Wednesday, December 19, 2012

four months~

Today marks the fourth complete month of being in South Korea, which means I'm now 1/3 of the way done with my first teaching contract! I'm not keeping track because I'm unhappy and counting down the days until it's over, I keep track more so because time here flies by, it's been four months, but to me it feels like I only just got here.

Today I taught my last class until January when winter camp classes start, and I spent the morning making Christmas decorations and watching the Polar Express with my grade 6 students. They were by far the most challenging group I had, but I have grown to love them, and I'll miss them when they graduate and move on to middle school.

The last three weeks in general have been really busy but non eventful. I have been focusing on my winter camp lessons, making the book and trying to come up with activities (winter camp is three weeks during winter vacation where a few students come in for extra English lessons). The Korean presidential elections were this Wednesday and we got the day off from school. Tuesday night some friends and I attended a nonverbal acrobatic performance of a show called "Flying". I wasn't really sure what to expected, but was really glad to have attended as the show ended up being really great. After the performance we took advantage of having the next day off, so we headed off to some bars and stayed there pretty much the entire night.

This Saturday one of my friends is leaving to go back home as the teaching experience wasn't everything she imagined, and tonight we are having a going away dinner for her. Tomorrow I am off to Malaysia for two weeks, where I'll be staying with an old friend from university and her family. I'm really excited to be traveling to a new place, and thankful for the fact that I'll be surrounded by a loving family during the holidays, even if it won't be my own.

Friday, December 7, 2012

welcome december

The first week of December brought on the first big snowfall of the season. All of the kids at my school went nuts having snowball fights and making snow angels. I really enjoyed watching the snow fall from the comforts of my office but became a little homesick for two reasons: it reminded me that Christmas is just around the corner, and although I will be spending it with familiar people, I will not be with my family. Second, the amount of snow we got in Seoul wasn't a whole lot, however, back home it would have been enough to get the school shut down for at least two days :P
I have two weeks of school before I head off to Malaysia for vacation, but luckily only one of those weeks consists of teaching. I'm not entirely sure what I will be doing the last week, maybe speaking tests? I'm never told anything until the day of. Winter camp, for example, I've been asking since October if I needed to prepare anything for the three week long camp we will be having in January, but nobody would give me an answer. It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I was told "by the way, you should prepare at least 40 pages worth of material, games, and power points for winter camp and submit by Monday". So, this is how I came to be at my current location, Capi Capi Loom Lom, a cute & cozy Rilakkuma themed coffee shop a few subway stops from my apartment. I really enjoy sitting here and people watching, maybe I will turn this into a weekly thing and find a new cafe to visit each time. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I was too cold/sick/lazy to leave my apartment for the majority of the weekend. It was a nice break, since I'm usually running around Hongdae or Itaewon and staying out way later than any person should. I have been sick lately so I think it was definitely the right choice, since now my throat feels a lot better and I haven't been coughing as much.
On Friday I went to the grocery store and stoked up my pantry for the first time since arriving here, now that Winter is approaching the days are getting colder and shorter so I definitely foresee myself staying in a lot more.
On an exciting note, I booked my Christmas vacation to Malaysia! I will be staying with and old friend from university and her family.
Time tends to go by really quickly here. The workweek doesn't seem to be as long, and specially weekends just fly by. I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

100 days in seoul & a teaching breakthrough

In Korea they like to celebrate everything it seems. Not only do they have Valentines day, but they have pepero day, and white day, as well as a celebration for the 100th day (birth, anniversary, etc). Today I am celebrating my 100th day in South Korea, and I received the best gift a teacher can get... albeit small, I am finally seeing progress in my students! My hardest grade to teach is grade six, they are about to graduate and move on to middle school so their motivation is nonexistent, and getting them to participate in class is like pulling nails. Today however, my least motivated class got really into the activity we were doing which consisted of them answering questions and taking shots at a "basket" being held by myself and the other teacher. Maybe it was the fact that they got to hit us with balls, but it doesn't matter, every single student participated and they liked it!
A second breakthrough I have seen is that two of my students ride my bus to and from school, before they used to avoid me like the plague, but now they actually approach me on the bus and we have simple conversations since their english is limited and my korean is nonexistent. One of the boys from my bus has recently started approaching me in the hallways at school and telling me what he ate for lunch, and how he is doing, today he even gave me a choco-pie!

Baby steps, but three months in I finally feel like I'm doing something worthwhile here!

First Thanksgiving in Korea went a lot better than I imagined. I kept having nightmares that I would spend it alone in my apartment missing my family, but luckily, I have met some great people here, so some girls and I got together for some fried chicken and mashed potatoes and had ourselves a pseudo thanksgiving meal. It was definitely nice and it warmed my heart. The Saturday following I went to the foreigner area of Seoul with three friends and we enjoyed a nice sit down buffet meal which consisted of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other delicious food. Maybe the holidays away from home won't be so bad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

i made it to month 3!

