Friday, December 10, 2010

How Do You Measure a Year??

I love rent. in cause anyone got that blog title.

Five days from today will be my one year anniversary in Korea!! Just in time for me to go home again...

I'm so extremely satisfied with how this first year in Korea has gone. Of course, there were some challenges, (um, hi...I'm a kindergarten teacher...I've never been a teacher before, and yet here I am!) That was me a year ago...but now I feel like a seasoned pro.

Seeing these little kids, who started last January with not much more than "Hi, my name is...", as tiny, little, English speaking people makes me so happy and proud. It was definitely a challenge at times, but also, I had some of the most fun of my life up there in front of those kids, singing, dancing, sometimes yelling, and teaching. I was the first foreign person that many of them had ever seen, and I hope that they will remember me for a long, long time.

Of course, I will still see most of them when I return. But, they won't be "my" babies anymore, they'll be someone else's! My replacement came Tuesday, and she seems like she'll do a great job with them. But I'll still feel a little envy when they go to hug her before me ...

Anyways, this year has passed so quickly, and yet it seems like I've been here forever!! Korea is home to me right now, and I'm happy with it that way. I hope that I feel the same way when I'm getting ready to board the plane to come back in January!!

But for now, I'll pack my bags, clean my apartment, and get ready for the Holidays at home with family and friends. And my beautiful baby niece! I'm super excited for our cruise too, it will be so nice to have our immediate family together for a week. It's been a loooong time since that happened!

I'm happy to have the next year or so laid out for me. My time in Korea is not complete yet, who knows if it will be by this time next year or not, but for now I'm so happy to be here for another year. I have some thoughts for the future, South America, possibly Europe again...who knows. I'm not gonna lay out any plans just yet...but I know that I won't be done traveling this huge, amazing, beautiful world we live in for a very, VERY long time!

Thanks to all of your for all your support in my many have no idea how good it is to have people that believe I'm doing what's right for me right now...when all it seems like people my age are doing is getting married and having babies!!! I want that all some day....but my time will come, right mom??

I hope to see many of you over the holidays, but if not, keep in touch!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Betsy goes hiking ('s true dad, and no there was no boy involved!)

Last weekend...the week before Halloween, a group of girls from my village and I went on a hiking/leaf looking/Korean village stay. It was a blast, and so beautiful! We left late Fri night and drove to Juwonsan park...we stayed parked in the bus for a little til the sun rose, and then walked up a hill, to this...

Gorgous huh?? The colors werent even in full "bloom" yet...but it was soo pretty.

Next, we walked into the park, where we headed off on our 5+ hour walk. It was only about 1 hour uphill, but coming down was possibly even harder!! There were so many people, that at times there were lines to get around and see the waterfalls (not much more than some trickling streams). was beautiful and soo nice to be out walking around.

After our walk, we drove another couple hours to this Korean village, where we got to stay over night in old traditional Korean houses, sleeping on the floors and all. It was a lot of fun, and meeting some of the people really took me back to when I was living in Brazil and was constantly surrounded by other students from different countries...It was a lot of fun.

the next morning we got to see a Korean mask dance, which was...interesting. then we headed back into Seoul. Got into Dongbaek around midnight...and then it was Monday again!! The week flew by, and Fri we had our Halloween party, which was fun and so cute to see all the kids in their costumes. This past weekend was busy also, I joined a friend of mine in Seoul at this international gathering of people...mostly Filipinos, and Koreans, with a few Europeans and Americans...we had a blast out at the clubs all night, and I met some really cool people. They do it every couple weeks, so I'm sure I'll see them all again!!

Can't believe its Nov 6 weeks and I'll be home again, and then its back to Korea!! It feels like I've been here forever...but the individual weeks and months go by sooo fast. I'm glad to be taking advantage of it all...

Happy November 1st everyone!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

He said whaaaaa??

My kids were just cracking me up today, so I had to write about what they said before I forget. First, Carson came in today with a perm. Yes, a five year old Korean boy, with a perm. Since his hair was not too long to begin with, it didn't do much more than just give him thicker, fuller hair, but it was definitely noticable. Carson pointed it out to me, and then Kenny, who is like the master of geography and knows more countries' flags than I do, asked if he could stand up and point to a flag. When I let him, he pointed to the Indian flag. I said, oh, that's the Indian flag. Kenny says, "yes, I think Carsons hair looks like Indian people's hair." I was RED in the face. Snorted out loud. Tears nearly streaming down my cheeks. Not only was I amazed that Kenny knew the country by pointing to the flag, but Carson did, in fact, have this thick hair that looked more like something you would see in India than here in Korea. And then Jane pointed out my ridiculously red face, and we all had a laugh for a few minutes.

In my next class, Charlie (who has always been and will always be my favorite) and I were arguing during lunch about some Toy Story lines. Yes arguing, in English, with a four year old Korean child. Cool huh?? Anyways, he kept saying "You infinity, and beyond!!" and insisting that this is, in fact, what Buzz Lightyear says. I argued back, but then he told me that in the second Toy Story movie, there is a "fake" Buzz, and that this is what the fake Buzz says. "Real Buzz say, To infinity, but not real Buzz say, "YOU infinity!!". So, can anyone help me out here?? I've never seen the second, but Charlie was dead set on this. Either way...having a normal (somewhat) casual conversation with a four year old (whos native language is NOT English) over lunch pretty much melts my heart and makes me realize how much I love my job...

North Korean borders and South Korean zoos

Last Saturday, the SLP teachers took a little trip to North Korea. Well, not really, but we did get closer than I'm sure most of you have been!! The DMZ, for those that do not know, is the Demilitarized zone. The 2 km north and south of the border dividing the two Koreas. We got on a little tour bus that took us to the train station that goes to North Korea, then to another building where we got to stand behind a line and take pictures of N. Korea, and see the competing flags (N. Koreas is higher, btw). Then we headed to the area where we got to explore the 3rd tunnel, the 3rd of 4 tunnels that N. Korea dug in preparation for the attacks on S. Korea. Luckily, the ROK discovered the tunnels (well, these 4 at least!) and we got to walk down into one of them. It was really interesting visiting's heartbreaking to see the difference in these 2 countries, but the hope that the S. Koreans have for that one day the two will be reunited is really uplifting.

sure is pretty and colorful for such a serious place eh?

The next day, two teachers and I set off the the Seoul Zoo. Unfortunately, we got there pretty late in the afternoon, so we didn't get to see too much. (and we missed the dolphin show!) But the fall colors were gorgous...

I got to see a lot more colors this past weekend, when a group of us went on a hiking/folk village stay several hours away, but that post will be coming soon!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Home Again, home again, jiggity jig!

So, I'll fill you all in on my quick, but most needed, trip back to the US of A!

I arrived cheery eyed and bushy tailed at OHare around 4pm on the 18th. It was a wonderful reunion between my mom and I, and then we were on our way back to Sycamore. We stopped at home, where we met my dad, and then headed to Genoa for Tim's show at the Genoa Oktoberfest. After a beer and a brat, we took of for Joe and Gail's, where I got to see my first niece!! I'm sure most of you have seen lil Sadie, she was just breathtaking, and I was instantly in love.

After spending a bit there, we went into Sycamore for the block party, only to see that it had been seemingly cancelled! We stopped by Taxco to see if Jesus was there (he wasn't, he was at Blumen Gardens, where the block party was taking place!). So we had a margarita there, then took off for the party, which was a like a Sycamore reunion for me. I hadn't seen that many white people all together in a very long time!! But got to see a whole lot of people that I used to work with, and then I headed to MVP's with some friends that I used to work with at Parkway.

The next day, mom had a party at our house, where I got to see both sides of the fam. I was extremmmmely jet lagged, so I apologize for seeming out of it!! Haha that feeling didnt really go away until Wednesday or so. The following days were filled with lots of dinners, lunches, catching up, and running around. I had to renew my license before I could drive in the US, so on Tuesday I spent a good part of the morning at the DMV. Welcome to America! haha. I also had stuff to get together for my new visa for Korea, and had to take a trip into Chicago on Friday for that too. Tuesday was the surprise anniversary party for mom and dad, which went super well, and I'm grateful to all who made it out!! It was kinda a last minute thing, but mom and dad were happy, and so was I. 30 years!! That's quite an accomplishment these days. Hoping that someday I'll be doing the same with my husband!!

Saturday morning was back to the I said, it was a very quick, but wonderful trip home. Knowing that I would be back in less than 3 months made leaving again quite easy. I arrived 12 hours later in Seoul, at 4pm Sunday afternoon!! Going back to work the next day was surprisingly easy. Haven't had time to be jet lagged really, which is a good thing!! Yesterday (Sat) we had a mini-Olympics with our kinders. All the moms and dads came, and we had a big day of relay races and fun games, with lots of prizes and singing too!! We taught the kids the chicken dance and Take me out to the Ball Game, which was absolutely adorable to see them sing!! I'll have to get a video of them singing it to show you all. It was a lot of fun to see the parents, I've met most of my kids moms, but havne't met any dads, so that was cool to see them all having fun together. Today was a lazy day after church, probably a good thing, considering I haven't had time to clean or do laundry since I've been back!! In a few weeks we'll be going to the DMZ, the area between N. and S. Korea, and then the week after that I'm hoping to be going on a little hiking trip up in the mountains to see the fall colors. Hope theres nice weather!!!

I've been looking into doing a volunteer program in Mexico for a month when I'm home this winter. We'll see if I can get placed in time...but if not I'll just have to think of some other trip to take while I'm home!! 2 1/2 months of not working will drive me (and my mother, I'm sure) crazy. We'll see...I'll keep you all posted though!!! Im gonna try to upload a few pics from home....

I have some more that I havent yet uploaded to my comp, so I'll be sure to add them soon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Day has arrived!!

so, the day is here. I'm sitting in the airport in Seoul, hoping the next 20 hours pass quickly. I'll board the plane to Beijing in about an hour, and then it's a 5 hour layover there, then off to Chicago!! My anxiety is pretty bad right now, hoping to make it through the flights. May take some medicine to knock me out!!

