A Travellerspoint blog

Moving Blog Sites

Hello all! I know I have been silent for the last couple of months. It is quite hectic when plans change suddenly and then summer break happens. But I wanted to post a quick note that I am moving the address of this blog. I will no longer update this site. The address of the new blog is randombitsofadventure.com or you can click here.

Thanks for bearing with me during my lack of posting times! Hope to see you on the other site! :)

Posted by cstravelsabroad 07:13 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Gyeongju! ... and everything else in history.

“Roam abroad in the world, and take thy fill of its enjoyments before the day shall come when thou must quit it for good.” ~ Saadi

Blast! Behind again. Well... better late than never I suppose...

Let's see. I need to start at the beginning of May, That's easy! Buddha's Birthday weekend!. I had a nice long (5 whole days) vacation at the beginning of May. Well, all of Korea basically. The normal weekend was followed by Children's Day (May 5th) and Buddha's Birthday (May 6th) so I planned an escape.

I wanted to see parts of Korea that I had yet to make it to but still have fun. My solution: a weekend experiencing Korean history at its finest. I planned to go to Gyeongju- the old capital during the Silla Dynasty. There are a plethora of things to do and see in Gyeongju, it was going to be grand! And then I found out that my wonderful Korean friend, SK, was going with her kids to Gyeongju also... so naturally it became a fantastic adventure to be.

We started off leaving a little early from school on Friday afternoon because traffic was going to horrific. You'd think with such a small country travel time wouldn't be that bad, especially because plane, train, and bus tickets all sell out months in advance, but no... going from Seoul to Gyeongju (southwestern provence) took about 7 hours. Seoul to Gyeongju is roughly the same distance as Bakersfield to Disneyland. And it took 7 hours. SEVEN hours. Although I do have to give credit where credit is due. Korean rest stops are kind of amazing. Like... super amazing. Food, shopping, massage chairs, lots and lots of CLEAN bathrooms, coffee, entertainment, decor... if you have to be stuck on the road for 7+ hours it is nice to know places like that exist. Wonderful little (well not really little) oases amid the cars and roads.

I was super excited to see a bunch of historical things and visit a part of Korea I had never been to... until I realized I had been there.

Talk about a bubble bursting. One of the few weekends that is super easy to get away and travel (it's practically expected of you to leave the country during this time) and I was going somewhere I had already been!? Say it ain't so.

Yup. When I first came to Korea my school asked me if I wanted to join a Korean cultural tour for Native English Teachers. I said yes, obviously, of course I wanted a cultural tour two months into my new life in a foreign country. But apparently two months in to a completely life changing experience means you will not really remember it.

I only noticed "hey, this looks familiar" on the road when I was looking at things to do and was like "hey, I've been there... wait... I've seen that.... holy crap what I've done that too!..." It was not my finest moment.

But all in all the trip was very good. I got to experience Gyeongju how a Korean family would see it. We stayed in awesome traditional houses, ate lots of delicious food, saw wonderful things, and made some great memories. We didn't revisit all the places I went before and we saw many new things as well. We climbed up a billion steps to see this Buddha that was carved into a mountain over a thousand years ago, went to a beach town and took some crazy pictures with these stone hand statues that are coming out of the ocean, watches some kids desecrate some tombs by climbing the hills and then sliding down, all in all it was a great time.

Then came the rest of May and most of June.

A friend I made in Korea started a challenge for his birthday. He has been working really hard for over a year now to lose a lot of weight. He has managed really well but decided for his birthday he wanted more encouragement and to help out any of his friends that wanted it. For eight weeks we couldn't eat fast food or pizza, drink soda, and we had to exercise at least three times a week. And then each individual week we had three different challenges: a physical, mental, and emotional challenges.

It was a crazy and amazing 8 weeks.

