December Plans

So, I have three teaching weeks in December before break and I wanted to write out my holiday plans for the kids.
First off, Christmas is my favvvvvvorite holiday so I’m hoping to spread some holiday cheer with them.

I’ve nearly finished a Powerpoint presentation on the three main winter holidays in the Western world, or at least as far as I’m aware.  I’m going to break up the Powerpoint and talk about Hanukkah the first week, Christmas the second week and Kwanzaa the third week.  That’s the order they fall in this year, so it works out nicely.  Christmas decorations have recently started to become more of a thing where I’m living, so I’m hoping to tell them about the spirit of giving and family, and not only Santa and presents.  I don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, but I’m hoping to at least make them aware of the different holidays that are going on this time of year.  Lots of Googling going on these days.
Note: if you celebrate Kwanzaa and want to make sure I include something important, feel free to send me a message!  I’m just going off what I find online.

I’m also super grateful that my classes are fairly flexible and that the parents seem to be ok with whatever I do with the kids.
I’m thinking about having a cookie-making contest with my 2 youngest classes and making a gingerbread house from graham crackers (or cookies) with the last/oldest class.  I only have so many graham crackers, and the last class is a bit older and smaller, so it might be a bit more manageable.
I just thought up the cookie-making contest the other day and I think it would be good fun.  I only have 8-9 kids in my first two classes (yay for the after-school academies!), so I’d like to make copies of the directions, teach basic words and then put them into teams.  They could try and make the same recipe and see how they turn out at the end.  Maybe do this the day before break.
1. Learning a new skill
2. Everyone loves holiday cookies!
3. All in English
4. Kids love competition 🙂

Anyway, those are my current plans 🙂

Oooooh!!  Maybe I could even put together a little holiday cookie recipe book!  How fun!

Ya know, sometimes I wish I could shut my brain off and just go through life like a normal person…

I was also thinking of doing a small holiday craft related to the “holiday of the week” so they can get more into it.  I’ve seen a few easy Hanukkah-related activities already and they seem fairly simple.

Anyway…my favorite time of year is upon us and I’m stuffed to the brim from my Thanksgiving dinner.  Life is good.  Just need to find another sub for my class (last one was rejected because apparently she has the wrong sort of visa…oi.)…aside from that stress, things are good.  🙂

Also, why am I thinking of more pumpkin pie when I’m still full?

Easy cookie recipes for future reference (for me):
http://www.food.com/recipe/eloises-easy-sugar-cookies-82945

http://www.food.com/recipe/soft-snickerdoodle-cookies-97496

Mayyybe these depending on the students (allergy)
http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/classic-peanut-butter-blossom-cookies/a3563f6e-96b0-443f-ae0a-53cef4be6db6

I’d also looooove to do these because they’re amazing:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-crinkles-ii/

But I can’t find a recipe at the moment that doesn’t involve putting them into the fridge for x amount of hours…
Anyway, fun (and delicious) times await 😀

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What If Money Didn’t Matter…?/Life Updates/Thanksgiving

Love this video. Beautiful, and so, so true.

Writing this on the night of my ninth month in Korea.  It’s strange to think that I’ve been here for nine months–I feel sort of split.  First off, I’ve officially decided that I’m staying another year here (not sure if I mentioned this before), because I think that this has been a fabulous opportunity for me, and I’d love for this little part of my life to continue for a bit longer.  I’m starting to feel very comfortable here….well, have been for awhile and I’m getting more involved in activities and I don’t want to jump back into the whole daily grind thing that awaits back home….not just yet.

I’m also eager to get home too.  It’s a weird split feeling.  Happy to be here, but anxious to get home to see everyone.  I’m not super homesick or anything, just a bit nostalgic, especially because the holidays are here and I think of being home with everyone and years past.  But, I’m still happy to be here.

I haven’t updated in awhile, partially because I’m lazy/busy etc, but also, I think because I have settled in more so the things that I would normally (or used to) update about…now seem part of the daily routine.  I don’t even know what I’m supposed to update about. haha 🙂
Anyway, I’m doing a language exchange twice a week with my own partner–We meet for an hour and a half and split it half Korean/half English, and it’s been really cool.  The English part is just conversation practice with the occasional grammar questions and the Korean part is pretty much anything I want to do.  I usually have questions, but I also have a workbook that a friend gave me, or he’ll quiz me on things, or we’ll work on translating a book of Aesop’s Fables from Korean to English.  It’s interesting for me because it’s fun, and yet, I also get to see more of how the sentence structure works AND learn words in the process.
He’s also incredibly patient and will help me in any way that I ask, whether it’s repeating a word 5-6 times so I can try and pronounce something right or translating a children’s story, haha.  He says it’s fun for him too and he gets to learn some new English words while we work on it, so it’s nice 🙂

