Hi, guys! Welcome to my blog Tostones and Kimchi. I know, it’s a bit of a weird name, and really who would pair tostones with kimchi? In order to explain the title, let me first introduce myself and tell you a little bit about me and then what my plans are for this site.
My name is Maite Somers I am single, under 40 (barely) and about to start a new adventure; some may call it a midlife crisis but I would have to disagree. I grew up in living abroad thanks to my father’s military career. My father is from the Kentuckiana area and my mom is from Puerto Rico. They met while he was stationed there and after a three-month whirlwind romance and a significant language barrier, they got hitched. I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico on October 1978 and since then have lived in Italy, Spain, and in several states, within the U.S. This has instilled in me a love of culture and travel. Unfortunately, adult-ing happens and I had to get a real job, thus putting my love of travel on the back burner, but my love of learning about other cultures always remained with me.
I have lived in Louisville, KY since 2001 minus a three-year stint in Florida. I used to work in sleep medicine listening to people snore. I promise it is slightly more exciting than it sounds and I did other cool stuff within the field – a shout out to my fellow sleep techs, I know the struggle is real!
Things changed for me around 2008 when I was introduced, and reluctantly so, to Korean dramas by my best friend (thanks Sherree, love you). My “gateway” drama was called Coffee Prince and I fell in love.
For those who may be interested in checking it out, here is a link to watch it: https://www.dramafever.com/drama/1/1/Coffee_Prince/
I also want to share the love
After about a year of endlessly watching Kdramas, I became infatuated with the culture and especially the food. Those of you who don’t know, Koreans like to eat and it shows in their tv shows, they know how to make the strangest foods look absolutely delicious. I knew that I wanted to find a way to visit and thus began my research. How can I go to Korea on the cheap? It didn’t take long to discover that going to Korea would NOT BE CHEAP at all.
However, where there is a will, there is a way; and I found a way. Through my research and watching multiple episodes of House Hunters International, I discovered this wonderful, amazing thing called teaching ESL and South Korea has a long history of hiring ESL teachers. There was a small hiccup though. I did not meet their most important requirement, I did not have my Bachelors degree (insert frustration emoji from above here).
I had to really sit and think long and hard if I really wanted to pursue teaching ESL. It would mean I would have to find a way to go back to school and finish what I had started many moons ago, it would mean changing my hours at work, and it would mean making less money than what I do now, and instead of taking care of mostly middle-aged patients, I would spend most of my day with kids. Luckily I really love kids so making the switch was a no brainer. It took me from 2009 to about October of 20014 to make the decision. Once I decided to go for it, I dove head first and never looked back. I changed my work hours from an M-F day shift to a weekend night shift so that I could go to school full time. From the time I started back to school, to the time I graduated in May 2017 (almost exactly 20 years to the day that I graduated high school) all I did was study and work, always keeping in mind that it was a means to an end.
In May I graduated and by the first week in June I had a job offer in Dongducheon, South Korea for a private academy and am scheduled to leave in about a week and a half.
So why tostones and kimchi? Well, I chose this title as a reflection of me. In Puerto Rico, tostones are a typical local cuisine. It is a green plantain that has been mashed and twice fried. Also, there is a saying in Puerto Rico that is used to represent pride about being Puerto Rican; la mancha del platano and decided to use tostones to represent my Puerto Rican roots. Kimchi, on the other hand, is pretty synonymous to Korea, my other love. It is a food that is eaten at every meal and something that many Koreans miss when they are away from their country. Also, Koreans have over 100 different types of Kimchi and even have a museum that celebrates this amazing, healthy food. For those who don’t know what kimchi is, it is vegetables that have gone through a fermentation process. The most popular kimchi is cabbage kimchi.
(Disclaimer: I did not cook this)
My plans for this site is to document my new adventure. I plan to blog my travels within South Korea and my experiences acclimating to Korean culture and food. I hope to share photos, recipes, music, and history about where I travel. I also want to hear from you guys, I want to create a platform for dialogue. I want to know what you are curious about and for those who have been to South Korea before, I want to learn from you. So subscribe to my blog and follow me on this life changing journey through South Korea.