Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Long Weekend In Chine!

So, I know it has been way to long since I've written, but I decided to try and start writing again. I have a few great things to write about, so we'll see how this goes!
Last weekend, I asked for the day off on Friday and flew to China for a long weekend. Of course, I'm not that adventurous that I would take off by myself. The world's best Grandmas decided to take a two week vacation and come to visit me in Korea... but also to make a pitt stop in Beijing! I couldn't think of a better way to see China than with them! So I got my visa, booked a flight, and went out there on Friday morning. My grandmas have all the hookups and know some important people! Someone from their hometown lives in Beijing and she said she would host us for the weekend! Lucky for us, she put us up with a place to stay as well as being our personal tour guide!
I met them at the airport on Friday morning and we headed straight for the Great Wall! It was a perfect day for being out there! The weather was great and there were barely any tourists out that day! Great for taking lots of good pictures! We took the easy way up to the wall by taking the chair lift up. We spent some time walking around and then took a tobogan slide back down! So much fun! We made our way back to the city and our host took us out for the one of the classiest dinners I've ever had! It was delicious! Then we made our way to a Chinese Foot Massage. My feet are pretty ticklish, but I enjoyed it for the most part. The best part was that you also got a hand, arm, leg and back massage to go along with it! We then went back to our host's apartment for a glass of wine. Great end to the day!
On Saturday, we got an early start and made our way to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. There were so many people and it was super hot outside, but it was an awesome place to see! We went to a traditional Chinese restaurant for lunch and had some sort of noodle meal. It was really good! We went on this Hutong tour, which is the older part of Beijing. It was very informational and really neat to see! After this, we made our way to 'the market' to do some shopping. There were so many shops with a lot of the same things... but my Grandmas sure loved this place! We spent a few good hours shopping and bargaining!
On Sunday, our host took us to church and then to another great restaurant for lunch! My grandmas hadn't finished their shopping from the night before, so we went back to the market to pick up a few more things before we had to head for the airport. Luckily, we were on the same flight from Beijing to Seoul. The flight went well and we made it safely to Seoul, where we spent the next week 'Seoul Searching.' I'll leave that for the next post! For now, enjoy some of the pictures from our trip to China!

Monday, January 4, 2010


I wasn't really looking forward to the first day back to school. I had a fun week of sightseeing and I wouldn't have really minded some more time to relax... but Monday came and I had to be at school by 10 to teach art to Mars class.

I received a text from a friend when I woke up saying to look outside.... I was expecting there to be some snow, but not a whole lot. I looked out my window and BAM there it was: the beginning of an Iowa winter. We had a lot of snow on the ground, about 6 or 7 inches. Everything was covered in snow. It was awesome! One of my co-teachers that has been here for 4 years said that he has never seen it snow so much. Kind of exciting.

Usually when I come to school on Mondays, all the Korean teachers and all the kindergarteners are there. When I arrived today, however, Mr. Nam (one of the directors) was the only one in the buidling. I didn't get a call saying school was cancelled, but I hadn't yet checked my email for the day... I thought for sure he was going to tell me to go right back home because it was a snowday. Nope! He asked how my vacation was. I said fine. I sat down at my dest and waited for the other teachers and the kids to show up. Little by little, a few people started to show up. I taught my art class and sat down to plan the lessons for the rest of the day.

After awhile, our supervising teaching came in and told us all afternoon classes for the day were cancelled! SNOW DAY!! We only had to teach the kindy class and the rest of the afternoon we had off! Another surprise awaited me in my Kindy class today. I have a new student. His name is David. No pictures yet, but he's a pretty cute kid. He wanted to speak a lot of Korean today, but he really surprised me when he said, "Emily Teacher, ghosts live in a pumpkin patch!" I was caught a little off gaurd because the only thing I had heard David say was "I'm fine" when I asked him how he was today. I think David is going to fit in just fine with our class!

It was perfect for our first day back to school... we got to ease in to it a little. The only downside is that we might have to make up for it on the weekend. But we'll find out about that tomorrow. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the rest of my snow day!!

Here's a picture of some kids playing in the snow...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas In Korea

I know it's been way to long since my last post. For those of you reading, I'm sorry. Nothing has been exciting enough for me to write about. But, with our winter vacation starting on the 24th, I've been keeping pretty busy since then.

