Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Season of Giving

Like I mentioned in my last post, my favorite part of the holiday season centers around giving, so what better way to celebrate than to give presents, and hopefully some joy, to 70+ children.  Earlier this spring when Aimee, the founder of KKOOM, asked me to help her with the annual holiday part for Samsungwon, I had absolutely no hesitation.  This is the first year that Aimee wasn't able to be in Korea for the holidays since founding KKOOM 6 years ago; she was looking for support from the foreigners here to keep the tradition going.  I attended the Christmas party last year so after seeing the joy that it brought to the kids I knew I wanted to help make that possible again this year.   Unfortunately, the orphanage is currently undergoing construction so hosting a large scale party proved to be impossible, 70+ kids and volunteers running around a midst welding, sawing, hammering and other chaos didn't sound like the best idea. Instead, we decided to host an online gift drive, asking volunteers to support one (or more) children by purchasing gifts from their wish list.  We were able to get enough volunteers (some even sending money from the US), purchase the gifts and organize all of those sent from across the country. It was a bit of chaos for a few days as we sorted through boxes, wrapped, sorted and shopped but thankfully everything came together by 3pm Sunday afternoon. 

Finally organized, 70 some odd presents 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Rant

Being removed from your country allows you to appreciate the good and really despise the bad aspects of where you came from, it's kind of like an out of body experience. Being away from family and friends can be tough during the holiday season, but it also gives you an opportunity to realize what you miss and appreciate versus what you can do without.  For me, celebrating Christmas in Korea for not one but two years now has really opened my eyes to the consumer driven, materialistic season the US has turned this holiday into.  This year, headlines spread across news sources and social media alike critiquing companies for opening their doors on Thanksgiving day and reaching all the way until Christmas.  While living in the United States I was aware of what Christmas has turned into but was able to turn a blind eye to it.  Maybe it's because it's the norm and everyone is doing it mentality that allows just that, everyone to continue to do it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Never Again

Remember last summer and the summer before that, when I had awesome field trips with my staff - great bonding, lots of drinking, singing and food.  Well, its' that time of year again err kind of, except this time it's winter not summer, anyway you get the idea.  A few weeks ago, we had our end of the year teachers field trip, 1박 2일 [1 night, 2 days].  I really think I got spoiled the first year because we had an awesome trip, almost everyone participated, we saw some sights, ate good food, sang, danced, drank and even swam;  on top of all that I even avoided having a hangover the next day.  Last winter our trip was snowed out so I'm not sure what exactly I missed out on, then this past summer we had a mediocre trip, food, drinking and signing but not quite like the year before.  All of this combined I wasn't really sure what was in store for me this winter but I was still looking forward to it regardless, until I found out half the teachers would either be driving themselves and leaving early, or simply not attending. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Food & Yoga ~ the Yin & Yang to my Life

Thanksgiving isn't much of a big deal when you're halfway around the world, although when you have some awesome friends you can make the most of it. With tiny apartments and lacking kitchens it's pretty impressive what we pulled off for the second year in a row.  Obviously it's a little hard to cook a turkey without an oven but thankfully there's some sweet companies in Korea that recognize this and come to the issue (use their brain to make some easy money). Sara was kind enough to host this year and arrange ordering the turkey, leaving the rest of the food up to chance.  We all signed up to bring something and hoped that we'd have it all covered when the day came.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How I Spend my Free Time

Despite it being one my favorite hobbies and how I spent a majority of my free time, I've yet to pay much attention to my yoga practice here on my blog.  Actually, aside from posting a few instagram pictures here and there I don't talk much about my yoga.  I've talked about running, the other side of my fitness coin, so why not yoga?  My close friends and family know that I practice daily, enjoy contorting myself into difficult positions and am determined to get into a handstand without the aid of a wall, tree, bookshelf or other sturdy structure, so I guess I should share more about it here as well.  Actually, yoga is one of the driving factors that is causing me to leave Korea.  That probably sounds a bit strange so let me explain. Ever since joining my first 'yogalaties' class at UW-L, during my freshman year in college, I've had a little voice in the back of my head telling me to get certified to be able to teach.  I missed the opportunity when it came up that year and numerous times thereafter.  I searched different programs throughout WI and MN but never took the time to actually sign up and commit myself.  Fast forward a few years and you'll find me killing time at my desk,  in Korea.  While on facebook, I notice an advertisement for Vikasa yoga, an almost brand new yoga  resort on the beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand. It looked like pure paradise, if I could've packed my bags right then and there I would've, this place looked perfect.  Don't believe me? Have a look....

