Monday, February 26, 2007

Should Old Aquaintance Be Forgot

Big graduation day at the hogwan and there were many tears.
It was touching, funny and serious all at the same time.

Words are kinda escaping me as of late so I'll just let the pics do the talking.
Here is a wide shot of the chaos:



And here is a few closeups of my favorite little dudes. These, my friends are the leaders of tomorrow. And considering how quickly they learn and how smart they are, I'm just happy to know that they may be nice to me when I'm working for them someday.












And of course, the biggest graduate of all...


Thursday, February 22, 2007

The End of the Kindies

Our kindergartens will graduate next Tuesday and, in normal A fashion, I am only just coming to terms with the fact that the little human beings I have seen day in and day out for the last 6 months will no longer be coming here.

We were told that there will be a week off from the kindergartens and then the new ones will start in March.

As we have a tri-level kindergarten (age 5,6,7) some of the kids will be returning. But I am the only foreign teacher who actually has two of the three 7 year old classes, which means all my little buddies will be gone....

I suppose with all that I'm learning, I'm also experiencing every teacher's highs and lows, this being a high and a low at the same time.

These little guys are heading off to 'big elementary school' and I have to hope I've helped to prepare them for what's ahead.

As I read what I've just wrote, I suddenly think that sounds really overkill, as though I'm taking credit for what essentially, their parents are really feeling.

But I'm not sure there's any other way to describe it. We all remember our good teachers. And there are thing that have stuck with me for years.

(Mrs. Chapman, grade 1, if you're out there, yes, I'm STILL as melodramatic and you recognized enough to choose me as the ONLY grade one to be in the grade six play.)

And so, the first fleet of young Koreans that I have influenced heads off into the big wide world, I am a bit apprehensive about just exactly how I will feel next Tuesday at their graduation.

Pretty sure I'll cry, since a sappy milk commercial makes me bubble up with ease.

And I'll just be so happy. Because we'll be starting fresh. No other teachers to have come before us for some of them. And so it will begin again.

I suppose I should just look forward to the break. (note, we are STILL being asked to come in at the same time every day, how very Korean)

But I think I'll just relish the new little ones, teacher teacher teacher help-u-me-please, simultaneously in my face.

Who knew that could be music to my ears.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sae Hae Bog Manee Paduh Seyo

My long weekend awaits with D's parents. I can't believe this long week is finally over. Happy days.

My kids today all had the same answer when I asked them what they were going to do for the lunar new year

"Go to grandmother's house. Bow. Get lucky money. Go to the PC room (a room filled with computers and hundreds of games they can play with their friends)."

The only difference I suppose from any other weekend for them is that they have to bow. Oh and that they get money. To be put into the bank. Probably NOT for any enjoyable things but mostly for their education. Lucky them.

I've been practicing the above statement all day. I'm sure, if the tables were turned, I sound a little something like this:

"Haaaaaaaaaaa ppppppppppp yyyyyyyyyyy NNNNNNNNNNeeeeeeewwwwwwww YYYeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

Kinda like stuttered robot talk.

I suppose it's the thought that counts.

Happy Lunar New Year people.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love is in the Air

Valentine's Day sort of snuck up on me this year. I've had so much going on that I suddenly turned around and then hey, it's the day to celebrate love.

There are so many things I'm lovin right now it's hard to know where to start.

Lovin' the weather. (um yes, it would be my blog if I didn't mention the weather..and sadly first)

Lovin' the kindergarteners (and all the chocolate that has arrived on my desk this morning)

Lovin' the social circle we have accumlated here in Gimhae (there is always this moment in uprooting yourself and plunking yourself down when you suddenly feel as though you might just have a normal life after all. and it's a euphoria that doesn't last long, one that you usually begin to take for granted but tryin to just love as much as possible at the mo)

Lovin' the fact that I got to go home (still telling stories of all the fun we had)

Lovin' the fact that I will have MORE visitors in 2 days (YIPPEE YIPPEE YIPPEE!)

Lovin' D...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Another Week, Another Won

My easy going weekend turned out to be much more 'going' than 'easy' and slowly, life is beginning to feel here like well life.

A few things I did that made it feel well normal:

I was able to buy shirts that I knew would fit me. Mostly because they were from the Gap and American Eagle and Old Navy BUT they were second hand and clearly from other foreigners so they didn't cost the full price. Now I actually haven something to wear to work that doesn't cling quite so tightly..

I was able to have gin and tonics in bar amongst other foriegners that I didn't necessarily have to talk to but just knowing there were other people around that WERE KINDA LIKE ME made it all the less isolating.

Gimhae is a good small place to live, you don't feel overwhelmed. But I must remind myself that getting to Busan every once in awhile will allow me to partake in more comforts from home.

It was probably just what a needed to keep my spirits up after being home last week. I awoke last night, all anxious and panicky as occasionally happens, and for some reason all I wanted was a hug from my mom...it didn't help that then I started to obsess about how long it might be BEFORE I would get a hug from my mom again and well...insomniacs unite!...the craziness continued until I fell back asleep an hour later.

