A Travellerspoint blog

Weekend Away!

“I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” ~ Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad

Whoa there! Two posts within a week of a each other and I'm not on vacation? Clearly I have some time on my hands. It's all thanks to the Korean school calendar that actually makes a little more sense but it's the beginning of the school year and I have nothing to do yet. The two weeks of work that I had to come into school while the students did not means that I have every lesson planned from now until the semester ends. Also they took away the after school classes so I am going to have a lot of extra time on my hands... a lot. I am kind of glad though. For a while there I was constantly working and having to take books home and finish planning after I got home plus never having time to prepare anything ahead of time. I shall just have to make sure I don't turn into a lazy fool who still doesn't have time to prepare because procrastination habits die hard. Oh I have plenty of time to get this done. Famous last words.

Although I now know that if all else fails I have a career in classroom decoration ahead of me. I may have had a little too much fun getting the classroom ready for the new year. And I may have missed art more than I realized.

The new school year means that a lot of old teachers left and a lot of new teachers came in. It's weird seeing the new faces and then looking for someone and realizing they aren't there anymore. My school is now mostly younger teachers, which is cool, but different. I am hoping my Korean gets better soon so I can actually really get to know my coworkers. Sometimes it really sucks not being able to communicate with people like you normally would. I found that out a lot during break because we would go out to lunch and sitting for an hour while everyone talks around you is not fun. I don't know enough Korean and they don't know enough English for actual conversations. We also got a new vice principal at my school. He seems really awesome. He really makes an effort to talk to me in English and wants to have a good relationship with me. My coteacher says that his last school had a NET (native English teacher) but he/she left Korea early because he/she couldn't take Korean winters. I'm sorry you may be from Australia but you've never heard of layers before? Seems a bit of a cop out for leaving if you ask me... although who am I to judge other people's life decisions. Bad Charlene, bad.

Anyway because of the mass migration of teachers we had two 회식 in two weeks. One to say goodbye to teachers and then one to say hello to the new teachers. Usually you can't go wrong with free food but when it means I have to stay at work and then hang out with 20 plus people who don't speak the same language as I do until 8, 9, 10 o'clock at night it is not cool. Not cool I say. At least the food was good. I was lucky enough to get out of 노라방 (karaoke) the first time but I had to go the second dinner. I am glad I did though. Younger teachers means more dancing and kpop music. Some images of the new teachers rapping to G-Dragon and singing 오빤 강남스타일 will forever remain with me. Love it.

I am looking forward to this year. I feel like I am actually ready and prepared for what is going to happen next. That's one problem of coming in the middle of the year and taking over someone else's position. I wasn't part of the planning process so I was always one step behind what was happening. Now that I am the one who has planned the activities and games and lessons I know what to expect and what needs to get done. I hope I can keep this positive attitude for the rest of my time here, haha, it's turning into Spring I don't see how I cannot not be happy.

With spring comes the time to travel again! Yay! Say it with me again, yay!!! As you know I went skiing last weekend.

Wow. So much more respect for skiers and snowboarders now. It was a lot of fun but I think it may take a while for my back to forgive me. I only skied for a bit because I have small feet and big calves (which means no boots fit me) they literally taped me into the boots so I could go out once because they felt bad. Oh well that one time was enough. I didn't do too bad if I do say so myself. Three times down the hill and I only fell four times. But I guess I should mention those three times took like an hour and a half (maybe longer I lost track of time). I want to get my own boots that I know will fit and I think I may go skiing quite a bit more once the season starts again. A monster may have been created.

The whole weekend was pretty awesome. It was great getting out and hanging out with new people and experiencing new things. Oh speaking of new things I have officially been to a 찜질방. I can't believe I actually went. You have to go in with the attitude of 'when in Rome" because western ideals of modesty and privacy are thrown out the window when literally everyone is walking around these baths completely nude and without a care in the world. It is oddly liberating. And the baths are amazing. Especially after going in the various saunas. Which, by the way, the stone saunas are my new favorite things in the universe.

You shall be reading about various other trips soon. I'll be going on many more trips and tours in the future. The season of festivals has begun again. Bring it on Korea. Bring it on.