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Day of Song and Dance

Along with the changing weather, final exams, and school year coming to an end we struggled to find time to squeeze in a little bit more fun, here at Buksam High school.  About two weeks ago it was time for the second big event of the year, the annual school festival.  Last year this was easily one of the most impressive days of the year for me, having never experienced something like this before I was blown away by the level of talent presented, and also the high amount of participation.  I think having so much fun last year set my expectations for this time around pretty high.  As the day approached I was slightly confused by the lack of enthusiasm coming from my students, when asked if they were excited most of them responded with "ehh no, too busy".  It's understandable, as the school year comes to a close, they're swamped with studying for the important final exams, but still, learn to relax a little you guys! Despite their lackluster attitudes I was still looking forward to the day, I mean if nothing else, I didn't have to teach! 

Favorite picture ever - on display for all to see 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Getting Some Lovin'

Last summer my co-teacher Anna [이혜진] came into school one day full of excitement, telling me that she had bought a new house in Daegu, but shhh this is a secret.  I'm still not sure why it was a secret but I was happy to be one of the few she told about it, the reason being, she wanted me to come visit.  She didn't actually move in until mid-october and since then has been busy with buying new furniture and getting situated in her new neighborhood.  Repeatedly at school she would tell me that she wanted me to come visit and stay with her for the weekend, getting the chance to meet her family  (including the adorable boy pictured below) and explore Daegu together.  Despite a few failed planning attempts and busy schedules I was finally able to make my visit two weeks ago, woah two weeks ago already? 

Anna's son 최한결 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Effects of One

Todays article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe.  A new topic and various articles will be posted on the 5th of every  month, so come back often! 

Teaching English in another country is definitely a unique and ever-changing experience, I remember being told from day 1 that there is no REAL way to prepare the new teachers. For every incoming teacher, their city, school, co-workers and of course students are going to vary drastically.  I strongly believe that it's a teachers attitude that is going to "make or break" their career abroad.  Coming in with a positive outlook, ready to take on any challenges or obstacles is going to set you up for success.  Of course, there may be difficult moments full of challenging students, frustrating situations, and surprise schedule changes, ultimately making you want to say,  "I'm done with this", but the rewards are soon to follow.  After spending close to two years in the classroom i'm happy to say that I've had a positive experience and wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Well, That was Interesting

Since my time in Korea is winding down (more on that later) I decided to start working on my Korean bucket list, you know the things that one "must do" while in Korea.  I've been talking about doing a temple stay since I first arrived in Korea, but for some reason kept putting it off.  About a month ago my vice principal walked over to my desk and handed me a packet of papers saying "umm if you're interested you can do" and then disappeared (he's sneaky like that).  I'm not sure if he can read minds (or maybe he spies on me?) because I had literally been searching for a temple stay that morning, and what he handed me was an application for a free temple stay at Jikj temple in Gimcheon.  I've been to this temple once before, with my dad and really enjoyed the scenery and beauty of the mountain setting.  The temple stay program is one of the most popular in this area so seeing as I hadn't yet made plans for that weekend I decided to apply, after all it was  free so I had nothing to lose. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

단풍 ~ The Leaves are Changing

Although the temperatures have been dropping to numbers I don't agree with I can't deny that the last few weeks in Korea have been anything but beautiful.  If it weren't for cold nights, difficult mornings (my bed is suddenly soooo comfortable in the AM) and early darkness, fall would probably be my favorite season.  "Sweatshirt weather" as many affectionately call it, is pretty awesome, but unfortunately that's only valid between the hours of, oh say 10 and 4, before and after that you need to throw on a few extra layers.  I've been trying to take advantage of the last few pleasant days before the death of winter sets itself upon me so walking has become my new hobby, and mode of transportation.  After all it's easier on the knees than running and saves me a few dollars on my scooter, oh and not to mention allows me views like this one: 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Joining the Quarter Century Club

