Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Busy Weeks! (Happy Holidays!)

Oh my, its been a while.

The last two weeks have just been absolutely crazy, but I wouldn't trade them obviously!

Randy got here the very same evening of my last blog post and we've been tearing up Seoul (and its outlying areas) and/or working for the past two weeks.

Christmas was fabulous and we both had a really great time. Randy came over, we went to Christmas morning brunch at Lindsay's house (one of the girls that works with me) and did a Yankee gift exchange with the girls I work with. We exchanged presents and guess what?

Randy bought me a turtle!

I have always wanted a pet, but alas haven't had one since a certain fish that I caught in early elementary school that 'died mysteriously' one day while I was at school. I am soo excited about the turtle. Its so much better than a fish, you can feed it, and play with it, take it out of the tank! It still has no name however... I have received many suggestions, but have yet to decide on anything certain. He's pretty awesome though, so I think its normal to give proper time for careful consideration.

For the past three days Randy and I have been skiing at a resort with my co-workers from SLP. We had the most amazing time, and took a bunch of pictures which I will post tomorrow when I upload them from my camera. We just got back around hours ago, and as much as I really enjoyed all the company, I am also enjoying being alone in my apartment with no expectations and peace and quiet. I'll post more details when I wake up, but for now I think I'm planning on curling up with a good book, and catching some early Zzzzz's. My muscles are not sore or achy yet from the skiing, but my whole body is pretty tired.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Busy Twilight Hours

The Christmas preparation continues, and lately I feel like I am always cleaning. You would be surprised at how much dirt can build up in such a tiny apartment! Or maybe you wouldn't be, and I am just naïve... although to my credit the girls I work with have said that these apartments that we live in are like nothing they've ever seen when it comes to accumulating dirt and grim. I think its due in large part to the fact that the air is not very clean here and it brings dust and grim with it where ever it goes. I was beginning to think that I was getting close... soon I may throw in the towel! lol

I do love having my own place though, and the cleaning is not really as bad as I make it out to be. As I accumulate more stuff here and there as the weeks go on, its starting to feel more and more like a home, and less and less like a forgotten dorm room. :D I'll have to take some more pictures over the next few days and share them with all of you, so you see what I am talking about. It looks much nicer now than the day I first moved in and posted the not-yet-unpacked pictures!

Aside from all the cleaning and decorating this week is the last full week of school before Christmas holidays! Fabulous! A bunch of us are going skiing over the break, which I am very excited for, and I don't have to go back to school until Jan. 5th! Hopefully this will involve lots of exploring etc. that I haven't had the chance to do up until now!

The weekend went by without too much hassle. The other girls had various reasons they couldn't make it to Korean class on Saturday, so I was the only student! A two hour private lesson for $1! I thought it was a great bargain. Then on Sunday I talked to my family for a while and went to see Twilight with the girls from work. The movie was absolutely terrible, and I loved every minute of it! If there is one thing I am full aware that I have terrible taste in, its movies. Not that I dislike good movies, I love them too... I just have a special place in my heart for the sappiest chick-flick movies of all time. If there's a PG rated love story and a happy ending, chances are that I'm a happy camper. I know that this makes me a little pathetic, but I don't mind. :)

Last, but certainly not least, my Best Friend from home arrives in Seoul this evening at 5 pm! Eeeek! Me= one very excited lady!

Halloween 2006

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting ready for Christmas!

The last few days I have spent getting ready for Christmas, cleaning, decorating and recovering from the cold that's been dogging me for a few days now. Classes are going well and I can't wait for Christmas to get here! :D Here are a few pictures of decorations I have up around my place for your viewing pleasure!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Weekend (Dec 6 & 7)

I promised that I would come back and finish telling you all about my adventures last week, so here I am!

I left off on Wednesday when we went cellphone shopping and bought my new (to me! ) cell phone. Here is a picture of it, for those of you who are curious as to what it looks like.

Its a pretty great phone for $45 as for as I can tell, so I'm pretty happy with it. After the phone buying and the food eating Amanda and Kelly and I wandered around for a little while, and then went home. A very successful day!

