Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cool Canadians

I have made some great friends while in Korea including these 2 people - the coolest Canadians in Korea. I got to hang out with both Sarah & Matt this past weekend at this fun little coffee shop. Being with friends and laughing is the best thing in the world no matter where you are in the world.

This waffle was so delicious with its whipped cream, ice cream, bananas, and kiwi fruit
I have never documented my life so much as I have in Korea. My friends and I take pictures all the time which inevitably leads to even more laughter.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Since September, I've become really familiar with this subway stop right in the middle of Seoul- it's the home of my best friend . Every time I cross the bridge over the tracks, especially at night, I feel so aware of the strange wonder of the city which is nothing like I will ever experience again.
The view from the bridge onto the tracks
A subway train passing through
Typical Seoul - lots of tall apartment buildings & cars

Seoul Tower is the big rocket like thing in the background

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Sarah & I made great travel buddies in Cambodia. We both shared the same spirit of wanting to make the most of our limited time and make the best out of any situtation. Most importantly, we both shared the same sense of humor. I can honestly say that I have never laughed so much and so hard as I did in the four days we spent together. A great deal of the laughter stemmed from taking creative pictures instead of the same boring photos over and over. One way to ensure a unique shot is to jump. Here are some of the best and the not so good jumping pictures we took all over Angkor Wat.

Sarah shows how to get some height. It's all about kicking those feet upwards to the sky.

Smiling makes any jump that much better. How you could not have fun when you're jumping in the middle of an ancient temple?
Almost at peak jump, it's really hard to get the timing right. The jumper and the photographer have to work carefully together to coordinate for an optimal shot with maximum air. It's not as easy as it looks for either person involved.
Flying through the air like a spider monkey or some other weird creature. Notice the figures in blue in the background. They are two Cambodian women on a break from cleaning. Needless to say, the sight of two foreign girls jumping off the ruins and taking pictures was quite entertaining for them. I'm pretty sure we were the highlight of work for them that day.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is another temple at Angkor Wat in Cambodia (yes, this is really late). The temple is literally being taken over by the giant trees growing in, on, and around what is left of the ancient buildings. It is one of the coolest things to see - these amazing trees intertwined with what is left of beautifully designed temples all in the middle of a quiet and peaceful sunlit clearing. That is all there is to say about it, the pictures say all the rest.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I will not miss this

I think I was important, because the speak one more language
than I talk many of speak language people and than
I spoke very many people,
and I want to going england I examination my self.
and it was fantastic of speaking many .language
first the speaking many language, and than the
person is speaking many of the people the
one person is saying korean and english
than this person is speaking korea people, and
english people.
second speaking more than one language
and than the people are think that person is
very smart, because this person is speaking
two language.
last it was very good of speaking two language
because the speaking two language
was memory ability rising.

This is a student essay directly copied & pasted from the school's website where the students upload their essays & I have to mark them. There are some things I will not miss when I go back home. One of those things is student essays. I will not miss all the hours I've spent at my computer in the morning, during prep time at school, and at night grading essays. I will not miss having to try to make sense of something like this at 12:30 a.m. I will not miss continually trying to come up with new essay topics that will not bore me after I've read the fourth student's essay. I will not miss all the highlighting and clicking. I will not miss the poorly designed grading program I have to use. I will not miss student essays.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Seeing as I am officially unemployed in 4 weeks, I started thinking of what I am going to do next. I came up with a list of jobs that I am now qualified for after teaching English in Korea for 14 months.

Interpreter - I have learned to process a mixture of discordant sound effects and flurried hand gestures in my brain and extrapolate a meaning that is 93.4% correct. When broken English is added, my success rate jumps to 98.7%.

Editor - After reading and marking about 100 student essays per month, I am an expert at finding and correcting misplaced commas, sentence fragments, multiple uses of the be verb, and overuse of the electronic dictionary for words beyond vocabulary level and unrelated to context.

Stand Up Comedian - I have developed and perfected a repertoire of funny voices, accents, slapstick humor, goofy faces, and exaggerated body movements. I can be humerous on the spot, even under the pressure of fifteen bored students.

Celebrity Interviewer - I can get anyone to talk about any subject. Bring on everyone from Angelina Jolie to Justin Timberlake. I can handle them all.

Walking Dictionary/Thesaurus - Need a quick explanation of any word? I'm the person to go to. I can explain even the most complex word in the simplest of terms so that anyone can understand.

News Spinner - Fourteen months worth of writing report card and essay comments have given me the ability to make even the most annoying and stupid student sound like a wonderfully behaved genius without even breaking a sweat.

Anyone willing to hire me?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bayon Temple

Bayon is yet another temple in Cambodia. This one was memorable for all the carved stone faces
I love how the ruins of the temple are left in place right where they fell. To me, it's more interesting than clearing the rubble away to make what is left more pristine. The scattered stones and pillars add an air of mystery and tease you with the imagination of what was.

Sarah looking cute from the windowframe
Me hanging out in the doorframe

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another South Gate

Here's another South Gate, thankfully still intact after hundreds of years.