There are no words to describe my excitment!! I can't wait to come home and see everyone, most importantly my family and new niece!! Our family will be complete again, for about a week, until I'm back in the Korea.

My 25th birthday was great, Thursday night we went out for some drinks, and the bar sang Happy Birthday at midnight. Friday was an easy day at work, we didnt teach classes, just had a fun game day in celebration of the Korean Holiday coming up. Chuseok is like Thanksgiving, everyone goes home and visits family. Then in my afternoon classes we had tests so no teaching either! Went out for Thai food, and then to the local watering hole for some drinks. One of the teachers has finished her contract, so we had a joint going away/bday party. All in all a great bday, and now I get the best present ofall, going home!!

Can't wait to see everyone!! T-minus 22 hours and counting!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

She's here! She's here! Sadie Jane is here!!

well, not HERE, here of course, considering here is South Korea!

But as I'm sure you all know, Joe and Gail welcomed little Sadie Jane last week. I hear she's just beautiful, and I've gotten to see a few pics, but I'm really looking forward to seeing her in real life and kissing her a lotttt!!

Things have been going as normal here, work during the week, days passing quicker than ever, and then fun things on the weekend. This Sat my small group from church will be hanging out to celebrate both my and another girls birthday. Can't believe I will be 25!!! ahhh....

but then the next day...I'm heading home! So excited, and I try not to think about it too much so it passes quickly, but I can't wait to go home and see everyone! It's gonna be a whirlwind week.

The weather's been cooling down...not much, but a bit. today was 80, but at least not humid and muggy!! And it was super sunny. Hoping that by the time I come back from the US it will have cooled down more!!

Can't wait to see all of you in a week and a half!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I've been waiting for this day. The day when something would just click in the minds of my little kids, and they would not only understand what I was saying, but be able to respond with the best of their ability.

The day has arrived!! For most of my kids at least. The past two weeks have been awesome, well, speaking wise, not necessarily behavior wise. Seems the more they know how to say, the wilder they are!! But hey, I'll take it.

I'm talking like, full on conversations with my kids. "Teacher, what did you say?" "Tomorrow we will go on a field trip!" " I will not come tomorrow teacher", "why?" "because I will go swimming". It's amazing.

And one of my favorite little girls, who stopped coming mid July, will come back in September!! yayyy!!

That's all for now...

Oh yeah, 22 days!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Holy Hotness!!

So, I just walked 20 minutes back to my house in the blazing sun. It looks like I walked through a sprinkler cause of how sweaty I am. And the Korean people passing me by have not a drop of sweat on them!!! What the heck????

It's a beautifulllll day, but man oh man is it hot!! I'm already not looking forward to next summer here, and it's a year away! Fall is coming, fall is coming....

Not too many updates on this side of the world. Classes are going as normal...we'll have another "open class" in October, where the moms can come and see the progress of their kids (and, lets be honest, judge the teachers as well). It's not like an open house back home, oh no, they come and watch us while we give a lesson that we've rehearsed for about two weeks.

Hoping to go into Seoul this afternoon, it's my oldest friend in Korea Molly's last weekend...she's gonna go to Sevilla for a few days before she gets home. Jealous!!!

Last night a hugggge group of foreigners went out to noraebang...the private kareoke rooms. It was a blassssst. Seriously, I'm never gonna be able to do regular karaeoke again!! (sorry, i have nooo idea how to spell that word!)

Less than one month til the birth of my first niece!! I'm hoping she'll be there when I get home...or at least will make her appearance before I leave on the 25th!!

Hope everyone is doig well, and I look forward to seeing you soon!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Decision's been made...

So, here you have it folks...drum roll pleasee.......

I'll be home September 18 until September 24!!

Then I'll be home December 15 until end of February!!!

Then I'll be back in Korea for another year!!!

And I couldn't be happier about each of these things.

My year has gone so great thus far....may as well add another year onto the resume huh? Plus the money, culture, and job is great. Don't see a down side to the decision!!

Less than six weeks til home!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Under the Thai Sun

So the past week has gone so quickly cause we've been so busy! After Elena and DJ arrived on Wednesday, we were going non stop. Thursday we took a trip to the Korean Folk Village in my city, a beautifl place with lots of old buildings, cool performances. I went in the winter once, but it was much prettier in the summer!! Thursday PM we headed into Seoul to find DJ's hotel, and then Elena and I walked around for a bit in Itaewon, a busy foreigner part of Seoul. Friday DJ went to the DMZ, and Elena came to school with me. My kids were so excited to meet her! For the past month or so I've been telling them that my sister is coming. When I wasnt in school on Thursday they were very concerned, but when Elena came they were super excited. She gave them all little bracelets that are popular back in the US right now, and they all told her how beautiful she is, and they were all "happy and excited" because "teacher's siser is here." It was so cute.
Friday night we had a going away dinner for Renee, at Shabu Shabu, and Elena got to cmoe with. Sat was a busy day in Seoul, and was pretty decent weather luckily. We went to the Korean War museum, had lunch in Itaewon, walked through a really pretty olderarea of Seoul and stopped at a tea shop for some drinks, and then in the evening we took the cable car up to the top of Namsan Tower, where we got a view of the entire city of Seoul. It was cool because we went up when it was still light, but it got dark so we got to see it iat night too. Then we said bye to DJ and went back to Dongbaek...started packing for Thailand and fell fast asleep!

We left my aparrment around 430 on sunday morning to catch the airport bus, Sunday was a full day of flying. First to Shanghai, then Bangkok, then finally Phuket. Poor Elena!! I'm used to it, but she's not the biggest fan of airports. Finally we arrived to Phuket, got in a taxi, and arrived to our hostel. Our first hostel was sooo cool....very laid back and the workers were so nice.

The next morning we woke up for a spa package!! Two and a half hours of was amazing. We got facials at the end too, and some deliious tea and cookies!! Definitely worth the money, more expensive than a normal Thai massage, but probably half the price of what you would pay for such a service back home!!

That afternoon my two friends Ryan and Renee were flying into Phuket, and would be meeting us at the hostel. We met up with them, and took off immediately for elephant trekking!! It was honestly a bit of a let down, we paid way too much for a trek through the "jungle", that was really nothing more than a dirt road up a mountain and about five minutes in the jungle. And it was completely pouring the whole time!! But, we did get to see some amazing views of Phuket.

That night we went out for some dinner...first of many amazing meals! Then we hung out in our hostel for the night.

Tuesday we took a ferry to Koh Phi Phi, another island two hours away by ferry. Definitely my favorite part of the whole trip! We stayed at an absolutely amazing resort for only one night...but it was totally worth it!! Bungalows with flowers everywhere, an amazing pool, good restaurants and a breathtaking private beach!! (If the tide was in...) Tues afternoon we hung out by the pool, had some fancy dinner, then listened to a band play for about two hours. It was great! Then Wednesday was sooo beautiful, clear skies and warm, and we hung out by the beach all day until our ferry left back to Phuket. The resort was called Phi Phi Island Village Resort and Spa or soething like that....definitely a possibility for a honeymoon!!

Wed we stayed on another beach in Phuket, at another great hostel. We went out to eat , then the next day we took a speedboat to another island only 15 minutes away. We payed less than 30 dollars for the boat trip, which included lunch, snorkelling (even though the water was too cloudy to see much!) and the boat of course. Not a bad deal and we got to hang out on another beach! We also went parasailing!! It was super short, and I actually didn't like it very much, cause at one point they dip you in the water for a second, but for some reason with me i was kinda dragged along for a few seconds...(not too exciting, especially when you can see the jellyfish from way above!!) But I would do it again if it were longer!!

Thursday night we had dinner at our hostel, they have an amazing restaurant, (our bill, which included four full meals and three beers totaled less than 30 awesome!!) then Elena and I went for a walk down the road. We got "Dr. Fish" pedicures, something I had done in Korea already, but you stick your feet in these tubs and little fish come and "suck away the dead skin". Not sure if it really works, but its fun nonetheless! Then we got an amazing Thai pancake on our way home, which was pretty similar to a crepe, except crispier and more delicious!!

Later Ryan, Renee and I went out to check out the famous Bangla Road in Phuket, the biggest night life spot. And nightlife we got!! People everywhere, trying to get you to come to their bars, shows, fighting matches, etc. It was insane! We ended up going to this hugggge bar that was like lots of little bars in one, and ran into a guy we met at our first hostel, who took us to a night club. It was a lot of fun, but I don't think I could have handled it for more than one night! When we had had enough, we got some Subway (mmmm) and took a tuk tuk (a little taxi, but kinda and open air thing) back to our hostel.

Friday we had a few hours to kill before we went to the airport to go back to Bangkok, so we hung out at Kata beach. It was another amazaingly beautiful beach...and I wish we had longer to stay there!! Then we got in a taxi and said goodbye to Phuket, then flew to Bangkok for our last night and day!

Our hostel in Bangkok was great too, and after we checked in we headed out to find some food...only to realize, we had no idea where to go, and even after asking people, we were unsuccessful in our food hunt. So, tired and hungry, we went back to our hostel and ate there.

The next day, Saturday, was a loooong day. Our flight didnt lieave until 1am on Sunday morning, so we had all day to explore Bangkok. We went to the Grand Palace, saw the reclining Buddah, huge!! had a great lunch, explored the worlds biggest market (over 15000 stalls!) and then headed to Siam, the central area of Bangkok, where apparently there had been a lot of the protests. We just wanted to check it out, and didn't stay long...then it was back to the hostel to get our things, grab a taxi, and head to the airport!!

It was an amazing, albeit fast, trip. I'm sure I'll go back one day to explore it more!! I've been soo tired this whole week...and this weekend is going to be used to catch up on sleep and cleaning!! I've also got a huge decision to school asked me to extend my contract for another year, and I told them I'd let them know by Monday. If this is the case, I would be coming home for two months in Jan and Feb!! And would get a huge apartment, like with a living room, separate bedroom, and a balcony!! Hmmm....decisions, decisions!! Keep me in your thoughts, and hope you all are doing well!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mudfest and Joyous reunions!!

