Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Out with the old, IN with the new!

    So it has been a month, yes, a month when I said I would conquer putting off my blog and would be more of a faithful writer.  I failed somewhat, though a message in a month isn't quite too shabby when I feel I'm not just a teacher by day but a zoo keeper trying to entertain bored, misbehaved students at hours at a time.  By the time 5:20 comes around and I get home I want to workout, eat dinner, write a few things down in my book and go to bed preferably before 1am!   Hoping to get better at this blog as I'm soon realizing my love for letter writing and expressing myself through writing.

    The weather, crappy and cold, my attitude following- crappy, cold, unpleasant....

    Though getting a few breaks here and there of sunny days, the weather in February was quite cold and miserable, and work wasn't too far behind-- busy, stressful, and at times miserable as so much final touches had to be made to the 7 year olds graduation ceremony Friday February 26th.  Books finished, artwork sent home, photo memories put together in an album, speeches, plays, sign language.. the whole shabang had to be finished before the big day leaving my coworkers and I pretty stressed out.  Made up for it thought on Friday as everything seemed pretty much perfect for their kindergarten graduation (well, all but the first year 6 years olds, western age 4, running around the library room during grduation shaking their butts to parents, running accross chairs, and a bit of complete chaos with them due to the lack of discipline at school.  Other than that, the teachers play "The Gruffalo" went pretty good for hardly practicing, my work in teaching the children sign lagnuage to a song paid off in the end, and my tears held back (BARELY!) during my speech given to my 3 favorite students...

    Aside from work I have been finding myself in more of a chill state of life, something I'm finding to be more beneficial, more cost-worthy, and actually most of the time more fun then going to City Hall all the time.  Instead we've been having people over for movie and at times wine to go with it.  Good to have a place where everyone wants to be, though a bit crazy at times when you really just feel like sitting down pulling out your computer and typing in the blog, or just chatting with friends and family from back home!!

    Caroline and Beth came in last week, though Beth headed to the mainland to teacher, after only a few days here, Caroline here for the year to make so many more amazing memories!  And, while she is back, Serenity, Jack, Sachen, and a few other of my friends are leaving to go home for a bit.  Though it's sad I will be missing them while they are gone, I am sure to see Serenity again in a few months, and hopefully Sachen too after the year is finished and he realizes his love for Jeju!

    Liz and I and the lovely apartment seem to be getting along great!  Though we had to take a few cold showers this month, hope to be sorted and that a done deal!!  Many Bachelor nights have been created as we watch season 15 as it is aired in the states.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Curveball life on Jeju... changes. moves. new beginnings...

Yes, my new year resolution may not look to be holding up too well, but I promise its only because lately Ive hardly had enough down time to skype my family and get the proper rest, let alone get my computer out and write something I put a lot of thought and time into.

Finally have a new home! A home, home! Not a small studio apartment where I literally eat, sleep,and get washed up in within feet of each other, but a 3 bedroom apartment with a proper kitchen, living room, washing room, and even a porch just big enough for two chairs to lounge in and drink coffee (or english tea! :) ).

Having a roommate is kinda nice, always someone to talk to instead of talking to yourself and have a feel more like a home since we are able to cook dinners, have friends over, and lounge around. Vicky my director has been awesome too at making sure its a home Liz and I enjoy as she bought us comforters, bright colored warm blankets, even pots, pans, dishsoap-- basically the whole bit, though I'd love to post a pic of the "sofa" she got us, as Liz is right in looking like something that one might find in a doctors lounge. Not too comfy, but actually the extra comforter and a few extra pillows we have are working as an okay place to lounge and watch movies or hang out.

Lately we've been having more people over since we can, watching movies, having girl talk. I'm finding I enjoy doing that just as much if not better then always having to get outside downtown and hang out with what usually turns into an obnoxious, loud, and sometimes embarassing group of people. Had a small party at the house Friday, thought it would be lame but ended up crowded and with a consensus that this would now be an amazing spot to chill!

This week we've been on vacation for Lunar New Year, lasted from Tuesday on.. did so much stuff I think this it he first I've actually sat and relaxed in the apt. for a bit and still getting a bit antsy.

