I just got back from an awesome 10 day getaway in Thailand, part of which I spent hopping between some small islands near Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. In addition to swimming through a cave and lounging (in the shade) on white sandy beaches, I also did some snorkeling! While it may not be the most amazing snorkeling footage ever, it was still fun to play around with the GoPro!
P.S. Can you spot the Finding Nemo reference near the end of the video?
As an ESL teacher working with middle school, high school, and adult students, I am always on the lookout for games that are fun and appropriate for a variety of skill levels and ages. Below is a collection of games that I’ve found to meet those standards! If you have any ideas of your own, questions, or feedback, feel free to leave them in the comment section!
Materials: Paper with pre-drawn dot grid, pens/pencils, dice
If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know all about my love of food, especially my new-found love of Korean food. So imagine my excitement when I found, quite by accident, cooking classes for foreigners in Seoul. I immediately booked a class, excited not only for the experience, but also so that I could start to recreate my favourite meals at home. After all, I will at some point go back to England, and if I don’t know how to make Bibimbap by then it will be a disaster.
Instead of being reminded by my regrets, I should be reminding myself by the way I wish to remember. It has been over two months since myself and the rest of my clan returned from our two month stint in Thailand. When we were there and after we returned we were sure that it was perhaps […]
Hongdae, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seoul, Korea, is known for being loud and full of music. Every night you can count on the area’s public spaces to be full of spontaneous and talented performers and one can not ignore the deafening beats blaring from the many clubs that line Hongdae’s narrow streets. But one random night each month is reserved for a different kind of party.
Look at you with your smiles and shitty nappies, you are the world too me. You may not realise it as you are undoubtedly focusing on something you just saw and must now touch, but it’s true, you mean so much to me.
I am writing to you today as I wish to part with some advice. As you are young it is hard for you to understand much, and as you are young it is your natural inclination to believe that you are 100% correct about everything. If the truth be told you will not learn the fallacy of this until you are, well probably close to your own deathbed many years from now.
If buffet chain restaurants were a flock of teenage girls, Seven Springs would be the Queen Bee demonstrating the supreme art of smörgåsbord dining in Seoul, Korea.
I ventured to one of Seven Springs’ Seoul locations recently. When a friend mentioned she wanted to go to a buffet restaurant for her birthday dinner I laughed and asked where we were really going. She was excited for this particular salad buffet in Hongdae, and because it wasn’t my birthday I went along with the green meal idea and made my way out of Exit 8 at Hongdae Station and found the veggie oasis.
I’m all about the music. I am up for any concert, just ask. With only a few days left before I leave (tear tear), lately I’ve been reminicing about all I’ve managed to experience while teaching and living in Korea (Are you ready?). I am amazed at how much I have done in such a short amount of time, especially when I think about all the concerts I’ve attended. It seems like ages ago, but at this time last year I was preparing to witness Lady Gaga’s first and very controvercial world tour stop in Seoul.
It has been over one year and six months since my last submission, and frankly I’m apologetic. But as a means of earning your forgiveness, I present to you the grand return of everyone’s favourite World Famous (but all too infrequent) If I Had a Minute to Spare Global Caption Competition of Death and Love and Harmony (yes, regulars will now not the World Famous (but all too infrequent) If I Had a Minute to Spare Global Caption Competition of Death and Love is now harmonious).
Imagine, December 2011 was the last time this competition graced these humble pages. It’s not because I don’t love you and your love of this wonderous competition, it’s just that I haven’t found the right moment captured by a humble lens, if I have bothered looking at all.
Once upon a time the Seoul Folk Flea Market (서울풍물시장) vendors set up shop around the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul, Korea. Now they return each day to well-manicured squares of space within a recently built warehouse location. Some merchants refer to the market as The Ant Market due to its many moves over the years. Thankfully, a friend who is always in the know dragged me to the market a few weeks ago. I am very glad she did.
Sorry everyone! I kept forgetting my camera in my apartment this weekend. My excuse? I was very busy! I partook in a rooftop barbeque, makolli making, salsa dancing, nightclub endeavors, vagina monologues, and general wandering about. The rooftop bbq was held above a surf shop that also sold vespas! It was awesome and we could see the sea. There was good food and great people and we didn’t get back too too late. The next day I learned how to make makolli, a korean carbonated rice wine that is super tasty. We mixed together some yeast, rice and pine needles and it is fermenting still as I write this. After that, it was off to salsa dancing! Where I perfected my two step, and tried my best to keep up in basic salsa moves 101, which was the counting to 6 and twirling bit. After that lesson we watched in awe as some Korean salsa professionals began to fill the room. They were amazing, and all had their own unique flair, an extra kick in their dancing style.
Something about being near water is simply relaxing. When the weather finally agrees to reward Seoul, Korea with a mild and sunny day after a brutally long winter people tend to flock to the Han River. Here are 10 ways to enjoy the river in the coming months.
I found some forgotten photos from last weekend’s Holi Fest, which is an Indian celebration to welcome spring. Everyone throws powdered color or paint at each other and dances and it’s really fun. I’m definitely ready for spring now. Phew! Here are some photo highlights:
All the people at Holi, and can you see the onlookers with cameras in the back? We were superstars.
More submitting by me here (and you wonder why I’ve had so few minutes to spare). This was for RTE Radio 1′s ARENA show which has been hosting a radio based creative writing course (yes you read that right) called New Planet Cabaret, with the assistance of the very competent and energetic Dave Lordon (I’d say more but I haven’t read much of his poetry so…).