Last weekend was mudfest in Boryeong, a city on the coast of Korea. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but mannnnn was it fun! We arrived around noon, checked into our hotel, and set out for-a festival of mud. I'm talking mud slides, mud wrestling, mud obstacle courses, anything mud related you could ever imagine! There was a large group of us from Dongbaek, and we had a blast getting muddy, washing off in the ocean, then gettin muddy again. It was great. A bunch of people went out that nite too, but I was dead asleep by about 8pm. The next morning was beautiful, and we went back to the festival for a few hours of sun before heading back home. i came home with about 100 cuts, scrapes, bruises and broken nails (not to mention the mud that is still coming out of my nose!) but it was by far one of my best weekends in Korea thus far!

After Mudfest, the next two days went slowly as I awaited the arrival of Elena and DJ, I never thought the day would come! But alas, here they are, passed out in my house at 9pm on Wed nite... I got to the airport about an hour early, and was so anxious that I almost drove myself crazy...but then there they were, walking through the gate! Of course I burst into tears at the sight of my beautiful baby sister, and hugged them both to death. We boarded a bus back to Dongbaek, dropped some stuff off, then Elena and I took a walk around the lake park and then met some friends for dinner. DJ was out the minute we opened my door, but what else is to be expected after a 14 hour flight? I'm sure they'll both be wide awake at 4am tomorrow, but I'll make em stay in bed until at least eight! We have a lot of fun things planned for the next few days, and then it's off to Thailand!

I hope everyone else is as extremely happy as I am at this moment in time...nothing like a little piece of home to warm the heart!! Updates after Thailand!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

June fun

The next week after Busan was tough....boy was it tough. I came home from work every night and went straight to bed. The following weekend was low key, I stayed in Dongbaek and went to my swing dancing lessons (I had missed two in a row, so it was super hard to catch up!! Still fun however). But...I haven't been back since. I decided since summer is so busy, literally every weekend we're out doing something, and since I will miss several Sats the month of July, that I was gonna hold off on lessons until the fall. So once summer fun dies down, I hope to start back up!

The month of June flewwww by. A girl at our school, Miranda, was getting ready to leave, so we took a day to hang out with her in Seoul. She loves owls, and who woulda thunk it, but theres an owl museum in Seoul! Haha,not much more than a one room collection of the "crazy owl lady"'s knick knacks, but it was interesting.

The third weekend in June I went to the east coast with two friends, to visit another friend who will be leaving this weekend. Dustin, Molly, and Luke. Molly is my oldest friend in Dongbaek! I met her the day after I arrived at a local restaurant. She figured I wouldn't be traveling over winter break, and as her sister was coming to visit, she invited me to tag along and sight see. Dustin, works with Molly, and introduced me to the church I go to (although, haven't been in about a month!!) and Luke, is the boyfriend of Molly's friend back home in Indiana, who came to visit over winter break too. It was fun getting together with them!! Gangwando is a province on the east coast, right between beach and mountains! We arrived in the day, went to a local festival (basically kinda like a flea market, with some cooler things), hung out on the beach for a while, went to a seaside restaurant for some fish, then explored the nightlife. There is a nice sized foreigner population there, and I met some beautiful Brazilian soccer players!! Swoon...of course I woo-ed them with my Portuguese...(man that skill comes in handy!!) The next am we headed back to Dongbaek early, and I went out with Molly to meet a girl who used to work with Molly, but now lives in Seoul, Liz. We were craving burgers, (I eat way more burgers here than back home!!). Got our fix, then I headed back home to relax before Monday.

Drinking agua de coco at the festival...reminds me of Brazil!!

Here's the girls at the beach:

The next weekend was low key, hung out with some people that are getting ready to leave for home. This past weekend was the fourth of July!! I did-nothing. On Friday night I had the misfortune of losing my purse, camara, ipod and wallet included, so the weekend was spent sulking in my own self pity. However, everything's okay now, luckily I had my passport at home, and all new id's and cards are being issued. Live and learn!!

Tonight I'm going to the Korea release of the new Twilight movie, Eclipse, tomorrow night there's talk of dalk galbi (chicken with vegetables, cooked on the table in front of you, and delicious) and some noreabang (karaokee, in a private room. wayyyy more fun than youcould imagine!)

Oh! I forgot to mention, last week, a bunch of us went to a jim-jil-bang. It's like a spa/sauna, and they're sooo common here. You pay 7000 won (about 7 bucks) they give you scrub like clothes to wear, and you can go hang out in the various saunas, eat food, watch TV, exercise, get scrubs, massages, nails done, soak in the public baths (separate for men and women). Basically anything you want! You can sleep in most too, they're open 24 hours. You don't get much more than a mat on the floor, but its a super cheap way to sleep if you're out in Seoul or somewhere else and don't want to take a taxi home or pay for a hotel!! I went into the public baths, I was a little weary at first, cause I mean you're straight up naked, but it was actually super fun!! Liberating I guess, haha. And its so common here in Korea, but I think so many people back home would be weirded out by it like I was at first. I'll definitely go back, I'm sure several times!

Sat night we are having a potluck dinner, I'm going to make mom's spinach and feta salad. Sunday I HAVE to go to church, seeing as how I haven't gone like 5 weeks, and if I don't go I'll miss until August!! Next weekend is mudfest, (yes, a festival of mud. You go and play and roll around in it then go wash off in the ocean then go back for more mud). Four days later, ELENA AND DJ ARRIVE!! I can't wait. I'm so excited to see them!! Then on the 25th Elena, Ryan, Renee and I head for Thailand...everything is booked and now we just gotta wait for the day to arrive!! By the time we get back it will be Aug 1...seriously, where does the time go?

My kiddies...amaze me every day. When they first started in January (and then when more arrived in March) only 9 out of the 20 could read. Now, there are TWO that can't. TWO!! And one is super close, the other may take a while, but I'm patient...two students have dropped out :( always a sad day, but it actually happens pretty often in the private schools. They were both excellent students, and I miss them...hopefully they're doing just as well wherever they are now!!

One kid who is just improving so much is Philip. The kid didn't speak a word of English in January, couldn't write or identify a single letter, and was a little trouble maker. Now, his handwriting is damn near perfect (arite, well legible at least), he knows most of the letters, and learns a new word literally every day. Today he was talking about foods he likes/doesn't like, told me his mommy gave him a new power rangers toy, and hardly ever speaks Korean in class anymore. He's the furthest from reading, and is still a little troublemaker, but I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!!
They're my little babies...and as much as they drive me crazy sometimes, they make me laugh more often, and I love them to death. One girl in my 7 year class also won first place today in the spelling bee...way to go Brenda!! Another one a story telling contest a few months back out of all the kindergartners, they're so smart!!

Arite well I think you're all caught up now!! I'll post again after Mudfest, and then I'm sure after Thailand!! Hope everyone is doing well, whatever part of the world you may be in!!!

To catch you all up...

sooooo sorry for the delay in posts!! it takes me a while to get motivated to sit down and bear with me here, its gonna be a long one!!

I last left off mid May. The end of May was the celebration of Buddah's bday...we went into Seoul one day for the lantern festival. Basically a huge parade of floats all made from lanterns!! It was absolutely gorgegous...

The next weekend we headed to Busan, a city on the southern coast of Korea. My friend, Ryan's mother Gigi, was here visiting for a few weeks, so she, Ryan, another friend Renee and I took the trip down together. It was beautiful the first day...then rained the whole next two days!! After a mad dash to the ticket counter to board the train on the way there, we were on our way. The first nite we had dinner near the beach, hung out on the sand for awhile, hit a casino (where, strangely enough, only foreigners are allowed to go. Koreans can't gamble). Then us three girls hit the town, getting back to our hotel at six after hanging out on the beach all nite. The next day we headed to a beautiful temple on the rocks, right near the water. It was beautiful and all decked out for Buddah's bday.

Me on the beach

Buddah's rockin' temple

We were having a tough time finding a taxi back, and after waiting around in the rain for about half an hour, a man who spoke very little English offered to drive us (leave his friends!) to a taxi stand. Thanks Han!! Gam sa hap ni da!!

That evening, we ventured in the rain to find a restaurant that we'd been trying desperately to eat at previous two days, but every time we went it was either full or "tired" because of the busy night before. Nothing special, just a mexican place, but we were craving it. We knew of three other locations, so we went out to find them...found one!! But nope, they didn't serve food, but, the man who worked at the one we had visited earlier in the day, recognized us, asked "Do you want tacos?" (trick question????) and told us he was headed to the other location that did serve tacos, and he would drive us there. Our second random ride of the day. Thanks Jerome!! (yes, the Korean's man name was Jerome). We got our taco fixes, then stayed at the bar to dance and watch the awesome fire shows the bartenders put on.

The next morning, after getting in at six again, we went out for some coffee, and headed to the fish market. Basically...what it sounds like. A market full of live fish!! It was pretty interesting, and you can buy live fish there and cook it on the second floor, but none of us were really brave enough to try it. So we got some awesome burgers at the place we went to the first nite, then started our trek back to Dongbaek. It was a short, wet, but awesomely fun trip filled with lots of laughs, rain, good food and coffee. Can't wait to go back at the end of the summer for some beach time!

Im gonna end this one here, then start another about the month of June. Enjoy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Teacher's Day!!

Tomorrow is Teacher's Day here in Korea...and the SLP teachers are going on a field trip of our own! We are going to go explore some caves...not exactly sure what that all entails, but apparently there is a ferry involved. I'll know more tomorrow! It was a hard decision to make, to decide between that and my swing dancing lessons, because I won't be able to go for three weeks! Next weekend I will be going to Busan for the weekend (we have Fri the 21 off for Buddah's bday) then the weekend after that our school director is taking all of us on a weekend hiking trip to a big mountain, and we don't have to pay for any of it!!! Nice-uh....(it's how they say nice here in Korea...add an extra -uh sound to the end of most words!!) And actually the weekend after that my swing dancing class will be taking an overnight trip somewhere near water...don't know many details about that either but there will be lots of dancing and beer involved. Count me in!