Three months in and the honeymoon is just about over. I'm still enjoying my time in Korea, but the things that were exciting and challenging at first, are more annoying now.
Now I am 1/4th of the way done with my one year contract, and I'm nowhere near sure if I want to renew or not.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

introducing cultural & leisure time

Last month I was introduced to something called cultural & leisure time. Basically what that means is that once a month the staff at my school gets to leave at 2:00 P.M. rather than the usual 4:40 P.M. During this time we are free to do as we wish, although it's encouraged that we go to a park, movies, or you know... take part in something cultural. Last month I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed so I took advantage of the extra two hours and went home to nap. This month, however, the teachers at my school were going out for a hike and dinner and invited me to come along. We took a short bus ride and arrived at Mt. Bukhansan National Park. This was only my second time hiking in Korea, and maybe only my third or fourth time hiking ever, so I found it quite challenging but there were others just zooming past me. The way up was exhausting, but I found the way down to be the worst; it had just rained the day before so the ground and leaves were moist, and I was definitely wearing the wrong shoes so I slipped and fumbled the entire way. The hike took around two hours, and afterwards we headed to a nearby restaurant where I experienced my first ever staff dinner. Staff dinners are very common in the Korean workplace, and are an entirely different experience from staff dinners back home. It was really nice to mingle with the homeroom teachers outside of work and see them let loose and relax. Everybody is always so kind to me, but I definitely felt like they were not as self conscious about speaking English with me once they had a couple of soju shots in them (soju is the Korean equivalent of cheap vodka). Overall I'm really enjoying cultural & leisure days, and I'm looking forward to the next one.
Seoul as seen from a peak at Mt. Bukhansan

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

playing catch up

So I've pretty much put this blog on the back burner since arriving in Korea, and I definitely didn't plan on that. I just got...busy/forgetful/insertotherlameexcuseshere. After chatting with some friends, and reading through blogs of fellow teacher, I've been motivated to pick this up again. If not for the people who may or may not read this, but for myself. I'm not yet sure if I'll continue teaching after this year, but I definitely know that I'll want to remember these moments in the future. It's impossible to recall in detail everything that I've done since arriving in Seoul, but I'll attempt to catch you up via list form on the events that stand out most in my mind:
-During the last weekend of September Chuseok happened. I've been told that Chuseok is the Korean equivalent of American Thanksgiving, and thanks to that we were off school for three days. During this time my former roommate, and good friend from uni came over from japan for a short visit. Since neither one of us has family in Korea we couldn't celebrate the holiday as it's meant, so instead we spent the time playing tourists in Seoul. We went sightseeing, shopping, ate loads of delicious food, and finished off with a trip to South Korea's largest theme park, Everland.
-First visit to a Jjimjilbang. I was too chicken to try out the naked spa, and opted out for rotating in and out of the sauna and napping on the floor.
-First language cast meetup. I've gotten into the habit of only hanging out with my fellow teacher friends, and haven't really met any local Seoulites so I thought this would be a great way to meet new people and learn some Koreanl I only accomplished one of those things. I met new people, but they were only interested in bettering their English skills so no Korean was spoken.
-First weekend trip. I found a group through facebook that does weekend trips to various locations, and the one that caught my eye was going to Jinju (a small town about 4 hours South of Seoul) for the Floating Lantern Festival. I went with some friends, and we spent the first day exploring Jinju, and taking silly pictures with the awesome lanterns. On Sunday before heading back to Seoul we went on a Hike through some pretty amazing temples, but unfortunately I can't recall the name of the place.

I'm sure there is much else I could write about, but unfortunately I tend to have the memory of a goldfish and I can't remember much else without pulling up Facebook and looking through photos (and I'm at school with co-workers at the moment, so I can't really do that). The weather now is really cold, entirely too cold considering we are supposed to be in Fall right now.
As far as teaching goes... well, everyday is a challenge, but luckily not all challenges are bad. Fourth grade is loads of fun, but sixth grade is more intense. They are at that weird stage where everything is boring, and even if I manage to come up with something fun and interesting, they are still too cool to show that they are actually having fun learning. I was told I have my first open class coming up next month; open class is when the principal, vice principal and headteacher sit in and observe one of your classes, and then I guess they let you know what you're doing well and what you should change. My co-teacher said this is important because it determines whether they renew my contract or not.

