Friday, December 19, 2014

28 months

It's snowing!!!! It's so pretty but only when I'm inside. I really dislike walking in snow or afterwards when it's slick ice or slushy. 

It's Christmas next week but it definitely doesn't feel like it. My entire family is gathering at my grandparents house this year, even an uncle who has been away for twenty years will be there. The fact that I will be missing such an important family reunion has me feeling sad and homesick. I have to keep reminding myself that next year, hopefully next year I can spend the holidays with my family again. 

In school I'm currently preparing for winter camp. It's not easy, mostly because I have few ideas, and second because I can't focus at work. After teaching there is no heater and it's much too cold in my office. 

This is my last post of 2014.. I'm amazed at how quickly this year went by. I can remember last new Christmas and New Years very well so it seems like it was recent. I'm scared of time. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

27 months

This past month my good friend from childhood came to visit me from the USA on a last minute trip. She didn't book her flight until the week before she left so we didn't have much time to plan, or for me to take off work but we managed to do quite a bit of touristy things together on the weekend and evenings after work. We celebrated halloween together, and it was by far one of my favorite halloweens. I dressed up as a minion and got quite a bit of compliments.

School is going well. I'm obsessed with my students, and i'm dreading graduation because I'll really miss the sixth graders. This last Saturday I went to my first B1A4 concert and it was pretty cool, although it did make me question how come I have the same taste as ten year old girls?

Monday, October 20, 2014

26 months

I went to a Taeyang concert last weekend. The weather is cooling down, I'm a hundred percent I won't renew my contract, mostly because of budget cuts partly because three years will be enough. I'm writing this in a hurry, but I didn't want to skip.

Friday, September 19, 2014

25 months

I'm back from vacation in Malaysia & Indonesia. I definitely enjoyed my time in Malaysia a lot more this second time around. I think I was more open minded about the food, which is what I struggled with on my first trip. Bali, Indonesia was a place I thought I would love, but something about how commercialized it was, and people following me around asking if I wanted a massage or t-shirt sort of out a dark cloud over that experience for me. If I were to go back I think I would choose different places besides Ubud & Kuta to stay at. 

The new school semester has brought me a brand new co teacher, and two new classes. Three of my third grade classes from last term have been taken away, and two new classes added. I miss my kids from last term a lot, they were a lot of fun. These new kids are cute, but maybe I still need more time to adjust to their personalities. 

I celebrated my 26th birthday a couple of weeks ago, and it was pretty nice. On the day of, I had cake with some of my co workers then that night I had dinner and bingsu with friends in my area. Then on Friday a friend came up from her town and we had dinner and cake and wine, then later that night I met up with some other friends for drinks and a night of dancing. Nothing too crazy, since you know.. I'm an adult ;P 

Monday, August 18, 2014

24- two years!!

Two years ago I left the USA and got on a plane to the unknown. It has proven to be the best decision I've made so far, I think. I'm currently in Ubud, Bali Indonesia. Arrived earlier this morning after spending some time in Yogyokarta and prior to that Malaysia. I have one week of vacation left, and when I go back to Korea the majority of my EPIK class will have left Seoul. The idea of a third year, and a third winter in Seoul is a little scary at the moment but time seems to go by too fast and I haven't accomplished half of what I set out to do when I came here, so here's to having a better, and more productive third (and final) year in Korea!!! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

