Monday, February 28

'Farewell' February

Homigot Painting (famous site in Pohang) I did! :)
Farewell February seems fitting as a) it's already March and b) so many great people left Pohang this month. February proved to be kind of a quiet month. Many of the teachers here work for the public schools so they got the entire month of February off. Other friends extended their contracts and took trips home before their new contracts began. Some traveled to neighboring countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philipines and sadly some of them we said goodbye to. Will certainly miss all the amazing people that left, but I know wherever they are, they'll be doing great things!
Mandy's back to Florida

My student Teddy, heading back to college!

Fellow Bookwoman :) back to the States after travelin'

Brent's pursuing his dreams in China

I guess it's true that nothing is constant, except for change! :)

xoxo, Em

Wednesday, February 16

"Home is where you find yourself."

I remember the first night I was in Korea, sitting in my apartment, thinking I'd made the biggest mistake of my life quitting my job, leaving Sadie (my dog) at home, leaving a family that cares so much about me, and leaving amazing friends. It was a fleeting thought, and one that I think came from being on a plane for 14+ hours with little sleep, but it was still scary those first 24-48 hours being in Korea.  I remember thinking that this empty, strange apartment with only things I could fit into 2 suitcases would never EVER be able to feel like home.  Now, over 6 months into this experience, it's quite the opposite. It's crazy how much this feels like home; how after being away from my apartment for a few days, I'm happy to be "home". 

I took pictures when I first got here mostly out of shock at my new apartment's size (or lack thereof) and it's ammenities - the shower that I was taller than, the floor that drained, the fridge I'm taller than, and the washer that I thought didn't have a lid (only to find that it folded out), the air conditioner with a remote, and the boiler button that I pressed in August when I first got here thinking it was central heat and air (well..that's the way it worked at home).  I've certainly come a long way in this experience, and thought I'd post new pictures of my apartment.  :) it's changed a bit from those first few days.

Any mail I receive from friends and family becomes wallpaper, I brought pictures, but my friend Kathryn mailed me more - so I've got friends and words of encouragement all over, I acquired a make up stand and 2 chairs when Tonic left, bought a coat rack that reaches from my floor to my ceiling and holds a ton of hanging things! Leigh even found a couch for me on the side of the road not far from my apartment.  Korea is a pretty wealthy country, and when people are finished with furniture they just place it on the street.  We spent an evening carrying it to my apartment and scrubbing it off.
My new couch!

Love from the States! :) Kayla, Kathryn, Dad, Grammy, Aunt Cara, Carol Cutter, Jackie, Parisa, Astrid, Dad, Trish, Mamaw - have the best friends and fam ever!

make up table from tonic, awesome coat stand, clothes steamer (since there are no dryers) and the guitar that I'm not doing a very good job learning :)
view from my kitchen window
guard stand; hey guys.
laundry day and makeshift closet

Nomad lifestyle: who needs a footboard when you can just use your suitcases?

Love from Astrid, Kayla, Jackie, and Parisa :) If ever I'm having a bad day.. pick- me ups 
A Circle of Friendship necklace from Kayla :) Faith, Hope, Love
Home is where you find yourself :)
Love Always,

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day, Single's Awareness Day, February 14th.  Everyone seems to call it something different depending on their situation and the crazy emotions it stirs up based on past Valentine's Days and relationships.  I've never really had that many emotions towards it. I've had good Valentine's Days, bad ones, those where I had someone special, and those that I was single.  I didn't really have expectations for this year.  :)

To be honest, I've had a really terrible throat ache the past week, so Sunday night I went to bed knowing I'd have to go to the doctor first thing in the morning.  Monday I woke up to a ton of unexpected snow.  I trudged to the doctor not a very happy camper, I was sick, my shoes were drenched, and I wasn't looking forward to playing charades with the doctor trying to explain my symptoms. But, as usual it wasn't even close to being as bad as I thought.  He took one look in my throat said "tonsilitis" with the help of a phone dictionary, and I left after a shot in my bum and prescription meds all for less than $10 - AMERICA takes NOTES!! :)  I came home made myself broccoli and cheese rice compliments of Kayla :) (thank you, thank you!) took my medicine, and fell asleep.

I woke up 3 hours later, to snowballs being thrown at my window. It was one of those times where I heard them hit the window, they're what woke me up, but it took me a few minutes to realize it.  I thought to myself, ok a few more and I'll get up and stick my head out the window.  After one or two more they stopped, and then my doorbell was ringing.  I was still in a post sleep daze, but I hopped up to answer. Leigh was at the door drenched from standing outside :) but with the biggest grin on his face.  He came bearing gifts and we giggled about me sleeping through the Romeo-esque tactics he had to use to get my attention.  I opened my gifts - he surprised me with wine, beautiful earrings <because I always wear cheapies that turn my earlobes green, perfume, and an MP3 Player (the first one I've ever owned!) I was thrilled! I'd already given him his gifts - a pair of jeans, a new shirt, and new headphones because his were terrible. :) Later we trudged to dinner downtown - we ran to flag down a bus, got our shoes drenched walking through all the snow, but we made it for a romantic dinner! :) I couldn't have asked for a better Valentine's Day with a better guy!