Um, also, I’m thinking about taking piano lessons (!!!) once a week (which I’ve wanted to learn for ages but never had the money for)  AND….Tango lessons.  Also been wanting to learn this, but again…never had the money.
I met a girl maybe two weeks ago who does Swing and the Lindy Hop, and those both look fun too.  I’ve heard of both, but haven’t really considered myself a person that would give it a shot..until now.
Too bad I have to work, haha.  Not enough time in the week (or money in the bank) to do everything I want, haha.  😀

ALSO…I recently booked my trip for my winter vacation…to the Philippines!!!!  I’m so excited for this.  I was going to go to Thailand, but I found a great deal on a flight  and just changed my mind.  Thailand will have to wait til next year.  🙂
Still working on my itinerary, but either way, it should be a great time!  I’m 100% okay with warm, tropical weather in the middle of December and January! haha.

———-
Annnnnd HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!
Still a few hours from the official day (in Korea time), but I’m headed to bed soon and wanted to include it.

Thanksgiving obviously isn’t celebrated here, but all the expats have been great with organizing events here and there to help everyone feel at home away from home.
I went to a Thanksgiving event last weekend on the island of Muuido (off the coast of Incheon) and had a mini-Thanksgiving meal…and if that weren’t enough, a friend of mine is having a Thanksgiving potluck party this Friday too.
We had turkey and all the fixings at the first party, but as the second one is at my friend’s apartment and our apartments don’t come standard with an oven…we’ll be having chicken instead.  😛 haha.
It’s not the food that matters anyway 🙂

Pictures from Muuido Island, KR–Thanksgiving Event with Seoul Hiking Group
November 2012
AND (because I don’t know how to separate them…)
some of the Kindergarten art projects we’ve done during the month of November 🙂

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I’m thankful for all the incredible people in my life.  I have an amazing group of friends and family that stands behind me no matter what kind of ideas I get or plans I make.  They’re there 150%, and I know that I’m so incredibly fortunate to have that.
I’m also thankful for the opportunities that have presented themselves in my life.  At age 26, I feel like I’ve lived several lifetimes and had the chance to do things that many people don’t get to do in 100 years.  I hope to be able to continue on this path and see and experience as much as I can while I’m able.
Hardships aside, I feel incredibly blessed.


Not related to the Thanksgiving theme, but I also REALLY like this video about teachers.  It helps inspire me or pick up my spirits after a long day.

‘What Teachers Make’ by Taylor Mali, teacher and poet

Oh hi! :) Cruises, Summer Vacation and Korean 101

Whoops!  Sorry for the lack of posts!  I got lost in the sea of productivity, haha.

I was just wondering what I should write about and I realized I completely forgot to write about my summer vacation trip to BALI!!

Before I dive into that, a few smaller updates:

*My mom and brother left for their cruise on Monday morning (US time) and from what I heard from my grandma (they sent her a message just before the ship left the pier)–they were already having a great time.  Apparently there was a flashmob planned amongst a few other things.  I’m so excited to hear about their trip and see all the pics when they get back stateside.
They definitely deserve to have something to be excited about.  Well, everyone should have something like that, but for them, it’s been an especially long while, and I was finally able to help tip their luck.

*I joined a language exchange group that meets on Sundays as a way to meet more Koreans and to actually make a better effort with learning Korean.
I tried joining a class when I first got here, but I was doing my TEFL class and adjusting to life here and working…and just felt overwhelmed by it.
I’m at the point now where I know enough to get by (my area is a pretty affluent, well-populated area so I can get by with less)—but I’m nearing my 6 month mark and actually feel now that I’m ready to get back into it.
I think it’ll be better this time because I actually want to learn (and not just because I feel that I should) and because the setup is pretty cool with the language exchange.
The exchange is at a coffee house and is really laid back. They have “Korean time” and “English time” in 30-minute intervals for 2 hours, and during both of those times, you’re only supposed to speak the designated language.  I really like this because at first I was hesitant about joining an exchange because I didn’t want it to end up as a free English lesson because my Korean is so minimal.  But, this format works and the Koreans there are super friendly and eager to help.  Definitely planning on making this part of my weekly routine.

I was also thinking about finding some of the notorious KPOP dance classes around here.  They’re supposed to be really fun, and I’ve recently gotten into the KPOP music here…sounds like a fun time.

I also went to a wine social party this past weekend and met a bunch of cool foreigners and Koreans.  25,000won for endless wine at a cute little restaurant.  It was really fun and that’s actually how I decided I wanted to try out the language exchange thing–a bunch of the people from that also went to the exchange each week.

