Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Basics

Let the blogging begin!

Sorry for the hiatus.  Its been a hectic time since I've arrived in Korea.  I'm not going to try to tackle everything with this first post.  Just some basics...

My Job
Its GREAT!  My school is far better than I ever hoped.  I have a wonderful director, wonderful co-workers, a wonderful schedule, and most of all, wonderful kids.  I really don't work all that much.  3 days, I work from 10-7 and 2 days I work from 10-2:30.
Everyday, I teach Kindergarten in the morning.  Then on the days that I go until 7, I teach elementary.
My kindergartners are the most advanced in the school.  I really don't feel like I'm teaching Korean kids English, I feel like I'm teaching kids.  As 6 year olds, they are already writing paragraphs!  Ok, not very well.  But still!  They are adorable, and I'll have many more stories, I promise.
My elementary kids are anywhere from 8-12.  These are kids that come to my school after their normal schooling (and then they go somewhere else after my class, too!).  I teach them Reading, Writing, and Science.
 My Kindergartners in the Library
My Home
Yes, at first, I was supposed to live in a hotel.  That changed.  It turns out that the hotel only had room for 3 teachers.  So, I got put in an apartment.  I'm happy with that.  Of course, there are pros and cons.  But in all, I think I have a better situation.  Its actually a pretty nice place.
                    My place is top window             
So far, Koreans are AWESOME.  I'll have more specific examples later, but in general, these are the nicest people I've ever met.  It really seems like they are genuinely happy, pleasant, helpful, curious, and fun people.  And that's not even mentioning how GORGEOUS they are.  Beautiful women here.

Ok.  There are the basics.  My goal is to take more pictures in the future and tell more stories.
A view from my school.  Daegu Stadium

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't Call It a Comeback

Q- What's the logical step after spending a year in France as an Au Pair?
If your answer is, "Quit postponing adulthood and get a real job", you're right.  But instead, I'm going to go teach English in South Korea.

I'm really not going to do much blogging today.  I really just wanted to state my upcoming adventure and re-decorate my blog.  Now it looks more Korean.

I'm only 3 days away from the big trip.  Trust me, I'll put up some more interesting things once I get there.  I think I got into a habit of only being able to blog outside the US.  So that's what I'm waiting for.  See you in Korea!

editor's note: Even though my original blog title was a play on being in the Alps, being a nanny, and The Sound of Music...I think I'll keep it in Korea.  Mostly due to a lack of a better title idea.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Your Questions Revealed

These questions were sent to me by various people over a month ago.  I answered these while in France, but forgot to post them.  Thank you very much to everyone who did ask these questions!

Of all the places you visited, which one you would recommend to your aunt for travel?
- This question was brought in by my wonderful Aunt Janet.  Even though she's about to turn a whopping 45, she still loves to dance, sing, and drink wine.  Initially, I thought Paris would be perfect for  However, I think that she would be kicked out of every restaurant she would visit.  She, like most Schlueters, has a volume control problem.  The French like a quiet restaurant.  Sooo, I would recommend something in Spain for Janet.  Very good wine (and cheap), lots of dancing, and much louder than its northern neighbor.  Because I really didn't like Madrid, I'm going to recommend Barcelona.  Yes, Barcelona is a younger and hipper crowd...but that just screams "Aunt Janet."

When you will tour ladies groups in the USA to show your pictures and entertain us with your comments about life aboard?
- I will be releasing a tell-all book entitled, As French As I Want To Be.  I have book signings already scheduled for Austin, TX (June 8th, Barnes and Nobles) and Birmingham, AL (June 22nd, Borders).  Others are being scheduled.  Fee free to stop by and ask questions.

What item that is now stored in our basement did you miss the most?
- This question was brought in by my generous Aunt Joellen.  Before I left for France, I basically took all my belongings and shoved them in her basement (thanks again for letting me do that).  To answer the question, first it was my espresso maker.  I had withdrawals without it.  So I bought one here.  Next, it was my Ikea furniture.  Oh wait...I have the SAME EXACT SET here.  But really, I missed my kitchen utensils the most.  To go a whole year without a cast iron skillet, bread maker, good chef's knife, good cutting board, and tongs was hell.  Especially because I cooked every night.  I guess it made me a better cook, though.

Other than the language barrier, what was most frustrating about living overseas for a year? 
- Grocery shopping.  I am used to getting free shopping carts, free bags at checkout, and having the things I need available.  I can't tell you how many times I got to the store with no coins, so I couldn't "check-out" a cart.  Or how many times I forgot to bring shopping bags to the store, so I had to buy new ones (not that big of a deal).  Or how many times I would go to 3 different stores trying to find something like Turkey or Ricotta Cheese, only to find they don't have it.  And that's not even to mention that every store is closed on Sundays!!!  I guess I'm spoiled by living in the land of the free (shopping carts and bags) and the home of the brave (to stay open 24/7).

What was your most exotic meal? 
- Boeuf tartare.  This is basically an uncooked hamburger with spices and raw egg.  Absolutely fabulous.  For some reason, Americans are terrified of raw meat.  When I told this to some French people, they think its the weirdest thing.  Who's right?  The French.  The boeuf tartare is proof.

