Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year...New Life January 1st 2011

So I am going to do a little back tracking because it has been awhile since I updated. I have currently left the Elementary school I worked for and am now working at the Gyeongbuk Educational Institute with 7 other foreigners. I am teaching students online and though it has its challenges, I truly feel blessed to have this opportunity. The program that we work for is brand new and from what I can tell it is kind of a big deal in our city. One of the other teachers I work with was actually recorded and broadcasted on television in Korea. I have my own little office so that is nice, plus I get to work with a good bunch of people. Andong has been very good for me and even though it is tough being away from home I am very thankful for my life here. I have heard some horror stories from other teachers about being stuck in bad situations. So I am happy that I am not placed in one of those.

This last Wednesday was my birthday and I went out with my co-workers and we sang was a lot of fun. My co-teacher from English camp (Jin Suk) went out with us, and we had a great time!! I love her, she is probably one of my best Korean friends and she has been super helpful to me since I moved here.

Tonight was new years and we all went out for drinks and to the local "booking club" where apparently if there is a table full of guys they bring you a girl! Interesting....But anyway I don't go there for any of that , I just enjoy going and dancing with friends and having a good time. For the rest of the weekend I plan on lying low....reading, cleaning, and talking to people from home. Sunday, I plan on going to church next door to my house. I believe that Pastor Kim is having a birthday party for cute is that? I am really happy that I started going there, especially because it feels great to be surrounded by wonderful and welcoming people. I have been spending time with the girls who invited me there in the first place, one is my student from Bokju and the other is my landlords daughter, last weekend we went shopping downtown after church and got ice cream. I loved it~

I am excited for this new year and have a lot to look forward to...China in February, Hawaii in March, hopefully Thailand in the summer. I can't wait!!!! After all the great times and the hardships that 2010 has brought, I am looking forward to a new year. I am so happy with the way my life is going especially spiritually, I really see God working in my life and am so thankful for that. I hope that this year brings peace to the issues that are going on back at home in the states and that my family can feel the peace that I am experiencing myself. Happy New Year EVERYONE~~ I pray that its a good one :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Today is the beginning of my new life

December 18, 2010

Tomorrow is a new day, I am excited. I am starting at Gyeongsangbuk-do Educational Research Institute. I have been very hesitant about this position and what it entails, but I decided today that I am no longer going to worry about it. I have been doing a lot of self-reflection lately, and it has made me realize that I have only been going through the motions of life and not fully living to my potential. I haven't been being completely true to myself, or my character....and feeling somewhat lost. It could be that I am a million miles away from home and everything I love. I guess I feel like I have been living only half-way, worrying too much, not making the most out of this amazing experience, sometimes forgetting my values and my worth. With much prayer and thought I now realize what needs to happen. I know that God has put me here for a reason and even though sometimes its tough, I know he has a plan. This is amazing to me, and I feel truly blessed to have this inner peace. So now with a better grip on things I am going to start getting involved in activities I am passionate about, I want to get out there and do what God intended me to do. I am starting on my new venture tomorrow (not only the new job, but something else I have been wanting to do), but I am going to keep it underwraps until I know the details. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.

"All seasons are beautiful for the person who carries happiness within."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This too shall pass

(December 18, 2010)

You can sure get a lot of thinking done when you can't sleep from 3:30am until 8:00am because first someone calls you from home in the U.S. and because they do not understand the time difference they wake you up. Secondly, Anthony  stumbles into your room at 4am and falls asleep sitting up....finally you get him to wake up and send him stumbling off to his own room. Thirdly, your dear friend David  is snoring so loudly on your bedroom floor that you could have built a log cabin by now with all of the logs he has sawed. Lastly, there is so much on your mind that even if all of these things had not happened you probably couldn't sleep anyway.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last day of school

Today was my last day at Bokju, it was sad and bittersweet. I will miss it there. It is also Friday night....not quite sure what the plans are, but tomorrow night we are having an ugly sweater party!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It's 2:45 am, I have to be at work in 6 hours....I can't sleep! Tomorrow is my 2nd to last day of 3rd grade and I am really hoping I will have the energy to make it through the day. I am sure I will  because the kids are always so happy to see me that even if I was in a bad mood they would cheer me right up. The good thing is I am leaving at 12:30 after my classes so I guess I can sleep after that.