I generally don't like to talk about myself, so last year when my birthday passed by with few people at school noticing I wasn't too surprised.  After all, I hadn't really told or reminded people that the big day was coming and to be fair when they found out they felt bad for missing it and insisted I should have told them.  After seeing some friends brag about the cakes and presents they received from their staff I decided this year would be different. I worked the whole "birthday" thing into my classes every once in a while with subtle reminders of when my birthday was, not only that but I made a valiant effort to remember my students birthdays this year.  I was surprised about a month ago when Anna brought up the topic with a few other co-teachers reminding them that my birthday was coming soon.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised because I know she really cares about me and wants to make sure I enjoy myself here but sometimes she comes across a bit, well, scatter brained. When I got to school Thursday morning I could tell Anna was up to something when she confirmed with me which classes I had that morning, oh and then there was one of the guys in our office who asked her what the cake was for, to which she replied "cake, what cake? I don't know?" (all of this in Korea of course).  Despite her best efforts I was onto her but tried to play along as I came back from my first period to the surprise of cake, singing and even presents.  

Every good birthday starts with cake for breakfast

Thursday, November 7, 2013

수능 잘쳐!

The crisp air, delayed rise and early fall of the sun, leaves changing and falling can only mean one thing. You're probably thinking fall has arrived but that's not exactly what i'm talking about.  In Korea, the dropping of temperatures and changing of leaves reminds students, parents and teachers of one thing - D-day.  If you remember, I already wrote about this infamous day last year so you can get most of the details there.  This time around however, I had a bit of a different experience so I wanted to give it another go.  Now that i'm a veteran teacher the intensity of this day hit a little bit closer to home, last year I didn't know any of the 3rd grade students; I never got the chance to teach any of them let alone have a conversation with them.  This year it was a bit different, some of my favorite students and the reason I decided to stay for a second year, were among those preparing for the exam. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weekday Getaway

Despite the fact that I thought November would be a long month (only one scheduled day off for the Korean SAT and our school festival) I've been blessed with some extra surprises. Last week was the annual EPIK trip which I was lucky enough to join this year, giving me an extra two days off school, creating a nice little 4-day weekend.  The bi-annual trips are open to all EPIK teachers, however preference is given to those that have been here over a year (have renewed their contract) and received a positive recommendation from their school.  I was happy to hear that many of my friends, both from Buksam and my original orientation class would be joining for the adventure, although I had some reservations about spending 24+ hours with 150 foreigners, I guess I've gotten used to my isolation on the farm. Honestly the best part of the trip, in my opinion, was that I didn't have to go to school for two days. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and don't mind coming to school everyday, but the students seem to be in a slump with an insurmountable need for sleep, not ideal teaching conditions. So yes, I greeted the opportunity to wander Korea for two days with open arms, even if it did require my wearing a name tag.  

Woryeong bridge, Nakdong river and golden Ginko trees

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

School Days and Seoul Ways

The plan for Wednesday was for the three of us to get up early and have Joonwoo drop us at the bus terminal before heading to work himself.  That was the plan at least, upon waking up I realized that I really was not up for a trip to Gyeongju. I though tagging along wouldn't be too bad, I could skip the temple (seriously they're all looking pretty similar these days) and then join in for some afternoon bike riding and finish the day with dinner with some of my Gyeongju friends. But then I found out my friends were busy and I realized I was dead tired, instead I left my brother and Katie detailed instructions on how to survive on their own, made my way home and slept for another 3 hours :) it was lovely.  I met them back at the bus station that evening and it turns out they did just fine on their own.  Joonwoo must have liked us because he canceled the plans he had with a friend and joined us for dinner instead, Gamjatang yummmmm.  That night we took it easy, showered, set up a nice floor bed for those two in my shoebox of an apartment and prepared for school the next day. 

Group picture with class 1-3

Monday, October 28, 2013

오빠와 여친 한국에 왔어!

If you read my blog regularly (or more likely are a family member) you'll know that my brother came to visit almost exactly one year ago. I guess Korea made a good impression on him because he decided to come back for round 2, and this time bring his girlfriend Katie along for the ride.  Actually I think it might have been her desire to come that fueled their visit. Katie previously taught in Japan for two years so she's familiar with the foreigner teacher/living in Asia lifestyle. Unfortunately she didn't get the chance to stop in Korea while on this side of the world, but that worked out in my favor, more visitors!  Unfortunately my brothers boss wouldn't give him an additional Friday (very necessary for across the glob travel) so they duo arrived late on a Sunday night.  On the plus side they were able to score a RT flight arriving in Busan and departing from Seoul, maximizing the amount of Korea they'd be able to see. I'm lucky to work for an awesome school that allows flexibility with my schedule so I made the trip to Busan early Sunday to relax at the beach before going to meet my visitors at the airport. 

