Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Xmas Post

WELL, I hope everyone had a peaceful Christmas. Mine was different, but great. I forgot to take pictures...so for now, I'm stealing a couple from Justin. I'm hoping his friend, Spenser, puts up pictures from the dinner, too, so I can steal those. :)

Anyhow, Christmas Eve, I went out to Justin's local hangout with his coworkers. It was pretty fun but I was really tired from the week. Saturday morning (CHRISTMAS!) we made a delicious breakfast of potatoes and french toast. It was only the second time I'd had french toast since being in Korea, so I was a pretty happy camper. Later that day, we went to a dinner at an off-base military "community house." The place itself is run by a Christian group but the dinner wasn't too religious for me. So, that was nice. We DID sing happy birthday to Jesus, which I was pretty impressed by. Justin ate some of his birthday cake. I ate PUMPKIN PIE instead. (Another food item I have missed.)

After dinner, we headed up to Seoul to go skating at Seoul Plaza. They ice over a big area for public skating over the holidays. It was only 1,000Won (about 80 cents) for 1 hour of skating and rental skates. Great deal. Unfortunately, Christmas was one of the coldest days Korea has had in years (or so I heard) and I was a chilly girl. Soooo I lasted about 40 minutes. A small child managed to take me out and I have battle wounds to prove it.

All in all, a wonderful Christmas. I had fun spending time with Justin and his coworkers. They are a good group of people. I also enjoyed Sunday because I was able to skype call my family on their Christmas. Perfection.

It's warmed up a bit and we got a few inches of snow yesterday, so my walk to work is a winter wonderland. It's also an ice rink. Korean's don't seem to salt sidewalks. It's every man/woman/child for themselves!

Here are four whole pictures of the day:

The Christmas Dinner Atmosphere

getting our skates on (that's Spenser)

Couples tend to wear matching outfits. This was particularly amusing. 
The guy was a foreigner, too!

 The start. Before the cold and the crash. 
I should probably buy a warmer coat.

It's the week before 2011 and life feels busy. We have a new teacher, Nora, from South Africa. She's been teaching in Korea for a year and half but is just starting with our company. I got to do a little training with her on Monday. So far, so good! Also, we're all getting prepped for INTENSIVES which start next week. Gone are the days of lazy Tues/Thurs mornings. For a month, I'll go to work at 9:30, teach an intensive writing course 10-12:20, then teach my normal classes until 7pm. SO, I'm treasuring this last week before mayhem ensues. :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMASSSSS!!!!!



I am sending all of my love and warm wishes to my family and friends over the ocean. I miss you! 

My plans for the day include a community dinner (they'll be serving ham so I'll hope for yummy sides) and ice skating. It will be different, but hopefully equally as fun as a Christmas at home. 

May we all cherish the life we lead, as it is the only one we have. I am blessed to have such amazing family and friends. Merry Christmas from Koreaaaaa!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HOME

To my loves, here and across the ocean.

Feeling like being "home," but am reminded each day that where I stand can be home, if I open my heart and allow it.


Baby XMas Tree Photo Shoot

My amazing mother sent me an xmas tree this year. It's about 6 inches tall. She even sent ornaments. Tonight, I put it all together. I'm feeling the holiday spirit! Thanks, Mom!




Daegu. Kind of.

Last weekend, I caught the slow train (ugh) to Daegu. It took 3.5 hours. If you take the KTX, which I did for my return to Suwon, the trip is about 2 hours. If expediency is your goal, I'd recommend KTX. Otherwise, go slow train--more room, substantially cheaper, and just as comfortable.

Anyhow, I went to visit Teralyn. As I have mentioned before, Teralyn is pretty amazing. I think we might be soul sisters. I very much appreciate our time together. We laughed, drank wine, ate delicious italian, and went to a hookah bar. In the morning, she made us french toast with real Mrs Butterworth's syrup. Ahhhh, delight!

As it was a short trip, I didn't see much of the city. I'd love to go back and spend time poking around in Daegu's haunts. So, Teralyn, expect another trip!

I forgot to take pictures. Here the few I did snap:

When the taxi dropped me off, I was instructed to look for a fountain with faces. Check.

 Didn't go in, but kind of cute

 Hookah bar. I don't remember the Korean gal's name, but she was VERY nice.

The owner. He was hilarious.

Thumbs up!


On Friday, my favorite kid, TOM, wore this cute hat. Korean kids...and adults, for that matter...seem to enjoy interesting hats. Tom is my favorite because whenever he receives praise, he raises his fist and says, "yessss!'. I know he's closing his eyes, but I love this picture:

Also on Friday, I received a birthday/care package from my lovely friends Ashley, John James, and Mary! THANK YOU!
 

Last night, I decided it was time to improve my eating habits. Well, to balance my life in general. So, to start with, I made a delicious stir fry/rice thing.

This morning, I did yoga for about an hour. If I accomplish ANY goal this month, it is to do yoga at least 4 out of 5 weekday mornings.

