Wednesday, December 22

Gyeongju (Kyongju) Day Trip

My first few  months here I was a busy bee! I couldn't stay in Pohang if I tried, but after a few weekend trips to surrounding cities lately, I haven't been traveling as much. There's a city about 30 minutes outside of Pohang, that everyone told me I "just had" to visit! It was described as the more traditional and cultural city. Considering I'd been to Taebak (4.5 hours away) and Seoul (4 hours away), it only made sense that I should visit this beautiful city that was so close! So,a few weeks ago Leigh and I headed to Gyeongju! The weather was perfect and we had a blast!

A little history on the city: Kyongju was the capital of the Shilla Kingdom for over 1,000 years. Thousands of historic buildings and objects have been maintained well throughout the city, truly making it the "museum without walls."  Gyeongju is famous for its "Gyeongju bread" or "Hwangnam bread", a red-bean pastry first baked in 1939 and now sold throughout the country.
eek! Just describing this bread almost made me gag - def not on of the Korean foods I enjoy.
That big hill behind us has a former King under it!

haha :) if only the "way out" was always this obvious

I'm holding a Korean coin that has this statue on it!

My pagoda! :)

Hangin out in Asia, in front of a temple :) no biggie!

Refreshing well water, "Cheers"! :)

Us + Autumn = Happiness! :)
Other peoples' pagodas
Loving Korea more each day,

November in Review via pictures :)

mmm street food in Daegu! :) Ham and Cheese - why yes, thank you!
Brent - so thankful for this guy! Without him, I might not have made it to Korea.  He paved the way for me to have an awesome experience by introducing me to both my boss/friend, Rim, and an amazing group of friends!! Thank you, Thank you Brent!

Happy Birthday, Amy! :)
matchee! :) Even South Korea can appreciate great Universities like UK! C-A-T-S!
Horse Back Riding with a Korean Sports Hagwan! :)  (Thanks Leigh)
kiddos in line to ride the horses! :)
all smiles and peace signs! :) Kimchi!

Play time and Picnic with the kiddos after horseback riding! :)
haha :) we ordered a pitcher and got this! had to take a picture!
teaching the kiddos about body parts! :) pretty proud of my drawing!
Virginia and I @ Portobello's! :) love my Birginia!

Helena and I at school before class! :)
Roy and I! :)
so silly, but love 'em! :)

Turkey Day in Korea! :)

Happy Turkey Day! :)

 It's Christmas week and I haven't even blogged about my Thanksgiving yet! :) Let me catch you up! Turkey Day came at the perfect time! I was nearing my 4 month mark in Korea and it'd been a while since I'd tasted some of my comfort foods. 4 months without macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes - is a long time, even if I am 25.  Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly NOT starving in Korea - I actually really enjoy the food! :) Kimchi has even become a part of my regular diet thanks to my director and friend, Rim being my neighbor and her mom always sharing her kimchi! But after a long week of teaching students about Thanksgiving foods, traditions, history, and thankfulness, I did happily enjoy Thanksgiving delights - TWICE!

It's interestingly and awesomely different being a "Wagook-an" (Korean for foreigner) in a country that doesn't celebrate 2 of the the best holidays I've known throughout my life the same way (Christmas) or at the same time (Thanksgiving) that I've always celebrated them. What I love though, is that seeing that all of us (the foreigners) are far away from our families, we come together and make it feel like home. For Thanksgiving (see pictures below)  Tilt, a Western owned bar in Pohang, hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner! I was so excited about it, I took Teddy, my college student with me, so he could experience a true Western Thanksgiving! It's one thing to hear about Thanksgiving, it's another to experience it with 30+ foreigners who are away from home.

Hindsight: I'm not sure that people pushing each other out of the way to get to the turkey, green beans, rolls, cranberries, and THE largest vat of mashed potatoes I've EVER seen in my life was the most accurate depiction of Thanksgiving, but I think overall the night was a success.  :)

I knew I had a lot to be thankful for before crossing the "big pond,"  but everyday it becomes more apparent. The longer I'm away from home, my thankfulness meter, not my homesickness, meter goes up - I truly couldn't ask for more supportive and loving family members and friends (both the ones I left back home and the new ones I've made here.)

Truly blessed beyond what I deserve,
Emily :)
One of my fav students, Teddy! :) such an awesome guy!

Mandy - to whom I owe thanks for my scooter and guitar! love her!
told you it was the largest vat of mashed potatoes I'd ever seen! :) 

Wagookans in the masses! :)
Pumpkin Pie: my new favorite dessert! :)

Wednesday, December 1

Watch out Pohang, I am mobile! :)

So my 25th birthday came and went! I'm still rockin' my quarter of a century glow :) I haven't mentioned this in any previous posts, but I live in Ocheon - which is kind of the countryside part of Pohang, the city, I live in.  Most people live downtown or fairly close to downtown, but I'm a little on the outskirts.  And by outskirts, I really only mean about a 15 minute taxi drive to downtown (less then $8).  Which, considering how low my expenses are, is nothing! But...for someone who's had the luxury of being mobile since I was 16 (thanks dad!) taking a taxi to the grocery store, and to get out on the weekends is uncharted water.  Once again, I promise I'm not complaining - transportation is one of the only things I actually spend money on and it's really inexpensive, but I do enjoy my independence! So when I heard my friend Mandy was selling her scooter - my interest was piqued! But, I was a little under-confident in my ability to successfully drive a scooter.  Could I really drive a scooter? haha
So Mandy and I scheduled a driving lesson on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  I met her at her place, and my friend Leigh tagged along.  The 3 of us went to the practice parking lot. I was REALLY nervous at first.  Once I got a feel though, I was doing good.   I practiced starting, stopping, going up and down hills, and then starting and stopping on the hills. Though, the uphill I haven't mastered.  The balance took some getting used to, but like Leigh and Mandy said - going slower is harder than going faster. (Note the foreshadowing)