I miss Talia, my down pillowtop mattress pad, Gooie's oatmeal and oven hotcakes. Man do I miss those things. Ahhh, the comforts of home....

I did have some really good baked spaghetti at dinner tonight after the English camp final awards ceremony. Thank you to the Gyeongbuk Office of Education for picking up the tab! I think I am tired now, so I am going to sleep :) Oh I posted a picture of Jin Suk and I, she is my co-teacher from English Camp! I love her she is so helpful and a great friend!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My last week at Bokju :(

Hello everyone, it has been awhile since I have posted....sorry for that. I have been side tracked and actually didn't feel I had much to write about. I am now beginning a transition from my current job to a new job.  I love the elementary school I work at, I am only a  10 minute walk away...the kids are great...and I have met some great people here. I am sad to leave, my final day here is on Friday. I start my new job at Gyeongbuk Educational Research Center on Monday the 20th. My hours there will be very different (1pm-9pm) than from my elementary school where I currently work 8:30-4:30. I actually don't mind too much about working the later hours because thats what I worked back home, but it will be an adjustment. Today was the final class for my 4th grade students and I have received a couple hundred letters and cards from them today. Some of the cards are written in Hangeul (Korean), but I told them it was okay because it will give me that much more incentive to study the language so that I can read them. Yesterday and today for our final class I took pictures of the students and put them into an Elfyourself video that I found online. They didn't know that I was doing it so you can imagine their surprise. I have never heard kids laugh so hard in my life. It was amazing, and I am happy that they had such a good time in class. Tomorrow I have my last day of English camp as well. We are doing individual presentations as well as having the students sing a song. It should be a lot of fun. After that the leader of Gyeongbuk Center for Education is taking me, Ellen, and our co-teachers from camp out to dinner. Thursday and Friday will be my last 2 days at Bokju where I will be teaching my 3rd graders. They are so cute!!! It will be hard to say goodbye, but I am hoping to come back and visit since I do not live too far.

Onto the next thing, this last Sunday I was invited by my landlords daughter and one of my students to go to the church next door to my house and have lunch. I had lunch and talked with the pastor who speaks pretty good English. I then read the kids a book and played dodgeball with them. I had the best time ever!! Plus there were cute little babies in the nursery. I am hoping that I will be able to help out there every once in awhile. I am planning on going there again this Sunday, I know that the sermon will not be in English but it will be nice to be surrounded by good people who were nice enough to invite me over for lunch. I am truly thankful for that.

It is really cold, and I am finished with school for the day so I am going to head out. Hope to talk to you all soon!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wants nothing more than to be lying on a beach sunbathing...for just a few hours thats all I ask. November 29th 2010

Winter is here, and it has been here for awhile. All the colorful fall leaves have fallen and all that is left are baren stick like trees, nothing like the vast pine trees of Washington. I am craving sunshine like the worst alcoholic craves alcohol. Vitamin D deficiency has to be high in this country, especially when I don’t think they believe in tanning beds or vitamin supplements. I would give my left leg for some hot weather right now, but only my left leg because it doesn’t work so well anyway. In order to escape the bone chilling cold I will be visiting my family in Hawaii hopefully this March. I have come to the conclusion that I was not made to live in cold weather, so it will be nice to get some sun especially when it includes traveling to Hawaii (one of my favorite places). For now I will have to settle with cranking up my heat in my room and dealing with a $50 gas bill. I guess that it’s not too high of a price to pay for a little comfort when you are a billion miles away from home and warm weather.
On to a happier note, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I gathered together with about 30 other teachers in Andong and celebrated. We each brought a dish (mine:garlic mashed potatoes). I have had my share of pumpkin pie for the year thanks to the people who went all the way to Costco!

