Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy (Lunar) New Year!

Hello everyone!

Finally having a few days of much needed nothing time, I also have managed to carve some time into my day to write a little message to all you folks back at home. My extra busy month is almost over, and I can't wait. Today is Monday and there is no school because of the Lunar New Year here (we call it Chinese New Year at home) and I'm loving having a four day weekend. The Lunar New Year is a big deal here, so just about everything is closed, and I have done absolutely nothing except go out for a quick breakfast at one of the few places that is open all day... ahhh, rest! It is wonderful!

The past week flew by without much incident. I'm really getting into the swing of things right now at school, and am not really feeling like the new teacher any more which is very nice. There are also two new teachers since me which really helps. One arrive just about six weeks ago, and the other last week. We are now down to two Newfoundlanders in the office unfortunately... a sad tale, but it will do. :) Fortunately both of the new girls are really nice, and I think they've been adding to the office dynamic wonderfully.

The New Year's celebrations have been pretty nondescript. I was invited to the house of an older Korean couple I know on Saturday and had traditional Korean rice cake and dumpling soup which was actually much more delicious than it sounds. Yesterday, I mostly did nothing and today was more of the same. I was in the mood to go exploring today, but everything was closed because of the holiday. Tomorrow promises to be a bit more interesting on that front, which I am very much looking forward to. Hopefully the weather will be as nice as it was today. Even though it continues to be frigidly cold here in Seoul it is plain to see that slowly but surely winter is lifting. The days are just a little bit longer, its seems to be just that little bit warmer from time to time. I can't wait until the spring time, and the cherry blossoms!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A little update..

As many of you know, but also many of you don't, I have been teaching extra courses at my school for the month of January that have made it very hard for me to blog or be on skype as frequently as I would like. I thought I would take a moment here during my break at school today and let you know a little of what I've been up to.

January has been going pretty great so far, to be honest. I really do love being busy, even though it can be a little stressful from time to time. I blogged last about the holidays and since have gone back to work and have just about successfully gotten back into the swing of things. My apartment is not as neat as it has been in the past, but there are only a few more days left to the month, and then I'll be back on a more normal schedule. Yay!

The extra class I've been teaching is actually pretty interesting. I teach them for 1.5 hours every day of the week and they are pretty great kids. There English is really improving from all the extra work they've been doing. The vacation schedule here in Korea is very different from that at home. Kids get almost two months vacation in the winter and then more vacation in the summer. Except, its no vacation. These kids work soo hard! They still do all their regular classes at SLP (my school), plus extra classes, and they are also going to a million different academies and winter camps where they spend there days doing more work. We're also encouraged to give them lots of homework because they're on break, as I'm sure all the other teachers they see are too... Instead of calling it vacation they should call it time-off-from-public-school-so-we-can-do-even-more-work-at-private-institutions-ion ... yikes!

I've also been attending a really cheap Korean class offered at one of the universities here. Korean is a really interesting language to learn. It looks like characters, like Chinese, but it is actually phonetic, and pretty easy to learn the alphabet. I got a really neat electronic translator for Christmas which has really been helping me out with new vocabulary and stuff. Awesome!

I was thinking about putting some here for you to see, but I don't know how to start. Hmm... Let me show you some of the basic symbols.

ㄹ = L/R
ㅗ = O
ㅏ = A

So, if you put these sounds together you make, 로라 = Laura!

Usually Koreans pronounce my name Rora, because of the L/R thing, but it normally works pretty well.

Also, in interesting news, I really have been missing cheese a fair bit since I got here, because it is rare to find, and expensive when you find it, so cheese dishes have quickly been climbing my delicious list. (Not that they were ever that far down the list... hehe) When we were at a place called Rocky Mountain Tavern a few weeks ago which is a Canadian bar around an hour or so from my house, we had the most disappointing poutine... Randy knew how much good poutine means to me so somehow he managed to find out that there was a New York Fries in Seoul! I also didn't know until the day he took me there as a surprise that New York Fries is a Canadian chain... it was an interesting day of discovery. But oh, so delicious!

Anyway, I have more lesson planning to do and a class that starts in less than 15 mins so I should go and get ready, but I'll be back soon with bigger and better Korean adventures to tell you about! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!!

So, we left off with me feeling a little achy, and promising pictures.... and here they are!

This is a picture of my favourite, still nameless turtle! He's pretty tiny, and pretty awesome. I changed his water and cleaned his tank yesterday for the first time... that wasn't awesome, but he's totally worth it!

These fishes on the side of the road looked tasty, so I thought I'd take a picture for you all so you could feel both hungry and jealous at the same time... hehe. Some people actually think they do look tasty. I have no intention of being around when those same people try to eat these little (or big!) guys.

This is how I've been spending large portions of my vacation, and I know you may think less of me because of it, but I think its fabulous! As you can see its become a bit more complicated since the early days, but it sure is great fun!

The first picture here is the bus we took to get to the ski resort. The second is some silly looking, tiny haystacks that I took a picture of from the bus because I thought they were cute.

Here is a picture of me all decked out in my ski gear, looking cool and eating a hotdog from the Dog and Chips stand behind me. Particularly in this picture I think I look like I'm having a good time, but not in Asia. I also look like I'm snowboarding, but its not true! I did ski up a storm though, when I wasn't munching on delicious onion dogs.

The first picture here is the ski lodge at the resort, and the second in the hotel we stayed in. I believe that both look nicer in the photos than they actually were in real life, but we had a fabulous time, so we didn't mind. The hotel especially was a bit of a shifty operation. The first day when we went to the ski park, the people organizing took lift passes off a bunch of kids and then put them on us.... shady! It all worked out for us though, which I am very thankful for, and I'm very glad we went!

Here are a few pictures of inside the hotel. Skis on the wall, no bed... doing it right, Korean style!

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