Sunday, January 30, 2011

Koreanism, Weekends, Plates

#156.  Most Korean homes have a separate refrigerator specifically for kimchi.  While kimchi is one of my favorite side dishes, it is also one of the most potent.  Even with kimchi in the "odor locking" containers, the pugnant smell somehow permeates into the refrigerator giving that carton of milk a decidedly kimchi taste.  There's nothing I loathe more than eating a bowl of cereal that has a little kick of kimchi.  I love my kimchi but kimchi in my milk is a bit much.

#157. Here in Korea it is extremely rare to have dressing rooms in clothing stores.  Here, everyone should know exactly how something will look on them and either buy it or put it back.  Not for me.  I need that dressing room to do the squats in that expensive pair of jeans to make sure they fit right.  I need to make sure tops fit correctly.  Swimsuits are as figure flattering as possible.  No dressing rooms?  No thank you.  I am not a cookie cutter size and do not possess a photographic memory. 

#158. Korea and snow.  More specifically, snow removal.  In Pohang, snow is a rarity.  Let me clarify.  This past January was the first snowfall that was more than a dusting in more than 50 years.  Due to this, the city was clueless on how to react to all the white, mushy stuff.  The citizens of Pohang did their best to remove the snow but instead of buying the standard shovels to take care of sidewalks or streets, they used pieces of card board or dustpans.  Yes.  Cardboard and dustpans.

#159. Hot weather.  Rainy weather.  Snowy weather.  Get out the umbrellas!  While the foreigners were happily romping around while the snow was coming down, the Koreans didn't seem to share our enthusiasm.  Bundled up in layers with an umbrella shielding their perfectly coiffed hair was how they enjoyed the beautiful white snowfall.  Oh Korea....

During the past 48 hours I accomplished hardly any of the goals I had set out for myself.  I had originally planned to have everything packed up for the return trip to "Amurica" by Sunday evening.  Well, it's Sunday evening and my apartment is in much the same state as it was on Friday evening: destroyed.

Instead of staying in and meticiulously packing for home, I decided to go out and experience my last weekend with some amazing people.  A decision I do not regret.  Friday night was spent in a DVD Bang with two of my favorite people, Alissa and Pat.  Saturday included alot of napping and the farewell party for my favorite bar in Pohang, Tilt Bar and Grill.  They are moving locations and will be open again at a bigger and better location near the beach sometime in February.  Sunday was spent much the same way as Saturday, alot of napping.

Dinner before TILT with one of my favorite people, Gayle

Even though my weekend lacked in the structure or productivity department, one goal WAS achieved.  I finally found the plate for my mother.  She has been asking, the request growing a bit more impatiently in the succeeding months, for a Korean plate to proudly display.  While I don't exactly understand why this was so important, who I am to question my mother.  My tired self, along with one of my best girls Virginia, spent the better part of an afternoon finding the perfect plate. Not too big.  Not too small.  Koreanesque looking.  Sheesh.  Eventually the blessed thing was found so now the next challenge is to get it through 3 airports in 3 different countries and 19 hours of continuous flight in one piece.   We shall see how that adventure unfolds.

In a few days I will be home.  Correction, in almost exactly 3 days from this moment I will be home.

Woah, shit just got real.  America here I come.   

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recent Ridiculousness

It's been awhile since i've actually written about what i've done in Korea.  I've done the usual "it's late and here's what I am thinking" or the "Wordless Wednedays" but not much about daily life.

Here you go.

The past few weeks have been hectic to say the very least.  Teachers coming and going.  Getting back into the swing of teaching after a Thailand vacation.  Getting ready to come back to the good ol' USA.  Goodbye parties everywhere.  Like I said, hectic.

One very good thing to come out of the busyness is that the ladies of Pohang have decided that we need to see much more of eachother. Specifically, we need to see more of eachother without all the men.  While we girls do love all the boys that make up our group, it's nice to sometimes JUST have the ladies.  Talk about the boys.  Talk about female things.  Gossip.  Yes, gossip.  It happens in every circle and regardless of what the boys say, they do it too.  We have instituted a bi-monthly(ish) girls only afternoon and it has made a HUGE difference for me.  There's just something about being with girls who are all going through similar things and have similar outlooks on life that puts a smile on my face.

