Monday, December 23, 2013

Pen Pals

This is my friend Katie. We went to the same college, and for about 3 years we had almost every class together. We built starburst towers in the back of the classroom and she made me a checklist of the due dates of all our assignments to keep me from going crazy. Then we did our student teaching in the same school. Then we came to Korea together. Then she left me to go back to Wisconsin and I cried. 

Now she teaches 4th grade and we decided to make our students be pen pals. When I first told my kiddos what we were going to do I had to explain it a few times before they really understood it. "I will write a letter to America? And America will write a letter to me? Teacher real? (sometimes they just say real instead of really)" They giggled at all the silly American names like Drake and Sophie and told their new friends about their families and how they like chicken and pizza but they don't like studying.

Then 2 weeks later Katie's letters came, and oh my gosh. I've never answered so many questions about mail in my life. 
"Teacher how did this get here?" 
"It came in the mail kids." 
"From America? Real?" 
"But how?"
"On an airplane."
"Teacher did you write this letter?"
"No I didn't write that letter! Your American friend wrote to you."
"Sophie is a real person?"
Needless to say their little minds were blown and I told my boss we better plan a field trip to the post office, because mail is apparently very confusing.

We've done this a few times now and after they got pictures of their American friends I think it finally sunk in that there is a real child out there they are communicating with. They know about how long it takes to hear back after we've written and they ask for days when their mail is coming. And no matter what kind of mood they're in when class starts, they get so excited and happy to read their letters from their pen pals. It's adorable. Our most recent ones were Christmas cards with Christmas pencils. So cute!

So thanks for doing this Katie! I'm having just as much fun with it as the students are. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

My students are funny

The kiddos did some pretty cute stuff this week. I've been teaching them for a few months now and I think they're starting to feel more comfortable with me and they're showing off more of their personalities. They say the funniest things, and the best part to me is that half the time they don't even know they're being funny. 

ShinWoo is in 5th grade and he's becoming one of my favorites. He's the quiet but quirky type. And he's so small - looking at him I'd guess he was in 2nd or 3rd grade. He sat down in class this week and I asked him if he did his homework and he said, "Yes teacher, because I am handsome." And then smiled at his own joke. Because handsome = smart I guess? A few days later we were reading a story titled A Difficult Decision about a boy who finds a toy in the park and has to decide whether he should keep it or return it. Riveting literature. I asked the class what would be a difficult decision for them to make and ShinWoo raised his hand and said, "Choosing between SunWoo (a girl he apparently likes) and my mom. That would be hard." And he was so serious about it that I couldn't even laugh. 

In another class I was writing something on the whiteboard, and when I turned around I saw a boy blowing up a giant green balloon. He obviously knew that wasn't something he should be doing in English class, so he tried to hide it under his desk when I caught him. I'm sure he expected me to get mad but I just laughed so hard...where did that even come from and why do you want to blow it up right now?! And how do you think you're going to hide it from me? Then I started to wonder what his thought process was - English is a little boring today so I'll spice it up a little bit with this balloon? 

My students are pen pals with my friend Katie's students in Wisconsin, and we started writing them Christmas cards on Friday. There's one boy who is so quiet, he hardly ever shows emotion. I think I've seen him smile 3 times. When I told the class they were going to write Christmas cards for their American friends, he put his head down and started writing and didn't look up till I told him it was time to go. He made this:

He made letters into pictures, he used a million exclamation points, he drew a giant tree behind the whole thing. And he would have done more but it was time to go home. It was so sweet. I'm glad I finally found something that gets him excited. 

One of my highest level classes is only boys and I look forward to teaching them every day. They're all upper elementary and they can speak well enough to really express themselves - to me and to each other. They're all friends and they're all so funny. One of them was making this really strange helicopter noise while they were writing and another kid said, "Why you make that stupid noise?!" and helicopter boy shrugged and said, "Just because." The rest of us laughed so hard and he continued being a helicopter for a little while longer. 

