Friday, December 23

Pohang's Biggest Loser Update

This past Thursday marked the official end of Pohang's Biggest Loser competition!! I'm so thankful that I participated - it was the perfect motivation and accountability to get me back to living a healthy lifestyle. The other ladies I participated with were always on our facebook group offering words of encouragement, healthy recipes, and various other suggestions! I definitely couldn't have done it without them. So, let's get to it - I lost a total of 14 lbs, 19cm, and decreased my BMI by 2.2.(Which moved me out of my previously overweight BMI and into normal weight range!!) 14 lbs is 8.2% of my body weight!

Aside from the accomplishments on the scale, the ones off are just as exciting:
My attitude towards exercising has completely changed. Whereas I used to get tired just THINKING about going to the gym, I ENJOY it now. I love getting on the treadmill, jamming to music, and getting a sweat on. I actually like running, which before I HATED! I ran a 5K the first week in December!!! I have so much more energy. My relationship with food is so different. I'm much more conscious of what and how much I'm eating, rather than just eating when I'm bored, or eating junk that I know I shouldn't. My clothes fit better now! :) Before September, I was wearing black pants almost everyday to teach in because they were more comfortable than my jeans! Now the jeans I bought when I was home in August are a little loose on me!

It feels good to have made this change, to have lost weight, and to know I'm going to continue - bikini bod, here I come! :)

Saturday, December 17

Thankful Thursday

So this is the first of something I'm going to start - when I used to sell educational books door to door with the Southwestern Company - each day had a special theme, and Thursdays were called Thankful Thursdays - it usually was one of my best days in Sales, because I was able to get outside of myself and the monotony of selling and rejection (I mean seriously, door to door sales post the year 2000- who does that? :) haha) and was able to really be thankful for all the little things! So here goes, while I can't promise to do it every Thursday, when I remember or something strikes me, I promise to blog about it! I've been thinking to do this for a while, but today something happened and I thought - yep, this is the perfect way to start off.

It was a usual Thursday, I had my business class at Hyundai Steel class in the morning and went to my academy around 3:00.  My 5:30 free talking class roles in and they're a hardly excited 2 person class of advanced 6th graders -actually some of my favorite students.  We started off with a few rounds of Crazy 8's -I can use the game to distract them and ask questions about their school day and plans for the weekend without them having their 'I don't want to learn English' guard up. That class passed really quickly. 
 My student, Jason, stays for the next hour also, so he always just keeps his same seat.  I wished them a great weekend, and opened the door for my next class.  Before I know it, 8 rambunctious 6th graders come barging in.  I was in and out, grabbing some water, and dropping off the attendance books for my previous classes - and then I heard some commotion between Jason and another student in the 6th grade class, Jack.  They're arguing about a chair and playing tug-o-war with their backpacks.  So, I intervene, and ask Jack to please stop, and give Jason his chair back. The argument breaks up, but Jason bursts into tears, and when I say tears, I mean giant elephant tears and audible sobbing.  I was surprised to see him cry, because it didn't seem like that big of a deal - BUT the next few things are the reason for this post.

He started to cry, and the 2 students sitting to his left, immediately quieted down, the girls across from him busied themselves with homework, and Jack who had caused him to cry - realized it, stopped immediately, and hugged him, while apologizing in Korean. I was amazed! I expected to have to force them to apologize to each other and shake hands, but they handled it themselves. Jack knew he'd done something wrong, and he was hugging and sincerely comforting Jason to make him feel better. NO students even thought to make fun of him for crying, he wasn't teased at all, he wiped his tears off, and we carried on about our English class.  It was such a small thing, but it made me smile and feel really grateful for Jack's sincere apology, and for Jason's speedy forgiveness.  Teaching is extremely rewarding, frustrating at times, but to be honest, I don't remember what I taught that hour - but I do remember what I was reminded of - apologize sincerely without hesitation, and forgive quickly.  

