Sunday, September 22, 2013

13 month update

The first month of my second contract has ended and it was so much different than the first month of my first contract. I feel very settled and at home here. My main co teacher is away on maternity leave so since we returned from vacation I've been teaching the sixth graders with a substitute. At the beginning she was really shy and nervous but now I think she feels more comfortable and we've actually gotten pretty close. She's really friendly and we have a closer relationship than with my usual co teacher.
The grade 6s are starting to get a little bit restless and are harder to teach now that they seem less motivated to learn and participate in class, I think it's because this is their last semester before graduation, luckily though, fifth graders are still a dream and I love them so soooo much! I'm sad that when my contract ends they will only be halfway through sixth grade and I won't be able to see them graduate. Fourth graders are cute too, but my co teacher has changed up the way my lessons with them go, so now I don't actually teach them from the book and I just come up with activities or games to do during the entire class period.
All in all life in Korea is really good and I'm really happy that I stayed.
Wednesday marked the start of the Chuseok Holiday which I've been told is the equivalent of Thanksgiving back home. So I've been on school break for the last 4 days. Last Chuseok I had just arrived in Korea so I spent int sight seeing and getting settled in, this time around my friends and I decided to take a trip and I'm currently writing this from Beijing, China! I will post a separate post about my trip later, but for now this is my 13 month update!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Japan- In pictures

This past August I spent two weeks in Japan visiting friends whom I met in my university back in Arkansas. During the two weeks I spent the majority of my time in Tokyo, with a short visit to Osaka and Kyoto. Despite the fact that I have many friends in Japan, for some reason it wasn't a place I considered visiting. Prior to coming to Korea I made a travel wish list and Japan didn't make the cut. However, after researching flight options, and the opportunity to see my friends it seemed like a crazy idea not to go. I really enjoyed my time in Japan, and experiencing first hand the culture and things I have heard so much about. I'm also really thankful to my friends who hosted me, and took time out of their schedules to show me their beautiful country. There is so much I could say about my trip to Japan, but all I can think about now is the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" so I'll share some pictures of my trip now, and let them do the talking.

My first night in Japan was spent watching fireworks at a beach town about an hour from Tokyo.

My first taste of good ramen and I'm now obsessed.

Akihabara- Electronic Town

In Asakusa.
Boat tour of Tokyo Bay

Tokyo Tower

Fushimi Inari in Kyoto

In Kyoto.

In Osaka.
Night view of Tokyo from Roppongi Hills Observation Deck.

Night out with my dear friends.
Lastly, a trip to Japan isn't complete without a visit to one of it's very popular purikura photo booths!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yes Sir, I'm one of a kind pt. 2

On Sunday September 1st two of my friends and I headed to Seoul's Olympic Park to attend the final performance of G-Dragon's One of  a Kind tour. I had previously attended the opening performance of this tour back in March, so I was really excited to see it all wrap up and see what improvements or changes had been made.
We arrived at the venue about two hours before the show was due to start because we needed to collect our tickets and wristbands, but even after doing that we still had time before we could go inside so we spent sometime walking around the park. During that time I ran into one of my favorite bloggers/vloggers April from The Pink Fashion Ninja; she was so sweet and kind, I was sad to hear that she was flying home after finishing up her working contract in Korea.
About 45 minutes before the concert was due to start, we were finally let into the venue, and right away I knew this one was going to be different. To start of, the security at this concert was a different company than the last, and they were much friendlier/polite than the last one; they still did a professional job and kept everybody in check, but they didn't shout at us unnecessarily and push people around. I once again decided for standing section tickets, and originally I thought I had gotten tickets in the same section as last time, but I soon noticed that the stage and layout where a little bit different, so we were at a different standing section and I was a little bit bummed. However, this turned out to be a great thing because my friends and I were able to get a much better and closer view of G-Dragon, than if we had been where I originally thought we were going to be. The show kicked off with a video premiere of one of GD's latest songs, and immediately after that he took the stage and got the crowd pumped. Although he performed a lot of the same songs from the first show I attended in March, the sets and costumes were very different, so it felt like I was seeing him live for the first time. In between some of his old songs, he threw in three new songs from his most recent album and the crowd went crazy.
At this concert I felt like GD had more interaction with the crowd, getting really close and even coming through a walkway in the crowd. I know he was sick when his concert opened up so I'm sure that's what hindered him from giving it his best, but he definitely made up for it at this last show.
Because he had some new songs to perform, and he had so much crowd interaction the show went on for nearly three hours! definitely I think fans got what they paid for. The guests performers for this night were Tablo, 2ne1, the female singer from Akdong Musician and... Big  Bang!!!!!! I had read rumors online that they might be performing that night, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too much so I was definitely surprised when all five boys took the stage. They performed three songs together, cut a cake, and had some fan interactions before leaving GD to do his thing again. Because of the location of our seats, at one point I was mere feet from TOP. It was so exciting! I'm definitely happy that I chose to attend GDs concert again, specially on the last night of the tour as I'm sure it was special to him and hence made it more special for the fans. He is a talented guy when you hear his songs on the radio or watch his music videos, but seeing him perform live is a different experience. He gives so much and even though you're in a sea of thousand other fans, he somehow makes you feel like it's just you two. Before I leave Korea I hope to have a chance to see him perform again, specially with his Big Bang brothers.
unlike the March concert, this time fans were able to take photos so I'll share a few now:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