23 months

I think it's clear now that I'm keeping this up due to a sense of responsibility towards future me, present me is lazy and things writing this is silly. but alas, here is my 23 month update: I'm in the process of looking for a new apartment, I'm staying at my current school an I would like to stay in the general area of where I live now, I just cannot stand to live in my room anymore. It's quite worn out, many things are breaking and the landlord takes his sweet time fixing things, or says he will pay me back for repairs that I pay for but never actually pays me back. I hope I can find a new place soon and move during summer camp. Summer camp is the second thing I have going on now, it will start in about a week and a half and I'm nowhere near ready. I have a lot more to prepare and plan. This year I've been told I will only have about 15 third grade students, so hopefully it goes over well. Third graders are cute and for the most part are eager to please, so they'll work hard. After camp I'll be headed out of Korea for a two week vacation. I'll be revisiting Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur & Penang) for my friend's wedding, and afterwards hoping over to Indonesia (Yogyokarta & Bali) for some sightseeing and beach time. Bali was never a place I thought I would go to, and initially this summer I was planning on going to the Philippines, a place I had listed on the SEA travel wishlist I made prior to moving abroad. But with my friends wedding, and price of flights it just worked out this way, and it's not like Bali is a bad place to vacation in. Hopefully I will still get a chance to visit the Philippines later on, that and Halong Bay are the two remaining things I have yet to see on my list.
While I'm away on vacation most of the people who came in my EPIK intake will be leaving as they're not renewing for a third year. I haven't made much of an effort to keep in touch with most of them as of late, the large group branched off into smaller ones, so it won't really affect me much that they're leaving. It's mostly just a sense of knowing that people are moving on and I'm still here. Not that I resent them for not staying, just you know?? haha actually I don't even know.
Oh, also I'm still studying Korean twice a week at like an institute kind of place. I can't say that I'm benefiting much from it so I'm not sure if I'll sign up again for the fall term.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

22 months

It happened. Not much to say. Attended my first dream concert, went crazy over B1A4. Started Korean classes, don't feel like I'm learbjngb much I can apply in everyday life but I'll stick with it for now. I want to travel around Korea more, but also currently planning summer vacation abroad. Maybe the Philippines and Singapore 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

21 months

21 months!!! i can't think of anything to write about, either because i've done nothing worth writing about, or i can't remember exactly.
most recently i can talk about the weather, it's warmer, much much warmer, so last sunday i headed out with a friend and we watched a soccer game at world cup stadium. school is going well, i have a new co teacher but she's only staying until july. i think i'm going to stay in korea during the summer holidays since i haven't really traveled within korea yet, and i don't want to try it rush it all in at the end of my contract. that's it, lame, but i didn't want to skip a month cause then i'd be down hill from there.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that during May a Thai friend who did an exchange year at my high school came to visit me in Seoul.

Friday, April 25, 2014


As further proof that technology really is a  marvelous thing, I've just attended my very first holographic concert. This event is calle K-Live and gives audiences the opportunity to see their favorite idols in a concert setting, when otherwise they might not be able to attend an actual concert. The performers on this night where members of the YG agencie, Big Bang, 2ne1, and Psy. 

First things first, the location: the K-live stage is located on the 9th floor of the Lotte Fitin Shopping Center which can be teacher by subway (lines 4, 2, & 5) and is connected through an underground path way or exit 12. Once on level 9, guests are immediately greeted by a pretty impressive display of kpop realia. The lobby layout is open and guests are free to browse around the merchandise area, while listening to the latest kpop tunes. There are also plenty of photo taking opportunities, which only add to the experience and make it that much more memorable, since taking pictures of the actual show is not allowed. To further the experience we were given light sticks to use during the show, and returned at the end. 

Once it is time for the show to start, guests are led inside by a group of boys, and are greeted inside by a DJ who does his best to get the crowd energized. The stage area is open, there are no chairs or seat assignments. It is big enough for you to jump or dance along to your favorite songs, and the light show and sound quality really does make you feel like it's a real concert. Prior to going I was worried it would be a bit awkward and cheesy, but honestly if you go in with a good attitude and willing to let loose there is no reason why you wouldn't enjoy yourself. Even though they're holographic, the artists still engaged with the crowd and gave fan service like they would at an actual show. Like I stated previously, there where there YG performs this time, and if I remember correctly each one got to sing about 2 or 3 songs. 

I definitely think this is a good opportunity to see their idols, because sometimes it is really difficult to obtain tickets to a real concert, or concert dates in Seoul May not match the dates a foreign fan is in Korea so he/she could purchase tickets to K-live on a date and time that best suits them. 

