Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Get Paid for This?!?

Last week Friday was our school festival so leading up to the event I decided to do a lesson on festivals around the world.  I found some material on Waygook so I didn't have to do too much work (sorry i'm lazy) and then at the end of class I thought it'd be fun to let the students create their own festivals.  I let them work in groups with hopes that this would prompt them to actually do the activity - I have a few sloth students that like to pretend to be invisible and sleep through most of class. (although who can blame then, they rarely get a chance to do so).  I must say I got some interesting festivals in return...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seoul Lantern Festival

This past weekend I decided it was time for another trip, destination: Seoul for the Lotus Lantern Festival.  There was a number of us considering going but as you may or may not know, making plans with big groups is not on my list of enjoyable activities.  Rather than trying to coordinate with 10 others I decided to book a hostel with my friend Stephen (whom I hadn't actually hung out with since orientation) and figured I'd meet up with the rest while there.  I wanted to catch the bus by 5pm so rather than rely on public transportation I rode my bike to Gumi bus terminal - the ride to Gumi is pretty easy, mostly downhill but I knew come Sunday i'd somewhat regret that decision.  Once in Seoul I ran into Beth and Katie and found out they were also staying at the same hostel as me, small world!  I then found Stephen at the subway station and we made our way to the hostel, dumped our bags and proceeded into the nightlife of Hongdae.  This was my second weekend spent on the streets of Hongdae and I can say I've not been disappointed.  There's a university nearby so there is plenty of bars, clubs, restaurants and street food.  It was one of Stephen's friends birthdays so we started by getting burgers, beer and some unnecessary shots at one o the restaurants.  After that we made our way to a few different bars before calling it a night somewhere around 3am. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gyeongju X 2

After staying around town for a few weeks I decided it was time for me hop on a bus.  I was originally going to visit a friend in Ulsan but plans changed and we're going to have to reschedule.  After hearing from a few friends I decided it was back to Gyeongju for me.  Saturday morning I woke up at 7am (thank you internal alarm for adjusting to no longer let me sleep in) which was an hour before my alarm.  I had tenative plans to ride my (new) bike to the bus terminal and since I was up early I decided to go for it.  It took me about a half hour, much better than the stupid bus and much more enjoyable views as well.  My friend Sara planned to arrive around 12:45 which meant I had just over two hours to myself.  Being a beautiful day I decided to start by walking to Daereungwon Tumuli Park and the surrounding area, noted as world cultural heritage sites.  This is where most of the royal tombs of Gyeongju are - some lay outside the gates but I wanted to get the full experience so I paid the whopping 1500won (< $1.50) to enter.

Cheonmachong (Heavenly Horse Tomb)
Royal tomb of King Michu (13th king of Silla) 
Next stop, Cheomseongdae Observatory, which I expected was only a few minutes away on foot.  Everything in Gyeongju is gorgeous, my walk to the observatory was through more tombs and beautiful fields of flowers and green! So much green - something I seem to be lacking in my city, I get more cement and dirt... Anyways the observatory was built during the reign of Queen Seonduk in the Shilla dynasty and is the oldest existing observatory in the far east. 

Just up the hill from the observatory is the Gyerim forest. It is said that King Talhae one day entered the forest after hearing a hen calling.  The king found a golden casket hanging from a tree holding a smart looking boy who was crying.  Thus the forest got the name Gyerim after the hen. 

Remains of the tree in Gyerim
I made my way back to the station to meet up with Sara and Amanda for an afternoon of shopping.  Sara has a Korean wedding to attend next weekend and wanted to find some traditional gifts to give the bride and groom. Amanda had heard about a folk craft village towards the outside of town so we jumped on a bus to explore.  The shopping area focused mainly on hand crafted ceramics and were they gorgeous!  I may have to go back to buy some Birthday and Christmas presents - or things for myself, although it's hard not knowing where i'll be a year from now. 

Later that night I met up with Son (my awesome host in Gyeongju - soon to be my second home).  We  he cooked some chicken, rice and veggies and we had wine, nice low key dinner.  The weekend before he wanted to get a group to go bowling but that failed so I said i'd try it out this week.  The ally was pretty small so we had to wait about a half hour (which we spent at the nearby 7/11 drinking beer since they didnt' sell any at the ally, weird).  We bowled a few games, in which Son kicked my ass - guess I have to practice for next time, then called it a night.  Son got up at 7am to meet a friend in Pohang for a hike and graciously let me sleep in and later let myself out.  

I again decided to walk back towards town - I figured I had the time and it was gorgeous out so why not.  I picked a new route as opposed to the rive route we took last time, passing more beautiful forests, the Gyeongju stadium and a nice river crosswalk.  

After about an hour I found myself at the station - sat down to rest for a few minutes, use the bathroom (they have real toilets there) and then it was off to Anapji pond. The area around Anapji includes a representation of the palace during the Unified Silla period.  The original area included many buildings, Imhaejeon hall, a garden and after 674 a lake and artificial hill to plant rare flowers and trees, and to raise birds and animals. After seeing the pond I decided to make my way towards the bus terminal, which was once again a beautiful walk. First I walked through Gyeongju Wolseong, a large open area where Sinwolseong palace once stood.

Anapji pond 
Once again I had a successful weekend in Gyeongju, I knew there was a reason that I wish I had been placed there (before even coming to Korea).  The city is gorgeous, SUPER easy to navigate and has a great contrast of history and present day amusement.

Much love to all my friends and family, 

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Although there I days I want to tear my hair out due to a poorly behaved class, my students are the thing that make this job interesting.  I'm always amazed at how much the students underestimate their own ability - especially with English. This week I'm doing "dream jobs" with my 1st graders ( a lesson I previously did with the 2nd grade).  Although the majority of the class was barely talking when I asked what different jobs were, their written work was near perfect - and some just comical.

I asked the students to write the following:
1. What is your dream job?
2. Why is that your dream job?
3. What qualities do you need for that job?

Here's a few of the answers I got...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Here, There and Everywhere In-between

Um it's may? I'm sorry when did that happen?

The last few weeks i've started feeling a little bit more like a resident than a tourist, mainly for the fact that I haven't been spending my weekends jetting off to different cities. However, despite the fact i've stayed closer to home i've still kept busy and have been experiencing new things daily.

Two weeks ago I somehow wound up at Camp Carol - the US Army base in Waegwon.  I convinced Sara to go along with me as there was no way I was making the trip on my own.  We were supposed to meet up with Yoshi, who I met just over a month ago, and some of his friends for bowling and beer.  Sara and I took our time strolling the river walk in Waegwon and just catching up on life before heading that way.  Apparently we took too long and missed out on the bowling but met up with a group at one of the bars there.  I can honestly say I have never been stared at by so many people at one time (and that's saying a lot, do you KNOW how much Korean's like to stare at foreigners), apparently the army base doesn't get too many visitors from the outside.