Friday, June 23, 2006

Changgyeong Palace

On a hot Sunday afternoon my mother and I made a stop at a palace. This is the first one that I have been to since I have been in Korea (and there are several palaces around Seoul). It was very odd to be in a busy city surrounded by skyscrapers and then to walk into a peaceful quiet area -- it felt like we left the hustle and bustle of Seoul (on top of that we even got to sit of some grass, a rare thing in Korea).

There was this one group of Korean people that we ran into and they took a picture of my mother and me in a flower garden. We bumped into them again later that day and I decided that I should take a picture of their group (return the favour if you know what I mean). Well unfortunately when I went to give them their camera back I dropped it and it tumbled down a staircase and got all banged up. I felt so bad!!!!! So much for my good deed of the day.........haha.

Among the various royal festivities that took place at Changgyeong Palace, we got to view a reenactment of King Yeongjo's Fiftieth Birthday Celebration. The modern day event included dance and music that were used during such occasions. This is yet another reason that I enjoy being in Korea -- there is so much to do and see. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy the traditional Korean arts, as well as the atmosphere of a Joseon Dynasty Palace.

I took several pictures of the performance and the palace, but I think I did so with my mom's camera because I certainly don't know where they are stored on my computer. Nonetheless, it was a magnificant thing to be a part of.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rewind back to winter

Okay I got a little ahead of myself. When I was rifling through some pictures that I had stored on my computer I came some ones that I forgot to post. This past winter I took up snowboarding. One of the teachers at my school was a ski/snowboard instructor for four years so he spent a day with Liz and myself showing us what he knew. We were immediately addicted and basically we went every weekend until it started to melt. I ended up meeting a Korean guy on the slopes and it turns out he lived just a 1/2 block from my apartment in Seoul. He took Liz and I snowboarding the next weekend and I ended up hanging out with him quite a bit. Turned out to be a really nice guy. He started to really like me and ended up dumping his serious girlfriend so that he could date me. He would write me love letters and leave them in my mailbox. Unfortunately, his english was limited so he was not able to express fully what he felt. One letter said that he was going to tell my mom that he was going to marry me.................ahhhhhh, I don't think so. Anyways, he was way too into me and wanted a serious relationship. I didn't think it was fair of me to lead him on so I told him that he should go back to his girlfriend -- and that he did!!!!

Lotus Festival

My mom didn't have much time to recover from jet lag because the first day I already had her venturing this crowded city. It just so happened that there was a 'light festival' that was occuring in one of the unique sections of Seoul. We started our day with a Western breakfast that my co-worker gladfully prepared. Then it was time to hit the subway (the real Korean experience) to experience a full day of hustle and bustle.

First we walked around for a bit and took in a few of the street performances. The festival theme was centered around Buddha -- since they were celebreating his birthday. Some volunteers had some shirts on that said I LOVE BUDDAH, so I asked where I could buy the shirts. The guy told me to hold on and then came back with 2 free shirts for my friend and myself...........score!!!!

The day was filled with excitement and entertainment. There was tons going on and it was great that my mom got to partake in the cultural festivities of Korea. I don't think it regestered that she was in Korea, since she was still in shock. There was tons to see and even more to do and the best part of it was that it was all free. Liz, my friend, and I made our very own mini lanterns. I got my family precept enscribed on a sheet of rice paper written in Hangul (Korean characters). We even dressed up in traditional wedding attire and got our pictures taken.

Speaking of getting our pictures taken...............we felt like the local celebraties because there had to be about a dozen occations when people stopped us to take our picture (simply because we are white). Liz is extra special in Korea because she has blonde hair.

After our full day outting we decided to get some good seats for the lantern festival. We managed to find a great spot that provided us with a perfect view of the much anticipated parade. About 30 minutes before it started this huge cube van pulled up in front of us and parked in our line of site. The old ladies we were sitting with were so pissed off that they started yelling at the driver and hitting him. As hard as they tried it didn't work and we ended up having to change seats.

The lantern parade was huge and even more than I had anticipated. During the day we stopped and took some pictures of the numerous lanterns (which I assumed would be the ones shown in the parade). Instead we were blown away with greater-than-life size lanterns of all shapes. It was hard to get good pictures since my camera was running out of batteries so I have gathered some lantern pictures from other people who also attended the parade.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A little taste of home

Most of you already know that I am a cook with the Naval Reserve. Since I have been to Korea I have had limited ability to show off my talents since it is a pain in the butt to cook for only one. From time to time I invite some of my Western friends over for a dinner party. When my mom arrived in Korea I thought it would be great to have everyone over for a big snack party. I prepared a variety of dishes (with the assistance from my mom, of course). The goodies were delectable and got eaten up right was great to have a little taste of home in Korea!!!!

