Passport got a new stamp! Thanks Japan :)

Passport got a new stamp! Thanks Japan :)

Well…I’ve been a bit busy…shocking?! Cannot believe it has been 3 months since I left everything behind in CA and flew to South Korea. Sometimes it seems like it was yesterday, and other times I feel like I have been here a LOT longer! It is also weird to think that *if* I only stay here for a year the ‘adventure’ is 1/4 of the way done…crazy! 
I don’t know why it is so hard to blog-of course I want to capture everything to paint a picture for all of you at home (we all know I love details!) BUT there is just never enough time…so I put it off and then am mad at myself that another month has gone by! Thanks to those of you that send emails/fb messages/etc. I love to hear from all of you!!! Here is what I have been up to this last month:

  • FINALLY got over being sick (thank you God!)
  • Hiking in my backyard
  • Went to a Korean ‘Music’ Festival LOL-it was an experience!
  • Had a ‘taste’ of Seoul (literally-went to this DELISH Mexican restaurant before we flew out for Tokyo)
  • Went out of the country-Japan (Tokyo)-and got my first stamp in the passport since I got here!
  • Went to Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo Sea-both were super awesome
  • Taught English Festival to all my classes-the topic was Masks from Around the World and the kids got to create their own mask. It was a TON of fun and the best part was seeing the kids enjoy themselves and get to be creative (they are sooooo stinking creative it amazes me!) The bad part was I taught the same lesson 22 times straight LOL 
  • Had another friend meet up in Tokyo (and went to Disney for her first time-woohoo!) She also brought me an AMAZING suitcase full of goodies. Love her!!!
  • So y’all know from the last post that I have taught about dung (twice) to all my 5th graders. Well, you can add saying cowshit to them and having them repeat (teachers orders). The topic was ‘funny street names in the USA’ and I was like ‘you really want me to say this AND have them repeat it?!?…’ Two words-cultural differences 🙂 **and yes I told the teacher what it meant in case she wasn’t aware
  • Also, along the “teaching things that might not be as ‘common’ to teach/encourage at home” was belching-no I didn’t ‘teach’ them this BUT it was in one of the videos that go along with the book. The first time I saw it I was like ‘whattttt’ and then after 5 times seeing it I just ignored it. The kids enjoyed it (obviously). It is funny to see that kids are kids everywhere, regardless of what continent you are on!
  • I finally saw Frozen-they threatened to deport me…KIDDING (but really I had to see it living here-otherwise major crime) I liked it-I mean I knew all the songs prior thanks to all my kids who sing them in the hall 🙂
  • Speaking of singing…I feel like a choir teacher half the time. Really. A few weeks ago I was thinking there is no way I could have a bad day/week that week because I sang every song from Frozen with my classes, then my Theater class was performing songs from Sound of Music (one of my faves!), my 3rd graders were learning about birthdays so Birthday song got sung a lot, always singing the ABC song AND my 5th graders were learning Months of the Year (and yes, there is a song for that too). I feel like I just sing my sentences these days hahaha
  • After Tokyo I was in need of some R&R in a major way so a few of us girls headed south to Busan (the beach town that I went to a few months back). It was AMAZING and everything I needed. We left Friday after work and had a fabulous night-sushi dinner, IV bag cocktails (see pics below but yes-they make cocktails in these plastic ‘IV looking’ bags and you can walk around with them-I feel like I am in Vegas!), fireworks on the beach-yep that is legal, and ended the night with champagne at a fun Irish pub with great music. Saturday a few other friends joined us and we enjoyed the warmth of the sun (that we hadn’t felt in months-which was obvious since my shins got burned-not pretty!) and layed out…laying out here is interesting b/c the beach attire isn’t what you would think it would be like (or what you are used to at a beach). The Koreans don’t really show a lot of skin…soooo we stood out more than we typically do. Luckily it is Busan and there are lots of foreigners (again WE are the foreigners!). That night we went to a Busan Lotte Giants baseball game which was a TON of fun. Great stadium, great seats & great fans! Sunday was a chill day-we found the Gap though which was exciting so OF COURSE had to do some shopping 🙂 -and then took the KTX train home. 

Some have talked about being homesick. I am not. Not sure why since obviously I am super close to my family and saw them a LOT the last few years BUT I am not. Which is prob a good thing-makes this so much easier. Technology also makes this easy. I can call my parents in the morning and say hi and chat with my mom for a few minutes (which ALWAYS turns into 30 :)) I think we all know I am not living close-clearly I haven’t been to a family BBQ, birthday party, missing nephew’s wedding and graduation BUT knowing that you can just call each other gives a sense of peace. I also feel like this isn’t real. Almost like I am on vacation (although it isn’t vacation haha since I still have to go to work everyday :)) Sometimes I want to pinch myself and see if I am just dreaming. Maybe that is b/c life is easy (at times), or maybe b/c I dreamt about doing this for so long it is a trip it finally happened? Who knows. What I do know is that I am living in the moment while I am here. There are days that I want to pull my hair out-but who doesn’t have days like that? I mean, it doesn’t matter if you are living here, or living back at home, those things just happen. It is life. There are times that I know I just need to let it go. Or let it roll off my back. B/c things are different here-and that is only making me grow in a different way.