I’ll post on my trip to Bali later–I want to get back to my Korean studies, and I have a thing with not letting my posts get too long.  😀

SENSATION 2012: An Ocean of White, Care Packages and Beachy Destinations

Now THIS was an amazing experience that I won’t soon forget.  So happy that I took lots of pictures and video footage.
SENSATION is basically a touring rave party.  They hit hot spots in South America and Europe and have one stop in the US (NYC, of course) and its first-ever stop in Asia happened to be in Seoul this past weekend.

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Absolutely incredible.

The theme was “An Ocean of White” and the dress code was for everyone to wear white…hence the white clothes, and it was a really cool thing to see all those people (apparently sold out show at 50,000 people) in the same color.
It also helped the hype when you were on your way to the venue and you’d randomly see someone else all dressed in white and wondering if they were on their way to the same place that you were headed.  🙂
The rave (my first) started at 10pm and went to 6am.  I went with a friend of mine and we stayed til about 5:15am and headed back to try and beat some of the crowds for the subways and the trains back home.
It was busier than I’m sure it normally was at 6am on the subway, but not anything too crazy.

The event has a really good energy and lots of people were up and dancing around, and they had a few fun photo-op type things set up around the arena for before or during the event when you wanted to take a breather.
You paid for food and drinks with these little tokens that you bought (everything was obviously overpriced, but that’s to be expected).

I started to write out descriptions of what all happened, but it’s just one of those things that you’d have to experience it to fully understand.
However: giant inflatable, color-changing, glowing balls in the crowd; lasers; great dance music; fireballs; fountains; wristbands that turned on and glowed green on cue; dancers.

There you go.  Perhaps your own imagination can do better justice to the show than my writing can.  🙂

I also managed to lose my bank card while I was at the rave and tried hard not to let it spoil my evening.  I’m normally very organized and good with money, and that’s never happened to me before so I wasn’t too thrilled.
I told the information desk and gave them my number and they said they’d call if it showed up (made me feel a bit better that they had a stack of about 8 other cards at the desk).
I later found out that someone had charged 60,000 won (about $58) to my card while at the event…most likely on tokens since there wasn’t much else to purchase there.

On Monday morning (banks are closed on Sundays here too), a Korean co-worker went to the bank with me and talked to the teller about the situation.  We cancelled the old card (and thankfully, the person only used that card for that one 60,000won purchase and that’s it) and she issued me a new one on the spot.
My co-worker also filled out a form explaining what had happened (in Korean) and they’re going to see about getting me the money back.  It’ll take 1-2 weeks to find out whether or not I get anything back.  I might or might not…or I could get a portion of it.  Either way, I’m not expecting to get anything back, so if I do, it’ll just be a nice surprise.
Thankfully, I get paid this week and I’m not in a huge need for money right now (sure, the 60,000 would be nice), but payday is coming and I’ll take this as a lesson learned to be extra careful next time, because if there is a next time, I probably won’t be so lucky.  They could have easily drained the whole account or kept making additional purchases.

Anyway, I also got another care package…this time from my mom! 😀
It had a bunch of food and magazines in it.  And MAC AND CHEESE!  And Angel Food Cake mix!  haha.  Apparently sending the cake mix was an accident, but I’m happy it was sent along.  🙂
Oh!  And I got more lotion from Bath and Body Works!!  Hurrah!!

Annnnd last but definitely not least….

BALI IN THREE DAYS!!!!!

Count’em!  3! Days!! 😀
Summer vacation is almost here!!

I can definitely use it because I already teach a lot of classes and Summer Intensive classes start up tomorrow (ie: adding more classes into our schedule.  1 more for me…making 10-11 classes a day).
Friday can’t come soon enough.

MUDFEST!

Ah! I’ve been so busy recently–but what a fun month!

Two weekends ago I went to MudFest or the 15th Annual Boryeong Mud Festival.

It’s one of the biggest festivals here in South Korea and a massive event attended by tons of foreigners and Koreans alike.  (But mostly foreigners).

It goes on for two weeks with most people going on the weekends from what I’ve noticed.  I went on the first weekend (July 14-15) and had an amazing time.  It’s held on the beach and has everything from: inflatable slides and obstacle courses, mud wrestling, and body painting with regular and colored mud.
The first night they also have fireworks as a celebration of opening weekend, and there are booths for food and drink everywhere.  It’s a really, really fun time.

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There are tons of different organized tour-like groups that go down there in buses and pre-arrange accommodation for you and everything too.
I went with some friends and we went with a group that was pretty much bare-bones so we could save some money.  Some of the other groups with the fancy buses are $100^^, but they also include dinners and such.  Our group was about $40 and just had accommodation, but food and everything was pretty cheap down there so we were able to save ourselves quite a bit of money.
…which is good because my July has been pretty jam-packed with stuff.