Here are Kelly and Amanda standing on the steps in front of Yongsan Station, as well as a picture of the area around the station entrance, it was quite festive!

The rest of the week passed by without much incident, except Friday when I got my bank account. Naturally I took a picture of my bank card for you to see as well.

I'm not so into identify theft, so I took out most of the good bits, but you can get the picture. I was very happy to open a bank account as we had been paid on the last day of November, and as cool as it is to hold a million won in your hand, its even cooler to know that its in the bank... and that you can't lose it! I was sick and had a fever Friday night, so nothing of interest to report.

For those of you who know me the best, this will come as a bit of a shock, but the majority of my weekend was spent shopping! I got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday (aka: 10 am) and hopped on the bus to go to an outdoor shopping extravaganza in Edae. We shopped until mid-afternoon, and then I went to my second Korean class. It was fabulous! We had a new teacher this week, and she didn't really know what she was up to, which was great because we did so much more stuff than last week. I was in love! We finished up around 5 after which I went home to continue to recuperate from the cold I've been fending off. Sunday was more of the same, but Church replaced the Korean lesson and was followed by a quick game of pool before again calling it an early night. That brings us up to this week, which is so far going pretty well, but is quite busy. I'm still trying to fend off that cold, and I miss you all, but except for that life is peachy keen!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oddities! :)

Time for more new and exciting pictures! Now that the details of settling in are calming down, I thought I would share with you some of the neat and interesting things I am seeing here in Korea. I bring my camera with me everywhere, so I've got a few interesting pictures for you all to see! My personal favourite from this post is... soap on a stick! My jury is still out on whether I think its unsanitary, or ingenious! These pictures are just a few of the many reasons I am enjoying my time in Korea so much :)

Toilet paper outside the bathroom stalls!

A view of the Alps?

Soap on a stick!

Close up :)

The sign says 'Toast'... I'm not convinced!

Cute doggies :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Busy Busy

The rest of last week was just one crazy busy time of in class monitoring, shopping, alien registration cards, delicious food, skype calls, bank accounts, hilarity.... and I had a fabulous but busy time!

Tuesday when I had arrived at school they had received my alien card = very exciting! Its good because it means that now I can get a bank account, a cell phone etc. and health insurance, which is always a good thing! So because I was free Wednesday evening, Kelly, Amanda and I made our way to Yongsan to pick me up a cell phone! We had a very interesting journey but made it there without incident to find that the stores were closing as we were walking past them! ( Oh no! ) We kept on going though until we got to the cell phone section where fortunately they were just a few minutes behind everyone else and were still willing to serve us. After a fair bit of haggling and other shenanigans I managed to get myself a used phone in great condition for just $45! Only the beginning of my amazing bargains for the week!

Once again, in the interest of time I had left teaching to go directly to another location, and so by the time we were finished finding the cell phone and setting up the contract etc I was famished and we set out to find something to eat. We went to the I-mall in Yongsan and there were just about a million different restaurants there offering all sorts of different foods,

but we settled on a little Italian place called Amigos (Amigos? Italian? Hmm.... ). I ordered some sort of chicken spaghetti au gratin and it was just about the most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth! Yum Yum Yumm! I felt a little guilty, because I really want to learn to appreciate Korean food, but it was just so delicious, I just pushed the guilt right out of my mind! lol

Wed and Thursday I had achievement tests with most of my students and was being monitored by parents in my other two classes so it was an interesting few days. I have to go to school now, but I'll come back and tell about the rest of the week this evening when I get home.

I miss you all! --Me

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Galbi Salsa

The week is going well so far, and it seems like time is just flying by here in Korea! I am really settling into my classes and finally figuring out how some of my kids tick. I hope I figure it out for Thursday and Friday as I have one parent coming in each day to see what the new teacher is like, in two of my most difficult classes! There are also achievement tests for the majority of my classes on Thursday and Friday, but I don't really know what I have to do for them so I'm pretty unsure about what the rest of my week will bring.

This is one of my preschool project writing classes. They are writing about astronauts this week and they are super cute!

For the first two weeks of December middle school students don't attend SLP and instead stay home to prepare for their final exams here. Middle school is a big deal here, I think the marks you get on your exams influence what highschool you go to, which influences where you attend university which affects the rest of your life... so in short, my middle school kids were all pretty stressed out last week.

