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Showing posts from 2012

Seoraksan Hike Weekend: Day Two

[The day before we had hiked up Seoraksan, the third tallest mountain in Korea, to watch the sunset. We froze almost completely, but were able to make it through the warmer valley and see the autumn leaves.]

That night we stayed at our hotel in a town near Sokcho on the Naksan beach. We had eaten the night before with the leader of the tour group When in Korea, William. He took anyone who wanted to go to a local Korean restaurant. Nothing was in English, so he translated for us. That made it a lot easier.

The next morning, William made breakfast for everyone in the group in the hotel kitchen. We ate together a great meal of pancakes and sausages. There was hot chocolate and coffee to drink. While eating we met some cool people too. There were people from Austin and Colorado who had been to places I knew. Everyone was very cool, laid back and easy to get along with. I usually have a hard time getting to know people in those kinds of situations, but I had a good time.

Seoraksan Hike Weekend: Day One

I enjoy hiking. So, when Jackie said there was a long hike up the third-highest mountain in Korea, Seoraksan, I thought it would be a lot of fun. Then she said it would take twelve hours. Whoa. Intense. We chose to go with When in Korea (WinK), a group that specializes in taking expats around on different excursions, experiencing all the Korea has to offer.

After work on Friday, I met Jackie and went to the nearby subway station. We then rode over to the meet-up point. It was already a bit cold, but I had already changed into a couple layers to keep warm. The bus took a few hours to get all the way to the starting point. Seoraksan is located near the northeast coast of South Korea. Along the way it was difficult to sleep because they kept the lights on in the bus for some inexplicable reason. We tried to sleep as much as possible.

When we got to the start point we sleepily stumbled out of the car an into the fresh night air. Immediately multiple people began exclaiming, "You can…

Busan International Film Festival 2012: Day Two

[The day before we traveled down to Busan to attend the Busan International Film Festival. The Saturday shows were all sold out, so we went to the Busan Museum of Art. Then we spent the evening at Haeundae Beach. All in all it was a great day.]

Our second day began extremely early. Jackie was sick and woke up with a, what we now have decided, was a terrible sinus infection. That whole time was a blur, but we were close to going to the hospital.

The funny thing is I was exhausted so I did not want to get up later when we were supposed to go buy tickets for the day's movies. She went instead early. Luckily, she was able to get there in time to snag a couple of showings to some cool movies.

Busan International Film Festival 2012: Day One

A couple weeks ago, Jackie and I had the pleasure of heading down to Busan in order to attend the Busan International Film Festival. Neither of had been to Busan yet and did not know what to expect of the city or the festival. We would be pleasantly surprised by both.

Weather in Seoul

We have had some weather since I arrived in Korea in April. I have been through a drought, a heat wave and four typhoons. I am not used to typhoons for sure. The first two I am more than used to though. In Portland, I had to deal with fog, inches of snow and days of constant rain. I loved it. Here it is different each week.

Managing My Money

It is strange having money. Now, I am by no means rich, but I actually have enough money to have a budget. I used to make a budget in a way, however, it was mostly me trying to scrape enough pennies together to afford the least amount of everything it would take for me to survive. That is not exactly fun. It helped me get by I suppose.

Today, though, I get to move my money around! It is great! Maybe I want to pay off more of my debt; I will just go to the movies less this month. Want to eat out more? Perhaps I can pay off less of it. Or I can always look for deals. Either way, I get to plan out, organize and deal with my money in a way I have never had the opportunity to do before. And the internet makes it so much easier.

Jeju Vacation: Final Day

[The day before, Jackie and I experienced the best day/night during our vacation. It was all downhill from there! Well, perhaps, but only because it was such a great time. The wind and rain began to fall while we were out relaxing on a cliff, watching the sunset. Now the real storm began to come]

We were finally heading home. A typhoon hit early in the morning, but we had things to get done. While we packed I put on Little Steven's Underground Garage, my all-time favorite radio show. Then it was time to check out.

World Peace Festival and Massive Cult Gathering

Jackie and I had a great time Saturday. I will blog about the great place we ate at and the awesome pizza we made later. But for right now I want to write about what happened Sunday.

It all started Saturday when we were getting lunch in Itaewon. It is an area known for having a great deal of foreigners due to the US military base nearby. After eating we walked outside and waited to cross the street. Jackie went to take a photo and I stood at the crosswalk. While I was waiting, two Korean girls came up and offered to give me a free ticket to the World Peace Festival at Olympic Stadium on Sunday. I called Jackie over and the girls explained everything to the two of us. Lunch would be provided, a free shuttle bus would take us there and we would get a free shirt. The purpose of the festival would be to promote peace in conjunction with the United Nations'International Day of Peace.

We had no Sunday plans and, while at High Street Market earlier, we had heard John Lennon's "G…

Jeju Vacation: Day Four

[Previously, we had ventured out and had a rough time getting around the island. It left us frustrated, but we had a good time nonetheless. It really helped to be able to hike up a volcanic crater, hang out in a cave and watch the sunset from the beach.]