Christmas is always the time of year to spend with my family, but this year I didn't exactly have that. It was really hard to be away from home this Christmas, but my new 'family' made being away just a little more bearable.

I'll start my Christmas vacation with the SLP Christmas/Halloween Part on December 19th, in which all the parents were invited to spend a few hours at SLP watching their little ones sing, make a cake, speak English, and play games. Since the Halloween Party in October was cancelled, they moved it to the Christmas Party. Not quite the normal thing... but let me tell you one thing: Seeing all the kids in their Halloween costumes singing Christmas carols was pretty darn cute. We spent several weeks getting ready for this big event... and I think the kids did a great job with everything. It was a pretty fun day, but I was relieved when the day was over.
Christmas Eve was filled with shopping, a Mexican fiesta, walking around Myeongdong, and a Catholic Korean Midnight Mass. I started the day talking to all my family on skype! They had sent me some packages and after weeks of waiting, I opened them with my family(sort of) on skype. I felt like a little kid! I was so excited to get something from home!! After wishing them all a Merry Christmas, I met up with Meredith, another teacher from SLP (Chanelle), and her friend to go to COEX mall for some shopping. We didn't buy much of anything, but had the most delicious Christmas Eve dinner at On The Border for some Mexican food. After dinner, we took the subway to Myeongdong and walked around there for a bit. The cathedral is located near there, and we made our way there around 11:00 p.m. so we could find a seat in the cathedral just in case there were a lot of people. We were expecting there to be a lot of people, but what I was not expecting was a huge line that we would stand in for over an hour. We didn't get to go in to the cathedral, but we did get seats in an auditorium across the street, which is more than I can say for the line of people behind us. It was a nice service... all in Korean except for when he busted out his English skills saying, "We would like to extend a welcome to our foreign friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" It was quite unexpected but awesome at the same time. Not quite the most traditional Christmas Eve, but we loved it just the same.

Christmas Day was spent skiing/snowboarding at Vivaldi Park. We got up early to catch the bus to the park at around 7am. I went with quite a big group. Most people spent the day snowboarding, but I had attempted that once before and found out that's not really my thing. I decided to try my luck with skiing... much easier to learn than snowboarding! It got off to a little bit of a rough start. I had some trouble getting my ski equipment with not knowing my shoe size and height over here as well as feeling a little emotional with not being home for the holidays. However, after a small breakdown on my part, I really enjoyed the rest of the day skiing. When we got back to Guri, a bunch of us that went skiing headed back to a friend's apartment for White Elephant, some games, and just celebrating Christmas together. It was a really fun day and I'm so thankful I was able to spend it with the friends I have met here.

Meredith and I spent the rest of winter vacation seeing different parts of Seoul.

Monday we went and checked out Namdaemun Market. You can buy basically anything you want or need there: hats, scarves, clothes, fish, food... anything really! It was pretty cold that day, so we stopped for some coffee before heading to our next destination. There is this stream in Seoul. I believe it used to be paved and then they made it into a stream. I don't really know a lot about it, but I think its kind of a big deal. And, it's really pretty and nice to walk along. Tuesday Meredith and I went to the National Museum of Korea: the biggest museum in Asia. It was pretty interesting and we saw some cool things. Most of the information about the artifacts was in Korean, but there was some English so it was interesting to read about some of it. We then headed to one of the TechnoMarts so Meredith could buy herself a Christmas present. You can usually try bardering with the salespeople here because there are so many people selling the same thing. She got a new Nikon camera! Pretty exciting. We took the subway back to Guri, met with one of our Korean co-teachers, Annie, and took the subway back in to Seoul to go to a concert. Another one of our co-teachers is in a choir/orchestra and she invited us to the concert. It was fun... very interesting as it was all in Korean. It was a successful day!Wednesday we went to Deoksugung Palace in Seoul. I have been to one palace already earlier. This one was a lot smaller, but still interesting to see. Across the street from the palace was Seoul Plaza. They had a bunch of things set up, so we decided to go check it out. Apparently Seoul is the World Design Capital for 2010, so they had several exhibits set up for that. They also had something set up telling about the Korean research team in the Antarctic. They had some interactive things to do as well as information to read about.