Gwangalli 'Diamond' Bridge 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Getting some Culture and Nature in Daegu

The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. Last week my brother and his girlfriend Katie were here for a visit so I spent some time before that preparing for their arrival.  Last weekend I had to meet them in Busan on Sunday night so I decided to stay closer to home and explore Daegu on Saturday.  I kept seeing cool pictures on Facebook and Instagram recently and finally discovered that they were coming from the new exhibit at the Daegu Art Museum.  If you've been keeping up you'll know that I went there a few months ago with my friend Sara but seeing as the exhibitions had changed I decided another visit was in order. Pretty cool that the museum always has something new to offer so you can't really get away with the excuse of oh I've been there before. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Day of Class (but no Teaching)

A few weeks ago it was brought to my attention that Daejeon was hosting a wine festival. I was definitely a bit skeptical, Korea is not well known for their wine. I mean you can get a bottle of yellow tail in the store for like $18... Anyway a group of people from my recent bike trip in Japan was planning to attend so I figured I didn't have much to lose. Worst case I drink some mediocre wine while in good company.  Everyone had plans for the beginning of the weekend so we decided to check out the event Sunday afternoon ~ Sunday Funday^^ Sara and I caught a morning train and were soon joined by other from Seoul and Daejeon, pack into taxis and on our way to the festival. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


The heat is officially gone, the leaves are starting to change,and  temperatures are dropping. There may be a slight lack of pumpkin spice and football in my life but fall is officially upon us.  The weather has been perfect for the past few weeks, cool in the mornings and evenings but still sunny and beautiful during the day. After being introduced, by my co-workers, to a new patch of beautiful here in Buksam I decided to take advantage of the beauty that surrounds me and spend my Saturday in the mountains.  I know I've mentioned it before, more than once, but i'm surrounded by beauty in this country. Gumi isn't really known for much, in fact when foreigners are asked "What's the best part about Gumi?"  \a popular response is, "It's easy to get out", but we do have a pretty sweet mountain.  Geumosan shadows over my home and conveniently there's a few paths from Buksam heading up the back side.  Last friday my co-workers introduced me to a new starting point so on Saturday I decided it was time to explore.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How to ?????

Last week I taught a lesson based on the expression "How to ______", I figured it was only natural to let me kids have free reign with it and write me some how to instructions. The only rules were that they had to provide what materials were needed and include a minimum of 5 steps.  Most of my classes were pretty eager about the activity and I could see the wheels spinning as they tried to think about what to write.

I'm not going to go into detail about the lesson, rather I just wanted to share with you some of the great results that came from this.

To begin I have many students who seem to be aspiring chefs:

I had 18 students explain to me How to make Ramen, eventually I began the class with "Please font' tell me how to make Ramen" otherwise i'm sure I would've had about double the amount.

Not quite as popular but I also had 8 students tell me How to make rice, it can be more difficult than one might expect. "

Finally there were also a myriad of recipes for Kimchi Fried rice, Fried Eggs, Kimbap, Ice Cream and Sandwiches. Interesting note on How to make a Sandwich though, almost every recipie included ham and eggs ~ now maybe you can understand why I say they don't have sandwiches in Korea.  What the kids were referring to is the Korean toast sandwich, which I do love but does not qualify as a proper sandwich.  I still get dumbfounded stares when I say I miss a good sandwich.... ah if only they knew.

For those students not aspiring to be a chef, beauty consultant could come in a close second. I had roughly 10 students explain to me How to [apply] makeup.  All of which included the ever popular and completely necessary BB Cream

Okay so those were just previews to some of the greatness that occurred in class last week. I sorted through all of my papers and chose some of those which either impressed me, puzzles me or just gave me a good laugh. The following come from both low and high level students, boys and girls (I decided to type them verbatim too - spelling errors and poor grammar included.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Upwards and Onwards

Thankfully the worst (or best, I still haven't decided) was behind us, leaving us with two relaxed days of biking.  Knowing we had less distance to cover on Friday there was no concern about waking up early for a fresh start but of course most of us were still up with the sun.  Sara and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked down to check out the nearby Watazumi shrine.  Probably the most interesting aspect of the shrine was that the tori (gates) were situated so that as the tide came in and out they changed from either submerged in water or on dry land. After a quiet stroll through the shrine and multiple pictures we made our way back to camp to enjoy breakfast before heading out for the day.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Channeling my Inner Lance Armstrong