So I think that's it for today's catch up session. Hopefully the next time I write it will be about more current things so I can give better details, and have pictures to go along!

walkway from my school to bus stop

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2 monthsss

I have been in Korea for two months and 2 days now. Great accomplishment considering some people (myself included) didn't think I would make it past two weeks. ahhh..

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

i'm a teacher

This evening a nice, friendly cable guy showed up at my apartment and re-introduced me to the 21st century by installing super fast speed internet. No more bumming from the neighbors or using my cellphone as a hotspot device! to celebrate, I'll post up some photos of my time at school. These are only from my sixth grade class, sometime soon I'll snap some photos of the cute little fourth graders I also have the pleasure of working with :)

He is such a ham. I didn't have to ask if I could take his photo, he saw me take out my cellphone and immediately started posing.
 Birthday messages for me on the board.
The classroom where I teach sixth grade. In the back you can see projects from when the old teacher was there.

 gift from one of the girls on my birthday

a project we did to wrap up the lesson "This Is My Blog".

Thursday, September 20, 2012

one month

Today marks one month since I arrived in South Korea. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to waking up to this every morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

first birthday in korea

My birthday was this past Tuesday (September 11), and I honestly didn't expect it to be any different from the other days. Being as how I'm in a new place, where I don't know  many people, and the people I do know, don't know me very well, I was pleasantly surprised when I was showered with loads of warmth and affection during the entire day.
At school my students sang to me after every class, and one of the 6th grade girls even gave me a small piece of candy and said "teacha, you eat. eat, eat. happy birthday, i love you!". The English level of my students is quite low and I'm finding their interest in learning even lower, so it's always a nice surprise when they spit out English sentences (even when they make no sense). After school I met up with a couple of my friends from orientation, and two new girls I've just met from my building and we went to have Samgyopsal (Korean BBQ) at a restaurant near my home. Again, I wasn't expecting anything other than a nice, relaxed meal but they surprised me with gifts (nail polish!!!), and a super delicious cake.
At school the following day, one of my co-teachers surprised me with another cake and sang to me, then we sat around in the teachers lounge eating and chatting for a bit, it was quite lovely (I didn't see the need to tell her my birthday had passed already, as I appreciated the gesture just as much).

Tomorrow is going to be my last day teaching alone, as my other co-teacher comes back from vacation on Monday. My classes will be more well behaved then, since she's very strict and in-charge of classroom management, but as nervous as I was about teaching alone, I've really grown to like it and it will be weird going back to working with somebody else watching me.

So, that was my first birthday in Korea. Last year I was in Tampa, Florida for my birthday... I wonder where I will celebrate my next birthday?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sink or Swim

I have been in Korea for exactly two weeks now, and have been teaching about half of that time.

My time here has been short so far, but it feels like a long time because I have been so busy! On average I really am only at my home long enough to sleep and do some laundry. It has been great exploring Seoul, and getting to know the people I met during orientation.

I arrived on my school on Wednesday the 29th of August & was told I would be teaching 6th and 4th grade, and that I would need to prepare two lesson plans as I would start teaching on Monday. Okay, no big deal... except, I wasn't told the level of the students, or what they had been learning in previous lessons. Basically, I had to figure out on my own from a book that is mostly in Korean.

So without any direction, I managed to pull the lesson plans together and was ready to go when Monday morning came around. On Monday morning I found out that the school was having an assembly during which I would have to introduce myself to the staff and entire student body (which is roughly about 3,300 people).
That scenario went a little something like this:
-Principal: "yakyakyak yakity yak imnida yak yak yakyayak, migook yak yak"
awkward silence. now my co-teacher proceeds to take me by the arm and takes me to the podium where I was apparently supposed to have been standing all along.

So I introduced my self and probably said something along the lines of "I am from America, I'm very happy to be here, please take care of me blah blah" the moment went by very quickly!

The rest of the week consisted of me showing an introduction powerpoint to both fourth and sixth grades, then during the second half of the class I taught from the lesson plans I had prepared.

I'm really having a hard time figure out just exactly I should do to get these kids to learn and be entertained at the same time. My CT keeps telling me my lesson plans are boring and the kids won't participate because they are so bored, so the next class I tried doing more activities and less book work. Except, they couldn't understand how to play, we we weren't able to do that either.

This week I have been teaching the sixth graders on my own as my CT is on vacation until next Monday. It has been rough, I'm not going to lie. The language barrier is really difficult, and I've had an even harder time getting them to participate.

As far as life in my apartment, or "office-tel" as it is called in Korea, I have finally figured out how to use the water heater so this past weekend I enjoyed my first hot shower since moving in. I cried happy tears. I have it the way I want it more or less, I also have very limited space though so there isn't much I can do to it, except maybe buy a futon.