Thursday night found us back in Seoul, Insadong, for the New Years Eve celebration, which was really cool! There were tons of people standing in the street with probably just as many cops surrounding the place. These cops were really taking their jobs seriously. I'm not really sure if they knew what they were doing, but everything seemed to be running very smoothly. I would say they did a great job that night! Anyway... There was a stage set up where we saw about 3 or 4 performances. One of them was a popular K-pop group, but I'm not sure which one it was. I had heard the song that they sang before, and everyone around us was pretty pumped to see them... I'm guessing they were pretty famous! The countdown kind of happened all of the sudden. We were standing there, looked up at the screen, and there were 30 seconds to midnight! Everyone around us starts the count down... in Korean! And then set (3), dul (2), hana (1)... HAPPY NEW YEAR! Balloons in the air, people shooting off fireworks in the street, and someone ringing a bell on the stage! We bought some fireworks so we could shoot some off. Probably so dangerous to have that many people setting off fireworks at the same time, but made the whole experience well worth it!

This will probably be the only time I can say I celebrated Christmas brought in the New Year in a different language... in a different country. But I had a great time! I missed you all so much and wish I could have been home. I hope you all had a great holiday season... MISSING YOU!

Friday, October 30, 2009

I have now been teaching at SLP for one month! The time has gone by so fast and I'm really loving my job! Teaching English is a lot different than teaching in a regular classroom in the US. All of my classes have a book that I teach from, and all of the kids I teach can already speak some English. A typical day for me begins at about 12:30 when I go in to get everything ready for the day and make sure I have all my lessons planned and all the materials I need. My first class is my Kindie (Kindergarten) class which is from 1:20-2:40. I have 3 kids: Dana, Billy and Nathan! They are the CUTEST little kids ever! They are about 4 years old and so soo tiny! Now I'm sure you can imagine, me being the tallest one in the school and having the smallest kids... well, I'm sure it looks pretty funny when come in to the class to give them hugs everyday! They are my favorite class to teach! My next classes range from about 9-12 or 13 year olds. I'm so impressed with how much they know and how fast all of these kids learn! They pick things up so fast and it's just so amazing! I love it!

The Kindie classes took a field trip to VIPS restaraunt last Friday! It's an all-you-can-eat buffet, and it was amazing! The kids got to make a cookie, color a mask, and then eat an amazing lunch! It was a lot of fun and I was really impressed with how well all the kids behaved!

Some things about teaching/things that have happened to me:
~Kids are not considerate when it comes to asking questions, and they expect an answer.
Examples: Are you married? How old are you? Do you have a baby?
~Kids will tell you what they think.
Examples: Teacher, you have a very long nose. It's very pointy!
~Kids will poke you in places they shouldn't and stick their hands up your shirt.
~Rock, Paper, Sissors is the ONLY way to settle an argument, decide who goes first or who's turn it really is.
~It is okay to give your students hugs!!! :)
Here are some pictures of a few of my kids

Friday, October 16, 2009


As most of you know, seafood is not really my favorite thing. Iowa doesn't really have an ample supply of seafood, but I've done my best to stay away from it. I like my dad's grilled fish every once in awhile, but anything more adventurous than that is just a little too much for me!

Apparently, there is a restaurant in the area called Tuna that a bunch of foreigners go to about once a month. Meredith and I were invited by one of our coworkers to attend the monthly event, so we decided that we might as well give it a try. Keep in mind that I have never, ever had tuna before in my life, so I am really going to just give it a try. Well, we went to the restaurant after school and were waiting around for a little while until everyone else came. As we were sitting and talking, I was asked how much I liked raw fish. Well, I have never had it, but I guess I am always up for trying something once was what I told them, while in my head thinking no way, no how! And that's when it all came crashing down and I realized... this restaurant is for eating RAW tuna! Now, the owner of the place was very friendly, maybe a little too friendly, and was really bragging up his tuna (his raw tuna!), so I figured I could give it a try.

The owner brought us the first slices of the night... prepared it for us, and literally stuffed it in our mouths, saying "Best.. Best!" It was, in fact, not the best. I nearly gagged! He brought out another cut and, again, shoved it in our mouths. The experience was the same, and I had to discretely spit it out in a napkin and put it in my purse until I could dispose of it later! I tried one more piece and still couldn't do it! When he saw us struggling a little, he said he would bring out some grilled tuna. This, on the other hand, was actually really good.

As I left Tuna, the only positive thing I could think of was the fact that I could now say that I have actually tried raw fish! Even though I will not be going back there for raw tuna again, I am glad that I went.

Until next time...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two weekends of fun!