Oh kids. Stuff like this is why I love teaching. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall fall fall

One of the things I really love about living in Korea but haven't gotten to do lately is day trips. It's very easy to get stuck in a routine around here, but its also so much fun to get out and do something different for a little bit. It feels like a mini, mini vacation. Everything is more fun when it doesn't happen in your own city, right? It's also fun when you take a crew of 8 people with you. 
So we got on the train and went to Gyeogju to see the fall leaves. Busan has the ocean, which is magnificent, but the ocean doesn't change colors with the seasons. And we have a lot of buildings, but not a lot of trees, therefore not a lot of leaves. It hasn't really felt like fall yet. The temperature has been dropping and I've been wearing sweaters (my favorite) every day, but there's no red and orange in the trees, no apple orchards, no hay rides, no pumpkin flavored anything. It's not truly fall until you've crunched through a pile of dead leaves, so off we went! 

Literally the first thing I did after getting out of the taxi - feet. in. grass.

We took a walk around a lake/river/big pond. We stopped and took a lotttt of pictures, threw some rocks, threw some leaves, hopped across some stepping stones, ate some snacks. 

This is my favorite picture of the day. 

 The city we visited is very historic...I think it used to be the capital a long long time ago? All those hills are tombs of kings and their wives. I know there's a pile of bones under there, but I kept thinking about how fun it would be to run to the top and then roll down the hill.

 Ta-da! This is what I've been waiting for all season.

Girls picture. 

And now I'm ready to move on to Christmas. Starbucks put up red and gold the day after Halloween, and I don't hate it. Normally I want to get through Thanksgiving first, but this year I'm ok with celebrating an extra long Christmas. Ho ho ho!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

At work yesterday...

When I got to work yesterday the boss lady and some kids were standing in the hallway because the door was broken. We could unlock it but not open it. The top corner somehow got jammed overnight so we were stuck outside. The kids thought it was hilarious of course. Boss lady did not find it hilarious, and she went to find a locksmith and I stayed behind with the children. My coworker James showed up and wondered why we were all waiting around out in the hallway. I told him what the problem was and he yanked that door right open. For a second we were excited, then pretty immediately we regretted it. We decided next time to just leave the door closed and go home - good excuse to not work right?

In between the first and second classes a spontaneous game of "What time is it Mr. Fox" broke out. It was seriously so cute and heartwarming to see all the kids actually playing nicely together. There were first graders and fifth graders and boys and girls, and everybody was happy. I loved it!

In one of my highest classes we were working on writing, and in the spirit of Halloween I gave them words like ghost and zombie and monster to make sentences with. I told them to write a sentence with blood and one boy wrote this: I killed my sister and her blood was red. Ahhh, sibling love. 

I finished out the day by teaching Lightning Thief to my middle school class. I read that book in a young adult lit class and loved it, and now I'm having so much fun teaching it! I'm thrilled to have students that not only understand what they're reading, but enjoy it too. One girl laughs out loud a lot...its so cute. I have a good time just watching her read and giggle at the funny parts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A million dollar purse?

I went to the department store yesterday morning, and while I was riding the escalator I looked down and saw this:

They set up a structure, a large structure, to showcase 4 purses. They put those purses in glass boxes and had men in suits escort potential customers around while other men in suits offered them champagne and kept regular people out of the structure. 

What? Really? Why?! At first I was intrigued, because for somebody to go through all that effort this must be a big deal. Except it wasn't, it was 4 purses. Then I was disgusted, because I'm all for pretty things but you cannot convince me that anything is worth this. This bag is not going to cure cancer, some rich lady is maybe going to buy it and put her mascara and tissues in it. Then I was curious, because what in the world could possibly be so special about these bags? Did the leather come from rare cows? Is there a golden egg inside? With your purchase do you also get one of the men in suits to always follow you around offering you champagne?

And then I thought about how much one of these probably costs and how much money I have in my bank account and I got a little sad and bought a $2 notebook and left. The end. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Home Sweet Home

I paid rent yesterday, which means I've been living in my apartment for a month! It feels like it's been about a week. It's starting to feel very cozy and comfortable around here. I've bought bedding, a mirror, a lamp, pots and pans...the more I bring home the happier it feels. It's fun making this place mine. 

I made a nice video tour for you but it was being difficult and I got tired of trying to get it to upload, so these pictures will have to do. 