Maybe I will miss the warm sun rising over my little home here in Korea. It's warmth carrying it's way into my shoebox and warming things up from a cold night. You can watch the sun go past the sky by seeing the sun-rays go from one end of the wall to the other. It's funny because Tom has a little pattern he follows. Around noon he comes out of the covers, where he was slumbering, and heads to the sunshine. I've also noticed around 2:30 he likes a spot on top of my suitcases that sit in the balcony.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm not traveling back to America, but moving. If I were traveling there then I wouldn't need to send off six boxes and try to squeeze what is left into two suitcases. But because I am moving, I am sending everything I own to a faraway location.
Today I cleared out my living space and put it all into my suitcases. Turns out I'm going to need that third one. In the end things are starting to look more and more empty in my little apartment here. Someone came by and took the last bookshelf away. Also with all the boxes gone space is opening up.
I thought I would get to dusting behind furniture and cleaning out areas today but I think my motivation will come tomorrow. I'm meeting up with a friend for dinner as a one last goodbye.
It's the center of Seoul, and the place where you will likely make your first memories in Korea. When I first came here it was indeed one of the very first tourist areas I walked into. I am talking about Insadong, the tourist trap of Seoul. Despite this nickname, Insadong delivers souvenirs, art and traditional food. It was once an area known for it's art galleries and secret alley ways. Nowadays it has let make-up shops and typical cafes move in.
As part of a package of things I will be giving to my students to say goodbye to them, I made this video. It's a collection of photos and videos from our various field trips over the past two years. There was a lot I could put in but I narrowed it down to the following that you will see. I'm not looking forward to my last class time with the kids, because they really gave me the strength and inspiration to be a teacher. But I hope this video and my other gifts will leave a lasting memory in their hearts.
Those last five days of winter camp went really fast! Thankfully I had prepared enough before camp to jump into it without that dreaded feeling of, "What do I do?" At my school camp is from 8:50 - 12:10, with various breaks in between. Most of what we teach is academic, like Science and Reading, but there are also fun stuff like a Drama unit and Museum unit.
I try to engage the students as much as possible with questions, and I also found setting up the material works well. Before we get into the book I brainstorm with them about the topic and play a short video for them to get the connections visually. This really helped when we were going to make a craft based upon cavemen wall paintings. The video showed the wall paintings from Lascaux in France, and the students were quite impressed.
I admit I miss the days of designing the whole camp and having "cooking" and other themes that were more hands on fun. But you make due with what you got!
I have no intention of making you jealous, but I have to inform you that I am writing this blog post from a beach chair 4 feet from the water on the small island of Koh Samet in Thailand. It is late afternoon and the beach area in front of my resort (My bungalow is $20 a night!) is starting to clear out for the day. I personally think dusk is the best part of a beach day. The sky’s color is spectacular, the sun isn’t as intense as it was a few hours prior and I can finally tell by looking at my skin that yes, I in fact did manage to tan and not burn after hours of frolicking in the surf.
It's a freezing start to January and still lots of winter weeks ahead before things could potentially warm up. But I seem to be doing well staying warm this winter with my fantastic Marmot down coat I bought a few years ago. It helps to have a reliable coat, hat, scarf, boots and mittens to last through this season. I can't help but say I'm looking forward to the endless rain in Seattle, because at least it doesn't get too cold there!
January is going to be a month with Winter Camp, a week off and then back to regular work. I'm looking forward to camp, that starts next week. For one I miss the kiddos and also it's my last camp. I have the high levels this time with a few spunky kids in it that are really fun to be around. So I can't wait to get all goofy and giggly with these kids. I know that teaching and being in the classroom is going to be what I will miss the most when I leave.
For Christmas I braved the freezing temperatures and ventured into the Jongno area for some Middle-Eastern food and cupcakes. I met a like minded friend who wanted to enjoy this holiday season and we had a jolly good time.
We picked up cupcakes from Goodovening near Euljiro-1 station.
I am not a list maker on this blog. If you look back through the years there have been only a few times where I have made lists. But I think it is important to "list" in some way what I have liked about living in Korea for this long. I am sure whatever I mention here might be useful to the newcomer to Korea and also help them see what makes living here worthwhile.
Getting around: You could be freezing your ass off outside in the icy temps or roasting hot in the summer, but the busses and trains will always be there. Seoul provides many means of transportation that generally come on time and get you to your location quickly. It's one of the benefits of living in a compact country and certainly doesn't hurt your wallet after using it often. Even traveling outside of Seoul one has subway and bus options. If not then a taxi will do!
From what my friend tells me this is the coldest day in December that Korea has seen in 27 years. That not only made my eyebrows raise but at the same time give me chills. Temperatures in the teens usually doesn't come around till January. But it looks like things will "warm" up next week, a bit.
To beat the cold my friend and I enjoyed watching a movie and TV in the comfort of my warm home. For dinner we had homemade bulgolgi and japchae, with lettuce for wraps. It was a warming meal and also quite wholesome.
Ever since I left my dad's house to attend community college in Humboldt County (Eureka, CA), it feels like I have been a nomad. I think it's a symptom of my age, where we don't settle in one place. But this allows one to explore and see the world as they move around. That is why as I find myself packing things up and heading to Seattle, I know I'll be ready for what's ahead.
I also find it somewhat iconic to be going from one big city to the next. In San Francisco I worked at an insurance company that was right in front of the Pyramid building, and a block from Chinatown.
The fresh and beautiful snow came down on Seoul today, leaving a glimmering snowy path to travel on the way home. Certainly it had the kids in a frenzy and people just generally caught by surprise. I really think it came early this year and is a sign of what this winter is going to be like.
I might be preoccupied with leaving Korea, but I still have my job to do. These days the kids are finishing up the chapter on measuring. In a few weeks they will have their final tests and then it's a week and a half off for Christmas!
The measuring unit covers inches, centimeters and area. This kind of subject area is really straight forward but also can be expanded to cover talking about comparatives. Such as, "She is taller than me." So I have been integrating some basic English learning along with the target Math subject area.