Wednesday us girls attempted going to the green tea museum down south, however about 30 minutes in to the trip on the bus I realized the lady at the bus terminal had put us on the wrong bus. We thought we had found a gem by stopping at the trick art museum. Although we took a few pictures, nothing too exciting or worthwhile. Think we were on the bus for longer than actually at the museum!! We did learn to rock climb, suspend in air, and even turned into a giant!

Jeff, Bill, and Bill's older sister
Thursday was the actual holiday. Thought I was going to end up hiking an olle trail alone down south for some peace and relaxing me time, but ended up Wednesday night the director Vicky called to invite us to her in-laws to see the traditional holiday. I ended up going with her early in the morning to see and participate in it. Amazing!! Truly was great to see how much time and effort they put into this celebration and just how much they feel about their ancestors and family. Ate some fish soup, kimchi, rice, and many other Korean side dishes, followed by some amazing Korean pears and hallabong oranges. Ended up afterwards taking the directors son Jason and his two cousins hiking on a small place called Sarabong. Guess its only to take n hour but despite many stick fights and tired kids I think we made it back, all in one piece... in 2 hours!
view from top of Sarabong


Near Iho beach.. can u believe its like this in February??
Friday was the big party night, however its been so beautiful outside I wanted to go for another hike. Again about to go alone with my friend Tim asked to come with. Were planning to head down south when he suggested we stay nearer and just walk until we were either 1. tired, or 2. time to head back to get ready... Ended up hiking for I think almost 5 hours to IHO beach from my house, down along the shore, and then back along a main road. Found amazing bamboo we made into a candle holder, lots of treasurable trash, some cool rocks, and what we thought to be amazing Chicago Style Pizza by the looks of the van reading Chicago pizza Factory. No luck, but have to say I truly enjoyed being out in the peace and quiet, let alone learning how to skip rocks followed by a small nap on a huge dock right on the water.

Saturday I went to ultimate frisbee for the first time. decided that if I'm going to be in the tournament I better shape up, get used to throwing a frisbee (since many know I am awful at throwing a frisbee) and sprinting up and down the field. Though I had my doubts I would hate the sport, I actually can say I love it and probably found something new to do every Saturday morning!

As I sit here today, I'm excited to get to finally hike Sanbasan, see Yungmori, and possibly also Sangakson. Should be a great day filled of sunshine, laughter, and beautiful moments on the beautiful southside! Can't wait for the experiences that follow for today and to post some pics!! :)

Until then..

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year- New Goals, Hopes, Thoughts....

Ok-- so I totally sucked at posting in my blog the past 4 months of my almost 6 months here-- one of my new years faithfully, even if its just twice a week a quick note and a quick thought it's still better than nothing!

I guess I didn't realize how many people actually read my blog and how interesting some of it actually was....

So, a quick recap of what's happened the last 4 months:

1.) Ran a 2nd half marathon since my time on Jeju- beat my time from the first one by a whole 8 minutes! Pretty happy about that despite how horrible awful the last 2 miles of the race as.

2.) Started Swing Lessons at the beginning of October. I'm the only foreigner that attends the lessons and was nervous at first but am in love with it now! Had my first performance on Christmas Day where some of my best friends here on Jeju came to watch me, laugh at me, and support me! Jitterbug was awesome but now I'm starting Lindehop which seems to be a lil more up my alley! ( Faster!!)

3.) Definitely saw a change in my teaching habits here and my classes have turned around quite a bit. Some of the kids I thought hate me have turned around and told the Korean teacher how much they love teacher Amanda.. yay!! (and yay for getting a hershey's dark chocolate kiss everyday this week from one of them! )

4.) Started some language exchange nights with a korean friend- learned a few important rules and phrases and now have stopped, yet looking for another place or person to pick them up again since I really do want to be able to speak more of the language!

5.) Got my hair chopped off.. never this short before and freaked out at first but now that its growing an inch or so I almost wish it was shorter again already! Realizing how easy it is and how much fun it CAN be!