 Bathroom. Self-explanatory. 

 Kitchen. I still need to get a table - I've got this nice wooden white one in my head and now I just have to find it in real life. I tried to hang some pictures the other night and I learned that my walls are made of cement. I tried 3 times and bent 3 nails. The first time I thought I did something wrong, the second time I thought maybe it was because my hammer has flowers on it, and the third time I concluded it was the wall's fault. So, the pictures sit on the floor. 

 Bedroom. My window looks out at another building and I realize this may not sound appealing to you, but it blocks the sun in the morning and that is very appealing to me. The kitchen is on the other side of the wall on the left, and I like the separation. My apartment is technically a one-room but because of the wall it doesn't feel like it.

Bedroom part 2. TV, closet, storage, and friends. 

And there you have it! My home sweet home. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

As of lately...

I came home to this the other night...a stray cat chillin on a car. From the sounds of it, an entire herd of them lives somewhere near my bedroom window and they all love to fight with each other. This guy stared me down as I walked to the elevator and I was a little nervous he was going to pounce on me. Cats are the worst. 

Saturday morning I went bike riding with this pretty girl and a few others. It was really refreshing to get out and do something a little different - I feel like I've been going to the same places over and over for a while now. The weather was good and we followed a path next to a river with lots of wildflowers. 

After our bike ride we had some lunch and sat on the beach for a little bit. It never gets old for me. 

Today I got my first real mail in my new apartment! It was from my friend Alissa - we lived in Ulsan together. It included this beautiful lion piece that she made herself. I am blown away! I have the most talented friends. I'm not artistic at all, but most of my besties studied art/make art/are very creative. I'm buying a frame for this beauty first thing tomorrow. 

And last but not least, Uncle Si. I get the history channel - random I know. So I've been watching shows like Swamp People and Kings of Restoration, and of course Duck Dynasty. I would give anything to know how they translate his ramblings. Korean doesn't have the vocabulary for crazy redneck uncle...what do they think he's saying?! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Happy Chuseok!

A few weeks ago it was Chuseok - Korea's version of Thanksgiving. Most people get 3 days off but my work is awesome and I got the whole week! I spent Monday and Tuesday moving and unpacking and organizing and making multiple trips to the store to buy plates and bowls and cleaning supplies and other necessities. I learned a little something during my first trip to Home Plus: the good thing about needing everything is not having to think - you just put it in the basket. The bad thing is the check out counter. Ouch. 

Thursday was beach day! I've been going to the beach all summer and this was by far the best day. The water was warm, the waves were big and fun, and it wasn't crowded at all because everybody was off celebrating with their grandmas. The only Korean person on the beach was InAi. It was actually weird to see so many foreigners at the same time. 

And then it was time to go to Seoul. Oh Seoul. I've expressed my love for that city before; I think the thing that makes me the happiest is that I can just blend in. Most of the time I feel like a foreigner first and person second, and its nice to get away from that once in a while. I almost always end up feeling a little homesick there - probably because everything around me feels more like America so I think about the people and places I'm missing. Sarah and Jillian I thought about you a lot while I was shopping. You would have laughed at the same weird outfits as me and helped me spend my money. 

We didn't really do anything out of the ordinary - I've been there so many times that I've seen and done all the touristy stuff. We explored the market, ate delish Mexican (and a lot of other) food, spent hours shopping, drank coffee, got a little lost. Twas a wonderful weekend! 

Julie and I wore matching gray and white stripes. Great minds think alike! 

Paper choices favorite area


City nature

Julie talked me into taking sticker pictures, and it ended up being so fun! We look super authentic and traditional I'm sure. 

We stumbled upon this fun fountain show on our way back to the subway one night. I enjoyed taking pictures of it as much as the kids enjoyed playing in it. 

Until next time, Seoul. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I am 25 years old and I live in the most technological country, and last week I got my first smart phone. It is beautiful. It is black with a pink case, and it is my current favorite thing. I'm trying not to be one of those people everybody hates who doesn't participate in the conversation because they're too "busy" with facebook or whatever, but I don't think I'm doing a very good job. Sorry real life friends. I'll try to be better.