After we stuffed our faces we cracked open the Western magzines that my mom brought and relaxed for the evening. The party was a big hit..........mission accomplished!!!!!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Seoul National Museum

There are several museums in Seoul. Just a month ago I took my kindies on a field trip to a medical museum specifically documenting the evolution of medicine. Liz (my co-worker) was walking through the museum teaching her kindies (who are older and more advanced) about accupuncture and different medical techniques. I was walking through asking my kindies what shape and colour the instuments were. It was so boring for them.........

Okay that was a little of topic.................these pictures are from Seoul National Museum which I visited with my Korean co-teacher when I first arrived in Seoul. I don't remember exactly what was at the museum but I got to see some traditional Korean clothing, tools, instruments etc...

These little tables are what Koreans eat off of for meals. Traditionally they sit on the floor (cross legged or with their legs to one side) and eat from little dishes that are placed in the center of the table. I had the opportunity to eat with a Korean family for a birthday celebration and we sat on the floor -- it was so uncomfortable. Funny thing was that the lady was turning 65 and she appeared perfectly fine with the idea. Just one of those Korean things.......

Mt. Daedun Hiking

There are so many things to do here in Korea on the weekends which is one of the major reasons I love being here. Within my first month I was already up for exploration. I tagged along with some of my Western acquaintances and made the trek up Mt. Daedun. What I thought would be a nice leisurely walk through some trees and a dirt path turned out to be a 3 hour expedition up a major set of stairs and a 2 hour jolt back down some unstable rocks. Although I was not prepared for this extensive activity I did try to enjoy the scenery -- stopping to take pictures when I could.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Home sweet home

When I arrived in Korea I was happy to see that my apartment was a little larger than I had anticipated. The colour didn't excite me too much but there was nothing much I could do about it; I was definately not up to re-painting the whole thing.
Over the past several months I have managed to add a few more things to my room. I often go garbage picking, since Koreans throw out a lot of perfectly usable furniture. Perfect for teachers who don't wanna spend a lot of money decorating their places.
At Christmas I spent a few hours decorating my place to make it as cozy as possible. I wanted to create a Christmas setting away from home. My place turned out amazing and all my friends enjoyed spending time in it -- especially with all the lights on. Although it was a great atmosphere it still was not like spending time with my family and friends at home.
I have changed my room around about six time since I have been in Korea. It gives me something to do and I get a good cleaning in too. The last time I changed it around was because I found a cockroach scutter behind my bureau............yucky!!! As it stands this is what my place looks like now.

Monday, June 05, 2006

So who am I and what am I doing here ......... good question

I remember seeing a display booth mentioning something about teaching english overseas, while I was in my 2nd year of university. Casually I picked up an information package and looked it over. Wow, kinda interesting I thought. It was then that I made a promise to myself -- after I graduate I will go abroad to teach english.

So here I am .......................

My journey to Korea started at the beginning of Septemeber 2005. Since I have been in Korea there are about three times that I have REALLY wanted to come home. After all, venturing to a foreign place alone is kinda scary.............right?? But I have managed to push throught the rough times and I certainly have enjoyed the good times. Thus far, I would not have changed a thing.

I have one main friend here in Korea. Her name is Liz and we do lots together, so you will get to learn more about how great she is. We have a great balance; she is the 'fly by the moment, party, have fun girl' and I am the 'realistic, let's think about this' girl. She has taught me to let my guard down and to enjoy myself in the moment (which is hard for me to do sometimes). I don't think my life in Korea would be as special if she did not share in it. Liz is my lifeline -- I will never forget her!!!!!

Oh I guess I better tell you what I do here. Well as you know I am an english teacher. Half of my day consists of teaching kindergarten a variety of subjects such as math, art, English, science and grammar. We had a semester change at our school just 3 months ago so I got a brand new set of students. Yup, little 5 year olds with NO ENGLISH. It has been a challenging yet rewarding time for me. Seeing them improve everyday makes me appreciate what I do here. Okay, the other half of my day consists of teaching older more advanced students only english. It's a nice balance because my kindies wear me out and always test my patience. In general, I can honestly say that I enjoy my job. I have a passion for teaching !!!!!!!

Better late than never ............ right???

Okay, okay so it took me 9 months to get my butt in gear and finally start plotting my Korean adventures. But if any of you know me well enough then this does not come as a surprise, since I am the master procrastinator. Since I have been in Korea I have had some interesting stories and experiences (things that I will never forget). I have made a point of saving the brochures and pamphlets of the events that I attend. I have even gone as far as purchasing a journal, in an attempt to help articulate my life here. As it stands, it is still sitting in its original place (exactly where I left it -- untouched of course).

This website is my attempt to facilitate your understanding of what I experience here; basically it will contextualize my life. I am writing this not only for myself but for my friends and family, so I want you (the viewer) to give me some input. I will do my best to provide a comprehensive view of this culture -- its food, its customs, its people (from what I have observed). But more importantly this will be a personal exploration of my daily life in this wonderful place I call 'home'. ENJOY!!!!