It started out really rough but near the end I really got motivated and stuck with it. I didn't each fast food or pizza and I only had soda once during the whole 8 weeks. The different challenges were fantastic. They ranged from (physical) running a mile, exercising somewhere new, working out with a friend, riding a bike, cutting elevators out of your life (this one killed me... I live on the 12th floor), (mental) go vegetarian for a week, write down positive affirmations and read them to yourself, give up a vice, and (emotional) do something nice for someone, forgive yourself (or someone else), reach out to an old friend. The whole 8 weeks were definitely a roller coaster, but it was a wild ride I am beyond grateful I decided to go on.

It has started me down a journey I hope will change my life for the better. I now go to the gym six days a week and I have never felt better.

These last two months have also been a season of change.

One of my best friends that I made in Korea left. She is moving onto the next step in her life so we had to say goodbye to her. KB I know you'll have a fantastic time in grad school in the fall and you're having a blast in Europe right now... but that doesn't mean I miss you any less! 화이팅!!

All the rest of June has been filled with random bits of normal. I am filling my time as much as I can with friends because my time in Korea is short. I haven't been doing much in the way of travel, more along the lines of, "Hey, let's get dinner." or "Hey let's play cards (or a board game, or see a movie)."

I did take a random adventure to Incheon a few weeks ago. My friend KL and I decided we were in desperate need of a beach day and because Koreans have their election day off of work we decided it was the perfect opportunity to explore Incheon's beaches. It was great! We laid on the beach, soaked up the sun, I walked in the water a little... definitely just what the doctor ordered.

I also have finally experienced a baby's first birthday in Korea. Now, you may be wondering why that is a big deal, so let me tell you. It is huge. The parents will have big parties that might cost as much as a wedding. You first arrive and you get a ticket and that ticket means you can eat anything you want on this huge buffet line. Then the mom and dad (who are dressed to the nines) carry the baby around and say hello to everyone and everyone says hello to the baby (who is dressed in a ridiculously cute hanbok). After that the real fun begins. These events will have an MC, yes, someone will MC your baby's first birthday. They will ask questions and if you answer correctly you get a present. Millions of pictures will be taken. Then a candle will be lit, you sing happy birthday, and mom and dad blow out the candle.

Then the cardboard cake (yes, cardboard cake) will be removed and next comes the most important part. Fortune telling! There is a tray with different items placed on it. The items can be different but they usually stay the same. For example there could be a gavel, a rope, a microphone, money, food, or a pencil or book. Then the tray is put in front of the baby and they choose an item. What item the baby chooses is supposed to determine his/her future. They picked up the book? They will be smart. The gavel? A judge (or have good judgment). The rope? Long life. Food? They won't go hungry. The money? They will be wealthy. Etc...etc. I saw a baby pick up the gavel (but they made her put it down because they didn't technically start yet...) then she picked up the microphone (outgoing personality) and then the rope (so a long outgoing life??) Haha, I don't really know. But it was cute.

Then there is more eating and more talking and then the party is over. A lot of money is spent on these parties but they are important in Korean culture. I am glad I was able to experience it!

But that is the last month and a half in a nutshell.

Until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 22:37 Archived in South Korea Tagged culture history adventure friends change Comments (0)

The Ties That Bind

“Don't ever live vicariously. This is your life. Live.” ~ Lavinia Spalding

Wow, I am doing a good job of catching up! I just have one month to write about and then I will finally be at the present day! April was a pretty exciting month. I had two visitors! Yay! People came to see me!! Haha, well, I have had people visit before (shout out to BM and JF) but they were just starting out their tour of southeast Asia so they only count a little bit. My cousin came only for vacation!

It was exciting to show her and her friend around Seoul and Korea. I love showing new people around because it reminds me of when I first came to Korea. Seeing everything for the first time is magical. You see how different everything is from how you are used to it and it seems so strange and exotic. After living in a different country for an extended amount of time you start seeing everything as normal and not as something different. So when people come who have not made everything a part of their daily life it reminds you just how special things are.

My cousin (RS) and her friend (TT) flew to Korea for a week long visit. It was the first time out of the country for my cousin but her friend is a well seasoned traveler (although I am pretty sure it was her first time to Korea.)

