Preparing for Greek Easter

For those of you who don’t know, I’m Greek. I was also raised Greek Orthodox and, while I don’t identify as such anymore, this time of the year is still a special one for me.

In the Greek Orthodox Church, the week we are in now is Holy Week. Yesterday, my mother and I spent the day making tsoureki, a traditional sweet bread. It is a fairly labor-intensive process and requires a lot of patience – especially when dealing with the yeast. I don’t know what it is, but our yeast never seems to proof right despite our efforts. Even after running out to the store and buying brand new yeast, it still fell flat. So, our loaves aren’t too big, but they are tasty just the same.

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In the evening, we went to church. The Good Friday service commemorates the death of Jesus on the Cross. The congregation also lights candles and sings the lamentations, of which there are three parts. This is actually the only aspect of Greek Church I don’t mind being present for and I was slightly disappointed because the church we went to sang the lamentations differently from the one I went to growing up. Oh well. After, the Epitaphios is carried around the church. The Epitaphios represents the body of Jesus as it would have been carried to the tomb and is usually heavily decorated with fresh flowers.

After, my mom and I went home. We will go to church again tonight, for Holy Saturday. Then, tomorrow is Easter!

 

The Post-Graduate Struggle

When I decided to leave for Korea, I was under the impression that teaching English there would fix all my problems. Namely, my financial instability and my emotional distress caused by my financial instability. However, the stress of my job ended up taking an even greater toll on my psyche despite the fact that I was making considerably more money than I had been at home.

Since returning to New Jersey, I honestly spend the majority of my time watching Netflix in bed and crying about how much money I don’t have, even though I am currently working. Student loans. Car insurance. Phone bill. Gas. After all my expenses are paid, I have very little left for myself and it tortures me. I am officially back to square one.

In Korea, I had more than enough money to go out to dinner multiple times per week, treat myself to some new cosmetics, or even take a weekend trip on a whim. And that was after I sent half my paycheck home to take care of my expenses! Now, an iced caramel latte at Dunkin’ Donuts is hardly affordable.

The state that I (and many of my peers) are currently in is a sad one. What did we go to college for? To be in debt for the rest of our lives and not find jobs in our fields?  To work somewhere part-time and still live at home with our parents three or four or five years after graduating?

It hardly makes me feel better when I see people working in positions which I know they got because their families have money, connections, or both. The system is truly flawed because of this. I am absolutely certain that there are much more qualified people who could be working in so many of the jobs out there, but are not given a chance because of some petty reason.

Then, of course, there are the jobs that expect you to have five years of experience for an entry level position when you only went to school for four. How is anyone supposed to gain experience if employers are not willing to take a chance on a promising individual and teach her or him the skills necessary to do that job?

It baffles me. It saddens me.Please feel free to add your comments, and perhaps we could get a discussion going.

Korean Food Appreciation Post

I’ve recently been missing some things about Korea – particularly food. So, I thought I’d write a post about some of my favorite dishes I had while I was living in Ulsan!

Shabu Shabu

– While it’s not technically a Korean dish (it’s Japanese), there were shabu shabu restaurants everywhere in Korea! Steve and I probably ate this more than anything else when we went out for dinner. Shabu shabu consists of thinly sliced pieces of raw meat, which you cook in a boiling pot of broth at your table. You also add vegetables like bok choy and cabbage. When everything is cooked, you can roll it up in rice paper along with an assortment of other raw veggies!

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Barbecue (고기구이)

– I loved eating barbecue in Korea, especially samgyeopsal (삼겹살) which is pork belly. It was always so much fun going out to a restaurant with friends and cooking your dinner right at the table. My favorite restaurant in downtown Ulsan always put out a side dish of spicy bean sprouts and I also enjoyed ssamjang (쌈장), which is a thick sauce you can dip your meat in before you wrap it in a lettuce leaf.

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Gamjatang (감자탕)

– Gamjatang is a pork spine stew that has potatoes, radish greens, onions, peppers, and sometimes noodles or dumplings. It was one of my favorite things to eat during the super cold winter months because it certainly warmed you right up!

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Pajeon (파전)

– Pajeon is a green onion pancake that I wish I had gotten to eat more of during my stay. My favorite kind had seafood cooked into it (squid and prawn). Usually not enough for a whole meal, but definitely good for a yummy snack.

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Dak Galbi (닭갈비)

– Dak galbi is a stir fried chicken dish made with gochujang (red pepper paste), cabbage, onions, and rice cakes. You can usually add in other items, like cheese or ramen (that’s how I liked it!). Everything is cooked together on a big hot plate. When it’s ready, just scoop and eat!

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In addition to these particular dishes, I also miss chains like Paris Baguette, Lotteria, and Ediya. Paris Baguette had cheap, yummy sandwiches and salads which were great in a pinch. At Lotteria, I loved the Mozzerella in the Burger sandwich. And finally, at Ediya, they had a toffee nut latte which was absolutely to die for!