Sunday, December 28, 2008

My 1st Korean Wedding

Yuree and Juno invited me to one of their college friends wedding, and I accepted graciously. It was my first Korean wedding, and it was interesting.
There were so many people; some people were actually standing.
I met one of Yuree's long time friends, Michelle, she guided me through what was going on.
To my attention the groom started doing push-ups. Michelle told me this just started a couple of years ago, he must do three, and with every push up the groom has to say I Love You. They also had a singer, sing them a song towards the end of the reception.

The wedding was short, and the second it was over everyone scattered to the buffet. Meats, sushi, oysters, shrimp, noodles, gimbap, with ham =(, salads, and so much more.
We finally found a place to sit, enjoyed lunch, and then coffee and desserts.

Underground Shopping

So, my director's, who are now two of my dearest friends, took me shopping in Jeju City, and, well, down I go!
Yup...I had no idea what was going on until I saw Juno walking down the steps. "Where are you going," I shouted. Then looked up at the sign that said, "Jungang Underground Shopping Center," with confusion set in my eyes I look over to Yuree she grins, "lets go shopping." I was delighted, I haven't been shopping for clothes and SHOES since I got here. And to my amazement there was a plethora of shops, shoes, and cosmetics =)
The prices were comparable to home, but Yuree informed me that buying online is so much cheaper. Of course that didn't stop me from spending my money, cautiously no doubt! There was great threads, and new and different style shoes. I didn't purchase any shoes, but I did grab a boys brightly colored flannel style button down, great for all seasons. Amongst other stuff, I was in one of my heavens, haha.
Juno left, bored out of his mind from "women" shopping, so Yuree and I continued. We left the underground shopping center, and headed out to the streets of Jeju City. My mind filled with ideas of new styles, colors and forms. If you can't tell I have a love, and I think a certain eye for things. Yuree said "you need to go to Seoul," I responded with a look of certainty, "I know."
We then relaxed at a coffee shop, and enjoyed our cappuccino's.
PS-sorry for no pick of the inside I was enjoying myself too much!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Honeymoon Stage

I have been getting some very positive and negative feeds on my happiness with being on the island. Claims say I am in my "honeymoon stage," and that it will pass (mainly people that don't live on the island!) or hopefully I can keep this refreshing attitude (the comments vary). I am going to point out that I value every ones opinion, good or bad, without them I would not learn. So to all thank you, and know this is not an attack but a post just to acknowledge the "honeymoon stage" epidemic, that certainly does happen.

If you do not already know, the "honeymoon stage" is a time of bliss or a momentary lapse of reality in the state of being allotting you a vision and feeling of utopia, in where you are located (especially if it is somewhere new, mentally as well). It is an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness that we humans are not use to feeling, so it is categorized as a "stage."

With all of this, I want to point out my MY "honeymoon stage." Yes, Jeju Island is very beautiful, with clean air, relaxed people, and a numerous amount of wonders to behold, but it is not about the island for me. I could be in Africa, helping sick children or educating the people, or in Virginia (or anywhere else in the US) for PETA, to stop the cruelty and torture to animals. BUT IT WAS ABOUT ME FOLLOWING MY HEART.

I was called here for a reason, a reason beyond the "honeymoon stage." I listened to my heart, followed it, and began the process of being in service to others, God, spirituality, my soul, awareness, and love.
See, life is more than about yourself, or what you accomplish, it is about helping others (as well as yourself) so that the impact reaches through all of us. We are all connected, and everyone and everything feeds and lives off each other. Imagine if we could live in happiness and joy, and accept all of our weakness and shortcomings. We would all be happy and joyful, we would all accept each other, and live with forgiveness and compassion.

I am not trying to preach or claim rights, but look at the world we live in...even if we do small things those small things affect other things and the ripple continues. In order to accept others, we must accept ourselves. And in order to grow, we must help others grow.

Debbie Ford explains in her marvellous book "The Best Year of Your Life" that, "We must take the time to listen to the cries of our own soul and have the faith to make changes and take risks. We must open our hearts where they've been previously closed and find forgiveness and compassion for those in need of our love....To live a life of excellence, you will have to take risks. You will have to step into new territory and climb new mountains. If you're up to something that's as big as you are, it;s going to be scary. If it feels perfectly safe, you are probably underachieving."