Today was pretty great. I hope it was the yoga.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SNOW!

Today was the first "big" snow. Big is a relative term....but a slight dusting continuously throughout the day is more than we've had thus far:


The beginning! This is the view outside my window. Delightful, no?

 It's getting a little more exciting...

The park across from my apartment. Woohoo kids playing! 

I'm all bundled up.

The birthday boots arrived JUST in time (yesterday)!

Wiiiinter Wonderland

Umbrellas and snow? I guess it makes sense...

I don't really like snow, but it sure was pretty today. 

Lots to do this week. Two more days. Essays to grade, student reports to write, and classes to teach! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Birthday Weekend

Oh, it was a wonderful weekend!

I got a cake at school....and it was, hands down, the best cake I've had in Korea. Usually, the cakes are pretty tasteless, but this charmer was delicious.


From there, my coworkers took me out to a (veggie friendly) dinner at Queen's Head, where they also brew pretty tasty beer. I had a pizza. Delicious.

Alex and I came up with some sort of club during dinner...and here's us flashing the sign later that night. I believe you have to say "POW" at the same time you throw up the P's.

After dinner, we went out to a few places near Suwon Station. I didn't get home until about 6 in the morning. It was a great night of dancing and laughter. I love my coworkers.

Vy n' Me (it rhymes!)

Hahahaha...oh dear.

Linda...always looking delightful


Saturday was a recovery day. Justin took me to Indian food near Suwon Station. It was great to find a cheap Indian alternative to the very delicious, yet expensive, "Taj" here in Yeongtong. The new place was pretty good...although I have definitely had better. We had plans to check out Seoul Forest and a Dr. Fish on Saturday, but Justin was pretty sick. So, we went on Sunday when he was feeling better and I had recouped from Friday night.

Sunday was a really FUN day. I'd never made it to Seoul Forest and neither had Justin, so it was a new experience all around. Having been there now, I wish I had gone when the leaves were changing...but you live and you learn. I'll definitely make it back in the future. There are many things to do and see, and you can even rent bikes, which we DID. I was sooooo happy to be riding a bike!


 The line of bikes to be rented.

 I thought it was kind of funny--Justin got a "manly" mountain bike. The guy gave me this cutsie pink one. Ohhhh gender definitions are alive and kicking in Korea.

 I fell in love with this sculpture.

Similar to Nara in Japan, we got to see deer! 
These were enclosed in fencing, though. 
Quite a bit less scary.

Then we headed out to the Han river. Weeee!

video

Justin was trying out his new camera. 

This was fun--you jump and try to hit the plastic things. I didn't jump very high...

Still playing with the camera. I really like this picture.

 AFTER Seoul Forest, we went to a Dr. Fish cafe. I believe this one was called Book with Spa or something like that. It's in Gangnam near the Teenie Weenie clothing store...on the 2nd floor of a building. Anyhow, the whole thing is pretty funny. You put your feet into a bath and let all of these tiny fish eat the dead skin off of your feet. It was simultaneously terrifying and delightful. Here's a video of me putting my feet in for the first time:
video


  You can kind of see the fishies. They swarm.

 After a few minutes, I got used to it. Kind of. 
Well, until Justin took his feet out and ALL of the fish swam to me.

I had a wonderful birthday full of laughter and new experiences. It was the first time in a few years that I didn't feel homesick or wish I was somewhere else. Living in Korea has grown on me and it only took 7.5 months. Eh, well, I always take awhile to warm up to things.

Week two of winter term is starting off well. We have a staff dinner tonight, which should be interesting. They always are. This weekend, I'm heading down to Daegu to visit Teralyn! I'm pretty excited about that...laughing will happen AND I'll get to visit a new place. I'm starting off this 26th year in a great way!

To see more pictures of the weekend, click HERE.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Never thought...

  
 It's my birthday. Happy Birthday to me!


Well, technically it's in about 12 hours....but I'm on Korea time, so it is currently December 3rd! Wahoo!

I never thought I would be celebrating my 26th year as a teacher.....in KOREA.

Here's to celebrating LIFE, NEW EXPERIENCES, and EXPANDING HORIZONS.

I'm off to teach some truly sweet, adorable, smart, and inquisitive children. Later, my coworkers are taking me out for some dancing and celebrating. It is a blessed life that I lead.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It begins!

Yesterday marked the start of my last full term....on my initial one year contract. Woop woop. I'll still work (at least) 8 weeks of the last term, but this does feel a bit momentous. A bit.

I thought, going into the day, that it would be a breeze. I'd been through it all before, right? Oh no, my company always throws curveballs--and this term it is a dramatic change to our writing section. It's going to take the kids (and teachers!) a few classes to get used to the new format.

Last weekend I went shopping for xmas gifts in Insadong. I have almost everyone checked off my list. No guarantees of arrival dates for the packages, though. I can either send things EMS and fork over a lot of money for gifts to arrive by the 25th, or regular Korean post, pay close to nothing, and hope they get there before my contract ends. In April. Hmmmm.