I was gifted tickets by the KTO so I'm not 100% sure of the price, but I think it's around 30,000 won which I think it's a lite but expensive since the concert only lasts about an hour. Tickets to see an actual Big Bang concert for two hours are about 100,000 krw. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cambodia in pictures

A few pictures from my trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia during February 2014.
Angkor Wat, floating village, pub street.

Thailand in pictures

A few pictures from my trip to Thailand during February 2014.
Bangkok, Koh Phi Phi, Ao Nang Beach

20 months

I spent the weekend pondering wether I'm going to stay in Korea a third year or not, and this morning when asked by my co teacher what I'm going to do, I told her yes, I will stay. It definitely wasn't as easy to say yes to another year in Seoul, as it was when I signed on to a second year. I definitely miss my family a whole lot, but I don't feel like my job here is done yet. I am entirely too attached to my students, and leaving halfway through the school year just doesn't feel right. Granted, I'll be leaving halfway through the school year next year, but it will be a different set of kids, my sixth graders now are the ones I started out with when I first arrived, and it will mean so much to see them graduate.

I feel bittersweet, but I'm definitely glad to have this decision behind me and to have made it with the support of my family and friends back home. This Monday I will have an open class for the principal, VP and head teacher and they will have the final say on my renewal, but I've been told the odds of them saying no to me are pretty slim.

I can't think of anything else to update on for this month, because this has been a pretty big decision and  has taken up a lot of space in my mind and heart recently.

Friday, March 21, 2014

3rd KTO supporters welcome dinner & Kaboom show

The third season of the Korean Tourism Organization Performance Supporters kicked off last night with it's welcome dinner and a viewing of the variety show, Kaboom. This is my second season as a supporter, and I was once again blown away by the quality of food that we were treated to. The dinner this time was held at VIPS buffet in the Jongno area of Seoul. The variety and quality of food was more than what I tend to expect from mid prized buffets. During the dinner I saw some familiar faces from the events I attended last season, and I also had the opportunity to meet new supporters and talk about some of the events we are looking forward to this year.

After dinner we were asked to exit the dining area, and move to the fourth floor for the opening ceremony and start of the show. The lobby of the theater got a little bit packed with so many people arriving at the same exact time, but I guess this wouldn't be much of an issue during a regular night. Upon entering the theater we were given a gift bag from the KTO and shown to our seats. The opening ceremony consisted of an awards ceremony for the top supporters from the last season. I believe there were ten of them, and they each got to take a picture on the stage and where given a prize. I'm not sure as to what else the opening ceremony consisted of because it was conducted in Korean. I understand that Korean is the official language of the organization, but considering the majority of the attendees were foreigners I did feel like perhaps translating some of it would have made us feel more involved instead of just clapping and cheering whenever others did.

After the opening ceremony the show got started. I don't think this show is meant to have any type of specific story line or flow as the segments where all completely different from each other, and I wasn't able to figure out how they connected with each other. The variety show included a magician solo act, a magician act with two people that told the story of two lovers gone awry, a b-boy act consisting of members from the Morning of Owl crew, an act with three girls playing traditional Korean instruments, and my favorite, the closing act was I think five people wearing body suits that lit up and combined a pretty impressive choreography with a captivating light show. The show wrapped up with all performers coming on stage and taking a final vow.
Overall, I was confused by the direction this show was taking, but I was definitely blown away by the last performance and would go back for them alone.