So in the end of it all, I want to live in my "honeymoon stage" forever, never letting go and appreciating everyday, every moment. Things don't always go my way, and life is very different here. But I am open and alive; I followed my path, my heart. Why would I ever want to give that up! It is important to listen, and I hope everyone, everyday lives in awareness and happiness.

With my warmest blessings

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe it's Christmas, and for the first time I am away from my loved ones =(

Christmas here, well with whom I am around, is celebrated more modestly then what I am use to seeing.
Christmas is not a big deal to them; not like how it is in the states, by any means.
They do spend time with family and loved ones, but things are "different."
Just to point out, one of the EXTREME differences is the gift giving process.
In the states kids are given a mass amount of goodies and gifts. Here, on Jeju Island, the children receive one gift, if any. It amazed me because I was waiting for the kids to shout out things they wanted and christmas lists, but instead they shrugged their shoulders and said "not big deal."
I was in shock, and in a way glad to see and be apart of this.
It is not about gifts or money but about love and gatherings.


Warmest Blessings

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No joke...

...the carrots are HUGE here!

Gimbap / Kimbap

Kimbap a popular Korean "fast" and healthy food. It is wrapped in dried seaweed called gim, and with steamed white rice called bap. Inside kimbap are a variety of fresh vegetables, and protein enriched fooods, such as eggs, crab meat, fish cake or seasoned beef.
This kimbap roll contains crab meat, eggs, carrots, spinach, and sweet pickled radish called danmuji.
Kimbap is cheap, and its price ranges from 1,000 won to 1,5000 won depending what is inside.
I am addicted.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Healthy snacks I snagged at the EMART!

First picture are of colorful rice cakes. I had no idea what this was, but the excitement on both Yuree and Juno's face made me run to them. No added sugar, made straight from rice, and good for you (Yuree and Juno informed me). The colors are made with pure fruit and vegetables, like grape (purple) and pumpkin. I thought the cakes would be fluffy and taste like cake, but it wasn't! I was shocked to take a bite and realize they were chewy, and good!
Second picture is dried persimmon, sweet with an interesting texture. In traditional Chinese medicne it is used to regulate ch'i, and the raw fruit is used to treat constipation and hemorrhoids, amd to stop bleeding! Oh and my little juicer, any fruit I buy I like to juice it if I do not feel like eating it whole. I can't seem to find a "real" juicer here, but I'm on the hunt.
Third picture is their rice snacks. Very good for you, and addicting! These are the soft ones, the outside is covered with certain nuts and such. The hard ones I haven't tried but I will!

My First Night in the City

First night in Shin Jeju! Yuree and Juno took me to dinner, and the EMART!

The picture above, is the restaurant we ate at, and the noodles were delicious! The other picture is the street outside of the restaurant.
After dinner we headed to the EMART, which is a HUGE 5 floor EVERYTHING mart! Literally, anything you want or need they got, and flat lined escalators to transport you to each floor! Sorry no pictures of the EMART, next time!

My attempt to teach the kids "We wish you a Merry Christmas"

Sorry my voice is annoying but I thought these videos were so funny, and for future teachers always ask permission if this is ok, as well as for the pictures! Harry and Sunny are at the end and my favorites! And in this second video, the girls are taking belly dancing classes so you will notice them using their sashes as they dance haha!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I taught the kids Bingo today, and they love it.
It's good to teach them with games I have learned.
I will mix the Bingo up with numbers, letters, pictures, and whatever else is useful.
Games, singing, and every now and then educational videos or cds are great for kids learning a different language!
They pick up on it faster, so I split the class time in two parts. First "real" teaching and writing, and then I move into game/still learning time. It works out good!
And for this, I would like to say THANK YOU to all of my fellow teachers, and friends who have supplied me with ideas!

The Kindegarten Class

Danni showing that he loves with double hearts =)
My Sunny bear, director's daughter, she's so cute...
That's Harry, he's my favorite! Richard is next to him, also one of my favs (he's missing his 2 front teeth lol)!
Group shot, and the last "the girls" and Harry lol

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What a day...

Well, two hospitals and two shots in 1 day go figure.

Today I had to go to Halla Hospital for a physical so that I can receive my alien registration card. Juno, my director, informs me that rules have changed, and starting this year teachers must get a physical before getting a alien registration card. Yippe for me. I had to get blood drawn and the whole works. But it was quick, and in the picture that's the bruised one =(...