So in short, these last two weeks I was thrown into a completely different world. Everything and everyone moves at lightning fast speeds, and I am somehow, managing to stay afloat during it all.

Could definitely not be able to do it without the support of my friends, and family (both near and far).

Sorry this is so wordy and scattered, I hope to be able to post more often so that I don't have to cram so much into one post.



Friday, August 31, 2012

First two weeks in the ROk

First two weeks in the ROk

I have now been in Korea for two weeks and it has been intense! I may have mentioned previously that I spent the first week at EPIK orientation on Daejeon (a city about 2.5 hours south of Seoul). We kept a pretty exhausting schedule but it was definitely educational and a great way to network and make friends in a new place.

While in Daejeon I was able to sneak away from the orientation site for a couple of hours and I met up with a good friend from my University. I hadn't seen her in almost a year, so it was definitely nice to catch up and see a familiar face on the other side of the world.

After orientation Tuesday morning those placed in Seoul were driven to their corresponding districts where I was greeted by my co-teacher and taken to my apartment, which is in the northeastern part of Seoul.
My apartment is pretty basic for Korean standards, but definitely different from western style. It can be described as a studio apartment but the entire space is the same size as my living room in Florida. Even though it's small it's still comfortable, and in a busy neighborhood so there is loads to do and see.
The day after I moved into my apartment I went to see my school and met my principal for the first time. He was friendly, but because of the language difference we weren't able to do much else than have small talk about Bill Clinton (came up after I said I was from Arkansas).
Today I went off on my own to the immigration office to register for the mandatory alien registration card, and opened up a bank account. Managing the subway system was pretty easy, but I spent more than two hours opening a bank account because the lady didn't speak much English. I'm really thankful she was so patient though, and I have one less thing to worry about.

Basically my first week in Seoul was spent settling in to my new place, preparing lessons, and meeting up with friends. This coming Monday I will teach my first class, so I've got to prepare and go over my lesson plan so that I can do a good job and win the trust and respect of my students. I will be teaching fourth and sixth grade so it will definitely be fun and exhausting.

I currently don't have Internet at my apartment so my posts will be few and maybe not as detailed as I'd like, but once I get Internet and phone taken care of it will be okay.

After months of waiting, I finally made it to Korea!

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Welcome to my first post from the East! After twenty-something odd hours in transit my flight arrived safely in South Korea yesterday evening. I'm currently fighting jet-lag, but I'll give it my best attempt at compiling coherent sentences :)

Today was my first full day in Korea and I've probably eaten more rice today alone than I have during the past year! The food selection during mealtime is actually pretty extensive, I am just too exhausted to spend time looking over it and just grab whatever seems familiar. The weather is a little bit warm but not unbearable since it hasn't really been that sunny, what complicates things though is this humidity! Having lived in Florida before I thought I would handle it just fine, but man, South Korean humidity puts Florida's humidity to shame; I step out of my building and immediately my hair frizzes up and my clothes stick to my body.

After arriving at the airport I was picked up by EPIK and brought via coach to a town about two and a half hours south of Seoul for a week long orientation. It's been really nice recognizing the faces of people I've been chatting with on Facebook for a while, and of course just meeting all of the other teachers and hearing their stories has been very interesting. Everyone has been incredibly nice, the EPIK staff, the other teachers, and even the lady and old man (whom I believe take turns working in the mini-convenience shop downstairs) have been very patient and helpful.

This orientation is packed with activities and lectures I must attend in order to get better prepared for teaching and living in Korea so luckily I haven't had much of a chance to think about missing home and my family. I'm staying in a dorm with a cafeteria, lecture halls and a roommate so it feels very much like being back in college. I'm afraid that the overwhelming realization of everything that has changed will hit me all at once whenever I'm dropped off at my apartment and left on my own for the first time, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when it gets here.

I can't really keep my eyes open much longer so I'm gonna call it a night, hopefully by tomorrow my body will be better adjusted to the fourteen hour time difference.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

and we're off

I'm off to South Korea! My flight leaves Chicago O'hare tomorrow at 12 noon, and arrives in Seoul at 4:00 p.m. Monday Korean standard time (2:00 a.m. central time).
It's now starting to hit me that I, someone who came to America in fourth grade and could only say please & thank you, am now off to Asia to teach kids English! I still remember when my classmates made fun of me because I didn't speak English, and then made fun of my accent.. HAH! Take that Mary my evil fourth grade bully! 
I'm very excited, but at the same time I feel a bit of guilt at having to say goodbye to my family again. It seems like I'm always coming back, getting them used to me (and I to them) and each time I leave it's to a further place, and for a longer time. My mum though, no matter how upset she is about my leaving, she has been very supportive, and specially loving these last few weeks; she cooked all of my favorite meals! I love my family so much, and I'm so thankful for them! 