The show theater and VIPS restaurant are in the same building, and can be easily reached from Exit 15 of Jongno 3ga subway station. Upon exiting continue straight and make the fourth left (at the busiest intersection). The theater is on the left hand side.

table setting at VIPS buffet

fried chicken, noodles, ribs.. yum yum

salad bar area

before the start of the show

Sunday, March 16, 2014

19 months

I'm back from vacation in Thailand and Cambodia, and the new school year is now into it's third week. This year is soooo soooo different from the last year and a half i've experienced in Korea. For starters, I now teach third graders as well as fourth, fifth, and sixth. Teaching third graders is completely new to me, and something I'm having a little bit of a hard time adjusting to. They're just now studying English for the first time, so their level is far lower than any other student I've had, and also, as is to be expected due to their age, they're incredibly chatty and energetic and a little bit hard to manage. Along with teaching a new grade, I also have three new co teachers, and a total of four co teachers altogether. Three of them I had never even had a conversation with even though they've been at my school since I started here, and then the fourth one is my sixth grade CT who has been with me since the beginning. My sixth grade CT and I have a pretty good routine down, so that hasn't been any different. The sixth graders this year are students that I've taught since I arrived in Seoul, half way through their fourth grade year. They're already really familiar with me and my teaching style, so far the terrible bad attitude that seems to plague most sixth graders hasn't kicked in yet, but then again it's still early. There are six fifth grade classes this year, four of them I teach with the designated fifth grade English teacher, and the other two I teach with one of the homeroom teachers who has taught English in the past. In the two classes with the homeroom teacher I'm pretty much in charge and she assists with translating a little bit, and some classroom management, but as far as the points and rewards system it's all my own and I'm really happy about that. Fourth and third grade I teach with a lady who was a homeroom teacher in the past and has never taught English before. She's having to adapt to not only working with a native teacher, but also to teaching English overall, so we haven't quite figured out a routine that we're completely comfortable with, but I she's also leaving for maternity leave in one month and I'll get a substitute teacher, so I'm not really sure how that's going to go, but we'll work it out.

The other thing that changed is where I eat lunch. In the past all students ate in their homerooms, and the subject teachers ate in a separate room near the principal's office. Towards the end of last year my school built a cafeteria and students ate there, but the subject teachers still ate in their own little room. This year however, everybody eats in the cafeteria. Students, homeroom teachers, and subject teachers alike. It's really noisy, and kids will be kids so every time they see me they say hello so I constantly have to stop mid bite and acknowledge them so as not to hurt their feelings. I definitely like that they like me enough to greet me, I think it would be strange if they chose to ignore me instead, but that's not to say I don't miss the quietness of the old lunch room.

Yesterday was the first warm-ish day of the year so I went to one of the parks along the river with a friend and we rode bikes for a couple of hours, and then walked around and got dinner. It was definitely refreshing to be able to go outdoors and not have to bundle up to the point where moving is uncomfortable, I'm looking forward to more good weather days before the dreaded humid summer hits.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

18 months

This month's update comes a few days early because I'll be away on vacation on the actual date. 

During month 18... I attended the Seoul Music Awards. This was my second time attending due to the generosity of the KTO and organizers of the Korea Grand Sale. Nobody from YG attended this time, so I was a little sad not to see Big Bang like the previous year, but it was still being around all the other different fan groups made me excited when groups like EXO and B.A.P. took the stage, even though I wasn't familiar with their music prior to this event. Pictures from this event are on my personal computer, and as I'm writing this from my work PC I don't have access to them, maybe I'll add them in from home later.

During month 18 I also attended a Big Bang concert. I've gone to two of GDragon's solo concerts, and seen Big Bang perform as a whole unit a couple of times before, but only for one or two songs at different events, but this concert was the first time I'd gone to an official performance in which they were all together on stage for a long time. Big Bang doesn't have fancy choreography, or stage designs but regardless of all that they still manage to put on a great show. They interact very well with each other on stage, and engage the fans in a way that makes you feel like you're very close to them and you're not competing with hundreds of others in the same room. They haven't come out with new songs as a whole in a year or so, so they did a lot of their early stuff and their big smash songs like Fantastic Baby and Bad Boy. All five members also had their time to shine on their own and presented the solo stages they'd been working on throughout 2013.

Aside from those two big events, this month was mostly spent trying to spend as much time as possible with friends who will be finishing their teaching contracts and leaving Korea soon. I've been visiting tourist places that I've procrastinated on, and been preparing for my upcoming vacation.