They arrived on direct flight that landed at 630pm. I met them at the airport and then we boarded a bus to get back to my apartment. Jet lag was going to be an issue so they slept most of the bus ride to my humble abode. We got to my place, dropped off their things, TT took a quick shower, and then we all went out to grab some dinner. Apparently my go to first dinner place is the Mandu place a few streets down. I took BM and JF there on their first night and then RS and TT on their first night. In my defense I had planned to take RS and TT to a bimimbab place but it was closed. We ate some yummy food and decided to call it a night so they could attempt to get some sleep before our very busy schedule started.

We woke up bright and early (well early anyways) the next morning. We had to be out of my house by 7 to catch a bus. Out first stop on a grand Korea tour? The DMZ. Of course if you come to Korea you have to go to the area that has fascinated us all for the past sixty years. We decided to go with the Koridoors tour that is coupled with the USO. I highly recommend the tour if you are in Korea and aren't sure who to go with. We saw all the major points of the DMZ for $80.

But before I talk about our tour how about a little (and I mean little) history lesson. Not many people actually realize why there are two Koreas. In 1910 the Korean peninsula was occupied and then annexed by Japan. Unfortunately the history of the Korean peninsula is riddled by various occupations and colonizations and this was the latest one. It remained under Japanese rule until the defeat of Japan in World War 2. After Japan surrendered they left the Korean Peninsula. With the Japanese presence gone American Administrators divided the country at the 38th parallel in order to distribute aid. The USA settled in the southern half and the Soviet military settled in the northern half. From an outsider perspective it seems like civil war was inevitable. No clear elections could be made because the north formed a communist government and the south formed a right-wing government. So in 1950 that is exactly what happened.

Three long years of death and destruction with the northern armies getting as far as Busan before being driven back finally stopped with an armistice agreement. There is now a country wide barrier (250 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide) that separates the two Koreas. Everyone knows this area as the DMZ (or demilitarized zone). Most of this area has not been touched by human hands for over 60 years. There are areas littered with land mines, rock walls ready to be released if anyone should try and cross, guard stations, barbed wire fences, and more cameras and satellite coverage than probably necessary.

But now, over 60 years since the cease-fire, this highly volatile, and rickety line between the north and the south has become a materialistic tourist attraction. I won't judge, I mean, I went on the tour. It just makes you think. What has the world come to that active military zones are a hot commodity? Let's leave the social commentary to someone else, shall we? On to the tour!

We went to the infiltration tunnels (tunnels that the North Korean side dug to try and gain access to South Korea, which, btw, are very steep), The JSA (joint-security area, the famous blue houses), we stood inside North Korea (yup, I've been inside North Korea), visited various look outs to see the only civilian inhabited area of the JSA, saw the flag poles (one with the South Korean flag and one with the North Korean flag), went to the site of the Ax murder (At this point in time both Koreas roamed freely throughout the DMZ and there are guard houses all throughout the JSA and one guard house didn't have a clear view of the next guard house because of a tree. So a team went to cut the branches down, they were attacked and killed by ax wielding North Koreans, drama ensued and eventually the tree was taken out completely and a line drawn in the DMZ that could not be crossed by either party), saw the Bridge of No Return (at some point after the war this bridge was used to allow POWs to either stay in North Korea or cross over and go to the south side- never to return), and then went to Dorasan station (the subway line that would connect the two Koreas if ever the chance should arise).

It was a full day filled with a lot of interesting history. I learned a lot about Korean history and saw some things I am not sure I would want to see again. It is heartbreaking to see and hear things about the past that you can't change and then to know what is going on in the north that you can't do anything to stop.

It was strange being in some of these areas also. I mean, standing in front of the blue houses, you are literally staring into the faces of North Korean soldiers and it's a bit on the eerie side. You see this giant house with all these cameras all over it and you know that somewhere some North Korean soldier is staring at you staring at him through a camera. And the South Korean soldiers are slightly scary. I mean, they have to stand completely still in their uniform and aviator sunglasses (the sunglasses are used to make them seem more intimidating) in a modified taekwondo stance. Just like the guards at Buckingham palace, they aren't allowed to move. Intimidation? Yup, it works. But a part of me can see how the north would feel that the capitalist American people are evil. I mean, we are literally gawking at them and taking pictures like they are pieces in a museum. There for our enjoyment and to fill a page in our picture books. A short anecdote at a dinner party. A paragraph in a blog.

