Korminican / Dominicasian <3
Korminican / Dominicasian <3
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I’ve learned that one of the best and/or worst things about traveling is the inevitability of returning to that sacred place known as home. By the time I had said my final farewells in Korea, I was pretty emotionally drained. It’s obviously difficult to part with people who have become as close as family, that you’ve seen everyday for a year, and you have no idea if/when you’ll see them again. But as I was heading back to the home I’ve known for 22 years, I reassured them I will one day return to the home I both came from and came to love this past year.
As odd as it sounds, I think I mentally prepared myself enough for that whole reverse culture shock thing, that so far, I’ve been doing great and haven’t fallen into a slump of depression like I practically did after coming back from New Zealand. I think the three day post-Korea/pre-Wisco vacation was the key. People hate on LA all the time, but I’ve had nothing but awesome memories from the times I’ve ventured around la-la land.
Aside from bowing to people after walking into a few stores, and receiving and offering things with two hands, I think I’ve been adjusting well and it really feels like I was only gone for a couple weeks. Given the technology and mass capacities of social networking these days, I didn’t feel like I even had a chance to fully miss people like I would have if I was without those conveniences. As my old roommate would say, “Skype saves lives”.
There will forever be a special place in my heart for little La Crosse, Wisconsin where I spent three and a half glorious years nestled between the big beautiful bluffs and the magnificent Mississippi river.
In the morning, I met up with one of Caitlin’s (teacher from UW-L who took my classes at Samsung) Korean friends who’s from the area. Yonghee is this vibrant woman who just exudes this contagious happiness.
After spending a couple hours sharing stories from Korea, I headed over to another friends’ house where Korea was, again, the linking bond. It was one year prior (to the day!) that I met up with Derek and Julie in Seoul when they had traveled across the world to finally meet, and take home, their baby boy. Well, 365 days later, I finally got to meet him. I must have been too consumed in his adorableness that I didn’t think to take any pics…next time.
So people have asked what I’ve missed most about home. This is what I’ve come up with so far:
1. Friends and family. (Old roommates fit in both categories :) )
2. Cooking...using CHEAP fresh fruits and veggies!
~Sante-fe quinoa salad~
~Flourless raspberry pancakes~
…however getting to La Crosse was not exactly the best way to requaint myself with that luxury. Definitely one of the top 5 nerve-wracking driving experiences. But the calm between storms offered some crazy views like this…
4. The assortment of delicious microbrews
mmm(ooo) mmm(oooo) Spotted Cow.
5. My bed that wraps me in cloud-like comfort, and sleeping in past 5:30am. (ok who am I kidding, more like sleeping past 10)
6. Being a minority again? It’s strange, but I think I feel more comfortable NOT blending in.
Found this sucker at the local bookstore in La Crosse. (No, I didn’t buy it) …but I was amused that Asian women is high on that list….
And to my friends and students back in Korea, I think of you everyday and am contemplating getting a tattoo to remind me of my time with you all.
I might throw a couple more posts on here from awhile ago that I never got around to finishing, but otherwise this blog is coming to an end soon. Might start up another, but probably won’t be until I feel like I’m doing something worth blogging about again.
Have an exceptional weekend and hope the sun is shining for you wherever you are in this lovely world that’s home for us all.
I feel like I could make a separate blog dedicated to the food I’ll miss in Korea.
This Korean rice porridge chain, called Bon Juk, will definitely be one of them.
I love this place (thank you Kelly Sarkor for introducing it to me!!). It’s cute, quaint, and the staff is always friendly. With the single portion of porridge being more suitable for a Papa Bear, I usually bring a book and take my time indulging at this self proclaimed “slow food” haven. Today, I brought my Korean book that I’ve been reluctantly studying for the past couple months. However, these days I have more motivation now that I’m hanging out with a new (Korean) friend on Tuesday without our mutual friend who usually translates when he gets tripped up in English, and I’m beyond lost in Korean. Thank God for body language.
With only a month left in Korea, it’s finally hit me that my time here is dwindling. So I’m trying to take advantage of each day I have available to continue exploring and making lasting memories with my friends/students. This past week was definitely one of those memorable ones, as I had a 5 and a half day vacation thanks to Children’s Day (May 5th) and Buddha’s Birthday (May 10th).
First, Kim (the newest native-English teacher at Samsung) and I went up to Seoul last Thursday night. Kim went to school in Chicago, and I had been craving legit pizza (not Korean style that’s usually topped with crazy things like shrimp, sweet potatoes, and/or corn). So we found an UNO’s and I was in absolute food ecstasy. Mmmm real cheese and pizza sauce had never been as satsifying.Things got interesting when we were heading out of subway station and came across a guy selling insanely adorable puppies at 11pm. After a half hour of Kim trying to come up with reasons why she SHOULDN’T buy one, and me being entertained by spending the same amount of energy trying to convince her to buy one, (did I forget to mention we had a couple cocktails w/ dinner??), we walked away with the second best purchase of the night….(I’m telling you, that pizza was pure bliss). Say hello to MISO! It means “smile” in Korean :)
Over the weekend, I hopped on a train the opposite direction and headed down to Busan…which I decided I’d definitely try teaching there if I come back to Korea. I spent the day hanging out with my friend and former student, Jamie, who’s from Busan.
We went to a bulgogi restaurant that served its meat in heart shapes. Haha too cute.
I finally made it to Gwangali to see this spectacular bridge at night. It’s a double decker, so traffic goes one way on the bottom level, and the opposite direction on the top.
