Sunday, August 28, 2011

Remembering July 2009

I have come a long way since first arriving in Korea. When I left Minnesota in the middle of July 2009 I was so scared. Arriving in Korea was a very shocking experience for me. I was rushed around, from Incheon to Suji, with a man who spoke no English and I was alone. I was then dropped off at a Korean Love Motel and recieved a letter from the school director. I had NO idea where I was, what I was suppose to do or when I would meet the other teachers. I had a very hard time adjusting to Suji while being by myself for the first 2.5 days. Finally, after a very long weekend, I arrived at the school. The other teachers had no idea that I had arrived but I was glad to finally feel like I belonged somewhere. I wanted to leave Suji as soon as I had arrived. Being stuck in an unfamiliar place, with no one that you know, in a dirty love motel is a very hard experience to go through. Looking back, I can still remember how terrifying Suji seemed. Now, I cannot imagine being here for less than 2 years. I have loved living in Suji.

My time at LCI has also had its ups and downs. My first class was a 6-1 class and I really loved teaching them. They had already been studying English for six months so my adjustment was easy. After 6 months with them, I had to say goodbye as they moved onto a new teacher. At the time I thought that I would never love a class more. I was wrong. My next class was the 6-2 class. They were entering their second full year of English. I taught this class for an entire year and loved them times a million. We were so bonded and I loved teaching this class everyday. This is the class that I CANNOT imagine saying goodbye too. I will miss them so much! After teaching them for a year, I again had to change classes. I got my current class, a class of seven year olds who knew no English. I had a very hard time adjusting between the classes. My old class was able to speak to me in English, in full sentences. My new class knew nothing. Not hello, not goodbye. Looking back on my first weeks with them I remember how hard it was to get my point to them. I had to get all of their books, backpacks and pencils. I had to remove all of their shoes and put on all of their jackets. Now these same kids can read numerous sentences at a time. They can read long words and speak in sentences. As hard as it was in the beginning, it has made the end all the more special. I have seen them take huge leaps in English and I know that is because of me. Teaching Korea has been hard, exciting, terrifying and memorable. I wouldn't change these last two years for anything.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August Field Trip

My class and the actors

Fred's class

Last Thursday Fred and I went on our last field trip with LCI. We arrived at school and jumped on a LCI bus. I was assigned the bus that has 6 of my 9 students! It was a loud and social ride to our destination. After a short 15 minute ride, we arrived in Migeum. We went to see a play, "The Emperors New Clothes." As the play started the actors told us all to turn off our cell phones and to not take pictures. As this was all in Korean, Hailey translated it all for me. She was so concerned that I understood all of the rules! She is the class mother. The play lasted for about an hour. Most of the kids enjoyed it but a few got bored. After the show we all took pictures and then headed back to LCI. Overall it was a great day but it was sad to think that it was our last field trip. It is always great to get away from LCI and to have a fun day with our students!

Claire and Dana

Zion and Olivia

Daniel and Brian

My old class: Young, Cheny and Audrey

Fred and Chris

Fred's class: John, Sean and Julianna

Fred's class: Jamie, Jasmin and Jessica

Fred's class: Ray, Vicky and Elizabeth

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Two Weeks at LCI

Today marked our final two weeks at LCI. As we are preparing to leave LCI, and Korea, we are filled with a lot of emotions. Although we have faced a lot of hard times and challenges in Korea, it has been our home for 2 years. It is very hard to pack up and leave this place that we have loved. We enjoyed our time in Pohang and in Suji and cannot believe that it is time to say goodbye. Looking back to July 2009, we can't believe how fast time has flown by. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were terrified and leaving MN on a plane for Korea. We were scared, excited and full of questions. Now, once again, we are scared, excited and full of questions. We are thrilled to be moving on our with our lives and to travel around Asia and South America but wonder what will happen once we leave Korea. How can you say goodbye to a city, co-workers and students that you have loved for two years? These next two week are going to fly by and we hope that we can take advantage of our last weeks in Korea.

Patti and I in the staff room. She is usually looking off into the distance.

My favorite Brian. I ask him everyday if he will come to America with me. I have yet to get a 'yes' from him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last Weekend

Last weekend we decided to lay low in Suji. On Friday night we went to dinner at a great restaurant near our work, European Kitchen, and then headed to Batman with friends. A lot of people in Suji were out for the night. It was a great chance to hang out as one big group. On Saturday we met up with Ann, David, Colin and a few of his friends and headed to a LG Twins baseball game. We even met up with Fred's friend Travis who lives in Pohang. Fred replaced Travis at LCI when he first arrived in Korea. After a slow game, and a loss, we all headed back to Suji. Sunday was just spent relaxing around the apartment and going to Lotte Mart. In the evening we went to Tristan's house for a pot luck dinner. It was a great way to end a relaxing weekend.