Clearly I am not judging, that would be hypocritical. I am merely commenting. The world, in all its forward thinking and possibility for good, still has a very long way to go in the humane aspect of things.

Despite my misgiving about the whole situation I did think seeing all those things was important and I am glad I went. I believe RS and TT had a good time as well. It was a long day and maybe not wise to have them do right away but unfortunately with my schedule it was the only day we could go. We got back to Seoul around 530 and decided to have dinner before going back to my place.

TT is a vegan and finding vegan food in Korea is next to impossible. Most of their recipes call for shrimp or oyster sauce or contain some sort of beef or pork stock. But thanks to the internet and forward thinking there were some vegan restaurants TT was able to find. We headed to one place in Insa-dong and enjoyed a delicious meal. I am not a vegan but I can definitely see myself going to this place again in the future.

The next day I headed to church while RS and TT slept in and took their time getting up and getting ready. After our very long day previously I did not begrudge them that! We met up in the afternoon at the bank where they changed USD to Korean Won. Then we went into Seoul.

My favorite part of Seoul is the 광화문 (Gwangwhamun) area. It is downtown kind of right in the middle. It has an amazing palace (경복궁 Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Blue House (like the White House), Insa-dong (a very traditional street for shopping and eating), Cheonghyechun stream, and various other things. You can also visit King Sejong's museum or catch a show at a very nice theatre. Or if the need arises the American Embassy is on the same road. There is a lot to do.

We ended up eating dinner, then going to this really small palace that was used to feasts and parties, yes they had a palace specifically for dinner parties, called the Unhyeongung (운형궁) Palace. Have I ever mentioned how I don't like romanizing Hangul. It's weird. Anyways, we also went to the Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) (beautiful 600 year old houses), Insa-dong (인사동, again), and the Cheonggyecheon stream (청계천) and walked down that a bit. Then we headed back to my place. For two days we had covered a lot.

The next day I had to go to work ㅠㅠ sad. And RS and TT hopped on a plane and flew to 제주도 (Jeju, which is basically Korea's Hawaii). Jealous. I am not even going to attempt to know what all they did. I know they rented a car and saw the sites, they brought back some yummy fruit and chocolate, and lots of pictures. They spent the week there so it worked out nicely because I had to work.

My week was pretty standard until Thursday. Thursday was the day the Sewol Ferry capsized. That whole event and the aftermath the whole of Korea is still facing is unbearably sad. I won't say much except that I hope the friends and family of the hundreds that perished find peace soon, and that all those responsible are dealt with swiftly and severely. I still cannot imagine what it must be like in Ansan where the 300 students were from.

On Friday RS and TT flew back from Jeju. We met at my apartment after work and then headed back into Seoul. There is a vegan friendly bed and breakfast type place that TT wanted to stay at so we made reservations and went. A friend of mine, an avid thespian, was part of a small production honoring Shakespeare and his 450th birthday. So we all went to see the show down in Itaweon. It was fantastic and made me really miss my Norton anthology. I want to read some Shakespeare now!

The next morning we went to eat in Sinchon at another Vegan place and then went to Gyeonbokgung Palace and explored and took a million pictures. After dinner we did more souvenir shopping and RS had her final taste of egg bread. She fell in love with it on first taste and now is trying to find recipes to make it at home. Then we headed back to my place. I couldn't let RS leave without having Korean BBQ. So we went to my favorite chain BBQ place called 마포길메기 (Mapo Galmegi). The meat is delicious and they have their signature egg dish that cooks around the BBQ while you are cooking. It is so good! And cheap. It's an appropriate last dinner in Korea.

The next day I went for a run in Lake park and TT came with me and took in the sites, Unfortunately RS didn't get a chance to see Lake Park but next time, haha. Then we went for brunch at my standard brunch place (we are VIPs haha) and off they went to the airport.