This is all for now, the next time you hear from me I will be in Korea! I hope we are all ready for this journey :-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

and then there were two

I now have two weeks before leaving the country for an indefinite lenght of time,  two days left at my current job, and two intimidating empty suitcases sitting in the corner of my all too familiar childhood room.
My beloved car of eight years called it quits on me a couple of weeks back, and I'm taking it as a sign that moving to Korea is the right thing. I mean, at my current pay rate, there is no way I could afford to fix it, so if I were staying any longer it would really be a burden, but being without a car for a short period is really not that bad. Once I finish working I will dedicate my time to last minute shopping, and finally start the dreaded task of packing. I'm good at throwing things into boxes and calling it done, but having to sort through things and think ahead of what I may need, and what will not be available to me in South Korea is giving me anxiety. Isn't it ironic? I'm pumped about the idea of moving to a foreign land where I don't speak the language, but having to sort things into two suitcases is what's freaking me out? My brain must be wired wrong.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Since my last EPIK update I have: received contract and notice of appointment, applied for Korean visa, received said visa, gave notice at my current job, and booked a one way ticket to Seoul. This entire process was quite long, and daunting at times, but now it's all pretty much over! All I have left is to complete the online pre-orientation, pack, and get on that 14 hour flight. People keep asking me if I'm nervous or scared, and to be honest, I am not. I mean, that is not to say that I won't be, but I have a little more than a month to go, so panicking now is unnecessary so I'll save it for the week leading up to departure ;)

For reference later on, or for anybody else reading who may be interested in applying to EPIK, below is a timeline of events as far as gathering documents and hearing any news (give or take a day or two).

- Stumbled upon EPIK Facebook page, began poking around and decided I wanted to appy

2- Submitted request for FBI check

-Requested letters of recommendation
-Requested copy of university transcripts

Early March
-Got university degree notarized
-Enrolled in TEFL course
-Received college transcripts

Late march:
-Received letters of recommendation

2- submitted application
4- FBI check received
5- Received email stating I had made it onto interview stage
10- Interviewed via Skype
12- Received email stating interview passed
13- FBI check & diploma sent to get apostilled
24- Apostilled documents received
26- Final documents sent to EPIK Seoul office via Fed-Ex
29- Documents received by EPIK

3- Documents approved by EPIK coordinator
10- TEFL course completed
24- TEFL certificate received & emailed to EPIK coordinator

1-Received email stating placement made
27-Contract and notice of appointment shipped from Seoul
29- Contract and notice of appointment received
30- Visa application mailed to Korean consulate in Houston, TX

3- Visa application arrived at Korean consulate
5- Visa approved and mailed to me
9- Visa received
12- Booked one way flight to Seoul
30-*EDIT* Completed online pre-orientation course

12-Deadline I've given myself to complete the online pre-orientation course *
19-Depart the U.S.A.
20- Arrive in Seoul, take bus to orientation location
21- First day of orientation

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Lucky for me, life hasn't always gone the way I planned it.
     Two years ago I was fresh out of school and had no intention of ever leaving the college town I had grown accustomed to. I planned on going full-time at the company I was interning with, getting my own apartment, and spending all of my free time laughing at bad jokes with the boy I loved. Life was good that summer, and I thought I had it made in the shade. Then came Fall, and like the color of the leaves, everything began to change; I never got that promotion so I settled for the first job that came my way, my apartment never became home, and the boy broke my heart.
That winter I packed everything that could fit into my car and headed to Florida. I've always heard the saying that whenever you've got nowhere to go, just head south until you hit the ocean & that's more or less what I did. My first two weeks in Orlando were the saddest and loneliest days I've ever experienced. I didn't have a job, and the one person I knew there was already too busy with her own life.
     Coming from a small town in Arkansas I was intimidated by everything in Orlando, even driving to the grocery store became a big ordeal. Soon though, those weeks of crying alone in my room, and questioning wether I had done the right thing or not came to an end when I finally got a job offer. This job offer was by no means my dream job, but I was eager to start working again and quickly said yes. Once I started my job everything changed and I started meeting people and going out and experiencing all sorts of challenging and fun things.
     My time in Orlando only lasted 11 months, but in that short time I learned more about myself than I had in the last 23 years. I made some great friendships that I hope to carry with me for many years to come, and most importantly I challenged myself and thrived in the face of adversity.
This is how I now find myself on the verge of starting another life changing journey. In less than two months I will be making my way to another continent, starting a new job, and immersing myself in a culture completely different than what I'm used to. I'm going into this experience with the clear understanding that tough times are definitely ahead, but with everything, the most important thing I need to remind myself of is to keep the faith, and always look ahead to the brighter future.
     I have given up on trying to plan out every detail of my life, as the best memories I have are the ones I unknowingly stumbled upon. To the people in Florida who befriended me, and treated me as if I were part of your own family, thank you for saving me and giving me a chance. To everyone else, thank you for reading and taking this journey with me. Wherever I go, I'll take a memory of you and hope to become somebody you can look back on and be glad to have met.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My travel wish-list: SE Asia edition