We had one full day of vacation left. So far, we had been having a good, albeit frustrating, time in Jeju, but we were determined to make this day the best of all. After another long night of using the internet to figure out the bus system...we found a site that, after you download a program, allows you to see the bus routes and plan your trip. That helped a ton.

Google Plus

I love Google. In fact, I use it constantly. I have an Android phone, I use Blogger for...blogging, Gmail for all my email needs, Picasa for organizing and editing my photos, Maps for navigating me around, search for everything, AdSense for making money from my blogs and videos, YouTube for showing my students videos and for uploading my own, Analytics for keeping track of visits to my blogs, Talk for instant messaging and phone calls. Chrome for internet browsing, Reader for checking my blog subscriptions, Drive for lessons plans, budgets and general documents, News for keeping up with what is happening around the world and, especially, in the United States, Latitude for tracking where I go (and letting Jackie know where I am), Music for keeping my music on the cloud and Calendar for scheduling. However, there is one Google product I am having a hard time getting into: Google Plus.

Jeju Vacation: Day Three

[The second day, we had spent a lot of time getting to know the city and how to travel. It would not exactly help us a lot the next day... But we still got to check out an awesome waterfall that emptied into the ocean and a cool museum and park]

By the third day, we were determined to hang out at a beach. A sunset on the beach was one of Jackie's main goals. And since we had been in Jeju, we had been leaving the hostel later than noon. Because it was so sunny, we had horrible lighting for all our photos. That is unacceptable. Therefore, we woke up early, got ready and headed out on a longer journey to the northeast part of the island.

Jeju Vacation: Day Two

[The previous day, we had done way too much. We arrived in Jeju, got some bikes, met a mean American, rode hours for hamburgers and sweated like crazy. It was time for some relaxing and some sightseeing.]

We woke up the next day in pain. Did you know that riding bikes is super painful? And it was not even soreness from using our "muscles;" it was pain from those dumb bike seats. Man, I was dying! Hoping back on the bike to ride to our days' adventures felt like being smacked in the head with a spiked baseball bat while being tasered, except on my butt. Fun times. We adjusted our seats to try to alleviate the pain. That helped a great deal, but the pain would remain for the rest of the day.

Jeju Vacation: Day One, Part Two

[Earlier in the day, Jackie and I had made it to Jeju safely, but had to wait around to check in. A few hours later, we checked in, hiked down to a nearby waterfall and took tons of pictures. Now is where the real fun begins.]

Jeju Vacation: Day One, Part One

After sleeping for less than four hours, I woke up at four in the morning. We had everything ready to go since we had gotten organized the day before. There was still the matter of our transportation to the airport. We have no car and the subways and buses do not run early enough for us to get to the airport on time. So, we stepped outside simply hoping there would be taxis hanging around at five.

Leading Up to the Vacation

It has been a tough couple months for me. I am definitely worn out from all the changes and adjusting I have had to do. However, the past two weeks have been especially tough. We had monthly testing, a way to gauge where the students are, plus a few other labor intensive events. This is on top of learning how to teach and figuring out the students. I am my own worst critic and that makes normal critiques very hard to deal with. Constructive criticism is something else I need to learn how to accept.


I needed this vacation to unwind and step away from everything. I was thrown into this job and had to learn as I went along. That is nerve wrecking, but it seems to have worked out alright. That is the positive part. The negative part is I am exhausted. So, here we are getting a week off of work. That was a cause for celebration.

Nearly Three Months In

I'm still adjusting to everything in Seoul. The past week has been a stressful one. I was observed a couple of times by my superiors. It is always a drag to hear how terrible you are. They didn't actually word it like that, but I have a difficult time being criticized.

I have never been a teacher before and I guess I should assume there would be a learning curve, but I hate being bad at anything, much less my occupation. I felt like I was the best at Walmart, at the radio station (when I was Production Manager), as a dishwasher, etc. And now I don't feel that way. I feel like the worst and it is weighing on my mind. In fact, I think it even makes me a bad boyfriend. I'm too on edge...

This week in particular, I have been trying to play catch up and also relax. It has been unsuccessful so far. Those are competing notions. But Jackie has tried hard to keep me calm.

To that end, I have gone hiking twice in the last two weeks, seen a movie, gone running a few times and…

Computer Programs

I bought a new laptop a couple of months ago. After I transferred all my files over, I realized I have started to use a lot of free programs that do not come with the computer, but, nevertheless, are better than with what Windows 7 comes loaded. I remember many years ago it was difficult to find new, free programs and I only used the boring old Windows defaults.

Dinner and a Movie

On Saturday, Jackie and I decided to have a date night. We go to a lot of places together, but rarely do we go on traditional dates (or at least the kind you see in movies and tv shows). I wanted to see The Amazing Spider-Man and Jackie is a cool enough girlfriend to be fine with that as a fancy date night. Of course, actually getting to the date and then going on it would be a big adventure...