Despite the fact that I've only been back at school for just over a month I was more than ready for another vacation, thank you Chuseok.  Recently, the language barrier has been getting to me, mostly for the fact that I can't fully express myself to people around me to whom I've grown fairly close. I sometimes feel like an idiot when I just have to nod or smile as the words aren't there for what I want to say. I know this is a problem that is up to me to fix, and trust me I'm working on it, but it's a slow going process.  Another tic to my annoyance were Chuseok plans themselves, I dropped the ball on planning ahead of time which left me frantically trying to throw something together.  Thankfully I had a few friends in the same boat, both of which were up for anything, and Wink travel had something that caught our eye.  Fast forward a few weeks until 4am Wednesday morning, September 18th and you'll find Sara and I sleeping on the floor of the Busan train station, a small preview of what was in store for us. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Before I left for my adventure in Korea (at the time thinking i'd only be a year) I made two requests of my friends: 1. No weddings and 2. No dying.  I guess it's pretty obvious why the later would be a request anyone would make when they're leaving the country, but are weddings really that big of an event to miss out on? Umm yeah. Actually next years wedding season is a big pull for getting me back to the United States, food, friends, dressing up, pictures, cake, drinking, dancing and who could forget the chicken dance. With this image of a wedding in my head it was hard for me to imagine what a Korean Wedding would be like, especially after hearing that their wedding halls are so affectionately named Wedding factories, and hearing many friends complain about having to attend.  For those reasons I was a bit confused on how I should feel about being invited to my first Korean wedding last winter, so let me explain. 

I like to party ~ with 박재범

I'm not sure if you've noticed but I've kind of adapted to the Korean culture, so it's only natural that I finally got myself to a concert.  A few weeks back I saw the One Hip Hop Festival being advertised, thanks to Jay Park's instagram feed, and immediately sent the link to my friend Caitlin.  I knew she is also a big fan of Jay Park and was hoping she'd be up for going with me.  Unfortunately he wasn't the headlining performer but there was a load of people worth seeing and the headliner wasn't too terrible *cough* Nelly *cough* Thankfully Caitlin was on board  as was our friend Sara, so the three of us were soon (a few weeks later) on our way to Seoul.

15 hours of music, ready for this? 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Have I Really Changed?

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. 

A year and a half ago I quit my job, packed up my life and said goodbye to family and friends. My decision to move halfway around the world, to teach English in South Korea was met with many different reactions, both good and bad.  Although most of the people I choose to surround myself with are fully supportive of my decision there were those that had their doubts or at least thought I was a little crazy. Although, good or bad they all seemed to agree on one thing, "This will be an adventure that will change your life".  So now after being here for a year and a half, traveling to other countries and taking the opportunity to visit home I'll take a minute to contemplate those changes and make an attempt at explaining  ‘How Living Abroad Can Make You A Better Person’. 

Take a moment to stop and smell the flowers

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Fun Continues...Back in Korea!

It's already been over a month since I've returned to Korea from the motherland - can you believe it?! So what exactly have I been doing? Other than sweating my face off with the humidity here of course. The first two weeks back in Korea my school was technically still on summer vacation, which really means that the kids only have to go to school until 5 o'clock, instead of the normal 10 pm.  Granted classes are a bit more relaxed and if their family has plans they don't have to come, but still - that is not summer vacation. The first week I had to teach summer camp, which was basically showing up around 2 in the afternoon to play games with 20 kids for two hours. Oh and my Friday class wound up being canceled ~ I have it rough here, seriously.  The weekend came and I was ready to get out of town so when my friend 주연 asked me to join her on a trip to Busan I jumped at it. 
지주연 and I on the train 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Few More Friends to See

After my whirlwind tour of Washington DC was over I hopped on a plane and made my way to Minnesota. Lucky me, another experience with the domestic airports I enjoyed so much the first time around. This time I was even luckier because I got to connect through Atlanta, which a few of my Korean friends were greatly confused by as it's nowhere close to being on the way.  On top of that, after I politely traded seats so a brother and sister could sit together, I ound myself next to a talker. Getting any reading or napping done on this flight was not an option, oh well, at least he shared his lovely joke about TSA: "Thousands standing around", now that I could agree with.