It was a whirlwind trip and I am so glad I could show them around. It was fantastic to see Korea in a new light again. I always love the reminder that the things around me are amazing and worthy of staring at.

The last few weeks of April were spent much like normal except for the ever present sadness and tension over the Ferry tragedy. The stories that were popping up and the reactions of all involved make my heart hurt. Field trips, concerts, festivals... they were all being canceled. I went to the lantern festival for Buddha's birthday and it was subdued and there wasn't music playing like last year in respect for the lives lost. All the people participating in the parade donned yellow ribbons and some even pushed lanterns that held messages for the lives lost.

After the festival I went back to the Cheonggyecheon stream and wrote a message on a yellow ribbon and tied it to the side of the rail over looking the lanterns. Thousands of ribbons had already been left. It is a sad thing to see.

But.. there isn't anything to do but take a deep breath and keep moving forward.

It is now May and I am about to have a five day vacation (yay Children's Day and Buddha's Birthday meaning I don't have to work). I am going with my Korean friend and her two kids to Gyeongju (경주) which was the capital during the Silla Dynasty. It is full of history and should be a good trip.

Until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 18:31 Archived in South Korea Tagged history travel adventure seoul vacations beauty Comments (0)

Missing Time ~ March

“When you're traveling, you are what you are, right there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” ~ William Least Heat-Moon

Here's another attempt at getting back on track with what my life has been like the past few months. In my last post I went over the month of February, so logically the next step is March! Woot woot.

Thankfully there was a bit more actual travel during the month of March.

First it started with some celebrations of my favorite fake holidays. Pi Day and the Ides of March. Pi Day (for those non-geeks out there) is a random day for pie! Inspired by the number (3.1415........) it is celebrated on... (duhn duh du duhn) March 14th, aka 3-14. All you do is eat pie. Any kind of pie. Pizza pie, shepherd's pie, dessert pies, chicken pot pie. The world is your oyster, as long as it comes in the form of pie on Pi Day. This year I ended up having dinner with friends and then eating pie from Tintin's Bakery in Itaewon. They have delicious pies, one aptly named Crack pie. Imagine a pie filling of pecan pie (without the pecans), sugar cookies, and butter. That is crack pie. One bite will send you into a diabetic coma but it is worth it.

I'm actually pretty disappointed in myself. I completely forgot about the Ides of March this year. I only got a quick message in because of the time difference.., and not once did I say it on the actual day. The Shakespearean in me is is very sad. Alas... next year I shall have to make up for it tenfold.

I was able to explore a bit more of Seoul during the month of March. I went with a few friends and walked around a cute folk flea market. It's pretty big and cool to see all the local antiques but if you are just visiting it is not worth the time or effort to go see. We walked around for a bit and saw some cool things (mostly the antiques) but it is pretty much like any other flea market.

I spent a little time finding some new and different hang outs. There is a new coffee shop that opened up near me that specializes in being an English cafe. As in, they speak English. It is co-owned by a Korean man and his partner who is Scottish. They set it up to help fund Teen Challenge in Korea. I don't really know much about teen challenge but theoretically that is a good organization. I just like going for the company (yay English speaking people) and the hazelnut lattes. I love hazelnut lattes and they are pretty much non-existent except for at this place. The second new destination for random evenings is a pub/bar like place in Sinchon (which is in Seoul, so not close but it is worth the drive). They play classic rock and you can request any song you want. They won't necessarily play it, but it is worth going to hear the awesome music. The interior is mostly wooden benches and tables but there is writing all over the walls from previous patrons. I love those kind of small holes in the wall because the people that go pretty much go for the same reason you are there. To enjoy the music and to have a good night. It's nice to know those kinds of places are all over the world.

But on to the actual travel parts of my month. And by travel I mean one trip... but still! I went with some friends to the Suwon Toilet Museum. Yes, you read that correctly. A museum dedicated to toilets. More importantly it is the history of the toilet in Korea. A man , nicknamed Mr. Toilet, made it his life's mission to upgrade the toilets in Korea. He succeeded and then built his house to look like a toilet. Later they made a park showing the evolution of the toilet in Korea.