This older man walks past me everyday on my way to school-and it is so funny b/c he ALWAYS smiles and says hi to me. It seriously makes my day that much better! The interesting part is this-I don’t think I have touched much on how nobody really speaks English to us b/c they are intimidated to try. The funny thing is that their English is SO good (I make sure to tell that to ANYONE who even attempts to speak to me outside of school-don’t get me wrong I encourage the kids too!). I want to tell them that I know how to say apple, umbrella, bag, water, milk and directions in a cab (straight, right & left)…that is seriously NOT knowing Korean! And doesn’t help me much for the most part LOL The 5 sentences I learned at orientation won’t save me either-they do impress people sometimes-but still! So it is hilarious when they say their English isn’t good b/c I just sit there and think IF my Korean was even a quarter as good as your English I would be that much better off! Anyway it is interesting b/c you feel ignored a lot (or stared at) and just by saying hello to the people you pass by (annyeonghaseyo in Korean) you usually get this smile from the person and a look of happiness that you are trying. Because at the end of the day that is all we can do, right? I tell my kids in the classroom ‘Just TRY’ so if I didn’t do that as well I would be a hypocrite. I feel like with the older people (the grandpas and grandmas) when I pass them and say hello they change their view of me-I am not the foreigner anymore (well of course I am!), but rather I am someone that might be worth a smile 😉 

In addition to the older man I walk by nearly every morning here are some other things that make me smile:

  • Park, who is the security guard at one of the high rise buildings near my school, who stopped me on my way to school one day to introduce himself. He was so excited to practice his English with me!
  • The little kids that say teacher and then smile and wave (in the halls, on the way to school in the mornings and even when I see them outside of school hours-which they always look at me in shock like ‘you really exist outside of school?!’ haha)
These are the things that keep me going when there are rough days. Or, as I have decided to call them: the ‘Dae-good’ days and the ‘Dae-bad’ days 🙂 **I can’t take all the credit-when Rachel and her aunt were visiting her aunt told me what she calls the days in Shanghai so I thought about it and had an ‘aha’ moment!

Let’s talk about bikes-Koreans can be pushy with everything else but won’t say a darn thing when they are coming up behind you on a bike! Like, hello, use the bell to let us know you are coming?!?! I almost got nailed the other day walking home from school. It is kinda funny, but kinda scary. I don’t want the way I go out here to be from a bike 😉 

Korean class. Boy is it hard! I feel soooo dumb and there are just 5 of us thank goodness. Some people just learn it so much quicker and then you have me and I am like ‘can we go over the alphabet again?!’ We did learn numbers though (and how to give your phone number out-holla!) and that I was really good at. That, and giving directions to the cabbies 🙂 Being in this class has given me a total different perspective for my poor students who are lower level though. I now get it-I understand when they have the look of death in their eyes/glazed over-because they do not understand. I can relate to that now. I feel like it has made me a better teacher, because since I am aware of that I try even harder with them-or pull them to the side-OR just praise them for saying ANYTHING. 

Size of Korea-have I mentioned this? Some of you have asked so here you go…there are a few different ways to ‘paint the picture’ for you but this one is close to my heart 😉 If you took the state of CA South Korea would fit in the area between San Francisco & Los Angeles…yes you read that correctly. South Korea is 1/5 the size of California! It is PACKED with people though-505 people/sq. km compared to 34 people/sq. km in the USA!

This week has been great! My classes have been going super and I did really well on my Korean test in my Korean class-YAY!!! Wednesday night some of us went to the local college and attended their ‘International Party’ which was actually interesting. I had my first Big Mac (yes you read that correct-and as a friend pointed out HILARIOUS that at an Int’l Party a Big Mac was served) and the topic was Dining Etiquette across cultures (they compared Korea, Japan & the USA). There was a quiz at the end and I got one of the Qs right and got a prize…which was Lindor chocolates (and this is VERY exciting b/c chocolate is EXPENSIVE out here!!). It was fun to find another cute area super close to my neighborhood-I know I will for sure be exploring that area again soon 🙂 Last night was a GORGEOUS night and I biked to my gym. On the way home the cool breeze felt so good and the streets were so quiet-it was such a peaceful moment. I have heard the summer weather is beyond horrible-the humidity plus heat AND the amount of people here BUT if the evenings can cool down like that I will be just fine 🙂 Here is to hoping~

I’d like to end with this-one of the college professors at the event on Wednesday shared some of the differences he has noticed between the USA and South Korean cultures (he is American). One of the things he said stood out-instead of focusing on the differences let’s try to bridge the gap and learn from how the other does something. Of course I have witnessed a LOT of differences being here-but some of them have been incredibly awesome!!!

Hiking in my backyard!
Big Day South Music Festival

Tokyo Bound!!!  Tokyo Disneyland  
    Tokyo Sea (we met Ariel!!) 

Minnie’s House!!!
The castle was AMAZING! 

Churro love for my sis! While waiting in line for Pirates 🙂 

Best photo bombers EVER!!!
Book Club! These 2 girls are adorable & SMART!
Same cute 3rd graders reading all about Frozen! 
Art Club on Earth Day! 
You can get anything delivered anywhere (& pretty much anytime-one of the amazing differences). This was my first delivery…we got smoothies delivered to school! I think he was shocked I wanted a picture LOL
My Theater Club boys

Ferry Candlelight Vigil
Celebrating Marie’s bday in the smallest norebong ever!!!
Super creative kid in my art class!
On our way to Busan!
Fireworks on the beach!

I <3 the beach!!! 

Relaxing time 🙂
What can I say, clearly I like to make signs here! Gooooo Giants 🙂

Girls weekend wouldn’t be complete without shopping!!! 
Korean class-I only missed 2!!!

Don’t even get me started on the parking situation here-literally ANYTHING goes!!! This is in front of my apartment.

First Big Mac with my Chilgok crew 🙂 These guys always make me laugh! (Bill clearly didn’t get the memo to take a bite!)

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