Until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 19:39 Archived in South Korea Tagged vacation adventure 회식 Comments (0)

Six Months!

"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Time flies when you're having fun. I love and hate when cliches define moments in life. It's always that "yes!" moment and "humph" feeling lumped into one. I don't want to be the same cookie cutter person as everyone else but dang it- it just fits so well.

It has officially been six months since I came to Korea. At times I can't believe it has already been six months and other moments I'm like yeah.... I felt every bit of those months. I have not done nearly as much as I wanted to but I have done quite a bit. I have met many amazing people from all over the world. I have gone and done things I never thought I would. I have eaten food I would never have expected to in a million years (shout out to stinky tofu and fermented crab!). I've learned a new language (well a few choice phrases and the ability to read, albeit not understand, the language).

I realized I love being a teacher (at least in Korea) and I don't understand how teachers can teach kids for a year and then say goodbye. I only had these past sixth graders for four and a half months but it was still sad to see them go. When I leave (or if I stay and my fifth graders, who are now sixth graders, graduate) I am going to be a wreck! I love my fifth grade classes. I know it's bad to have favorites but I will not deny it. They are my favorites. I will say my decision to renew or not will rest heavily upon leaving those kids before they graduate.

It is also an amazing feeling when you are teaching and then you hear the students using the language you taught them. Makes you go all warm and fuzzy inside.

Despite the language barrier I have become friends with some of my fellow teachers. I have never really had that kind of camaraderie with coworkers before. I have to say I lie my job. I love being in Korea. I love the friends I've made. I love where my life is at the moment.

I am so glad I took the leap and flipped my life around and sideways and moved half way around the world. Looking back at where I was this time last year and the year before that definitely puts some perspective on life. I was not happy and living everyday just waiting for the next day to be over so I would be that much closer to doing something with my life that would make me want to brag about it.

Graduating from high school as getting out of the black hole that is my hometown was an accomplishment in itself and I loved my time at Berkeley but then I graduate in the worst economy of my life and took two steps backward to go live back at home and work retail. I couldn't even put my degree on display because it felt like a disservice to do all that work at school and then to just put on khakis and a red shirt to go to work everyday at Target.... Thankfully I can say that chapter in my life is closed forever.

I then did something a lot less pathetic and usoul-sucking and at least entered into the education field and became a substitute teacher. One of my better decisions to date. From there I took the necessary steps to get to where I am now. Sitting on a bus headed to a ski resort in South Korea.

Take that life! I made some pretty tasty lemonade... care for a glass?

I am definitely looking forward to what spring has in store for me. Festivals and trips abound along with a brand new school year. I am prepared for the next semester so hopefully it is fairly smooth sailing. I have a couple of weekend trips planned for be next few months. Life is good.

I feel like I should knock ok wood just to be on the safe side but, who knows, maybe knocking on wood is what jinxes the situation.

As for now I am going to focus on skiing without breaking anything. I've never been skiing before so this should be interesting. If nothing else comes from this weekend I will at least be able to say I skied where the 2016 Winter Olympics are going to be held. Yay for bragging points.

So it's a short post today but I wanted to mark my 6 month anniversary.

Here's to taking new steps and new adventures!

Until the next time...

Posted by cstravelsabroad 17:19 Archived in South Korea Tagged adventure love teaching Comments (0)

Lunar New Year and Graduation

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

After nearly six months in Korea I still find myself subconsciously comparing "back home" with how things are done here. I really wish I would stop. Things are different because it is a completely different society. That's the glory of a multi-cultural world. Every place is different. You can't classify one as better than another merely different. At least that is what everyone would think in an ideal society. Embrace the differences everyone! Yeah, well, a girl can dream.

Anyways I have noticed so many differences these past few weeks that I kind of wish were the norm back home. I have often commented on how much the community is cherished in Korea and it really is showing at school right now. Winter vacation ended and we had two weeks of school (squished around five days off for the lunar new year) and then graduation and now we have two weeks of teachers getting ready for the new school year to begin in March.