Aside from the ladies who lunch, I have been attempting to lay low in order to save money and not tucker myself out before the big stateside visit.  In less than 9 days (finally single digits) I will be flying into the Indianapolis airport and enjoying American food at its finest.  Now for the obvious (well at least it seems to be for the living abroad teacher spending the holiday at home) question.  What will my first meal be?  My meal is still up in the air (I have narrowed it down to be some sort of boneless fish) but my beverage has been decided for months.  And yes, I will explain why the "boneless fish" would be a priority after coming from living for a year in a coastal city.  Back to the important topic of the beverage.  At home,  I am a huge fan of Blue Moon.  A pint of that with a orangce slice in a frosted mug...Yes please.  Yes, it's beer.  No, i'm not an alcoholic.  You try living off crappy beer that rivals PBR (sorry Lia) for a year and tell me how you feel about your favorite brewed beverage.  You would be just as pumped as me.

Clearly going back to the states has been on my mind for weeks.  The countdown is finally in single digits.  It is slowly becoming a reality.  Almost there.  One more full week of teaching and it's back to the stars and stripes I go.  NICE-UH!

To close here are a few pictures from the past few weeks.

[Photos Courtesy of Olya and Justin]

Eating honest to goodness King crab for the first time.
Clearly I was skeptical at first but after digging in I realized I will
have to visit the coastal cities MUCH more often.  One of the best
meals of my life.   

The last night for Pohang's favorite cover band, Happy Accidents.

Potluck game night at Franks.  Amazing food.  Great games.
Fantastic company.  What else could I have asked for?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A wordless Wednesday devoted entirely to the freak snowstorm that is STILL plaguing Pohang almost a month later.  With two fully days off of school, we made the most out of our time and made some of the coolest snowmen ever.  Don't believe me?  Check out the one with the mohawk.

[Pictures courtesy of Emily Smits]

Sunny?  Rainy?  Snowy?  Umbrellas out.

Snow covered Pohang.

Using the roof of one of the buildings for a stage

Rolling the bottom part of a snowman

The best snowman ever.  Look at that 'hawk.
The girls of the day doing silly poses.

Teddy and Tim doing their classic couple pose with our
anatomically correct snowmen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Finally Ready to be Here

This post is a little unusual for me.  I have never posted the lyrics of a song on here because none have ever really culminated how I felt in a particular moment.  This one hits the nail directly on its proverbial head.  Sometimes things happen in your life and it's hard to deal with them.  Death.  Loss.  Confusion.  Love.  Pain.  You think that you've compartmentalized each negative experience into its own little box, never to reopen them again.  You think everything has been said.  Everything has been dealt with.  Then something happens to tear at that ever so carefully put away box, to bring things into the light.  The opening of that box begins to make you questions the ramifications that occurred to create that box.

I'm done making boxes.  I'm done hiding from dealing with the lessons life throws at me.  I'm finally ready to be here.  Really be here.

Just a little, random late night insight from me.  If you haven't heard this song go out and buy it or rip it off the internet.  Either way, take a listen into the mind of me at this moment in my life.  It may give you some insight on your own.

Rosi Golan- It's Been A Long Day

It's been a long day
And all I've gotta say is make it strong
It's been a long day
And all I've gotta say is I've been wrong
So take a leave of absence
Tell me you'll be gone
I don't wanna see your face
It's been a long day
And I just want to hide away

It's been a long week
And all the lines come down heavy on me
It's been a long week
I'm finally feeling like it's ok to break
Into a thousand pieces
No one can replace
Only I can find my way
It's been a long day
And I just wanna hide away

It's been a long year
And everyone around me is disappearing
It's been a long year
And this mess around me is finally clear
So can I have a moment
Just to say hello
Can you let your anger go
It's been a long year
And i'm finally ready to be here

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Here are a few pictures from last weekend.  A goodbye party for a good friend Chad.  A few pictures of the ladies of Kids College.  People and pictures to always remember.