I know it's been awhile since my last post, so I will try to fill you all in on my past two weekends in Korea. Last weekend, I went hiking with Meredith and one of her friends that is teaching in Korea too. We went to Bukhansan Mountain, which is just north of Seoul. I haven't been hiking that many times, but my hiking experiences in Wales aren't really on the top of my favorites list, so I was just a little nervous as we started this adventure. Meredith, however, put my mind at ease saying she had heard that hiking in Korea was like taking a walk, paved stairs and everything. At the end of the day, I would have to say that Meredith was wrong, and it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be!

Our hike started out pretty easy. There was a path/paved road for quite awhile. There were even some little restaurants and shops along the way. We stopped to eat some lunch at this little clearing where there were a lot of people taking a break. After lunch, we kept on going, getting lost only once or twice. Luckily for us, Koreans are very nice people and want to help you out in any way they can. We had a couple tell us to follow them... but we were just a bit slower than them, so we had to slow it down a little and find our own way after that! Towards the top is where it started getting a lot harder! Walking along the path turned to climbing up the rocks, and I started getting pretty nervous! From this point on, there were these rope cables staked into the ground that we had to use to pull ourselves up. I used these at ALL times for fear that I would slide down the mountain (which I thought was likely to happen at any point!) Anyway, thankfully we all made it to the top. The view was amazing! We could see most of Seoul and all the mountains surrounding it! Words cannot describe how beautiful it was. It made the whole 7 hour hike worth it!

This past weekend wasn't quite as adventurous. Friday was girls night! One of our friends had all the girls over to her apartment for some food and games! The girls that I've met are all so nice, and it was a great night just hanging out with all of them. Our game of Taboo got cut a little short when one of the neighbors knocked on the door telling us we were being too loud, so we had to move girls night somewhere else. It was a really fun, but very late night!

On Saturday, Meredith and I went to Dongdaemun with two other girls that we met here. Dongdaemun is one of the shopping districts in Seoul. I was looking for a new purse, but had to settle for a scarf! On our way back to Guri, we stumbled on a fashion show and a dance contest! We watched both for awhile. When we were at the dance contest, the MC looked over in our direction and says, "Foreigner... Hello! Nice to meet you!" I start looking around, and of course he's talking to me, the tallest one in the crowd with semi-blonde hair! He procedds to tell me that the dancer group that was just on are 19 with no girlfriends, and then asks me if I know the dance and if I want to come up on stage to dance! Had I known the dance, I probably would have gone on stage, but the girls that went on stage were so serious about their dance moves... I would have been booed off the stage in a heartbeat! It was a fun day, and I'm sure I'll be back there soon to do some more shopping!

I'm having a lot of fun, meeting a lot of new people, and learning a lot about the culture here. I hope everyone back home is doing great! I heard it snowed in Iowa this past weekend! Crazy! I hope you are all staying warm!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My first blog post!

I'm sure most of you know that I have made it safely to Korea. It took me awhile to decide to do a blog, but I figured this would be a great way to document my journey in Korea... so read as much or as little as you want. I'm sure this will be an adventure of a lifetime.

I've been in Guri for about 2 weeks now, and I have just moved in to my new apartment for the year. Until now, I have been living in the famous Love Motel, which is about a 20 minuet walk from my school. I am now about a 1 minute walk from the school and live right next door to an amazing pizza place... this could be a big problem! But my apartment is pretty nice (I'll post pictures soon), and I think I will like living here for the next year!

I start teaching full time tomorrow!! I am so excited for that! I have been teaching 1 class everyday for the last 3 days, so tomorrow will be a big change. I will be teaching every day from about 1:20-7:30, which is nice in a way, but I always say good morning to people... and its not. A lot different from what I'm used to. I have a Kindergarten (Kinde) class that is from 1:20-2:40, and then about 5 other elementary classes throughout the rest of the day. I will be meeting my Kinde class for the first time tomorrow, and I have no idea if they speak any English at all. Tomorrow should be an interesting day!

Other than that, I have been meeting tons of new people, all of them are extremely nice. I've been to a palace, a waterpark, and even to my first nuraebang-a karaokee room that you rent with a group of friends. The nuraebang (could be spelling that wrong) was so much fun and I can't wait to go back!

I know this is kind of long, but I had quite a bit to say! Hope you are all doing well! Don't forget I want to hear from you too! Until next time....