Even though we had a snow day, I thought it was important for my kiddos to learn about VDay America style, even if it was a day late.  Korea celebrates Valentine's Day, but it's only a day for women to give gifts to the men.  Then, they have a day in March called "White Day" where it's reversed and men give women presents.  So, today I showed a powerpoint to all my classes explaining VDay, and then we made Valentine's Day cards for the person, or people of their choice! :) Here are pictures..

We could have stayed in...
but then we would have missed all this fun

Ah finally! :) the little strip our restaurant was on

I get paid to have this much fun? :) AND I can wear Converse to work? Lucky lucky girl!
Rose, so proud of her card :)

I say this a lot, only because I mean it, but I truly am a blessed and lucky lucky girl :) Definitely feelin the love from all around this Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day from Korea!
xoxo :)

Solnal Vacation Part 3: Busan Casino and Nampodong Market

Being in a new city is so refreshing.  Even though I'm LIVING abroad, it's different than I thought it  would be. It doesn't feel like a permanent vacation.  It's fun don't get me wrong, but Pohang has truly become my home and my comfort zone.  So, even for me visiting Busan, it was fun to get into "tourist mode" and want to see things and experience things I don't usually get to in Pohangl like visiting certain temples, or eating foods I don't normall get to.  So Leigh and I splurged - we had Mexican, we ate a Burger King one day and then ate at an Irish Pub called the Wolfhound.  Leigh LOVES, and I mean LOVES Club Sandwiches, so we found him one of those.   After visiting the temple and being tourists all day, we were pretty pooped. We took the afternoon to rest, and then when evening rolled around, we decided to head to the casino on the beach.  I've not really ever been to a Casino.  I mean, I went to one in the Dominican Republic, but I didn't play, I just watched, so going to one in Busan was near the top of my list. 

When we got there, they were running a special that if you applied for the Casino Frequent Visitors' Card - you got 25,000 won in free chips (which is close to $20 American dollars) so we all applied for one!  I was excited just to have a souvenir from the Casino with my name on it, the $20 was a bonus! So, now that I was an "official", I figured I might as well have some fun! :) Leigh likes poker so he was waiting on a poker table.  It wasn't a very big casino, they only had about 10 tables, so Mary, Tyler, and I went to the Roulette Table which was really fun! Leigh and I didn't win any money, I had fun pulling the slot machines, and trying my hand at Roulette (which I'm not good at), but Mary and Tyler came out ahead!

One of the things on my list on top of doing cultural things and eating great food we can't do in Pohang,  was shopping!! Busan is a huge city of almost 4 million people.  It houses the world's Largest and 2nd Largest Department Stores and has amazing traditional markets where you can get great deals.  So on our last day in Busan, we went to Nampodong Market.  Little did we know, that just as in Canada and American the day after a holiday is a HUGE, and I mean, HUGE shopping day! So we were in a huge Asian market on the equivalent of a "Black Friday" in the States - it was a warzone.  We all got overwhelmed pretty quickly.  There were elbows being thrown and even the peddlers I bought things from were rude to me :) On a happier note, I found an awesome North Face fleece jacket for $30 - which was a steal - I love it! So it was a worthwhile trip. It probably would have been less of a scary experience had we not gone on one of the craziest days of the year. :) oh well, notes for next time!

Patiently awaiting his Club Sandwich at Wolfhound, the Irish Pub
so many people.

The Chaos ensues.
North Face Fleece with matching pants - $30 - deal!
Never thought I'd love NOT having a car as much as I do. Public Transit is amazing. Back in Pohang :)
Little humor for you :) While sitting on the bus I see this out the window: who needs carseats when you have segways? Can you find the two Korean children sitting beneath their father? hah :) efficiency.

What an amazing trip! :) It was so great seeing so many new things, and meeting Mary and Tyler! Not to mention Leigh and I had a great time together. :)

Love, Love, Lovin Korea!
xoxo Em

Yonggungsa Temple, Busan Day 2

Yonggungsa Temple - Temple By the Sea

On our second day in Busan, we had a cultural day! :)   The temple was packed, and many were there to show respect to the ancestors who have passed away.  Great experience and we had beautiful weather! It was the warmest it had been in months.  Here are pictures of our temple experience with Mary and Tyler.

This is the view from Mary's Apartment - they live on the 22nd floor!

creepy statues before we got to the temple

Me with my Chinese Zodiac, The Ox

Temple by the Sea

Love how the sun shines through
Us with Big Buddha
Koreans Love Dying their dogs hair :( this poor dog looks miserable - yes this was at the temple
Group shot - love these guys! :)

had to get a picture of the shoes :( poor thing.

kids always add humor :) this little guy had a camera on his Nintendo DS - capturin' his own memories
"I Love You" pose with the Good Luck Pigs; apparently if you dream about a pig you're supposed to go buy a lottery ticket ASAP.  Pigs are extremely lucky here!

Leigh with his Chinese Zodiac

Love the little girls in their traditional Korean dresses, hanboks

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