Welcome to the mid-west 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You Impulsively Buy Shoes? I Opt for Plane Tickets...

When I told my co-workers that I would be returning home for two weeks the first reaction I generally received was "oh so short!"  Which, considering how long and expensive the flight was going to be I tended to agree with.  I also had a lot of people I wanted to see and wasn't sure if time would permit to see them all. That's why when my friend Jared asked if there was any possibility that I'd make a side trip to DC I said most likely no.  But then a few weeks later, around 3 am (my normal high-thought process time) I reconsidered this decision, I mean why not?  So the next morning I searched, found and bought a ticket to DC, probably the best decision regarding my trip home I could have made. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

I'm One Lucky Girl

Although I'm pretty terrible at keeping in touch while I've been living in Korea (i.e. skyping, phone calls, emails, etc don't really happen) the best part of going home was being able to see so many friends that i'd gone far too long without.  After buying my ticket the excitement only continued to build as I found out more and more of my friends would actually be in Wisconsin, some coincidentally and some because well, they just love me that much :) 

If it were possible I'd marry this boy 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lessons Learned ~ a Visit Home

It's summer which only means one thing: summer break aka Stephanie goes on on vacation while her poor students only have to go to school until 5 ~~ seriously that's not a vacation, but more on that later.  This year instead of using my precious vacation time to jet off on another adventure through SE Asia I decided to spend some time with my loved ones.  I was lucky enough to find a cheap airline ticket and the dates worked out wonderfully for seeing lots of friends, so I figured why not.  Also, Milwaukee summer’s aren’t too terrible: baseball, lake Michigan, festivals, beer, outdoor dining, ice cream, need I say more?  

 21 hours of airports and airplanes, bring it. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Grinning from Ear to Ear

You know those moments when you just start smiling for no reason, or even better when you sneak out a small giggle while those around you wonder if you might be crazy.  You know what i'm talking about, your mind takes you someplace awesome and you can't help but to break out a grin.  Yeah, well I had a lot of those the last few days - and no i'm not crazy,  I'm just in love...with my life.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

School's Out for Summer

Last week we had our annual, end of summer faculty “workshop” which was once again, a success.  I remember last year when I was asked if I would join the workshop I wasn’t really sure what my response should be. Umm workshop? Well that sounds like, work.  I soon came to learn that’s just another term for ‘field trip’, I soon came to discover they have many of these such names: college students go on “MT’s”, students go on ‘picnics’ and staff/businessmen ‘workshops’.  All are considered to be a good bonding experience but none of which require work, if you know Korean culture at all you’ll know what’s coming next – the bonding that happens is, of course, over soju and beer. 

Hands down favorite picture from the trip

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Ajumma Friends

Way back in April while drinking with my principal in Jeju he touched on the idea of me teaching a ‘parents English class’.  Not wanting to be rude I sounded interested but upon returning to school didn’t’ really bring up the subject with him.  Staying after school for an extra hour on Thursdays, even with extra pay, to teach parents didn’t sound like my idea of a good time.  A few weeks later someone or thing must have jogged his memory because he was once again on the subject, and thus my ‘Ajumma class’ was born. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Not your Typical Friday

This blog post is a bit, and by a bit I mean closer to a month, delayed, but hey - better late then never right?  I'm not really sure what I've been busy with that delayed this post, like seriously, i'm not really sure where I've thrown my time in the last few weeks.  Sure outside of school I've fully immersed myself back into yoga, friends, a little running, oh and lots of sweating. But at school I haven't had much to do - movie watching, game playing, oh and the little bit of grading speaking tests of few weeks ago.  Hell, I don't even have an intense summer break to be planning for so I guess it's a mystery, where has my time been going.  Safe guesses go to Facebook, Instagram, Yoga  articles , oh yeah and reading various travel blogs dreaming about future travels. Okay so anyways back to the point, a few weeks ago I was told I wouldn't have classes on Friday but instead could choose between three things 1. Volunteering with the first grade 2. Brain meditation with the second grade or 3. Sit at my desk all day.  It was presented as a choice but any retard that can read body language and knows Korean culture would know I was meant to join option 1, and so that's precisely what I did. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Published! [Kind of]

Well as many of you know I volunteer regularly at Samsungwon orphanage in Gumi, South Korea.  Recently the founder of KKOOM asked me to contribute to their blog, sharing my experience with the children.  I encourage you to check out the original post here.  Then while you're at it browse through the website to learn more about the amazing things KKOOM is doing for kids here in Korea.