Chilled at a coffee shop for awhile before he headed off to see his parents and I endured another long night at that same bath house I stayed at over New Years. And this was the best of about 5 pictures that we asked some rando guy to take at the coffee shop. Clearly we chose the wrong dude.
On my way to the jimjilbang, there were a bunch of skateboarders entertaining passerbys along Haeundae Beach. Skateboarders have always impressed me ever since the good ole days of Lake Owen Camp.
On Sunday, I went to my fourth Korean wedding for one of my students that I’ve had since I first came here. I was so excited for Tony, especially since he had prepared a song for his wife that he was going to sing at the ceremony. So how was it? I couldn’t tell you. Why, you ask? Because I shamelessly attended the wedding VERY Korean-style. That means that I got there, met my other students who shuffled me down to the dining hall. I assumed since we were early, it would give us just enough time to enjoy one of the best buffets I’ve ever experienced, and head back up for the ceremony. Wrong. We went back up just as the ceremony was finishing. So embarrassing and dissapointing to me, but as many of my Korean students and friends told me, this is quite typical.
(L-R) Sheena, Me, Jim, Su, Danny. I didn’t even get a picture with Tony :(
The weekend was complete after I met up with Jamie again later that night and we celebrated his birthday at a nice wine bar before jumping on the train back to Gumi. I’m hoping to make it back to Busan once more before going home, possibly to go scuba diving in an aquarium!
In other news, Kim sadly had to make the long journey back to her home in Minneapolis yesterday due to a family emergency. It’s a crappy situation for everyone involved and is really unfortunate because we were hanging out a lot in the short few weeks she was here. But I know I would have done the same thing if I were in her shoes and I can only wish her the best. So even though I only have about 5 weeks left teaching, they will be filled with overtime hours, as I am now one of only two native English teachers here. As exhausting as it is to think about my new schedule, I’ve realized that I love having new students, as I’ve found I become quite attached to most of them….which will definitely suck come departure time.
I’ve become so comfortable here, and the thought of leaving gets more and more difficult. Good thing I have great friends, family, and plans to look forward to :)
Awesome day at Samsungwon!
For some reason, I had a weird obsession with making origami boxes soon after I learned how to craft these suckers back in elementary school. I thought they’d be a great activity to try with the girls at the orphanage this weekend, and I was amazed at how fast they perfected them! Like all the other crafts I do with them, there isn’t much dialogue, but we rely on body language and manage to make it work! I brought some candies and put a piece inside each of their completed boxes…which definitely was enough incentive for them to want to make a bunch of them!
After that, we went outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather by playing some games! First, I taught them freeze tag, and then I thought it’d be a fun challenge to try the human knot with them. Even though that activity is usually meant as a team building exercise to foster verbal communication, I was shocked when they were able to unwind their little arms faster than I had ever experienced when playing with high school or college students. Incredible!
Then they wanted to teach me a couple games, so even with our language barriers, we were able to communicate enough for me to be able to understand how to play. Let’s just say, the games they taught me require you to be on your toes, mentally and they have no sympathy for making mistakes. Ahhh such a great time!
If any of you have any suggestions of other games/crafts that would be fun and fairly easy to explain without a ton of words, please let me know!
Went on a little walk around my area of town today, and was welcomed with open arms by Spring’s optimistic arrival. The weather was perfect as I breathed in a feeling of both contentment with the life I’ve created here, and anticipation of the upcoming months…wherever they may lead.
My food got some added color as well! Over the weekend, I made these Vietnamese spring rolls!
A lot of work for a snack (especially without a food slicer thing), but they were sooooo good
The lovely view of Auckland from my apartment two years ago….
And the lovely view of our new neighbors, “Lingerie Music Town”, from my apartment here in Korea….
…on the plus side, it lights up our dimly lit alley…??
I know this blog is meant for traveling and teaching stories, but before I was a wanderer of the world, my passion for life came from a sport which will always hold a dear place in my heart.
As the UW-L Gymnastics team is going for their 4th straight national championship title this week (and 11th in 12 consecutive years), the Eagle alums have been posting their favorite memories from previous National competitions. Well I couldn’t make up my mind and choose just one, so here’s a compilation of my favorites….
Marching in to my first national championship meet
Spontaneous dance sessions
Unforgettable words of encouragement from Cody
We may not have won the title in ‘07, but I learned what it meant to truly be a part of a winning team. The camaraderie between us that year was unbeatable.
Entertaining ourselves on the journey through upstate NY:
Being drugged up and flying across the country a week after ACL surgery…not exactly fun, but memorable for sure
Kelsey’s panic attack before she had to face E
Motz winning the wrestling title.
Having a good time and playing games on warm-up day
The moment Kenz hit her beam set, and we knew we rocked the house with 5 nailed routines
Winning the title back in 2008!!
And I think the ultimate high was when Mike proposed to Kasey after an already exhilarating weekend!
I miss it all the time, but I’m so grateful for all the incredible friends and memories I made along the way and the strength it has enabled me with, to do the things I’m doing today.
So to the current team members, GOOD LUCK, HAVE FUN, and PROUDLY REPRESENT all those La Crosse Eagles out there that are supporting you!
The Moses Miracle:
Twice a year, this natural phenomenon occurs in the southwest sea of Korea. For a couple hours, the sea actually parts and those who made the trek out to see this mysterious event can walk the 2.8 kilometers from one island to another, on a freshly raised path between the ocean waters.