i know.  i am amazed at the amount of simple conversation i can understand just following these patterns.  having only three lessons in Korean, i am indebted to the seemedly simple structure of the Korean language system and the great amount of expression in each person's vocal inflections.

yes, i realize my words are so completely immature in judgement, but i wanted to make sure i expressed this as the Korean language is unveiled before my eyes.  i am so grateful that i have this opportunity to learn a language while living in its native country.  what a blessing!  It is Thanksgiving after all.  I will reflect.

I think everyone studying to teach English to English speakers should have a time where they teach to non-native English speakers.  Most of us forget how we originally learned English.  We forget all the patterns, constantly learning vocabulary, and all the time it took.  May I be so bold as to say that we, as native English speakers, got it easy?  Do you realize how many people in nations all around the world spend excessive amounts of money and time learning the language that we were taught for free from day one?  

Katy's Warm Korean Fruit Compote Cocktail

Recipe (serves 3):

1 red apple
1 persimmon
2 kiwifruits, peeled
2 Tbsp raw sugar, appx
1-2 cup water, appx
1-2 cup peach milk (it's like a SoBe juice), appx
Splash of plum wine

1. Cut all fruit.  Leave the peels on the apple and persimmon to boost flavor.
2. Put all ingredients in a lidded pot on high heat until it boils.  Stir occasionally.
3. Set pot on low heat. Boil for about 10 minutes.
4. Enjoy the deliciousness.

This was my Thanksgiving, y'all.  Myself alone creating a wondrous delight for my (and your)  tummy completely by accident.  I consider it my cornucopia, for which I am very thankful.  :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Almost a month...


This is my second report from Seoul, South Korea…the first can be found on my blog at  Family members hearing from me for the first time: I nabbed your emails from the email Gabe recently sent home to you.  Friends hearing from me for the first time: why didn’t you read my blog before now?? >(

I have been here almost a month and I can hardly believe it.  Oh how I am always surprised at how quickly time flies.  I had my first Korean lesson on Sunday, but I don’t know if I learned anything.  Unfortunately, I entered during the middle of a beginner class, so the other students are not on my level.  I feel I might learn more by teaching myself, but I will ignore that temptation of antisocial behavior.  For now, the lessons I take are free (though only once a week), so I shall continue.

Gabe and Min have been my personal tour guides—I am so thankful they are sharing Korea with me so willingly!  This past Saturday, we went to the Seoul Grand Park Zoo. J  I was thrilled, honestly, because I haven’t been to a zoo in a very long time.  As far as I know, I’ve never seen so many genetically modified animals in one day…Gabe informs me that Korea is one of the (if not the main) national leaders in cloning…it makes me wonder if you could consider it a zoo with real animals or not.  The raccoon/dog mix was certainly something I’ve never seen before.  Two weeks ago, Gabe and Min took me to Seooreung in western Seoul, the burial site of five tombs of royalty that lived during the Joseon Dynasty.  That was a day filled with beautiful nature, changing leaves, and a lovely hike.  It is true when ‘they’ say you never really appreciate something until you no longer have it—I cried, literally holding back tears, when I saw the mountains surrounding Seoul for the first time.  I had been in the city for 2 weeks, walled in with smog and high city buildings.  A lump formed in my throat at the sight of mountains directly ahead as I rode in the passenger side of the bus during our school field trip to the Museum of Natural History.  I guess I forgot all the times people told me you can see the mountains from nearly wherever you are in Seoul—a city surrounded by mountains.  Therefore, back in my apartment on a very clear Sunday afternoon, I looked out my window on the 8th floor and beheld mountains.

