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!