The middle school kids not coming meant that today I finished work at 7 instead of 8! Fabulous! This was all exciting enough until I found out that one of the other teachers at the school was looking for someone to go to a salsa dancing class with him, because the other teacher at the school that normally goes was busy. Of course I was up for a random salsa class, so off we went! There was more men than women at the salsa class, but the partners were shuffled every 5 minutes or so, so no one was really left out. I danced with John, the guy from school for approx 4 mins at the very beginning (which was fortunate, because he needed to show me the basic steps) and then didn't really see him until we left! John has told me before we left SLP (the school) that the class was going to be a little challenging, so of course I couldn't resist, but I didn't quite realise what I was getting myself into!

It was fun though, and I met some really interesting people, so all in all I enjoyed myself very much!

We had both gone straight from teaching to the dance class so on the way home we were both pretty hungry, and upon John's discovery that I hadn't yet tried galbi -- traditional Korean BBQ-- we stopped at a place along the way home and had some, and it was fabulous! I am still unfortunately at the point where I am tolerating most of the traditional Korean food that I eat, but this was just absolutely delicious from the first bite to the last. I'll post some pictures for you all another time, but for now its time for me to sign out and get some shut-eye. Goodnight!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oh Turkey!

So, the church I've attended for the past few weeks here in Seoul had a turkey dinner to celebrate American Thanksgiving at the army base which is not too far away from the church. Kristine Teacher from SLP and I went together and...

Needless to say, it was fabulous!

The food was delicious, the people were great and they even had entertainment for us! It was held at a hotel on base, and there were alot of foods that I didn't think I would ever see until I got back to Canada!

Mmmmmm..... Need I say more?

The hotel was also decorated for the Christmas season in that over-the-top way that we North Americans are known for, so I took some pictures to share with you guys!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Le Weekend

Yesterday I went to my first Korean class!

It was great! We are just going over the alphabet for now, but as the weeks go on we will learn more and more about grammar, vocabulary etc and I am very much looking forward to it!

Today I spent most of my morning talking to people I care about on Skype, doing laundry, studying some of the Korean I learned yesterday, and now I'm on my way to church, followed by a Thanksgiving turkey dinner on base! Sweet!

Must run, but will tell you all about it when I get back!

Love, Me!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Second Week!

To pick up where I left off...

I had a great weekend last weekend! I went out on Saturday night with the ladies from work and had a good time, spent my Sunday being fairly lazy, and then found a really neat church to try out on Sunday afternoon. It was huge, and seemed full of really friendly, great people... who all spoke English.

The week went well and I'm really getting settled into my classes, which I am really happy for. There is still one class that causes me a little grief, but with time I'm sure I will win them over as well. There's always lots of interesting things to see and do here, so I've been keeping pretty busy. I'm really enjoying having a place to call my own. It's different from home obviously, and I miss home very much, but having a space that is all yours definitely has something going for it.

A new session in school started this week so I spent most of last week giving and grading tests and getting ready for my kids to start brand new books at the end of the week. Everyone I work with has been soo helpful in helping me to settle in and understand how the school works. Right now because I am not used to teaching these particular programs I have a lot to learn, and have been doing lots of extra work, but I really feel that will ease off when I find a good grove and understand the individual personalities of my students a bit better. Most of them are soo great! I'm really lucky to have found such a great school!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekend Fun!

The fun this weekend so far has involved alot of unpacking, putting away and scrubbing! Although to you this may not sound like a whole lot of fun, I am so excited to have my own place right now that I enjoyed just about every minute of it, and look forward to doing more tomorrow!

All my stuff is unpacked now, but there's still a fair bit of cleaning to do before my apartment looks like a place that someone lives. Things that don't have a home yet are strewn about, and there's a fair bit of dirt around that just needs to be washed off things. Good news today! I found a translation for the buttons on my washing machine! Score!