Apart from those two weekend days, I have been solo here.  Slowly, I am meeting people and making friends.  I really want to find a dance place (where I can continue Swing and Ballroom), but I haven’t had luck searching online in my area.  Apparently, I did miss the Seoul Lindy Exchange—I was even here that weekend, but oh well.  Each time I do something new (like take my laundry to the cleaners or order food at a street-side restaurant), it takes me about 10 extra minutes to get out the door, because I am afraid to just take that one step out of my apartment… but finally taking that one step and closing the door in the face of fear behind me just makes each additional step that much easier.  The language barrier is my greatest fear…I think it’s actually my greatest fear even in English—I don’t know what to say in this situation or in that situation.  I love the way my English school director communicates with me: she doesn’t compose English sentences well, though I am increasingly impressed with her reading and object recognition abilities in English.  Basically, her communication to me consists of her speaking what she knows in English, telling me the rest in her most familiar language of Korean, and then cleaning up her sentences with greater clarity in English for me.  Communication takes a longer amount of time, but the message gets to me—and we have fun in the meanwhile.  It really puts a smile on my face to see how proud she is after successfully completing with me what is really a difficult conversation for her.   Those of you who know me well know how hard it is for me to communicate deep feelings or difficult situations verbally.  Those of you who have encouraged me along the way to just “spit it out and clean it up later” will be happy to hear that I am learning that very same message now as I write this halfway across the world. 

 As I pause to collect my thoughts after I scattered them into the words of the last paragraph, I realize I cannot write more than one truly meaningful thing in a journal entry or letter home.  My mind is overwhelmed now with thoughts of communication.  I am thankful that truth of the last paragraph found its way onto paper, since it was roaming in my mind still uncollected from my experiences here.  You know how they say a good pastor preaches to himself when he addresses his church?  Well, I now believe the same is true with writers. 

I say goodnight to you all…I love you, as always.


Katy Shea

Monday, October 27, 2008


Hey all, I think I have figured out my address :)

I got something in the mail...and by something, I mean I have absolutely no idea what it is, since it's in Korean. So this something has my address on it, of course, so the only way I can go wrong now is if I translate it incorrectly.

Ok, here goes...

katy weyforth
gangdong-gu, cheonho-dong
449 beonsi 49 ho, hilltop officetel 809ho
seoul, south korea 134-785


an alternative (americanized) version:

katy weyforth
hilltop building 809ho
gangdong-gu, cheonho-dong
seoul, south korea 134-785

hehe-my guess is that most will get here... i am interested to know...

Thursday, October 23, 2008


This message was originally intended to be an email, but forget that... 

I live in a city alive and buzzing.  I live in a city where century-old culture thrives next to new high-rise business and apartment buildings.  My apartment is on the 8th floor of one of the tallest buildings in this city’s smog-limited sight distance, and my giant ½ wall-sized window takes all of this in as I merely record.  Fortunately, for me (and all other residences of my building), the first floor (and below) yields businesses such as: a tiiiiny laundromat, a 24-hour One-Stop shop, a billiard room, several small restaurant(s) and bar(s), a small clothing store, and more to discover. J  This is no ordinary apartment building…or at least not ordinary for this American and probably most of you reading.

For those of you who don’t know, I am in Seoul, South Korea for a year teaching English before I journey into the geology grad school realm.  Feel free to reply and in your message, you have my permission to yell at me for not telling you during my 2-month time of preparation, or just reply with any comments at all.

Last Saturday was a joyous occasion, as my brother Gabe and his fiancĂ©e Min Jung travelled over an hour to my apartment, pulling me out of jet-lagged sleepiness, in order to reunite and welcome me with open arms to their home country.  We walked around town trying to find a place for some good Korean eats.  Afterwards, we went to a few stores for my grocery needs (like food and TP—it’s scented here, by the way).  Our journey culminated at the E-Mart, where we purchased most things.  10pm and the “supermarket” was buzzing.  I was amazed at the life in the store at this hour!  What’s more—it was LOUD.  With samples out, we couldn’t go more than 5 or 6 aisles without passing an employee shouting some sort of “BUY THIS” or “THIS IS ON SALE” as we passed.  It made me think of the idea of an indoor Indian street market with all the scents and noises that accompany it—only the Aladdin version, since I have never been to India.