So, our supervisor sent a letter home to the parents saying that we wouldn't be accepting gifts for Teacher's Day. Sometimes the gifts are so extravagant that it seems almost like a bribe...for the Lunar New year I got several bath sets, gift certificates, wine and a silk scarf from Paris from various students. However, many parents went ahead and bought things for the teachers anyway. I got five (FIVE) flower arrangements (tiny, cute little things) several single flowers, lots of candy, a bottle of wine, and some cute hankerchiefs. Also, a large chocolate cake that I shared with one of my afternoon classes today. It's nice to be showered with gifts!! And a few kids wrote little notes or drew pictures that are now taped to my wall.

Can't believe it is the middle of May already! Tomorrow marks my five months here in Korea. Sometimes it feels like it's gone sooo quickly, other times I feel like I've been here forever. I'm continuing to love every minute of it though. If I extend my contract I am about a third of the way

Gotta get going to bed early tonight...we leave at 7 am tomorrow, ouch!! Then Sunday I'll be heading into Seoul...there is a big lantern festival going on, and it's supposed to absolutely amazing! I'm sure I'll get some good pictures. Happy Teacher's Day to all my fellow teachers, and happy weekend to everyone else!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!!

To all you moms and moms to be out there...enjoy your day!! I'll be talking to my parents in a little bit to wish my own mommy a happy Mother's Day!!

Last night swing dancing was even more fun than last week. I felt much more comfortable since I had met some people the week before...and after class last night we had open dancing for about an hour or so...I was out there on the dance floor for quite some time!! I lovvvve is so much fun, and dancing with men who know how to lead is the best!! I have a bad tendency to want to lead when I am dancing, ut when I have a partner who knows what he is doing it is so easy to follow along. My friend Alex told me that one of the guys I danced with said I am a natural born dancer...haha. It was so much fun and a great way to meet people!! Korean people are so beautiful, and for some reason I have a special attraction to Korean men in thick, dark rimmed glasses. And let me tell you...a swing dancing class is not lacking in that area!! Unfortunately I dont think I'll be able to go for the next two weeks at least...but I hope I can catch right up when I go back!

This morning I went to church for a special Parent's Day sermon..several people from the congregation stood up and talked about their parents. It was such an emotional service! There is one Filipina woman who has lived here for 12 years....TWELVE years!! and she hasn't seen her kids in all that time. Well her daughter emailed a letter to our pastor, writing about her mother and sent a slideshow of pictures. I was bawling by the end of it, as were a few others I think!! After the sermon I went up and gave that lady a big hug. Through my tears I was able to choke out, I can't believe you haven't seen your children in 12 years, I've been gone five months and miss my parents to much!! Especially now with a new baby on the way I am really missing my family a all know how awesome our family is...and as I get older it gets harder and harder to be away from them for long periods of time!

After church we went to Little Manila...basically an area where lots of Filipinos gather on Sundays to sell food and goods from the Philippines. We went and enjoyed some chicken, rice and fried bananas...and San Miguel of course!! There were also some eggs that had been boiled...with a baby chick inside. I snapped a few pics before my friends slurped them down...but no way was I about to eat a full baby chicken!!

After I got back this afternoon I took a walk around the Lake Park with my friend Molly...during the summer they have a daily fountain/light show, so we stopped to watch that. Her parents were visiting here and just left today. Another quick weekend and it's back to school tomorrow again. Whew...the time is passing so quickly here!!! Makes me think about how someday I'll have to actually decide what it is I want to do with my life...

Arite I'm off again. Have a happy week everyone!! Stay classy!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

When in Seoul....go swing dancing??

Haha it blew my mind to discover that Seoul has such a huge population of swing dancers, but it's true!! And now I'm one of them!!

Last weekend I joined a co-worker of mine, Alex, in lessons. She has been dancing for two years, and is absoulutely amazing!! Her class is before mine, so she stayed with me through my class to help me get acquainted and just in case I needed translation. I've dance a lot before, so it's not too hard for me to pick up on new moves, and as this is a beginners class its super easy. I'm going again today in a few hours. After class we went out for some drinks and food with my new class. i was a little hesitant to go, cause I didn't know how many people I'd actually be able to talk to, but Alex went with me for a bit and after a while I was chatting it up with lots of different people. Can't wait to go back tonight!

This week was super crazy. We had two days of school (really only one day of kindergarten!). On Tuesday we had a "flea market" at school, where the kids brought in old toys and books they didnt need, then they were able to buy new things. It was fun. Then Wednesday was children's day, so no school!! On Tuesday we went out for some Mexican food, and ended up staying out until the wee hours of the morning! We met some fun korean people around our age and danced quite a bit.

Wednesday we had a party at a couple's house here, they have a huge balcony, so we all brought some food and drank beer in the sun all day. It was great! One of the girls made some awesome fajitas...chicken, veggies, and beans and even tortillas!! It was a great way to spend the day off of work!

Thursday morning I called mom's cell cause they were going out to eat to hear the results of Gail's untrasound!! For those of you who don't know, it's a GIRL!! Can't wait to go home and meet my first niece! I was super excited. A boy would have been great too!!

Then we were back to school for two more days, and now its the weekend again!! I wish every week were like this! Cleaned my ENTIRE apartment today. Man it needed it!! I've been so busy that I haven't cleaned much in a long time. I don't know what it is here, but dust accumulates so easily!! Since we have fake hardwood floors it's so obvious, and I spent a long time trying to vacuum up all the dust bunnies! Oh well, now it looks great.

Tomorrow I'm going to church...we're going into a part of Seoul where lots of Filipinos gather on Sundays to buy Filipino food. We were spose to go last week but SOMEONE was out too late the night before and didn't make it. Luckily they postponed it for, I mean her! Haha.

I think my friends and I have decided to take our summer trip to Thailand afterall. The weather during the summer there seems to be better than in the Philippines, from some of the research I've done, and we just can't pass up cheap Thai food!! Hopefully it will work out.

Arite well I hope everyone has a great weekend! The weather has been amazing on the weekends rains one or two days during the week, but the weekends are sunny and 70's!! It's great. Love you all!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ups and Downs....such is life!

Another week has flown by! It's amazing and scary how fast the weeks go here. Working a 9 to 5 job really makes the time fly! I gotta say...I like it.

I was feeling pretty crummy for a couple weeks. I was not feeling good, the change of weather brought on colds for many teachers and students, the weather was good then bad then bad again...I was just kinda blue. Would come home from school every day and go straight to bed...or just hang out and watch TV...then would be tired the next day from sleeping too much!! So finally, one day I woke up and said, okay, this is over Betsy! But then, I was still feeling crappy, so I said, arite, you can be a bum for the rest of today, but TOMORROW, it's over! And it was. I've been more energetic and active ever since, and am feeling better than ever. I joined a new gym that is just across the street from my house, and I am planning on going in the mornings before work. Also, there is a nice "lake park" that is a three minute walk from my house. It's a beautiful place, and every evening around sunset a large group of women gather and do aerobics. I've walked by several times, each time too shy to just go up and join, but after talking to some of my Korean co-workers I've discovered that it's a free thing and anyone is able to jump in! So today, I did! It was a good 45 minutes of aerobics, and it was fun. There was lots of booty shaking and hip thrusting, which was super fun and hilarious to watch the "ajumas" (basically a word for an older woman...but it's not a disrespectful thing to say!) getting into the moves. And let me tell you, these ladies can work it! After it was over, I walked up to the instructor and said "thanks, how much is it, is it free??" I didn't understand anything she was saying, except for "write your name down". So, I'm assuming it's free, and if it's not I guess the next time I go they'll let me know! Anyways, it will be a fun way to exercise in the evenings. I decided today that I'm going to get in the best shape of my life over the next 10 months! So by the time I come home next spring I'll be looking better than ever!!

Also, after my contract is over next year, (I'm thinking I'll stay until the end of Feb or March), I'm gonna reward myself for working so hard with, what else, a TRIP!! Today at work I was literally just standing near my desk, a million things going through my head, thinking about how I miss Europe. And I thought to myself, hey, I'm gonna go back. Next year I"ll have some money saved up, and I'm gonna go home for a couple weeks or a month, then backpack through Europe!! I'm thinking a month or so will be a sufficient amount of time. There are some places I didn't get to go while I was there two years ago (Germany, Belgium) and some places I want to go back to (Spain, France, Portugal!) and so many people all over that I"m sure will let me crash at their places for a few nights!! So, Europe 2011 is in the works for me! I'm super excited and already thinking about my itinerary. I'm gonna do it alone this time...I am after all my best travel buddy!

Speaking of trips...I was dead set on heading to Thailand this summer over my break when Elena was here. But, in light of some recent warnings advising tourists to stay away from Bangkok (and most of Thailand, actually) I've decided I should start thinking of back ups! So, I've been looking into the Philippines. I know several people from church that have given me some good tips. I know Elena and I kidna have the same desires in mind for the trip, beaches, good nighlife, good food! I'd love to do some nature-y things too. Snorkeling, hiking in forests, seeing volcanoes, etc. And there are some places in the Philippines that sound absolutely amazing! It's a little more expensive to get there...but I'll wait a bit to see if Thailand is a go or not...hoping either way to have that trip booked within the next few weeks.

What else is going on...classes are going better than ever. My kindergartners continue to amaze me every day!! So many are making full sentences now without my help, and are starting to be able to tell me if I make an incorrect translation of what they are saying! EX-Eddy the other day was telling me he was "sad" (the sweetest happiest little kid ever, comes in every day saying he is sad) I asked him why, and thought he was telling me that it was cause his mommy woke him up. me-"Eddy, say, 'I am sad because my mommy woke me up!" "no teacher, no!! I mommy wake!! I mommy wake!! I wake mommy!!!" me-"OH, you are sad because YOU woke MOMMY up??" Him-"yes yes!! I woke Mommy up!!" haha it was great. I dont know why he was the one doing the waking...but nontheless we got it figured out!! My older level classes are doing great as well. I teach the highest level of SR kids, SR meaning "semi returnee" Most of these are kids that went to kindergarten at SLP for at least one or two years. They are super smart...I push them a lot because I know how smart they are and I just want them to get better!! But we have fun sometimes too. They LOVEEE reading out loud and making sentences out of random vocab words. They're a blast.