Had an AMAZING WHITE Christmas vacation in Seoul and Jeju with my mom!! I felt bad because literally days before she came I came down with an awful cough. However, despite it being freezing cold and me coughing my face off we had a great time! Didn't get to do a lot of tourist-y things because of the weather but she assured me she was just happy to get to see me and spend time with me! We did a lot of shopping in Seoul at H&M and Forever 21 where I finally got some new jeans that fit me and some new warmer tops that fit a lot better than some of my old. She brought me some amazing presents from home from Christmas, pics of Wrigley (since i miss her so much :( ), and then we came back to Jeju for 3 days where we hung out in my apartment, shopped some more, climbed a small peak, and watched Hachi (great movie!) Sad to see her leave as she was upset to have to go, but assured her she will HAVE to come in the summer with dad to see the island more when it is beautiful and radiating with light!!

Which basically leads me up to now! Although my start to the new year consisted of me saying goodbye to my mom and not having my 2 best Jeju friends here (back in February tho :) ) I slept 14 hours due to the bronchitis and then woke up feeling a bit still under the weather but persistant on getting out to indoor volleyball and Yoga. Surprisingly was fine at volleyball and actually like my friend Sarah's yoga class! The one time I saw/attempted to do yoga I was horribly bored and uninterested but definitely feel I will be joining her yoga class quite often. This week was a bit horrible at work because of my never ending cough and troubled breathing at times but we made it through the first week of having 4 new teachers and me being the one of two teachers returning after the small holiday vacation. And although I have most seniority=a lil more work, things are going great and I can already see a huge difference and turn around of the working environment! It's great to be happy again at work because the people you are working with are so kind and caring! Liz came last week to replace Beth and will stay when Beth returns at the end of February. She is from England and took over Beth's apartment (haven't quite told her about the "window chats" that seem to have been a tradition for a while), but once its not freezing out I am sure we will once again start back up the tradition of screaming to each other through the windows instead of the simple pick up of the hand-a-pone!

Looking to get back into the gym and start some more hardcore training and exercise as soon as this bronchitis leaves my system. Promised myself that by beach season I'd have an awesome swimsuit body and now am thinking hard about training seriously and running my first full marathon in June. Why not?? Will be a bit challenging doing it alone but maybe I will find someone to join me along the way, and definitely a challenge I keep putting off because of stupid reasons. A new year means a new challenge, a harder one- and I think once I'm feeling better I will be up to conquer the challenge!

Off now to get some coffee at the coffee shop with a friend and catch up a bit, feel like an old lady lately going to bed a bit early and staying in my apartment trying to find new and creative things to do... So far I have only downloaded some movies, cleaned a small portion of my apartment, and designed some new artwork for my walls...

Until next time, I will leave you with a quote my mom brought me from home to put on my wall.. Don't think she could've brought me any better advice..

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams"

...... starts to really make me excited for what the future holds, and definitely is getting me to seriously think about creating a tight budget in hopes to one day in the near future get back to India and teach, maybe some overseas mission work is really what God has planned for me!?

Until then...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Goodbyes are never easy...

Had to say a lot of goodbyes already since I have been here. It sux, but the way of life here when people come and go- some for just a few days visiting, others just finishing their year contract and ready to move to the next place.

This past week I got to spend with Chad, it was nice to have my big brother around me for the week. Got to travel and do the tourist-y things I hadn't gotten to do yet. We had a blast walking for hours around the coast seeing waterfalls, beautiful cliffs, and water rock climbing to name just a few. Feel like we did SOO much in a weeks time that we both are literally wiped out- for me I have the stupid sinus/throat thing back for probably the 4th time already- hoping it goes away soon to get back to rnning daily and training for my half marathon on october as well as the vball tournament.

I think Chad hated to go, he fit in so well it was almost scary as people just thought he was a new english teacher just arriving and already with a new group of friends. Some people thought we were a couple just assuming since we were the only blondes in the room, but that happens in the states too! Although we might've gotten on each other nerves towards the end of the week, it was truly an amazing time- my apartment although is a lot cleaner now but hard b/c of it being so small adn having two people in there- think at one point I had a beach in my room!

Now, its back to reality- work week- gonna be a rough few weeks I think getting back into the swing of things and not being homesick after he has left but thankfully I have amazing friends who will stick by my side, cheer me up, and get me through week after week.