Tuesday, December 13

New Look

Hey ya'll, I'm really excited to announce I took the plunge and gave my blog a facelift, thanks to Jenn at Cutest Blogger on the Block!! I  got way behind a few months back, and thought a facelift would serve as the perfect motivation for blogging more often, AND thought it'd help keep me busy during the winter months in Korea! I'm really excited about the new look and can't wait to update you on life since October - stay tuned. Hope everyone is having a great holiday season...One thing about living abroad, I do miss Christmas in the 'States - being so far away from home, definitely makes getting into the Christmas spririt a little tougher. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 4

Girls Just Wanna Have FUN!

Daejeon girls weekend - shopping! :)
 Ah! This past weekend was one of the best in a while - which in the past few months - is saying alot! Heather and Christie a few weeks ago suggested a girls' weekend trip somewhere outside of Pohang! So, on Saturday morning we boarded a bus at the Express Bus terminal and headed out for a weekend of girls only fun!  The fun started the minute the tickets were bought - as Heather excitedly bought 6 tickets, even though there were only 5 of us! haha :) in her defense it was fairly early. But, with a little friendly persuasion and my best attempt at Korean - she successfully got reimbursed for the extra ticket!

We got to Daejeon early afternoon, got to our host Steve's house to drop off our stuff, cheers'd with an adult beverage, and hit the town for some big city shopping.  I struck out as far as the shopping was concerned, but had no problem over-sampling yummy treats in a bakery.  No clothes, but food? Sure!! We wrapped up our afternoon of shopping, stopped at the local mart for pre-gaming snacks, before getting the beauty devices out - for the next few hours, we had girl talk, primped, curled hair, did our make-up, decided what to wear, danced to Miley Cirus's party in the USA using hairbrushes as microphones, watched Christie unsuccessfully attempt an ab-roller, and once we were beautified and a little tipsy we went to check out the night scene!
6 parts great girls, 1 part red wine, 1 part potato snack = awesomeness will ensue
Daejeon's Angels pose!
Ab-roller: 1 vs Christie: 0
Arribba! :)
Long story short -  we danced our butts off and laughed till we cried! We woke up the next morning giggling and telling stories over Starbucks coffee and an egg, bacon, and toast breakfast made by our fantastic host Steve. We said farewell to Daejeon, but not before stopping in at Western Food heaven - Cosco - to yep! buy more food!! I love spending time with my handsome Canuck, but there's no replacement for quality time with great girlfriends! Thanks Tiffany, Nicci, Christie, Heather, and Jess for such an awesome weekend - you girls rock!

Tuesday, November 22

Happy Birthday to Me! :)

My 2nd birthday celebration with this handsome man! :)
Welp, it's happened again :) I officially have celebrated another birthday in a far off land. Special thanks to all those who called, messaged, and sent cards/gifts to make sure I felt special. I absolutely did! I was surrounded by great friends played enough Catch Phrase to last me a month, sang my heart out at the Karaoke room, and despite having McDonald's breakfast while the sun was coming up, I'm still scrubbing the red wine stains off my lips. :) Success? I think so!
Baskin Robbins Bday cake - with chopsticks! Winning.
Ladies in Pohang! :)
Happy 26th Birthday to US!
Also would like to send a special birthday wish to my best friend Kayla - Couldn't think of anyone more special to share a birthday with! Wish we were on the same continent, but know we have many more to look forward to together! Love you!

Here's to being a quarter-century +1 years old!

Wednesday, October 5

Sparkling Korea

Korea loves its festivals! Ginseng, Butterflies, Lanterns, Kimchi - you name it, they've probably got it covered. :) When I came back for my 2nd year, I wanted to make more of an effort to get out of Pohang.  Granted, it's a great town, but just like back home, it's easy to fall into the same routine and start Monday wondering where the weekend went and not feeling refreshed. 

We wanted to see more of Korea and go out and do some cool things. Between Leigh and I's 1 year anniversary and Halloween, I was able to busy up all our weekends in October - the first of our trips happening this past weekend where we visited a Lantern Festival along a river in Jinju, Korea.