I'm such a homebody, and I really am tired after cleaning etc all day, that I would really just like to stay in, but the girls I work with are going out on the town, so I am going to go with them. We're getting all dressed up, going to one girl's apartment, and who knows what could happen from there. I'll take some pictures and show you tomorrow! :)

Laters Alligators!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moving Day: Part 2!

So, I'm not sure if this was common knowledge, but moving day was also my first day teaching all by myself! Stresss! A whole bunch of little things happened just to stress me out that could have made the day go wrong, but with a little bit of luck, my day was actually just fine!

When I left off my boss was on his way to pick up me and my stuff at the hotel. He arrived around 5 mins after I published the last post. We loaded everything into a van and then had an adventurous drive to the apartment. Apparently, when in Korea, anything goes as long as you use your hazard lights, and lean on the horn! It was crazy! But I lived to tell the tale, so all is well.

I'll spare you the majority of the details of my day, but after that we went to the school and I taught until 7 pm, went out for some yummy and cheap pizza with the other teachers from SLP, did a little grocery shopping, came home, figured out the Internet, and now here I am!

Here's a sweeping view of the apartment. I'll make another post with more pictures to make sure the photos upload the way I want them to.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Moving Day!

After spending a week living out of a suitcase in a hotel, today I move into my apartment! I am verrry excited to finally be a little settled. The hotel is great, don't get me wrong, but I can't wait to get settled...

In Fact! They are coming to get me now, so I don't even really have time to post! I will tonight though... laters!

UPDATE: Here are some pictures of the hotel I was staying in!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Second Day!

Only a quick post today... I am beat out.

This morning started fairly early with a trip to get my health check done so I can get my alien card. The alien card means that I'll be able to have a cell phone, and have access to health care and stuff... sweetness!

After that I went to lunch with the Manager of my school who had brought me to get the health check done. Apparently after he brings each new foreign teacher to get the health check they go to a place near the health centre for a meal which sounds a lot like perogie -- I'll find out the exact word for you all tomorrow -- and which is absolutely delicious! And! (believe it or not!) not spicy at all... which is great, because I don't have the highest of tolerances for spicy food, and every thing here is loaded with hottttness that would burn your mouth off. I think my taste buds are a little deadened after only 4 days!

I spent the rest of my day shadowing other foreign teachers as they go about their work, and I am going to be teaching my first class tomorrow! No lost time here! I'm looking forward to being settled into my role at the school, and to moving into my apartment which should happen either Thursday evening or on Friday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

First Day of School!

School has not started yet, but already I am excited! Just like a small child!

  • I woke up way too early
  • I've packed and repacked my bag
  • I've dressed and redressed and
  • I've got butterflies in my tummy!

The General Manager of the school is coming to pick me up in a little less than an hour to show me how to get to the school, and then we're off! I'll post more about that experience later...

The rest of the weekend after I made that first post was great. I went out and about exploring a little, seeing the sights, looking for food, and not finding one thing I wanted to eat! Except Pizza Hut, but we all know that's cheating; I didn't come all the way to Asia so I could eat Pizza Hut! I eventually settled on a rather peculiar looking sandwich. It wasn't fabulous, but it wasn't horrible, so I think all in all it worked out OK. After my excursion I came home, spent some time in the jacuzzi that's in my hotel room, read a little, tried John's phone number and was generally a little bored and lonely for most of the evening. I am not having a whole lot of success with the phones here yet, so I think that although I managed to make the phone ring ... I'm pretty sure the call never went through. But eventually he called me and although he was busy set me up with a few of the other women from the school and we went out for a bite to eat at Fish and Grill.

It was verry nice to meet some of the other teachers from my school! All of the English teachers from my school are either from the USA or Canada, and of the 14 of us, 3 are from Newfoundland!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day One (so far...)

Hello Everyone!

Here in Korea safe and sound! I'll be staying at a hotel (a love motel -- hee hee) until the 21st which is quite nice, but which means that I'm going to have to be updating on facebook for a while because there's no wireless Internet in my hotel room. Boo... There is a computer in my hotel room though which is very nice. Yesterday I was able to send a few emails to my family, but today the keyboard is determined to type in Korean characters in hotmail and everywhere else except facebook, so until I figure out how to control that, this will have to do!