We took soo many pictures this week- think it was a total of 180 because of all the beautiful and intersting things we saw, and yet didnt get to capture everything!! The memories are in our heads and that is the main part. I am going to be working on a new blog I think, one that I can customize a bit more and have photo albums so that people can see everything and not just a few favorites here and there. Will probably have to work on it during my breaks at school though as my computer here is a bit slower-- maybe in a week or so I will have the link up and be able to keep up the blog a little better-- just feel there isn't enough time to do EVERYTHING i wanna do! :(

Hope all is well wherever you are and definitely keep in touch- the emails and postcards seem to be dwindling by each week!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fun Adventure

This weekend was amazing!

Although a bit sad that a great friend left to go travel thailand and the rest of asia before returning home to England I did manage to spend an amazing weekend with him and the rest of our friends. Didnt realize how much of a best friend he really has been for me in the last 6 weeks until it was time for him to go. Hoping that his pinky promise to meet up again in March will come true as he is hoping to make it back to mainland Korea.
Friday night was a chill nite, just hung out oustide of the apartment on the porch and talked with friends until 12-1 in the morning. Saturday went for a bit of a run/walk with Beth and my new running partner Gret from Iowa (been on a few runs and feel so good to be back into it!) and then off to the southern part of the Island to a place called Dannaeko. Took the bus there winding around the roads and an hour later walked to the beginning of the river to climb the river rocks that leads up to a huge waterfall.

Of course I had never been water rock jumping up a river like Beth and Caroline had before and wasn't quite as prepared! Brought my pumas but realized they were a bit to bulky and decided that barefeet was going to be the best option. Rob and I later realized how much that sucked though as we had freezing feet and had to scream when walking on the smaller rocks when the water was just too high. My experience I knew was going to be interesting, the first rock I jumped onto my cell phone flew outta my bookbag and into the water. Picked that up and took it apart and in my bag and kept going! Then, the girls thought it was be cool to take a photo on a rock pretending to be amazon women swinging from a vine. Beth and Caroline both took there pics and then my turn i went to put my foot onto the rock to balance and look like I was in action when I became in action quickly and fell off the rock. They thought for sure I had badly hurt myself, broken an arm or leg or something but thankfully just some bruised shins and an amazing pic that somehow Rob captured.

After falling off I decided I needed to put back on my pumas as I had some sore feet from landing. Climbed up through the woods a bit, slid back into the water on my butt and then managed to get my foot stuck between two rocks. Really wish Caroline had been there for a candid moment of Rob and I frantically trying to pry my foot out but they were long ahead of us. Somehow he managed to pull it out and on our way up teh river. We stopped about 300 M from the waterfall, climbed up to the real path that normal people take and saw the amzing waterfall and relaxed! An adventure but a great one!!

In hindsight I think we allr ealize how dangerous the trek was up the river but we really tried to be the smartest we could about things and in the end had an amazing time! Truly a great bonding experience for us all and something that we can all look back upon as a last time hanging out with Rob.
Me, Beth, Caroline freezing our butts off in part of the river.
**Will ad some more pictures from my own camera later tonight- at work so just took what I could from Caroline**

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Busy.. fast-paced life= my island kinda life right now.

Sorry I've neglected this blog, knew time would come for that to happen-- to tell you the truth though I didn't know what to say and didnt have any pics until this weekend.

Was just chatting with Beth on the way home from school today about how fast time flies here. I can't believe its already been almost 6 weeks here. It seems like just yesterday it was sunday night and I was complaining to a friend leaving how I didnt want to go to school and how long the week was going to be. Finding that to not be so true here!! Not a bad thing that work has flown by, but a little sad this week since two friends are leaving. I have only known them for 6 weeks but with one it seems like we have known each other for longer, we just have clicked really well and seem to have so much in common! Hope we meet again, who knows maybe after the winter Jeju will be calling their name again!

With time flying and people leaving I feel it only makes me realize some of the great things in my life and great things not in my life yet that are out there waiting for me to take a part of, opportunities I may not know of yet but sure am excited to see in a year!

Last week was a few celebrations being it was the last weekend Kiara was going to be in Jeju as she is going back to Canada tomorrow. We decided to go out and celebrate by dancing and going to a noribang (a karaoke room). Couldn't really go to the beach the past weekend because of all the rain but managed to find other things to do to keep busy and enjoy our time off work! The rain has finally stopped for the moment, and hoping for a nicer weekend this weekend so i can get some much needed sun and beach time!!