The official end of the school year is coming up in a couple of days so my sixth graders are running around practicing for their graduation ceremony, and cleaning out their homerooms. Today I got a lovely visit from three of my girls from last year's sixth grade class. They were the very first bunch of students I ever taught, and definitely one of the hardest groups to manage. It made me very happy to see them, and of course to chat with them and see how far they've come after their first year in middle school. Sometimes I wonder if I'm making any kind of impact on the kids I teach, but today has definitely livened up my spirits and made me feel like yeah, these kids care! and even though they can't fully communicate with me, and they haven't seen me in a year, they still remembered me and wanted to spend time together.

My favorites this month were:
Movie- Brokedown Palace-This was recommended to me by a friend since it takes place in Bangkok, Thailand and that's my first stop on my trip. It is an older movie and has the regular cliches but it was still really interesting and gave me some safety tips for my trip.
song- Lonely by B1A4, I've pretty much been listening to this since the MV was released some weeks back. I've never really listened to B1A4's songs, but this one seems to be different and more mature even though I don't actually really understand what they're saying.
book- unfortunately none :( I had started on "the book thief" since it came greatly recommended, but I just couldn't get into it like I hoped. I don't know exactly if it was the book, or just me who wasn't in the mood to read that kind of book, so I might give it another try later on. I've recently started reading The House Girl by Tara Conklin, so hopefully I'm able to finish it during my vacation.

Friday, January 17, 2014

17 months

During month 17 of my time in Korea I...
finally made it out to one of Korea's most popular amusement parks, Lotte World. It was kind of cheesy to be honest, but it was still a good time spent with good people.

I hiked to the top of Baegundae, which is said to be the highest mountain peak in Seoul. Baegundae is part of Bukhansan National Park which I can see easily from my window, so now my view is a little more special. During this hike I also met two of the kindest people I've come across with in Korea so far. My friend and I were totally unprepared for the icy/snowy trek, and would have struggled a lot more had these nice Koreans not lent us their special cramp on shoes, and then treated us to a delicious meal afterwards. My only disappointment about this hike was that on the day I went it was really smoggy so the view wasn't as good as I'm sure it normally is. I will definitely have to go back, perhaps in spring and give it another go. 

This month I also had more home cooked meals than I probably had in the past year combined. I've always loved baking, but actually preparing a meal has always been scary for me, but I've decided to give it a go and it has been going really well. I'm still far from cooking the same delicious meals my mom prepares, but I think by the time I get married, I will have it figured out. Most recently, I invited a friend over to my house and with with my mom's help (via skype) we managed to make some pretty tasty homemade tortillas, and fajitas. 
My favorites this month were:
movie- The Hobbit 2- The desolation of smaug. I've seen it in theaters twice already, and will probably watch it again before the final one is released next year. I'm not actually a big fan of these kinds of movies, and found the first Hobit to be  a little meh, but this second one is really terrific.

song- I see fire by Ed Sheeran, I first heard it during the ending credits of the Hobbit 2 and felt in love. It's so relaxing, and easy to listen to several times on repeat.

book- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I was an avid reader throughout high school and college,  but got pretty lazy after graduation and have struggled with reading a book in it's entirety. But I bought an e-reader recently, and in order not to let it be a waste of money, I quickly filled it up with books and got started. The first book I read cover to cover on my new e-reader was The Kite Runner. The story itself is heart wrenching, and at times I had to take breaks to get my emotions in check, but the way it was written is so well done, and holds a strong message about loyalty, survival, and friendship. 

Miscellaneous: I'm on week two of a three week winter camp, and as much as I like the more relaxed atmosphere, I'm very ready for it to be over. I'm currently teaching third graders, and I'm finding them to be much harder to teach and manage than my older students. They don't study with a native teacher during the regular semester so this kind of learning experience is different for them, and in the amount of time that we have together, I don't think it's enough for them to grasp what is going on. 

Coming up in month 18:
Seoul Music Awards
Big Bang Concert
Reading another book cover to cover, currently working on The Book Thief
Vacation, vacation, vacation! :D