Monday, October 30, 2006

ARRIVAL!!!!!!!!!!!

There was this really cool robot in the Incheon Airport in Seoul. It would wander around and stop when it sensored people, then asked you if you needed help. Just touch the screen on the top and you could find anything you needed to find in the airport at your fingertips -- talk about technology.

The airplane ride back home sucked. I was coughing up a fit and just when I thought all was well this ajuma (older Korean woman) had her feet sprawled across me for the duration of the flight.

The WELCOME BACK greeting at the airport was AWESOME. My mom, dad, brother and 6 of my girlfriends greeted me with a warm hugs. Thanks gals...........after spending the night with you I certainly realized how much I missed my friends while I was gone. You are all important to me.

I have brought the Korean peace sign back to Canada

My university friend Kristin and I used to study together and we would always go to DQ to get blizzards. I missed the heart to heart conversations that was used to have while we ate our yummy treats. So when I was in Korea all we talked about was how she would have to meet me at the airport with icecream. Well I didn't think it would actually happen, but sure enough here she came with treats in hand -- delicious just like I remember!!!!!!!!

Yummy blizzards, how could I have survived a year without you?


The first thing I noticed was how BIG everyone's eyes were. Well they certainly didn't grow over the last year but they appeared to be very large since I am so used to associating with Koreans and their small eyes (and small other things -- no details, hehe). Now that I am back in Canada, my eyes are considered smaller than normal and I am no longer special ;(

When I walked out of the airport it was FRICKIN' COLD and sure enough there was snow to be found on the ground. So much for my bright idea of wearing Korean style flip flops.

After the warm greeting we all headed to dinner. My first Western dinner and I insisted we brought out the infamous Korean KIMCHI. I enjoyed it and even put it in my burger. The others weren't too happy when they discovered it smelled up one side of the restaurant.

KIMCHI ANYONE???


Other things I have noticed are how BIG everything (including people) is. The portion sizes of the meal was about twice the size of what I was used to. Even my fridge and pop bottles at home seemed overly large. Korean fridges are tiny and soda comes in 1.5 Litres, not 2 litre bottles.

ohhhhhh.......big size!!!!

So what is in my fridge???


Driving home was bizzare too. So much space and sky. No big buildings to block me in and make me feel entrapped. I have come accustomed to life in a big city so it felt really awkward to be in such wide open spaces.


Here I am in my kitchen


ALL IN ALL I AM HAPPY TO BE BACK TO CANADA SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE I LOVE!!!!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

A FINAL GOODBYE!!!!!

Today was my last day with my students ;( I did really well up until I had to say my good-byes and then I lost it. My owner asked me at the end of the day why I was so sad. There is no doubt that teachers have an effect on students. All of us remember our favourite teachers and we certainly DON'T forget our worst. Well students also have an effect on teachers. Afterall these children have been my family for the last 8+ months. I have seen them grow tremendously over the past year and am proud of how far they have come. So here they are on my last day of classes --


HALLOWEEN singing time

SMILE :)


Carving pumpkins



The student who is right next to me has an ajushe face (in other words he looks like an older Korean man). He is so full of energy and is a blast to teach. Everyday he kisses me and tells me that he is my boyfriend. He crys almost every class because he often falls behind (mostly because he wants to help the other students). Anyways, when I told him that I was going to Canada he was the only student who didn't seem to be affected. Even on the last day of class when we were saying our good-byes he kept saying 'that's okay teacher, thats ok'. When I dropped him off at the elevator right before he left he finally broke down and cried. He covered his face balled and would not let go of me. That's when I knew that I had made an impact in his life, just as he has on mine!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

HERE I COME !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey!!!!! who is excited for my return? I am all packed up and ready to go.............I can't wait!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Chuseok

Chuseok is a major holiday in Korea. For me it is in close comparison to Thanks-giving.

Nowadays, on Chuseok there is a mass exodus of Koreans returning to their hometowns, since hometowns are not only where one was born and raised, but where the spirits of one's ancestors are enshrined. The city of Seoul was lonesome. Shops were closed and I did not find myself pushing and shoving through the mass crowds of people. I had a seat on the subway and I was always first in line. The liveliness of the big city had died; is this how life in Regina will be when I get back?

During Chusoek, people perform ancestral worship rituals early in the morning. They often visit the tombs of immediate ancestors to trim plants and clean the area around the tomb, and offer food, drink, and crops to their ancestors. Harvest crops are attributed to the blessing of ancestors, and Chuseok offers Koreans a unique opportunity to refresh their memory and gratitude to their ancestors.

One of the major foods prepared and eaten during the Chuseok holiday is Songpyeon (송편), a crescent-shaped rice cake which is steamed upon pine needles. Sounds yummy doesn't it? On the last day of classes before this holiday I had the opportunity to to make some Songpyeon with my students.

Sorry NO pics for this post b/c they wouldn't upload...........

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ice cream anyone????

Well I found a pretty kickin' icecream shop close to my house. The display is fabulous and I couldn't help but just stare at it. I had white chocolate coconut!!!! Although it was delicious it still doesn't bet good ole' DQ from back home. Just 2 more weeks till I can enjoy some blizzards with my icecream buddy Kristin.........yummy!!!!

DO I NEED NEW GLASSES?????

