Friday, January 31, 2014

Home again, home again, jiggitey jig!

After two weeks of traveling around and living out of a backpack, I AM HOME!

Of course, home in Jeomchon, not in America.  But if I learned nothing else over vacation, it's how much Korea really feels like home now.

I've had a great time over the past few weeks, but I couldn't have been happier to finally get back to my apartment today.  I felt as if I wanted to do everything at once--take a shower, wash my face, do my laundry, unpack my things, put on CLEAN clothes, eat food, upload pictures, and of course, write down all of my stories from the past week.

I started with the shower and now I'm moving onto the laundry and unpacking, but over the next few days you can check back for stories and pictures. And naturally, there are TONS.

For now, it's time to reassemble my life here in Jeomchon.

Happy Lunar New Year!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hello, from Thailand!

Hello all!

I know my last post from the Bangkok airport probably concerned some of you, so I just wanted to quickly update those of you who keep tabs on me and let you know that everything since that night in the airport has been going well. We had a lovely time at the beach, and now we are loving Chiang Mai.

Of course, I will tell you all the details once I am back home. For now, just know that I am loving the warm weather, delicious (and crazy cheap!!!) food, beautiful architecture....and I guess  it doesn't hurt that I'm spending the day tomorrow with elephants.

Love you all, and can't wait to tell you all about this experience!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Stranded in Bangkok

So last night I probably got a total of five hours of sleep. This morning I flew from Seoul to Hong Kong, then from Hong Kong to Bangkok. I arrived at 6:00 PM already pretty tired, but waited around until about 11 to check Megan's flight, which was due around  11:30.

Except then I saw her flight was cancelled. Not delayed. Canceled.

So naturally then I had to frantically head to the one  part of the airport that has WiFi (a coffee shop at which I had to buy a certain amount of  stuff to even access the wifi)

Megan luckily managed to get on another flight, but now she will not arrive until 6 AM.

Now, we had a hotel booked for tonight, but Megan has all the information and the room was under her name and on her credit card.

Lesson learned: get copies of all travel information from friends after stuff is booked.  You never know when you will unexpectedly get separated.

I'll be learning this the hard way as I spend tonight in the Bangkok airport. I could ask for help in finding another hotel,  but by this point by the time I get there and actually rest, Megan will be here.

I'm hoping this will just be on  of those crazy stories, and not the theme of this vacation as a whole.

Cheers, from one tired, smelly girl in desperate need of a shower and sleep.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vacation time!

My bags are packed and I'm overflowing with pre-vacation excitement and anticipation.  If you know me at all, you know that I am the queen of overpacking, so I'm actually feeling quite impressed with my ability to pack for a vacation without a huge suitcase.  There's a first time for everything, I suppose.

I'll be heading to Seoul this afternoon, where I'll spend tonight and tomorrow with friends, then on Sunday I'll be on my way to Thailand, where I'll be until mid-next week.

If everything goes as planned over the next week I will:
--spend time at the beach
--hang out with tigers
--ride an elephant
--visit some of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world.
--eat some absolutely delicious Thai food.

Please keep us in your prayers while we're gone. I can't wait to fill you all in once I'm back!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Only in Korea: Anything but a typical run to the corner store

Tonight was my turn to host bible study at my apartment, so before people came over I ran to the nearest corner store to grab some cookies.  While I usually opt to go to the store that is a little further away because the guy is (a lot) nicer, I was pressed for time, so I settled for going to the store where the woman who works behind the counter typically avoids acknowledging my presence.

I thought this would be a 5 minute round-trip experience.

I was wrong.

As I grabbed some cookies and went up to the counter, another Korean lady, who had been talking to the cashier looked at me with amazement and began telling me how beautiful I am.

Ok, that's always nice enough, but usually it lasts for a minute, I say thank you, and then I'm on my way.

However, this lady REALLY thought I was beautiful.  She was trying to use every word of English she knew to carry on a conversation with me.  As I tried to walk outside, she came with me, wanted to know where I lived, and wanted to me come to dinner.  She kept trying to ask me questions, telling me how beautiful I was, and ultimately asked me to put my phone number in her phone(which I did). I used my basic-level English to tell her that I had to go because my friends were coming (then I switched my story that I had to go to my friends because I think she was about to invite herself over).

As we said goodbye, she took my hand and kissed it.

Ummmmmm what?

Who knew having blue eyes and a big nose (but they're only concerned with the fact that it's "high") could evoke such a reaction.  Especially while wearing UNH sweatpants from my freshman year of college and Ugg-style boots whose best days are far in the past.

My quick 5 minute round-trip run to the corner store turned out to be anything but that.  As strange as it was, this experience is the embodiment of life in Korea. Even when you think something is going to be simple and easy, it can become an altogether awkward and perplexing situation in the blink of an eye.

