Friday, December 31, 2010

Florida holiday

Almost two weeks into my trip and I don't know where the time went. I have seen high school friends, college friends, camp friends, brothers, sisters, parents, a niece, nephews, and dogs. I have eaten great food, opened gifts, gone to Harry Potter world, ridden roller coasters, shopped, and pampered myself. Now I sit in the Tampa airport awaiting my flight to Baltimore. 3 nights there then back to Tampa for two nights before heading home to Korea.

It has been a great trip. I love teaching in Korea but I hate being so far from all of the awesome people in the States.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Packed and ready to go

Tonight I pulled out my suitcase. Usually I pack the day of/night before. Not this time folks. I am packed and ready to go. Granted, I literally only packed 3 outfits, it still counts.

I decided that I am going to add to my wardrobe during my Christmas visit, and as incentive I only packed 3 outfits. If nothing else I'll be doing a lot of laundry while at home.

So, what did I do with the rest of the space? I filled it with gifts and knick-knacks from Korea, China, and Hong Kong. I have consumables, jewelry, clothing, toys, foreign currency, newspapers, postcards, and other random things. I laughed at some of the things I purchased as I put them into the suitcase and I know my friends and family will enjoy them too.

Now all I have to do is finish proctoring and grading my exams and then get to the airport. The wonderful HR man arranged to have a driver pick me up at my apartment and bring me to the bus stop. From there it is about an hour to the airport, the normal 2 hours in the airport before boarding, and a mere 20 hours more of flying before I arrive in Florida.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Purple sweet potato gnocchi and other domestic tasks

Ah Sunday, a day of rest and relaxation, a day of procrastination, or a day of panic before the start of another week? For me it has been all three.

I tried to start the day off with a trip to Costco. That didn't work so well as all the cars had been checked out already. Instead Myleah and I walked down to the local store only to find it closed. We lingered in a coffee shop until it opened, made our purchases and returned home. When I returned home 5 hours ago I had big plans for my day. I was going to go to the gym, finish organizing the slides in my classroom, finish my lessons for this week, and clean my apartment. In reality I have watched some tv, played some computer games, cleaned up part of my apartment, made several trips to storage, made purple sweet potato gnocchi and vegetable soup stock, cleaned out my fridge, and filed or deleted all of my October e-mails. I feel I was productive, but I didn't really make a dent in my list of to-do's.

I have a little over two hours before making something to go with the gnocchi. Part of it will be spend cleaning off my dining room table. Hopefully the other part will be filled with highly productive powerpoint creating.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The quest for goodness

Today was an amazing day. Here in some chronological order is why.

1. I woke up sans alarm clock and it was sunny outside. I finally feel like I am getting enough sleep, and I just LOVE waking up to the sun shining in my bedroom.
2. I skyped with most of the family. I had some face time with Mom, Dad, Savannah, Chris, Laurie, Patrick, April, Kelan and Aidan. I saw a lot of Kelan, including his smile, and a moment of Aidan.
3. Had a venti Starbucks latte. Yum.
4. Went shopping with some of the girls. We went to Insadong and Namdemun. I purchased some Christmas gifts (Mom, Mary, and Chris), a wedding gift (JP and Nora), and some things for me. For myself I purchased some hanji coasters, gloves, ear muffs, and a table top Christmas tree.
5. I had leftover Thanksgiving food for lunch. Yum (again).
6. I went to Itaewon where I had a massage and an adjustment by my chiropractor.
7. I had an early dinner at Quiznos (you guessed it, yum)
8. I explored part of the city via subway system.

Here is where the actual story begins. Upon returning to my subway stop I got turned around and ended up taking a different exit than I had planned. I knew where I was, I just wasn't where I wanted to be. Well, on my way up to the street level to catch a cab home I spotted several folks with Auntie Anne bags. I had seen them before but hadn't really given them any thought. Tonight it was different. I decided to find the Auntie Anne's and purchase a soft pretzel. Well, I went up and down 10 stories in two buildings before i came to the food court I had been in yesterday. I had looked around yesterday briefly so I knew that Auntie Annes' wasn't there but I figured another look around wouldn't hurt. I noted the Japanese place, the Kraze burger, the Mister Donut, and then with nothing but a line of people in front and two vats of lemonade I found the Auntie Anne's. I ordered an original pretzel, cheese, and lemonade. Good thing they understood my pointing and that I learned the word for cheese in Korean last week (~chees-a). I had my pretzel then found a taxi and came home. Bonus finds during my wandering include a Smoothie King, a Friday's and a Bennigan's.

I hope that tomorrow is just as good as today and that I get some homework done.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Crepes, hot chocolate and muscle atrophy

This morning as I was putting on lotion I realized that my right leg had atrophied. It isn't terrible, but noticeable. One of my friends was able to see a difference, even while I was wearing jeans. Time and use will even things out.

This morning I started life with two functioning feet by swimming laps. I only swam for 20 minutes, but it was great.

The school day was nothing really special. One of my students wasn't feeling well so I made her a card. I cut strips of construction paper (orange and blue) and wove them together. Then I glued that to a piece of white paper and wrote her a get better soon message on the back. I was going to give it to her when I taught her after lunch. Too bad she left school early. I understand she wasn't feeling well, but I had gone through the effort for nothing. The card sits un-given in my bag.

After school and swim practice my building mates and I went for dinner at a crepe place. It was AMAZING! I had a savory crepe with cheese, potatoes and bacon. It was so good, but of course, the company was much better.

After a quick stop at the store for some essentials (apples, cheese, kiwis, and green pens) I took a taxi home. While walking to catch a taxi I passed several coffee shops and was very tempted to buy a hot chocolate. I resisted the urge, and I am so happy I did. I decided to make my own once I got home. I have never made my own hot chocolate. I have always used the instant powders. Today I made the best hot chocolate I have ever had. Not only is it very tasty, but not too much work, and much less expensive than the coffee shop drinks. Not to mention I used low fat milk.

All in all, today was a day I enjoyed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pepero Day, two shoes, and study groups

Big things happening. Sorry in advance for the lack of order or connections.

Today is Pepero day in Korea. On November 11 it has become tradition to exchange Perpero treats. These are little cookie-ish sticks that are either dipped in chocolate, chocolate and nuts, or filled with chocolate. They are good and it was fun giving them to my students today. I gave them to some classes as they watched a movie on Global Climate change and as prizes for students getting the correct answers in another class. It was different.

I went to the doctor for another round of x-rays and a consultation today. I went with a book in hand and low expectations. I was told by my doctor in the States that a break like the one I have can take up to 9 months to heal. It has only been 3 and at my last appointment there had been no indication of healing. I arrived at the hospital, was taken to the x-ray area and left to wait. After a few minutes my number was called and I went for my 4th set of x-rays. This was the first time I was given a lead apron to wear. I was especially happy to have it as I just finished a lesson on mutations due to radiation. The tech and I went through the normal x-ray steps. He said a few things in English and motioned a lot. I sat, I stood, and I turned this way and that way. After my X-rays I went and waited for my consultation. The news this time was better. I have showed signs of healing, although my toe is still broken. I have been cleared to wear sneakers and swim, but specifically told to avoid running, jumping, or heels. Tomorrow will be the first time this year that my students will see me in two shoes. I have to take care as there is a possibility of re-breaking my toe. I suppose the new trampoline will have to go without my testing for another two months. I go back in January for more X-rays and another consultation.

Upon my return to school from the hospital I had 8 students join me in my room for some extra help. They didn't really need me, but I provided a place where they could study in groups. That was my big push last week at parent/teacher/student conferences. To try studying in a group. I am happy to see that several of them are giving it a shot. I think they will benefit from the effort. I love getting to know my students more.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween without the party

For the last three years Halloween has been celebrated with a great Op Teach party. This year was completely different. Rather than spend the day getting ready for the party I followed my normal routine then simply handed out candy.

My Sunday routine is:
- Coffee on the walk to the subway. Today I had my favorite drink (Campfire Mocha) from Caribou. It may have lacked the little marshmallows I would get in the States, but the drink was just as I remembered it.
- Subway ride to HomePlus
- Groceries for the week
- Taxi trip home
- Church
- School work
- Fun times

Today's fun times consisted of sitting around a bonfire (that's right, three in three nights) with some awesome folks and handing out candy to the oh-so cute kids. I ended up letting Jo pass my candy out for me and I quite enjoyed just watching and visiting.