My thoughts on what the museum shows: ew. Some of the older toilets were disgusting little holes in the ground and some of the jobs people used to have, like having to carry barrels of excrement to proper disposal sites,... yeah, I'll pass thank you very much. Or how they used to tie a rope outside the bathroom to wipe your business when you were done. Um, ouch? Although I would not have minded the royal toilets. Man, just sitting on the replicas at the museum was comfortable, I can't imagine what the real one would have been like.

After we spent some time sitting on all the various commodes we headed to the Suwon Fortress and palace inside. I had been to the fortress wall before but hadn't actually made it to the palace. Now I hate to be that traveler but once you've seen one palace in Korea the others all tend to start to look the same. Don't get me wrong they're beautiful and worth the trip but nothing new really to report on that front. Oh! Except we did play some old games. There is one where you toss an arrow into these metal quivers for points, and a horseshoe type one. We also wrote down our wishes and tied them next to an old tree that is supposed to be good luck. We also saw some sort of old warrior exhibition outside of the palace. That was pretty cool. The people reenacted all sorts of different fighting techniques from back in the day.

The rest of the month was pretty much same old same old. I know.. pretty boring for a supposed travel blog. My bad.

The last remaining ray of awesomeness that is blog worthy... duhn du du duhh! Going to stake out one of the sets for the filming of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The second team spent about two weeks filming around Seoul for one of the scenes in the upcoming movie. I went with a friend and we totally fangirled ourselves crazy with a ton of other people. Mostly we just saw the extras and stunt doubles, did see some pretty cool footage of Black Widow's bike (or Captain America's bike that Black Widow was using?) Who knows.

I have to say though, after watching them film a chase scene for about two hours it makes the movie magic a little less magical. The following week I went to see Captain America in theatres. Seeing the chase scene in that movie and then realizing a lot of the same techniques would have been used in that movie as the ones I saw on the streets of Gangnam. Yup... lost its magic. So it was a cool experience but I don't think I will ever go to a film shooting again. Unless Joss Whedon would actually be there instead of Italy (grumble grumble grumble) then I will be there in a heartbeat!

So sorry, my March was not that fantastic but the tidbits make up the journey.

Until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 19:20 Archived in South Korea Tagged culture friends funny seoul toilets Comments (1)

Missing Time ~ February

“Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight up.” ~ Sir Fred Hoyle

So I realize that my blog stopped this year. I finally got my Japan trip blogged about in mid-April and it happened at the end of January.

I wish I could say that my life was just too exciting to stop and write about but in reality I wasn't doing anything worth taking the time out to write about.

Not to say that I am sitting in a corner all day but most of my life was just normal day to day stuff that wasn't travel blog worthy. But let's see what I can come up with to share now.

And now we travel back in time to two months past. Picture it, if you will, the sun is barely shining through the clouds. It's cold and windy, a slight dusting of snow falls from the sky. Your face is so cold it feels like if you touched the skin it would break into a thousand spiky pieces. Ah, winter in Korea. A time when the sun is a distant memory and you cannot remember the last time you felt your feet.

After returning from Japan I wasn't really in a financial position to do much exploring. Did I mention just how expensive Japan is?? My oh my. Those kind of trips are called once in a lifetime for a reason. But that's okay. It is so cold I didn't want to go out and do much anyways.

February doesn't just bring the last really cold weather to Korea, it is the end of another school year. This time graduation hit me a lot harder than the previous year. I had only been the previous 6th graders' English teacher for a few months and I didn't really have a solid relationship with them. But the 6th graders who graduated this year had been my students for a year and a half. I loved them! They were my favorite students and they made me laugh all the time. I actually even knew most of their names (which says a lot). I am not sure I would have cried but I had a bad cold and my eyes were watering so my coteacher thought I was crying haha. But it was bittersweet.

