Monday, November 28, 2011

A Hong Kong Thanksgiving

A friend and I went to Hong Kong for American Thanksgiving. We arrived late on Wednesday night and stayed through Sunday morning. Here are the highlights:

Thursday - Disney Land

Friday - Star Ferry to Hong Kong, Stanley Waterfront Service, Lan Kwai Fong, Symphony of Lights harbor show, Temple Street Night market

Saturday - Massage and facial, the Jade Hawkers Bazaar, The Shamrock Pub

Disney was a wise choice for American Thanksgiving. We had lunch at the Starlight Cafe and as I was enjoying my fried chicken and looking around I was remembering all of my other Disney times. It was nice to be looking at such familiar surroundings on a day that should be spent with family.

The time I spent in Hong Kong was way different than my trip last year. Last year my buddy and I had wandered about SoHo just taking in the sites but with little direction. Then we experienced the great Dragon parade. It was an adventure, but there was much of Hong Kong to explore.

In preparation for this trip I inquired about places to go and things to do. We were directed to an area of Hong Kong called Stanley. This was a wonderful choice. Much to my surprise this area of town is on the other side of the island so it was longer taxi ride than anticipated but well worth it. The shopping was great. I was able to pick up some things for me and some things as gifts. After a few hours of shopping and lunch we ran into some colleagues who pointed out a grocery store and some other fun shops. We were able to pick up some spices and pudding - both of which are hard to come by in Seoul.

The night market was interesting. It was a last minute plan so I had already had dinner. I would have preferred to eat at the market as the food looked and smelled great. We soon realized that the night market had all of the same stuff as the Stanley market. A lot of junk with only a few treasures. The shopping was much better in Stanley as there were more stalls with authentic goods (or so I hope).

Saturday was very similar to my last trip to Hong Kong minus the typhoon. I meandered through the streets of Kowloon taking in the site and turning down about 100 offers for a tailor, watches, and bags. I enjoyed an inexpensive and relaxing massage followed by a facial. The jade market was good and I picked up a few more pieces for myself and others.

Returning to school today was a little hard to do given the amount of work I DIDN'T do over the break, but I was happy to see my students. I was able to touch base with a few that have been struggling a little and to hopefully encourage them towards biology success. With mid-terms coming up stress levels are sure to be increasing from already high levels.

In less than 3 weeks midterms will be over, college apps completed, and I'll be on a beach somewhere in Australia. More to come later.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter has arrived

It's beginning to feel a lot like winter here in Seoul. This weekend we had temperatures below and just above freezing. I have been enjoying the cooler weather for the most part. What has not been pleasant is zipping around on my scooter in such cool temperatures. Until I get a face shield for my mask I do not think I'll be riding much while the temperatures are so low.

As much as I enjoy the cool temperatures I was delighted to see that it will be between 65 and 80ºF while I am in Hong Kong this week. After a half day with the students and a faculty luncheon and afternoon of work, I'll be heading off to Hong Kong with a friend for a quick vacation.

I am looking forward to the time away from Seoul. All we have planned so far is a day at Hong Kong Disney, dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, shopping at the Jade Market, and seeing the harbor light show. The rest of the time should be filled with blissful relaxation.

As exciting as a long weekend in Hong Kong is, my thoughts will be with my family as they gather at the Emrich household in Tampa. I'll miss out on the good food, the gentle (and not-so gentle) picking on each other, and the general awesome family times. I'll enjoy seeing the photos and hearing Mom's account of the weekend. In return I may send some fun Disney stuff and/or crazy flavored kit-kat bars.

Before now and then I have much work to accomplish, including studying for and passing my lifeguard certification exam. So without much more of a delay I will continue to study my manual.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Fourth Day

Today is the day after the fall student retreat. For six weeks I worked along side 30+ teens and adults to prepare an intense 3 day retreat. The weekend was exhausting, awesome, energizing, renewing, and exhausting. I loved having the opportunity to interact with my students outside of the classroom and to show them more about myself and my faith. The weekend and the time leading up to it reminded me a great deal of my Alpha times.