Let me start at the beginning. First off I love that it takes 3 days for the new year to be rung in in style here. There are many different things that are traditions for families and the new year here but I won't elaborate. A quick google search would quench any curiosity you may have. Basically the holiday has a lot to do with families and honoring your elders and ancestors. I basically spent my holiday in Seoul. I went to Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥마을) for one day with my friend KB. We froze but it was worth experiencing some of the traditional activities. We made and decorated a kite and a Tal (탈), a traditional Korean mask, and watched some traditional music performances. We also met this amazing little boy and his mother. He was a great English speaker! He really blew us away with his speech on the movie "The Avengers" and his favorite character. His mom was really proud and video taped our reaction to his speech, I know my reaction at least was a good one, he totally blew me away. It was really fun sitting their decorating our masks and talking with that little boy. He is very smart I can tell he is going to go places.

I also went to the Tim Burton exhibition in Seoul. That was pretty cool. It had a lot of his personal collection and work he did in high school. We weren't allowed to take pictures but it was still fun. There was a poem he had written and then made a little doodle next to that I absolutely loved. I can't remember the words now or even what it was about but I hope he will release it one day. KB and I ended that day walking randomly about Seoul and may or may not have accidentally went into one of the palaces after it closed. I mean if they didn't want people in there they shouldn't have a subway exit right into the palace... that's all I'm saying.

It was a great little mini vacation. I got to explore Seoul while a lot of people were gone. It was definitely the emptiest I have ever seen Seoul. Then it was back to the grind. The last week of school was by far the easiest I have experienced thus far. None of the students were really coming to English class because their homeroom teachers were finishing up their classes so most of the time I was just sitting their and getting a jump start on lesson planning for the new year.

The last two days of school were focused around the sixth grade graduation. Sixth graders graduate here like eighth graders and seniors back home. Although I couldn't help but be impressed with Korea again during this whole process. Back home set up and clean up is not something the students and, as far as I know, the teachers have to deal with. I feel like the custodians are the heavy lifters in this area. Well here the teachers supervise as the fifth and sixth graders do all the heavy lifting. Literally. They have to remove all the tables from the cafeteria and then put the stage and chairs down and after the ceremony they reverse the process. It was super efficient and I was fairly impressed with the student's attitudes. They didn't complain they just worked and helped out. I couldn't help it I compared again. I kept thinking how parents and students would complain and freak out back home thinking their kids shouldn't have to do that. I can't help but think if a student complained to their mom or dad here about something like that they would be punished for disrespecting their elders.

The graduation itself was fascinating. They had speeches like any other graduation and gave out diplomas but there were little things. For instance when the sixth graders walked in they had either their mother or father with them and they sat next to them during the whole ceremony. Also when the names were called a picture of the student was shown along with where they would attend middle school, what their dream job was, and why. My coteacher was telling me what they all said during the whole thing. It was pretty awesome. And at the very end some fifth graders stand up and all the sixth graders join them and they sang a song. It was really cute. I have no idea what the song was but my coteacher said the basics were something along the lines of "5th: we'll take care of the school now, thank you 6th graders, we will do good, you do well. 6th: We believe in your 5th graders, do well, take care of the school." I really wish I knew what they said in the moment.

After school that day I had my first experience mailing a package to the US. Let me tell you now that I know what is involved I will be more prepared next time. Customs forms are the devil. I had a massive headache by the time I finished and I only survived because my coteacher is amazing and went to the post office with me.

Ay yi yi... I want to say never again but I know that is not true... I will be sending oh so much more home at a later date.

Anywho. Graduation happened and now the school is on "spring" vacation. If you can count spring as still having snow and ice all over the ground as well as a painfully cold wind. Also I have to go to school still so it can't be too much of a vacation. Granted I am just lesson planning but still. I will be uber prepared for the first semester of classes. It will not be like last semester where I was having to lesson plan the day before and it was taking forever. I am a monster at lesson planning right now. Getting things from games and questions to activities and worksheets. I will have to knock on wood for this but I will say I think I am going to have a fairly painless and smooth sailing semester. Especially because I will no longer teach any after school classes except for my daycare class. The school hired an outside group to come and take over the extra classes because it was too hard of a burden on my coteacher and I. I will miss the extra pay but I will not miss how time-consuming it was. Now we will really be able to focus on the normal classes and maybe actually be able to go to other schools' open classes.