Mina took a group of us to the phone store because she has a gift for getting good deals. She's taken a few batches of people to the same guy, so he knows she's going to bring him a lot of money and he gives discounts. He came and met us at the subway station, gave us coffee, and paid for our cab ride to the phone store. Off to a great start! I wish more things in life included free coffee. Then we sat there for a long time because there were 4 of us and we had important decisions to make, like what color phone to get and how much data is necessary each month. But after a few hours we all left with phones, free phone cases, and smiles on our faces.

And now, now I can check my email anytime I want. I can google the answers to all my questions whenever I feel like it. I can message people in three different ways. I can take pictures of everything I eat (I reallllllly don't want to become that person, but it's nice to have the option). I don't have a worse phone than my 1st grade students anymore. Life is good. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

House hunting

When I back moved to Korea my friends Anna and Lydia let me live with them so I wouldn't be homeless. I've spent the past 3 months in a quaint little fishing village, and it was great. I could see the ocean from the living room. We walked through a vegetable patch to get to the bus stop. I went running next to lighthouses.

But, now that I have a job, it was time to be a big girl and get my own apartment. Mina offered to take me house hunting last week. I knew what area I wanted to live in so we found a realtor and told him what I was looking for. We followed him from apartment to apartment and tried to keep up - it was hot and he was a very fast walker. 

I really liked the 3rd place of the day. It had a good layout, it was clean, and it felt pretty new. The guy said places were going fast and he wanted me to sign a lease then but I wasn't ready to be done looking. I just planned on seeing what my options were, not actually committing to anything that day. So we kept going. God bless pregnant Mina, I think I dragged her to 4 more places after that. The last apartment of the day was the best one. It had the same layout as the 3rd one that I liked, but it was in a better location, it had an elevator, and it was just nicer overall. At least I thought it was. We hadn't been taking pictures and I couldn't remember exactly what the 3rd place looked like. 

By that point in the day I had decided I should just commit to something. I was afraid I would think about it for a few days and then the apartment I liked would be gone and I'd have to start the process all over. So I asked if we could go back to the 3rd place one more time. We walked in and I knew I liked the last place better. So we all went back to the realtor's office, I stopped by the bank to draw out a lottttt of cash, and I signed the paperwork. 

And just like that, in less than 4 hours, I had a new home. That's what I call efficiency. 

Monday, September 9, 2013


This weekend my friend Thao wanted to go to the library to check out some picture books for her class, and I said I'd tag along. Children's books are the best! The cute stories, the illustrations...they're just so good and heartwarming. One of my favorite things to do is read to my kids and watch them get excited about the pictures and make them guess what will happen next. So of course I was down for a trip to the library! It was going to be so much fun.

Me and Thao. For like 3 months we ended up wearing the same thing every time we saw each other. We look alike right? ;)

The English library is part of this giant English center that's made up of a bunch of buildings. So naturally it took us a while to figure out exactly where the library was - on the 5th floor of course. Wouldn't want to make it easy to check out those books. We make our way up there and the lady tells us Thao has to register for a library card. She points to a computer and we figured out she had to put in her name and ARC number. It didn't work. So she tried again, and it didn't work again. So an employee came over and tried a few times, and it still didn't work. So another employee came over and asked to see Thao's ARC card and then she and I realized she probably had to write her entire name, not just first and last. That did the trick! One problem solved. 

Then we browsed. We found so many good books, including one about an egg who wants to fly and ends up as breakfast. It's called Egg Drop. Clever right? I love children's books! Almost all the kiddos said hello as they walked past us, and I'm pretty sure one mom took a picture of the 2 us looking through books. I wonder what she's planning on doing with that - adding it to the family scrapbook? When Thao narrowed her choices down we went to go check them out. 

The guy at the check out counter was the first employee who had tried to help us with the library card. They have this ATM-type machine that does it all for you. First you have to scan the barcode on your card, which took us probably 4 times to get right. Then a little video shows you that you have to put the books on this scale-type thing with the spine out. First Thao put the books on the wrong way, and then the machine timed out and we had to start over. The third time it worked, and you guys, it was like magic. The books just sit on the scale and nothing scans them but somehow the machine knows how many you have and what the titles are. I was genuinely amazed. I think the guy thought I was crazy. 