A small hosiptal here in Oedo, this is where I live, it's in the north west of the island and a 5 minute walk to the beach.
Unfortunately I am sick, and where the bandaid is where they shot in the medicine. They offered, and explained it would go into the system faster...bring it on!
I will say this though, the hospitals are very clean, and quick. Your in, and then your out. Unlike the U.S. you'll be waiting forever, and if you don't have insurance ha forget the U.S.

Fix Up

Just to clear something up...

A kind gentleman from the Rhymes with Jeju Yahoo forum group, explained to me that the some vegetables sold at the market are not "organic," but that there is a growing!

He stated that the "Korean word for "organically grown" as we understandit in the West is "yugi nong" (pronounced yoogee and theo in nong is long not short as in the English word song).You can point and ask "yugi nong?" and the sellers willusually be honest and say no if it isn't. They might knowanother seller in the market who does not use chemicals."

He also stated that "some fish in these markets are from the open ocean (someeven caught on hooks), but much of what you see sold come from aquaculture."

So in the scheme of things, we wouldn't neccassarily call it organic, but like my informative said we can always ask!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Writing and tangerines...

Tangerines are abundant on the island. There are tangerine farms and trees all over Jeju. October-December is the tangerine picking season, and mid November is the Tangerine Festival. I missed it this year, but next I will be there!
Next season I will go picking for tangerines, it is suppose "dust of daily stress" with the taste and fragrance. I, unfortunately, missed the picking season but Yuree's (the head director and Juno's wife) father brought in huge hemp bags of tangerines to their hagwon (which is a private school), and they gave me a bunch to take home. I can't stop eating them, and they just brighten up my room! And I love to eat them while I write.

The cable guy...

This is the cable guy, and Juno in my living room/bedroom.

The cable guy had to go through 3 cable boxes in order to get one working. I was on my couch watching this all go down in Korean!

I have only had cable for about a week (only been on the island for two), and needless to say I might get rid of it. It is hard to work with a TV that is in ALL Korean. I don't really watch TV here, but the only thing I did want was Showtime so I could watch my favorite show the L word, and that didn't happen. They are trying to get it for me though! I am going to hold out for the month, and give the cable guy a break!

On my way to the market...

Every five days Jeju Island holds a huge market, that sells everything, I mean EVERYTHING! Its packed with people, and filled with everything a vegetarian can thrive on! Hint: I'm a vegetarian, trying to move into a more raw food diet! All the fish, fruit, vegetables, meat, and herbs that are sold here are fresh and organic!

The 1st picture is right when I walked in, the lady was selling all types of fish. Eventhough fish is vast here, this is a huge meat eating island. They specialize in pork, and have a native pig covered in black hair. The meat of this pig is suppose to be fresh, and a couple people told me the pork taste dramatically different from US pork. If you know about factory farms then you know why this statement exist, but I will leave that for another post (I am a HUGE advocate in the demolishing of factory farms)! Needless to say my coworkers were disappointed when I told them I was a vegetarian =).

The 2nd picture is of these glowing silver fish, Juno, my director and fellow teacher tells me they are delicious. Can't wait to try them!
The 3rd picture is of rice cakes, and other natural sweet munchies they have.
The 4th picture is of dduk bok gee, which is a hot and spicy rice cake, and it was sooooooooo good! We were in the process of shopping so we just stopped and ate standing up, and washed the food down with cool barley tea mmmmmmm!

The 5th picture is after our shopping Juno, his two girls Sunny and Ginny, and I sat and ate. That big bowl is my rice noodle vegetable soup, and those 4 small bowls are called kimchi. Kimchi comes with every Korean meal, and is vegetables all seasoned differently; some are hot, spicy, sweet or natural. That's Ginny eating away!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My crazy kids!

This is just one of my classes, my young elementary kids, and take notice to the boys literally shoving the girls ought of the way to be in the picture hahaha.
I have six classes a day, for 40 minutes, and age ranges from 6-13 years old. Different kids, different ages, different's interesting, to say the least. Teachers I know you feel me!
This is on of my favorite classes! They love to learn, and play!
I found a love for kids, and teaching. I learn from them, and they learn from me.
One thing I have learned about these kids are they are not in any hurry to grow up. They enjoy their youth, and are allowed to be KIDS! Their society doesn't become consumed, they live freely. Education is very important here, and highly valued, but it never stops these young ones from enjoying life!
It is just one of the many things I admire of the South Korean culture, and hope to pass it on to my children, and add it, however I can, to the children of the US.