Alpha was the retreat I attended and helped with while in college. The one that I can honestly say started me on my path to living and working in Seoul. That one weekend set off a chain of reactions that has helped me make some wonderful life decisions. I don't think that I would have ever considered doing long-term service had it not been for the experiences that occurred as a result of attending my first Alpha. If I hadn't gone to Cleveland I wouldn't have ended up in Baltimore, and I might not have come to Seoul. It is amazing to see how seemingly small actions can lead to new opportunities.

Coming off the mountain (where the retreat was held) I was met with a mess in my apartment, stacks of papers to grade, meetings to attend, and lessons to plan. None of that went away while I was on the retreat (how amazing would that have been?) and the urgency to finish my planning and grading has actually increased. However my understanding of and relationships with my students has been strengthened. The lessons will happen (ready or not), the tests will be graded (eventually), the meetings will happen, and I will clean up my apartment or my adjumonie will come and clean it for me. The feeling of being more focused on God, for me and my students is why I have chosen to work in a Christian school. Once again, I know that I am exactly where God wants me to be right now in my life.

De Colores!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Where did the time go?

Once again, it seems like my weekends disappear before they begin. This weekend involved a market adventure, retreat preparation, a SPECTACULAR high school performance, a wild and crazy birthday party, American brunch, lifeguard training, and preparing some Mexican fare for a dinner meeting I have tonight.

I failed to accomplish much in the way of grading papers, but I was involved in the high school environment.

Preparing for the high school retreat (Vida) reminded me of preparations for ALPHA in college. I have enjoyed getting to know my students on another level, and showing them a non-academic side of myself. A few of the students wanted to know if they could call me Rebecca. When I said that would be ok with me outside of the classroom, they still couldn't bring themselves to use my first name. It was a bit dramatic, but very comical.

I am one step closer to becoming a student again. I have applied to and received a provisional acceptance to a graduate program at the University of Maryland-College Park. There are two final steps, submission of transcripts and successfully passing an entrance exam. The transcripts are being compiled (which is what happens when you attend 4 different universities) and I am contemplating the test. I will need to have a 3 hour block of time to complete 50 multiple questions and 10 essay questions. My student suggested that I simply "Google" the questions or use my textbook. I was exasperated at the thought and I wondered what they have learned thus far in their education. I corrected them by explaining personal integrity, and I hope it sticks with them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chu-Sok Staycation

Today marks the final day of my Chu-Sok holiday. Chu-Sok is equated to American Thanksgiving and this year it fell on Monday/Tuesday so we had a 5 day weekend.

I spent most of my time doing nothing and loving it. I did to the following:

1. Have an adventure in a new part of the city. Lilly and I made the trip to the end of Line 6 and looked around that stop for a while. Our area of town is much more exciting, but at least I know that now.

2. I drove my scooter around the city and have started to feel more confident as a driver. This was a great time to practice as there was very little traffic yesterday.

3. I watched college football, cricket, and played Cribbage until the wee hours of the morning one day.

4. I watched all 4 Indiana Jones movies, in a row, with the Walkers. I recommend doing it one day when you are stuck inside with little else to do.

5. I finished about 1/2 of the work I had hoped to accomplish. I still have the rest of today.....(procrastination is hard to grow out of).

All-in-all, it was a great holiday and I am happy that we only have two days before the weekend happens again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

For the love of students

Past and present, I love my students. I am always a little apprehensive at the start of a new year. One never knows what each new class will be like. Even knowing who you should have, people can change a lot during a summer or with new classmates. After seeing each of my new classes and a lot of my former students I can safely say that I really do love my students.