Since my last post not too much has changed. I am realizing how much I love it here and findiny more and more things that make me love it! So far I have tried so many new things from driving our scooter (yes we got it on mon. night!), to going on buses and taxis alone without knowing much korean, to eating chicken hearts, sushi (tonight!!), raw squid, dried fish jerky, and tofu. Need to note that I loved it all except the dried fish jerky which was just a little too fishy flavored for my liking, and the raw squid because it was just way too chewy.

Feel I've broadened my horizons so much by hanging out with other people from all over the world I've learned many different cultural differences as well as opened my eyes to many new things I wouldve been too scared or nervous to do in America. Here I am not scared to walk down the road one bit at night by myself, at home I hated even going into my apartment at 10pm. Hoping these new opportunities continue to come my way as I have so many more months here, so many new things to try and enjoy, and soo many new friendships to be made!

Last weekend while we were in City Hall us girls met a guy who is working in Australia, from South Africa. Started talking a bit because he was wondering about some of the tourist-y things that were fun here on the island. As we continued to talk I was amazed because he told me how he has been to all 7 continents and has ran a marathon on each. Checked out some of his photos and the places he had been to seem to unreal, especially Antarctica, how close he could get to the animals there. I realized how many more opportunities and places are out there that I didnt even know were possible to see. His stories of traveling the world were such an inspiration to me that anything is possible and how much more open I need to be to experiences that come my way.

Time can only tell what God has in plan for my life-- for now I am going to soak up as much sun as possible, sit back and make friends, and just have fun with my kiddos everyday at work!

I did manage to capture some great photos from this past weekend... Beautiful view of city, but notice the clouds-- it poured all weekend and week... hope to get pics from Beth's b/f TJ of Friday night hanging out, I was absolutely dripping wet- couldve rang out my shirt!!

Caroline, Kiara, and Serenity singing at the Karaoke room (Noribang) sp?

Sachen (from chicago!), jacob, rob, me, and TJ (Beth's b/f) at Noribang

Friday, August 13, 2010

Guess you can't complain about this kind of a life too much!?

Guess you can't complain about this kind of a life too much!?
Sorry to all of you who check this faithfully. I know I had promised a blog in teh middle of the week with some pics and didn't ever get around to it. Ashley (the one I replaced) left to go home this week so between spending time making her have a great last few days, cleaning the apt., and working I never got around to blogging... so srry!

So I am finally able to unpack all my stuff, clean, move things around, and try to make it look like my new home. Not sure quite yet how i will decorate without nails or what all i will do, just happy to finally be able to organize my clothes and my stuff and somewhat know where everything is.

Last weekend I had a great birthday shared with an amazing new circle of friends who genuinely care and love to have fun. I got to experience a birthday unlike any before, 5 day market, the beach and overlooking the ocean at night for dinner. I am starting to really like this place and hope this feeling really continues. Here's a few pics from my bday Saturday:
(my coworker Beth from Canada- the live seafood at the 5 Day Market)

(the view overlooking dinner--amazing-- we watched the sun set before our eyes)

Sunday we all woke up so tired we layed in bed for most of the day trying to get some much needed rest before the school week. Ashley and Beth are in swing dance so they invited me to go with them to meet people, see what the swing dance lessons were like, and to celebrate with them at the going away party for ashley. Had some amazing pizza with the girls and Ashley's korean friend Touchy, and then had to go eat meat with the swing group. Afterwards I was exhausted and was just wanting to go on a small walk but they all wanted to go do some Karaoke and so of course I joined in. Karaoke here is so much more fun, and more my style then at home. You can go to what is called a noribong (sp?)= u get your own private party room with a huge tv screen and karaoke machine. Basically they bring complimentary korean snacks and you can sing all night long and have fun with a group of friends. Very hesitant at first but eventually got into it, still not singing by myself though- I didn't want to scare anyone away from me!! I managed to get a few pics of that too before my battery died.

(the crazy kids of the group: beth and ashley with their korean friends from swing)

(singing some great English songs)