(Update: Sometimes, the keyboard randomly works here too! I'll figure this all out eventually :D )

I had a great rest last night, the hotel room is really nice and the bed is huge and comfortable. I'm still a little in shock from having travelled so far away from home, but I'm sure that will either wear off, or probably get worse as time goes on... I haven't left my hotel room yet, so we'll see where that takes me. Everything happened so fast last night, I'm not really sure where I am. Not to say that I would if it hadn't been such a whirlwind though all the same. He he...

The flights all went pretty well, nothing too unusual to report. My luggage all came through, I met a few nice people, the food wasn't even that bad! I did think that the flight from Vancouver to Seoul was never going to end though! I was trying not to sleep on that flight seeing as it was during what would have been day time in Seoul but I did a lot of reading and watched a lot of TV and movies and did survive, although I can't say that I didn't sleep at all. It was just too tempting from time to time. I am glad to say that it didn't affect my sleep last night though, like a baby I was!

When I got off the plane I went through customs and got my bags which was surprisingly painless, was picked up at the airport by someone from the school, brought to my hotel, called my family, got a phone call from one of the other foreign teachers welcoming me to Korea, slept like a baby, watched some TV and now here I am!

Interesting story before I go... many of you know how good I am at putting my foot in my mouth from time to time, well... hehe. Last night when the other foreign teacher (John) called to say hello and welcome me to Korea there was also another of the foreign teachers with him, Adam. Through the jigs and reels and me trying to fight off sleep enough to be pleasant I happened to mention that I recognised Adam's name from one of the blog posts of a girl who works with them. Adam had gone home for a month between contracts or something like that, and she had taken over his apartment when she moved here. Apparently, his apartment hadn't been the cleanest when he left, she posted about it, and half awake last night, I was silly enough to repeat the story! Oh my...

Anyway, I'm off to get my day started and do a little exploring!

Later days! <3

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Less than 6 hours till airport time...! Eeek!

Spaghetti supper with the entire family.................. check!

Packing .......................................................................... check!

Saying goodbye to the majority of loved ones.......... check!

Freaking out ...................................................IN PROGRESS!!

(Jokes! This is actually my sister Catherine... hehehe.....)


Breathe in... breathe out... it's going to be ok....

Ok, feeling momentarily calmer. In reality, I am mostly excited. Its just that odd moment of panic that has a tendency to strike now and again. I'm staying up all night tonight to help with the jet lag once I get there... promises to be an interesting adventure in and of itself.

I've realised as people have gathered around over the past few days to ask me questions, just how little I know about the experience that I've committed myself to for the next year. I know a lot more that when I started trying to figure all this out a few months ago, and yet I feel like I barley know the tip of the ice berg. In fact, the more I learn, the less I think I know in the grand scheme of all things Korean. How very exciting!

I'm off for a few hours... undoubtedly as the evening wears on and the fam goes to bed hoping to get a few hours sleep before the big trip to the airport, I'll get bored and I'll come back and tell you more of what I have learned so far... that way by the time I'll get there, you'll know almost as much as me, and I can get straight to all of the interesting stuff that's happening in the moment! Yipee!

T-1 day... aka: I'm leaving tomorrow!

I'm a little blown away by this idea... so much so that I hardly know what to write.

I still have some final arranging of items to do, but everything is mostly packed and only a few hours, a spaghetti supper and a long flight between me and the other side of the world. Eeek! I am soo excited right now, but also a little nervous! I am going so very far away, in such a very short time, and for such a long time! I know that people do it all the time, and I have faith that things will work out, but ... eek! It's a little daunting all the same, isn't it?

As you know I'm going to be living and teaching in Seoul, at a school called Gangseo-SLP which is in a district of Seoul called Gangseo-gu.

As you can see in this picture I just made, Gangseo-gu is on the western edge of Seoul, just below the Han river. The school is part of a large private network of schools that are pretty much all over Seoul and have a pretty good reputation for how they teach their foreign teachers, that's good news! Here are some pictures of the school that I'll be working at from their website:

That's it for now, I'll go back to rearranging things in my

suitcases... the updates should be coming pretty fast and furious now, so I'm sure you'll be hearing from me soon!

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