The first photo of the current ladies of Kids College

The Kids College ladies, past and present

Group picture to commemorate one of Chad's last nights in town before heading
back to America.  Safe travels buddy. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Change is Inevitable

It's late. Really late. It's that kind of night when it's too quiet and nothing can quite soothe me into the right frame of mind for sleep.  It may have something to do with watching a scary CSI episode before bed.  It may have something to do with the past few weeks being full of changes to my current employment situation.  It may have something to do with eagerly anticipating my arrival back to America in less than a month.  It may also be a combination of all of the above.  When I can't sleep, I write.  Some people clean.  Some people paint.  I write.  I realized in college that it helps to soothe me.  Helps me to figure out what's really keeping me awake.  

The past few weeks have been full of changes.  Leaving the beautiful beaches of Thailand to the snow of Korea was certainly a change.  An unwelcome one to say the least.  My lovely co-worker Heather will be leaving good ol' Kids College at the end of this week for greener pastures as well.  To spare everyone the long drawn out explanation as to WHY she is leaving and I am staying, let's leave it at "personal reasons."  I will leave it at that and just let your imaginations go to work.  I'm sure you can all think up a much more intriguing reason than the actual one.  Go ahead.  You know you want to.

So, Kids College is back to 3 teachers.  I now get to work with Lia and Brendan, along with the rest of our Korean staff.  They are Pohang's newest additions and have fit in quite nicely to the mix.  Thankfully we all seem to get along well and seem to have alot in common.  Lia is very active and is up for Hot Yoga and time at the gym.  Just the workout buddy I need to get my fat, lazy butt out of bed and back to the treadmill.  As for Brendan, he has just exactly the right amount of sarcasm that I require in a friend and coworker so he will do nicely.  Kids College is lucky to have them and I am excited to see what the next year will bring.  And no, I did not just say these nice things about them because they occasionally read my blog.  I actually mean them.

Back to things changing.  I used to fear change.  It used to scare the hell out of me.  That fear went out the window when I got on that first flight to Korea.  Now, I have realized that change is inevitable and expected.  Without change, nothing can move forward.

That's all for tonight.  One last quote to leave you with that is my favorite when referring to the topic of this blog.

"Change is the only constant."

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011: A Second Year in Korea

I have decided to forgo the traditional and impractical "New Years Resolutions" this year.  I am not in a traditional place so why should my resolutions be that way?

This year I have a few other resolutions that I will try to keep.  Try is the operative word.  I am not talking about losing a specific number of pounds.  Visit a specific amount of countries.  Do a certain amount of experiences.  My resolutions are more abstract and more fitting to my surroundings and my current frame of mind.  Simplicity is key when you are living in a country so far away from home.

Be more spontaneous
Live in the moment
Take every single opportunity to experience a different culture or country
Save enough money to finish my education when returning stateside
Pay off my credit card(s)
Keep an open mind
Be mindful of others
Become more participative of the outdoor and active population of Pohang
Be more diligent in writing in this blog to remind myself of the amazing experiences had abroad
Skype more often to friends and family
Make time for myself and not allow the feeling of selfishness to overwhelm me
Do my best to impart knowledge into the minds of my students
Stop sweating the small stuff
Learn to pick my battles
Stand up for myself
Don't settle for less than I deserve

There you go.  That's the simplified list.  Short. Sweet. To the point.  2010 was a whirlwind of change and excitement.  For 2011, I hope it brings me much of the same excitement from the previous year but with additional clarity, understanding and patience mixed in. I have a feeling that 2011 will be filled with memories that will last a lifetime.  If it is anything like the last year, I am in for one hell of a crazy ride.

Bring it on 2011.  I'm finally ready.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Year in Review

Exactly one year ago today, I began writing this blog.  It began as a way to document my journey to Korea and the teaching experiences I would have, but became so much more.  It become my way to take my friends and family around the world along with me while I travel .  My outlet for emotions.  My communication to those I cared for most.  Looking back on that initial post, it is hard to believe I am the same person.  I was lying on the floor of my mediocre apartment, trying to make this life changing decision.  Somehow I knew it was right for me.  It was meant for me.