We were finally done and decided to get coffee at the English cafe. We had tried to go pre-library but there was nobody there to make us our drinks. We enjoyed our caramel macchiatos and had a nice little chat and when it was time to go Thao said, "Where's my umbrella?" Back at the library of course. I'm sure they'll be happy to see us again. So we trudged back up to the 5th floor and retrieved the umbrella and left laughing at the nonsense that was the past few hours. Who would have thought we would have so many problems trying to get a few picture books? At an English library no less? Thao turned to me and said "You should blog about this."

The moral of the story is this: sometimes things are hard because you're a foreigner, and sometimes things are hard because you're just being dumb. But no matter what you end up with a funny story. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Things that didn't happen

From my trip to Fukuoka...just because blogs are better with pictures

Today I was having coffee with a friend and we ended up talking about the things that haven't worked out in our lives. Not the little bummers, but the life-altering things. The things that at the time it feels like you'll never recover from. 

Pretty much nothing in the past few months has gone the way I thought it was going to. I flew back to Korea to interview for a job that seemed like a sure thing, and I didn't get it. And for a few months I was unemployed in a foreign country - scary. Most of the time I was genuinely ok, I knew that this was where I was supposed to be and I knew eventually I would have a job. But there were a few days I was so anxious about what wasn't happening that I felt physically sick. 

Back up a few years to when I was a senior in high school, I had my sights set on a certain college. I wanted to go there so bad, I had gone down for a visit and I could picture myself living on campus and loving it. When I didn't get accepted I was crushed. But if  I hadn't gone to the college I did - if I had gone there instead - I wouldn't have some of my best friends. I most likely would never have heard about EPIK or decided to teach in Korea. 

And now I'm so glad things happened the way they did. I'm glad I have the job I have in the city I live in. I'm glad God's plans are greater than my plans, and that he can make something great come out of things I see as disasters. I'm glad God hasn't let me settle for things I thought were good when he had something better waiting for me.  I'm glad things haven't played out exactly the way I pictured - how boring would that be? To never have anything surprising happen? It's not fun to have your life turned upside down, but so far pretty great stuff has come out of it. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Look what I saw

As I was leaving work tonight I saw the most beautiful purpley-golden sky. I immediately got out my camera and I was kind of surprised that I was the only one taking pictures. Everybody else was just walking home. Replace those buildings with a beach and it could be a pretty Hawaiian sunset. 

What a lovely way to end the day. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Well that was a first

I've seen a lot of strange things in the past two years, but this has got to be the winner. A truck full of pig carcasses. I reallllllly wanted to take a picture of the guy hauling them into the shop on his back, but I thought that might be crossing the line even more than stopping in the middle of the street and pulling my ipod out of my purse was. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

5 things

1. Last night I went to Costco with Anna and InAi. We ate Costco pizza for dinner, and it was enormous and delish. And I just remembered I have a leftover piece in the frig! Then we filled our cart with chicken and vegetables and pears and grapes and shaving cream and a lifetime supply of floss. At one point we were the only people in the aisle, and it was so wonderful. Usually everybody is there with their entire extended family and at least one unhappy child and there are stranded carts all over the place, but if you go on a Wednesday night you can be the only people in your aisle. I thought it was great, the other 2 were less impressed. And then I was reminiscing about my first year in Korea when we would go shopping at Costco and then rush home to Ulsan in trains and taxis before all our meat defrosted.

2. Anna and I came home and needed to re-arrange the freezer to make room for everything we just bought, which led to cleaning out the freezer. Which led to touching and throwing away a lot of things I would have rather not touched. Like some freezer burned fish. And a mysterious clump of something that resembled mashed potatoes. Which then led to sneaking the food garbage outside, because it's not supposed to go out until Friday but it was Wednesday and we weren't keeping that stuff inside for 2 more days.