Life is a journey, not a destination. November 20, 2010

2 months down, 10 to go. I can’t believe how fast the time is  flying by. Life in Korea is starting to wind down, it’s a Saturday night and I am taking it easy at home. This is a big deal for me, I often find myself going non-stop, especially since coming to Korea. My slight addiction to the nightlife, and hanging out with the fun people I have met have helped fill the gap that comes from missing family and friends back home.  It’s not until I slow down and take the time to think, do I realize how much I do miss home especially all the great relationships I have there. I wouldn’t really call it homesicknesses so much as a bittersweet feeling of knowing how great I actually had it.  My time in Korea has helped me to realize how much I appreciate my life, don’t get me wrong it is great here also, but I think Washington is where my heart is. For now, home is where I make it and I am enjoying the independence that I have here. I want to use this time for self-reflection and growth as well as strengthening my relationship with God. Since being here I feel like I have grown so much already. When I am having a hard day, I often only have myself to count on, it’s not always possible to get ahold of the people you need to talk to the most back home. I am thankful for this because it has strengthened my character. This opportunity may never come around again so I want to take full advantage of it.  There is so much I want to accomplish while I am here: volunteer at an orphanage, study Hangul (Korean language), travel to Thailand, do a temple stay, read all of the books I brought, travel around Korea, go on some epic hikes, make lasting friendships….the list goes on and on. This is going to be a life changing experience and I am open to whatever God puts in front of me. I am soooo excited for this journey. I miss you all, you light up my life!

Let's leave the windows wide open at school when it's freezing...that makes perfect sense..NOT! November 17th 2010

So just about every EPIK teacher I talk to deals with this same problem. The schools leave their windows wide open when it is freezing out, so every kid has to walk around with a blanket because they are  freezing to death. No wonder they are always sick. It is so frustrating to have to wear my snowboarding coat, gloves, hat, and scarf all day long at school. I think it may be the most annoying thing I have encountered while living here. There is also the issue with wearing shoes inside. When going to a Korean household you take off your shoes (completely understandable). But when you go to school they want you to take off your shoes as well and put on inside slippers. Then I see people walking around outside with their inside slippers on it makes no sense at all. What is the point of inside shoes if you are going to wear them outside!?!?!?!?!??! So I buy these indoor slippers and I put them in the same closet everyday when I leave, mind you it is a closet no one else uses. So I go to school the other day and guess what??? Someone stole my F#@*%! slippers. So I wore my outside shoes inside all day, even though it really doesn’t seem to matter….so there school! Besides those two issues I really do love my school and my kids. Life is going well, starting to slow down a bit and the newness is wearing off. I am enjoying it here, and I have met so many great people which makes everything worth it.

I am going to punch a 5th grader in the throat. November 1, 2010

Halloween was wonderful…I loved my costume and had a great time with my friends in Daegu. The only problem was it took about 3 hours for us to get a hotel because people kept turning us down (we think because they didn’t speak English) finally though the wonderful Sunny (our lovely Korean handler) helped us out. We ate at a restaurant with Western food called the Holy Grill, it was so lovely that we went back the next day. I had an Alley Cat Pale Ale from Canada…it was amazing, the best beer I have had since I have been in Korea. We got back from Daegu Sunday afternoon and now it is Tuesday and I am at school. Our fellow co-workers that will be teaching at the Research Institute with me and Ellen arrived on Thursday and three of them are living in our building which is nice.  Three guys and three gals… many new friends yay!
Tonight we are all going to look at the gyms in Andong and hopefully join one…This is extremely necessary since I have a 5th grade boy student who likes to yell “Baby!!” at me everytime I see him. He has also started making big belly motions at me with his hands. What really puts the icing on the cake is that now the other 5th grade boys are doing it as well. I am guessing that he is just saying it to be brat, because none of the other students have pointed out that they saw an extra tire around my middle. Let me tell you though I wanted to punt him right out the window of the 3rd floor. I am not that mean  so I just chased him around the school acting like I was going to beat him and strangle him. He is lucky I am so nice. I am very thankful that I teach 3rd and 4th grade where the students still praise me and tell me they love me. Thank God for that!
Well onto the next thing…I am no longer allowed to have my vacation during the times of other EPIK teachers because I will be working at the Institute. I had planned on going to Bali with some friends who also are teachers (one teaches at Bokju with me) but now me and Ellen found out that that will not be possible. We will have to take our vacation at the end of winter or early spring instead of in Jan/Feb like everyone else. It is a little disheartening knowing that I cannot escape to warmer weather this winter. I do think I may go to Japan over a 5 day weekend in February though, it could be fun. I think me and Ellen are planning on that. I better get back to work, or maybe I will start doing crunches instead of sitting at my computer. Miss you all!

