Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Happy Lunar New Year & Goodbye Sam!

Sam got back from Thailand last Tuesday and left for Paris this morning. Spending the week with her was perfect. She came to school with me on Friday and watched a bit of my class in the morning. It was a special day because of the Lunar New Year. All of the kids were wearing their traditional Korean clothes called Hanboks. They had to learn how to bow and then bow for our principal in exchange for socks. At home, the kids bow in front of their elders and receive money. Here are some cute pictures from that day. 

Jerry, Bosco and Sean
Hera, Grace, Annie and Jenny

We had Monday and Tuesday off work, because of the holiday . What an amazing and much needed break. Sam and I didn't do much but it was perfect. We took turns cooking, watched movies, and just talked (sitting on my heated floors) for hours and hours. I'm going to miss Sam so much. Not just because she is leaving Korea but because I don't know when we will live in the same city again.

That's the downside of having friends who also love to travel. (The upside of course being that you are likely to meet up somewhere in the world and you've always got a place to stay). But you never know when you will live in the same place. So there is this perpetual 'missing'. But as long as it's mutual and both friends put in the effort it's not that hard to keep in touch. (I have really come to appreciate and love Skype while living here).

Sam and I have become so close in the five months that she lived in Seoul. Out of all of my best friends, she knows what I've been going through the most right now. And she has helped me become so much happier and healthier. I know that we've both depended on each other a lot lately. And have also had some really fun times going out and great laughs staying in and doing nothing at all. Oh, and we've eaten plenty of amazing vegetarian food. So thanks Sam! I am so glad I could convince you to come to Korea for your study abroad! ^^

Oh, five weeks left!!

Sam and I - our first night out in Seoul

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Seoul Electronic Music Festival

Last night I went to the Seoul Electronic Music Festival (SEMF) with some friends from Suji. It was quite a trek to north Seoul, Ilsan I believe, and the venue was not the best...but I guess you're limited to where you can have a music festival in the winter. Anyway, it was a great show!!

First we saw a Korean band called Idiotape and they were a lot of fun! Really good energy, and the crowd was really into it. Koreans are all about jumping at shows. Then we danced to Crystal Castles who put on a great show! I was really happy because I had seen them before and the first time I saw them they were pretty disappointing. But I think that was because they played outside at a music festival and the sound quality was really poor.

Finally Justice, who I was really stoked to see! They were at Coachella in 2008 but they were the very last artist of the festival and we had absolutely no energy left and we had just watched Roger Waters preform and somehow we couldn't transition to electronic music after his set. Anyway, Justice put on an amazing show too! I haven't heard much of their new stuff, only one song, and I didn't like it. So I was glad to hear mostly old stuff.

Overall it was a really fun night!! Ah, what a lazy blog post. I am tired! But SEMF got me really excited about Coachella!! I CANNOT WAIT!!!!

P.S Six (and a half) weeks left in Korea!

Tristan and I

Laura and I
Bill, what an artist ;)
Oh hey Songjae!
Jenna and I

Monday, 2 January 2012

Why I Love the Gym

Mondays are obviously the worst day of the week, nobody likes to go back to work after the weekend. If you do, you are lucky. And the Monday after a week of vacation is even worse. Especially after New Years. I was super tired and grumpy all day. Also, I felt like I was starting to get sick. I was really terrible to my end of the day classes. I even got mad at a kid for laughing too much! I actually yelled, 'can you please tell me what's so funny right now?!"

Anyway, I was in a really bad mood. I didn't want to go to the gym. I was trying to decide if I can make it to yoga. I wanted to come home and nap but I knew that would make me groggy and leave me feeling worse overall. So I went to the gym. And I got sweaty and coughed a bunch and powered through my work out...and in the end I FELT GREAT. I left the gym in such an amazing mood. I felt refreshed psychically and mentally. I made it to yoga. The class was perfect. 