Now I am back at home, a little smokey smelling and contemplating my lessons for tomorrow. I have done most of the reading I just haven't put anything into a presentation yet. Hm...It will happen but first I might watch some TV.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The blue form

Today was a great day. In reality, my life here in Korea is wonderful. Here are the highlights of my last few weeks.

1. I really like my students - they have such high expectations of me that I am becoming a much better teacher. My former students are great, and the relationships that I have/had with them cannot be replicated, however the dynamics here are so different. Having boys in the class is different, but enjoyable. Living on campus (and not having much of a life) has given me the opportunity to see many of the events that my students are involved in. Last night while out to dinner some of my students came into the restaurant just to say hello to me. It was so heart warming. After dinner we went for ice cream and I ran into the same group of students again. It was great.

2. I received an e-mail from a former student. Just as I was about to go to sleep her e-mail came in and made me laugh. Hearing from the States is always wonderful.

3. My presence has been requested for next week. My time has been booked for Friday night of next week. My new friends wanted to make sure that I was going to come for dinner so they made a point to mention it tonight.

4. Oktoberfest! Tonight was the campus Oktoberfest. We had a nice potluck style dinner and a bonfire. The fellow who organized it filled out a building request form (blue form) and magically 6 gas grills were delivered for the meat, and several table with chairs were put up. My school has these blue forms that I have known about but have yet to fill out. Last night another teacher blue formed wood for a bonfire and 4 bags of wood was delivered precut and ready to burn. Amazing! As a result of these blue forms and the effort of my co-workers I have had two lovely nights enjoying the cool-ish weather. My addition to the meal tonight was German potato salad. I did eat much of Aunt Adeline's potato salad when I was younger, but I think I may have come close. I tripled the serving and only had one small portion left.

I am going to leave it at that and enjoy an evening of crocheting and yogurt making. I hope the yogurt turns out this time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Positive feedback loops

A positive feedback loop is one in which the products of the reaction(s) ensure the process continues. Contrary to the term "positive" they aren't always good reactions.

Here are three examples in my life and how I have overcome them today

1. Updating my blog. I got out of the habit of updating it on a regular basis so the idea of trying to catchup was overwhelming. Rather than just give it a shot two weeks ago I just let it go. The longer I left it the more I would have to write to catch up, and the more I forgot about my day-to-day happenings. I have decided to just pick up where I am rather than where I left off.

2. Grading lab reports. I have let three assignments pile up. Instead of just sitting down and getting some of them graded I have simply pushed them to the back of my bag. Weeks later they are still there (a little more worn than when handed in) and my bag is simply heavier. I had imagined these papers terrible to grade each requiring more time than I have. Today while my students took a test I was able to grade an entire classes lab reports. Granted the class was only 8 students, it showed me that I shouldn't fear the amount of work.

3. SKSH reference letters. I specifically asked the students to give me all of their information before the start of the summer. I even began working on the letters before leaving Baltimore. Then the summer happened and I didn't do a single letter. I brought all of the information with me to Korea only to get sucked into the vortex of my new school without spending any time on the reference letters. Today, after school I blocked out 2.5 hours to write these letters. Would you believe it only took me one hour? All that time I was worried for nothing.

Let me be an example ladies and gentlemen. Don't procrastinate, and if you do, don't let it go too long. Props to Sayeda and Liz for your gentle reminders of my promise to you. All letters have been e-mailed to the guidance department, hopefully with a few days to spare.

Now, with the hour before Monday night football (really a Sunday night game) I will grade more papers. Or maybe I will take a walk....

Morning time

My father reminded me that it has been a while since I have updated my blog. In the last two weeks I have been busy trying to keep up with my work and fit some fun in. My foot is still broken and I got my first cold of the school year. I have almost recovered from the cold and will be in a walking cast for the next month at least.

This morning I decided to have one of the bagels I bought last week. I cut into it and realized that it has a layer of bean paste. Not what I want ever, especially in the morning. Hm....guess I'll find something else.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pictures from Hong Kong

Oh the Fire Dragon. What was supposed to be a huge dragon supported by tons of people turned out to be a dragon made of burning incense carried by about 20 people. Now that I think about it, a grand feat, but at the time such a let down.

Part of an art display we noticed. The kid was cute too.

If you look closely you will notice this is the image of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were in a building lobby and totally took me by surprise. There was no reason for them to be there. I just had to take a photo.

The knight in shining armor I met while having lunch at an AMAZING Spanish restaurant. I had to go all the way to Hong Kong to experience tapas, go figure.

The view of the Hong Kong skyline from our hotel room.

While in Hong Kong I bought a camera. Here are pictures from my last day in Honk Kong.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


China has been wonderful. Aside from the fact that I was unable to log onto my Facebook account or my blog while I was in China proper I greatly enjoyed my stay. The hotel we stayed in was the nicest hotel I have stayed in to date. The room was spacious, the bed soft, and I could watch tv while taking a bath.

Here is a snapshot of my time in Guangzhou
Day 1 - Traveled, arrived, checked into the hotel, had authentic Chinese food for lunch (chicken with peppers), a "foot" massage that turned out to be feet, arms, legs, head, and back massage plus a spinal adjustment, drinks in the lounge while watching college football, authentic Chinese food for dinner (pork, mushrooms, and bamboo) bed.

Day 2 - Buffet breakfast that offered sushi (not that I had any), conference with an instructor that was hard to follow, buffet lunch with lots of Asian choices, conference that turned very boring, trip into the city that ended with dinner at Spaghetti House where I had pizza, drinks again in the lounge while watching MLB baseball.

Day 3 - Buffet breakfast, conference at the host school - still boring, lunch of nothing special, end of the conference, an hour of reading while in a hammock above the pool, room service for dinner.

Day 4 - Leisurely morning, packed up and checked out, buffet lunch, flight through a typhoon to Hong Kong.

As it is time to get ready to go out in Hong Kong I will leave you with that and update in more detail later. Life is good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Water Aerobics

This morning I woke up in enough time to join the water aerobics class held at the pool. I hobbled down to the pool, half asleep wondering what it would be like. I was the first to arrive after the instructor and the life guard. I picked up the equipment it looked like we would need and mentally prepared for my first bout of exercise in 5 weeks. I was excited and nervous. The instructor directed me to the deep end where the class would be held. With the assistance of a floating device water aerobics in the deep end is awesome. Virtually no pressure on my still broken foot. The instructor had pins removed from one of her legs about two weeks ago, so she knew my hesitations. More folks filtered in and we were off and going. 45 minutes later I felt a little tired but happy to have made the effort. As fast as I could I made my way home and got ready for school. At the start of school (3 hours ago) I was full of energy as I usually am after being in a pool. Now I am ready for my after pool nap. I am glad I went and I am looking forward to going again after Chu-Sok.

One day to China

Tomorrow I leave for China. So, instead of getting my sub plans ready, packing, grading papers, or even prepping for my next class I am updating my blog. Figures.

After much wonder the details are coming together for my trip. Misty and I arranged to have a taxi pick us up at 5:30am to take us to the bus stop where we hope to catch the next bus to the airport. Our goal is to make it to the airport by 7:00am for our 8:50am flight.

We will arrive in China 3 hours later where we will take a shuttle to our hotel. As the conference doesn't start until Saturday morning we pondered what to do with our Friday afternoon. One look at the pictures of the hotel pool solved that problem. If the weather is nice you will find us at the pool, lounging.

Two days of workshop fun about Understanding by Design and a 4th day in Science City (must be a great place) then Misty and I will head to Hong Kong. We have our flight arranged, a room booked, and tour books to look through. My students told me I should shop and sleep for the three days I am there. I figure Misty and I will find a few more touristy things to do while there. The one thing we have decided is a MUST is the nightlife. I feel it has been months since going out for a night on the town, so I am ready to enjoy one (responsibly.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rebecca 0, caramel disaster 2

Today, Sunday, has been relaxing and productive. I woke up, read part of my book, went to Mass, then headed down the hill for coffee. Being able to move around easier I am determined to get off the hill every weekend. I was just beginning my descent when I was offered a ride which I gladly accepted. I had an iced coffee at Paris Baguette and stopped at the grocery store where I finally remembered to buy aluminum foil and plastic wrap among other things. I got the ingredients to make my own salsa and hoped to find a reasonably priced blender at the black market. The two blenders I saw were way overpriced so I said no thanks, grabbed a taxi and went home. I tidied up my place, had a nice long shower, and then ventured to make a few things. The salsa turned out great (I used a neighbors blender). I was unsure about the heat of the peppers I used, but it was just right for me. I had enough salsa to freeze some, give some away, and have some for this week. I also tried to make caramel sauce again. The last batch was bitter, this batch is too runny. Perhaps the third time will be better.

