Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jeju Island! (Korea's Hawaii)

I had an amazing weekend trip to Jeju Island last weekend. It was so exciting and tiring and fantastic, and I know you're dying to see pictures :)

We left EARLY Saturday morning (after about 4 hours of sleep)... Here's Jordan and I waiting in Gimpo Airport (as the name suggests, it's basically Incheon International's lesser second cousin):

We made it to our hotel (definitely hasn't been updated since the 70's, but it was a good location) and, after some Chinese food, we were ready to hit the beach! We took a back walkway from the Hyatt hotel (NOT our hotel, haha) and this is the view that greeted us:

We had a fantastic afternoon on the beach. The waves were pretty intense - the ocean kicked my butt and knocked my face in the sand a couple times, hahaha. Then I got in some good beach-reading and a beach-nap :)

After heading back to the hotel for a shower, we headed north to Jeju's Loveland. This is a park devoted entirely to fairly graphic sexual statues. I can't post many (or any) of the pictures on here, because I'm fairly certain this is a family blog :) But I can give this little preview of a bench I saw there:

...And if you want to get more of an idea what I spent Saturday night ogling, just GoogleImage "Jeju Loveland" :)

The next morning (or what felt like that night) we got up at 3:15 am to go hike Jeju's Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). This is an old volcano with a huge crater on top, that eventually formed a landbridge to Jeju Island, and is purported to have the best view of sunrise on Jeju.

Unfortunately, we wouldn't know about that. Here was our view:

It was FOGGY!!! A bit disappointing after booking it up this volcano at 4:30 in the morning to be sure we wouldn't miss sunrise! Here's proof of how wet it was up there and how early we got up - Me, soggy and sleepy:

But so you can see what we missed, here's a couple pictures of the mountain without a cloud cover:

After the volcano, we took a bus to visit some old lava tubes. These are places where, thousands of years ago, hot lava flowed through underground on its way to the volcano. It was pretty cool to see (and fortunately, cold inside, as we had to walk about a mile and a half from the bus stop to get there, haha), but we weren't allowed to take photos.

Our next stop was a waterfall right on the ocean. Apparently it was discovered by a Chinese man who was sent to collect "the elixir of life" from its waters... it was beautiful, and I made sure to soak my toes in it, just in case :)

Proof I was there (and still damp - what a wet, misty day!)

The inscription left by the Chinese man:

The waves over here were awesome... the sound alone made me want to move near the ocean:

Can you see the Ghost Ship in the distance?

After the waterfall, we were exhausted. We made it back to the hotel (yay late checkout!) for a nap, shower, and time to pack. After such a busy 48 hours (with little to no sleep) we were ready to be back in our own beds.

And, in just a few short weeks, I'll be traveling again! Kuala Lumpur, Bali, and Singapore! Can't wait!

Bonus pics:

The crazy-high and extremely frightening ride we rode at Lotte World a couple weekends ago:

Our (former) class pet, Diggy - A beetle we raised from a larva...who recently escaped. I've got the whole school on lookout, but I'm afraid he won't be returned alive. So


Love you all!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Teacher is Learning...


The other week, I rode a bike for the first time in almost 20 years!!! My friends taught me how, and I'm happy to say I picked it right up (in spite of the beers with dinner and my long skirt!)

Thanks to the Dish for taking this picture, Tyler for teaching me (well, pushing me), and Stacy for the bike.

Love you all!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Momma's Library...

A while back, my incredibly thoughtful mother sent over a bunch of books she had picked up for my Kinders. They weren't reading so well yet, so I used them as our story-time books. The other day, during playtime, they suddenly remembered they were on the shelf, and 8 of my 9 students chose to sit and read rather than run around and play. It was awesome.

Getting settled in with their books:

Sun Q found something funny in his:

Andrew wanted Becky's book, I think :)

Laura and Evelyn chose to read together:

Sally was helping Eileen with a word:

Sun Q, deeply engrossed in "Scruffy":

Also, a few weeks ago, we took a pretty fun field trip to a car museum - there were old cars from all over the world there. We also ran into some Korean high schoolers who were so impressed with my Kinders' level of English they had to ask them if they were actually from Korea :)

On the bus with Jordan Teacher's class:

Posing with a kind of creepy statue - see how Eileen looks really uncomfortable on the bench with the plastic woman, hahaha:

And posing in front of an equally creepy Doc from Back To The Future:

Ok, people - this is 3 recent blog updates. Get those comments on here, and let me know that I'm not just doing this to kill some time on a Sunday night :)

Love you all!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Unwelcome Break From Routine

So, something out of the ordinary finally happened :)

Last night I was in bed reading, telling myself "Ok, this is the last chapter for tonight, you've got to go to bed, Emily!" Around 1:30, my neighbor-across-the-hall's daughter started screaming and crying. This is a fairly common occurence. She's a noisy child, and I was pretty certain last summer that her parents sent her into the hall early Saturday mornings with a hammer and told her "Hit everything that will be loud."

So I waited for her to stop. She didn't. Just kept screaming "MOMMY!" in Korean, and I could tell she was in the hallway. My ovaries kicked in, and I opened my door to see what was going on. I found this 3-year-old girl standing in her doorway, red-faced, tears and snot streaming down, crying for her mother.

I started with "Shhhhh, shhhh" and still expected to see one of her parents behind her. Nothing. And she stared at me with her big eyes and said something in Korean about her mommy. All I could say in Korean was "It's ok, it's ok" and then pantomimed her going back to sleep. I tried "Mommy, where?" in Korean, but of course I had no idea what the response was. To this poor thing's credit, she quieted down while I was out there... But I could see it was a fragile calm.