Turns out the festival is ranked one of the best in Korea by the Ministry of Tourism and in addition to being a beautiful fun festival, with great food, it's set at the foot of a fortress and has some deep history embedded in the celebration. Way back in the year 1592 (love living in a place with old history - 1592 really?!) a Korean general with a severely under-manned military, less than 4,000 killed over 20,000 Japanese soldiers - the lanterns were used as military signals and communicative methods between the soldiers and their families. Now, the festival serves as a symbol of royalty and wishing.
A fortress by the river
With our wish lanterns
Beautiful :)

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts - October is going to be busy! Upcoming weekend trips: Mask Festival, Rice Cake and Liquor Festival, 1 year anniversary, and Halloween! Love fall in Korea!

Saturday, October 1

Korean Spas

Since I've been back in Korea,  I've spent at least 2 weekend nights with friends at Korean Spas, or 'jim-jil bangs'. Because this is something very Korean and nothing back home compares, I thought it deserved a post! It's quite the process, but an inexpensive, relaxing way to spend an evening! (or shower if your pipes freeze in the winter like mine did last year)

First step, you walk in and remove your shoes. Place them in a locker and remove the corresponding key.  Then you go to the counter with you shoe key, pay the admission fee, anywhere from 5,000-8,000 won ($5-$8), and trade your shoe locker key for a wristband and uniform (cotton shorts and a t-shirt) and your public bath locker key (to put your clothes in).  The public baths are separated by sex, so at the point the men go to the men's and the women to the women's. Next step is to undress, and place your clothes in the locker.  Then you hit the shower room!

This room has anywhere from 20-40 sit down showers with stools and a mirror, and about 15 stand up shower heads on the surrounding wall.  There are usually 3-5 tubs including a warm tub, warmer tub, a scorching tub, and a cold pool.  Sometimes there's an herb tub. Depending on which jim-jil bang you go to, there's usually a steam room and/or a sauna. There are even scrubbing services offered where you can have a topless ajuma (old Korean women) give you a full body scrub - costs anywhere from 15-30,000 won. Some of my friends have tried it and highly recommend it, but I haven't done it yet! :)
My experience: At first, it was a little weird undressing and prancing around naked amidst 30-50 Korean women, and especially nervewracking with friends, considering I am THE most modest person back home (seriously not one of my friends or my mother has even seen me naked since I was probably 5 or 6). But, when in Korea...and after the first time it gets pretty normal.  I realized maybe I was the one that was weird for not being more comfortable being naked. 

After you finish showering, tub dipping and naked sauna-ing, then you go to the 'dry area of the jim-jil bang'. This is the clothed area part so everyone wears their jim-jil bang uniform :) everyone has the same one so it's funny to see everyone walking around in their matching clothes. They're pretty much 1 size fits all - so they're not the least bit flattering! In the dry area, there are various saunas, a gym area, massage chairs, and a Snack shop that sells things like Ramen noodles, hard boiled eggs, hot tea, fruit teas, and even beer.  There are even big open sleeping rooms if you want to spend the night or sleeping caves.
Sleeping Caves

The best thing is you don't have to carry around your purse or wallet - you have your wrist band that you can swipe, and then pay for things at the end.  The only additional costs are for refreshments or the massage chairs.  There are about 4 or 5 different temperatured sauna rooms.  There's a room with a TV, there's an ice box room, and they even allow you to sit in the room where they cook the hard-boiled eggs! That one was a tough room to stay in for long! And it was really creepy crawling in, as you had to duck, and crawl through what looked like an oven door!

I never went to a spa back home - mainly because they were too expensive, but I thoroughly enjoy the Korean jim jil bang experience! Def a must try if you ever get the chance!

Thanks for reading,
Emily :)

Monday, September 26

Pohang's Biggest Loser

Biggest Loser is coming to Pohang! :) I don't want to make this a long drawn out post about how unhappy I am with my weight - but bottom line: I've gained weight in the year I've lived in Korea - and to be honest, I wasn't at my ideal weight before then.