On a sadder note, the local GS closed. Haha GS is a chain of convenient stores here, and there was one literally ten steps from my house. It was where I would go at any hours to get milk, crackers, beer before going out (or more beer after a long nite out!). It literally was open yesterday, then today I came home from school and they were taking down the neon GS sign from the top. I waved to the very solemn looking lady who worked inside...she bowed as I passed. I think we're both super sad! It was a meeting spot for all the teachers when we would go out and do things. I spose we can still meet there...but it just won't be the same!! (it was also the workplace of my biggest Korean crush, who my friends and I named Evan). sigh...guess I'll just have to go somewhere else to top off my bus card and buy milk!

Tomorrow is Saturday, woo hoo!!! Planning on hitting the gym semi-early...then possibly hiking up a nearby mountain in the early afternoon. In the later afternoon I am HOPING to get the courage to go to (wait for it....!!) SWING DANCE LESSONS!!! That's right..I said it. SWING DANCING HERE IN KOREA!! A co-teacher of mine has been taking lessons for two years and absolutely loves it!! It is super cheap (less than 30 bucks for two months) and a new beginners class starts tomorrow. I love dancing, and I'm thinking that even though I don't speak much Korean, I won't need it! I started taking Lindy Hop lessons last spring, but only went to one class because the man I was learning from got pretty sick. So, who knows, a year from now I could be a super awesome swing dancer here in Korea!! I'm thinking I will will be a little awkward just cause I'm pretty sure I will be the only foreigner there...and I HATE that I don't speak Korean, cause I don't like to assume that others do. My friend will have her lesson earlier,however, and then she will stay with me for the first class just incase I need some translating done.

And in answer to all of your questions, no, I still haven't learned Korean. (sorry dad!) I tried, I really did, for the first two months I was here. But then I get home from school and am sooo exhausted to try to study. So I quit my lessons and thought I would just practice on my own...but nope, that didn't happen either. I'm a little disappointed in myself, but honestly, I'm sooo busy here and it is so easy to get around with the little Korean I do know. It does suck when I am trying to speak to someone who doesn't know English at all though...(like the cute boy I met at a bar, who approached me, and our entire conversation consisted of "whats you're name?" and "you're beautiful" (that was me, saying that to him, with the use of my dictionary on my phone!) Of course I have times where I am so frusturated with myself and my lack of Korean, but it is a super hard language!!! Who knows, maybe one of these days...but for now I'll stick with my Spanish, Portuguese, and English.

Arite, sorry for such a long post!! I'm off to bed. Next Wednesday we are off of school for Children's Day!! Which, ironically enough, is the day that Joe and Gail will hopefully find out the sex of their baby!! AND, cinco de mayo. Who could ask for a better day, really?? I'll have a margarita and toast to the healthy arrival of my very first niece or nephew!!!

Hope everyones life is happy!!! Besos, beijos, y kisses!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

St Patty's, Temple stays, Dylan in Seoul and visits from home!

So, much to fill in on. In my last post I listed several things that were coming up, and I'll recap those.

The poop musical was pretty crappy (hehe). It was literally a bunch of people dancing and singing about in various poop costumes. There was good poop (a nice brown color) and the bad poop (various other shades...use your imaginations. Apparently, the moral of the story was that there are three things you need in life to have good poop. Exercise, healthy food, and your parents' love. The kids absolutely loved it. It was fun for me too just to watch them enjoying and laughing!

St. Patrick's day in Seoul was pretty exciting. We started at an Irish pub for lunch and green beer of course...then went to watch a parade (which we actually missed) but got to see some Irish dancing and get our faces painted and drink Guiness in the street. (okay, I didn't drink Guiness...but I could have if I wanted to. yuck!) We left around 5pm to make it back for a co-workers pot luck dinner. I brought fried chicken...there were a few salads, cous cous, homemade mac and cheese, strawberries, a fried rice dish...and a few other things. Sooo delicous!

Two weekends ago we stayed at a Buddhist temple for a nite. We arrived in the afternoon, changed into our monk wear (kinda scrub looking things), took a tour of the temple (lots of buildings, many filled with Buddah's of varying sizes) then ate dinner. The monks eat pretty much the same thing everyday...a vegan version of bibimbap, which is rice with vegetables, a red pepper paste, and an egg on top, then it is cooked so it is a fried rice dish. But no egg at the temple. We had that for dinner...then breakfast (at 6am)...then again for lunch but there was also some tempura and different rice cakes and curry for lunch too. After dinner the first nite we did some bowing (they bow a ridiculous amount each day) and had some silent meditations. Then we made lotus lanterns (which is now hanging proudly over my bed) and it was off to sleep at 10 pm!! We woke at 3 for a prayer service, took a one hour nap before breakfast at 6 am (we did...I'm pretty sure the monks dont!), after we ate we took another nap, (two naps before 9 am...who does that??!!!) then did some work around the temple. Basically some people chopped wood and others swept the grounds to make them look nice for the visitors that would arrive that day. We had some free time, and then took a nice walk up into the mountains where we meditated for about 20 minutes overlooking the forest with the sound of the creek in the was so serene and relaxing! After that we went back and made Buddhist Beads (108 on a string). Some people bowed after each bead, other strung 10 then bowed, I just strung mine on all in a row, no bowing. Then it was time to head back to was a great experience, very relaxing. I'm going to look into Buddhism more, just because I think it is so interesting. The master monk was the guy leading us around the whole time...was the cutest man with the best smile. It was worth it overall (even considering that I was grumpy the entire next week and had to take naps every day after school!)

On the 31st we saw Bob Dylan...we were all the way in the back, but the show was good. I think all of us were kinda expecting (and hoping) that he would play a lot of his older stuff....but considering he has been making music for a while, he of course played a lot of "newer" stuff. (New to me...cause of course I know classic Bob Dylan!). But we did hear Blowin in the Wind, Rolling stone...Some others that I recognized but couldnt tell you the names of! Ha my brothers would be ashamed of my lack of Bob Dylan knowledge...but it was still a fun time.

So, now here it is, another Thursday night before my last day of work for the week! Another FAST week here...some pass quicker than others. I like working everyday , I don't ever dread going there. I have one class that frusturates the heck outta me. They just graduated from kindergarten in February, so they are still young and they come to SLP every day after elementary school in the morning. So they are wiped by the time they get to me and sometimes it is like talking to brick walls!! Plus we dont have the most interesting of books...grr. But...I'm hoping once they get used to being in school ALLLLL day everyday, they will get better. Poor kids.

K sorry for such a long post...had to fill everything in. Oh yes!! Elena and my cousin DJ are coming to visit in July!!! We will sight see in Seoul for a few days, and then Elena will be going to Thailand with me for my summer vacation!!! I'm starting to plan that trip's gonna be a blast.

Anyone else is welcome to visit as well!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Also, if you get a second....

If you have a chance you should check out this This foreigner guy draws comics about the funny things that happen to us while living in Korea!! I'll explain a few...

You have to get used to the constant staring and pointing. I've had little kids ask to take pictures with me, or tug at their moms coats and point to me while whispering something. Old men and women have no shame to walk by and look you up and down.

Busses are crazy. The second you step onto one you have to be prepared to hold on tight. It is not uncommon for the bus to still be moving when the driver opens the door to let you off.

Sometimes people pass you up on the street when they are handing out flyers...they know you won't understand most of it!!

I never realized how good of a mime I make!! I know I"ll be going home with the most insane hand gestures. One of which is to cross your arms into an X when something is more water thanks, sorry we're closed...don't go in there.

The busses and subways are almost always completely silent...and many people will stand right in front of the door looking out, regardless of if they are actually getting off or not. The silent part can be a bit awkward when you are the only person speaking on the bus, in English, and then your friend on the phone says something so funny that you snort and start laughing hysterically. Not that uh, this ever happened to me or anything.

Can't expect to find many "Big and Tall " clothing stores here. Lucky for me, I am short, although I am probably a good twenty pounds heavier than the average korean woman my size. I have pretty good lucky clothes shopping. Jeans are a little tough...but even back in the US!!

Kids are AMAZED with the amount of facial and arm hair some of the male teachers have here. Also if someone has light eyes. The other day I was talking about how I am from the US. One of my students said "No she isn't" The other said, "yes she is!!! Look at eyes!!! Very blue!!!" As if that were the only thing to give away that I am American. I also got told once that my skin was like Edward the Vampire because I am so white. Lucky for me, the whiter the skin here the better.

Just a few for now. The funny things that happen to us as foreigners here are endless. I'm sure I'll have quite a few by the end of the year!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Well if that doesn't say "Good morning teacher!" I don't know what does.

Have any of you ever been greeted by a small Korean child by having them poke you right in the butt with their hands in the shape of a guy? I have. Several times. It's a common occurance here actually...happened about three times in the past five days. Lovely. "Good morning teacher!" POKE!

Aside from that, classes have started well this week. We've got a good routine going. I still have problems with two students...but I've just gotta deal and not let them take away from teaching the other kids.

Tomorrow I'm going to be going into a part of Seoul to watch a St. Patricks day parade! Haha it will be quite interesting to see what kind of parade they will have for it here in Korea...I never made it to the one in Chicago, so this should be fun!

Next weekend I will be going with two friends to stay the weekend at a Buddhist temple. I'm very excited about it! We'll get to see how the monks live, what they eat, do, etc. Should be a good time.

On March 31st I'm going to see Bob Dylan. Several of us from my school, as well as a guy from another school will be going to see him in Seoul. Looking forward to it!