Finally (maybe 10 minutes later?) her parents came in from outside. They saw the hall light on and ran up the stairs. When they saw their daughter and me in the hall, they exclaimed a very Korean "OH!" and the girl started bawling again. The dad just smiled at me, and they all went inside. Apparently Mommy and Daddy had stepped out (for a beer? a smoke? some soju?), and she woke up.

It was strange and frustrating. This also was after the evening I spent at the coffee shop trying to figure out why it sounded like someone was throwing bricks onto the awning over the patio. We learned it was cat litter. Someone was cleaning out their cat box and just launching the kitty-cakes out of their window.

What the heck, Korea? I realize you are used to being in very close proximity to others and their living habits, but is there no apartment etiquette at all?

Love you all!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Random Thoughts...

Life has become fairly routine here, so there hasn't been a lot of blog updating. I thought I'd share with you some of the things I appreciate from this life I'm living:

- I love my kids. I found myself watching them in playgym today and already getting sad about leaving them in February. They are so fun and unpredictable and smart and adaptive, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have gotten to know them this well.

- I love everyone else's kids too. I'm kind of the fun aunt in the hallway, playing and joking and teaching them "Freeze!" and "Gimme five, up high, down low, too slow!"

- A while back another student said hello to me in the hallway. Evelyn (one of my kinders) pulled me down to whisper in my ear, "Everyone knows Emily Teacher!" It made me smile.

- A few weeks ago I was on my way to the coffee shop and a child yelled "Emily Teacher!!" on the sidewalk. I said hello and smiled and waved, and realized I had no idea who she was. It was pretty ego-boosting :)

- I love the coffee shop patio. Jordan and Tyler were going all the time, so one day I brought my book with me and went down there. It's heaven. Coffee and fresh air and comfy seats and reading. I've gone through books like water since that day.

- I love that I'm teaching the older students. They ask such intelligent questions and love to learn more and more about any topic. I love when that light comes on, and they connect something we discuss to a previous conversation.

- I love that my Kinders are learning so much. We have a class beetle named "Diggy" who we raised from a wee larva :) Today Sun Q decided, on his own during playtime, that he was going to make a book. He called it "Diggy's Day." Each page had an illustration of one of Diggy's activities, which were "Diggy is sleeping. Diggy is waking up. Diggy is eating banana jelly now. Diggy is climbing." I was so impressed!

- They're also maturing socially and emotionally. Laura, who used to cry every morning because she didn't want to talk in front of the class, is now volunteering to go first for our morning questions! Evelyn, who used to be a huge diva-brat and is now only a minor diva-brat, takes my teasing about her whining with a smile, and is trying not to be so bossy. Philip, who was so competitive and always talking about being first, now says "We're the winners! Just kidding, everyone's a winner!"

- I love Korean baseball. Even though I'm pretty sure I'm a bad-luck-charm, as any team I root for loses unexpectedly whenever I show up to a game, it's such a fun time!

- I'm getting a little sad, as all the people I began this journey with will be gone by the end of August. But I'm also excited for something different, some bit of change.

- Also sad is the fact that I won't see my family until Christmas, and even then I won't get there till Christmas Day at the earliest. I was just thinking about Halloween this year, and how I hope I'm in the haunted house again, and realized that'll be two Halloweens away from home. Far away from home. It made me feel a little disoriented.

- I'm excited to do some more traveling. On the 27th Jordan and I are going to Jeju Island (Korea's Hawaii) for the weekend. I'm really looking forward to some beach time! Also, at the end of July, I'm meeting Audra in Bali. On the way, I'm stopping in Kuala Lumpur to squeeze in some sight seeing, then I'm going to Singapore for a few days on the way back. I think, by the time I leave here, I'll have most of Southeast Asia covered :)

- I like being alone. This is extremely surprising to me, as I've always NEEDED to be in the company of others to feel like I'm having fun. But I like living alone. I like taking little walks alone. I still love people, and WANT to be around them to have fun, but I really like my own company as well :)

- I have no idea what's going to come after this, but I'm comfortably back in "wait-and-see" mode. I like it here. I don't think I'm ready to jump into a career yet, so I'll just sit back and see what kinds of opportunities are available after this!

I feel like there are so many more anecdotes I could be sharing, but of course none are coming to mind right now. I'll try to find some fun pictures to share, since I just bombarded you with words :)

Love you all! (and leave comments, dammit! I'm so much more motivated to post when there is a lot going on in the comments section!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kindy Cuteness

I'm still not quite in blog-mode, so I thought I'd make good on my promise of updates and share a couple of adorable videos I've taken recently.

The first is a song the Kinders had to learn for "Open Class." Open Class is when the mothers get to come into the classroom for 40 minutes and watch a well-rehearsed and generally well-acted production of our normal, day-to-day activities. It was sort of like a smaller-scale Festival. The song they had to learn was "In a Cabin, In a Wood"... we never sing this song, except for Open Class. If it was a REAL day, you'd find them singing Ghostbusters :)

The second video is from art today. We had to make chickens. It was a mess. But the kids were so cute and having so much fun, I had to record it.

Ok, it felt good to blog a little. Maybe this will whet my appetite for more updating :)

Love you all!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm a huge slacker...

... I know. New blogs coming soon, I promise!

For now the news is (and I think I posted it once on here, but can't remember) that I won't be home in August. I'll be back for a visit at Christmas, but I extended my contract through February of 2010.

Love you all!