The highlight of my day was receiving an e-mail from on of my SKHS students. I am enjoying my new students, but I miss knowing how my former students are doing. She said several SKHS folks were keeping up with my blog, which made me happy. I only request that you let me know how you are doing too. Comments are welcome, e-mails are great, letters are better.

A touch of the Yellow Sea

Friday night through Saturday night was the faculty retreat. The retreat was held at the school's beach lodge on the Yellow Sea. I was excited about going and being able to swim in the Yellow Sea. This time I packed my swimsuit and was ready to use it. We left school around 5:00pm on Friday afternoon and arrived at the beach lodge around 8:30. We had a great dinner, some praise and worship, then the first of our sessions from Libby Stephens. Libby was speaking to us about transitions and TCK's (third culture kids.) It was good, but a long day. After the session ended around 10:30pm I went to my cabin and prepared for bed. A lot of the folks stayed up and socialized, but I was too worn out from the week. I went to bed around 11pm but didn't sleep well and was up for the day around 6:00am on Saturday. I debated what I would do at that early hour and decided to put my swim suit on and head to the beach. Now, to this point it had been raining for at least 15 hours. When I was preparing to go the rain had turned to a sprinkle. It was high tide so the water was partially up the walk way and I knew I would have little trouble getting to it. I invited two of the other girls in my cabin to go with me and off we went. Just as we arrived at the water (about 4 minutes after we left the cabin) the rain started again. I hobbled down to the water, and let the Yellow Sea wash over my good foot for about a minute. During this time the rain started to pour all of us got soaked, even though we had umbrellas. We made our way back to our cabin, wet, but content.

The rest of the morning flew by and the formal part of the retreat was over by 11:15am. At this point the rain had stopped, and it was brighter outside. I wouldn't go so far as to say the sun was shining, but at least some of the clouds had moved on. The tide had also gone out, so the water was about 50 ft farther from the shore than when I went out earlier in the morning. Apparently this beach has one of the biggest difference in high tide and low tide. I made the trip to the beach again, except this time I walked out quite a distance and enjoyed the feel of the sand beneath my good foot. After my second time at the beach that day we had lunch. After lunch there was talk of doing a number of things. I ended up joining the group that went to get coffee. It was a hike, but nice to chat with some other young teachers. Upon my return to the lodge I was informed that several folks were going to pack up and head to the train station in hopes of catching an earlier train home. The school had provided busses to being people back to the school, but the bus was scheduled to leave at 6:00pm and we ended up on a train that left at 4:00pm. The extra two hours were worth the W17,000.

As with most retreats I got home and was exhausted. I did nothing for a while then realized that I could add a feature to Skype where I would be able to call my friends and family from my computer. I took advantage of this and spoke to most of my family and friends before going to bed. It was just what I needed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shoe shopping!

Today I purchased a shoe. That's right, a single shoe, and probably the most expensive shoe I have ever purchased.

I had my hard cast removed today and after several x-rays and waiting it was replaced with a soft cast/walking cast. It is big, black, hot, and removable. I am so happy to have the ability to shower with ease. The ability to walk fully on both feet is something I hope I never take for granted again. As I sit in the science office and listen to the rain that is falling, I am thrilled with the idea of actually carrying an umbrella. For the last month I have dreaded going anywhere in the rain, now I can hold an umbrella as I no longer have to use crutches.

My new shoe came just in time for Back to School Night. 10 minutes to introduce myself and my course to the parents of my students. So far 8 of 23 students have been represented. Three more sessions to go, then I am headed home to unwind, shower, and pack for the beach. Yea!

PS - tomorrow I might throw caution to the wind and swim some laps.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Once a Crusader always a Crusader....Go Gators?

As an elementary student at Most Holy Redeemer I proudly wore red and white and called myself a Crusader.

As a high school student at Chamerberlain it was was green and gold as a Chief (very p.c.)

As a college student it was great to be a Gator in orange and blue.

Graduate school and my first teaching job we were Gators although different colors.

Today I have started to cheer for the Crusaders once again. As a school we wore our colors today and my classes were filled with black, red and white. It is different yet familiar.

I am recalling the phrase my new principal said at the start of the year during a memorial service for a student that passed over the summer. The phrase is, "Once a Crusader, always a Crusader." Granted this is my first time as an SFS Crusader the sentiment applies.

Sporting events are similar here, except that I am now watching the boys varsity volleyball team. At the start and end of the games the players bow to each other which is new but makes a lot of sense. I hope that living on campus will make it easier to attend the student events.

I may be saying "Go Crusaders!" now, but in my heart I know that:
The University of Florida is in Gainseville,
but the Gator Nation is everywhere.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nick Tahou's almost

Tonight I made a dinner that resembles a garbage plate from Nick Tahou's. Baked fries, onions, and smoked sausage. Tasty, and slightly less un-healthy than the original. Good thing I had a salad for lunch and yogurt for breakfast.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On my own

This morning marked a first for me. I went out into Seoul on my own, mostly. I got up early, made a list and headed down the hill to catch a taxi. A couple from the high school stopped and gave me a ride down the hill, which saved me a lot of time and energy.

The next thing I had to do was catch a taxi to the World Cup Stadium which has Home Plus in it. The first two taxis did not understand me, the third did so off I went. (Note to self, learn more Korean.) For a point of reference, Home Plus is similar to an old Super Wal-Mart. It is actually owned by Tesco for those folks out there that are English. It is open 24 hours, and the first time I went it was a mad house. I struggled to get through all of the people that were out shopping on a weeknight. I hoped I would have better luck on a Sunday morning, and I was right. There were very few people there so I was able to hobble around and gather what I wanted.

My students are doing experiments this week and needed a variety of things from the grocery store so I tried to find them. I struggled to find whole milk. I found the milk easily, but whole milk - I didn't know what to look for in Korean. I found the milk that had the most calories and decided that would have to do.

I somehow managed a box of potatoes, three bags of groceries and my crutches, found a taxi and made it home a little tired, but with a sense of accomplishment. I got everything into my apartment (thanks to my buddy's help) and to 10:00am Mass. Now as I sit her tired from my full morning I am looking around my kitchen and living area an noticing what a mess it is.

I go to the doctor on Thursday to have my cast off, another X-Ray and to hear what the doctor has to say. I am hoping that I won't need another hard cast, I just don't want to go another two weeks with such limited mobility. I have had enough and hope that the absence of pain in my foot is an indication that a hard cast is not needed anymore. I would like to have a shower with both feet on the ground.

On a positive note, my left leg has never looked so defined.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ropa vieja on the roof

Last night the ladies of D-Dong (my apartment building) had a potluck dinner on the roof. I had never been up there and was pleasantly surprised. There are clothes lines, lights, and a storage space with tables and chairs. There were also puddles and a lot of leaves, but it was nice. I brought ropa vieja that I had started in my crockpot in the morning. It was a little dry, but had good flavor. The other ladies brought drinks, pasta salad, tossed salad, deviled eggs, Korean pancake with squid on it, corn pudding, sweet potato and apple casserole, chips and salsa, and chocolate cake. We sat around eating from plates in our laps and listening to French music. It was good to touch base and to hear what the returning teachers have to say. Of the current residents, 3 are returning and 6 are new. It appears that we will have a recently hired addition to our building. A fellow was hired to help out at the pool and he will be moving into one of the first floor apartments. Hmmm....a single guy, they are rare here. We also set up our next dinner which may be a cookout.

I received confirmation of my flights for my trip to China. I will be flying from Seoul to Guangzhou, Guangzhou to Hong Kong, and Hong Kong back to Seoul. Now Misty and I are putting together the rest of our plans. Hopefully we will have a hotel booked this weekend. She and I are thinking along similar lines, shopping, sightseeing, and a spa. A vacation in September, odd but exciting.

