Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our New Apartment!

So as I mentioned, we are now living in Seoul, Korea. Last year we lived in a suburb called Gimpo City. We arrived on January 6th and were picked up at the airport by a cab service. The cab brought us to our new school where we met Mark, our supervisor, who showed the cab driver where our apartment was. I knew that our place would be smaller than last time since we are living in Seoul this time and because we don't have roommates. I held my breath a little when Mark opened the door. Our apartment is great!! Look and see for yourself!

It doesn't have a living room and there's not enough space for a couch but our bedroom is in a separate room from the kitchen! You can see the kitchen utensils they provided us with (pot, frying pan, 2 mugs, 2 small plates, 2 bowls, a set of chopsticks and spoon, a ladle, a spatula, a kettle and a cutting board) and I placed the ladle on the washing machine to show scale. You'll also notice that we don't have a regular "shower". We have a drain in the floor of the bathroom and you regulate whether the water comes through the sink or through the showerhead by turning a knob.

I wish the school had provided us with more stuff (considering we will be leaving this place to the next teachers they hire and not taking it back with us to Canada) but I guess there isn't much we can do. We're buying the bare minimum and living without the rest. It's not a palace but it is clean, cozy and ours alone.
Oh, and I hear that Canada is having a bit of a cold snap right now. We're feeling pretty frosty here ourselves. As you can see from this picture of the park across the street, we had snow in Seoul. I know, it's insanity. In fact it's snowed 3 times since we arrived. Of course, it all melted by the next day but until then we really suffered. Hahaha.

Tying up Loose Ends about Little Brown

Looking back, I never actually finished the last planned blog about our time at Little Brown. As expected, our final days were extremely difficult emotionally. We really grew attached to the students and staff there and I cried so much on that last day. I also took a million pictures (surprise, surprise!).
I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to write about those last days. Maybe because it's been painful leaving Little Brown, despite the problems the school had. It always felt warm to me and now that we're at a new, completely different school this is really apparent. While I was in Canada I had numerous dreams about my students and missed them the most out of all the things I love about Korea.
Our last day at school was wonderful though and we got to spend a lot of time taking pictures and playing games with our kids. Here's what my favorite elementary class did for me (with the help of the incredibly sweet Joanne Teacher). Honestly, it was hardest to say good bye to my kindergarten students (I did spend more time with them, after all) but Robin and Sally's class was a close second. If you look at the millions of pictures I took then you can see closer up the decorating job. It really touched my heart (and I cried yet again) because the board was filled with inside jokes and loving words.

We received a lot of beautiful letters and gifts from students but probably the best gift we received was from Mr. Rhie and his family (our boss). They gave us some breath taking handmade Korean pottery.
The pictures don't really do it justice but trust me, they are really beautiful. Mr. Rhie also went out of his way to help us out on the day we left Korea. He drove us all over the place and dropped us off at the train station where there was a direct train to the airport. Before dropping us off he gave us both big hugs and told us that anytime we were back in Korea we would always be welcome to visit the school.

Since returning to Korea we did take him up on his offer and went back to Gimpo to see Little Brown. I was really nervous, actually. I was worried that the kids wouldn't remember us or that things would be strange. I mean, they are so little and four months is a long time! Plus other former teachers had come back to visit while I was working there and the kids had reacted a bit shocked and stunned and just sat there and stared at them. Turns out I had nothing to worry about because as soon as the kids (and staff) saw us we were bombarded with screams, shrieks, hugs and kisses. It was amazing!!! I asked Mr. Rhie if he missed us and he picked up an apple, presented it to me and exclaimed, "My heart. Take it." Awww!

All the kids fought over who got to hold my hand and talk to me and it was glorious chaos. We came at the end of the school day so we didn't screw things up too badly. All the kids seem like they are doing great and their English has improved.

There aren't many pictures at school because I was too busy hugging and kissing babies. There are a few though and you can find them here. Most are of hanging out with Margot and Paige later on though.

Things have changed in Gimpo too! Won Mart has expanded and is now Won Land (4 stories and it has a VIPS!). It was strange being back in the school and our old place and it not being ours anymore. We met the new teachers that replaced us and learned about changes that had happened at the school.

Actually, this blog is a bit of a memorial to Little Brown because we recently learned that it is going to close. This Friday is the last day it will be open besides the kindergarten graduation in February. It makes me really sad that I won't get to stop by and visit and that I will probably never see any of those kids again (except for Jake since I am friends with Elly, his aunt). A part of me wants to go for the graduation but I'm not sure if it would be appropriate.

So good bye Little Brown. You had your problems but you taught us so much and we're better people for working there. Now I have a bit of a dilemma though- should I change the name of this blog? Not only do we work at a new school but now Little Brown won't even exist. What should the new name be? Leave a comment to let me know what you think!


Wow, it has been a long time! So long in fact that I've been intimidated about logging onto this website. Kind of like when you haven't stepped foot into a church for a long time and you're nervous you might get struck by lightning. Anyway, here is a brief overview of where things stand and then I will work on filling in the blanks a bit better.

September 2007: We finished our year at Little Brown and returned to Edmonton. Many birthdays, graduations, parties, delicious meals and shopping sprees occurred.

October 2007: We flew to Vancouver and spent time with loved ones out there. This included a massive road trip to Northern BC, more horses than I care to remember, meeting a new nephew, a couple trips to the USA, delicious meals and numerous shopping sprees.

November 2007: We found ourselves still in BC and we spent a lot of time looking for another contract in Korea. We did accept one but it would not start until January so we hung out and relaxed some more.

December 2007: This month was quite hectic since we were busy with Visa paperwork, a trip to the Dominican Republic (where we were stuck in Tropical Storm Olga) and general holiday season madness. I ended up flying back to Alberta to spend Christmas with my family while Matt remained in BC until after Christmas. We spent New Years with fantastic friends in Camrose.

January 2008: Our much anticipated and illustrious return to Korea!! We're now living and working in Seoul in the Jamsil/Song-pa area. It's a brand new school (although it's part of a chain of schools) and so far things are going well.

So now that you have the short of it I suppose I should get cracking on the long(er) of it! It's good to be back!