Fred and I

LG Twins vs. Hanwha Eagles baseball game

K. Garcia who once played for the Yankees. He has punched umpires here.

Travis, Colin and Fred

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011: Third and Final

Last week LCI had summer vacation. Fred and I decided that we were going to stay in Korea. We would have loved to travel abroad but since we are leaving in a month we decided to stay. Once school ended on Friday, most teachers went home to prepare for Saturday morning flights. Ann rushed to the airport for a Friday night flight. Fred and I met a few of our friends from another school and went to dinner. Most of our friends from In2 school also did not leave Korea. We had dinner with Drea, Dan, Colin, John and Brad. After dinner we headed to Batman for drinks. On Saturday we had lunch with Joo and Yumi before relaxing all night. On Sunday we left our apartment and headed to Seoul at 8:30am. We took a 10:30am KTX bullet train to Busan, South Korea. We have been to Busan many times and even spent our first summer vacation, 2009, there. We arrived at 1pm and checked into our hotel. After a stop at E-Mart to gather food supplies we found dinner then relaxed in the hotel and enjoyed the English TV (Hello Discovery Channel and CNN).

On Monday we woke up and headed to the bus terminal. We took an hour long bus ride to Pohang, the city that Fred lived in last year. We went straight to our favorite Korean place for lunch and then went to the Pohang LCI. We knew that the school was also on vacation but we were hoping to see someone. We didn't find anyone but had a good time remembering Fred's first year in Korea. Next we headed to the POSCO Steel Art Museum. We found out that it was closed so we couldn't venture inside. From there we went straight to the beach. We walked around and tried to find some of Fred's old students. No luck. We then spent the afternoon on the beach and playing cards by the water. For dinner we went to our FAVORITE restaurant in Korea, clams on the beach. It was wonderful! We then took a bus back to Busan and got to the hotel around 10:30pm.

Pohang Beach

Clams on the beach

On Tuesday we spent the day relaxing. We simply walked around Busan and enjoyed being out of Suji. We went to a Busan Lotte Giants baseball game in the afternoon. We got seats in the second row, first baseline. They were great seats! The best part is that they only cost 15,000 won, about $12.00. Also, you are able to carry in WHATEVER you want from beer, to fried chicken to whole pizzas. What a great night!

First Giants game of 2011 in Busan (Showing off our Giants style rally caps)

On Wednesday we had horrible weather. This was the day that Korea was affected by major flooding and landslides (see my previous post). Even though Busan was not heavily affected, it was still stormy and rainy all day. We ventured to the beach but spent the day in a coffee shop reading and playing cards. We tried to go the another Giants game but it was rained out. Instead we headed back to the main beach in Busan, Haeundae. We had dinner and then went out for drinks. We even found a bar with online darts so were able to play our friends Drea and David in Suji. It ended up being a very fun night.

On Thursday it had finally stopped raining. We headed back to Haeundae. We laid on the beach and swam. After a while we were very red so we found some food and went back to our hotel. We quickly changed and headed to another Giants game. This time the Giants won so it was a much more exciting game!

Haeundae Beach

Second Giants Game

On Friday we had lunch then took a KTX train back to Seoul. We then bused to Suji and got home around 7pm. Overall it was a great vacation. We are now on our one month countdown! It is hard to believe that after two years it is now almost time to leave Korea. I am excited for the next adventure to begin but not yet ready to say goodbye to this country that we have called home.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mud Slide

Here is a Youtube clip of one of the landslides.

Flooding and Mudslides

Over the past few days Korea has had a lot of flooding and mudslides due to rain. It is the rainy season here but over the past week we have received A LOT more rain than normal. I read one report that it was raining about 2 inches an hour! Seoul was flooded and many areas were evacuated, including ones near us. Luckly, Fred and I had left our apartment on Sunday, well before most of the damage on Tuesday. We were already in Busan when the mudslides began. One of our co-teachers, Chad, was on a train from Busan and Gyeongju when a tree fell on it. They were covered in glass and taken to a nearby emergency room. We saw reports of Seoul with trees all around and over turned cars. There is even a video of actual waves rolling through the streets of Seoul ( The area that was hit the hardest, and had the most deaths, in where we went to ride ATV's last weekened. We are glad that we were safe during this period of time and glad to be back in our apartment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day in Gangchon

Yesterday Fred and I headed to Gangchon with Joo and Yumi (Batman's owner and his girlfriend). Gangchon is a city in the mountains that is northeast of Suji. We left Suji around 11 am and arrived about 90 minutes later. We had chicken galbi for lunch. This area is known around Korea as 'the area' for chicken galbi. After a delicious lunch we decided to rent 4 wheelers. The town was filled with places to rent scooters, bikes and ATV's. We set off on the trail around the mountains. After about 15 minutes it began to rain. The rain made it hard to see but the views were very cool. All of the mountains and streams were surrounded with fog and mist. After riding for an hour we were soaked. The ride was very beautiful, thrilling and memorable. Before we left town we stopped at a batting cage. We also stopped at a small waterfall. After a while we arrived in Suji and relaxed for the evening. Even though it was a rainy Saturday, it was one that we will always remember.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hailey's Birthday

Yesterday we celebrated another birthday. Hailey, the class care-giver and social butterfly, turned seven years old. She came to school in a beautiful blue dress with her hair styled perfectly. Her mom came with enough food for 25 grown adults. Each student had their own tray filled with shrimp, chicken, cookies, bacon wrapped duk-boki (rice cake), cookies and rice cakes. We also had fruit cups, mango juice and a heart shaped strawberry cake. I knew that her mom would go all out on the food. She is so sweet and generous. She has even brought me lunch because it was a rainy day and she didn't want me to have to go outside. We all ate and ate and enjoyed the day. Daniel ate so much that he became my first class barfer. The party was amazing and everyone had a great day!

