Wednesday, January 30, 2013

winter update

Winter Camp is over now, and I'm back on regular teaching schedule for the next week. After that I'll deskwarm for about a week and a half, and then have a two week break again and start a new school year in March. I really enjoyed camp and the laid back atmosphere, but I'm glad to be back with my regular students, my rowdy 6th graders, and silly grade 4s. Both of my coteachers and I are getting along really well and I'm really happy about that. Now that I've introduced kimchi into my regular diet, I'm really enjoying my school lunches! before coworkers would stare at me and give me funny looks since all I would usually get is a small bowl of rice and whatever soup we were having, now they give me funny looks because I just keep piling on the kimchi; I even caught my principal laughing at me after he saw me chowing down. Yesterday I found out that come March we will be losing the other native teacher at my school, and I'll be in charge of grades 3-6, and I'm a little bit nervous about that. The third graders are really cute, but their level is also really low, almost nonexistent since in Korea most of them don't start english classes until grade 3. I'm also nervous because I'll be getting two new co-teachers on top of the ones I already have. These teachers will be new to the school, so I've yet to meet them. 
During my two week break I will be staying mostly in Seoul and hopefully travel through the southern provinces in Korea. I wished to be able to take another trip abroad, but my bad budgeting habits are still haunting me and I'm not able to do it this month. The disappointment of not being able to go abroad as I wished is hopefully going to serve as motivation to do better and be prepared whenever summer break rolls around. I'm still indecisive about wether I'll renew for a second year, specially now that I know there are changes being made to my schedule. But whatever happens, I'll just enjoy the moments I'm having now and the memories I'm making with my students, coworkers, and friends.

"One day when I leave this place I'll miss the people, the lives I touched and the lives that touched my life."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

5 months

Today marks 5 months since my arrival in Korea. There is so much I still haven't done or seen that I'm starting to think one year just won't be enough!
to celebrate, here is a video tour of my apartment in northeastern seoul!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

how kimchi won the battle

Winter camp is halfway over now, and I can honestly say that since my return from Malaysia, I have been having the best time in Korea! It's not even because I've been going out and doing anything special; I am just happy and content with my life at the moment. The weather is still pretty cold, so I've been spending my afternoons after school bundled up at home watching tv and reading. 
The only big development in my life as of now is quite a small one and yet large one at the same time. I came to Korea having never tried kimchi in my life, I had convinced myself that I hated it & refused to try it based on the smell itself. When I started school in August I avoided it like the plague, and my coworkers just assumed it was too spicy for me. It wasn't until the end of December while out for a KBBQ dinner with friends that I decided to give it a try, I threw some on the grill, watched it sizzle and then popped a bite into my mouth. It wasn't so bad, I thought, but still I couldn't get myself to eat regular cold kimchi at school. Then I was introduced to kimchi jiggae, kind of like a stew that comes with tofu (another food I had never been brave enough to try until Korea) and assorted veggies. I immediately became obsessed with kimchi jiggae, and now find that my two favorite foods in korea have kimchi as the main ingredient! Along with kimchi jiggae, I love kimchi Jeon (like a pancake with kimchi filling). I've started visiting a small mom & pop shop in my area that sells jigae and sundubu (tofu stew) and plenty of small side dishes. While waiting for my stew I found myself actually eating some of the cold kimchi that was set in front of me, and enjoying it! So there it is, I am a kimchi convert! As I type this I actually wish I had some kimchi to snack on in my fridge. Friends tried for years to get me on the tofu and kimchi bandwagon, and Korea accomplished it in under five months.. well done!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hello 2013!

Happy New Year! I was on vacation for two weeks visiting a friend in Malaysia, but I'm now back in icy cold Seoul! I really enjoyed my time in Malaysia, spending time with my friend from university and her entire family; it definitely made being away from home for the holidays a lot less miserable. I spent the majority of the time in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, which was a destination on my My travel wish-list. Aside from KL,  I spent five days on Penang Island, which was beautiful and I ate seafood to my heart's delight! It wasn't an action packed, on the go sight seeing trip, but more of a relaxed spending time with family and eating type of thing which was great. I went parasailing for the first time, and welcomed in the new year on the beach. Malaysia has an amazing culture blended with Malay, Chinese, and Indian and It's so bright and lively all the time. I'm so thankful to have had this experience, and I'm only more eager to continue on my travels throughout SE Asia and the rest of the world!

Tomorrow starts winter camp which will run for three weeks, followed by two weeks of random classes and grade six graduation. After that I believe we have two weeks off until the new semester starts again, and then I will be halfway through my first full year in Korea.. wow!