Sunday, February 20, 2011

Visitors, A Yummy Breakfast, and Korean War Memorial

This past weekend brought two lovely visitors, Dani and Matt. As you may remember, I've been down to Daejon to visit them a couple of times, and they've also made it to Suwon.

Saturday was a bit of a lazy day, with Indian food and the jimjibang. If you aren't aware, a jimjibang is a public bath-type place with several different temperature pools and saunas PLUS a coed hang-out room. Koreans go to these places for several hours at a time. I wish we had something of the sort in the United States. It's a great way for women to commune together, as well as families to relax and hang out.

On Sunday, we got up bright and early and made our way to Seoul. Justin's friend, Spenser mentioned a delicious American-style breakfast place in Gangnam that we wanted to eat at. Turns out, I had heard of the same place and had been wanting to find it. Soooo Butterfingers Pancakes was the first stop. It was delicious. A little pricey, but definitely worth it.

 

 

From there, we made our way to the Korean War Memorial, also something I've been wanting to check off my list. Being there, among huge fighter planes, guns, and tanks made me think a lot of Grandpa Jack. I learned a lot about the causes of the war and the people who fought. The memorial is huge. We spent about 3 hours and only visited about half of the display rooms inside. The museum area has rooms about Korea's long history of occupation, etc. I'd definitely recommend checking it out. And, it's FREE!





The temps are getting higher. Almost 50*!!



Justin with some propaganda speakers. 



Names of those who died

 My buddies

Turtle Ship replica. (One of the most impenetrable boats ever designed)

 Crossing the 38th Parallel

Matt and Dani--newly engaged!

This clock shows the time the war began. 
Another clock will be displayed when the war actually ends.

As always, for all of the pictures, click HERE.

News! News!

I just booked my flight back to the states! Get ready, Seattle. I'll be ready to take your city (and the Richardson's) by storm April 26-May 2nd. Then, it's on to Juneau, AK where I will celebrate my sister's 17th birthday and high school graduation, among many other things (hikes? quality time with my dad, stepmom,  brother and sister-in-law, breathing oh-so-clean, crisp air....). My flight from Juneau to Kansas has not been scheduled, as of yet, but I'm looking at the beginning of June. Dear Kansas, I am looking forward to quality time with my mama, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

It's going to be a family and friend festival!

So, for the next eight weeks, I will try not to speak too much of my excitement for (a) the last day at Yeongtong April and (b) seeing the aforementioned friends and family. Buuut, I'm not making any promises. My last day is the 18th. I'll (hopefully) visit Jeju Island in my last week, and FLY OUT on the 26th. Yahoo!

You all may be wondering whether I've made that oh-so-pressing decision about what will come next. As I stand now, I'm looking at returning to Korea for another year in July. I've started the job search and will see what comes of it. Of course, as with everything in life, this is not a set-in-stone choice. However, I have spent countless hours weighing the pros/cons of the situation and I do believe that I cannot give up this opportunity just yet. Teaching in Korea is not that difficult and the benefits (paying off student loans while living in a foreign country) are winning the race right now. While I miss my family and friends dearly, I cannot yet put my wanderlust to rest.


For now, let's all just get excited that...I only have 8 weeks left on my contract and I'll be home in 9!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

new hair!

Hello!

I got my first hair cut in Korea. It only took me ten months!

Let's preface this by saying that I haven't had bangs since...probably four years old. So, this was a big step. I've been thinking about it for awhile and spontaneously decided that I would do it today. In Korea. Where I can't really speak the language. GENIUS.

So, this is what I came out with. They were supposed to be more "side-swept" but I don't think my cowlick will allow it. Not to mention, I'm completely inept when it comes to my hair. The hairdresser was very nice and even mimed how I should blow dry at home. Sweet.



So, thoughts? I'm feeling a little weird with bangs...like I have a mop on my head... and the cowlick is odd... but at least it's something new!

Thank you, Korea. You helped me get bangs.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Seolnal (Lunar New Year) Vacatiooooon...and other ramblings

I'm back at work after a relaxing, lovely vacation. The first five days were spent just hanging out--getting some things checked off my list and reveling in having full days with nothing to do. Thankfully, Mother Nature decided to give those of us in Korea a few degrees of a warm up. So, being outside wasn't painful and I enjoyed walking around, watching snow melt and dead leaves emerge from their slumber.

Bright and early on Thursday morning, Justin and I ventured to Sanjeong Lake, which is northeast-ish of Seoul. It took about about two hours on the bus from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal. The spot came on recommendation from coworkers and I figured it would be the perfect relaxation place for a couple of days. I was right. We stayed at Full House Pension--a nice "cabin" type accommodation with a loft and a nicer kitchenette than the one in my apartment. The area offers a plethora of activities: ice skating, traditional Korean skating (more like pushing on a sled), ice fishing, and hiking. Ah, and not to be forgotten--a (creepy?) carnival of sorts that plays very loud music all day. When we first saw that our pension was a few minutes from the lake, we were disappointed, but not when we realized how loud the carnival music was.

So, here are some pictures. Enjoy!


The outside of our humble abode for 3 days, 2 nights...

   


annnd the inside:
 
The town carnival

 Down by the lake... see the big man behind me?


He emerges from the lake...


My attempts at skating...


The Expert


Traditional Korean Skating (I think?)


ICE FISHING. Nope, didn't see anything caught.

 Dinner. I had tofu.


Walking around the lake...the town is behind me


2nd day, hike up to a waterfall. It was frozen.




RUNNING IN THE SNOW
(pure joy)

 
There you go. For all of the pictures, click here.

I came back from vacation with the realization that I have 10 weeks left at my current job. This feels exciting and terrifying. I'm ready to go back home to see family and friends, eat delicious vegetarian fare, and take some time to reflect. What I'm not so ready for is making the decision of...what comes next? I've started the process (federal background check) for finding a new job in Korea--after a couple of months back home--but I'm also checking out employment in the states.

Everyone keeps asking what my next step is and I can't help but feel overwhelmed by the question. I just don't know yet. I am not sure if my time in Korea is over. Have I done everything I set out to do?

My heart feels very conflicted, in terms of the work that I am doing and what sort of contribution to our world I am making. I feel drawn back to social service, making a real difference, while at the same time am realizing that another year in Korea would make all of my student loans go away....

Which is more important?