This week seemed to FLY by. On Sunday evening I was, just one more day of the weekend would be nice...the next thing I knew it was Friday!! We had cooking today...made fruit tarts. They were delicious, but it was hard to keep the kids from sticking their fingers in the cream and trying to eat the whole thing before we were finished!! Next week we have a field trip. We're going to see a musical. No, it's not Cinderella, or Beauty and the is a Korean musical about....poop. That's right. Poop. I wish I could understand it cause I think it's going to be HILARIOUS...but apparently it is about how pooping is good and everyone does it. Haha I'm sure the kids will love it.

We'll I'm off now. Hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

New School year, new students!

So, along with the beginning of the new school year here in Korea, I got five new students between my two kindergarten classes, as well as a new class of kids who graduated from kinder at the end of February.

Last week, the first week of classes in the new year, started off rough. One of the things that changed was the lessons that the korean teachers and foreign teachers teach. I used to do a lot of phonics work, but now my lessons are focused more on language skills, talking, using key expressions, etc. It's a lot easier and more fun to teach honestly! We also switched classrooms, so I no longer teach apple and banana, but we moved to kiwi and lemon. Same kids, different rooms.

I got four new kids in my 6 year old class, Lucy (who I wanted to name Elena, but she liked Lucy better), Jessica, Clara (who lived in France for the past year and speaks French, but limited English!) and Sam, who speaks the least out of the new kids. In my seven year old class I got just one new student, Ellie, who is very smart. I love my new kids, but we are moving at a much slower pace in the 6 year old class now because of the new kids. Baby steps though, baby steps. They all continue to amaze me though with how fast they learn. I'm sure within the next few months most, if not all, will have a good grasp on English!

Since the kids have been with me for two months now, I have a "no Korean at ALL!" rule in my classes. If they speak it, they get one line next to their name on the board, and if they get three lines I take ten stickers. This is a huggge deal, because everyday we reward the kids with stickers. Once they fill up a sticker page they get to pick a prize. The prizes are pretty cool too. So they work hard to earn them, and ten stickers is like two to four days worth of stickers! Last Friday when I started the rule I had two kids who lost ten stickers. One of them didn't seem to care at all, while the other cried silent tears as I took his stickers. (Don't tell anyone, but I really only took five from his book. The poor kid was so sad!) But it has really worked, and most of the kids hardly speak any Korean in class.

Classes today went as normal. There are some good and some bad days, but mostly I enjoy teaching my kids. They are just as cute as can be.

Last Sunday my church had a guest speaker, his name is Nick Vujicic, and he is an Australian man who was born without arms or legs. He travels the world talking about his life, and his mission is to make people believe that anything is possible with God. I really enjoyed seeing him, although at times he seemed a little to preachy for my style. But overall it was soo cool to see him and hear him talk about his life. I mean, we all go through things that challenge us, but this man swims, golfs, feeds himself and travels the world without the use of his arms and legs. Pretty amazing...if you get a chance you should check out his website. It's worth a look.

This weekend was pretty low key. Caught up on some housework, went out to eat a few times, and did some barhopping in a different city. I'm hoping to get outdoors next weekend, its supposed to be pretty nice on Saturday.

Hope everyone is doing well, in whatever part of the world you may be! A special shout out to my friend in Roma...hope you're doing well chiquita! Hehe Sam and I left the US on the same day last December, bound for two completely different parts of the world. She's in Rome au-pairing...and having a great time as you can imagine!

Also, want my family to know I was thinking about you all this weekend as you headed down to Florida to say goodbye to Aunt Jewel. What a great lady, and she will be missed.

That's all for now....kisses and hugs to everyone!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Korean BBQ for under 6 bucks?? I'll take it!

mmm...just got done eating some korean barbeque at a local restaurant. it was the first place I went after I arrived here in order however many orders of beef or pork that you want, and it comes with unlimited sides of kimchi, soup, different sauces and a few salads. Delicious!! And it is 5500 won per order, can't beat that!

Sorry for the delay in posts. I've been keeping pretty busy here...the weather was absolutely goregous this weekend!! Today was a high in the 50's. After work I went on a walk around the lake nearby...more like a pond but its still pretty. Then I went to my korean language lessons. I'm starting to like them more...they are helpful so I will continue taking them for at least another month or so.

Last week my kids were absolutely awful!! I think it had something to do with us having a three day weekend, so no one wanted to be back at school. This week they've been doing better though...We have another three day weekend this week too! Well, actually for the kindergarteners it is a four day weekend...the kids that have been studying there this last year will be graduating on Thursday, so no one will come to school on Friday. No kinders at least...we still have to come to teach the elementary kids. Bummer...

I can not believe how fast my students are learning! It is still quite frusturating...but I swear some of these kids come in each day speaking more and more. March is the official beginning of the school year here in Korea, so I will be getting a few new students. That will bring my class totals up to ten for each class...the new students will know a bit of English already, which is why they are starting in March and not in January like the rest of the kids. I hope I am able to keep my sanity with such full classes!

I'm continuing to have a great time. I'm quite busy...working five days a week, going into a different city about an hour away two times a week for Korean lessons, church almost every Sunday, and then of course hanging out with friends and exploring Korea! And can you guys believe that I met some Brazilians here in South Korea! Haha yes,you read that right! South Korea of all places. My ears are automatically tuned to Spanish or Portuguese, so the second I heard these two guys talking in a bar I immediately starting talking to them. They work at a Brazilian steakhouse here, which I'm hoping to get to one of these days. It's just as pricey here as it is back home, so I'll have to really be hungry that day! But I'm excited I get to use my portuguese...makes me realize that no matter how long I go without speaking it, it will always come back!

I'm excited that the weather is starting to improve...I'll be able to get out more and see more of the country. There are apparently some beautiful hiking trails (I know my parents are shocked that I will WILLINGLY go hiking!) different cities that I will be taking weekend trips to. It's no Europe, can't jet off to Paris or Italy every other weekend...but there is still quite a bit to see here. My goals for the year are to make it to Beijing, Thailand (hoping that my sister will come visit me during my summer break and we can do this one together!) and maybe some more at the end of my contract depending on how much I save. I'd love to get to Australia while I'm here...if I make it there it will be my final continent on my bucket list!! 6 outta 7!! I have no desire to go to Antarctica...but who knows, if the opportunity presents itself....haha.

I'm hoping everyone back home is doing well also! Super exciting news on the Roloff homefront...Joe and Gail are expecting a baby!! Congrats to them!! Can't wait to come home to meet my little neice or nephew. Man, when did I get so old?? Haha becoming an aunt seems like something only grown ups do!

Keep in touch! Love you all.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lucky...or blessed?

Have you ever, I am really really lucky. I got asked in an interview one time, "Are you lucky?" and I immmediately replied with, "Yes!" Afterwards though, I thought, wait, is all of this luck, or is it coming from somewhere else?

I AM BLESSED. I am blessed, first of all, with the most amazing family in the world. When my brother got married, one of our close friends said "wow, Gail is so lucky to be marrying into such a great family!" and it is so true. My parents are the most open and welcoming people ever. The night before my brothers wedding my dad said "tomorrow will be the happiest day of my life". And I felt the same way. My brother, someone that I had loved and admired for all my life, was about to marry someone just as worthy of my love and admiration. A close friend of mine says on a regular basis "I wish my parents were as supporting as your's are". And it is true. When I said I wanted to be an exchange student at the age of 16 they didn't try to convince me otherwise. My dad still reminds me of how the Rotary club said I was a very strong candidate, and would be hard to beat when it came to the other applicants. I will never forget when Solene, the French exchange student that lived in our house said "Betsy, your dad has a french CD in his car, so that he can try to talk to my father while he is here! Not many people would to that." I felt so proud. My father, an American, was trying to learn French so he could communicate with our exchange student's father. This french family has since visited us three times, and my family has gone to stay at their house in France as well. Just tonight I was talking to my dad, and he said how he was at a Rotary meeting, and couldn't stop talking about me and my travels (so much of this I owe to the Rotary club!)

I AM BLESSED. I am blessed with the most amazing friends. So many of my really close friends are those who I have met while living abroad. They may be from Mexico, the US, Brasil or Europe and now people that I have met in South Korea, but I have met so many awesome people through my travels. I continue to talk to and see many of these people on a regular basis. A few of my closest friends are from my hometown as well, but the people that I have met through my travels will always hold special places in my heart.

I AM BLESSED. I am sooo blessed to have grown up in a family where God was always a huge factor. I have always believed in God, and always will, and I know that He has a special plan for my life. Although I do not know at this moment what that plan is, and where I will be two or three years from now, I know that He knows, and I put all of my faith in Him.

I AM BLESSED. I am just blessed. God has blessed me with such amazing friends and family, and I will be forever grateful.

What about you? Are you just lucky, or have you been blessed like I have?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hello, Goodbye

What a long week! Having to work on a Saturday really cuts down on weekend time, and then the week just seems to never end! Whew....never been more glad to have alone time!

This week passed by super slow....but so much happened! We got two new teachers this week, one girl from California, and a guy from Atlanta. Both are very cool...Ryan (the girl) studied abroad in Barcelona the same time I was in Sevilla, so we have a lot to talk about. Matthew teacher is my new neighbor...since two of the teachers left this week there was some apartment rearranging. The girl that was living next to me( Miranda) moved to a bigger apartment, where a girl Brittany was living until she left yesterday....due to some last minute emergencies I am now catsitting for Brittanys cat until she returns from traveling on the 10th...its so fun to have a cat again! and my allergies arent bothering me at all.

The two teachers that I was in touch with before I came are both going back to the US after they go to Vietnam and Cambodia. They are the first people to leave since I've been here, and how sad it is! Even though it happes so much throughout the year, someone leaves, and a new person comes....I can't even imagine how hard it will be to leave my little students...and I've only had them for a month!

A month! I can't believe the first month of teaching has come and gone. It went pretty decent...besides a few minor setbacks with troublesome kids! I've been here for nearly 7 weeks now...and the time has passed so quickly! I've been so busy and don't doubt that the next 11 months will go by fast....gotta be sure to take advantage of all that time.

Yesterday we took our kindergarteners sledding...really fun but we didn't have a lot of time, so most went down only one or two times! I went down only once with was pretty fun. They line the kids up at the top of the "hill" and blow a whistle and everyone goes down all at once.