We are also preparing the school for the kids' return by cleaning and moving things. Instead of the kids moving to a different classroom the teacher moves so the students stay in the same environment. Unlike back home where a teacher will teach the same grade Korean teachers change every year. So all the teachers are not only switching classrooms but grade levels also. So we had to move desks and chairs and bookcases from room to room and floor to floor and into storage if there were too many. It was hard work but I had a lot of fun. It was nice not just staring at a computer for the few hours it took to do it all. We keep getting interrupted during the day with announcements telling us to go to another room and help move or clean or something. I really like it. Everyone pitching in to help and to work. Definitely highlights cooperation and team work.

I need to work on my Korean so I can actually talk to my coworkers now... sigh... one thing at a time. I can at least usually infer what they are saying even if I don't understand the words. Yay bonus points.

Well life beckons... until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 03:24 Archived in South Korea Tagged culture love graduation students teaching firsts Comments (0)

Misnomers and Disclaimers

“If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.” ~ George Harrison


It has been a very interesting past few weeks. Excuse me driver I would like to get off the ride for a moment and, as all Koreans say, take a rest! Since the last we spoke I have finished winter camp, been ill, gone to my first Kpop concert, planned two weeks worth of lessons that were completely up to me (and only used one days worth), began planning for the next school year, spent over 3 hours on a futile subway ride, and experienced a snow storm that actually affected school attendance (the gravity of which I can explain in detail later on in this post).

For the most part the ending of winter camp was fairly anti-climatic. The last two days I had my students do a semi-mad-libs version of their own fairy tale. I wrote a basic "script" and the students then had to rewrite it into a little book I made for them and fill in the blanks. Basically they chose the details of the story, most of them actually really enjoyed it. Then we made a map of a fairy tale world. They had to include a castle, lake, mountains, forest, and a compass rose. If they had all of those elements they could add any animals or magical creatures that they wanted into the map. The kids actually really enjoyed that I was relieved because I was worried they would find it too boring. The very last day I took them on an adventure treasure hunt. The little kids had fun with the games but my intermediate level had the most fun with the story. It went a little something like this.

To begin I told the students what they would have to do. They had to unlock three locks in order to gain your prize at the end of the game. I started to tell them a story.

"You live in a forest near a lake, One day you are going out to fish for your lunch because you are very hungry. You feel something on your pole and you tug up thinking you'll have a big fish to eat. But it isn't a fish. It's a piece of silver! What luck! You're a poor fisherman and you've just found so much silver. You decide to keep fishing and try and get as much silver out of the lake as you can."

Game 1: I had chopsticks wrapped in ribbon and then attached one of those metal circle rings that are used to keep notes and such together. If you unlatch them they make great hooks. The students then paired up and one was the 'fisher' and the other held the rest of the silver. The fisher had to close his eyes and try and "catch" the silver. The holder had to tell the fisher to: go left, go right, go up, go down, go forward, go backward. After they caught all the silver they switched rolls. The kids loved it.

Then we all sat back down and the story continued.

"Congratulations you have unlocked the first lock. You found all the silver in the lake and now you are rich beyond belief. You know you need to go to the castle so you can show everyone your good fortune but you don't know where the castle is as you have never been out of your little farm. You do know a wise dragon lives in the mountains so you decide to go to him for help. The dragon indeed knows how to get to the castle but he will not just tell you how to get there. You mush first outsmart him in order for him to tell you anything."

Game 2: Simon Says! The students loved this especially because Simon made them do things like spinning around, jumping, clapping, patting, etc. After we played a couple of rounds and the winners got a little prize we sat back down.

"Congratulations you unlocked the second lock. The dragon was outsmarted and he told you how to get to the castle. You have to travel through the forest to get to the castle. But there are many goblins who live in the forest and goblins love to steal anything shiny and they stole all of your silver! All your hard work gone! But there are also fairies who live in the forest and they will help you get your silver back if you play a game with them first."

Game 3: Hangman! Hangman is one of my students' favorite games. I just used vocabulary we had been going over through the whole camp and the kids love guessing and especially love my crazy drawings of the different "hanged men". Again I just kept on eye of the clock and played as many rounds as I needed to have.

