Friday, August 5, 2011

Signing Off

This is the last post that I'll write on this blog. I feel like a chapter is closing in my life, and with it, I'd like to close this blog as well. After 3 years in Korea, with a lot of travel and adventure squeezed in the middle, I've landed myself back in the homeland, the good ole U S of A.

To sum up the summer: Ali and I spent a couple of weeks in Malaysia after our final farewell from SoKo, after which we headed to England to spend some time with his family. Malaysia was HOT. And I learned a very important lesson about traveling while bouncing from one dirty hostel to another: I don't like dirty hostels anymore. But it was a country with a lot of beauty and culture, and it was also the last time we'll travel in Asia for awhile, so I soaked up every last temple, shrine, and bowl of rice. Oh, we also spotted a shark just a few feet away from our tiny little kayak in the ocean. Man, I'm gonna miss feeling scared for my life. I soaked that up, too.

England was a welcomed change in climate. Who knew that England in the summer is so awesome? It was cool (I was totally under-prepared with my sundresses and flip-flops...), it was light all the time, and Ali's house is not a dirty hostel. In fact, quite the opposite. I spent 2 weeks there, then said farewell to Ali for the time being and headed to Chicago. After 2 weeks in Chicago of apartment hunting, I'm now back in Iowa visiting my parents. I'll go back to Chicago next week, where I'll meet Ali (student visa approved!) and we'll both start grad school at Columbia College Chicago this fall. It's surreal that we're finally entering a new chapter in our lives. It took 3 1/2 years, but we're finally going to be together in the west. (Happy sigh of relief.)

This blog has logged so many memories of travels, adventures, and life abroad. So although this is my final entry, I'd like to keep the blog up for my own keepsake, and also for those who may find my experiences helpful in their own travels.

Thanks for reading. It's been fun. :)


Friday, June 10, 2011

Hard to Say Goodbye

I took this picture early in the morning on my way to the DMZ. I think it says more about why I'm sad to leave this country than my words ever could. Korea's know, like, awesome.

Peaking into North Korea

I spent my first official day of my last week in Korea waking up at 5am and heading into Seoul to join a tour group going to the DMZ (that's the only way you can go.) It was really interesting to take a look into North Korea and learn more about the war and the tensions between the two countries since. It's mind boggling that just feet away from where I was standing was a different country with the same people as the one I live in now, except that they're trapped, poor, and forced to praise an insane leader.

Half way down that blue building, North Korea starts. That big building in the back is guarded by North Korean soldiers.

The train that leads to Pyeongyang, which isn't in use now, but they hope it will be someday.

Beautiful rice fields on my early morning ride north.

Breakfast in Tiffany

Yes, I know that isn't the title of the movie. But that was the name one of the breakfast dishes at brunch last Monday. Oh, how I'll miss the almost correct English phrases here...

I love brunch. I'm leaving in 4 days. Holy cow.

Oh, and we squeezed in a sneaky little bit of shopping afterward...brunch and shopping! Yay!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Final Hollywood Kids Presentation

At the crack of dawn tomorrow morning, I'll be boarding a plane to head to Gwangju on the other side of Korea for my last ever Hollywood Kids presentation. I cannot even tell you how excited I am for that moment that I'm finished and never have to have weeks like this one again. I'm presenting first and last at the seminar, which is about the dumbest thing ever. I have to be completely caffeinated up and ready to go at 10am for the Song and Chant presentation and then sit around until 4:30 in the afternoon to do Hollywood Kids, the last presentation of the day, which means that the audience will inevitably be completely not wanting to be there anymore. Sigh. Oh well. It's my last one! Hallelujah!

Here's one of the videos I'm showing tomorrow. It's called the "Hollywood Warm-Up." Gets the kids moving and practicing the lines in a fun way! This is the warm-up I did for my class that has just started "The Frog Prince." Check out the homemade golden ball!

Alphabet Sounds

This is how Deer Class remembers the sounds of the alphabet:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ajummas and Ajusshis

Before I leave Korea, I feel the need to give a shout out to the Ajummas and Ajusshis that rule this country. Yes, it's true, most of the time I feel more like I want to shout at them, but nevertheless, Korea would not function without its Ajummas and Ajusshis. Who would push and shove when getting on the train? Who would buy all of the hiking gear at the endless mountaineering shops? Who would shamelessly spit all over the street? Who would stare at foreigners unflinchingly for hour long train rides?

Yes, Ajummas and Ajusshis are (As my dad would say.) But really, who can blame them? If I had been through a treacherous war and seen my little Asian homeland turned into a Western metropolis overnight, I'd feel like I had the right to do anything I wanted, too.

So, what are they?

An Ajumma is an older Korean woman
who scowls a lot, wears visors or some
form of large hat, never lets an inch of
her skin see the sun, has the right to stare
into any person's shopping cart at the
grocery store to see what they're buying,
will yell at foreigners when they j-walk,
and must be the first one on anything,
everywhere. Don't get in their way.

An Ajusshi is an older Korean man who drinks a lot of soju and may consequently be spotted at all hours of the day stumbling around trying to find his way back home. Or they are very likely stumbling around, avoiding going back home so as not to endure the wrath of their very scary wives (Ajummas). An Ajusshi wears hiking gear most of the time, even if they're not hiking, and has no problem hocking up loogies in places and at times in which one should never hock up a loogie. However, manners are not their top priority.



They're tough, they're crude, and they're definitely a little scary sometimes, but despite their bad rep, I totally admire their bad-assness.