Adventure to Busan: Fireworks Festival October 24th 2010

So this last weekend I decided to venture to Busan which is 2.5 hours bus ride south to the coast. They were having their 6th annual fireworks festival. Me and three friends Ellen, David and Eddie went together on the bus. Once we got off the station we had to ride the subway for 45 minutes (my first time!). After getting off the subway to walk down to the beach I felt like I was in a herd of cattle, there were soooo many people. I can understand why there were so many people, it was the best fireworks show I had seen in my life. We got to the beach and found our friends which had been saving a spot for us since 1pm or something like that. The fireworks show started after 8pm, so cheers to them for holding down the spot for that long. Sitting on the beach watching the fireworks has definitely made it to the top of my experiences in Korea so far. There are photos of the show on my Facebook, so check it out.
After the show, we met up with many other friends from orientation. After not seeing them for a month it was nice to catch up. I feel like we are one big crazy family, love them! We then went to Noraebang (Karaoke) that was awesome, me and Ellen killed Sir Mix Alot Baby Got Back. It was a fabulous night. Around 3am a few of us decided to find a Jimjilbang (a Korean steam room) where you can also crash for super cheap (10,000 won). The place was amazing, 4 floors of different saunas and steam rooms. We didn’t go into any of them because we were so tired instead we tried to find room to sleep. The fireworks festival had brought so many people to Busan that the Jimjilbang was packed. So we brought our thin little mats into the only area we could find room, a childrens play area. Little did we know we would be woken up in the morning by children who wanted to play there. I opened my eyes to a little boy saying “Hello!” it startled me enough to wake me up. I then had to take pictures of the situation because my friend David was surrounded by children and he was still attempting to sleep in the middle of the play area. Worst night of sleep in my life, but definitely the most entertaining. After leaving the Jimjilbang we headed to the largest department store in the world Sensegae, and we went ice skating. I had so much fun, and can’t wait to go to Busan again! This weekend we will be going to Daegu for Halloween, I am going to be wonderwoman. Well it’s Monday now and I have to get back to work planning lessons, but I just wanted to update you! Hope everyone is doing well :) miss you all.

I Love 3rd Graders! October 13, 2010

So it was my first day teaching 3rd grade. I had four  classes today and have 3 classes tomorrow. I teach by myself because the homeroom teachers do not speak English (those same teachers were actually teaching them English before I came around, tell me how that works?). So my day started off on a very wrong foot, I walked to a shop to get coffee and they were only selling bakery items, no coffee so I had to start my day with no coffee :( If you know me, you know how unacceptable that is to me. After getting to school I had so many computer problems. Each classroom has different versions of programs so it is very frustrating. For the most part the day went very well though. The kids had fun, so thats all that matters. They love looking at pictures of my family and friends. Also they like taking pictures of me…it cracks me up. I think that this is going to be a very rewarding experience, especially after I straighten out all the little issues.
There is a surfing festival coming up I think on August 22 and 23. I am hoping to go to it, if I can get some people to go with me. I think it is pretty far away so we will see.

I Love 3rd Graders! October 13, 2010

So it was my first day teaching 3rd grade. I had four  classes today and have 3 classes tomorrow. I teach by myself because the homeroom teachers do not speak English (those same teachers were actually teaching them English before I came around, tell me how that works?). So my day started off on a very wrong foot, I walked to a shop to get coffee and they were only selling bakery items, no coffee so I had to start my day with no coffee :( If you know me, you know how unacceptable that is to me. After getting to school I had so many computer problems. Each classroom has different versions of programs so it is very frustrating. For the most part the day went very well though. The kids had fun, so thats all that matters. They love looking at pictures of my family and friends. Also they like taking pictures of me…it cracks me up. I think that this is going to be a very rewarding experience, especially after I straighten out all the little issues.
There is a surfing festival coming up I think on August 22 and 23. I am hoping to go to it, if I can get some people to go with me. I think it is pretty far away so we will see.