"Congratulations! The fairies had fun with their game and they got your silver back for you! You make your way to the castle and show everyone your silver. But now that you are here you are not dressed appropriately. You know need a crown to show off your wealth and enjoy your treasure."

Activity 4: The rest of the class the students all made crowns from construction paper and ate Dunkin Donuts I bought them as their "treasure". I think this day was everyone's favorite and they used a lot of English which was a plus. I had a lot of fun with it too.

The end of my three week winter camp was supposed to be a great relief and I was going to celebrate by going to my to my first ever Kpop concert and just breathing in a huge sigh of completeness. Yeah well that was the plan. Instead I got to experience one of the worst stomach bugs (and or first case ever of food poisoning) that I have ever had. For twenty-four hours anything and everything I had previously consumed and or tried to consume was trying to find the quickest way back into the world. Not a pleasant experience. Let's just say my Friday was spent in a haze and or sleep.

A friend in my building made me chicken soup Friday night and I was able to keep some of the broth down. I brought a lot of over the counter medicines with me when I came to Korea because I knew I wouldn't be able to find them as easily here but I failed to bring basics like Tums or Pepto which I feel might have helped quite a bit during this experience. Then again maybe not. Who knows. I never again want to experience that particular form of torture my body put me through.

The only saving grace was the simple fact that the whole thing was only 24 hours. I don't know what I would have done if it would have prevented me from going to my premiere Kpop experience i.e the United Cube concert in Seoul. Thankfully it wasn't an issue because I slept for 14 hours and woke up feeling almost human again. At least human enough to get my fangirl on.

Disclaimer: Kpop is definitely a guilty pleasure I am ok with having and sharing haha. So worth the ridicule for the eye candy so get over it! And I really do enjoy the music too. The concert was all artist from the United Cube label: new guys BtoB, 노지훈, G-Na, 4 Minute, and Beast (aka B2ST or 비스트 - which is the only reason I wanted to go to this concert to begin with). A concert for Kpop is very different from anything I had ever been to in the states. First off fans have light sticks with their band's official color, there are fan chants (words chanted at certain parts of their favorite songs), and a lot of fan service. The different groups would talk to their fans during the concert. It was odd to me but I really liked it. It's more than just singing and dancing to them, it was cute, and really encompasses the whole deal of 'fan service' that celebrities do here in Korea that you would never see a celebrity doing in the States. At the end of the show the singers were grabbing fans' phones and cameras (and in one case their video camera), and taking self portraits, group pics (singing into the video)... the one and only time I would have paid money to be in the standing section. I mean seriously?!? Singing into a video camera! Taking ridiculously cute pictures of yourself on phones?! So many fan's dreams were made at that moment. ㅠㅠ I wish I could have those pictures...

But onto the misnomer from the title. What does one do when your winter camp is finished and school is almost over? Well when most of your time is spent not teaching the answer is *duhn duhn duh duhhh* desk warming! Which is anything but warm. Especially when your tiny heater is trying to heat an entire school that is basically colder than outside. I sit and stare at my computer waiting for something to do. I now have to plan next years lessons but before I had that project it gets a little boring... and cold. At one point I was coming to school wearing two pairs of leggings, pants, two tank tops, two long sleeve shirts, a sweater, and my huge winter coat, and I was still cold. I had to get up and walk around just to keep my blood flowing.

The last two weeks of the school year are just meant for closing out everything and review. I don't see my 6th graders because they are getting ready to graduate which makes me a little sad and I am realizing how much I am going to miss some of them. Mind you I said some. haha. Monday I had my first experience with schools in Korea actually delaying school. It took knee level snow for it to happen but it happened! A whole one hour delay... It is crazy how dedicated schools are to keeping their kids attendance. Come hell or high water, snow packs, typhoons, serious illness, nah, we'll go to school still. Yup... love it.

I get to spend the next month sitting in my freezing room planning out the first half of next year for the fifth and sixth grade classes. I am so going to be over planning when this is all sad and done but it will so be worth not having to worry about lesson planning at all when I am finished! Bring it on February... bring it on.