The icky part of my day was realizing that my entryway had a mold issue. I store all of my shoes in my entry way and I had no idea they were the perfect place for growing mold as I have only been wearing the one sneaker. I pulled out my shoe rack and wiped down every pair of shoes I own with a kitchen cleaner. Now they are nicely lined up in my study to make sure they are completely dried before going into the shoe rack. I'm told this was the rainiest August in 100 years. I hope that the rain and humidity goes away soon so that I can put my shoes back where they belong without the threat of mold.

Today is a beautiful day and I am going to get off the hill. I don't know where I will end up (hopefully E-Mart or Home Plus) but I am going to get out and about for a while.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ESP and typhoon Kompasu

Yesterday was not the best of days. I was worn out when I got home and then making dinner wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I was feeling behind with work and lacked the energy and time to feel that my efforts would make a difference. I plodded on anyhow. I eventually made and ate a nice dinner (simple sloppy joes, rice and baked fries - carb overload), cleaned my mess up, made my lunch for toady, made my bed, showered, and put in a few hours of work. I have been working only a few hours ahead of my kids and I was having trouble seeing the scope and sequence of my courses. It was like trying to get out of a forest. I was walking in a straight line from one point to another. I know I was making progress, but I had no idea what the big picture was.

I went to bed late and a bit deflated. I woke up late (5:45am) but mostly rested. I awoke to my foot throbbing in pain which is my new ESP telling me rain is here or coming. I looked outside and sure enough there was a RAGING storm. I rolled over and continued with my normal wake up routine: turn off alarm clock on my I-Pod, check my FaceBook and e-mail from bed using my IPod. While on Facebook I saw that another teacher mentioned an approaching typhoon. Hm....I glanced outside again, dragged myself to my computer and sure enough it was a typhoon I was experiencing, not just another storm.

I spent some more time looking at the weather radar, looking outside, and talking with my sister in SC. Eventually I got my act together and was on my way out the door around 7:00am. I had eaten breakfast and packed both lunch and dinner. Tonight was Back to School night and I didn't want to have to come home for dinner if it was storming. I had a bag on my cast and resolution to make this a good day. Just as my buddy and I were going to set off towards another day of impacting young people a teacher passing by told us that school was closed due to the typhoon. I would have jumped for joy if I wasn't broken. Several phone calls and e-mails later it was confirmed. Typhoon Day - schools are closed.

Immediately I changed into shorts and a t-shirt and created a to-do list. I didn't want to waste this precious gift of time. My list has 12 things on it, I have completed two of them in the 5 hours I have been "working". I also chatted with some friends on Skype, picked up my place a little, and had lunch. I might not get through my entire list, but I have worked out my year plan for one prep, and have roughly planned out the entire month of September for 2 of my 3 preps. I have made great strides and now feel like I am going to be able to give my students my best. I figure that I have about 4 more hours of productive time before I call it quits. In that time I will do a lot of the simple tasks on my to-do list.

God has provided, and I am thankful.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Going out with a bang!

Today was the last day of the "Meal on Wheels" service for me. From here on out I am in charge of making my own dinners. I cannot express my gratitude enough to those folks that so willingly fed me for the last two+ weeks. I don't know how I would have gotten through the first two weeks of school while on crutches and fixing all of my meals. That being said, I am thrilled to be able to start preparing my own dinners again. I don't often go this long without cooking, and although I am a bit slower I am looking forward to reclaiming a bit more independence. This time next week (or even tomorrow) I might be really missing the worry free dinners.

What was the last meal in a series of amazing food you ask? Bangers and mash. Yum.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The penpal dinner and getting back to 'normal'

Today, Sunday, flew by. I didn't do any work Friday or Saturday, and here I sit Sunday night with so much left to do. I started my Sunday early with great hopes. I puttered around doing this and that as I woke up. I decided to watch some TV while I had breakfast and found myself watching a series of TV segments I would have never glanced at if I were in the states. I caught the end of an episode of Sex and the City and then wished another one would come on. I then moved to MTV and watched about 2 minutes of a Justin Beiber video. I kept telling myself I was wasting my time but it took me a while to actually change the channel. The last segment in my stellar lineup of morning TV was Yo Gabba Gabba. I was so memorized by the dancing characters. Their message was so good, "I tried it and I liked it." At least that portion of my TV time was a good lesson to hold on too.

After TV time I made some progress in organizing my bag and creating a to-do list. Then I started on the list and reviewed about 8 of the 30 student papers I promised I would review before tomorrow morning.

Next came church. Although Mass is usually short and held in the middle school I was gone for about an 1.5 hours. It was pouring and my neighbor was nice enough to give me a ride. It was still raining when Mass ended and she had to do some things in her classroom so I waited. I could have made it home, but I would have been soaking wet and wouldn't have saved more than a few minutes of time.

Lunch followed Mass. I had left over green chicken curry and a tossed salad while listening to the rain fall. It was only after lunch that I seriously got to work. I worked for the next several hours and managed to cross two things off of my list of five.

Dinner this evening was the much anticipated PenPal bulgogi dinner. Most of the new folk, their families, the administrators, and all the old folk that had acted as our pen pals for the last several months met, loaded into the buses and drove to the restaurant (~40 minutes away.) We were treated to a lovely dinner at a very nice restaurant. We started with an individual plate of appetizers (tossed salad, a yogurt and fruit salad, and some sort of vegetable soup), then the bulgogi (finely cut meat grilled on your table in a broth and with onions), all the normal sides (kimchi, pickled radish, cashews in something, and a shrimp soup), then we had bibi....? (a bowl with rice, meat, vegetables, mushrooms, and more), ending with cookies and tea. After dinner we were bussed back (~20 minutes this time) and I was in my house by 8:45pm.

Then I began prepping for Monday. I started by making my lunch. I grilled some chicken on my Foreman and built the best salad I could create with what i had. I am so excited at the thought that I will have my "normal" lunch tomorrow for the first time this school year. This salad lacks some of the fancy things I added in Baltimore (tortilla strips, strawberries, asparagus) but it has the basics (pine nuts, feta, grilled lemon pepper chicken, onion, carrots, cucumbers, pepper, and romaine). To give myself a little treat I cut up some almonds and threw in some dried blueberries. I am hoping this will start me back to the good-ish eating habits I had developed before my move(s).

Now that it is 10pm I think I will pack up my things and start early tomorrow. I am looking forward to my Skype date with the family in the morning. I am going to have breakfast with my family, although I will be the only one eating.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Down the hill I went

Today my buddy and I ventured off the hill. She for band aids, I for deodorant. We made it down, we bought many things, and neither of them were band aids or deodorant.

The exciting part was that I can and did make it down the hill. My school is located near the base of a mountain. We are about 4 blocks up this mountain and refer to the school campus as "the hill". The journey is quite steep and it took me a while to make it down, but I did! After making it to the bottom we journeyed the normal 10-15 minute walk to the grocery store. It took us longer as I was hobbling along with my crutches. Once we arrived at the store, a little damp from the rain showers we ran into a few other teachers and were offered a ride back up.

My buddy and I went through the store picking up this and that. My building is getting together on Friday for a potluck dinner. I volunteered to bring meatballs, but was unable to find the ingredients I needed for the recipe so I have decided to bring ropa vieja instead. I also was able to get most of the fixings for my normal lunch salad. I can't wait to get back into a normal routine.

The ride home was a God-send as I was beat by the journey to the store. My buddy brought most of the groceries upstairs and I was able to find a place for everything in no time. I have realized over the past few days that I can be a neat person if I have limitless space. In fact, when I have a place for everything I find that I am not leaving things here and there. My personal space has never been so organized for so long. If Gina and I were still competing for a neat room I would be going strong for the 4th week. I derive a great amount of satisfaction having an uncluttered space. Granted I have it easy as I don't actually have to do any of my cleaning (thank you Vhida, my housekeeper.) I find that I am still behind in my lessons, but I am making progress.

My buddy and I both have appointments at the hospital on September 9th so we are going to make the journey together. My principal has authorized and arranged for us to have a driver from the school take us to the hospital for our appointments. We will take a taxi home from the hospital, but it is nice to know we have a ride there.

