bits and pieces

Every few weeks it’s nice to cull photos from my phone. I would call this “weekend bits”, but that would be disingenuous since these photos are anywhere from a day or two to two weeks old….so bits it is! England seems to have fallen back into that pattern again where it rains and is miserable for 4 or 5 days, and then we’re graced with glorious sunshine for 1 or 2 days. Not the best situation, but I’ll take it (I mean, I have so many choices, right?). And I’ve also been informed that apparently the autumnal color change of leaves comes later here? I’m not sure if that’s true, but I’m hoping for some red orange yellow leaf action here, sooner rather than later.

A goodbye party Friday night for a co-worker of mine led to a night at a local karaoke bar where I was the most shameless of all performers, as is my wont. It reminded me of all the Korean noraebangs that I spent so much time in back in Pyeongnae and Seoul, and my heart ached a little bit. (And a quick British to American English lesson here for anyone who is interested-parties are more often than not called “dos” here. For example: goodbye party=leaving do, bachelor party=stag do, bachelorette party=hen do. I don’t get it, but it’s one of the language things that I enjoy. Leaving do! It’s fun to say!)

Saturday’s plans were for a night out with Jon’s friend Nick, who is on a short holiday from his life living and teaching in Japan and returns to Asia on Tuesday. At the last minute I decided to stay home and eat ice cream while watching “greatest pop dance crazes” instead of joining the guys, and so Jon and I ended up doing separate things and he had a manly man sausage fest while I indulged in the aforementioned tv show and then Kevin Smith movies and banana bread beer. It was all very nice and different from our normal, oh-so-intertwined weekend living.

This weekend has left me thinking so much of Korea and days gone by. Right now I’m watching Formula 1 with Jon; it’s the Korean Grand Prix. Friday night’s karaoke, and Jon’s friend coming from Japan (which led to much discussion between he and Jon about Japanese/Korean cultural similarities and differences), have all just planted the nostalgic seed in my mind. My time spent there was so challenging to me on a personal level for a million different reasons, but it was also the time when I met Jon, and lived with a girl who is still one of my best friends, and when I spent every weekend exploring and really, I can say with no doubt, living life to the fullest. Sometimes I feel like living in a country that is so comfortable for my other half (and, let’s be honest, not having that same level of expendable income as I did in Korea) have led to a more apathetic existence, with much less adventuring. It happens to everyone-every foreign person I have ever met while in the States had done more touristy things than I, as a citizen, had done-it’s what you do! And I miss that. Here’s to hoping that after I finish this CELTA and get back in the groove of well paid work that I can convince Jon to explore more of this beautiful world with me-even if it’s his own back yard.

My Last Day!

I’m currently sitting on the couch at 8:30 a.m. It’s Friday, I’m streaming the new She & Him album from NPR, and it’s my last day at Reading Town! Woo hoo! I can barely contain my excitement. At this point I’m not too sad yet-the day is going to be a blur of showing the new girl around (more on that in a moment), teaching all my classes(Fridays are super busy) and crying my eyes out as I say goodbye to the kids and friends that I have come to love dearly. But let’s talk about stuff!

So-new girl! Last night, Jon, Dave, Marisa and I ventured to Jamsil under Dave’s guidance to eat a delicious kimchi jijae dinner(it’s one of my favorite Korean dishes). After rushing home via taxi we found new girl-Lisa from Georgia-asleep on the couch. See, Reading Town did another fab job, and didn’t ask any of the foreign teachers their plans for this week and while they assumed that the new teacher would be sleeping at Emily/Caitlin’s 3 bedroom place for the 3 days she is here until I get on a plane, they never actually ASKED Emily and Caitlin if their spare room was available. And Emily’s family is currently here for the week, leaving their house as crowded as our own (we’ve also got the 3 bedroom thing going on, with Marisa and 2 Ashley’s taking up all the available sleeping space). So that meant that last night our director brought Lisa to our house, bags and all, and she passed out surrounded by her possessions on our couch. The four of us returned home around 10:30 and snuck quietly into Marisa’s room to watch YouTube videos while sitting on her bed like a bunch of teenagers.

Now it’s Friday, we’ve got a full house, and I’m pumped. I know that today will be an emotional day, but it’s also going to be super hectic and chaotic, so that should keep the weeping to a minimum. Tonight we are going out for shabu shabu, another one of my favorite foods, as my chosen “goodbye dinner”. Marisa has already cried on me this morning and made me tear up. Ugh. I wish I could pack her and the bf up with me and make them come to Ohio…that’d be perfect.

This time next week I’ll be getting ready for a road trip to Pittsburgh for my lady friend’s bachelorette party, after having spent the week visiting with my best friends and my dad, lazing about my dad’s house, eating the foods I’ve missed and watching the tv that I didn’t really miss but want to watch anyway (hello Food Network, how I’ve missed thee…). It’s going to be a strange transition, but I think I’m ready. At least I feel that way this morning, with my bags still un-packed and my favorites waiting to have dinner with me tonight. Ask me again on Sunday morning at the airport.