After about an hour of practicing, I decided I felt pretty comfortable.  We wrapped up and headed to the bank so I could get some cash.  I paid Mandy and then we went back to her place to pick up the guitar I'd also bought.  Leigh offered to drive that back to my apartment, and I was going to drive the scooter from Idong (where Mandy lives) to Ocheon (my house!) = about a 25 minute drive. So I paid her, we packed up the guitar, and the scooter helmets, and Leigh and I got ready to head to Ocheon. 

While we were in grabbing the guitar, a truck parked in front of the W-I-D-E apartment entrance and exit.  So, the only other exit is a narrow, concrete baricaded exit.  Leigh walks his bike through and is coaching me on how to get my bike through.  I'm listening, but still so uncomfortable with maneuvering this heavy bike at slow speeds, I start to feel uncomfortable.  Simultaneously, Leigh is coaching me to slow down.  I frantically reach for the brake, only to find the gas, so I floor it,the scooter speeds out from under me, I not-so-gracefully end up the ground - my shoe ;ands 10 feet away, my helmets now on the side of my head.  It was an Emily sandwich with the scooter and the pavement as the bread.  :( Needless to say, I was mortified, but survived with only dented pride and a sore chest. Leigh and I drove home - I was shaky because of my fall, but glad I got back on. 

So, I am mobile :) sort of.  I did ride my scooter to school today.  The kids got a good chuckle at their teacher being an "autobike driver" but I'm working up my confidence!

Disclaimer - UK fans it's orange, but only out of convenience - I might be far away but am still a Cats fan! :)

At least I got the fall out of the way the first day! :)

Aging Gracefully in Korea! :) Hello 2-5!

Surprise Birthday Cake :) Anyong Haseyo (hello in Korean) Quarter of a Century!

Let me start off my saying I'm not a birthday person.  Please don't misinterpret that, I don't mind getting a year older, I just don't enjoy the "all eyes on me" part.  I mean in all honesty - shouldn't it be my parents celebrating? I didn't really do anything special that day. To give a little background on where I think this phobia started, here's a birthday nightmare - I vividly remember being at a restaurant in my hometown probably around my 9th or 10th birthday - I was out for dinner with my family at Toot's (for you Murfreesboro-ans). I'm enjoying my intimate birthday setting, and before I know it, I hear the waiters and waitresses marching towards our table clapping and singing "Happy Birthday." My stomach dropped and I immediately burst into tears. Since then, I've made my friends and family vow to NEVER - and I mean ever - have the waitstaff come to our table on my birthday.  I was lucky from years 21 to 24 because I had my birthdays in exotic destinations thanks to working really hard in the summer selling books. I turned 21 in Jamaica, 22 in Cancun, and 23 in the Dominican Republic.

Point being, I've had birthdays in fun places with great people! :) But this year might take the prize (minus not seeing family or my sweet puppy!!) It was a weekend and a birthday I'll never forget - thanks to all those who I saw in Pohang and all the sweet bday wishes I got from across the big pond - it really meant a lot! The weekend in review:

Friday was low key because I had to be awake early on Saturday for teaching training in Gumi,  a city about an hour and a half away.  They bussed about 40 foreign teachers at 7:30am to a "How to Teach in Korea" seminar.  Waking up early on a Saturday wasn't fun, but the seminar wasn't that bad. 

Then, Saturday afternoon there was a scavenger hunt from 4:30-9:00.  It was a blast!! It was a fundraiser for the soccer team in town.  There were about 20-25 English teachers that played.  Leigh and I were on a team and it was a picture scavenger hunt, so we'd have to do things like "help a stranger carry their groceries to their car" or "have a teammate do a handstand in front of the post office" and then take a picture of it.  There were about 60 things - we only got about 40 of them, but we laughed until we cried. At midnight I was surprised with a birthday cake and the entire bar singing Happy Birthday Korean style.  :) memorable and fun!
Scavenger Hunt Task: Picture of Teammates on Tandem Bike

Task: Picture with Clothed Dogs

Task: Pillow Fight :)

Task: Teammate Pyramid with Korean on Top!

Task: Takeover Street Vendors duties! (Korean pancake "hota")

Task: Tango with stranger!
Task: Have Korean do Heisman pose while holding head of lettuce

Task: Kiss stranger's hand

Task: Help stranger carry groceries to their car

Then on Sunday a group of us got together at our friend Kevin's house for a foreign Thanksgiving.  Koreans celebrate their version of Thanksgiving (Chuseok) in September.  Also, as you can imagine, the food here is VERY different from food from America - so I had macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and deviled eggs for the first time in almost 4 months!! yum! We played games and spent hours laughing until we cried.  I got a 2nd birthday cake there - thanks to one of the sweetest people I've met since I've been here, Tonic!
Honestly, I think this was one of my best birthdays yet!

I have a feeling 25 is gonna be my year! :)
xoxo Em!

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