This isn't the first time something along these lines has happened. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you're feeling low in whatever way, you should get up and go exercise!! People have become so lazy. We are animals, we need to keep moving!!!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Salvaged Winter Break

I only have two weeks of vacation in the year - one in the summer and one in the winter. Sam and I had been planning our trip to the Philippines since the summer. We bought our plane tickets and booked our hostel far in advance.  We were soooo excited! It was meant to be a nice goodbye after the four months we spent together in Korea. So we went to the airport Friday night because our flight was at 7AM on Saturday. On the way there it started to snow pretty hard but we didn't mind because we were heading for white beaches!

Woke up in the morning and went to check in.  Got seats together, checked our bags, ready to go. Suddenly, the check in girl picks up my passport again, looks at it, sets it down, and runs down the conveyer belt after my bag. Strange. "I don't like when they do things to freak you out like that", said Sam. Foreshadowing.

She comes back and tells me, "Sorry, but I can't let you through. Your passport expires in four and a half months and you need at least six to get into the country." I was in shock! I had heard of this rule before but I thought if I had a return ticket, was going for a week, and had an alien registration card in Korea saying I have a full time job it wouldn't matter. Well I was obviously wrong! It felt like a bad dream. There was nothing I could do. I had to tell Sam to go through so she didn't miss her flight.

I waited for my bag, cried, called my mom, and was just generally frustrated and hated how helpless I felt. I may have caused a bit of a scene, sobbing to myself, lying on my pillow, sitting on the airport floor. Calling my mom only made it worse because it made me so homesick. "I don't want to be in this country anymore, I just want out!!" Haha, I really said things like this to my mom. Anyway, once I got my bag I pulled the case off my pillow, threw it at the wall and headed home, defeated.

I texted and called a couple of people, including Ann. Luckily Ann called me back and she told me that Stehpy was staying in Seoul all week and gave me her number. So I spent most of the week with her and three of her friends - Nick, Matt and Alec. Mat was visiting from the States, Nick teaches in Andong and Alec teaches in Seoul.

We went out drinking on the 24th and 25th. I was feeling really down those two days and I had a pretty miserable Christmas. I really missed my family and friends. But I tried to stay in good spirits. I learned how to play shuffleboard, that was pretty fun haha :) Then Nick invited me to Andong for two nights, so him, Stephy, Matt and I spent the 27th and 28th there. I didn't bring my camera for some strange reason! But it was a really cute traditional Korean town. We did a pretty grueling hike there, I thought I wasn't going to make it! We went to a temple, walked around, went out, went to a market... it was a really great trip!

On the 29th I just relaxed at home and went to yoga, then on the 30th I went to this amazing restaurant for lunch with a Korean friend of mine. It was temple food - all vegetarian. I loved it! Definitely some of the best food I've had here. Then Stephy and I went to Myeongdong to buy something to wear for New Years from Forever 21 (of course).  We found some awesome sequin shirts. 

New Years was so much fun!! I think the less you plan and expect, the better of a time you will have. I never have fun on New Years but this year was really great! We met up with some coworkers of mine, and a couple of other friends and went to this cool little club/bar called Obeg in Hongdae.  It was so much fun! We danced a lot, and drank and Ann and I checked out another bar as well. It was a great start to the new year, as cheesy as that sounds.

I am super exhausted today because we didn't sleep much, but worth it. I had a great winter vacation thanks to some awesome people. It's such a relief to meet people who remind me of my friends at home. It's nice to feel that people understand me. I Don't want to go to work tomorrow at all, but I think everyone feels that way. Two more months!!

The cookie-cutter apartments that make up the Korean landscape...on the way back from the airport
Luckily this didn't stick
I should be on a beach
New Year's dinner: Quiznos veggie sub with jalapenos and red wine
FOCUS (Matt and Ann)

We lost the subway race
Have we crossed the river yet?
At Obeg
Nick, Stephy, Ann and I
Photo Op
Bye Matt!