My life-long dream has always been to travel the world. I've filled up several notebooks with doodles and make believe schedules I would one day follow when on my travels. However, no matter how much planning I did life always took me in another direction. It wasn't until I found out I had been accepted into EPIK that I began to allow myself to think that maybe, just maybe, my travel scrapbook would actually be put to use. I'm sure the list will expand the longer I stay in SK, but as of now in no particular order, here is the list of places I absolutely must visit before returning to the states (all photos unless otherwise stated are courtesy of the Lonely Planet).

Tiptop Island, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
"According to local legend, when Vietnamese had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders. To assist Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. Under magics, numerous rock mountains abruptly appeared on the sea, ahead of invaders' ships. After winning the battle, the dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth, and then decided to live in this bay."

Sunrise silhouette of Angkor Wat through trees

Angkor, Cambodia- "Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument."

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Twin Petronas Towers are the equivalent to 95 stories each
"KL to its friends – is more than just a capital city: it is a monument to Malaysian ingenuity and determination. From humble beginnings as a tin-mining shanty town, KL has evolved into a 21st-century metropolis, dominated by the tallest skyscrapers in Southeast Asia and flush with the proceeds of international trade and commerce. The marketing slogan for the Malaysian tourist board is ‘truly Asia’ and nowhere is this more true than in the capital. KL is every inch the Asian cyber-city: historic temples and mosques rub shoulders with space-age towers and shopping malls; traders’ stalls are piled high with pungent durians and counterfeit DVDs; and locals sip cappuccino in wi-fi–enabled coffee hops or feast at bustling streetside hawker stalls serving food from across the continent."

Tapplia Waterfalls- Batad, Ifugao, Philippines

The Philippines
"First and foremost, the Philippines is a place of natural wonders – a string of coral-fringed islands strewn across a vast expanse of the western Pacific. Below sea level, the Philippines boasts some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling, including wreck diving around Coron and swimming with the whale sharks off Donsol. Above sea level, it has a fantastic landscape with wonders enough to stagger even the most jaded traveller: the Chocolate Hills of BoholBanaue & the Rice Terraces and fascinating reminders of the islands’ history in places such as Samar & Leyte and Vigan. And if you’re after palm-fringed, white-sand beaches, try laidback Sipalay or flat-out party town Boracay."

Bangkok street markets at night
Bangkok, Thailand "Bangkok is excess in all of its unrestrained glory. Bigger, better, more: the city is insatiable, a monster that feeds on concrete, shopping malls and diesel exhaust. The city demands that you be in the present and in the moment, not necessarily for a religious epiphany, but because the city is self-absorbed and superficial, blissfully free of wrinkle-inducing self-reflection."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

hello, goodbye

Life is a never ending circle of goodbyes, at least thats what it feels like to me. Throughout my 23 years of life I have been pretty blessed with the people that I have been able to meet, and the friendships that have developed from those encounters. However, without fail, after a few years life has always taken us on different paths causing us to say goodbye and move on to the next stage. I've heard several times that if somebody is really meant to be in your life, you will find a way to keep in touch regardless of distance; I find that to be true only to some extent. In college I was able to meet people from all over the world and spent day in and day out with them for four years. Then, graduation day came around and those friends had to go back to their own countries and I was forced to say goodbye. I moved to Florida and was very lonely for the first weeks until I met people whom I share the same interests with and I no longer felt homesick, then my time in Florida came to an end and I again had to bid my friends goodbye. This has been the common occurrence in my life, and because of that, I've really grown to cherish and appreciate the time I spend with people I care for. Goodbyes are still hard for me no matter how often I've had to go through them, but accepting the fact that they've become an inevitable part of my life makes it a little bit easier.

The month of May was really slow for me, hence the lack of posts. I've now completed my 100 hr TEFL, received my certificate and forward it on to EPIK. The certificate wast he last piece of the puzzle in my application, and after a long month without any updates, yesterday morning I woke up to a really terrific email: I have been accepted! I have been placed in Seoul due to start this Fall (now the goodbye post makes sense, eh?) I will not receive an official contract or be able to purchase my ticket for another month, so it stills feel a little unreal. I started this process in January, so it's hard to think that now it's all over for the most part, and I have no more papers to collect, or emails to send. I am definitely not looking forward to saying my goodbyes all over again, but hopefully there will be many great new people to whom to say hello to.