Goodbye Party Follow-Up

The dance-a-thon Friday night that was my goodbye party was a smashing success. Post-work I hurried home to try on nearly everything in my closet, decided on the skinny jeans, black top and fabulous booties, and we were on our way! The rainy day and busy week had left everyone in not such a party mood, but as the Pyeongnae/Hopyeong contingent of the group met at our house for a few cocktails before leaving, our spirits lifted. By the time we got on the bus we were rarin to go shake off the dreary, long work week.

Hongdae was rocking as usual for a Friday night-despite the rain, it was slightly warmer than it has been, and the 7 inches of snow from earlier in the week had mostly melted, so it felt slightly spring-ier. Our group expanded and moved to Gogo’s, which really has impressed me the last few times we’ve gone-great tunes, a dance floor upstairs, and real drinks for good prices (no shit Cass or Hite for me!) We were also given tickets for two free drinks at the door (well, not really free after 10 dollar cover, but you know what I mean) AND we got free Smirnoff  t-shirts squished into the shape of a bottle. Exciting! After dancing for a few hours to kitschy hip-hop/pop tunes (and maybe having a dance-off or two with this awesome Korean dude that loved Marisa) we moved on to Jane’s Groove. There was a drunken toast by the bf that made me cry, some group hugs, more dancing, and eventually Jon and I caught a cab home at 4. Bed by 5:30!

I woke up Saturday morning feeling a little worse for wear, but not too bad overall. That is, until I discovered that I’d idiotically lost my foreigner id card AND my bank card. Which is pretty rough considering that 1) I leave a week from today and have to turn in my foreigner card at the airport, and will be forced to pay 100,000 won ($100) if I don’t, and 2) I didn’t pay for a single drink all night, so how did I lose my bank card?? Oh, and 3) I officially have no cash, and no way to get the cash out since I am sans card.  Also, this may be a problem for getting back my pension from the school. I am worried. and really just hoping for the best. As it is, I will be going to the bank tomorrow morning with my passport in hopes of getting a new bank card asap, and also asking my director to help me get a new id card. Keep your fingers crossed for me! And ladies, here’s my PSA for the day-never put chunky mittens in a small clutch purse. When you pull the mittens out, your things will fall out. Especially if you’ve had a few cocktails and you aren’t paying attention. I believe this may have been my downfall. Damn you cute yellow clutch! You looked so cute with my ensemble, and this is how you repay me??

Things I Will Miss: A Compilation

I know that over the past few, maybe several, months I’ve had a somewhat negative tinge to my posts, specifically when I discuss anything work related. And while I won’t apologize to Korea as a whole-after all, sarcasm and cynicism via my writing/speaking are kinda my thing-I am fully aware that there are many things that I will miss terribly about this peninsula and the life that I’ve lived on it. So let’s make a list! Oooooo I love lists.

* First and foremost. Children! Cute, precocious, wickedly adorable Korean children. EVERYWHERE.

*Not paying rent. Of course this had to go on the list.

*Mountains. Right outside my front door. Ohio=not so mountainy.

*Kimchi jijae. I freakin love kimchi jijae.

*As long as we’re talking about food, I’d say most Korean food, particularly bibimbap, kimbap, the aforementioned jijae and most anything that isn’t squid.

*The price of all that yummy, veg filled Korean deliciousness. So cheap!

*My lovely apartment. Thanks, Mr.Yoo for giving us a good one, and not a crap pink-sparkled abomination. Like some people have.

*My wonderful roommate/love/friend and #1 Canadian, in my book.

*My boyfriend-Korea’s going to hold onto him for a bit longer, methinks.

*The Friday/Saturday markets on both streets surrounding my apartment.

*Disgustingly cheap and easy public transportation.

*Being told I’m beautiful every day, at least once, often by complete strangers. Does wonders for one’s ego.  Koreans love blonde girls.

*Mr. Yoo. While he is indeed married to the dragon lady, as the other half of my bosses, he does a good job overall. Bought me a new phone when mine died, comes to our house anytime we need something. And he has a fabulous purple cardigan that he wears often-there’s nothing I love more than a man with a love of cardigans.

*NORAEBANG. When again will I ever live in a place where the general populace loves karaoke enough to have private rooms for cheap rates everywhere?

*Buying clothes/shoes on the street. Good ones too! (Believe me, I’m about to ship a box full of 20 shoes home-I counted! Damn you Korea!)

*No call time at the bar/clubs. This isn’t a huge one, but sometimes I really just want to keep on dancing all night, and that’s not an option when the club you’re at wants to close at 2am. Sometimes that’s just too early, and in Korea, well, that’s never a problem.

*Children. Really. I’m going to miss them the most, above and beyond anything else.


I miss my babies already.

Well now I’m off to work. It’s my second-to-last Friday! It will be a long day-Friday’s really aren’t fun, my schedule sucks. But after work is my goodbye party dance-off 2010. It’s going to be a rager in Hongdae, and I’m going to wear my new black peep-toe cut out booties that I bought last weekend.  (Really, I wasn’t lying up there about the amount of stuff I have bought this year. While all were for good prices, I may have gone a little bit overboard. I think it makes up for my year in the Marshall Islands where I bought nothing at all for a year. Even stevens.) Anyway, feet will be hurt by the dancing. I can’t wait.