Since that initial post, I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible.  I have formed friendships with some of the most amazing people from every corner of the globe.  I have been all around Korea and witnessed the Korean lifestyle and culture at its best.  I have traveled to Japan and found the beauty and destruction that has faced that country.  I have seen Thailand and seen the beauty of the country and its people.  Coming to Korea was the best choice I have ever made.  While it was one of the hardest decisions of my life, it has afforded me the ability to experience so much more than I ever could have imagined.

An entire year has passed and I only have the future lying ahead of me.  Before I came here I felt trapped.  Paralyzed.  Unfocused.  Confused.  Now I finally know what I want to do with the rest of my life and how I want to live it.  Coming to Korea changed me for the better.

Before coming here to Pohang, Korea I had no idea what was in store for me.  I didn't know the culture.  I certainly didn't know the language.  I didn't know a single soul.  I didn't know enough about Korea to fill an index card, let alone an entire year's worth of blogs.  Somehow I have fallen in love with the spontaneity, richness and culture that is the embodiment of Korea.

Here are my favorite pictures from 2010.  I can only imagine the shenanigans that will take place in the upcoming year.  The places in Korea yet to be visited.  Friends yet to be met.  Experiences yet to be had.  If 2011 is anything like 2010, this blog will continue with a newfound fervor.  May 2011 bring as many rewarding experiences and friendships as 2010 did.

Our Pohang Beerball League

My 24th Birthday.  Korean style. 

Going away party for Jared, one of the best guys I know.

My very first Pohang Steelers soccer game.

My first Daegu Ropes course excursion

World cup fever

Going away party for Nick Kelly

Mudfest 2010

One of many Guyompo beach trips

At a harbor in Japan with my ladies

The beginning of our Chuseok vacation to Geoju Island

After our hike up a mountain near Busan during Chuseok

Some of my best girls at Bogyeongsa

Angry Sunny during arts and crafts

Devilish little Hansu

The famous Homigot Hand

My part time kinder 6 class

Anna putting on her dancing shoes at With Wine

Pictures in Andong

Ladies afternoon in Daegu at the Holy Grill

Halloween 2010

Ugly Christmas sweater party

Caroling with the babies to each home.  Cutest Santas ever.

Standing on the Bridge Over the River Kwai

Two sleepy tigers allowed me to hold their tails.  Terrifying.

My newest tattoo.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Koh Phangan Experience

This second post is devoted an island called Koh Phangan.  We spent the tail end of our trip on this island and it was by far the most relaxed I have been in my life.  We did not look at clocks.  Time was not a factor  We judged our day by the sunrise and sunset or when hunger pains eventually set in.  The only things we cared about were the sun, exploring the island and eating and drinking to our hearts content.  We accomplished all of the above.

Enjoy the awesomeness that is Koh Phangan island.

Sunrise on our way to a 4 hour ferry boat trip

The unbelievable line of people on our ferry

I loathe ferries.  Loathe them. 

This view made it all worth it.

The colors of all of the fabric were so brilliant.
Our bungalows for the last few days and my home, the hammock. 

Rob and Jen on their scooters

Riding on the back of a scooter exploring the island

Nick Kelly, my scooter buddy extraordinaire

All our bikes

Treking around the coastline

Yet another view that takes your breath away

I want to go back

Right now.

Sunset on the beach

Beautiful sculpture

Yet another group shot

Thailand isn't Thailand without a fire show

My newest tattoo.  Prosperity, love and friendship.  It is placed
on my left shoulder and can be covered or proudly shown
depending on what the occasion calls for. 

Here is Nick getting his bamboo tattoo done.  This process is much different from the usual
machine method.  Fine needles are attached to the end of a piece of bamboo.  Usually 5 needles
are used.  The needles are put in a line so that a fine line can be achieved.  They then gently
tap this into the skin.  Can you say "OUCH?!"

The finished product.  Each line means something specific.  No bamboo
tattoo is the same. 

At the full moon party getting ready for the new year.  Goodbye 2010, hello 2011!

Originally this said, Happy New Year 2011.
A huge tower of fire is the perfect way to wrap up 2010.