On a side note, I'm thinking I would like to change the title of this blog. It's currently set to "daisy says" simply because I could not think of anything else at the moment. Now that I know I'll be placed in Seoul, I can't help but think up cheesy/over used titles like: Finding My Seoul Mate, Heart & Seoul, Hey Seoul Sister, My Heart in Seoul, Seoul Searching (my fave), etc, etc. Suggestions greatly appreciated! I would like to make the change before I depart :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

cooking woes

I think I like the idea of cooking more than I like cooking itself. I love browsing the internet looking through cooking tutorials, or flipping through cook books planning out the perfect meal in my head. I'm a bit of a clean freak (which I get from my mother), I can't stand for the kitchen to be messy, or for the sink to have any dirty dishes in it. So in the end, I end up stressed out and worrying about having to clean every 5 minutes instead of actually focusing on the food.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet) 
A couple of days ago, however, I discovered Kfoodaddict and I was inspired to make something from one of the posts; I settled on one called Mussamali, which is an assortment of veggies and meat wrapped in tasty pickled radish. Sounds simple enough, eh? I thought so too. Right until I realized that given the fact that I live in a town of about 5k people with an almost nonexistent asian population, finding said wraps would be a nightmare. So, I decided I would go ahead and make the wraps myself. How hard could it be to pickle sliced radish? After work I proceeded to hit up every grocery store on the search for white radish/daikon, only be disappointed. All three (yes, there are only three) grocery stores in town do not carry white radish! And so, I came back home and decided to cook up a quick snack to cheer myself up. I ended up making tamagoyaki, and albeit tasty, it was not what my taste buds had been yearning for. I came across an online store that carries pickled white radish, and I am tempted to order it, however as desperate as I am about trying Mussamali, I am not 100% sold on the idea of ordering food online. 

EPIK update: final documents have arrived in Seoul! got confirmation from my coordinator that everything is in order, and I am now just to play the waiting game a little bit longer until I find out for sure if I'll be receiving a notice of appointment. It's relieving in a way because all of the long and grueling paperwork is out of the way until it comes time to apply for the visa, but I am not known for being the most patient person, so going almost two months without hearing anything back is killer. I currently have about 25 hours left of the online TEFL to complete, and it is driving me utterly insane! As soon as I think I'm making progress I get stumped on something and cannot move forward. I have until May 10th to complete otherwise I'll have to pay about 75$ to extend it for 30 days; today is May 5 so I have roughly 4.5 days to finish. I hope I can do it because I definitely do not have the funds at the moment. I wish I could take time off from my full time job until I finish. 

Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm currently at the airport waiting on  my flight back home from a weekend getaway to Los Angeles for the 10th annual Korean Music Festival (some people refer to it as KMF10 because it's the tenth year, but I've also heard KMF12 for the year 2012); it was such a great experience & I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to attend such a great event! The trip to L.A. itself was a bit questionable as I hit a bump on the road with the company I had, but still I enjoyed myself. Aside from attending KMF, the second highlight of the trip was meeting up with a childhood friend whom I had not seen since we were in 4th grade! We kept in touch trough Facebook every once in a while, so it was really excited to see her again. While in L.A. I did the typical sightseeing at the Hollywood walk of fame, & window shopping on Melrose Avenue. I also ate a lot, I mean I ate a LOT of really delicious food! We went to Koreatown a couple of times where the best part was an all you can eat kbbq place my friend recommended. We were there for almost three hours & the waiter just kept the meet coming. Wow. Being in Koreatown & attending KMF gave me a sense of what it would be like to live in Sk if I'm accepted into EPIK. All of the signs where in hangul, and I couldn't understand 95% of what was being said around me. It was all very exciting though and not as intimidating as I imagined. Everyone was impressed with what little Korean I do speak (which honestly, only consists of 1 or 2 phrases I picked up from watching too many kdramas).  The festival itself was mostly in Korean as well. Before going I was a little disappointed in the line up as there were only two artists I recognized, but at the end of the night I came out a fan of everyone who performed. It was my first time hearing of Bobby Kim and G.O.D. and now I keep going on YouTube to hear their songs. I hope I have other opportunities to attend events like this, be it in the stated or abroad.