Today I went with a few others to see another was Cinderella, but not your everyday Disney story! haha it was kinda funny to try to follow the story, that included the father (who is dead in the disney version ) the fairy godmother (who is cinderellas dead mother!) and people who were referred to as the "pleasure superintendants". Still not sure where those people come in...but it was fun to watch anyways! After some dinner a couple girls and I did some subway shopping. In mny of the larger subway stations here there are like mini underground malls with super cheap clothes, shoes and jewelry. I bought five or six shirts for under 30$! Definitely one of the perks of Korea.

The weather has been great lately, still cold but pretty sunny. Tomorrow I'm planning on taking a walk around the "lake" here, not sure how much of a lake it is cause I haven't seen it yet....

Hope everyone is having/will have a great weekend! I'm drinking some Korean Raspberry wine that was left for me...perfect end to a busy week. Have a great one!

Friday, January 22, 2010

...and what day is tomorrow class? "Sunny and cold!"

Well at least they know how to talk about the weather!

This week has been the best so far. I have a feeling they will just keep getting better and better! My students are already improving so much! Most can ask "May I go to the bathroom" without having to be told to say it in English, as well as ask for "eraser please!" and are speaking in full sentences when I ask "What is it?" They say "It is a ball!" instead of just "ball!" Can't wait to see their improvement over the next year!

The two boys in apple class who are my biggest trouble makers are calming down a bit. I still have to tell Kenny to put on his shoes or sit down at least five times a class, but that is sooo much of an improvement from last week!

Last Friday we had a birthday party for one student, and today we had "cooking". Basically, we made a snack! A canape it is called, a cracker with ham, cheese, tomato and an apple. Delicious! They all looked super cute with their aprons and little hankercheifs over their hair!

I signed up for my korean lesson on Tuesday, and yesterday was my first lesson. It went well considering that I missed the first five lessons with the beginner class! However considering my background with languages, I don't think I will have much of a problem catching up. I know how to say my name, I'm a teacher, I'm from the US (or basically, just I'm American, which I don't like to say, because those of us from the US are NOT the only Americans in the world!). This part came in helpful last night around 1am, when I got a wrong number call from a Korean. He called three times before I was able to croak out "I'm American"! in broken Korean...he must have gotten the idea because he just hung up the phone!

Today a new teacher arrives! We are going to meet her in about half an hour. I am glad to no longer be the newbie in town! We also will have a boy teacher starting on Monday. Tomorrow (Sat) we have to go into school to make up for the snow day two weeks ago. Bummer...especially considering that the kindergarteners aren't coming, only elementary students, and since I won't start with them until February I will have no classes to teach! But my boss asked if I could go in and just prepare for next week, she felt it would be unfair if I was the only one that didn't have to go in. I understand, so I will be there for a couple hours in the morning.

Last Monday I met up with Yunjin, the Korean girl I met online for a language exchange. She is a really sweet girl, and seems really excited to practice Korean with me! Her English is decent, but there is a lot of room for improvement, so these days will really help both of us. We plan to meet on Mondays for awhile.

The other day Charlie (pretty much the cutest little kid ever) was coloring, and I was saying that I wanted "very beautiful pictures". I was crouched down next to him, encouraging him to color (for some reason he doesn't like to color!). He looked at me and said, teacher, beautiful. Now really, if that isn't the most heartwarming little comment ever! Haha it sure beat the question I got asked on the first day (or rather a student asked another teacher) "Why is betsy teacher ugly on her face?" as he pointed out some huge zit I had. "Why is it red"? Oh little, boy, I thought, don't you worry, another 6 years and you'll be blessed with zits too!! Little kids here have no problem pointing out our flaws....the biggest advice I've gotten is just to not let them see your weaknesses, or they will never let you live it down! Some kids (especially one little girl in my banana class) like to boob grab, and another popular game for kids is to put their fingers together like a gun, and poke you right in the butt! I got that the other day for the first time...most teachers don't get it so early on I guess! I turned around and the kid was hysterically laughing. It was quite a shock...but is common occurance here I guess.

Arite, I'm on my way out now....hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Now really, of ALL the busses to get on!!!

Remember the guy I said I met on the way home from church two weeks ago? The one that asked my name (I said Sarah) asked if I was married (of course! husband back in the US) and asked for my phone number?(I made one up). Well, I was a little concerned I would run into him again, and he would have realized that I gave him a fake number. But, after church today, I went out to lunch, did a little shopping, so I was SURE, that there was no possible way he could be on the same bus going back again. I mean, what are the odds? And he wasn't on the bus, not at least, until the very last second right as the doors were closing! I spotted him all the way from the back...I quickly put in my headphones (even though my IPod was dead!) and tried to cover my face with my hair. His wife sat down right behind me....Neither of them said anything though, so I don't think they saw/ or recognized me. Whew! But really, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES!!???

Church was great today. It's a beautiful day out, which automatically puts anyone in a great mood. Even though it is an hour commute to church (I get on a bus then transfer to the subway, then have a 7 or so minute walk), it is worth it once I get there. The services are great, lots of singing and today we had a guest speaker from Kenya. I mean really, how cool is it that I am in South Korea, attending a Methodist church, where it is mostly Chinese, Phillipino and other ethnicities (very few North Americans), listening to a sermon led by a Kenyan, where the one language we all speak is English? I think it is very cool!!

After church a group of us went with Pastor Christina (who lived in Rockford for many years, and visited NIU several times!) for lunch. I talked quite a bit with a Chinese girl named Vivian, she is here studying Korean. Really sweet girl! She invited me to go skiing with her and some friends in the next few weeks.

After lunch I started the commute back home, (where the old man enters the picture). I am currently texting a Korean girl that I met online, we will hopefully meet up tomorrow for a language exchange! This is something that sooo many Koreans like to do, get together with foreigners to improve their English, and to help the foreigners learn Korean too! I am excited, and hope to meet more people this way!

Happy Sunday to you all!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thank goodness for weekends! Until now, I have never had a Monday to Friday, nine to five job. It makes you really really appreciate those two days off! This was the first week that I have taught my kids every day since I've been here. And now I know why it was that the first week I was here every single teacher was saying "TGIF!"

Classes are continuing to go well. After last week, I was ready for the weekend. Friday night was a friends birthday celebration, we went to a noreabong to sing some kareoke, and then to a bar afterwards. Saturday I took a trip into Seoul, the same area where I spent Christmas day. A co-worker from school named Sarah took me in. We went to a foreign book store, where I bought several used English books for super cheap, and also a foreign food store where I was able to buy some things to cook with! They have most things here in Dongbaek, but it is a matter of being able to actually read what I am buying. They have a quite a bit of foreign food at this store, and it was nice to know I have a place to go buy some REAL pickles if the need arises!

Sunday I had planned to go to church, but I was sooo tired from the week that I had to allow myself to sleep in. That afternoon though I met up with a girl who was an exchange student with me in Brasil. She has been here for almost a year, and it was so cool meeting up with her. This week I also randomly looked at another friends profile (who was an exchange student in brasil also) and saw that he is living here as well! Super close too, about half hour away. It is so funny that I met these people in Brasil, and will see them in Korea, but never have we met up in our own countries!

The school week started off well. I have been so concerned, however, with trying to get through all the bookwork, because that is what I though I was supposed to do. So the poor kids were beginning to hate me I'm sure, because I was pushing them so hard to get the work done, and we didn't have any time to have fun! My supervisor told me however, that I should focus not so much on finishing the books, but also making sure they have fun. Thank goodness! The last couple days of classes went much better. I think the kids are liking it a lot more! Friday we had a birthday celebration for Kevin. Once a month on Friday we will celebrate the kids who have bdays that month. There was a cake, lots of fruit, and all of the kids brought a present for Kevin! Quite the celebration. It was a lot of fun, and a nice break from regular classes!

Last night Molly and I went out for dinner, and today I am got invited to a church members house for a dinner party thing, even though I missed church last week! I am excited though, because going to church is such a good way to meet people and do fun things. I've always liked going to church, but all throughout college I worked at Parkway Sunday mornings, and that money was hard to give up! So it is nice now that I have the time and the desire to go to church on Sundays. Tomorrow is the actual church service too.

I am pretty sure that I will be registering for a Korean class next week. It will begin the first week in February, and will meet twice a week in the evenings. I absolutely HATE not knowing what people are saying, or not being able to communicate what I need or want! The other times I lived abroad I was able to speak the languages so easily, and so it is very frustruating not knowing anything here! However, I have met several people who have a good handle on the langauage, so I'm sure that if I work hard at it I will to eventally! My dad had asked if the kids teach me any Korean. In class, we have a "no korean" rule, but of course hardly any of the kids speak enough English to NOT talk in Korean. I think most still do not get that I don't understand Korean! So we have the English only rule "or Engrish only" as Charlie calls it, but pretty much all of the kids speak to each other in Korea, and when we play games they speak Korean. I have had several that count in English when we play games, and I make sure to praise them a lot for it! A few of the words I know in class are water (mul) eraser (chiugae) and bathroom (dont know how to write it out!). They taught me the word for foreigner too, well more like they said it to me, and when I asked what it was they giggled and said "English speaker" (oegokin?).

Thursday was the first time I felt really overwhelmed here. There was a huge lack of communication, and I was not informed that the helper teachers would not be with us at all that day. The helper teachers follow us when we go to the bathroom, helping kids wash their hands and zip up clothes, they also serve us our snack and lunches, then they clean out the kids lunch boxes. Also, at the end of the day, when the kids are ready to go home, they make sure each kid is in their assigned room, then take them down to the busses. So Thursday I was the one helping with bathroom and lunch, which was perfectly okay, but then at the end of the day I couldnt take the kids to their "bus rooms" cause there was no adult there to watch or take them downstairs, and no one really knew what to do with the kids. So I got upset afterwards and was able to vent it out to some co-workers, who have all gone through what I am! I know that it was a situation that will probably not happen again though, and at least if it does I will be more prepared!