Are you more inclined, or less inclined to become a ...father in the future? 
- Same.  When I first got less.  Now that I'm leaving, slightly more.  So it's a push.  My prediction is that upon returning home, I will miss being a father (that's what I feel like).  But after a while, it'll wear off and I'll just feel normal about it.

Did you pack the right amount for a year abroad? 
- No.  Too much.  Like everyone always says, pack light.  I did not.

Is there somewhere you REALLY wanted to visit, but didn't get to? 
- Here are the places I would have like to have seen: UK, Russia, Finland, Romania, Austria, Italy, Egypt.
Out of these, I would most like to have seen Russia, but it was too hard to get there.  Out of these, the one that seems most likely to have happen would be Austria. 

Somewhere you visited that you could have done without? 
- Madrid.  I saw some Butler friends there, but other than that, there was nothing nice about this city.  Basically, I have no interest in Spanish culture.  I really liked Barcelona because it is very unique.  However, Madrid is just a big, Spanish city.

What have you missed most about the states?
- See above.  Convenience.  I miss not being able to shop 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week and being able to buy nearly whatever I want.
(Of course, I miss friends and family the most) 

What have you not missed at all about the states? 
-  The economy.  I hated hearing all the doom and gloom before I left.  And yes, the economy in Europe sucks, too, but I don't hear about it.  I just hope it's better when I get back.

How do you think you're different from this time last year?
- Wow.  Tough question.  Obviously, I'm much more informed.  The huge question mark that was Europe now feels comfortable to me.  As far as personally, I think that I have more patience.  That's all from dealing with kids everyday.  

I would like a top 5 things that you saw/did that reminded you of your family.
  1. Christmas Mass in Oslo
  2. Canoeing on the Rhine River
  3. Camping in Switzerland
  4. Drinking my first beer in Zurich (Lowenbrau: the beer I remember my dad drinking growing up)
  5. Just being in Hungary and Poland  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Last Hurrah

Yes, it's been a while.  And yes, a lot has happened since my last post.  Let me fill you in...
  • The volcano ash held off just enough to get my mom to Germany.  But not to Geneva.
  • My mom took the train to Basel, Switzerland, where I drove 6 hours to get her (roundtrip).
  • That same day, my replacement arrived.
  • After a day in Thoiry, showing my replacement and mom around, my mom and I flew to Nice.
  • We then spent the next 6 days in the French Riviera.
  • The next day my mom and I flew back good old Valparaiso, IN.
And thus, my trip was over.

If you're curious about the Riviera, I'll briefly describe the cities we visited, but I'm really not going to write too much.

Cannes- This was our home-base.  To use a word to describe this city: Rich.  Huge yachts, grand hotels, and snobby families all around.  We stayed at one so-so hotel and one that was simply -pardon the gay-word- fabulous.  We used a day to lay on the beach and another to take a short boat ride to a small island just off the coast (a jail where the Man in the Iron Mask was kept).

St. Paul de Vence- This was my mom's favorite city (town).  Only a short bus ride inland, and we were perched on an old, medievel hill town.  Basically, the town was filled with many little shops and artist shops.  One word: Picturesque.  It was like a fairytale.

Nice- One word to describe this city: Diverse.  You have a glitsy beachfront, a charming old town, an Italian flair, and a laidback Mediiterranean feel.  We really didn't do much but see the market, old town, Russian church (?!), beachfront, and castle hill.  All wonderful.  This city was perfect.

Monaco- Ok, this is a country.  But this might have been my favorite places we saw.  My one word: Inaccessable.  This city literally begins on the sea and works its way up a mountain's side.  Everything is on a hill.  This makes it seem like you can only get to places my climbing a huge hill.  In addition to this, the money there is ridiculous.  Ferrari's, Bentley's, Rolls', etc...commonplace.  It feels like you're intruding on an elitist country club.  With all that being said, the city is immaculate.  Everything seems perfect.  We saw an unrated palace, a very nice aquarium, the famous casino, and the GORGEOUS scenery.  This might have been my favorite scenery of my entire year.

Villefranche- What Monaco is, Villefranche isn't.  This is a sleepy fishing town that actually fishes.  We saw fishermen trying their craft on the shore and some preparing for next day's adventure.  The word to describe Villefranche: cozy.  It was quaint and cute.  Just perfect to finish a trip to the Riviera.  This isn't an extremely popular destination, but it should be.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


That's how you spell this Icelandic Volcano, right?

Like I said last week, my mom has been planning to visit me.  She was scheduled to come in today...but with the volcanic mess, we thought we'd have to reschedule.  Or worse...cancel.  But by the skin of our teeth, my mom is hovering somewhere over German skies right now.  Here's how close it was.

As of Monday, my mom's flight was canceled.  As she was trying to get a hold of Lufthansa to change the date, I found out that the flight was still on!  Lufthansa got clearance to bring in 50 international flights back to Germany.  This was mostly done for bringing Germans back home.  Luckily, my mom got to keep her reservation and was off on her first trans-Atlantic journey as scheduled.  When I booked her flight 3 weeks ago, I chose this flight because it was the last Chicago-Germany flight of the day...good thing I did.  No other Chicago flight flew to Germany yesterday.