I suppose I should stop procrastinating on my school work. Maybe just a little snack first....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Foot update and a beach retreat

I went to the doctor's this week. It was the shortest appointment I have ever had. I was in and out in under 5 minutes (I'm sure glad it happened in person rather than over the phone). Basically I was told it was a clean break that should heal fine without surgery. I go back in two weeks to have my cast removed and to have another X-ray. At that point they may put a new cast on or tell me I am good to go.

I just returned home from the Junior retreat which took place at the school's beach lodge. The lodge was different then what I imagined but very nice. The room I slept in had a handicapped bathroom. Too bad I didn't pack any shower stuff as I figured it is hard enough to shower here.

The retreat went well. I think it was more about bonding as a class than personal reflection and growth. We watched The Blind Side (with Korean subtitles). The sad part was being so close to the Yellow Sea and not getting in. I decided it was too much effort to get down to the beach, across the gravel, and to the water just to dip the toes of one foot in. I will be going back to the same lodge in two weeks, hopefully cast free. I will experience the Yellow Sea then.

Monday, August 23, 2010

China times ahead

I didn't think my job could get better, but it did. I have been selected as one of two teachers from the high school to attend a conference in China next month. If all goes as planned (although how often does that happen?) I will be in China for just over two days for the conference, then I'll take a train to Hong Kong for a few days with another teacher, followed by a long weekend in Seoul.

It is getting late, and as usual I am further behind in my school work than I want. I have a PowerPoint to finish before going to bed in a few minutes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My first full week of school an of being in a cast finished without incidence. Nothing huge to report about the rest of the week so I'll let you into my weekend fun times.

Saturday the school led a bus tour of Seoul. We drove around the city and heard a lot of tales and were given several suggestions. We then went to the Seoul Tower (think Eiffel Tower). A tower over 750ft high that looks out over Seoul. It was a nice view, although it would have been better if it had been a clearer day.

After the Seoul Tower there was more of a bus ride then we were taken to the "foreign" part of town and explored a little down there. The group I went with had lunch at a Thai place. The food was OK, but not spicy enough for me. I took a taxi home with a few of the other ladies.

Up next was a shopping trip to Costco. It was still crazy and full of people, but as I wasn't on a time line I didn't feel quite as rushed. I picked up a few things that I am sure will tide me over for months, including peanut butter and jelly (the current lunch of choice).

I was so tired from all that I did during the day I just watched TV Saturday night. I find that I am watching shows here that I would never have watched in the States simply because they are familiar and in English. A prime example would be Sex and the City. This morning I watched most of two episodes while having breakfast.

Today after Mass I went to Outback with two other teachers. I had been looking forward to an Outback cheeseburger but when I got there and looked through the menu I realized they didn't serve cheeseburgers. This Outback also doesn't serve Bloomin' Onions. Can you imagine? Well, I settled for a steak and fries.

This afternoon I was invited to watch a soccer game on the field at my school. I watched for about an hour before deciding it was just too hot and I needed to get some work done. That was an hour ago and instead of doing work I chatted with my neighbor and updated my blog. I am good at a lot of things, and procrastination is one of them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And so it began

School is well underway as we have finished our second day of teaching. Here are the highlights:

Day 1 -
- Assembly - like most other high school assemblies, but it started with a meaningful prayer
- Homeroom - Made it through that, barely. I wasn't too focused on homeroom as I was behind in my preparations for my first period class.
- Bio 1 - 55 minutes flew by. I know we talked about the syllabus, textbooks, and science, but I am not sure on the finer points. We also planted beans. Yea!
- Planning period - in the blink of an eye that was over
- IB Bio Year 1 - A small class of juniors that are so eager and knowledgeable that I am going to have to work hard to keep them satisfied. These are the kids that want to learn so much that it can be a struggle keeping up.
- Lunch and planning - a lovely end to a first day

Last night's dinner was a taste of home, sauteed chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, and chocolate chip cookies. Thank goodness my buddy came over to help me polish off the cookies and to have some working times.

Day 2/My birthday!
- Up early (5:00am) to get ready. I Skyped with my folks, had Frosted Flakes (Korean style) and iced coffee for breakfast. What a great start to the day!
- In my classroom by 7:10 am so plenty of time to print off the last of my materials for the day and to modify the PowerPoint presentation.
- IB Bio Year 2 - A class of seniors unsure about me in the beginning but I think I won them over by the end. They are concerned, and rightfully so, about the change in teachers halfway through their program. I have a list of topics they want to review in depth before April.
- IB Bio Year 1 - A large group of juniors, some excited and ready to go, some just making it by. This will be a dynamic (code for diverse interest) class.
- IB Bio Year 2 - Another group of seniors, by this time in the day I was the one just making it by. More on them later.
- Lunch - it seems most of the science department brings their lunch to school and we eat together in the science office. Unlike my last school, we are all sharing classrooms and are the department piloting a shared office space. A small classroom was turned into an office with 9 cubicles. I never thought I would have a cubicle as a teacher, but so far it is OK.
- Assembly - Today there was a memorial service for a student that passed away over the summer. I didn't know the young man, and from what people were saying about him I missed out. It was a difficult hour for the school, but I think it brought some closure to a number of students.
- Plan period - again, it went by so fast that I don't even know what I did.

At the end of the day, once classes were over the science department sang to me and we had brownies. These were some of the best brownies that I have had in a while and it was nice to be surrounded by so many caring and like minded people. My old school was amazing, but it seemed that we never had time to see any of the other teachers. With this shared office space I think I will be seeing a lot more of my colleagues.

The greatest gift I could have given myself was hiring my adjumonie. Today was her first day. I had written out a list and felt terrible asking for so much. I came home excited to see my recycling taken out from my airlock/mudroom. As I came further into my apartment I was amazed at all she did for me. My place is immaculate! My laundry was washed, some dried and folded, some hanging on my rack air drying. I panicked for a moment when I couldn't find my sheets and my bed looked unmade, only to realize that the comforter I was using as a mattress pad was simply being used as intended and my bed was in fact made. I don't know how she did all she did in 4 hours, but I am relieved and grateful.

I hope to fill the rest of my evening with a nice dinner (potato chowder, salad, and fruit), some lesson planning, textbook reading, and working on Kelan's blanket.

When I spoke to my brother earlier this week he asked if I had made the right choice. I am glad he waited two weeks and I hope he asks again later in the year, but without hesitation I was able to answer, "Yes!" Tampa is home, Gainseville a great place for college, Cleveland a year I learned a lot about myself, and Baltimore full of great friends and an amazing start to teaching. I don't know what Seoul is yet, but I know it is the right place for me now.

Random: The spell check on this program suggested Knoxville for Gainesville. It made me chuckle.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 3 of my life on crutches

Today was my first day to work post accident. It started out less than great when I overslept by and hour, but I made it to school with time to spare. Today was orientation/registration day. In the morning the new students wandered around the school with their buddies getting a feel for SFS. In the afternoon the returning students started to filter through with their schedules in hand. I met a few parents and several students throughout the afternoon. In between students I was able to get a lot of things done for the start of school tomorrow.

We met as a science department again and ironed out our grading system for IB tests. One more thing checked off what seems to be a never ending list.

My new school has been more caring and supportive than I can imagine. A "meals on wheels" thing has been set up for me, with people that I don't even know signing up to bring me dinner. A number of people I have spoken to during my day sympathized with me and gave me pointers on how to get around on crutches. My new buddy however has been more helpful than can be described. She has basically rearranged her life to help meet my needs. I have never met a more selfless person, I am so lucky to be in such a supportive environment while in such a state.

I have an appointment with an orthopedic next week, I hope I will have better news.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One day down, 27 to go

Officially, I have been casted for one day of 28. A pretty good start.

Catholic Mass is held in the Middle School here and I went. The journey was tougher than I thought it would be, but at least I made it happen. It was a good test run for tomorrow. Due to the heat, humidity, and the amount of effort it takes me to crutch around I was a hot mess when I arrived. At least now I won't feel bad about not going to the gym for the next month, I will be getting more than enough exercise simply getting from my house to the school.

After church everyone was so kind to me. The community is really helping out and I cannot say how grateful I am. I was given a ride home from church, dinner is being prepared for me, and some groceries are being picked up. It is a relief to know that while these next few weeks will be trying, people will be there to support me.

Now on to the fun stuff- first day papers (I'm giving my second years a pre-test on the first day...)

Oh Rebecca!

