Saturday, 20 August 2011


Ohhhhh Shanghai. What a great way to spend half of my summer vacation. Both Bill and I agreed that it was perfect because we had done so much sight-seeing in Beijing that all we wanted was to relax and eat good food and party and check out markets. And we did all of those things.

Probably one of the reasons I loved Shanghai so much is because I had no specific expectations. I didn't know what the city would be like. I had learned about it in one of my planning classes but I had forgotten how much European influence its architecture had. It was such a beautiful city, especially at night.

The Bund
Captain's Hostel rooftop bar
Oh you know, just posing

The next day we checked out the urban planning exhibition hall. I have never seen a model anywhere close to the size of the model of Shanghai. The pictures don't really show its scale. It was pretty easy to get lost in it.

Walking around the city, I was impressed with how much green space there is. Not in comparison to Canada of course, but definitely in comparison to Korea. The French Concession was probably my favourite part, and I really felt like I was walking around a European city.

One of my favourite things about Shanghai was how affordable everything is. I've described the city to some people as LA in Europe in Asia. There are so many really classy and new and well decorated and designed bars. And rooftop bars! I love them! And really great restaurants. Pretty much, you could afford to live a really good lifestyle there. It wasn't super cheap but it was justifiable. Maybe it was because we were on vacation? I'm not sure.

I also celebrated my 23rd birthday in Shanghai. It's definitely one of the most fun birthdays I've had. It kind of sucks being away on your birthday because strangers can only care so much but I had a great time! Bill look me out for lunch at a really nice rooftop restaurant. At night we went out for dinner with our new Spanish friends from our hostel. We had great Spanish food and wine and mojitos, then danced for most of the night. It really was great time! 

Chinese food is great, very vegetarian friendly!
So overall, a perfect vacation. Everything went right. I really loved China and would definitely go back. It's such a huge country and we saw such a small part of it. I know the rest would be completely different, but it seems very interesting. I would love to live in Shanghai for a year, so if anyone knows of any jobs there, send them my way ;)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Backdrifts (Honeymoon Is Over)

I'm at the halfway point of my year in Korea and, well, like the title of this post states, the honeymoon (phase) is over. I am no longer happy to just be here because it is new and exciting and I am living abroad. I am starting to get really annoyed with many aspects about Korea and my job, and about what I will do next. So this will probably a rant, maybe a bit negative, but I need to get it out.

It makes me feel so miserable to be constantly yelling at kids, very small kids. They are 4 and 5 and 6 and I am yelling at them because they cannot 'sit nicely' and because they shouldn't speak Korean and because they just want to talk to their friends and be kids. But at the same time, I see how they act in my Korean co-teachers' classes and it angers me that I get much less respect than they do. And I am so tired of our 10 minute morning meetings where we are told the exact same thing everyday, in broken English 'care your kids but have fun with them too'; Tuesday is PE Day (we love gym day); Wednesday is theme park day (a deceiving name); blah blah blah Pooh class parents are very sensitive; did you know that Daniel bit through Andy's T-shirt at jungle gym? His parents are very worried.....

I'm sick of where I live, Suji. I seriously traded Waterloo for a significantly less exciting place in Korea! Ah Seoul, so close yet so far away. Convenient but so inconvenient. Sure, the bus costs $1.50 but it doesn't help that it stops running at midnight and doesn't start again until 5:30am. At least I've got the gym and yoga here. Those keep me occupied throughout the week!

I think I went from not having a clue how to teach, to getting the hang of it, to getting over it in too short of a time span. Working with kids is just not for me. At all. And I guess I expected after half a year of living here to have friends that I am closer with than I do. And maybe I thought that the Seoul situation would somehow sort itself out. I'm even getting fed up with the lack of food options as a vegetarian here. I want cheese!! Haha...