TIK.  And really, only in Korea.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday bliss

Things that are currently making me happy:

--The West Wing (seriously, why did it take me so long to watch this show?)
--The electric heating pad I have on top of my mattress, which makes my bed incredibly warm and toasty.
--Coffee, brewed with cinnamon mixed in with the grounds (seriously, try it).
--The Tervis coffee mug that my mom sent me, which keeps my coffee warm for extended amount of time.
--The fact that I don't have to work on any lesson plans for next week.
--The fact that next week at this time I will be on my way to Thailand (!!!!)

Life is good.

Now only if I could be watching the Patriots playoff game...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


This is day three of my week of deskwarming.

So how's it going?

--I've nearly finished one book.
--I briefly looked over my Korean notes (yeah, I'm slacking in this department).
--I've checked facebook approximately 8763487623 times.
--I've looked at probably every webpage there is that discusses traveling in Thailand.

The highlight of my week was lunch today when I got to see my students in the cafeteria because I finally got to:
1) Have social interaction.
2) See the kids, who believe it or not, I really miss.
3) Find out what's been going on with these kids.
        In the short amount of time I spent outside of the teacher's office I was updated on:
        --plastic surgery outcomes
        --the happiness of my second graders because instead of studying until 11, second year students "only" have to study until 10 this month.
        --new hair styles

I suppose I should try being a bit more productive with my deskwarming and spend more time studying Korean and working on future lesson plans.  But here's the thing.  I've never liked studying languages.  And despite the fact that I love teaching, I hate lesson planning.

Also, my brain is all too aware of the fact that two weeks from now I will be in the warm weather enjoying the beautiful country of Thailand.  Plans are coming together, and amidst this cold weather, all I can think about is the warm sun, my feet in the sand, and some very blue water.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014.

Last night I was in the midst of a typical facebook check when I couldn't help but laugh at all the posts from my teacher friends about their impending snow day.  Of course, I wasn't laughing because it was ridiculous, but because I would be doing the same exact thing if I were home. And actually, last year I WAS doing the same exact thing.  In a way, seeing all those posts were a reminder of how much my life has changed over this year.

Last year at this time I was teaching in Nashua.  I wasn't even done my first semester of teaching on my own, which by the way, was such a whirlwind it's pretty hard to put into words.  I think only other teachers can truly understand the pure insanity of your first year of teaching.  You come out the year knowing you made plenty of mistakes, but hoping that you managed to at least do a few things right.  

I know I've said it before, but the time I spent teaching in NH feels like a dream.  I think of my old students and co-workers frequently, but when I think back to the crazy things that happened over that year I sometimes have to question if they really happened, because in many ways they certainly don't feel real anymore.  

Maybe this is just because of the severe sleep deprivation I experienced over the year, but it's not really just when I think about my old job that I feel that way.  It's really my life in America as a whole.  I have a hard time explaining this strange feeling--I've only been in Korea for four months, but I feel like I have two distinct and separate lives.  In large part, I think this is because there are really no connections between my life here and my life at home.  I love my friends and family at home dearly, but they don't even know the people in Korea who have become such a huge part of my life.  Likewise, my friends here, who have been my family in Korea, don't know the people who are my world back home. 

In a way, I feel like I've had two lives in 2013--one in America and one in Korea. For this reason, it's hard to summarize what 2013 has meant to me, but I can say that it has without doubt been the best year of my life.  

Apart from finishing my first year of solo teaching, I had an amazing summer with my friends, moved to a new country, started a new job, traveled to places I never imagined, eaten some pretty crazy foods, and met people who I can't believe were strangers to me only four months ago. 

I feel completely undeserving of the blessings that have been bestowed on my over this past year.  I couldn't be more thankful for everyone who has helped me grow and provided support to me.  I would not be here without those of you who encouraged me during my time teaching in Nashua, and gave me the reassurance that it was OK to make the absolutely crazy decision to move to Korea.  I am often baffled by the privilege I have in my life--that because I had parents to support me and encourage my education I could thrive in an academic setting.  Because I had access to a college education I got a good job right out of college.  Because I was born an English-speaking person I can not only travel the world, but live comfortably while doing so.  I don't take this privilege lightly, but I really hope that it prepares me to do better for others in the future.

I have no idea what 2014 has in store. It will without doubt have its highs and lows, but I am looking forward to the abundance of lessons it undoubtedly has in store.  

Oh, and if you're wondering how I spent my New Year's Eve, it was nothing extraordinary, but I spent the night in Jeomchon with some friends.  We went to a few bars and ended the night with noraebang.  Nothing too crazy, but NYE is never my favorite holiday anyway.  I never quite understand the hype because as I've seen in years past, the best parts of the year are yet to come.