Hailey and I

Hailey, her mom and I

My class (still missing Claire and Zion)

An example of the food

Monday, July 11, 2011

Olivia's Birthday

Yesterday I finally had a birthday party with my new Kinder class! Olivia, who is the class smartie and a very sweet girl, turned 7 (6 in America) years old. She arrived in school in a beautiful pink dress complete with matching hairbow and pearls. Her mom had a baby last week so Hailey's mom came with her to help her with the food and festivities. We took a ton of pictures and sang then enjoyed our fruit cups, yogurt, cookies, cake and of course chicken. Olivia's mom had made hand-made hairbows for the girls, hair clips for the teachers and bow ties for the boys. Everyone loved their party favor. Sadly, Claire was on vacation with her family on Jeju Island and Zion got chicken pox so we were missing a few key friends. Overall, it turned out to be a very fun party. 2 days until the next birthday party!

Happy Birthday Olivia!

My class and I

Olivia and I

Daniel and Brian with their bow ties

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th Place Out of 96

This past weekend Fred competed in a dart tournament in Seoul. His partner was our favorite bartender Joo, who owns our local hangout, Batman Bar. We met at Batman at 8am on Sunday morning to practice before heading into Seoul. The rainy season has offically started so we woke up to rivers running down the streets and pouring rain. Lucky for us, Joo was able to drive us everywhere. Once in Seoul the guys got their name tags and bracet assignments. The played four games in the pool play. Two teams from their pool moved on and they were ranked first. From there they played 5 other games before losing in the semi-final game. They ended up in 4th place! They had the largest division, with a total of 96 teams. 4th out of 96, not bad! Our friend Colin was playing with a Korean man and a few other friends were there all day in support. It turned out to be a very exciting day for Suji Batman Bar!

Joo, Colin and Fred

Colin hoping for a win

Friday, July 1, 2011

Third July in Korea

Time has been passing by very quickly. Although we have not done anything too exciting, we have been busy. Fred spent the last months preparing to take the LSAT. He took the test last Sunday in Seoul and will find out his results in about two more weeks. We got up very early and headed to Yonsei University in Seoul for the test. He is very glad to be done!

As Fred was studying, I was planning for our big trip once we leave Korea. We bought our tickets and now are planning out each leg of the journey. We fly out of Korea on September 1st and head to Bali, Indonesia. From there we will travel to Singapore and Kuala Lumpu, Malaysia. We will then travel through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Once we leave Asia we are flying to Lima, Peru. We will be traveling through South America until the middle of January when we head to Costa Rica and then to MSP. We will arrive on January 19! I can't believe that it is almost time to begin this next exciting adventure!

Life in Suji has been uneventful. Work has been good but stressful. My Kinder students have been learning so much! I am always amazed at what they can say. I have one student that has been acting out a lot and causing a lot of distractions in class. She has to leave at least once a day and she is starting to cause me a lot of stress. I am hoping that this phase will end soon!

We are only three weeks away from summer vacation. Since we leave Korea one month later we decided to spend our vacation in Korea. We are going to go to Busan, the second largest city, on the ocean, in the southern part of the country. We have been to Busan many times and even spent our first summer vacation there in 2009. We plan on relaxing and going to Giants baseball games. It is going to be great to get out of Suji. I can't believe that this is our third July in Korea!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June Field Trip

Last Thursday we took our monthly Kinder field trip. We arrived at LCI and loaded onto three coach buses. After driving for nearly 50minutes we arrived at Yongin Agricultural Theme Park. It was a huge garden area full of flowers, playgrounds, fountains and activities. The day was so warm with a cloudless blue sky. After walking around for a few minutes all of the kids were hot and wanting a break. Luckily they were able to run through some fountains to cool off. Next we headed to an area with traditional Korean games. The kids had a great time playing and exploring the park. Finally, it was time for lunch. Each class was perched in a hut above the gardens. Each kid came with a lunch of gimbap (rice and veggies rolled in seaweed), fruit, veggies and snacks. Each mom had sent enough food to feed the entire class so we had a huge buffet. All of the students wanted to share with each other and with me. Hailey's mom has also packed me a HUGE lunch with 3 sandwiches, cherries, fruit skewers, iced tea, water and snacks. After sharing with a lot of others, we still couldn't finish it all. The kids were all ready to head back to LCI. Many of the students slept or relaxed on the way home. Field trips are always fun but very tiring. After chasing 10 6 six year olds in the hot sun for hours, it is hard to focus and teach for 5 more hours! It was a very memorable day. It is hard to believe that Fred and I only have one or two more field trips at LCI!