My body doesn't handle white rice as well as a Korean woman's body does, I crave comfort, unhealthy foods more than I did when they were readily available in America, I haven't worked out in who knows when, and dating a guy who has the metabolism of a hummingbird and brings me McDonald's in bed hasn't helped.  :)

When I visited home, the first thing out of my great- grandmother's mouth, bless her, was "Well looks like you put on some weight" :) haha NOT music to my ears, my grandmother tried to come to my rescue, and said "Grandmother that's not what she wants to hear" and my Great-grandmother not missing a beat replied, "Well, that just means she likes the food".  Prime example of what I'd like to NOT have happen to me again.

So, one of the girls in Pohang is organizing a weight loss/fitness competition.  There are about 25 girls in Pohang participating all with different fitness goals. We each paid 20,000 won ($20) We took our initial BMI's and arms, thighs, hips, and waist measurements, and weekly we will input our stats. The contest started September 22nd, and will finish December 22nd, right before Christmas. There will be money prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place!

I'm really excited, and feel like having this accountability will be really helpful.  Even if I don't win, hopefully I'll drop some weight and start to get healthy.  My starting BMI is 26 - which means I am currently overweight.  My beginning weight is higher than 169 and lower than 171. :( No matter how much I dislike those #s now, I know come December they will be much lower! :) So, my goals are to eat healthier, I joined Biggest Loser Club online to track my calorie intake, and I joined a gym - so I'd like to make it there 3-4 times a week. I've never tried weight loss before, but I know with other goals in life, I'll need to focus not just on the # on the scale, but controllables - what goes in my mouth and how many times I go to the gym! :) Should be an interesting next few months.

Ready to get my fitness on! :)
xoxo Soon to be Skinny Em!

Monday, September 19

Leigh's Birthday

Happy Birthday Leigh :) So the handsome guy that's in a lot of my pictures had his birthday this weekend! He turned ahem 34!!! 34, yep that's right I'm 25 - he's now 9 years older than me! :) His birthday fell on a Sunday, but we celebrated Saturday. He loves to golf! Usually golfing is Korea is really expensive, but luckily there's a par 3, 9 hole golf course (you play the 9 holes 2x) that he found in Pohang.  We spent the day doing that with our friends Brad and Christie, went to Tilt for a Western style dinner, then went to their house to have a game night with close friends - there were about 10 of us there, we demolished lots of adult beverages, and decided to end the night in the Karoke room! :) Golfing, eating western food, games with great friends, and singing was the perfect way to celebrate his birthday! :) Great celebration for a great guy who lights up a lot of people's lives around him. 
Hope all his wishes come true :)  

Sunday, September 11


Family photo with the Homigot Hand :)
This past weekend, Leigh and I finally made it out to one of Pohang's popular sightseeing spots - Homigot, Sunrise Park. It's one of the easternmost points in Korea.  It's a popular place to celebrate New Year's Eve as people can see the First Sunrise of the New Year. So, Leigh and I strapped Sadie on in her carrier, and took a sightseeing afternoon. 

Traveling Sadie - she even scoots!

Leigh with the Homigot hand
The Korean kiddos were quite curious about Sadie
It was a beautiful scooter ride through windy roads up and down the coast, beautiful weather, and we saw the famous Hands of Harmony!Great day!
xoxo Emily

Monday, September 5

Adjusting back to Korea

I've been back in Korea for 2 weeks now!! I've gotten settled into my new apartment (I'll post pictures soon) and helped Sadie adjust to our new home :) She seems to be enjoying Korea so far! I flew in on a Thursday night - Leigh borrowed a car from some friends and picked me up which was nice because I flew in after the last bus to Pohang had stopped running, not to mention I'd missed him like crazy.  Sadie was pretty scared of him at first, but warmed up quickly! We got back to my apartment that he'd decorated with like 50 balloons and a Welcome Home sign for Sadie and I.  A warm welcome for sure! :) Friday I was determined that "jetlag" was simply a state of mind, and declared that I would not be affected by it.  WRONG! haha it hit me sometime that Saturday and I was pretty worthless the rest of the weekend.  Monday I started back to school - well rested - and very happy to see the students to give them their American souvenirs!