I knew that I would fall while I was here in Seoul, more than once too. I just didn't imagine I would fall so soon, or with such results. On Friday morning I got up ad went to the gym with my buddy. We had a grand time. After that I was at my desk early getting stuff done. Followed by breakfast, and meetings. After my IB meeting I decided to pop into guidance to get a head count as instructed by my principal. I walked into the office with my sights set on Bev, not on the step down into the office. Well, I missed it and hit the ground. It hurt, my body and my pride. Usually I pop up and shake it off. Well, I popped up, but I couldn't shake it off. My next step was the nurses office. They wrapped it up, gave me some pain pills, told me to change out of my flip flops and to see the doctor the next day if all wasn't well. I managed through the rest of the day limping around and telling my tale.

I slept fitfully Friday night and was still in pain when I woke up Saturday morning. I got myself to the clinic and told them my tale. They sent me for an X-Ray and then told me it was broken. Turns out the bones of your toes are about as long as your fingers and I broke my little toe near the base. This means I will be in a cast and on crutches for 4 weeks.

It is now Sunday morning, I spoke with my folks and told my silly tale. I wrapped the tops of my crutches with some towels and have been getting around my apartment with moderate success. Sleeping last night was a challenge but it happened. Today I will leave my apartment and make my way to Mass which is held in the Middle School. I took something similar to a shower with my casted leg propped up on a drawer next to the tub. I hope that I get the hang of this very soon so that I can keep up with my students. Tuesday is the first day of classes, that isn't too far from now.

Good news: Only 27 more days with this silly thing on (hopefully).
Bad news: My armpits hurt.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming home to my own place

Life is quite busy here at SFS. This morning I was at my desk around 7:15am and I made it home around 5:00pm. It is nice that I live about a 4 minute walk from my desk to my front door, but I can see where that may be a bad thing too. It seems that this week my entire life has been about work. That can only last so long.

In other news, I am getting my act together for at least one class. This school really emphasizes collaborative efforts when teaching the same subject. There are three of us teaching Bio 1, so this afternoon the three of us ironed out the syllabus and the first day of class. We are going to plan two weeks at a time, so there are only three more classes to plan for in this cycle. One of these teachers, Stephanie, was here last year and taught this very class. She did the majority of the work for this first unit, and I have absolutely no problem going with everything she has suggested. As I get to know the climate of the school better I will make adjustments and speak up, but we have been seeing eye-to-eye on everything so far.

I have yet to really tackle the IB courses I am teaching, and that won't happen tonight. Perhaps tomorrow morning when I have cleared my head again or maybe just this weekend.

I currently have french fries in the oven and will heat up some sloppy joes. Healthy, I know, but good for right now. Coming home to my own place means that everything is as I left it, and there is no one to touch base with. I thought I would get online and see who was around for a quick "Hello, how was your day?" but it is 4:15am. Not even my dad is up yet. Oh well, it is a good time for some personal reflection, right?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Faculty retreat

Today was the faculty retreat. To start I was able to sleep in until about 6:00am which was nice. During my morning time I video chatted with Gina (my former roommate), messaged Christina (my former roommate) and started to read the faculty handbook.

The retreat was about 40 minutes away and we were bussed there. It was a lovely facility and while the retreat was different than what I was expecting it was still very nice. The faculty was supposed to read the book "The Jesus Creed". I say supposed to because I somehow missed out on that memo. Lucky for me the retreat was more of a series of lectures so my lack of preparation went unnoticed.

I was able to borrow a screwdriver from another teacher and finish securing my TV to the base. I had a dinner of leftovers while watching the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in English with Korean subtitles. I have a lot of channels and but as expected most of them are in Korean. I am sure that I will eventually figure out the ones that show English programs. So far I have found Oprah and a Queen Latifah movie.

Tonight is dedicated to reading the documents sent my way and starting on my first day handouts. Talk about fun. I might even go crazy and put away clean laundry.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Adjumonie, swimming, and sharepoint videos

Today was a long and full day.

My newest habit of waking early naturally is still going strong. This morning I awoke around 5:30 am unable to go back to bed. So, what did I do? Cleaned up my kitchen, straightened my hair, and called all of my former roommates looking for some morning time. Gina was confused enough by the number calling her that she answered out of curiosity and we had a lovely conversation.

With my newly straightened hair and a so-so iced coffee I headed off to breakfast and a morning of meetings. The first segment of meetings were school-wide and were helpful. The second set of meetings was supposed to be with our mentors although mine turned into a department meeting. Lunch was really tasty fried chicken with honey mustard sauce and white rice. Not as healthy as I would like but darn good.

The afternoon was not fun. We watched over 2 hours of video tutorials on using SharePoint (educational technology). Some of the information was helpful, but most of it was common sense to me. Sitting 'engaged' but not active for that long was a real test for me.

After the meetings were over my day improved. I met with my new adjumonie (house keeper) to discuss my needs and expectations. Basically I am looking for help with basic cleaning and laundry. My adjumonie will be helping me for four hours a week and I am really looking forward to it.

I also had the chance to do some swimming which was lovely. The pool is huge compared to my parents pool and the pool at my gym in Baltimore. I love the facilities and I am looking forward to the start of faculty morning lap swim which will start the middle of next week.

After swimming Allison ( the choir teacher) came over for dinner. She helped me to finish off some leftovers and we had a lovely visit. After Allison left my new buddy, Myleah, came over for some chocolate and girl time. While she was there my TV was delivered.

Before I knew it, it was time for bed. Another day passed with no work done on my classes. Crunch time is almost upon me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Faculty meeting fun

Today was the first day that the whole faculty was gathered together. We started with breakfast. There was fresh fruit and cinnamon rolls. As I had eaten yogurt with homemade granola for breakfast I just had coffee. After breakfast we all gathered in one of the 3 theaters on campus for devotions and school wide messages. The devotion was inspiring and energetic. In addition to a spoken message we sang several songs. I knew two of the songs that were sung and followed along to the others as best as I could. The words to the prayers and the songs were projected on a screen on the stage. After the devotional there was a morning of speaking by the administrators. Mostly good stuff that everyone needed to hear. Before lunch a staff photo was taken. It reminded me of taking club photos in high school.

During the lunch break I came home and took time to book my flight home for Christmas. I was told that I should book a flight early because near the holidays flights out of Seoul can fill up. It took a little longer than I expected, but I am very happy to have my holiday trip booked. I will be in Florida a little over two weeks. I hope that I'll be able to make it up to Baltimore in that time, but I'll have to see who will be around.

After lunch of Bulgogi and rice there was a presentation by the school nurse. The school has a full time nurse and two EMT's on staff. They are available during the school day. We are lucky however to have a huge teaching hospital a few short minutes away on foot. The hospital has an international clinic that is very familiar with the school and takes good care of us. The school also presented us with instructions on what to do if we need medical help after the clinic is closed and they gave us a letter to assure payment that we can present to the hospital should anything go wrong with our credit cards. It is nice to know that in an emergency I will be well taken care of.

The last meeting of the day was our divisional meetings. The high school faculty came together for the first time. The other high school teachers seem great and I am very excited to get to know them. The meeting was loads better than the last two years of faculty meetings. It is nice to have a principal that can fully and efficiently articulate his thoughts.

The newbies had another shopping trip lined up at the end of today. We visited two used furniture stores and a food market that is similar to a farmer's market. In the second furniture store I found a used microwave that was about 50% less than I had been seeing. I quickly purchased it and arranged for delivery. The food market was good and after many hand gestures and a few words I came away with a small selection of fresh fruit.

This evening I dined alone in my almost presentable apartment. I whipped up some sloppy joe's, rice, and corn. It was not a meal I would serve anyone aside from my former roommates and myself. The sloppy joe's turned out very very sloppy, but very tasty. I now have enough left overs for the rest of the week.

I am happy to say that I am feeling more at home each day and my shopping list is getting shorter. The things left on the list are things I would like to have but can survive very easily without.

One week from tomorrow classes start. I have a lot of work to do between now and then so don't be surprised if these posts become shorter and fewer in number.
Bah! Pandora is not available in Korea.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Family times, Peter Pan, a market and more

Today was not the restful Sunday that I hoped it would be.