Other than that incident though, everything else has been going very well! I'm looking forward to taking Korean lessons, and will keep you all updated on how its going.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Apparently I CAN be a teacher!

Yulia (while trying to zip up her jacket)" Teacher, how to do?"
Me: Yulia, you say, "teacher, how do I do this?"

Five minutes later (while trying to put on her face mask) "Teacher, how to do? No no, teacher, how do I do this?"

My little kiddies are already learning!!!!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


This is what I hear when these adorable little 4 and 5 year old Korean children talk to me with the most innocent looks on their faces. I point to my ears and say "I don't understand Korean, teacher doesn't speak Korean, what do you need?" Usually I get a response like "mul" (water, some will say it in english "watah") or something that sounds like choo choo followed by some crotch grabbing. I know at this point that it means bathroom, and I usher them into the hallway where a helper teacher takes them to the bathroom.

SCHOOL IS IN SESSION! My students came to school for the first day on Tuesday. We had a snow day on Monday, but it didn't affect me because the new classes were not starting until Tuesday. I had one last day to prepare. I was so nervous and excited! Mostly excited.

Tuesday came and went. After I taught my first class, the Apple class, (10 students, 5 years old American) a little piece of my heart was gone. We hadn't gotten through half of the material that we were supposed to for that day! Banana class was a breeze though. (6 students, mostly 4 year old American) We got through everything that day, this class is super smart, my two girls already speak English shockingly well! I will introduce a little about each.
Apple class:
Matthew-chubbier kid, likes to eat, always tries to pass out treats to everyone, cried the first day, but speaks the most English of all!
Morris-super tiny and quiet, but he understands when I ask his name, and loves to come to the board to write letters.
Kenny-ooooh Kenny. Doesn't understand any English, therefore he is my little troublemaker. Feet on the tables, constantly out of his chair, today during science he was tackling poor little Morris! I am working on him. He is my project for the year.
Brenda-The best listener in Apple class! Always raising her hand and shouting out letters and pictures.
Annie-one of the helper teachers daughters. She understands well, but is quiet. She was sad up until today because she was sitting by Carson (see below) but we moved her today so she is next to Brenda.
Carson-was at SLP for 6 months or so last year. His mom pulled him out because she apparently freaked out at the supervisors and was embarrassed. He speaks well, but does not listen when he is by the boys. I wish I could put him between two girls, but then the girls get upset.
Jane-A little slower. I usually have to push her several times to write her letters. She will do it with a little encouragement, but until I tell her, she just sits. I don't think she understands much.
Mikey-Cute little boy, talks with a bit of a lisp (My name ih Mi-ey). Was doing very well until he was sitting by Carson today! We need to do some rearranging.
Eddy-Cute too, listens well, doesn't understand much however. He was the first kid that came up to me and started speaking Korean, with the cutest little look on his face, asking something about his backpack which of course I didn't know what the heck he was saying!

Banana class:
Andrew-Understands, but doesn't like to listen to teacher!! He is smart though and is the first to finish writing his letters.
Yulia-Lived in the Phillipines for a few years, speaks English very well. "I, many many friends in the Pilipines!" Always finishes her letters quickly.
Philip-My banana class project. He, like Kenny, does not understand English at all. I have to sit by him and watch him write his letters one by one.
Charlie-The happiest boy in class! "My. name. is. Chal-lie!" Loves to sing the hello song and do the motions. Sings the loudest too! Understands and writes well.
Kevin-Very quiet, but listens and is always willing to write his letters.
Heather-a sister of one of the older girls. Today she was not feeling good. She speaks and understands very well. Told me the first day "I and my mom go skating in the snow". Can't wait to see where she will be a year from now!

After Tuesday classes went a little better. I have apple for 80 minutes, ten minute break (with a snack, dumplings, fruit, yogurt, rice cakes, something along those lines) then I have banana for another 80 minutes. Lunch is next, then they have half hour of free time, where they play blocks or watch movies. Then a special class for 50 minutes. Tuesday I taught a game to banana, same with apple yesterday, and then today we did a science "experiement". IIIII did a science experiment. I had to make the damn things myself of course, cause the kids had no clue. They were little wheel type things where you twist a stick around a rubberband, then put it on the floor and it spins around. It was fun to watch them play, not fun to make.

It has been super challenging. But these kids are so damn cute, and smart, that I can't be mad at them for too long. Kenny is my toughest. Today though, I found that when he is out of his seat, and I say One, Two very sternly and point to his chair, he gets the hint and sits down. I have been chanting "Look at me, Look at me" and clapping to get their attetion, which usually works, but today I did the peace sign above my head, most of them followed and were quiet. Little things like this that I can do!

As tough as it is (and mannnnn is it tough!) I can't wait each day to go into class. The school has a verrry heavy curriculum for the first few months, which are the months that they understand the least! We have a 75 page alphabet book to get through by the end of January. Usually we do 2 letters a day...four pages. This does not include the other phonics books we work in, or the stories that I read, or the time we spend going to the library and bathroom (library twice a week for now, then just once a week). However, the other teachers have done it, so I have complete confidence that I will too! Even if that means taking the kids away from play time to work individually on letter writing (little letter e is a tough one!). But they are catching on sooo fast, and I can't wait for the day the little lightbulbs go off in their heads!

TGIF. Tomorrow. Busy weekend ahead...tomorrow is Molly's birthday, Saturday I have plans to go into Seoul, and Sunday I will be going to church and then meeting up with a friend that was an exchange student with me in Brazil! cool huh?

Hope everyones 2010 has started off fantastically....Mine has!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

God did NOT create the earth to kill time

This was one of the points in my sermon that I heard in church this morning. But I will get to that later!

Lots to tell...This break sure has gone by fast! I've done a lot of sightseeing in the past week. On Wednesday, I went with Molly and her sister to a cafe where you can sit and have tiny little fish nibble away at your feet! It is supposed to clear away the dead skin on your feet. Took me a few times, and some deep breaths to be able to keep my feet in the water, but after a few minutes I was able to do it! It tickled sooo much, but I found that if I swung my feet a bit it didn't tickle so much. We had some awesome lattes and cappucinos before we got to experience the
"Dr. Fish" for 15 minutes.

The next day was new years eve. We went into Seoul, along with Marissa, who is a friend of Molly's from the US who came to visit for a bit. Her boyfriend Luke is teaching in Korea, as well as Dustin, who is a friend of Marissa's and who teaches at the same school that Molly does. Saebomi (not sure of spelling) was an exchange student from Korea who lived with Marissa's family for a year in high school. She also joined us for the night! We checked into the hotel (that Molly and Karen's mom had so graciously rented for them, I tagged along!) and then set out for the evening. We went to this part of Seoul where there is a giant bell that they ring at midnight, and where there must have been thousands of people! There were news camaras and concerts and it was a lot of fun. I was a little afraid that I would get trampled, because we were all packed in so tightly, but luckily that did not happen! However after the bell rang and we celebrated, we were hopping a fence, and I kinda slowly fell to the ground, but my foot was stuck in the fence and I was sure that it was gonna snap in half! Lucky for me Molly was right there and was able to push it out before anything major happened. After leaving there we went to a bar for a bit, and the Marissa, Luke, Saebomi and I went to another part of Seoul. We met up with some friends of Lukes from the city that he teaches in, and after stopping at a restaurant for a bit we headed over to a noribong. These are really popular here, and are little kareoke rooms that you rent for just you and your friends, and we had an awesome time belting out songs for a couple hours. Around 7am we headed back to the hotel, where we crashed. It was a very fun New Year's!

Yesterday we went into a Korean Folk Village, a little area with lots of performers, vendors, food and etc. It was really cute and fun to see the performers dancing, a man walking on a tightrope, and an equestrian team doing tricks on their horses.

This morning I went with Dustin to a Methodist church, about an hour away from us. We first went to a childrens service that is taught in English. Dustin will be teaching a small group of the kids within the next few weeks. After that we went to the adult English service. That was a lot of fun, and there are a lot of different types of people that were there. Lots of Koreans, Philipinos, Chinese, with just a few Americans and British. Everyone was very excited to meet me because I was new, and they were also super excited to see Dustin, because he had been back in the States over Thanksgiving and Christmas. After the service we broke up into smaller groups for about 15 minutes to talk. I was asked if I wanted to joing the "singles" group haha. It's not like a singles network in the US, it is just for people who are unmarried, not necessarily looking for someone to date! Church was fun, and I'm sure that I will go back soon. During the children's lesson we learned though, that God did not in fact create the earth to kill time. I thought it was so funny that they used this phrase in this context, so I just had to add it in!

I was very proud of myself because I got back to Dongbaek by myself! I haven't taken the public transportation alone much at all, it can sometimes be confusing but Dustin explained it to me really well. While waiting for the bus an older man behind me started talking to me. His English wasn't that great, and he was kinda giving me a creepy vibe and kept hitting me on the butt with a notebook he had in his hand ( I think it was unintentional, but still creepy). When he asked my name I told him it was Sarah, I figured there was no need for me to try to repeat my name 8 times (it is hard for them to pronounce). Then he introduced me to his wife and he seemed a little less creepy. Still, when he asked if I was married I told him that I had a husband in the US. Then, we he asked for my phone number, I kinda sorta made one up, but I did enter his into my phone when he gave it to me. I feel a little bad to have lied to him, but I'm sure I'll never see him again, and I figured may as well just give him a wrong number than run the risk of him calling me all the time. After he invited me over to their house (today, you come now!) I politely declined, saying I was meeting with a friend, but maybe some other time. In Spain I had a man at a bus stop invite me to come live with him. "My wife died a long time ago, so you can come live with me if you want" he had said. Apparently, the older men love me! Haha oh well!

Can't believe break is already over, I'm glad I took advantage of it because it will be a loooong time before I have that long of work off again! Classes start up again tomorrow, but my students won't come until Tuesday, so we have one last day to prepare and get everything ready. I can't wait to start teaching!

Hope everyone is well!
Also for some reason this blog is being tricky, and after I attached the first picture(which I'm sure is sideways)I was not able to post anymore. Will try again soon though!