This is our little school, Brown International School (BIS). As you can see our school is on the 3rd floor of a building, squished between a restaurant and a bank.
We currently have 19 kindergarteners (age 5-6) about 90 elementary age students (age 7-13, Grades 1-6.
Our school is a "hogwan" or a privately owned school. BIS happens to also be a franchise. There are 5 BIS schools throughout Korea. Three of the schools are owned by the same person/group of people. Of the three; two of them are in Seoul, one (ours) is in a suburb; Bundang (about 20 min. South of Seoul). The other two are located in Busan (Southern S.Korea) and Yougin (further South of Bundang). Working at a hogwan has it's advantages and disadvantages. Working for a franchise means job security and getting paid on time. (hogwans in S.Korea often get a bad rap for screwing foreigners over by not paying on time and closing without notice) Overall we are both very thankful to have found a school that's has more pros than cons.
My good friend MaLeah is also in Korea now. She got here Sept. 29-30th -ish.... We didn't know where she would be living or staying while she went through her new teacher training. We had made plans to go see here the night she got here, we would just have to figure out where "here" was. Well it turned out that MaLeah had the same driver as we did; "Pep". (we used the same recruiter to find our jobs in Korea, and Pep works for them. Part of the "recruiting service" is to provide a driver that takes you to your apartment for the first time) Anyway.... MaLeah and Pep were talking and Pep told here that she would be staying very close to us, even in the same neighborhood. Over the next hour, 57 Facebook messaged we found MaLeah!
Insadong is one of my favorite places in Seoul. During the weekends Insadong street is closed off to cars and becomes an open street market. Traditional tea houses, hand made pottery shops, a young artists district (where recent Seoul College of Arts grads can sell their art) traditional Korean clothing (hanbok) stores, food carts (boiled grubs...yummy!) and tons of souvenir shops.
Joe and I had been planning on taking MaLeah sightseeing when she arrived and I knew that Insadong would be the perfect place to take her first!
We started off our day with some of my favorite Korean food; Bulgogi-ttukbaegi 불고기뚝배기
Bulgogi is your basic thin cut, marinated beef.
Ttukbaegi is the way the beef is served in a hot clay pot stew-ish style. Onions, (delicious) clear noodles and a sweet broth.
Like every Korean meal, it was served with rice, kimchi and a few other pickled side dishes. We also ordered a side of mandu, or dumplings.
After we filled our bellies we took the hour subway ride to Insadong. We spent most of the day walking the streets, getting lost, shopping and visiting a Buddhist temple.
After walking around a bit we decided to visit the only Starbucks in Korea with a Hangul (Korean alphabet) logo.
We LOVE Starbucks!