I’m pretty much all for paying the least amount that I can on lodging (as long as it’s safe and clean) and transportation so I can spend money on other things and/or save it.

Anyway, Mudfest is an amazing time and I’ll definitely be back 🙂

Jimjilbang

Hello! Hello!

On Thursday, I ended up going to a jimjilbang for the first time.  I’ve basically been getting up the courage to go since I got here.  I wanted to try it out because it’s a very Asian experience, and as I’m here in Asia, I wanted to experience it.  One way or another.
In case you didn’t read my last post, a jimjilbang is a public bathhouse/sauna/spa.
It depends on the size of the one you’re going to but for the most part, each of them has different pools (different temps)–like hot tubs, steam rooms, common areas and hot rooms (it’s like a dome-shaped stone room that they have set at a high temp. to help relax you and make you sweat out toxins/cleanse your body.  They also have ice rooms too.
Anyway, you’re required to be nude if you want to use the [gender separated] saunas and hot tubs/pools.  There’s a belief that the hot temperatures bring out toxins from clothing and bathing suits when it’s in that hot of a temperature. Also, (according to Wikipedia) some people will assume that you have something (some gross infection, etc) if you try and wear a bathing suit.  1st–I don’t think it’s even allowed to wear one, and if you did, you’d stick out even more.  (Same goes for the bathhouses in Japan).  All common areas and the hot room things are mixed and they give you a special uniform to wear.
The review:  REALLY NICE.  I went with a friend and I had heard of a really nice (and massive–7 floors!) one that was really popular in this city.  It was really awkward at first and we couldn’t stop laughing, ha.  We decided to do the common areas first and explore a bit and then go into the sauna.

It ended up being ok because we went around midnight (got a late bbq dinner) on a Thursday and it wasn’t overly crowded.  I had heard that “you WILL get stared at” (being a foreigner/having curves/etc etc) but perhaps because it wasn’t very crowded, it didn’t happen as much as I expected.

Anyway, it was super relaxing and I loved the hot rooms.  You just go in and lay on the heated stone floor.  I saw some people with books in there too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jjimjilbang

Next Post:  Mudfest 2012

She Bangs! She Bangs!

With any luck, I got that Ricky Martin song stuck in your head.  😛

In this entry I’m going to focus on the bangs ( 방) or rooms, in Korea.
Bang (not pronounced like it is in English–the b is a slight mix of the b and p sounds and the a is pronounced like “ah”)
Anyway, there are a few different varieties here:
PC bangs: (computer rooms–basically where all the gamers go–but a giant computer lounge where you pay for internet access by the hour–really nice computers too.  I used these when I first got here and didn’t have my internet set up yet.

Noraebang:  (Pronounced “Nor-a-bang”)–Karaoke rooms!  I’m completely dumbfounded as to why these aren’t in the US yet.
It’s a private room that you can pay for and you can have a karaoke party with your friends.  (Mostly done after you finish up at the bars, but can definitely be done at other times too).  Comes with two microphones, a giant flat screen tv, 2 giant song books (English and Korean song choices), wrap-around couches…and you can bring alcohol into the rooms.  (Alcohol is a very big part of the culture here so it’d be really strange for it not to be allowed…but that’s beside the point.)
You walk into a noraebang, pay at the counter and escorts you to your private karaoke room.
Personally, I don’t really do karaoke in bars or in that sort of scene because I don’t want to sing in front of all those people, but this is really cool. Sing until your heart’s content…judgement free!  (hopefully :-P)

Jimjilbang:  a Korean public sauna/bathhouse.  They’re really popular over here (uh…planning on trying it out for the first time later this week)…just the one catch:  you’re naked.  Ya.  Naked.
There are a bunch of them all over, but I haven’t gotten the courage to go yet…I just want to try it at least once before I leave.
There are mixed parts of the bathhouse where (you’re fully clothed here) you can relax or get a massage (apparently these are not the same as the ones you’d expect back home.  a bit rougher, I believe.)
But in the actual saunas, there are a bunch of different rooms to choose from, varying in heat and types of saunas themselves.
I’ll be able to update more on this after I go.
It’s supposed to be a really relaxing thing (aside from the Koreans staring at you because of your foreigner body (ha) and a great way to detox your body).  Plus, it’s not something you can find in most places.

Also, you’re able to spend the night there too!  It’s a cheap option (cheaper than a hostel) and I’ve heard of people doing it at the airport (I think there’s one in the Seoul-Incheon airport) if they have an early flight the next morning.
The whole thing can range from $4-10!!  Closer to 10 if you stay the night!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jjimjilbang

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1KJfTwj2lU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvJWdK6DOn0&feature=plcp

There are a few other types of 방 here (as it means “room”), but I think those are the most common.

Ok, headed to bed!
Happy Thursday!
MUDFEST this weekend!!