Overall I'm much more optimistic than I was about being here then when I left to go home for my sister's wedding. I was really worried that I would feel there really was nothing left for me here.

But the weather is turning. And the days are longer. And there are lots of places we're hoping to go and see and enjoy. And we only have 4 and a half months left.

To top off all this positivity, D's parents will be here at the end of the week and I am SO EXCITED, almost like I'm 10 years old again and it's ONLY December 1st and I'm just willing the days to pass by so it will JUST .. BE.. CHRISTMAS ..ALREADY!..

They'll be here for almost 2 weeks and then...well...then we only have four months left.

That's not even long enough to publish a book from production to end. Certainly not long enough to plan a wedding. And I suppose when I put it in those contexts, it just seems like it will be no time at all....

Friday, February 09, 2007

How Long Ago Was This?

Thought I'd get some shots up for my occasional Foto Friday. I've also uploaded a lot to my 365 Project, which seems to be going better than I had expected! Check it out at the link on the right.

Here's a snapshot of my trip...literarly:

Me, at Tokyo airport.


The bride and groom and 'The Newlywed Game'!



Karaoke Boys!


The mothers....


The fathers....



The sisters...



The brother...

The other brother (right) and groomsmen...

The morning after..


And after hair and makeup..


Family photo..


The happy couple...



The happily ever after...


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Luck O The Irish..Otherwise Known As Good Karma

There are so many things I want to share, say and show about my lovely visit back to the land-where-you-can-get-everything but as things tend to go, the main thing that's on my mind is the last thing that happened to me.

The road warrior that I am, I prepared myself for the long journey home, which was going to be significantly prolonged and more akward then when I went to Chicago because my flight into Seoul arrived too late to get the last flight from Seoul into Busan.

This left me with the only option of getting into the centre of Seoul to Seoul Station, to pick up the KTX train - an almost 3 hour journey down to the south of the country.

And the, trains-planes-and-automobiles fans, I would have had to get a 30 minute taxi from Busan to Gimhae.

All this, after a 13 hour flight from Chicago to Tokyo and a 2 hour flight from Tokyo to Seoul. Yes, H & P, I DO love you that much.

But then, something strange happened. We arrived into Seoul at 7:10, a mere 30 MINUTES EARLY!! I suddenly was given a glimmer of hope. Was there was a chance that I could make the 8:05? Only time would tell.

The next hour went something like this:

7:10 - land

7:11 - begin taxing to gate

7:15 - STILL taxing to gate

7:20 - suddenly become sullen again realizing that the early arriving long f-ing taxing was going to be my downfall

7:22 - run off plane. Or should I say, run, like only a recent hobalong can

7:35 - get through customs. All that's left is baggage

7:37 - ask nice security guy if there is anyway I can buy my ticket BEFORE I leave with my bags. Korean-nervous-smile and pointed me towards a Korean Airlines Info desk.

7:39 - After a lengthy explanation, the woman finally understands that I DO NOT have a ticket but I WOULD LIKE ONE PLEASE LET ME GIVE YOU MONEY only to realise that her kind Korean smile was to inform me that she couldn't sell me tickets. She did, however, check that yes UNFORTUNATELY the flight was on time but good news, there were still tickets left.

7:45 - Looking at her watch, she just says that it's getting a bit late but that the check-in closes at 7:50 so...

7:45:05 - realise it's over and resign myself to the fact...

7:45:12 - is that my bag?

7:45:59 - first bag pulled off the carosel. Oh well, at least I'll have plenty of time...is that my other bag?

7:46:11 - second bag off..oh my god..

7:46:15 - push my way through to get a trolley and RUN THROUGH CUSTOMS..

7:47:02 - look frantically for the way upstairs. Run left.

7:47:16 - wrong way, run back

7:47:25 - nice Korean man directs me to the elevator. passed it so run back again

7:47:45 - elevator arrives. push my way on

7:47:53 - elevator opens, a woman gets on as I mad-hatter it off the elevator.

7:47:55 - HOW DID I GET ON THE 2ND FLOOR???? I AM NOT ON THE 3RD FLOOR!! OH SHIT SHIT SHIT!! THAT DAMN WOMAN!!....

7:48:03 - elevator returns. I get back on

7:48:26 - push my way past rude male Koreans and out the elevator. Time to make a run for it..A..A...WHERE IS A??????

7:49:23 - arrive at a desk with one man "can *puff puff* I *puff puff*

7:49:30 - *puff puff* get a ticket to *puff *puff* Busan?

7:49:55 - am directed AROUND THE CORNER to the check in desk. Throw down some plastic and presto....

7:50:34 - "Here is your ticket," she says with a smile "Now, you'll have to go quickly....

I've never seen an attendant type faster or check my bags in at the speed of light. And I have to say I didn't expect something FAST to actually happen in Korea.

And so, after 3 flights, lots of orange juice and many magazines later, I arrived home just before 10pm, to a surprised D who welcomed me with nice big hugs.

I would say there was a tie for the best moment of the trip back. Either the feeling of euphoria I felt sitting on that plane to Busan. Or the 20 minute hot shower.

Definitely a tie.