Saturday, October 30, 2010

no debauchery, all things wonderful

Good weekend and it's not even over!

Happy Halloween! The ghosts and goblins were out (twenty-somethings dressing up in a country that doesn't reallly celebrate the day is a bit interesting). I decided not to partake in any crazy shenanigans. I think the last time I dressed up for Halloween was my first year in college. Maybe it's not my thing. ;)

Instead, I had a lovely Friday night out and a great day in Seoul with Linda and Courtney on Saturday.

Documentation of Saturday was a little on the weak side....but here's what I got. Oh, and one picture of my students:

 This is the Junior Master class and I have a lot of fun with them.
Jinnie and Ji-Won (the two girls in the front) are awesome. 
Halloween is not really celebrated here, but we still had a tiny party.


I'm loving the leaves as they change. 


 A musical performance we caught on our way to Insadong


 In Ssamziegil--lots of shops

Cute corner


 Fortunes are tied to the tree


 Coffee shop where we rested our weary feet.


Group shot. Courtney's in the middle and Linda's on the right. I'm on the left. ;)



I guess I only took pictures when we went Insadong. Hm. We also made a stop in Itaewon to get falafel sandwiches (first time for my companions) AND What the Book (also first time for them). I dropped almost $30 for "Freedom," which I keep hearing about and am excited to start reading. Hope it lives up to the hype.

Today I'm laundering clothes, reading, and will head to a movie with folks later.

It's been a great week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the positives

The weather has taken a DRASTIC turn. It's probably 10-15 degrees colder this week than it was last weekend.

So...the leaves are finally changing! Remember how my walk to work looked when I first arrived? --

Now it it looks like this:


Ahhh. Gorgeous!

I'm beginning a list of the "Positives of Solo Korea":

1. Mojito Martes with Vy. Good talks, good food, and a good (albeit weak) drink. Also, you can't beat  finding PLAYMOBILE salt shakers on your table:
2. Rekindling my love of dancing. No pictures...which is probably a good thing... but damn, it feels good. 

3. Planning trips and getting excited for them. I've never been much of a planner, but I'm strongly thinking of taking a solo trip during my 2nd week off which will be the first week of February. Looking to head somewhere warm, relaxing, cultural, and cheap. I'm open to suggestions.  In the meantime, I'm figuring out weekends.

SO, it begins.

The positive of THIS day, concerning work: Kiddos have their level-up tests, so I only have to teach about 1/2 of the material....and no grading! Wahoo! Here we go!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

lazy weekend

I didn't accomplish anything of importance this weekend.

Went to Seoul (Myeong-dong) on Saturday for a little shopping, as it is no longer warm and I was ill equipped. Still on the list: shoes/boots/warmer footwear.

The rest of the weekend was spent, quite honestly, in bed. After 6 months, I finally acquired a non-fluorescent bedside reading lamp. SO, I put it to use. And watched movies. Caught up on my Project Runway.

I felt guilty for being inside on an otherwise lovely weekend. How many of these do we have left?

Maybe I needed it.

Halloween is this weekend. Not quite sure what the plans are, but hopefully a bit of debauchery. I still need a costume. Suggestions?

The following weekend is DMZ with Teralyn, which I am quite excited for.

Reports from Seoraksan say the leaves are falling rapidly. I think we're still going to try to see the sights the 2nd week of November, though.

So, plans are in the works. I guess a quiet weekend is okay.

Back to work.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

granola and rooftop potlucks

I'm trying a new thing and we'll see how long it lasts: short blogs soon after the events take place. This is likely to be first and last one.

Last week, I received two care packages: one from mom and one from dad. Needless to say, I felt pretty darn loved that day. Also, they both contained necessities as well as extras.

One of the extras was a bag of homemade granola from Juneau. I've been enjoying the granola with my daily yoghurt this week. Yum:


Last night, the teachers at April had an autumn rooftop potluck. It was nice. I made pesto pasta, after deciding not to share my smoked salmon from AK. Selfish, I know.

 From the left: Alex C, Vy, Linda, Carolyn, Courtney's Hand, and Alex E


Before indulging:


 AFTER. Just enough pasta left for my dinner tonight.


So, that's it. The next few weeks (after this coming weekend) should be fun: I'm organizing a trip to Seoraksan (gorgeous mountainous area on the east coast) to see the fall colors and do a bit of hiking for either Halloween weekend OR the 2nd weekend in November. The first weekend in November I am meeting my training roomie, Teralyn (YAY!) in Seoul and we're going to check out the DMZ.

For now, I'm just getting through each day as best that I can. Some are harder than others. It's nice to have coworkers that make me smile to help with the hard ones. I particularly like hearing a booming "OYY!" from the room next to me, as Alex C (the only British guy among us) tries to get students' attentions. Makes me laugh every time.

Love to you and yours.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Balloon!

After a great night out Friday, I woke up feeling as though I needed to get away for the weekend. A few weeks ago, Dani and Matt (from Daejeon) invited Justin and me to the Hot Air Balloon Festival. I had forgotten until Dani emailed me Saturday morning with an invitation. So, very last minute, I decided to hop on a train (solo) to hang out in Daejeon.

This felt good for two reasons. One, I was getting out of town. Two, I was doing it myself. Granted, I met up with Dani and Matt....but I took the train on my own! Victory!

It was great to see the two of them. While the festival actually only amounted to ONE balloon, it was still more than I had ever seen in my life, so I was pretty pleased. Not to mention, Daejeon has a great river and it felt nice to be next to water.

Here are the photos. It took place in the evening, so they are all pretty dark.