 --- EPIK update: I passed my skype interview!!! As mentioned before, I was scheduled for a Skype interview on a Monday, it lasted for about 30 minutes and three days later I woke up to an email saying I had passed and could now forward original documents to the Seoul office.  All of this happened about three weeks ago, but I've been waiting for final apostilles to come in, so I wasn't able to post my package until this past Thursday before I went to the airport. I tracked it like crazy this weekend, and last night I got notice that it had been received by my coordinator; thumbs up FedEx for being so fast!! In a couple of days my coordinator will look over my documents and verify that everything is correct. If not I'll have to resubmit, but hopefully that's not the case as it cost me $70 usd for shipping. Once she verifies my documents and forward them on to the office of education, whom will ultimately make the final decision if I'm placed at a school or not. So, basically I'm done with the paperwork and now I continue the wait.  The only EPIK related task I have yet to finish is the awful 100 hour TEFL course I'm taking. It's so tedious and time consuming, luckily I've already completed 70 hours and hope to complete the remaining 30 by this weekend so I don't have to pay extra to extend the course.  And that's the last week of my life in a nutshell. Tomorrow it's back to early mornings and full days of work for me. p.s. please forgive any spelling/grammar mistakes in this post. typing on an iPhone from a busy airport is not my forte.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I love the 90s

I've always felt like maybe I was born in the wrong decade. I'm enamored by the clean, sleek style of the 50s, and I'm a sucker for 60s car models. Lately though, I've really noticed that I'm more drawn to the 90s more so than any other decade; my favorite music, movies, and memories come from that time period. A couple of days ago I was watching tv with my 12 year old sister when a commercial featuring David Beckham came on, I commented on what a cute couple him and Posh made together. My sister starred, and asked "who is Posh?", I was a little taken back by that and I told her, "Posh, you know, the girl with the sleek hair bob from the Spice Girls" and that's when it hit me, my sister has never heard of the Spice Girls! She can tell you every song lyric to Drake or Lil Wayne, but is at a complete loss when you bring up spice up your life. So, now I am on a mission to educate my sister on the wonders of 90s pop culture. We will begin by watching the Spice Girls movie, then I'll slowly ease in to a few other of my favorites.
A short update on my EPIK (English Program in Korea) status: I had my interview on a Monday evening, and Wednesday morning I woke up to an email telling me I had passed and was now free to mail in remaining documents! So two hurdles down, hopefully only a few more to go before I find out if I'm placed or not. Currently the only document I am missing is my apostilled Diploma, but hopefully that should be in next week, and I'll be able to submit final documents to my EPIK coordinator within the first two weeks of May. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Spring is here! actually, it's feeling more like "sprummer" lately with temperatures ranging in the high 80's! makes me wonder how brutal summer will be. As of late, I've developed a new hobby of painting my nails! I have racked up quite the collection of polishes, and I love browsing the net for new ideas. Last night I pulled out my favorite spring-ish colors and went to town putting little "easter eggs" all over my nails. I'm far from being a professional nail artist, but being as how I'm doing it for my own entertainment, I think I'm quite alright :)
Spring is my second favorite season (first favorite is Autumn, due to my favorite color being orange & favorite holiday being Halloween), I love seeing all of the pretty flowers start to bloom! my neighbors probably think I'm strange because I keep going outside and taking pictures of the flowers & trees, but I just can't let their beauty go unnoticed! I mentioned in my previous post that I am interested in teaching abroad through a program called EPIK, and I've got an update on that. I submitted my initial application with two letters of recommendation last Sunday, and a couple of days later I received an email stating that I had made it on to the interview process! My interview is scheduled for tomorrow evening, and if all goes well, I'll be asked to resubmit my application with additional government issued documents and go from there. There are probably a few thousand applicants and only 400 positions available so getting an interview in and of itself is pretty great. I hope it goes well! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An introduction of sorts

Hello! I've had several blogs before and they have all failed due mostly to the fact that I could just never remember my username or password. So, in an attempt to be more organized, and a better social network-er(?) I've decided to start fresh and use the same handle/username as much as possible, whenever possible. So with that, has been born. I have two goals for this blog:
1. Keep family, friends, and whomever else interested updated on my whereabouts, and random ramblings.
2. Keep a record for myself to be able to look back on and reflect on my past experiences and thoughts.

I'm 23 years old now, I have graduated college, and gotten the job of my dreams.

One of those three previous statements is a lie. I'm currently not at my dream job, actually, two years out of college and I have yet to land a job in which my  degree can be applied. Although this situation upsets me and causes me some stress, I will continue to push forward and find a way to come out on top on whatever it is life has in store for me.

I've recently decided to apply for a teaching position in South Korea through EPIK (English Program In Korea). If accepted I would sign a one year contract and teach English to Korean speakers. The entire process is quite long and takes a lot of preparation of documents and certifications, but if accepted, the reward would be unbelievable. Living in a foreign country, taking in new sights and simply being in a different atmosphere I think would help give me a better perspective on life and help guide me on towards my next career step.

I think I've written enough for the first post, until next time daisy says: connect  with me through other sites!