Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heeeeyo

Today is the eve of my vacation to Japaaaaan!

I've been off of work since Saturday. However, Justin's silly employer made him (and all of the other teachers) work Mon/Tues so we can't leave until Wednesday. I'm still enjoying my vacation, though! It's been lovely not to going into work!

Everything up until now has been kind of a countdown until vacation. I feel as though it could not have come at a more opportune time. Those kiddos were driving me crazy! And I was driving THEM crazy! It's better to have a little break, and all come back rested before the end of the term. Only 5 weeks left. Crazy.

Two weekends ago, Justin and I were just being lazy so we decided to head over to Manseok Park, which is about a 5 minute walk away. I'd never fully explored the park and wanted to see what it could offer me. :) Turns out, the park is great! It reminds me a lot of Capitol Lake, as there is a big lake in the middle with a walking/running/biking track around it that is about 1 mile in distance. Justin and I made plans to start running around the lake after Japan. Here are some pictures from that day...


Beautiful, no?

I really like this shot:


Hey there, Justin!

Did I mention that weekend was our one year anniversary of living together? Woop Woop! Silly kids...

And, check out this lotus flower I spotted! BEAUTIFUL!


LAST weekend, we went to Seoul to find some *ahem* birthday gifts for my dad and Julie. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!!! (I'll be in Japan for his bday, so won't be able to call...)

Anyhow, Justin wanted to see Deoksugung Palace, so we checked that out on our walk from Namdaemun Market (huge, everything you could want) to Insadong (tourist street!). The palace was pretty great and I particularly enjoyed that the sounds of Seoul were largely blocked out its surrounding wall. There was also a beautiful pond. The Seoul Art Museum (I think) is housed inside the palace walls but was closed the day we went. I'd love to go back and check it out!

Namdaemun Market


The Palace entrance:
I flexed my muscles and looked tough when I went past the guards and one of them smiled/laughed. It was kind of funny...

The pond! That's me on the right...I look so tiny!

Palace structures...not quite sure what this one was for...

Cutesy one of us in front of the museum. By the way...my backside is not that big. My purse makes it look like that. :)

Last picture...ME! Ready to take on Insadong!


Okay, Folks, that's all I've got. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures in Japan. We're staying with Hiroko, whom I met in college through Justin and Joel. They both stayed with her family on and off during their times of destitution in Japan. We'll be a surprise to her parents and Justin is SUPER excited to see them. I guess they were like his second set of parents there in Japan.

We're hoping to spend one day each in Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. It will be a short trip, but definitely worth it!

See you all when I get back!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy Three Months in Korea

Tomorrow marks my third month of Korea Living. That means I have nine months left on this contract. After the week I just had, that seems like a lot.

Kids are funny. They love you one day, hate you the next. I suppose the same goes for teachers. Some of my classes are awesome every single day. Some of my classes are awesome, then terrible. Thankfully, none of my classes are terrible every day.

This week, I am going to try putting more energy into teaching, particularly into making my classes fun. I feel as though we all (students and teacher) get caught up in the material and how boring it is, and lose our sense of humor. With the company I work for, there is little room for creativity on the teacher's part, as I must get through a set amount of material in a set amount of time. So, rather than let the kids speak, in ENGLISH, about something fun and off-topic, I find myself constantly re-directing them back to "The Book." I hate this. I would much rather have conversations with my students in which they are asking questions and answering, truly practicing English. SO, hopefully, I can figure out a way to blend both situations to make a more engaging, enjoyable class for all.

Furthermore, for those current and former teachers out there--how, for those students who tend to misbehave, can I make class fun? I have a couple of kids who get distracted by the typically "bad" kids and thus get reprimanded, too. One of my students doesn't even like coming to class anymore because he's had so many reprimands for getting out of his seat too much and speaking Korean. I never thought of myself as such a disciplinarian, but I'm afraid that my attempts at classroom management have turned me into a scary teacher! (Only in a couple of classes. In the classes where kids are well behaved and excited about learning, I am very fun and the kids love me.) I beat myself up over the hard classes, though. I don't like the teacher I have become.

I would welcome, WELCOME any suggestions on how to maintain control while still being an engaging, fun teacher.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


In other news...Justin and I haven't been up to much lately. Well, that's not true. Last weekend, we hosted Dani and Matt, whom we previously visited in Daejeon. They are going to China for three weeks on their summer vacation (public school luckies), and had to get their visas settled in Seoul. So, we met up with them in Itaewon, the "foreigner" part of Seoul.

I have to say, I didn't have high hopes for Itaewon, but it did prove to be very nice for my vegetarian stomach. We were able to go to a middle eastern restaurant for falafel sandwiches (my favorite) as well as visit an English bookstore (BOOKS!) and a foreign food market. The market was great, as I got hummus and black beans, both of which are scarce in my part of town.

We took Dani and Matt to visit the Suwon Fortress and had a mini-picnic at the top to celebrate the Fourth of July. This was bittersweet for me, as I have a special place in my heart for the 4th, and that place says it should be spent in Juneau. HOWEVER, I did get a silly picture with an American flag and another small door:




It was nice to have some folks visiting, and we ended up buying a great mat for them to sleep on, which turns into a lovely little "couch" for me to read and update my blog on.

This weekend, Justin and I were hoping to go to the beach, but the weather didn't look like it was going to cooperate, and with our $15 tent, we do not have a rain fly. So, we scrapped that idea and decided to hang out here in Suwon and do a little relaxing. Part of that relaxation included Justin taking me out to eat at an Indian restaurant (another favorite). Expensive food, but nice for a little romantic lunch!

Then, we took naps (wahoo!), and got up for our evening mission: Suwon Fortress at night! Justin has been talking about going at night since the first time he saw the darn thing. It turned out to be the perfect weather (a few raindrops here and there to cool us off from the heat/humidity) and really quite fun! First, we explored the "Fine Arts st." which turned out to be a huge market. Then, we bought some beer and chips (such class!) and took them to the top with us to enjoy. After that, we headed down to another part of the wall and made our way home. The whole adventure took about 4 hours. We may have gotten another beer and free chips, as well. :)

Justin was snapping away pictures, so here they are......quite beautiful, if you ask me.

First, the "Fine Art St." Pictures. "Happy Suwon" is the motto for our city.


Would you care for some Pig Heads? Fish??


Okay, enough of that. Here is a view from part way up the fortress, looking down at the city:


And we made it to the top...

From there, we went to the "real" top:

After our beer and chips, we took our time going down. This is my favorite picture from the whole night. Good job, Justin!


Down at street level. This is near one of the main gates. It's crazy how we ride buses right around it every day.


That's it!

Today, we are just hanging out and have plans to make delicious soft tacos with black beans (thank you foreign foods market), tortillas (thank you, Costco!), cheese (Costco!) rice, and tomatoes (local HomePlus.) Mmmmm going to get my protein on with those beans and rice. Woop woop!

Here's to a, hopefully, successful next week!