Or if you're too lazy to click that link you can just read this copy of my blog post:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Breaking Down

Living in a foreign country definitely has it's ups and downs, if someone asked me to explain my life here in one word i'd probably say roller coaster (damnit that's two words).  There are definitely days and weeks that fly by with excitement, field trips, energetic classes, weekend outings, good weather, I think you get the idea.  Then there's the days and weeks that seem to n e v e r end it's like all the stars align and everything that could go wrong, does.  Thankfully I haven't experience many of those, sure I have the classes from hell, or a rain day where I forgot my umbrella, but that could happen anywhere.  Another thing that's interesting while living abroad is noticing those moments when you've transitioned from a visitor to a resident, not "legally" per say, but that moment when you're new country really feels like home.  I've had that feeling on more than one occasion, and love it, but this past week I had a whole different experience that made me realize I'm not just floating through Korea as a tourist.  Note: Scooter break down :( 

That cost me a pretty penny 

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Trip to the Valley

Despite the fact that I've gone somewhere every weekend for the past month I was feeling the itch to get out of town last weekend.  The summer heat has set in so something refreshing sounded ideal, preferably with water included.  I've heard from many students and friends about weekends in the valley so figured I should take advantage of these magical places and go find one for myself.  I recruited my friend Sara (always up for an adventure) to join me, and also asked Shaun if he wanted to tag along.  
Welcome to 문경

Friday, June 28, 2013

Feeling Pretty

This morning when I found myself still sweating post shower, post run, I decided that make-up was at the bottom of my to do list. It's not that I didn't have time for it, although that happens a lot in the morning, rather I just didn't feel like putting anything on my face.  As I walked to school (knowing I have some mascara and eyeliner there) I anticipated the comments i'd receive from staff and possibly students.  Already earlier this week I was told that "Are you okay, you look unhealthy" and that was with makeup on.

Shortly after settling into my desk Anna (my main co-teacher) walked into the office and said good morning, immediately followed with a shocked "Oh you look different"'s how the rest of the conversation played out: 
Me: Oh yeah, I don't have any make-up on today
Anna: Oh wow, really!?  **fits of laughter**Me: Yeah, I just didn't feel like it
Anna: Wow, you look very different
Me: Yeah my eyes? My eyelashes are really light without mascara.
Anna: Yeah, there is a big difference without make up, I think you had better wear the mascara
Conversation #1 of the day, winning.

Thankfully, and much to my surprise that was the only comment of the day regarding my looks.  Well a few students told me how tired I looked but I don't think that had anything to do with my lack of make-up. This entire week i've been drained, enough to even take a nap in my classroom yesterday.  I think it's that time of the year/semester, plus the heat.  Really I feel terrible for my students, if I feel this way on a decent amount of sleep I can't imagine how they feel...studying for finals they're up until 2 or 3am, possibly later.  Maybe that's why they're all walking around like zombies lately.

Oh, also of note and related to this post; I finally took the plunge and got the "Magic Straight"  about a week ago.  When I first came to Korea I heard about this wonderful thing but then hemmed and hawed over getting it done for over a year.  Some days I wake up and really love my wavy/curly mess of a hair-do, but then there are the days that it absolutely drives me crazy or looks more like a birds nest than anything else. I also knew that getting the perm could significantly damage my hair so wasn't sure if it was worth it. Well, the summer heat came once again and with it my frizzy do so I took the plunge and made the change.

Thankfully I had an awesome stylist at Lee Joon salon in Gumi, she spoke near perfect English, knew western hair and had a great sense of humor. All of which came in helpful as the process takes over two hours, can damage your hair, and needs some level of communication.  Anyway, long story short, it worked and I love it. My hair is A LOT flatter but that's to be expected without the curl.  The first time I washed my hair after having it done I was expecting it to bounce right back to it's frizzy ways, but to my surprise it was stick straight!