In addition to thinking the world of my current students I have been in contact with some of my former students as well. I love to hear what my SKHS girls are up to, good, bad, and boring. I have had the chance to chat online with some recently and it bring me joy. Just a few minutes ago a graduate from the class of 2011 stopped by and talked with me for a few minutes. Tomorrow he will head off to the University of British Columbia in Canada. I feel honored that he would take a few minutes during this crazy time before his departure to talk with me. It may have been a accident as he was looking at the new gym and I just happened to be here, but I'll take what I can get.

And in other news, my birthday and birthday weekend were great. My birthday was filled with cake (homemade chocolate, homemade red velvet, and Costco sheet with a rainbow), friends, family (by proxy) and good times. My birthday was announced over the speaker system at the start of the day so students were extra nice to me (it helped that both of my senior classes got cake out of the deal). After school I was able to swim a 1/2 mile before going to Korean BBQ with the normal "meating" crew.

Friday night several of us went for dinner at Outback and then I stopped by the high school's "Night of hanging" (it was simply a new twist on Hangout Night). Saturday involved a working coffee morning with Steph at a new coffee shop in the neighborhood, watching House with the Walker's, and some serious BOC (my favorite bar) with the residents of B-12. Sunday started with church (the best start possible) and was followed by coffee, groceries, rooftop sunbathing, Burger King, the aquarium at COEX (manatees, penguins, and seals were some of my favorites), an iced chocolate, On the Boarder, and a sneak attack gift from SCUBA Poz.

All in all, it was a good 29th celebration. I can't wait to see what this year brings

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Registration Day

A week of staff days came and went. There were meetings, meetings, and more meetings. We did have a 1/2 day faculty retreat which was enlightening. As a faculty we met in small groups to discuss what it means to be "Centered in Christ" which is part of the school's mission statement. We talked about what that means to us personally and how it can be seen in our teaching. It was a good retreat.

One morning between meetings I was approached by a teacher I have known for the past year but had little personal interaction with. I have been wanting to get to know her and her husband better but there just didn't seem to be the opportunity. She invited me to join the Bible study she and some other young ladies are a part of. I was surprised and excited at the thought. Out of no where two of my desires seem like they will be fulfilled. 1. Getting to know this teacher (and some of the other ladies) and 2. Participating in a Bible study. I have been trying to complete the daily Mass readings, but that just isn't my meeting my Bible understanding needs. Mass readings give you a snapshot of a book in the Bible but can often be disjointed. I took my time in deciding if it really was something I can do this year. The Bible study meets on Thursday mornings from 7-7:45. As it turns out, Thursdays are the only days in which I have to teach first period and the day in which I teach 4 of 5 periods. Knowing that it will be a long day, I have decided that starting it with a Bible study is really the best choice.

Thursday night of last week marked the last "Meating" with all members present. Last year I became part of a going to have Korean BBQ (meat) every Thursday night. Over the summer one of the founding members decided to return home to be near family during trying times. He will be departing this week, so we had one last Thursday of good food and good times. Sunday night we returned to the normal restaurant with an extra 15ish people to have a farewell dinner. I am sad to see him go, but happy to have known him.

As a result of going to the farewell dinner I missed Sio's birthday dinner at On the Boarder, but I was able to spend some quality stitching time with her earlier in the day.

Having a social network already in place is one of the best parts of being a returning teacher. That and not having to try and remember every little detail about the school and living in Seoul.

Now onto current events. Today is Registration Day. Today is the day that all new students and parents come to school for a soft opening of sorts. The Head of School will formally welcome them and then they will disperse by division. The new high schoolers will be welcomed by the principal and the student council. The faculty will be introduced and then dismissed to our offices where we will wait for the students to be led around and introduced. Not too much stress which is good as I have a lot to finish before the start of instructional days tomorrow. I should have done a lot of work last night, but I was battling with my first batch of almond butter. What I learned is that I should roast the almonds in advance next time rather than attempt raw almond butter. In the end, after a lot of food processing (greater than 1 hour) I have a cup of almond butter sweetened with honey. While I'm not the biggest fan, my neighbor KC really seemed to enjoy it.