Saturday, February 21, 2009

Closing One Chapter and Starting Another

It's hard to say whether anyone is visiting this site anymore since it hasn't been updated in a month. I am alive and well- enjoying my current adventure but I am missing Korea. I thought long and hard about what to do with my blogging and with this blog and then I decided I wouldn't feel right to keep posting here. It pained me to think that my Korean memories would be bumped further and further into oblivion with each new blog entry so I have created a new blog. You can visit it here and I hope you do. I also put a link on the sidebar for the new blog: Amber of the Moment. I'm working on documenting my travels through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia but it might be sporadic depending on the internet access I have available.

I plan to write a reflection on Korea once I've had some real time to reflect on it. That means there may be another post or two over here in the future. Going to Korea was one of the scariest, craziest, bravest and most rewarding things I've ever done. I feel like I'm closer to the person I want to be. Through the good and the bad I am so fortunate for having two years in the Land of the Morning Calm. 한국, 난 널 사랑해! (Korea, I love you!)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saying Goodbye to my Best Friend

Here's the final picture of us in Korea.

The best thing that I gained this year was my friend Min Jung and so saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing to do hands down. In my life at least, it's rare to make such a solid, unconditional friend so easily and I really miss seeing her and chatting with her every day. Here are the last pictures we took in our apartment and in Korea. Min Jung spent time with us until we got onto the airport bus and I cried so much saying goodbye that the bus driver almost left without us (and with our luggage under the bus already)! People ask me if I will return to Korea someday and I have to say that if Min Jung decides to stay there, then I most definitely will be back so I can see her. (Don't get me wrong, I made tons of awesome friends! I just worked side by side with Min Jung and became incredibly close with her. I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life!)

Saying Goodbye to my Students

So it's over- I'm no longer Amber Teacher. Strange to think but no, I am not interested in becoming a teacher in Canada. I like my students well behaved with limited English skills. Less backtalk that way. Hahah. I took a few pictures of students on my last day but this one was my favorite. Look at mischievous Kangmin!! I'm going to miss that little terror! I knew he was doing this too (click on the picture to see). My last day was much easier emotionally than Little Brown. I didn't even shed a tear and I was frantically busy for pretty much the entire shift. Also I was proud of myself because I didn't punch any of the douchey management. This is a bigger accomplishment than you think.

I had a few highlights to my last day- one being that I broke the "serious" rules for once and totally let my favorite class watch a movie instead of reviewing their boring lessons for the 14th time. One boy was so adorable because he was like, "We must keep our books open on our desk so if wonjongnim (the principal) walks by he will think we are studying". Sneaky! It was great though.

Matt decided to order pizza for his last 2 classes of the day and so he had them delivered right to the classroom. There were 5 and they were massive so he gave one to me- the trouble was, I was finished my classes except for my Korean Mom Class. The 3 of them (one is in the US for a vacation) showed up with a pizza and a huge cake! So we spent our last class eating, chatting and giving away pizza to anyone willing to take some. It was excellent. My year with Little Brown was all about my students- I still think of them often. This year was way more about friends and colleagues and so that is who I am really missing. I'll have to write a real reflection post on my life in Korea, maybe when I've had a little more time to process it.

500 Posts and our "KNC Christmas Party"

This is the Little Brown Blog's 500th post!! I feel like I should be toasting with champagne or something. I guess Fresca will have to do. I decided to use this post to talk about our final hurrah- the staff Christmas party that Eddie organized. It was disappointing that more people didn't show up but those that did had a fantastic time. It's hard to get people together when your employers spend all their time and effort trying to alienate people and spoil their relationships. However, Eddie is awesome and a really positive person (they really don't deserve him) so I hope that his influence will help bring some changes over there. Lord knows, they really need it and none of the management is going to do it.
But this isn't about how crappy KNC Hyunjae is (it's really crappy- I can say that now that I am not on payroll) but about how cool our staff made Christmas party was! We all met up for a late dinner of galbi and beer (I stayed away from the soju- yikes!) and then basically went out for more beer and then more beer and norae bang. It was also our last norae bang and I wish I hadn't been still so sick so I could have sang better and more. Oh well. It was a great night and you can see all the scandelous pictures here. I'm really going to miss these people- they are fabulous! Thanks for the great send off and memories!

New Glasses!

One thing I had to do before leaving Korea was take advantage of cheap prescription glasses. Especially considering that there were lots of year end sales that made them even cheaper than usual! I ended up buying 3 pairs of glasses and a bunch of contacts (which aren't cheap but I needed some) for TOTAL $225. Can you believe that? In Canada it is impossible (or very difficult) to purchase one pair of glasses for that price. It's a crime.

So here they are- it's hard to tell them apart but the top left pair is black with white on the inside, the top right is grey, the bottom left is the brown ones I've had for awhile and the bottom right is red. Fun! Maybe I should have bought some crazy ones but I wanted some that looked nice too. I just bought from one place so I was limited with the selection they had. Bottom line, if you are in Korea and wear glasses- go buy some! The most expensive pair were the black ones and they were $55!

Froggy Humidifier!

This is the cutest humidifier I've ever seen. I found this at a Baskin Robbins of all places. I have to admit, the competition for cutest humidifier wasn't very steep since most humidifiers are not cute at all.

Free Fish Cakes

So I am going to attempt to finish documenting our last weeks in Seoul before taking off on our next adventure. First up- the tiny cheap diner that we frequented had a customer appreciation day of sorts. I happened upon it by accident and the ajummas that work there spotted me and grabbed me. One of them had the male owner take a picture of us together and then she pushed the crowd aside so that I could get my hands on some free fish cakes on a stick. It was a bit odd and there was a massive crowd. I love how people have absolutely no shame when it comes to taking multiple free samples. They will park themselves and their kids right front and center and pop 25 free samples in their mouth. They do it at the grocery store too- they will eat all of the samples even if there is a line of people behind them. Funny for a culture where, otherwise, they always seem to share food. Anyway, here's a couple pictures of the chaos. I hope that the picture they took of me ends up on the picture wall. They made the best dolsot bibimbap there!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Greetings from Canada!

Hello Readers (if there are any left)!

I'm writing a short post to say that we made it safe and sound to Canada! We both suffered the most intense jet lag (it took me a week to sleep semi normally) but we're doing better and really enjoying our time with my family and some of our friends. I have things to update about our final time in Korea and hopefully I will get a chance to do that later this week. I'm almost at 500 posts so that is exciting! I am still thinking about what to do with this blog. I think I would like to continue blogging but I am considering starting a new blog for my life after Korea. Stay tuned for that. Until then I am counting down to our travels through Southeast Asia. We have a flight booked to Bangkok for January 20th and we will return to Canada and try to become grown ups on May 21st. Happy Belated New Year to everyone! I hope everyone is happy and healthy!

Love, Amber

(P.S. It's my birthday on Thursday!!!)