The first weekend of September (my 2nd week back in town) there was a Back to School Open Mic night at a popular bar in Pohang, Live Story.  Open Mic nights are always fun because it's a chance for all the foreigners to show off their talents.  I'm amazed at how talented some of the folks that live here are. Great company and awesome live music Always a fun time! :) It was a great chance to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in over a month.

Lovely ladies of Pohang - Heather, Jenn, Christie, Anna, and me
Feels nice to be unpacked and getting back into a routine! :)
xoxo Emily

Thursday, September 1

Traveling with a Dog Into South Korea

This is more of an informative post for others who try to get their dog to Korea- because for me there was a lot of grey area, and a lot of the posts were very dated. This is my experience traveling with my dog August 25th, 2011.

I flew Delta, because the other airlines I was checking into wouldn't allow Sadie in cabin for such a long flight.  It was an extra $200 dollars flat fee for international pet travel for an animal in cabin.  She was considered my carry on, but I also brought a back pack, with no problems.

Booking the flight - I called Delta and made sure which planes I could have an animal in cabin. Some they don't allow.  I booked my flights then called back to inform them I'd be traveling with a pet, because there is a 2 pet in cabin limit, they need to know if you're traveling with one so they can make a note.

Weeks leading up to the flight - I called back to double AND triple check that they knew my dog would be traveling with me.  I was terrified that I'd check in ready to go back to South Korea, and there would be some problem.  

Documentation I needed for Delta:
This was a little frustrating. When I spoke with Delta on the phone they said they required no documentation, that I only needed to check with the country I was flying into, but when I flew out that was not the case.  The Delta clerk checked
  • Rabies shot from my Veterinarian
  • Health Certificate issued no more than 10 days before flight - check with your airline though, sometimes it has to be no more than 7 days from your flight date
  • I also went to the State veterinarian department to get a Small Animal Travel Certificate.  I think it was about $40 - I'm glad I had it - but it proved to be unnecessary.
Something else you may want to be aware of is your connecting airports.  I flew out of Lousiville, into Minneapolis St. Paul, then to Narita Airport in Tokyo Japan, then onto Busan, South Korea.  The Delta counter clerk seemed very concerned about me flying into Japan, because they have VERY strict animal import regulations.  I hadn't though anything of it though, because I wasn't leaving the airport.

I ended up having to email the Animal Quarantine Service Narita Branch
Animal Quarantine Service Narita Branch

The Quarantine Service was extremely helpful, responded quickly, and granted approval stating that if I was only transitting through the airport, there would be no problems.  I printed this to show Delta.

Connecting Airports: I had no problems with any of the airports, or airport staff even stopping me.  I thought maybe I'd have to check in every time, but nothing.  I even was able to take my dog out for a potty break before our long flight in Minneapolis; however you do have to leave the secure area, so make sure you have time to make it back through the security check.  Once on the plane, the flight attendants were surprised to realize there was a dog in the carrier. 

Arriving in Busan, South Korea
Finally on arrival into Busan, South Korea - I'd flown in and out of the airport before so I knew where the Animal Importation check in desk was - I got in at around 9:30pm on a Thursday night - and there was NO one working the desk. I asked about animal check in and was waived through.  So, I think I got lucky. I showed all my paperwork when I dropped my luggage off in Louisville, and that was the ONLY time.

Bottom Line: I got as much paperwork as I could - both from my vet, and the State Veterinarian.  I know every case and every country is different. My advice do the research and double and triple check with both the airlines and country of importation.

To tranquilize or not to tranquilize? I was initially against this because I'd read some posts that vets didn't know the effects of the tranquilizers on the animals at high altitude.  However, knowing my dog is a rescue and sometimes has a barking and anxiety problem, AND the vet recommended it, in the end I did tranquilize Sadie.  It was a small dose and I only gave her 1 dose the entire 20+ hours of travel BUT I was impressed! :) For both mine and her anxiety levels it was a lifesaver! She was quiet, relaxed, and honestly didn't even sleep - I thought it'd knock her out, but it just mellowed her out! I'll definitely tranquilize her on the way home, just to relieve her anxiety.