But as Lee Corso would say...not so fast my friends!  She still needed a flight to get from Frankfurt to Geneva.  All of these flights are canceled!  So my mom, a recent cancer survivor, a mom of three, a true-Hoosier, will have to navigate the German rails without a cell phone or any knowledge of the German language (except for Schlueter).

If all goes to plan, she'll arrive sometime tonight in Geneva.  Let's all keep hoping that our incredible luck continues!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Favorite Cities: #1

Paris, France

Is anyone surprised by this pick?  With how much I loved the smaller, cheaper, less-renown cities, Paris has its cake and eats it, too.  The reason why I loved Prague, Budapest, Oslo, and Krakow was because I couldn't compare them to Paris.  If a city could be compared to Paris, it will always lose.  Paris is the city of "more" and "better."  Paris has more and better museums, it has more opulance, it has more and better monuments, it has more choices for great food, and the list could go on and on.  This city is the epitome of a tourism city.  It was born to be a host to a kid from Valparaiso, IN with limited French skills.
But then there is a side of Paris which goes beyond the superficial, albeit amazing, layer.  There is a joie de vivre that does not exist in many cities.  Tourist, and even locals, look like they are genuinely having a good time.  Go to Montmatre and try not to smile.  I will always remember just how much fun I had walking down a boring old street.  I never felt that anywhere else.  It's much like that peaceful sublime that I felt in Oslo, except this was a heart-filling joy.  Paris makes you glad to be alive.

History: 5
All the French history I've ever studied is on fabulous display here.  Everything from Versailles, to the Louvre, to the Eiffel Tower...history is around every corner.
Grandeur: 5
The grandest of the grand.
Cuisine: 5
Features most of the "bests" of French cooking...and they are some of the bests in the world.
Weather: 3
Not bad, not great.
"It" Factor: 5
It's Paris.
Museums: 5
Even though I only put one of its museums in the top 5, it had the 6th and 7th rated (Pompidou, Orsay, Louvre).  There were many more in addition to this.
Specialness: 3
I think everyone has a special moment in Paris.  Mine came while looking down a Parisian garden at the Louvre.  It was my first "I'm in France" moment.  It nearly brought me to tears...honestly.  But then again, who doesn't have a special moment in Paris.  That fact makes Paris not all that special.
Return Factor: 3
This might not be fair because I went twice.  But there's nothing more that I NEED to see.  But of course, I'd love to return.
Cliche Factor: 1
It's Paris.
Public Transport: 4
Really, pretty good.
Ease: 5
Paris was made to get around as a tourist.
Tourism Industry: 5 
It's like Paris invented tourism.

Size: 1
BIG...but not as big as you'd think.
Bang for the Buck: 4
Surprisingly, you can do quite a bit as a student.  Lots of free entrances to museums.  And most of what makes Paris, Paris, is free.

Total: 54

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Favorite Cities: #2

Krakow, Poland

This is another surprise on the list.  This is the kind of city that doesn't stick out in your head, but really, it's a great city.  This city is like your friend who isn't very good looking, but has a great personality with great stories to tell.  Frankly, I don't care much about Polish history...but the history of this city is second to none.  The reason for this...WWII.  Auschwitz and Oscar Schindler...does actual history that you can see get better than this?  That many cities that I visited can give an experience like Krakow- start the day with a affordable meal at McDonald's, then a heart-wrenching experience in Auschwitz, followed by a light-hearted tour of an old, historic salt mine, then stuff your gut with hearty Polish food, and finally some very good beer in one of the best bars I've ever seen.  All for about 50 euros?!  That's 2 tours with transportation and a ton of great food.  I'm all about having experiences, and Krakow is full of them.
And that's not even mentioning the fantastic people in Poland.  Nowhere did I feel more welcome.  If you get a chance to hang out with some it.  They are down-to-earth and willing to have some fun.  They are just very good and interesting people.

History: 5
WWII, Holocaust, and Communism!  Did I just put an exclamation mark after those 3 words?
Grandeur: 2
Not overly ornate.  But still nice.
Cuisine: 5
3rd on my best cuisine list:
Weather: 2
Central Europe...what do you expect?
"It" Factor: 4
After seeing Schindler's List, this was a must-see for me.
Museums: 4
I'm including Auschwitz and the Salt Mine.  Other than this, I don't know if they have much to offer.  But those 2 are great.

Specialness: 4
Auschwitz= Special
Return Factor: 4
There was a Communism Tour and the Oscar Schindler tour which I'd love to see.  I'd also just love to spend more time here.
Cliche Factor: 4
It's not one of those grand European cities.
Public Transport: 2
Ease: 2
Tough to navigate.  Not everything is written in English.
Tourism Industry: 4
Size: 4
Small city.  Day tours make it huge.
Bang for the Buck: 5
Just like all the Central/Eastern European cities.

Total: 51