Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Season of Giving

Like I mentioned in my last post, my favorite part of the holiday season centers around giving, so what better way to celebrate than to give presents, and hopefully some joy, to 70+ children.  Earlier this spring when Aimee, the founder of KKOOM, asked me to help her with the annual holiday part for Samsungwon, I had absolutely no hesitation.  This is the first year that Aimee wasn't able to be in Korea for the holidays since founding KKOOM 6 years ago; she was looking for support from the foreigners here to keep the tradition going.  I attended the Christmas party last year so after seeing the joy that it brought to the kids I knew I wanted to help make that possible again this year.   Unfortunately, the orphanage is currently undergoing construction so hosting a large scale party proved to be impossible, 70+ kids and volunteers running around a midst welding, sawing, hammering and other chaos didn't sound like the best idea. Instead, we decided to host an online gift drive, asking volunteers to support one (or more) children by purchasing gifts from their wish list.  We were able to get enough volunteers (some even sending money from the US), purchase the gifts and organize all of those sent from across the country. It was a bit of chaos for a few days as we sorted through boxes, wrapped, sorted and shopped but thankfully everything came together by 3pm Sunday afternoon. 

Finally organized, 70 some odd presents 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Rant

Being removed from your country allows you to appreciate the good and really despise the bad aspects of where you came from, it's kind of like an out of body experience. Being away from family and friends can be tough during the holiday season, but it also gives you an opportunity to realize what you miss and appreciate versus what you can do without.  For me, celebrating Christmas in Korea for not one but two years now has really opened my eyes to the consumer driven, materialistic season the US has turned this holiday into.  This year, headlines spread across news sources and social media alike critiquing companies for opening their doors on Thanksgiving day and reaching all the way until Christmas.  While living in the United States I was aware of what Christmas has turned into but was able to turn a blind eye to it.  Maybe it's because it's the norm and everyone is doing it mentality that allows just that, everyone to continue to do it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Never Again

Remember last summer and the summer before that, when I had awesome field trips with my staff - great bonding, lots of drinking, singing and food.  Well, its' that time of year again err kind of, except this time it's winter not summer, anyway you get the idea.  A few weeks ago, we had our end of the year teachers field trip, 1박 2일 [1 night, 2 days].  I really think I got spoiled the first year because we had an awesome trip, almost everyone participated, we saw some sights, ate good food, sang, danced, drank and even swam;  on top of all that I even avoided having a hangover the next day.  Last winter our trip was snowed out so I'm not sure what exactly I missed out on, then this past summer we had a mediocre trip, food, drinking and signing but not quite like the year before.  All of this combined I wasn't really sure what was in store for me this winter but I was still looking forward to it regardless, until I found out half the teachers would either be driving themselves and leaving early, or simply not attending. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Food & Yoga ~ the Yin & Yang to my Life

Thanksgiving isn't much of a big deal when you're halfway around the world, although when you have some awesome friends you can make the most of it. With tiny apartments and lacking kitchens it's pretty impressive what we pulled off for the second year in a row.  Obviously it's a little hard to cook a turkey without an oven but thankfully there's some sweet companies in Korea that recognize this and come to the issue (use their brain to make some easy money). Sara was kind enough to host this year and arrange ordering the turkey, leaving the rest of the food up to chance.  We all signed up to bring something and hoped that we'd have it all covered when the day came.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How I Spend my Free Time

Despite it being one my favorite hobbies and how I spent a majority of my free time, I've yet to pay much attention to my yoga practice here on my blog.  Actually, aside from posting a few instagram pictures here and there I don't talk much about my yoga.  I've talked about running, the other side of my fitness coin, so why not yoga?  My close friends and family know that I practice daily, enjoy contorting myself into difficult positions and am determined to get into a handstand without the aid of a wall, tree, bookshelf or other sturdy structure, so I guess I should share more about it here as well.  Actually, yoga is one of the driving factors that is causing me to leave Korea.  That probably sounds a bit strange so let me explain. Ever since joining my first 'yogalaties' class at UW-L, during my freshman year in college, I've had a little voice in the back of my head telling me to get certified to be able to teach.  I missed the opportunity when it came up that year and numerous times thereafter.  I searched different programs throughout WI and MN but never took the time to actually sign up and commit myself.  Fast forward a few years and you'll find me killing time at my desk,  in Korea.  While on facebook, I notice an advertisement for Vikasa yoga, an almost brand new yoga  resort on the beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand. It looked like pure paradise, if I could've packed my bags right then and there I would've, this place looked perfect.  Don't believe me? Have a look....

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Day of Song and Dance

Along with the changing weather, final exams, and school year coming to an end we struggled to find time to squeeze in a little bit more fun, here at Buksam High school.  About two weeks ago it was time for the second big event of the year, the annual school festival.  Last year this was easily one of the most impressive days of the year for me, having never experienced something like this before I was blown away by the level of talent presented, and also the high amount of participation.  I think having so much fun last year set my expectations for this time around pretty high.  As the day approached I was slightly confused by the lack of enthusiasm coming from my students, when asked if they were excited most of them responded with "ehh no, too busy".  It's understandable, as the school year comes to a close, they're swamped with studying for the important final exams, but still, learn to relax a little you guys! Despite their lackluster attitudes I was still looking forward to the day, I mean if nothing else, I didn't have to teach! 

Favorite picture ever - on display for all to see 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Getting Some Lovin'

Last summer my co-teacher Anna [이혜진] came into school one day full of excitement, telling me that she had bought a new house in Daegu, but shhh this is a secret.  I'm still not sure why it was a secret but I was happy to be one of the few she told about it, the reason being, she wanted me to come visit.  She didn't actually move in until mid-october and since then has been busy with buying new furniture and getting situated in her new neighborhood.  Repeatedly at school she would tell me that she wanted me to come visit and stay with her for the weekend, getting the chance to meet her family  (including the adorable boy pictured below) and explore Daegu together.  Despite a few failed planning attempts and busy schedules I was finally able to make my visit two weeks ago, woah two weeks ago already? 

Anna's son 최한결