Per my new routine I awoke around 6:30 and got to work on getting things sorted out in my apartment. I put things away in the kitchen and ironed for about 3 hours before heading off to church. Catholic Mass is held on campus in one of the theaters. Unfortunately I didn't get the memo that it would begin next week. Another new family also showed up not knowing there was no Mass. The five of us decided that we should have coffee and a treat so we headed off to Peter Pan.

Peter Pan is a lovely bakery a few blocks from my school. There are dozens of treats to try and a lovely selection of bread. Each one of us selected a pastry and had them cut into little bits so that we could try several of them. Although some were unique, all were good. I also had the opportunity to teach this family some of the Korean that I had picked up during my Korean lessons. Knowing milk in Korean is helpful when getting coffee.

After consuming most of the treats it was decided that we would brave the city to go to a large Korean market. It took 1 bus and 3 subways, but we made it without getting lost. Not knowing what I was getting into I assumed it would be a farmer's market. In reality it was a massive flea market. Upon first look it seemed like a street of booths, most of which weren't open. We decided to go down a flight of stairs to see a few more booths when we realized it was a maze of streets lined with booths. I ended up buying two pairs of socks, a hat, and some food storage containers. On our way back to the school we decided to stop for lunch at Starbucks knowing we would find something we would enjoy. It was a lovely morning and made me realize that I can successfully navigate public transportation here, which is a great feeling.

A few minutes after returning home I once again went down the hill. This time however it was to purchase some electronics. At the base of the hill there is an LG store. I feel that I will benefit from having a microwave, a camera, and a tv. After much internal debate I decided to get the TV so that I can relax and crochet when I want to. We ran into another couple from school that had done a great deal of comparison shopping and with their notes we were able to have them reduce the price of the TV we were all interested in by about W50,000 (roughly $45.00). So, I purchased my first adult TV today. It will be delivered on Tuesday. Now I need to find a DVD player that will read my DVD's.

I puttered around my apartment for the rest of the afternoon and made my first real dinner. I made pasta with "rose sauce" (that I think is very much like a vodka sauce), grilled chicken, and a side salad. I called my apartment buddy (we share a landing so I made her my buddy for when we go out in big groups) and another new science teacher. My buddy wasn't available but Colleen joined me for dinner. We ate, talked, and enjoyed ourselves.

Following dinner all of the new high school teachers had dessert at our principal's house. It was lovely to sit around and chat with the other new teachers over decaf coffee and more goodies. It was a great way to end the week of new teacher orientation. Tomorrow starts the week of orientation for the whole school. I am looking forward to meeting about 150 new people.

Miso, the Oregon Trail, and a street fair

The production last night, Miso, was beautiful. Miso is the story of two young Koreans in love and the challenges they faced. Most of the production was dancing to live music. There were a few times when a narrator sang bits of information, but as it was in Korean I haven't the slightest clue what was said. The music and dancing were amazing. It looked like the female dancers were gliding around the stage.

After the production 6 of us decided to grab a drink in Sinchon (I spelled it wrong yesterday). We set out with no particular place in mind and simply picked an alley. For a point of reference someone compared Sinchon to Times Square. It isn't quite as big, but there are lots of flashing lights, busy alleys, people, and vehicles. The first thing that I noticed was that once off the main road in Sinchon there were carnival games EVERYWHERE! As with most carnival games guys were trying to win stuffed animals for various ladies. It was just so weird to see so many game booths down every alley.

We ended up at a bar called the Oregon Trail. It was dark and somewhat dreary. The group of people near us were sharing a yard of beer that was being dispensed by a crazy contraption that had ice contained in the main tube to keep the beer cold. It was quite impressive, although from what I tasted wasted on low quality Korean beer. Once settled we reviewed the menu (an English version with photos) and ordered our drinks. Jack Daniels seems to be the available whiskey of choice here, which is good for me. In addition to the standard drinks of beer and cocktails we also ordered soju, the Korean version of saki. It doesn't taste any better, but I have experienced it. We also ordered some appetizers. We ordered a lovely fruit platter and a potato platter. The fruit platter had pineapple, melon, apple, banana, grapes, tomatoes, an orange, fruit cocktail, and something that was tasty, but that I had never seen before. The potato plate was a combination of all things good. There were tater tots, waffle fries, regular fries, and seasoned fries. These wonderful things were served with ketchup and honey mustard. Needless to say there was nothing left over. Also, we were given bowls of little puffed treats. Apparently these treats are often served for free at bars here in Korea. These treats tasted like fruit loops. We had two rounds of those.

On our way to catch a taxi we passed a photo booth shop. A little shop with 4 photo booths big enough to hold groups larger than 6. We went it and had a blast taking silly pictures. After we finished with the photos (six in all) we had the opportunity to photo shop them. While I didn't participate in that portion there was a great deal of fun to be had adding special effects to the photos (such as stars and crowns). It was only once they printed out that I realized each photo was the size of a stamp and was actually a sticker. Can you imagine the fun stickers like those would be to put on student work?

All in all it was a memorable first Saturday night in Seoul.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The E-Mart and manicures in Shincon

The title pretty much sums up my morning and afternoon. A few of us went to the E-Mart which I will compare to Super Target for lack of anything else. It is a store with 8 floors, each a different department. I walked out with trash cans, a toaster, a slow cooker, some spices, tomatoes, trivets, and more. It was the best shopping experience I have had thus far. Not too many people there as we arrived as the store was opening. It also helps that I have had a lesson on Korean manners and some important phrases.

Upon returning from shopping I literally dropped my stuff in the front door and met up with my friends to get manicures. We walked through Yonsei University into Shincon and sought out a place to get our nails done. The first place we went was booked for hours but was in a mall with many familiar stores (Lush and the Body Shop to name two). The second place was able to help 3 of the 5 of us right away. My new friend Allison and I took to the streets for some lunch. After much walking and debating we ended up at 7-11 as we wanted something to grab and go. Allison had the last ham and cheese sandwich. I had some cheese and "peanut cream" sandwiches. They were little pockets of white bread which I thought would be filled with peanut butter. There were filled with a peanut flavored cream. It looked like I was eating Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches. They were quite good after I got over the sight of the cream.

The lady that did my manicure knew a bit of English, and I know a bit of Korean so we were able to exchange a few words. After all was said and done the manicure was W10,000 which is less than $10.00. I hope that I can find my way back there next week for a repeat.

Allison and I made our way home by ourselves despite a few missed turns. The fact that my school is located above the largest hospital and university in the area is a huge help.

Tonight we will be going for dinner and theatre. I believe we are having dinner at On The Boarder. We will also be taking the subway for the first time. I can't wait to figure out the Subway system. Tomorrow we may be going to Itewan, exciting times.

Friday, August 6, 2010

CostCo and a night on the town

A lot happened today. We were introduced to the staff, we learned about Korean culture, we met with the head of our divisions, I received my teacher's edition Biology text, we went to CostCo, and then had dinner 'off the hill'. Some things were more successful than others but all taught me something.

A little background on my school. I am teaching in a foreign school in Seoul. I live on campus with a the majority of the staff and their families. The staff ranges from young singles (like me) to near retirement married couples. There are at least 8 married couples that are new this year of the 35 new teachers. My school is situated on a hill in the Northern portion of the city right above a university. Above my school is a mountain. Part of the temptation for some folks is to stay safe and secure on the hill and only venture our when necessary. Some of us that are more adventurous decided to have dinner out tonight. It may have helped that we had two ladies fluent in Korean and a guy that has been living in the area for the last 11 years.

After a crazy shopping expedition at CostCo we came back, unloaded our goods and set off. We ended up at a 24 hour joint that had an English menu posted on the wall in addition to the Korean menus. I ordered gubap, a dish similar to sushi in that it is stuff rolled up in rice and seaweed. I ordered a vegetable gubap and a beef gubap. The table also received an assortment of kimchi and dumplings. As I had eaten some very spicy kimchi (fermented vegetables) at lunch I avoided the kimchi tonight. I enjoyed my gubap very much, but each roll was twice the size of a roll of sushi from the States. My dinner was less W 4,500 which is less than $4.50. I was able to try a bite from some of the other dishes. My favorite was a pork and sweet potato cutlet. It was breaded, fried, and served with a sweet sauce on top. It was amazing. Koreans also seem to really love their sweet pickles so I ate the ones my friend was served with her pork.

After dinner we wondered around a bit and stopped in a corner store for some ice cream. I had the Korean version of a Drumstick and it was a wonderful end to a full day.