First Week of Teaching October 13th 2010

So this was my first week  teaching. Every Monday and Tuesday I teach 4th grade with my Korean co-teacher Nina who is amazing and speaks really good English. Wednesdays I teach at an English camp at another school downtown there are 16 3rd graders and it goes  from 1:30 to 4:30…it is nice because I get to sleep in, yay! Tomorrow and Friday I will be teaching 3rd grade classes pretty much on my own ( the home room teachers in the classes do not speak English) this will be a challenge. I am super nervous for tomorrow, also because I cannot plan my lesson tonight because the curriculum cd does not work on my computer. I guess I will be getting up super early tomorrow and heading to the school…fun…not! So it is Wednesday night now and I had my first day of English camp today. Already made one student cry :( the children here seem to get overwhelmed easily and think that if they don’t do something right that they are in trouble. Poor kid. I think it will get better though, next week we are going to focus on games and having fun, kids HATE writing English, which is why the one kid started crying. So after that problem was resolved the kids all made name tags which they chose an English name. I listed names on the board of girls and boys (some were names of my friends back home!) It was fun, I guess they like having English names which I think is kind of weird, but whatever. Me and Ellen  (she teaches 4th grade at the same English camp)  finished up our day with some Loving Hut food, it was fabulous. I am so happy it is almost the weekend, this has been a crazy week. There is actually a rock festival in Daejeon this Saturday,which is about an hour West of where I live in Andong. I guess there are a lot of local bands and it is FREE so you can’t beat that, which is exciting since I haven’t been paid yet. I am hoping to make it to the festival, it would be nice to get out of Andong and explore for the weekend. I forgot to tell you about the East Sea, we went on Sunday and it was gorgeous. We visited the town of Young-duk, there are known for their giant snow crabs. We ate lunch there and I had crab for the first time in years….I felt bad though, cause the poor crabs were outside the restaurant in a tank waiting for their impending doom. The town had a giant fish market which was crazy to see. There were rows and rows and rows of squid drying in the sun. I had never seen anything like it. On our bus ride back to Andong (2hours) we sang Karaoke  it was great!!!

Loving Hut...I love you October 8th 2010

So after starving for about the first week and a half of being here, I found a small slice of heaven right down the road. It is a vegan restaurant called the Loving Hut…and they deliver! Just thought I would let everyone know that I will not be starving to death any longer. Well me and Ellen are off to go buy pets…I think we are starting off small with a fish. Ciao

No Longer Sleeping on the Floor....Life is Great! October 8th, 2010

So just now, a small Korean guy age 27 put together our beds for us. He was so cute, but didn’t speak English that well…fortunately it was still possible to have good conversation. When you have a map of America, bad Korean language skills, and hand motions you can pretty much talk about anything and it is very amusing.  Anyway, he is going to be mine and Ellen’s new best friend. I find that if you reference any type of Korean alcohol, example: Soju, Mokoli or Cass, you can find yourself a new drinking buddy or friend for that matter. Cheers to our new friend, we hope to see you soon!
Also we have friends coming to Andong tonight from another city called Gumi which is 1.5 hours away tonight. They are Irish…I think that explains everything. So we will most likely have a fabulous time tonight, plus we are going to make pasta again, yay! Tomorrow morning me, Ellen, and some of the other EPIK teachers from Andong are going on a trip to the East Sea…so excited!
I miss you all! I will be posting lots of pictures soon on Facebook and also a video tour of my room, so make sure that you look out for that.
Love, Sav

Unidentified Foreigner at Bokju Elementary October 5th, 2010

So today was my first day of class…well not exactly, I am observing another class taught by another English teacher (Katie) this whole week. Fortunately there will be two of us at the elementary school which is rare because usually there is only one foreign English teacher per school. The schools has 1500 students! I will be teaching 3rd and 4th grade.
My first impressions when walking into the school were that I felt somewhat like a celebrity…a little uncomfortable with all the staring, but let me tell you, being told you are beautiful all day long is definitely a boost to the self esteem. I thought to myself, I could get used to this. The children are so cute though, especially the girls. They were huddled around me inside the class room like I was a new toy. They all wanted to say hello to me and ask me where I was from. The girl students would say, “teacher, teacher! your hair is gold,” or “you are so tall.” And my favorite, “can I touch your hair?” It was honestly the funniest, and oddest thing I had ever experienced. Back home there is nothing too special about my physical appearance, there are many other blonde hair and blue eyed girls. But in Korea, I am a rare commodity…and most children or people especially in Andong, do not often see foreigners that look like me. I had a wonderful day though, and am excited to teach and spend time with the students. Most of them are amazing, helpful, and eager to learn English. I did get mocked by a 6 year old today who insisted on talking about me and the other English teacher in Korean because she knew I could not understand…but the other teacher knew what she was saying. This same child also tried to rip the hair out an older boys head. She was trouble…but I am not discouraged. :)