Some modern guards resting beside some ancient guards
Looking out at all the people, tuk tuks, motos, and elephants passing through his tunnel

Angkor Wat

For Lunar/Chinese New Year, I went to Cambodia with my friend Sarah. This is the first of several posts of pictures from Cambodia and specifically, Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a complex of temples near the old capital city of Siem Riep throughout the 12th century, as well as the name of the biggest and most famous temple. They are simply amazing to see. All of them are so complex, so different, and so beautiful.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Namdaemun is burning

The biggest event in Korea recently has been the arson of the nation's top cultural treasure. The South Gate in Seoul, called Namdaemun or Sungnyemun, was built in the late 1300s. On February 10th, an elderly Korean man, still angry about the amount of money he received from being forced to sell his land to the Korean government over a decade ago, set fire to the top of the wooden structure. It burned for several hours before finally collasping.
The aftermath was huge. All of Korea was in shock over this event. Many of my students brought it up in class and were personally sad and upset that someone would do this to something that their country holds so dear.
A week after the fire, Julian and I went into Seoul to see the remains of the gate.
The gate was quickly enclosed and shut off from the public. However, a glass wall is part of the enclosure so that people can come and look at the destroyed structure.
This man was bowing down in front of the memorial set up on the lawn in front of the gate. What sounded like traditional wailing/mourning music was playing from a loudspeaker. The atmosphere around the gate was similar to that for a funeral.

Hundreds of people were there to see firsthand the burned gate and to express their sorrows by laying flowers or writing personal sentiments.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

This always makes me laugh

We are using some new books at our school. One set of them is written by someone named Richard A. Boning. If you don't get it right away, just think about the possible nicknames this poor guy must have had to suffer through in middle school.
Everytime I take one of his books out in class, it always makes me smirk and laugh inside. I know it's dumb and juvenile. But sometimes you need to laugh at the small things in life to get you through another day of teaching.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Intensives suck, plain and simple. There's no point in trying to sugarcoat or spin it, they just suck. Teaching three 3 hour classes for 20 days straight in the coldest month of the year is not fun. By the time day 20 finally arrives, you've already been stressed out, exhausted, and cranky for over a week. Here is what my schedule has been like this past month.
7:10 am - Alarm goes off. It's still dark outside. Reset alarm to sleep a little longer.
7:25 am - Get out of bed. Turn off the humidifier. Turn on the hot water. Put my towel on the floor so that the Korean floor heating system can warm it up while I take a shower.
7:50 am - Eat breakfast. Drink coffee.
8:25 am - Leave my apartment. Make sure I'm wearing coat, scarf, hat, and gloves so I don't freeze on the way to work.
8:40 am - Clock in at work; although it seems rather old fashioned, we all have a time card that we have to stick into a machine which prints the time and then spits the card back out.
9:00 am - First class (Middle School 3) starts. Still wear scarf and occasionally gloves while waiting for my classroom to heat up.
10:30 am - Break for 15 minutes.
12:00 pm - First class ends. Have prep time for the next 2 hours during which I mark essays and grammar quizzes, make photocopies, and look at the next day's lessons. Also, find time to eat lunch and drink more coffee.
2:00 pm - Second class (Senior 1) starts.
3:30 pm - Break for 10 minutes.
4:55 pm - Second class ends. Break for 10 minutes.
5:05 pm - Last class starts.
6:30 pm - Break for 15 minutes.
8:00 pm - Last class ends (Junior 5). Clock out as soon as possible and leave school.
8:20 pm - Get home. Remind myself that I really do want to go to the gym and work out instead of sit and watch TV. Usually go to the gym for about an hour.
9:30 pm - Eat dinner and watch Oprah. The best thing about Oprah in Korea is that when she says she'll be right back, she actually is. Thank goodness for no commercial breaks on Korean TV.
11:30 pm - Go to bed. Fall asleep happy that one more day of intensives is over.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Great Wall of....

....coldness, bargaining, shaking, or China? The actual answer is supposed to be the latter, but for me it was the former four this time around. My second visit to the Great Wall was more memorable for the coldness, bargaining, and shaking than it was for the actual Wall itself. This is not meant to take away from the grandeur of the Wall by any means, it is an amazing sight to see the stone Wall winding down from the crests of the hills into the valleys and back up to the next peak as far as you can look through the haze.
However, I got to bask in wonderment last time I was at the Great Wall. This time, I was all too aware of how cold it was. There is a reason that Beijing means north capital - it gets really cold there, especially on Christmas Eve. The other thing on my mind as I was climbing up an infinite number of steps was how much bargaining I was going to have to use to get us back into Beijing. I had spent probably about 20 minutes earlier that day arguing mostly in Mandarin with these 2 men who wanted to drive us to the Wall. Despite all my efforts, we still ended up paying the full asking price for the roundtrip.
The final thing I remember from the Great Wall was how great my legs were shaking as we descended. It was uncontrollable. Every so often we would stop to take pictures, but I couldn't stand still very long or else my legs would just start shaking so hard that my whole jeans leg was shaking as well. I couldn't wait to get back into the car where I knew at least it would be warm.
Even though the cold, bargaining, and shaking weren't a wanted aspect of the Great Wall, I'm still glad that I got to see it again.

Looking down while climbing up. A place where you definitely don't want to fall down the stairs.
Looking up while climbing up. A whole lot more to go.
Hugging the wall, I think, while laughing at how absurd I look.
A nice picture of Huy and I.
A fun picture of Huy and I. Jumping is always fun.
My new Chinese boyfriend - too bad he's a little old & cold hearted, otherwise we'd be a perfect match. He even likes my orange hat.