Safe travels to you and your pet! :) If you have any questions, I'm happy to help if I can!

Friday, August 26

Visit to America!! :)

My visit home was terrific! :) I couldn't have asked for a better time!! First highlight was making it home for my mom's Birthday - I got into Louisville at about 9pm - no delays, problems with flights, or missing luggage Success! And was greeted by my Aunt Cara (who so kindly took care of Sadie all year), her 2 daughters/my cousins, Megan and Ashley, my Grammy, my Mom and her fiance Glen! :) After 20+ hours of traveling it was nice to see so many familiar faces! :) Also, my brother who is in the Air Force was able to get leave at the same time.  He was there to celebrate to! My first stateside meal was Bearno's Pizza, which is a family favorite, and a Dairy Queen Birthday cake - yum! :) Couldn't have asked for a better first night back with family!
Happy Birthday Mom! :) Love you so much!

I'd love to describe my visit home in detail, but it was such a whirlwind that it'd take forever! :) So I'll show you some of the highlights with pictures.
Family Kayaking :)
I was lucky to have a strong Air Force guy on my kayak

Coach Wayne and Coach Rob :)
 I am the woman I am today because of the amazing friends and family I have around me.  When I was in elementary school, I was extremely blessed to become friends with Kathryn (I'm in the green dress below and she's on my right). Ms. Emily (her mom) and Mr. Wayne are beside her, and my dad is on the left of me in the red shirt.  Kathryn and I played on the same teams every year in Kiwanis Softball and Basketball. Our dads always coached together! :) I've been on family vacations with them - Knoxville, Gatlinburg, even as far as Cancun Mexico - that vacation because I was under 13 they even legally adopted me for the week! I was blessed with not just one family, but 2, as Kathryn and are usually mistaken for sisters, and Mr. Wayne and Ms. Emily have been like a second set of parents to me! :)  I'm so grateful for their family's friendship over the years, and know there are many more years to come!

Family Reunion: Arnold's and Smits' style
Murfreesboro, Love - Our friend, Andrew Hoover, ended up being our server that night at BLUE

Most amazing father a girl could ask for! :) So thankful for him!
Dani and I got our fried dill pickle chips on at Toot's! Love this girl!
A little American pamperin' - cut and color, yes please!
Uncle Frank and Co. @ the Buganut Pig in Murfreesboro (think Cheers style bar)
Kelleigh and I! :) love her!
and now she's a Mommy to this cute little one, Brody! :)
Kathryn and I at Olive Garden - yumm All you can eat soup and salad!
Kayla, Me, and Kathryn after Sweet CeCe's Yogurt - so lucky to have these girls in my life!
Anam Cara :) friends since freshman year in high school!
Fun day at the Lake! :) Tonic came too!
3 generations : Me, my mom, Aunt Cara, and Grammy
Macey, Kathryn, Me, Dawn, and Tonic :)
Smits Family :) Macy, Trish, Dad, Jonathan, me, and Tonic
Tonic was in the US studying for her BAR, she came to TN and KY - knew we'd meet up again somewhere in the world :) 

Usually my blog is about Korea, but here's a little glimpse into my corner of the world, all over parts of the beautiful states of Kentucky and Tennessee and all the special people I have in my life.  Without them, I would have never ventured to Korea! :) There are many other people I saw when I was home that I didn't think to snap a photo of - my Mamaw, Jim, Diane, Martha, Gary, and of course my Grandmother B! :) How many 26 year olds still get to visit their Great-Grandmother? And a few people who lived a little too far away for me to visit :( especially the newlywed Jackie Lopez! and Parisa - love you ladies! and miss you! I wish we'd gotten a chance to see each other!

Thank you to everyone back home for such a great visit! :) I'm sad to leave because it's hard to think it'll be another year until I see everyone, but also happy to return to Korea...

Back to Kimchi land...until Next time America! :)
xoxo Emily

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