These first two weeks that students are still here reminds me of the week right after school starts and that second Monday is a holiday. The lunar new year is happening this weekend which means that I have a five day weekend! But obviously so do the students... haha... great planning guys! Great planning...

Although that brings me to the much anticipated festivities that surround Lunar New Year and I am in a prime place to experience them all! Although I would have done pretty much almost anything to go to Taiwan or China for it (but the almost did not extend to the amount of money it would have cost to go to either place. There is always next year! Because I am going to that Lantern Festival in Taiwan one way or another.

I'm off to plan my itinerary for the Lunar New Year festivities this weekend... until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 20:00 Archived in South Korea Tagged culture sick seasons teaching kpop Comments (0)

The End of Vacation and the Beginning of Winter Camp

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.” ― Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt


Don't worry I didn't forget about you I swear! I just came back from Taiwan and became ridiculously busy...

Let's see... where did I leave off? I really should have written up at least notes on my last two days in Taiwan so I would have a better memory of things but since I didn't I will have to make do with a slightly less exhausting accounting of my final two days in Taiwan. Let's see... Tuesday (also known as Taiwan day 5) dawned cloudy and rainy, and I mean cloudy and rainy, so I didn't exactly feel up to venturing too far. I slowly got up and got ready and then went down stairs to this little bakery and bought some ridiculously delicious bread. This bakery (I don't even know what it was called) always had the freshest bread and the most unique flavors. During my whole trip I ate a cranberry-chocolate-walnut bread, a plain cranberry bread, and an earl grey-walnut bread, but I tasted every chocolate flavored one (way too many to list and frankly remember), a red wine bread, pumpkin and cream cheese, cheese, and yeast flavored. All delicious.

Anywho I forage for breakfast at the bakery and then hop on the subway to go visit a famous temple. The Longshan Temple was originally built in the 1730s but was destroyed in full and in part numerous times either by natural disasters or during war time. It was still very impressive. It felt a little weird being a tourist because there were so many people actually doing whatever rituals or prayers or whatever it is they were doing with incense and bowing all over the place. I liked outside in the courtyard the best. There were two amazing fountains and I sat and stared for so long a security guard came over to see what I was doing there.

I finished at the temple and rode the subway all the way back up to my hostel and then hopped another subway and then a bus to the National Palace Museum. This museum is huge and has one of the most gorgeous gardens I have ever seen. Honestly I pretty much speed walked through most of the museum, the only part I really stopped and stared and examined was the map room, but I just walked and glanced and most everything else. It was really cool to see and read some of the stuff but I am not really a museum person and I didn't care to sit and stare at every piece of pottery or copper bowl. Once I reached the third floor I had caught up with most of the tours. I don't know if you have ever had the wonderful pleasure of being surrounded by Asian tour groups so let me enlighten you a little. If you ever find yourself in the situation of being anywhere where a large Asian tour group is going to be leave. Leave immediately. They are huge, loud, and pushy. They are usually fairly large groups, and they all have these special ear pieces and their guide has a speaker and microphone and is telling them all about the things they are seeing. Yes that is all well and good except that not only are they getting the noise through the headphones but the tour guide is a giant walking speaker. You're thinking well that's ok right? Free tour guide if you follow. That could be true if half the tours were in English instead of the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean I heard (I did hear one English tour though). So imagine you are in a museum that literally employs people to stand in corners and walk around the floor with signs that say "Please remember to be quiet" yet there are tons of these massive groups with loud speakers on. I would snake my way around groups and stop to look at something and the next thing I know I am being plowed over by the same group as they move on... seriously guys? You can't walk around me? I am one person you are twenty. 아이씨!

Once I left the madness that was the third floor I went out to the garden and walked around. There was a plethora of bridges, paths, ponds, pagodas, streams, and statues to keep me happy for a very long time. It was beautiful. It was also raining so I had the garden all to myself. Hello wonderfully peaceful walk in a beautiful garden with a nice umbrella and quite. It was quite the sanctuary after the zoo of the inside of the museum.