3. I. am. tired. I've had to wake up early every morning this week to go to the hospital, then to immigration, then to immigration again (a story of its own that I will tell you later). Plus my body is not used to working. Don't judge, but I haven't worked since the end of February and its hard to get back into the routine of getting up on time and teaching all afternoon. Those little guys drain all your energy.

4. This morning was the first all week I was going to be able to sleep in, and I was excitedddddd! And then the doorbell rang. And it was the downstairs lady coming to tell us we can't use the water. They're doing construction or something and everybody's water is draining into and flooding her apartment. But don't worry, they're working on it and it'll be fixed in 3 or 4 days. Umm, what?! Sorry not sorry, but this is 2013 and I need to be able to take a shower every day. And who would even construct a building with all the pipes leading into one apartment?! A fool, that's who.

5. Today I taught science and I did an experiment with the kids. The point was to see how wind and water can move sand and soil and to figure out which is more effective. It had the potential to get very messy so we spent half the class outside doing the actual experiment part. 3 kids got sand in their eyes, somebody somehow inhaled a little bit, one kid was afraid of the stray cat wandering around, and the highlight for another boy was getting to dump the tray of wet dirt into an abandoned lot. Success?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How I make my money

Monday I started my new job at a hagwon called American Adventures. The owners are Americans and their vision is to run the place as much like an American school as possible. Kids are split up into classes by English level, not grade level. We teach English (obviously) plus science and social studies, and starting in the fall they'll be doing some fun science experiments and history projects. Class sizes are teeny tiny, which is exactly what you need in a language-learning setting. It'll let me get to know the students really well and give them a lot of teacher time. There's this new language arts curriculum in the States called Wonders, and they bought it so I'll get to teach out of that. But my bosses are giving me tons of freedom to kind of teach how I want and what I want. 

The school's logo

This situation is really rare - there aren't hagwons in Korea like this. Once I got my visa I let myself start thinking about how exciting this job is going to be and how much I'm going to be able to do with these kids. I loved my students and my schools back in Ulsan, but their English level was overall pretty low. One of the classes at American Adventures just finished reading Charlotte's Web. That's a decently hard chapter book, and they did it and they understood it. I'm going to get to read chapter books with them, and teach them how to write essays, and get to know them as people because they'll be able to talk to me more. 

This is not the job I thought I was going to have when I came back to Korea. It's not even the 2nd or 3rd job I thought I was going to have. I didn't even apply for it, my pastor Mina interviewed with them and she told them about me because she thought I would be a good fit for the school. I believe this is the best job for me, and I can't wait to get to know my new kids and start teaching out of my new textbooks and see where this year takes me. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I'm not illegal anymore!

Recently I had to do what we foreigners call a visa run. I came into Korea with a tourist visa, which basically let me be in the country for 90 days. Once I got a job I had to apply for an E-2 visa, which lets me work here legally. If you work without an E-2 visa and somebody of importance finds out, your employer can get in a lot of trouble and I think you can get deported. Not so good. 

This is the tough part about wanting to live and work in a foreign country - the paperwork. And the inconsistencies. You look at the website and it tells you one thing, you call and the person who answers the phone tells you a different thing, and then you ask your friends what their experience was like and you get another different answer. It really all comes down to who you get when you walk in the door and what kind of a mood they're in at that moment, and that is something you cannot prepare for. 

So I gathered all my papers (which is a process of its own) and went to the immigration office. They kept them, took about a week to give me a visa number, and then I had to take that visa number to a Korean consulate in a foreign country and apply for the visa. 

I hopped on a plane and flew to Fukuoka, Japan. I was told to get off the plane and go straight to the consulate because I had to be there by 1:30. So I made my way to the subway station - still carrying all my luggage, bought a ticket, looked at the map, and figured out where I needed to get off. The directions I had said this: go out of exit 1, walk towards the stoplight, and turn. With directions like that I figured I was going to some small area of the city that had very few streets and stoplights. But no. There were very many stoplights and intersections and choices. And I am not exactly what you call good at getting places. If I have detailed instructions that include landmarks I'm golden. You tell me to turn right at the McDonalds and I can do that. Tell me to walk past the tall green building and turn left, and I can do that too. Tell me to walk north for 10 blocks and I will ask you which way is north? How is that something that people just know? Tell me to "walk towards the stoplight and turn" and I'll end up wandering around Fukuoka in 100 degree weather for quite some time. Luckily I found a nice old man in a bike shop who spoke some English and he pointed me in the general direction of the consulate. I still couldn't find it after about 10 minutes so I said screw it and got in a cab. I assumed the cab drivers wouldn't understand where I was trying to go, but I found one that did. That cab ride ended up lasting about 30 seconds and cost wayyyy more than it was worth. No wonder that driver was so happy. 