I must say—I had my first taste of pig skin that night in the store.  This was an accident, I assure you, but I blame my brother, as he gave it to me and explained after I ate it.  J  Just to invite you all into that experience, I choose to inform you that pig skin tastes like hot dogs…an encouraging story, eh?

I only wish I had learned at least a few more phrases in Korean before I arrived here.  Now it is time for me to learn quickly—and that is not something I do well yet.  I have learned the alphabet, so I am happy to say I take about 1-2 seconds to sound out each syllable of a Korean word.  This is not helpful on the subway, and it definitely would not be helpful if I were late and lost on a street somewhere, so I must master my alphabet literacy quickly.  I can tell someone I am busy, studying, or say hello or thank you, but I have yet to learn the necessary phrases like, “Do you speak English,” “I don’t speak Korean,” or “Where is the bathroom.”  In comparison, the latter phrase was actually the first I learned in Ukrainian. J  I found that when my brother asked if I knew how to say “How much is it?” I nearly replied, “Skeelky tse koshtooye,” the Ukrainian equivalent.   Now I understand why Shiloh and Nikki, two Americans students studying French at my former college, had such a hard time pulling the French out of their heads during out Russian class together!

Much to my delight (and hopefully yours), I am finding more and more reasons to love it here…and that is only after five days.  Thanks to Susan, I have a travel journal.  This past weekend, I had so much down time to myself that it could have been maddening.  Instead of going crazy (or finding somewhere to party the night away), I chose to write in this journal.  The front cover displays one of my favorite prayers, the Serenity Prayer.  “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” by Reinhold Neibuhr.  In this journal, I had eight pages filled with first impressions and observations after just two days.  The I’ll be taking note format (not prose) for some of those entries, as you all know I have a lot to say when I allow my thoughts to flow freely.

There really is oh so much to tell already, but it would fill pages and pages.  Much love to all of you, and a special thanks to all who assisted me in getting here—whether by encouraging word, travel wisdom, money during my unemployed summer, or just by love.

Katy Shea

PS—feel free to inform me about your lives in any small or large amount.  If I’m not in my apartment, there’s cheap internet available around every corner.  Don’t be strangers.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Light at the end...

I AM EMPLOYED AND PACKING FOR KOREA!  Just when I felt more waiting would be unbearable, I got a message yesterday from this sweet recruiter named Sun A (Son-ah) with whom I've been seeking employment for the past month.  She found a job for me in Seoul and she wanted to know if I was interested.  Answer: yes, so I agreed to a phone interview that night (last night).  After more communication and a good night's rest, I woke to an email with a contract offering me the job.  Four hours later, the contract was signed, scanned, and mailed along with my other documents to South Korea. :D  I have waited so long for this.  

Start date: October 20th, 2008
End date: October 19th, 2009

I leave as soon as I get my visa and Sun A arranges my flight.  The visa should take 2-4 weeks, so PRAY for expedited service all around!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Katy Goes to Korea??

Hey all!

After a grueling summer waiting to hear from any and all geology jobs I've applied to in the past six months, I've decided to take a different route...straight to South Korea. My current plan is to teach English in Korea for a year. During this time, I'll be putting money away for the next year, in which I hope to be a VISTA volunteer for Americorps as a geologist in either Appalachia or Colorado. With AmeriCorps, I will be serving less-fortunate communities with my geology skills--something I dream of doing as a career one day in volcanology. After I complete the VISTA program, I plan to attend graduate school in either Hawaii, Washington state, or somewhere there are active volcanoes. There, I will get my Master's in Volcanology or something of the sort. So there's my next four plus years in a nutshell...and if you know me, one paragraph REALLY is a nutshell. :)

Return to my blog, as I'll update as often as I can while in Korea!

OH--I hope to leave near the beginning of October. I am still waiting for my documents; once I have all of them gathered, I can notify the ASK Now (Accessing South Korea Now) agency and they will probably contact me within 48 hours with a request for an interview from a potential employer.