Okay, okay I think that's enough of me feeling sorry for myself. I am still glad to be here, really, but mainly due to my financial situation. And wait, there's more! There's a light at the end of the tunnel! My very good (and beautiful and amazing and fun) friend Samantha is moving to Seoul for the next 5 months! And she will be here next Friday.  And I know things will change for the better! I will have someone I love close to me. Someone to be girly with, and get ready with, and go out with, and someone with who it is just assumed that I have plans with every single weekend (because we will). No need to even ask. I miss that. I miss those people....they know who they are <3

So yes, I should end on a positive note because really, when it comes down to it, life is great!! And if I am still dissatisfied with Korea in the end I don't have to come back... and who knows where I will end up next??!!!!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Home in March

Soooo coming to Korea I thought that I would teach here for two years and not go home in between. And although I might still teach here another year, I have decided to come home at the end of my contract. Two reasons: first, Korea didn't magically change my spending habits and I am not even close to saving as much as I should be; and second, I must admit that I miss everyone back home in crummy old KW.

I will be back in the beginning of March for about a month or so. Then off to California and Coachella with my lovely Roxy in April and then I am not sure what after. I will have to stat figuring it out by the end of the year. Maybe I will come back to Korea to teach (adults though, no more kids). Maybe I will get lucky and find a job in Shanghai, my most recent fixation. I have no idea where I will end up really, but I am excited about that!

So it may be seven months away but mark your calendars! March 2012 I will be back in Southwestern Ontario.

Do you miss me? Cause I miss you!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Last week was my summer vacation so my friend (and coworker) Bill and I went to China. It was such an amazing trip that really exceeded my expectations. I think that may have been because I didn't really know much about China before going, so I didn't know what to expect. We flew into Beijing and spent 4 nights there and then took the new high speed train to Shanghai, where we spent another 4 nights. The two cities couldn't be more different, so I will write two separate posts about my experiences in each.

Beijing is definitely a reflection of old China. Not only is there so much history there, but the people seem to be a few years behind in terms of fashion and other things. Beijing felt very crowded and the people there were pretty pushy. There were so many tourists, and a lot were Chinese. We got many stares but they seemed more curious than judgmental. It was very hot and humid (mid to high 40's with the humidity....I think that's about 110+ in Fahrenheit) and it rained a lot. Incredible amounts of rain that I don't think I've ever experienced elsewhere.

Just walking through the food market from the subway to our hostel, both Bill and I felt that we had seem more culture than in the 5 months we've been in Korea. Beijing is so interesting and unique and different to what we're used to in the west. After the food market, where Bill ate a scorpion, we visited Tienanmen Square. At night we took a rickshaw-type taxi to go out but nightlife in Beijing wasn't too appealing. But we still had fun adventuring around the city.

Food Market
Bill eating a scorpion!!
Breathe in that fresh air!

The next day we walked around the Forbidden City which was enormous and beautiful. Afterwards, we decided to check out the Summer Palace and as soon as we got there the rain started. It was raining so hard that the water managed to reach ankle level in some places. We waited it out and when it stopped we walked around the Palace. It's easy to get overwhelmed in these type of places. And because of their scale, it's difficult to really capture what's there with a simple point and shoot digital camera.

Forbidden City
Check out that rain!!
Summer Palace

The next day was more relaxing, we walked around the 798 Art District which was really interesting, especially in comparison to what the rest of the city was like. It covered a really big area and was made up of old warehouses that had been converted into art studios and spaces. Unfortunately, all of the major galleries are closed on Mondays so we didn't get to see any of them, but there was still plenty to see. Later on we went to a clothing market where we haggled till we dropped, I guess you could say...

Our last full day we did a trip to The Great Wall, which was definitely the highlight of the first half of the vacation for me. The bus drove us three hours away to a less touristy part of the wall and we had 4 hours to hike once we were there. I don't think my vocabulary has enough words that could do the scale of the Wall any justice. It's something you have to see for yourself. 


Beijing was a good city to visit but I wouldn't go back. I think I've seen all that I need to see there. Shanghai on the other hand...