The Sunrise

After I woke up from a dead sleep, mind you I was completely swollen from all the crying I did at the airport saying goodbye to everyone, I opened the window shade to see this!
The sunrise...
That is frost on the window, and below is ice. I saw glaciers, and the ocean was black!

To say goodbye to everyone at the airport was tough, and I was so scared. I knew in my heart it was time for me to go, but I was leaving my comfort felt as though the umbilical cord got cut off haha!

The moment I went up the escalator and I could not see everyone, a feeling came over me, I was going to be okay. It was as though a white path was shown to me, so I would not get lost. Through all of the different airports and the overnight stay in Seoul, all of it happened with no bumps, and no confusion. I felt comfortable, everyone was kind and helpful, and it seemed so easy to get around!

Once I arrived on Jeju Island, I felt calm and happy...I was picked up by my recruiters best friend and coworker. I was admiring the island, and the warmth of that day. He informed that before I got there, it was rainy and very cloudy. While he was driving me to my apartment he pointed out Mt. Halla, which is the highest mountain in South Korea, and proceeded to go on in amazement about how clear and warm it was.

He smiled and said, "I think the island is welcoming you!" We laughed together, and continued our drive...

Starting the journey...

I had alot of help, and this is for any future teacher or curious person out there! Dave's ESL cafe was the most helpful in finding jobs and the recruiters (there are more places but this site helped me). Which by the way is CRAZY! There are so many jobs, and sooooooooooo many recruiters. Once you email them, and show interest, they will get back to you immediately, and schedule phone meetings for you, and pretty much set up everything. It is your job to fully inform yourself as much as possible, and ask ALOT of questions. Ask if you can speak to the teacher you are replacing, and keep in touch with them.

I was offered so many positions, but you have to feel what is right for you. I made a final choice between two job offers, one was in Yongin and the other was in Jeju Island. Yongin was going to pay me more money, so I was leaning more to towards that job, but emotionally (everything but my mind) it was pulling me to Jeju. So I asked to speak with both of the teachers I was replacing, and that told me alot. Plus my recruiter Jason Smith, from was so helpful, and made me feel comfortable.

There are other sites you can go to if you decide to teach on Jeju Island. One in particular is Jeju Life, which is an online English magazine, incredibly helpful. James (director and the main guy of the magazine) also set up a Jeju Life Forum page, and the other forum is a Yahoo group called Rhymes with Jeju, it is a group of English speaking teachers that post through email, and they can help you out if you're new. They post classes, events, and answer questions for you (well as much as they can)! Facebook also has groups you can join and get in touch with people on the island (Jeju Life is on there, me, and more groups)!

Then it's all the paperwork!!! But it's all fun if your ready for it...

Good luck to all of you, if there is one thing I learned is DO ALOT OF RESEARCH, and get as many details as you can. Some teachers have had bad experiences, and were misinformed. But life is life, things happen, just be prepared, and have options!

Safe journeys...

It's good to be free...

...and that it is! I was shopping for a journal to begin writing my book, I mean I had scraps of paper and stories on the computer, but I needed to write!!! I found this quote on a journal in a store below the school I teach, and was moved by the script I had to take a picture. Though there should be an "s" after the word thing, lol, it still made an impression (by the way I couldn't buy this particular journal b/c of the missing S, it would have killed me)!
When I read it it brought a smile to my face. I felt like I was floating, not in a lost way but in a conscious happy movement.

This happening did not come easy nor was it meant to be.
It is very difficult "to be free" when you are fighting inside yourself and not aware of it. Once you surrender to your inner workings, you can learn to work with what's going on.

It is our job is to listen and to feel. God...a higher power..or whatever it is you believe in flows through you, through our hearts and out into everything.

Now I am here, a place, within myself, that once seemed so far away. I am so happy now, and have so much to experience, understand, and listen to! I listened to my heart, and now, and forever, I will be in service to it and to humanity.

Peace & Love, and safe journeys...