The big excitement of the weekend was the first snow on Sunday night!  I did not witness the actual flakes falling from the sky, but I did glimpse a little snow on the ground! It melted by the morning. Just how I like it. Each day feels cold cold cold and I am rather ill-equipped. I'd better fix that soon!

Well, that is all of my news. The birthday is on Friday, so I only have 3 more days to be 25. Wow.

Happy Tuesday!

A group of Korean drummers!

 Insadong is great for this kind of thing


SNOWWWW

Here we go, Winter. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

giving thanks

I am thankful for all of the usual things: my FAMILY, my FRIENDS, my LIFE, freedom to be ME, and my HEALTH.

This year, though, I've been thinking about what is different. I'm reflecting on the uniqueness of my situation and am giving thanks to my current experience.

Sure, it's been up and down. I definitely had the "I do not want to be in this situation" mindset far longer than comfortable. Now, though, I am happy with where I am and what I am doing.

Teaching English to Korean kiddos is pretty great. Last night we had a speech contest and the entire time I couldn't help but grin stupidly at the dedication and strength those kids have. I was proud of past and current students who put themselves on stage to speak in a foreign language infront of their parents, peers, and teachers. Let's be honest: my heart was bursting.

Each day, I interact with a unique set of coworkers, Korean and native-English speakers. The situation is special because we are not really there for a shared set of beliefs. Since college, I have worked only in the arena of social justice, etc. My coworkers generally had the same sentiments as me and we were working toward a common goal. Conversely, while most of us are in Korea to travel and teach, we have a range of backgrounds, personalities, and mindsets. Some are here as a means to an end and others are making a life of traveling and teaching.

I am thankful to have met these individuals. I am thankful they are teaching me to be a less judgmental person. I am thankful my job is teaching me to not sweat the small stuff. I am thankful the kids are cute. I am thankful that because of them, I am living in a foreign country and experiencing a new culture.

There is a lot to be thankful for in this world. I am beginning to live my life by this mantra, and it feels pretty damn good.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This time last year, we were making sweet potatoes and broccoli casserole to take over to my good friend, Nikki's house. It was quite the Thanksgiving--she instructed us to make hats out of paper bags, i drank a bottle of wine myself, and we played Rock Band.




Two years ago, I was flying to Hawaii. 

Three years ago, I was preparing for my team's roadtrip to Biloxi, Mississippi. 

This year I am heading to work to teach my smarty kids and to judge a speech contest. No turkey (obviously...haven't had that for 5 years!) OR cranberry sauce. A little different, but still good.

It's been a few years since I've been "home" for Thanksgiving.

I'll be thinking of my friends and family today and, subsequently, tomorrow (I'm a day ahead) and wishing for a wonderful day full of love and laughter. I miss you all.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Art, Insadong, Saunas...

Another great weekend.

I had training in Seoul at headquarters on Saturday, so had to run up early and sit through (mostly mindless) talk about the changes to my Junior Master class for next term. I haven't decided yet if it was a waste of my time. Regardless, it got me up to Seoul to meet Vy and a couple of her friends at the National Museum of Korea. We wanted to see an exhibit of Buddhist painting. By the time I arrived after training, Vy and her friends had already gone through the exhibit. Luckily, Quinn got there about the same time I did, so we breezed through it. I can't say I was all that excited about what I saw. Mostly this was due to the exhibit area's dim lights and the masses of slowwwwww moving people. Meh. Outside of the museum is beautiful---

The "Reflecting Pool"


 Pretty Pretty

 Seoul Tower. I still need to cross that off the list...

The only picture I could take inside---

I've been posing in the classic Korean way lately.... it's getting on my nerves.

 Quinn! Me! Reflecting Pond!


After the museum, we headed to Insadong....hoping to do a little xmas shopping. I forgot to get anything. Maybe next weekend?

Scaaarves. So many scarves.

 

  Oh! And then we got stopped to do a fun little quiz for tourists.

After Insadong, we met up with Vy's friend and surprisingly, about 8 other Koreans, at an Indian restaurant. I sat across from an older gentleman who is a lawyer in Korea but is licensed in the U.S. as well. I got to pick his brain about the Korean criminal justice system. He had many questions about my former line of work as a DV advocate, etc. QUITE the stimulating conversation.

I thought I was heading home after that, but Carolyn texted me from Gangnam, so I met up with her and JoJo for some drinks. She and I missed the last bus home but forked out cash for a taxi ride home at about 3 in the morning.

On SUNDAY......... we went to a Korean sauna! Spent about 5 hours relaxing, bathing, sauna-ing, and being scrubbed clean by older Korean ladies. It was my first experience with the scrub and I must say, I will definitely go back. It hurt (a lot) but my skin feels so smoooooooth now!

All in all, a wonderful weekend. This is the last week of the term, so I'm preparing for a bit of restlessness with the kids. My new schedule looks interesting, to say the least. We'll see how it goes.

Birthday is less than two weeks away! Woop woop!

Oh, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of my American loves!