The end of the year brought a lot of changes. My regular coteacher was going to become a second grade teacher so I would be getting a new coteacher for the next school year. And then I found out that she would not be helping me with the fourth graders. The music teacher would be my coteacher instead. (Oh joy... two new coteachers to deal with. My mind was pondering how it would be to teach with them, how they would want to conduct class, how it would be different, the same...? I didn't like it.)

I had those nice thoughts to usher me into my two week spring vacation.

When you renew a contract with GEPIK you receive an extra 10 days of vacation but you have to use them consecutively. The two weeks in February between the school years is the only time I could use them. So I took that time to attempt to explore more of Seoul that I hadn't yet seen.

I failed.

Haha, I ended up just relaxing at home most of the time. I did go out and hang with friends but it wasn't the exploration I had imagined. There were birthday dinners, television shows to watch, farewell dinners (that's another sad thing about February. School years end and teachers that didn't renew (or couldn't because of funding issues) were leaving.

I said goodbye to KP (my Japanese Adventure companion) and fellow 동양메이저 타워 occupant. I am so happy she stopped to talk to me a year and a half previously and then asked me to join her and her friends for dinner. It was a blast and some of the things we did together (egg hunts, dodgeball, scavenger hunts, zombie walks, Japan) will always be great memories for me! I hope you have a blast on your new adventures through China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe! See you in California sometime!

The start of the new year brought some new things to get used to. I was very lucky with my first coteacher. We had a great rhythm together and she helped me a lot. Now I had to get used to two new coteachers. If you know me then you know I really like order. New coteachers and new teaching practices do not equal order. It would be an understatement to say that it was anything but a rocky first few weeks.

We also received new books for our third and fourth graders so it changed our teaching styles even more. I like the new books a lot better though so I am happy with that change. Which isn't to say I don't like my new coteachers. I really do actually. It took a bit but we have our own rhythms now and I'm sure we will continue to figure out the best ways to work together. The whole idea of coteaching takes a lot of communication and compromise. I'm not sure I would know how to act if I had to do everything myself.

Well, I know a little bit. Daycare also expanded. So instead of one class of 17 students, I have two classes to teach each week. The first class consists of 22 first graders and the second class consists of 10 second through fourth graders. I knew I never really liked the younger kids and now I have undeniable evidence. They only English they may learn is "sit down, be quite, and listen carefully." Granted they can parrot it back but I have a sneaking suspicion they don't actually know what it means. Give me the older kids any day please.

The month of February also brought a lot of personal thought. I found out that my school would not be able to renew me (even if they wanted to) because the funding for a Native English Teacher was cut. That news was bittersweet. I have loved my time at 동패 but I am also ready to move on. So come August I will have to find a new job. I was never sure how long I wanted to stay abroad but I always new I would be in Korea for at least two years. I was right. I am not ready to go back and live and work in the states permanently but my time in Korea is slowly winding down. It's been a trip and I can't wait to make the next few months as memorable as possible.

I will not be finding another teaching job in a different country just yet. The next step will be getting my Masters in TESOL. With my two years of teaching experience and a masters I will be able to find a good job in a different country and make bank. I am looking forward to being a student again. I watched the new Pompeii movie (we will not discuss my feelings of that movie... I may or may not want a few hours of my life back but secretly love the amount of cheese) and after watching it all I wanted to do was watch documentaries about Pompeii. Seriously, i watched every documentary you can find on youtube. When I go back to school hopefully I can take a few history classes just for fun. I always did love it even if I never took any classes. But watching all those documentaries reminded me how much I like learning new things.

I am really looking forward to school again. I love learning and with my masters in TESOL with an emphasis on international education I can come back to the states and have ample experience to find a job at a university when I'm finished living my life as an expat. But before that happens I have to experience what life as an expat in various countries is like. So far Korea has been fantastic but I shall hopefully find out what Dubai or Saudi Arabia is like. And then perhaps some European countries like France or Spain. Or maybe Turkey or back to southeast Asia. Or China. Or Japan. So many options and so many possibilities.

I cannot wait to see where my life goes after grad school.

Until the next time!

Posted by cstravelsabroad 17:48 Archived in South Korea Tagged teaching futures beginnings Comments (0)

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