I finally left the museum and I was starving. I grabbed dinner (pizza so nothing too exciting) and headed back to my hostel. I know what you're thinking, you're in a whole new culture full of wonderful little delicacies and you decide to eat pizza? Yeah because I am not a fan of Taiwanese food. At least what I was eating. I am sure there are some wonderful foods that I just didn't try but I needed something I knew was good and I wouldn't have to guess what it was.

I made some awesome new acquaintances at the hostel and I hope I will keep up the relationships (even if they are just via the internet). The rest of the night included laughing and joking around with them and then sleep!

Taiwan day 6 was another very rainy day. I was perusing pictures online because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do on my last day (all the things on my list had been done) when I saw this amazing photo of a bridge and lake and thought that's beautiful I want to go. I look to see where it is and lo and behold it is in Taipei. There couldn't have been a better sign in the universe unless if had my name on it. Next time I will wait until I see my name. I hope on the subway and travel to the opposite side of Taipei in search of this park and bridge. I finally get to the park, disembark the train, and treck on over to the park. Lesson number 1 when traveling: always check to make sure the place you are wanting to go is actually open. This breathtaking park I saw in these gorgeous pictures is no more. I don't know what they were doing, remodeling or expanding or whatever, but it was fences and big construction equipment, a nearly drained lake and a pathetic looking bride. Disappointment does not even begin to cover it.

So I get back on the subway and go all the way across Taipei again. I decided I wanted to get some souvenir shopping done so I went to a famous street mall and walked around (again for a long time) but mostly window shopped. I purchased a few things but nothing major. By this time I was exhausted and annoyed so I went back to the hostel and met up with my French co-hostel-inhabitant and we went for Dim Sum then to the night market to get the rest of our souvenir shopping done. It was a long day. After we finished it was back to the hostel to pack everything up and get some sleep because it was going to be a very early morning.

My trip to the airport was less than desirable. It took an act of congress for me to finally find my way to the bus station that was going to get my to the airport. I don't even want to recount how many people I talked to and had to ask for directions to get to the stupid station that apparently is "right outside the MRT Taipei Main Station" yeah.. no, it isn't. I almost gave up and took a taxi but finally found it. Bought my ticket and headed off to the airport. I was definitely ready to get back to Korea.

I had a good trip. It was definitely an experience and I am so glad I have that under my belt now. Plus another stamp in my passport makes me happy. I don't know if I will ever go back to Taiwan (except for when I go for the Lantern Festival because that is so happening - I wanted to go this year but it will most likely have to be next year).

I got back to my apartment and unpacked, cleaned up, and spent some time with KL and KB. The last few days of my vacation time were kind of a blur because I was supposed to be working to get ready for winter camp but I totally wasn't. I was most definitely in vacation mode and I could not shake it. I eventually did get stuff somewhat together and winter camp started.

Most winter camps for Native English Teachers are two weeks long but I get a lovely three weeks. I am teaching my students about fairy tales and working on their sentence structures and writing skills as well as listening and comprehension. I am having fun I just don't really know if my students are... haha... kind of bad. Oh well, they don't look overly annoyed so that is a bonus. The first week was definitely interesting and the second week is going much more smoothly. I have definitely had to learn to vary my teaching technique and expectations for the low levels. I am going to come out of this experience an expert in charades. I shall be a champion of all future charade challenges, beware.

Aside from classes I have had some other interesting experiences. I am not teaching with my co-teacher and she wasn't even at school the first week. She was actually going to school to learn about teaching math. But because she wasn't there it was very different. I find I like having the room to myself and I like how empty the school is. I also have spent a lot more time with the other teachers who are also at school right now. Many lunches with Korean teachers who speak English as well as I speak Korean. Which is not good at all... yeah, it was very interesting.

I am starting to get very into Korean pop culture. I spend a lot of time watching dramas and listening to KPOP music. I justify it by saying it is helping me with the language (which in all honesty it is) but that is totally secondary as to why I watch and listen to it... haha. I am 101% Korean now.

Well that was the end of my first vacation and a brief glimpse into winter camp but it is time for me to finish this particular post. I shall post again at the end of winter camp to talk about it in more detail. I am definitely going to have tips and pointers on things not to do again when I am done.

Until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 00:46 Archived in South Korea Tagged culture adventure korea taiwan seasons Comments (0)

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