Saturday, August 23, 2008


24-older and wiser
Suwon Garden

Some of my favorite signage and Konglishy


My favorite dessert- Pat Bing Su

Our common thread- the sweet tooth. 
Merry Christmas from Seoul

Sitting at gate 6, an hour and fifteen minutes away from boarding time, I'm finding myself overcome with sadness. This comes as somewhat of a surprise. I'm not ready to put the intense emotions I'm experiencing into words.

The last three months have been a surreal, dreamlike escapade. I never had any free time to internalize what I was doing or reflect on my experience; now that I have two hours of downtime and nothing to do, I'm feeling somewhat lost.

Overall, I had a fantastic time in Korea. I experienced the most rapid personal growth I've ever experienced in such a short period. Learning how to teach, "performing" 9.5 hours each day, sleeping 4 hours each night, learning to love history, developing an entire biology course, discovering my profound interest in North Korea, feigning effervescence each day, and learning how to manage 195 different kids has left me marked forever. 

I celebrated my birthday the other night with a group of teachers- Laine, Sharon, Yerin, Kay, and I went to Suwon Garden which is a well known Korean restaurant (a picture of Bill Clinton graces the hallway to the restrooms). I've never been surrounded by so much food- I'll post a picture once Laine emails them to me (my camera died). My birthday overall was great as I was completely spoiled- I came in to work to find my desk decorated with sparkles and ribbons, and received wonderful gifts including a chocolate cake, candy bars, ice cream, coffee, and endearing letters from my students and colleagues. 

Last night I finished the development of my biology course and then ate traditional Korean Barbeque with Eugene. Afterward, I went to a lovely Korean Spa and had a 100 minute deep tissue massage until 12:30am. My hedonistic self never appreciated human touch as much as I did this night.

I suppose it's worth mentioning that I received the Teacher of the Month award on the last day of class. It's wonderful to be recognized by the academic staff, and the hefty bonus didn't hurt either.

I'm looking forward to starting school on Monday with a whole new respect for teachers and a new perspective on education. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Busan, my last weekend

i eat shells for lunch

then I eat raw squid for dinner (still moving, freshly chopped)

dogs. I have more explicit photos but they are quite controversial. if you're curious, I'll email


Beomeosa Buddhist Temple, in the clouds

Our love nest

Uh, no. This is actually seafood

Natural hotsprings
Beers in Busan

Jerry's Birthday treat for me- Italian food!

This past weekend marked my last Sunday in Korea. Laine and I travelled via the KTX train to Busan which lies on the southern tip of Korea. On the way south, I had a three hour "conversation" with a young Korean gentleman who did not write a lick of English, was a deaf mute, olympic gold medalist, and sushi chef. He gave me his jersey.

When we arrived, Laine and I headed straight for the beach which felt like heaven on earth. We fed each other grapes and peaches, then laughed hysterically for hours over a pitcher of beer and talks of international relations and stupid mistakes made in college.

Later, we headed to the largest jjimjjilbang in Asia, spending hours prancing around nekkid and taking dips in "the grape bath", "the salt bath", "the mud bath" etc.

We spent the next two nights in a DODGY love motel. And when I say dodgy, I actually mean really classy. There was even a black, curly hair on the soap.

The following day we soaked our tootsies in the public hot spring, visited the Gupo Market, and made wishes at the Beomeosa Buddhist Temple. The Gupo Market definitely had the most poignant effect on me. We had heard there was a dog meat market there, and indeed there was. Walking that gauntlet was one of the most disturbing things I've ever done. We were shooed through quickly by Easterners who did not appreciate us in awe of the spectacle. Not only were there dogs in cages for slaughter, but goats, chickens, and ducks as well. It definitely moved me back onto the vegan bandwagon.

The following day we visited the Jagalchi fish market which frankly puts Pike's Place to shame. When we arrived back in Seoul last night, I visited Ewha Women's University district which reminded me of Telegraph in Berkeley. I wish I hadn't waited until my last week to find this place; it was fantastic- bustling with an eclectic mix of restaurants, vendors, and people.

This evening Jeremiah took me out for a lovely dinner to celebrate my birthday. Check out the dessert we had! While the food and company was fantastic, the best part of my evening was doing what I've long been pining to experience in Korea- using a bidet! Although I felt slightly violated, that was an experience worth having at least once.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


leftovers from mudfest
bling bling
I went to the alicia keys concert on thursday. AWESOME!
work, lunch "break" 

must be quick, lots to prep.

Today was teacher appreciation adventure day. Our school took all of us to a very fancy seafood buffet. I'm still full and I ate nine hours ago.

Then we went to JUMP! A ninja/comedy production combining performance judo  and pure wackiness. Very funny and excellent entertainment. 

It was the hottest day in Seoul today. After the show I walked around the market at Insadong. Lots of arts and crafts type stuff. Excellent.

Made an appearance at a mini park in the middle of the city. A park with a river running through it. Hundreda of people were splashing around enjoying the coolness of the Haan Estuary. So good. So beautiful. Such pure joy.

I was able to speak with Kalmoe on the phone yesterday. She got third in her heat and will be racing in the reps tomorrow. So exciting!

Yesterday I did some shopping, went for a FABULOUS meal with Yerin and her mother. That was definitely the best meal I've had in the last 3 months. Afterward, I went to the dentist and had my teef cleaned!

Fewer than two weeks until I'm home. So much to do still... must run!

For now, here's some more photos from the mudfest and a few other randoms...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dong dae mun market

It's Monday and I've just begun the second week of the third summer session. It was a gorgeous day in Seoul and I was actually able to see blue sky, which has come to be somewhat of an anomaly in the city.

I was honored this morning with my second teacher of the week award- a subtle yet admittedly morale boosting recognition.

I did so much prep this weekend that I have very little responsibility tonight. It will be nice to go home and get to bed at a reasonable hour.

This weekend I finally indulged and did some serious shopping at Dong dae mun market. The shopping starts at 11pm and continues until 4am...  it's absolutely BUSTLING and wonderfully hectic. Yerin and I treated ourselves to some fine Korean luxuries, leaving around 3am nearly toppling over from all our goods.

On Sunday I was meant to go white water rafting and bungee jumping, however our trip was cancelled last minute due to dangerous weather conditions. I'm too bummed to say anything more about that.

I've only got 13 days left of teaching... hard to believe how fast it's gone. Although I was invited to stick around and teach biology year round, I think my time to be a student is soon approaching. Sitting back and taking notes has never seemed so easy...

I find that I have made the transition from acting the role of a teacher to being a true teacher. It's a good feeling seeing my kids grow not just in their "in class" abilities, but as individuals.