Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Year in Review: Part Two of Three



[You can find Part One here]

Wow. It has taken me forever to get to part two... It has been a super busy half of a year. So allow me to push these other posts out quickly.


May

I spent a lot of time going over to Jackie's apartment from work. It takes anywhere from 45-50 minutes to get there, and I need to take two buses to do it. It would tire me out, but I did not mind it really. Along the way, it felt cool and relaxing, a nice wind down to the fast paced world of hagwon teaching.




On May 12, +Jackie and I went to another wedding. The first wedding we went to was a Catholic one and it felt familiar to me. It was a basic Catholic wedding. This one was totally very different. There was basically no religion and only a little cultural influence. I had never been to anything like that in a wedding hall before.


After the game, we tried to go see a baseball game. The place was so packed we could hardly even get out of the subway station.


Instead, we went to a park and hung out with Jackie's friends. It was a nice day and a really pretty park. That is one of the great things about Seoul, the city parks are nice, even if they are on the small side. We had a fun time in the park. I still have yet to see a baseball game here though...




And speaking of parks, there is one right across the street from work. Each warm afternoon, while preparing for my classes, I see elderly retirees playing games out there. They do all sorts of stuff, sometimes there are even organized competitions and events. Each person has a number on their back. It is nice to see.


Then, on May 13, Jackie and I went to check out Seoul Museum of Art. It is sort of our thing to go to art museums. We have been to them all over the world! (Seven museums in two states, two countries, and six cities) The Seoul Museum of Art is impressively designed too. The outside is full of flowers and trees, while the building itself looks classic and really sticks out amongst the modern high rises around town. Oh, and some of the statues outside are frightening...





The exhibits themselves were quite impressive. It is basically a modern art museum and modern art can get quite...interesting. Most of the pieces took up entire rooms. Color and shapes were a big theme for many. I greatly enjoyed stepping into and around the art. On the other hand, some of them were frightening as well. I do not mind art that makes you feel uncomfortable though. Everything was unique and fun to see.




This was the second creepiest one. Anybody could type into the nearby computer and it would speak and move. Unfortunately, it only worked in Korean.

All of these things moved...


June

June was a little less intense. I got a phone! My first smartphone! Jackie already had her phone, something from LG, and I expected to get a similar one. Instead, they were having a special on Samsung Galaxy S3s and I bought the hottest phone in the world! I never thought it would be important to have a smartphone, but I can get so much more done with it. I can find my way home with +Google Maps and a couple Seoul transit apps (Meteroid HD and SeoulBus), my photos are geotagged, my runs and walks are tracked with RunKeeper, I have my calendar always at my fingertips with Google Calendar, I can make phone calls for free with Kakao Talk, text message with Kakao and Google Hangouts, and I am always up to date on my social networks (that last one is basically a negative).

On the first Wednesday of the month was Memorial Day in Korea. We had the day off! Tuesday after work, I went to the park with my coworkers and Jackie to play some basketball. I had not played a competitive game in a couple years. I was rusty, but it was a ton of fun. We ended up playing some pickup games against people we did not know. All the games were good and tough. I loved it.


July

July was all about preparing for Jeju Island. We did not do too many huge things, but one of the most exciting was watching The Amazing Spider-Man (Rotten Tomatoes rating: 73%) late one night. We went to a very late showing on a Saturday, bought our tickets, and sat in our seats. The trailers started, the commercials went on, and suddenly, what I thought was another trailer began. It involved some guys and a car and a girl. The whole thing was in Korean and we began to get uncomfortable as the thing would not end.

After five minutes, we started to suspect this was actually a movie, not a trailer. A couple more minutes and we were certain it was the wrong movie. I left the screen and walked up to the cash register where we had purchased the tickets. It was difficult speaking to the cashier because she spoke very little English and I speak virtually no Korean. This could be part of the reason we ended up in the wrong movie. However, her manager spoke a little Korean and, via hand signals and pointing, we figured each other out. In the end, we missed out on five minutes of Spider-Man, but were able to enjoy most of the pretty decent movie.

Also, this was the month I started my Summer Intensive class. Because the students were on vacation for their elementary school, though not for Magnet, they were able to sign up for extra classes in the morning. I was given one class to teach. It was, much as the name implies, intense. We did a lot of work in the two hours we had. My class only had two students signed up and that was a unique experience to teach. They were super quiet and I had a tough time getting any sort of discussions going. By the end of the summer intensive period though, both girls were a bit more willing to speak and give their ideas. I had a good time even though I had to get up super early, and I was paid extra for the time. Yeah!

August

Another weekend, we decided to hike up a mountain near Jackie's apartment. Ansan Mountain is a ten minute walk away and has lots of cool things to see along the way, including a man-made waterfall, an herb garden, and an old smoke signal sending thing that was used in the far past. It rained the entire time, but that just meant we had the entire mountain to ourselves. It was a ton of fun.


Finally, after months of planning, which included reading Trip Advisor constantly for ideas, searching multiple websites for good deals on flights, making shared lists in +Google Drive, and creating fancy maps with everything laid out for us in +Google Maps, we went to Jeju and had a great time! I already wrote a ton about the trip (Day One: Part One and Two, Days Two, Three, and Four), so here are some unused pictures of the trip!










The same month I also moved to a new place. That was great. The old apartment had mold and was way too small. My new apartment in a bit larger and right off a subway line. That makes it so much more convenient to get around town quickly.

Summer happens to be the typhoon season. As far as I can gather, typhoons are simply hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean. Seoul is able to be hit by typhoons, and indeed we were multiple times last year, but because we are so far inland, they are usually very much weakened by the time we meet the storm. Still, we get torrential downpours and heavy winds normally.

Towards the end of the month, however, we heard a gigantic typhoon was bearing down on Seoul. It was rumored to be the biggest one in decades or perhaps ever, I can not remember now. Usually we do not get the day off no matter what. However, due to the intense reports of the storms strength, I believe people in Southeast Asia had even died from it, our boss canceled classes for the day.



Jackie and I prepared for the worst by picking up a flashlight and getting an emergency preparedness kit, a bunch of bottled water, and other things. Then we waited. The storm crawled towards us and suddenly seemed to speed up. The clouds swirled and floated above us. The wind came on strong. Rain fell, but we kept expecting more. For some reason, the storm decided not to rain down even close to what we expected. In fact, we had normal storms with way more rain! It was nice to have the day off though.
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And there you go, a whole bunch of pictures and updates from a year ago. I only have one more of these to do and I can get to posting the pictures from my adventures this year!