The Importance of Television in My Life

The Andy Griffith Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Earlier, Jackie told me Andy Griffith died. People can not help their initial reactions, right? So I should not feel embarrassed to say, for a split second, it really shocked me and made me sad. My heart felt like it had fallen out. Then reality set in and I realized I do not know him and he did not seriously matter to me. My family matters, Jackie, etc., but not some actor on a tv show that I have seen a million times. But why then did it affect me like that when I heard? I thought about it all day.

Positives and Negatives

It's been about six weeks in and I have a couple observations about Seoul, Korea, both good and bad. I will not include stuff that involves Jackie because, obviously, that is all good. This is simply observations about the city itself. First, the good!

Let's Go Do Exciting Things Today

And now we have a wedding to go to. Great. I was already exhausted from the travel and everything, but I had to go hang out with a bunch of people I have never met. It would turn out to be a pretty great day though.

Arriving in Korea

I realize I have not posted for quite some time. Things have been a bit crazy; what, with all the changes and all. The last time I posted I was in the Portland International Airport waiting for my flight to Seoul via San Francisco. That day I was not in a very good mood. Everything was weighing on my mind, all those changes.

Leaving America

I'm sitting in the Portland International Airport right now waiting for my flight to San Francisco. From there it is on to Seoul, my new home. I have no idea where my apartment will be as of right now. This whole thing is crazy.

Another Road Trip: Part Three

[The day before, Catface and I drove through Utah and managed to get lost. We ended up in Arizona before being guided by Jackie into New Mexico. Catface is so bad with directions. I just can't trust that cat.]

I woke up at around ten. That means a good six hours of sleep this time. Yay. Catface jumped around. He liked having some space to stretch out. Plus we were on the second floor, so he could look out the window and watch all the people, cars and animals moving around out there. The bed was super comfy and he slept next to in between bursts of running around. I played spider solitaire before heading downstairs.

Another Road Trip: Part Two

[In the last post, Catface and I cleared out the apartment and left for Jerome, Idaho for the night on the first leg of our trip back to El Paso, Texas. Well, I did the packing, he mostly watched me, supervised I suppose. We have a planned 14.5 hour drive ahead of us this time]

I woke up at nine in the morning, four hours after finally going to sleep. Catface Meowmers kept jumping all over me. Since he was neutered, the morning has become his favorite play time. That is a great improvement over him going crazy at two in the morning.

Another Road Trip: Part One

Now that I am moving to Korea, I have to make a few lifestyle changes. The major one is not having a car anymore. I've had one since I was 18. The other one is not having Catface Meowmers by my side. That really hurts. I have had him for nearly two years now. I will write a longer post about him later, hopefully in the next couple of days. But for now I think I'll describe how I altered these two aspects of my life.

Update on Korea, Catface and Being the Easter Bunny

Also, just an update in general.

I was tentatively supposed to be in Korea on the 15th of April. It looks like I won't hit that mark. The hold up is my visa. In order to get the visa, I had to send my signed contract, some passport photos, an apostilled FBI background check, an apostilled copy of my NMSU diploma and a health survey to Korea. (A great resource for preparing the paperwork to teach ESL in Korea can be found HERE. It was a great help to me) The school is sponsoring my visa. So I should be getting a visa number real soon here, which I can then send to the Korean consulate in Seattle. Then I'll be all set to leave. The school will buy my plane ticket and I'll be off. But right now I'm just waiting to get that number. It is frustrating to wait for sure, but I know this is just the normal process. Patience...

BIG News

Earlier today I received one of the best birthday presents ever, a job teaching English in Seoul, South Korea at the POLY Mokdong Magnet campus. I should be there around the 15th of April. Let me back up a bit and explain what happened, why I'm excited and what I have to do in the immediate future.

NCAA Second Round: NMSU vs Indiana

Since Jackie left, I really haven't done much fun stuff. No real adventures. But on Thursday, March 15, I had tickets to the Rose Garden to watch the New Mexico State Aggies take on the Indiana Hoosiers. So, she may be getting naked with a bunch of Korean woman, but I finally got to go on an adventure too! Ahem. As a NMSU graduate, I was rather excited to be able to see my team in the tournament. I have never seen a tournament game before and my parents bought me a ticket for my birthday. Lucky me.

March Madness

It is March yet again (it seems to come up every twelve months or so...). That means basketball, basketball and more basketball. I love playing it, watching it on tv and watching it in person. That is why I am especially excited about this March.

Shooting: February 11, 2011

For most of the last year I worked as part of Americorps VISTA in El Paso. I was assigned to the Boys & Girls Club in the Montana Vista area. And I had a great experience generally, but one day stands out as a particularly tough one. On February 11, 2011, I witnessed a 19-year-old attack a sheriffs deputy, take his gun and commit suicide.

I arrived to work and greeted my co-worker outside. Normally she would be inside getting everything ready for the kids to start, so this was abnormal. She explained that because one of our members was competing in the West Texas Youth of the Year competition, we were going to close in order to take her to an event in a few hours. I stood out there and helped my co-worker tell kids we would not be opened.