Tomorrow the girls are going for manicures and then we will be going to dinner and theater in the city. We will be taking the subway for that adventure.

MY apartment is coming together. I have been doing a little every evening, and a good bit in the mornings. This weekend should get most of it situated. A few trips to my storage unit and I will be mostly clutter free, for a while at least.


In about 3 minutes I will be heading off to the CostCo in Seoul. Yesterday I bought stuff based on the pictures on the front. That gets to be very tricky yet adventurous. Today I am planning on getting a microwave, tv, and a mattress pad. I hope I don't go overboard like I did yesterday. I will be here for two years, I don't need everything this week.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 1 in Korea

I made it to Seoul. About 30 hours of traveling and 3 delayed flights I arrived in Korea very late Monday night. An administrator from the school was there to meet me and another teacher that arrived on the same flight. We piled into a van and drove about 40 minutes to the school. I wish I could tell you what the city looked like an night but I was too tired to look.

Once making it to the school and gettig all of my bags to the apartment I managed to call home, eat some Pizza Hut pizza, shower and make my bed before going to sleep.

I'm slowly getting settled and adjusted over here. I have a lot of space in my apartment so it is just a matter of putting my things away logically. I have an apartment that while small is more than enough for one person. My bedroom has windows on two sides and it is only big enough for my bed and a night stand. There are 4 sliding doors made of wooden frames and paper that seperate my bed from my study and the biggest closet I have ever had.
Today (Tuesday) went well. The medical at the hospital was good. The doctor in charge of the international clinic is American although born and raised in Korea. All the staff speaks fluent English and is very nice. They made the physical go very smoothly. The clinic is a short walk through Yonsei University. It took about 10 minutes to get from the school to the clinic which is part of a large hospital with an excellent representation. We also stopped at the Starbucks in the hospital. I had a little taste of home with my iced white chocolate mocca.

I went to the embassy as well today to start the paperwork for my Korean drivers liscense. I don't know how much I'll be driving but I want to have the ability to if needed.

 We also went to a market here. I bought some carrots, peppers, peanut butter, sugar, and soap. It was expensive but close. We will be going to CostCo later in the week and I'll stock up there. The market was playing American music (Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Frank Sinatra to name a few.)

Everyone here is very nice and welcoming. I have been meeting the administration and all of the new teachers. While the majority of the teachers are American there are several from England, a handful from Canada, and a few from France. A number of these teachers have taught overseas at other schools. It has been fun to hear their stories although I don't know how much I retained. I might have to hear it all several times before it sinks in.

Although they say it is monsoon season there was no rain today. It was hot and humid, just like home.

Some things are different, but I think I'll do nicely here.

Pictures to follow once I find my camera and start taking them and then acquire a computer.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Today I officially left Baltimore. The first stop on my journey is my brother's house in South Carolina. In one week my sister-in-law will give birth to their second little boy and I get to be here for it. Sure I'll have to help out by watching their 2 1/2 year old little boy, but how hard could that be? Yea right! I am sure I will learn more in these next two weeks with my nephew than I did in all of grad school. Already I am learning how to understand two year old speak and the names of all the Cars characters. Good thing my mom will be here soon to help as well.

Saying goodbye to Maryland was easier than I thought. Last night we ( most of the roommates and some friends) had a nice BBQ. This allowed for good food, some laughs, and a lot of talking. This morning I woke up early and packed my car, well I crudely fit most of my stuff in. In the end it was a game of finding small spaces for the remaining items. Throughout the morning my roommates said goodbye as they left for the day. This gave me time to process each goodbye without getting overwhelmed. In the end I was the only one home when I shoved off which made for no sad goodbyes.

As I was filling my car with gas and contemplating my caffene situation one of my roommates pulled up to the pump next to mine. We had a nice laugh about the timing and a little more morning time before we hugged again and went our seprate ways. That was the perfect way to leave Baltimore.

The drive took about 10 hours and was pretty routine, minus only seeing behind me with my two side mirrors and having my bike attached to the rear of my car. I heard the same songs over and over on the radio. Good thing I happen to like those songs right now.

Tomorrow will be gym times with my brother, pool times with my nephew and pedicure times with my sister. Seems like it will be a great day. I'll need to fit in studying times too, but that isn't a priority yet.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Here is what I have done today instead of packing
1. Woke up early and didn't go to the gym.
2. Tried on about 4 outfits trying to decide what to wear today.
3. Packed my bag for Florida, but not the rest of my room.
4. Had coffee and "a spread" with the Schram ladies.
5. Had a lazy lunch at El Salto
6. Dropped off an entire carload of things to Value Village.
7. Went to AC Moore.
8. Chatted it up with Sarah and Gina.
9. Stalked an old friend on Facebook.
10. Updated my blog.
11. Watched Criminal Minds

All in all, I have dome quite a bit today, but nothing to help me make my move next week any easier. Isn't it a shame that I know what I have to do, how to do it, and yet I still can't seem to make myself start?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cleaning house and car

After a great deal of procrastination and dread, I actually started the "Great Clean." It took me all of 15 minutes to clean out my car and about 2 hours to get the majority of my room cleaned up. In the process I amassed loads of stuff to donate, about a box of things to store in Florida, a few boxes of books to ship to Korea, and some other odds and ends I need to take, store, or give away.

The next major task will be to pack my clothes. With the help of a roommate that will be easy.

Last night the Jens and I finally played trivia together. The most excitment was winning the first round by 1 point. Too bad it went downhill from there. I hope to find a place to play trivia in Seoul.

Tomorrow packing, Fogo de Chao, daytime relaxation, and getting my teeth cleaned. I am sure there will be a few unexpected fun things tossed in there, but those are the major points.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eye allergies and goodbyes

Today was the last day of school for the students. Their exams are done, they are starting their summers, and saying good bye. It is amazing how easy it is to talk about science and things of no consequence and how hard it is to try and express my personal thoughts to those students who have been such a big part of my life. I doubt that any of my students fully understand how much they have shaped me professionally and personally. I hope that I have done the same for them.

This time of limbo is so strange. I know that it is June and that this year has been one with a lot of character building but how does it still feel like school is just beginning? I have yet to finalize my grades, maybe I'm being lazy, maybe I'm just not ready to accept the end of the year and delaying my grades is a lame and pointless attempt at stretching it out.

Thank you to all of my comrades. Keep me in the loop about your lives.

Monday, May 31, 2010

New Baltimore Bucket List

Baltimore Bucket List
1. See the O's play at least one more time
2. Have gelati from Vaccaro's one more time
3. Rita's in Odenton
4. Sushi from Matsuri
6. Dinner and Tournament
7. Ride at least part of the B & A trail
8. Experience Ocean City
9. Visit the monuments again
10. First Thursday's concert

Well, I have crossed two things off my list
- Daytime Locus Point extravaganza
- Ride my bike to work

Both were amazing in ways I didn't imagine.

I also visited the Midwest.

Pictures of all to follow when I have a moment to properly reflect.

According to my countdown I only have 62 days left in the USA. How is that possible?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Baltimore Bucket List

Baltimore Bucket List
1. See the O's play at least one more time
2. Have gelati from Vaccaro's one more time
3. Rita's in Odenton
4. Daytime Locus Point extravaganza
5. Sushi from Matsuri
6. Dinner and Tournament
7. Ride my bike to work
8. Ride at least part of the B & A trail
9. Experience Ocean City
10. Visit the monuments again
11. First Thursday's concert

For about 2 years I have been thinking it would be nice to ride to work. I don't live that far away and for the most part the weather is much nicer here than in Florida. Well, tomorrow will be the day I give it a try. It is a shame that it has taken me so long, but if it goes well I might continue for the last 11 days of school

Anything else I should include before departing the "greatest city in America"?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Roomates that act out

As our time together winds down it is clear that we are not going to handle being apart well. We find ourselves "acting out" at odd times much like young children throw fits when over tired. Most recently (moments ago) they ganged up on me about my inability to correctly recite song lyrics.
What I will do living in an apartment for one is beyond me. This weekend will be a little test run as I am off to Rochester, MN to see some old CVS friends.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Gina.

The plan

I have accepted a job teaching in Seoul starting on August 1, 2010. I intend to blog about my experiences so that my family, friends, and former students can keep up. Two years in a foreign country should provide me with plenty to say.