 So I go to school the next day, and although I've straightened my hair before tons of teachers and students were commenting on my new hair style.  Teacher so different, straight hair? Oh so beautiful!  Honestly this went on for the next few days, with most comments centering around how beautiful I was, some even crossing the line to sexy.  So there ya go, why do most women with curly or wavy hair desire the straight styles of their counterparts? Image. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel prettier with straight hair. Is it because of a celebrity image, the comments from other people, or something else? Honestly i'm not sure and i'm not saying I did this so I could be prettier, it was mostly for the ease of styling, especially with the summer heat! But hey, those compliments aren't a terrible side effect. ;)

Sorry for the lack of pictures ~~ you'll just have to believe me that I didn't look like death today and that my hair actually is straight.

Friday, June 21, 2013


A few weeks ago the country celebrated 현충일, also known as Memorial Day, and thus I was granted with a day off school.  It had been a while since Sara and I had seen each other so we decided a Daegu adventure was in order.  Our first thought was finding a good park or outdoor area to relax but upon noticing that the temperature were going to be in the high 80's we opted for a place with aircon.  The night before I was checking facebook and came across a post on the Daegu Art Museum and just like that we had a plan for the next day. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

한국에서 야구

Sometimes people are perplexed when I tell them i'm not good at sports, my co-workers especially, "but you can run".  Well trust me, there's a lot more to organized sports than running.  Sure I can put on my tennis shoes and go lose myself in a run for a few hours, but throw a ball at me while doing so and we're talking about a whole different ball game (sorry that was lame).  Not only am I not an athlete but i'm also not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to sports, sure I know the basic rules of pretty much all of them, but dont' ask me the specifics, names, statistics, records, etc. Nevertheless I love going to sporting events, I guess i'm more of  a social fan than anything else. Some of my co-workers were surpsied when I told them I went to a baseball game, oh you like baseball, I think that's boring.  Well yeah, the games can get boring, but I think of it more as something to do and time to spend with friends. So if you're looking for a play by play on the Samsung lions record, statistics or any particulars related to baseball you might want to go look for a new blog.  

Welcome to Lions Stadium 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Came Here to Eat ~ and Maybe Drink a Little Too

Two weekends ago my friend Caitlin was looking for volunteers to join her on a trip to Seoul as she had a wedding to attend.  Considering I hadn't been there since winter and was in need of new clothes and good food I was more than happy to volunteer.  Caitlin has to work late on Fridays (so lame) so we waited until Saturday morning to head up, bright and early I might add.  Arriving in Seoul around 11:30 our first mission was lunch, i'm telling you this weekend had two goals - clothes and food, both of which were successfully executed. 

The beautiful Han River 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

체욕대회 ~~ Sports Day

May might be my new favorite month of the year, after my mom's visit, teachers day, and the soccer competition, last Friday brought with it even more fun, this time in the form of more sports and lots of goofy outfits.  After the bundle of fun last year  I knew what I was in for, but this time around I was even more excited as I was asked to join class 2-1 and be part of their team.  This meant I got to play the games AND wear the ridiculous outfits - what more could you ask for!? 

**Caution - this is a novel, but don't say I didn't warn you, but it's worth every second so please, read on**

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

비타민 화이팅!!!

After the fun of teachers day last week I only had one more day of classes before it was time for the weekend! Buddha's birthday was last Friday so we were all blessed with a 3 day weekend.  My students told me months ago about a soccer tournament they'd be playing in at the end of May so I marked my calendar to be sure and not miss it. Thankfully I was chatting with my students about it last week because apparently they changed the dates to this past weekend instead of next, I hadn't yet made plans for the long weekend so a soccer tournament sounded just fine for me.  Loudine was also interested in seeing my allstars take to the field so she joined me Friday morning for a, shaky at first, but enjoyable scooter ride to Dongrak park.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why I Love it Here

The last few weeks I've been stuck in a bit of a rut (aside from my mom's visit of course). Classes have been same old same old, and students excitement and enthusiasm seems to have died. My mom's visit obviously created a stir and a bit more merriment at school, but come Monday everything was back to noraml.  Thankfully though, the weather has taken a turn for the best, midterms are over and there is excitement in the air. Teachers day reminded me just why I love my school and the excitement continues as our sports competition is just around the corner ~~ 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What my Mom ['s Visit] Taught Me

I wouldn't be a good blogger if I just retold my stories and left it at that, or maybe I would because that's all you really care about.  Either way, I figure I should shed some more light on my life here in Korea - how's it going, aside from the crazy adventures, travel, sightseeing and amazing students. Like how is it really going? After having my mom here for a week to visit I truly got a whole new perspective on my life here, both the good and the bad. So here's a few things I learned about myself...thanks mom.