Every so I often I come across some wierd stuff and think ".............ONLY IN KOREA!!!". Well yesterday was one of those days. I was walking with some of my co-workers and I stummbled across this HOF (pub style drinking place). Now correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that a condom holding a beer???hmmmmmmmmm.........I can only imagine what goes on inside!!! But it does look promising (haha).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Drum Festival








Well time is running out so I am trying to take advantage of every cultural event before I leave here. I am really interested in the Korean culture, customs and its language so when I return next year I want to focus more on my studies as oppose to just working. I miss being in university, so even if I don't study next year at school, I have still decided to keep up with my writing. What better way to do that then compose a book of my experiences focusing on everything this country has to offer (and not offer for that matter). Hopefully, the political situation occuring right now in North Korea will not stand in the way of my goal for the year to come (I'm keeping my fingers crossed).

Anyways, on Saturday I met with Charlie again to hangout and catch up on life. We went for dinner at a pizza resturant and had a nice discussion about Korean politics. We even talked about my interst in studying Korea Hangul next year. He gladly said he would help me when he could afford the time. It's so nice to have people here who are willing to help you out and make your life easier (especially when they don't expect anything in return). After dinner we went to a Drum Festival for a few hours and enjoyed the music and wonderful light display. Have to say I had a great time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

MY LOVER

So here is my lover........................yes you heard that correctly, LOVER!!!!! In Korea, lover is often used in place of boyfriend/girlfriend. So how did I find this out???? I asked the trainer at my gym one day what he was doing after work and he said he was going to talk with his 'lover'. Now when I think of this word, a husband cheating on his wife (with his lover) is what comes to my mind.

Anyways, for all of you back home who wouldn't get the chance to meet my boyfriend in person, here he is via the net (haha).......



the gym -- so this is where we met!!!! I used to work out in the morning before work but one day I skipped my workout and did it later in the evening. I noticed this really hot (well hot according to my standards) Korean guy. So instead of continuing my workout in the morning I decided to switch to the evening. He was too shy to speak to my in english (probably b/c he spoke so little) that he would speak to the 'trainer' in Korean and than the trainer would translate it to me.
Oh yah, my boyfriends name is LEE SUNG HYUN (the last name is at the beginning -- opposite from Western names). For the longest time I could not remember his name, so I just called him 'Opa' -- which means older brother (and this is perfectly acceptable for girlfriends to call their boyfriends). Anyways, to this day my parents still can't say his name so whenever I talk to them at home they ask me how 'gym' is doing (hence I met him at the gym). My bf thinks this is quite hilarious so he has officially adopted the name 'Jim' as his english name :)



kissing in public -- a big NO NO!!!! Korean couples are always holding hands or cuddling on the subway, but it is extremely rare for them to ever kiss in the company of other ppl. So here I am at my birthday dinner with my lover (haha, its funny to say that) and his friends, and all of a sudden he just attacks me when I am about to get my picture taken. As you can tell I was not expecting that one.

slurping noodles -- so how am I suposed to eat these cold glass noodles with chopsticks? Well slurping them up (noises included) is perfectly acceptable. Letting them half dangle out of your mouth is fine too!!!

spa time -- after I got back from Thailand, my boyfriend surprised me at school with some fruit and these goofy face masks (which I assumed that just women used -- but I was wrong on that one). So that night we had a spa night at my house................how cute is that???


couple tee's -- so I have conformed to one of those strange Korean couple things. After we were dating for only about 3 weeks Sung Hyun wanted to get couple rings.....couple rings after only 3 weeks, are you crazy?????? I guess it's the thing do here, but I didn't think it was a good idea for him to spend a couple hundren dollars on some girl he had only known for a month so I opted for the t-shirt. Now there are ones that say: "this is my boyfriend" and "this is my girlfriend" but I wasn't into that. Instead, we just got 2 shirts the same. To this day we still have not worn them together on the same day. What the hell is the point of couple shirts if you don't wear them together???

"I LOVE YOU Jennipal............" now how many Canadian guys would you see doing this????

the squat -- if you come to Korea you can see this oh-so-famous squatting pose starting with young children up to and including men in business suits. Since it is dirty for Koreans to sit on the sidewalk they adopt this extremely uncomforable positions where they place both feet FLAT on the ground. If any of you can do this back home I will give you MAN won ($10). I wasn't so successful at it as you can tell form the picture.


How many beers have you had??? -- "I've had two, yah met too" This peace sign dominates nearly EVERY picture I am in. I don't know WHY on earth Koreans have insisted on doing this silly thing but just like them, I too have joined the club (I am becoming more Korean everyday). Another thing that I have noticed is that when Koreans drink alcohol they turn red. Just look at Sung Hyun -- case in point!!!!


Nothing special to say about this last picture, besides that I think I look cute ;) Behind us is the wonderful view of Seoul -- my home for the last 14 months.

Meeting Sung Hyun has been one of the best things that has happened to me in Korea. Because of him I have been able to see a different side of Korea -- one that I would never have gotten to experience had we not met. I like to think of myself as an independant person; afterall I came to Korea after I recently broke up with my bf of four years and there was no special family members waiting for me on the other side to help me out with the huge transition. But it's nice to know that there is someone here who cares for you and always has your back no matter what, so thanks Sung Hyun!!!!. My friend sent me an email that I had written a year ago to everyone back home. Basically it says that I really missed home and that I was crazy for spending a year in Korea -- since that is such a long time. So here I am one year later and I am proud to say that I did it all my by myself (along with my family and amazing friends back home -- your encouragement means the world to me). I will see you all very, very soon, I can't wait!!!!!!!!