turning 25.

Today is my 25th birthday! the second birthday I spend in Korea, and while I've been at work/my office the majority of the day I have definitely felt loved and been made to feel special from both friends near and far. My coworkers have been so kind and generous, dropping by to congratulate me and asking if I have plans with my friends so as not to spend it alone. I've even been surprised by not one, but four beautiful and delicious cakes from some of my co-teachers. Since it's Wednesday, tonight I will take it easy and have dinner with a friend in my building, and then Friday night I will meet my other friends for a night out in the town. Last night I went to bed a little depressed by the fact that I would be a quarter century old when I woke up, but now I realize just how silly that was. I mean, I'm off to China in less than a week! I'm seeing and doing things that people only dream of. Twenty-five is nothing to be scared of, and if anything, I still have five more years to worry about turning thirty. ;)

Monday, September 2, 2013

KoInMo Opening Ceremony 2013

The Korea In Motion Festival (KOINMO) is a month long festival organized by the Korean Tourism Organization geared to promote purchase of tickets to Seoul's various variety shows at half price. This years festival will run from September 1st through September 30th, and kicked off with an opening ceremony on Saturday August 31st, at the entrance of Seoul's popular Cheonggye Stream. Once again, the KTO generously provided me and a friend with tickets to this event, so right about 4:00 o'clock I collected our tickets and then hung around until the event started at 6:00 p.m..  The opening ceremony pretty much consisted of several shows performing parts of their sets, I guess as a preview to what audiences could expect if they bought tickets to the show. My favorite was Sachoom, they were a boy and girl dance crew who performed really well despite the rain and the stage being slippery. To close out the ceremony, the famous K-Pop group MBLAQ came on state to accept their plaque as they are these years KOINMO ambassadors. After receiving their plaque, and giving a brief speech MBLAQ performed some of their biggest hits, and it quickly became clear that most of the people in the audience had attended specifically to see them perform.

I really appreciated the fact that unlike past KTO events, this one had MCs who spoke not only Korean, but also translated into English. Many times I attend events that I'm sure are really terrific and entertaining, but because they are all in Korean I tend to zone out whenever the performance stops and they just carry on talking. The only thing I was disappointed with, was that there seemed to be no preparation taken in case of inclement weather, which was the case on Saturday. The clouds had been looming over for the better part of the afternoon, but for whatever reason it failed to register in my mind that perhaps I should bring an umbrella out with me. I would say about 15 minutes into the start of the ceremony rain started to fall rather heavily, some people whom I'm assuming were pretty important, got handed raincoats right away while the rest of us were left there to get wet. Luckily, I was able to dash into a convenience store and buy an umbrella before they sold out, but those who weren't as lucky, had two choices: a) leave and miss the performance or b) stick it out and get soaking wet. So my suggestion to those who organize these events, specially if it is an outdoor one, is to prepare a back up plan in case the weather doesn't cooperate.

Below are a few photos from the ceremony.