I signed in with the unpleasant guard and walked into the consulate at 11:40. Not bad considering I had been lost pretty much since I stepped out of the subway. I walked up to the woman and told her I was there to apply for my E-2 visa, and she pointed at the clock and told me I was too late and I should have been there by 11:30. I don't even know what my face must have looked like, but on the inside I was thinking no, the website said 1:30, I'm not staying here an extra day because I was apparently 10 minutes late, just do it anyways, please please please and before I even said anything she said "Ok, it is very hot today, come back after 1:30." Strange logic, but ok! Thank you kind lady. There was a Hard Rock Cafe down the street so I sat there listening to some 80s music and eating a club sandwich until it was time to go back. 

After that I was free until the next afternoon when I had to pick up my visa. I had a list of things the internet said was good to do in Fukuoka, but I was afraid of getting lost in the heat again so I did the stuff that was close and easy. I went to a park and walked around a little, which was fun because we don't have a ton of nature in Korea. And somebody had the bright idea of putting a Starbucks in the park. To him I say, job well done. 

Later on that night I went to a mall called Canal City. It's this indoor/outdoor monstrosity with a canal (hence the name) running through the middle of it, and plants growing up the side of the buildings. Every half hour they had a fountain show, and there was this big area where kids could play and adults could squirt water at them.

 I liked their traditional clothes

Alex I took your face to Japan! You were my bookmark.

The next day I went back to the consulate to pick up my visa. I was so relieved to finally see that sticker in my passport, I could have skipped out of there singing a song. But I didn't because that would have been weird. I put that expensive, important document in my purse and made my way back to Korea. And when the immigration lady at the airport stamped it I felt such relief. I am official, I am legal, and they cannot make me leave for at least 13 months :) 

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm baaaaaack!

Actually I've been back for a while now, about 3 months. I moved to Busan at the beginning of June and it has been so great to actually live here. When I left Korea in February I knew I was going to spend some time at home, catching up with everybody and all that, but I also knew I was going to move back. I really like being an English teacher, I have great friends and a great church here, and I know that this is where I'm supposed to be right now. Busan was the first place I visited in Korea. I loved it immediately and I have loved it ever since. It has everything - the beach, mountains, H&M...what more could you ask for? 

My first time at Hauendae, April 2011

I spent most of my weekends last year traveling back and forth from Ulsan to Busan. I would rush to get to the train station after work on Friday, spend Saturdays here with friends, and leave again Sunday night. It has been so great to just be here, all the time. To be able to see people during the week, to not always be watching the time worried about when I have to leave. The train tracks are right by where I live right now, and every time I see a train rush past I'm so grateful that I'm not on it. Half the time they sold more tickets than they had seats for so I ended up sitting on the stairs in between the cars. I'm glad those days are over. 

No more Korail :)

Since I've been back I've been spending a lotttttt of time at the beach - like 2 or 3 times a week and it's been so wonderful. Ever since I can remember I've loved the ocean. My favorite vacations have been the tropical ones. My idea of a perfect day is the beach, a fun friend, and a good book or music. And let me tell you, I've had my fair share of those this summer. Too bad I didn't grow up in California or Florida, or really anywhere with a coast.

Pretty Gwangali

I've taken a few day trips: to go bike riding, to a painted village, and to an island with a botanical garden. I went to a baseball game and wore an orange bag on my head, because how else do you cheer for the home team? I celebrated my birthday! My 3rd and best one in Korea. I've been doing a lot of reading and coffee drinking, and just relaxing and enjoying life. It has been a really good, fun, relaxing summer. 

It's good to be back.