Before I left town, I stumbled upon some sort of children's festival in Yeongtong


They were all pretty cute in their hanboks


 The river in Daejeon. We walked along it to get to the festival...


A great bridge...

 On the bridge...


When we arrived, all of the balloons were laid out and people were sitting on them...


 Oh! And we caught a Tae Kwon Do demonstration!


There was a giant panda floatie....just a little bit creepy


In addition to the balloons, there was a food festival going on...and some dancing


 Get ready for some bridge pictures....



SURPRISE!!! FIREWORKS! (This made the entire thing for me)


You could purchase lanterns and send them to the sky. It was quite beautiful to see them all floating around up there but pictures didn't do it justice.


BALLOON INFLATION. I've always wondered how it is done.

They fill it with a fan.

And then light it up!


There she goes!



Takeoff!

Balloon and Bridge.

Walking back home...

So that was it! Pretty great if you ask me. Tomorrow is my 6th month anniversary so there may be a bit of celebration on my part, as well as a self pat on the back. :)

It is getting quite chilly in the evenings and I'm enjoying the leaves falling. I hope to make it to the mountains before all of the leaves disappear......

Monday, October 11, 2010

6 days

I'm counting the days to my 6th month mark of actually teaching. Six.

Last weekend, I talked with Alex, a coworker, about going to a rock climbing gym in Dongtan. I hope we can do it, because it's one of the only things I can think of to get out of my head. I need a hobby. A hobby beyond reading.

Joining the gym is also on my list of priorities for this week.

Self improvement. I welcome ideas.

So far, all I know is that I yearn for this:

I loved the feeling of rock climbing--an individual sport that requires strength, cleverness, and self motivation. That's what I want and need right now.

________________________________________________

In other news, advice is needed from those teachers out there:

In the last class of the day, I have this horrible little girl named Monica. She is incredibly manipulative and rude, not only to me, but to her classmates. There are only 3 kids in the class (two girls, one boy). Monica succeeds in disrupting the class every day. She refuses to participate (fine, I can ignore that) but then somehow always proceeds to affect the other girl in the class in profound ways. Last night, Dia ended up crying because of something Monica said (in Korean during break time).

I'm just wondering if there is something I can do to either (a) engage Monica to actually participate (I have tried encouragement, giving her extra responsibility, etc) or, at least (b) get her to stop screwing with my other students. Suggestions?

_________________________________________________

Gotta keep breathing.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Culmination

Well, I got through the week. It was nice to be at work with a lot of distraction from the kiddos and my coworkers. I even made myself go out to dinner after work with people a couple of nights. Check me out being all sociable. Ha.

I was exhausted by Friday--not a lot of good sleep coupled with emotional upheaval--but still agreed to go out with my coworkers after work. We ended up eating and then heading (somewhat ashamedly) to the foreigner bar. I guess I haven't really mentioned the bar since I've been here, but it's quite the culture shock. It's full of foreigners and English and loud music. Not exactly my scene from home, but it suffices, minus the fact that we are all in Korea and should probably be experiencing Korean bars. But, sometimes you just need to hear English all around you. ...Sometimes. It's okay in small doses.

The best part of the night was that, after Now Bar, we went to another place that basically has a bunch of dancing. We allllll know I love dancing, and I have to admit to losing that the past few years. It feels great to dance for 4 hours and come home exhausted from simply dancing. Well, that and the fact that it was 5am when I returned home.

Saturday, Vy and I got up early (for her) and went to Seoul to do some shopping in Myeongdong. I didn't end up with much--a jacket for fall and a simple skirt--but it was nice to get out a bit. Everything was packed because (a) it was Saturday and (b) the HiSoul Festival is happening right now. Around 4, we met up with Quinn and Linda, our coworkers, as well as some of Vy's friends from Seoul. One of her friends was having a birthday party and we tagged along. I was EXHAUSTED but I'm very happy I didn't go home early. We went to the 63 Building (aptly named for its 63 floors) that had great views of the Han River, as well as a surprisingly nice art gallery. The plan was to watch the fireworks from the International Fireworks Festival from the top but that didn't really pan out--so we just went back to the street to take them all in.

If you know me, you know that I loooooove fireworks. I didn't get to see them for the 4th this year, so this was a great substitute.

Afterward, Quinn, Linda and I went to Itaewon to get some Indian food. We were all starving and exhausted. It felt great to sit down and have some delicious food with wonderful company. We made it home around 1am and I crashed.

Here are some pictures from the 63 Building and the fireworks show. Sorry about my reflection in the window in some of the pictures.......they don't do the view justice!


This is the 63 Building. It has an aquarium and many other fanciful delights--but we just went to the 60th floor for the art gallery. (The cheapest option at 12,000won).


View from the top of the Han.



The sun was starting to set...

A wishing wall. This was one of the few in English. 


The Love Wall...


Sun's almost down...

 After a mad dash, in which we got to view exploding fireworks through the elevator glass on our way down, we made it outside to get the full experience. My apologies for terrible photos.


Everyone was camped out with food and drinks.

MASSIVE amounts of people. It was insane getting in/out of the subway station.

 

No pictures from Indian food...I was too exhausted...

Overall, it was a great day and night. It's Sunday now, and I can't help but be a bit sad. Sunday's were my favorite days with Justin. But, I'm trying to stay positive and keep a little busy. It's back to work tomorrow. One more week and I'm at my 6 month mark of working! I think my 6 month of being in Korea was yesterday.

If you have been, please keep sending love and support to my heart. I still need it. :)