Monday, June 21, 2010

long time coming

Hello! It's been awhile. I believe I have been a bit remiss in my updating of this blog. Justin, on the other hand, is much better at updating, if you are ever jonesin for some blogging from the two of us, go check his out at :)

Let's see..what has been happening? Well, life has been speeding by at a good clip. It's hard to believe it has been two months since I arrived in Korea. I can't say that much has changed, although I am meeting more people and enjoying some social interactions beyond work here and there. This is mostly due to Justin, who craves these social interactions much more than myself.

What I continue to learn in my life's journeys is that I am incredibly anti-social. It's not so much that I do not like other people, but that I can usually go without them for long periods of time. Then, when I need a friend the most, I find that no one is there. I seem to forget that having friends takes energy and time. Perhaps this is why there are only a few in my life whom I would call true friends, as they are the only ones I keep in touch with over the years. What this means, being in a new place/country, is that, while my coworkers are friendly, I often choose to go home instead of go out with them. Conundrum? Yes, a bit. Luckily (?), Justin likes to meet new people and has found us some folks to travel with on the weekends should we want to. So, life is pretty good.

I must say that I had my first week of feeling incredibly homesick, though. Last week. Woooo boy, I feel bad for my students. This teacher was in one heck of a mood. We got through it, though, and so far, this week is shaping up to be much better.

Two weeks ago, one of my students had a horrific nose bleed, and I had to pick her up to take her out to a Korean counselor. This is what happened to my shirt:
Eeeew. Something different about teaching in Korea (maybe just at a hagwon?) is that they don't deal with blood like in the the States. I've seen custodians pour buckets of bleach on a 6 foot radius of where there was a speck of blood. Korea? Nope. just a few tissues will wipe it up.

My classes this term are proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I have a couple of very low levels--older kids but in low levels-- as in, 6th graders in a Sprout 1 (typical age is 2nd-4th grade). SO, attitudes are a bit different when they are older! Lazy lazy kids, let me tell you. I find I am exhausted after these classes because all my energy is spent trying to get them to speak. It is much different than my classes with young kids at their "normal" level. Those classes have kiddos raising their hands shouting, "TEACHER! MEEE! PICK ME!" I love those classes.

A few weeks ago, Justin and I went to Daejeon to visit his friend, Matt, who he met hiking the Appalachian Trail. Matt and his girlfriend, Dani, are from Maine and have been teaching here for about 4 months. They were lucky enough to get positions with EPIK (public school jobs--the ones J and I thought we were going to get before the paperwork mixup). If we stay here another year, public school is definitely the way to go. Daytime teaching hours and LOTS of time off!

Anyhow, we went to Gyeryongsan National Park to see a couple temples. We ended up going on a 6 mile or so hike straight up a mountain. Apparently, they don't believe in switchbacks in Korea. If you would like a better explanation, please head to Justin's blog post about it, here. Or, you can look at all the pictures from it on my facebook here. Needless to say, it is one of the most intense hikes I ever been on and will be a lasting memory for years to come. Here are a couple of pictures (but definitely go look at all of them on facebook!)

Hiking straight up. There were times when you could stand and put your arm straight out and touch where you were going to be walking next.

This is at one of the peaks. Gorgeous, yeah?

We went to a temple at the top and found a Buddhist hermitage. The monk offered us, the weary dehydrated, foodless, travelers sustenance:

The view at the top was definitely worth it:

So, that was our trip to Daejeon. Last weekend, we went to Daecheon Beach, in Boryeong. It's about a 2 hour train ride.  A guy from Justin's work, Jonathan, invited us along. We ended up camping at a free campgroup, which was amazing! (We bought a $15 "kid's tent" that worked perfectly.) Jonathan and his girlfriend, Lisa, have been here a few months longer than us. Lisa actually works in Yeongtong like me, so maybe I've made a new friend! :)

The beach itself is not that gorgeous, but nonetheless, it was wonderful to be near water. One thing that I noticed is that there is no "ocean air" smell like everywhere else I've been. However, the water is plenty, I'm not sure how that works. Maybe because of the humidity?

Saturday was a little cloudy but we still went swimming. That night, we went out for dinner at a seafood barbecue (you cook your own) place. Unfortunately, my stomach wasn't took keen on all of that shellfish, and decided to tell me so about an hour after eating--it allllll came back up a few times. Despite this, it was a fun experience and was worth trying something new. :) On Sunday, we laid out on the beach for the whole day. Even though I put on some sunscreen, I still got pretty burned. Korean sun must be pretty strong! I've learned my lesson.

After laying in the sun for hours, we were all salty, dirty, and smelly. SO, we went to the baths. We paid about $3 to be able to soak in all different kinds of baths, including mud! Boryeong is known throughout Korea as the place for particularly healing mud. I have to say, my skin did feel pretty great afterwards! There were no pictures from the spas, as the ladies and men are separated and we bath in the nude. Pretty great experience, particularly for only $3!

Here are some pictures from the beach:

The water didn't actually look this blue. Must be the camera.

Tootsies in the sand! It had gotten kind of cold at this point...

The dinner! CLAMS!

A shot of soju was required. Soju is a traditional drink here in Korea. It is cheap and tasteless. I don't really care for it at all, but when in Rome...right? (Oh, and that white glove was for handling the hot shells on the grill):

A pretty cool point that Justin and I walked out to Sunday morning before the sun had come out:

Sunday: BURNED!

At school on Monday, all of my students said, "TEACHER, FACE!" and asked "Teacher, why red face?" They learned a new word: sunburn! :)

Okay, I must begin my day here...enough of this blog writing. I'm hoping to update more often, with shorter posts, as my last couple have gone on for pages...

I miss home and my loved ones, but I'm learning and experiencing a lot all is well in the life of this girl.