February 26, 2012


The city we live in is called Gimhae, which is just north west of the major city of Busan.

The most surprising thing for me when we first got here was how many high rises there are. Some of the other teachers were talking about hiking the mountains that are close by, and I was like "wait-- there's mountains here??" because I didn't see any because of all the tall buildings. Then finally yesterday when we were walking around, I saw them. Apparently there's some good hiking around here, so that's good news.

What's also good news is that there are A LOT of places to eat here, A LOT. Restaurants are everywhere. And I love that Korean food is affordable- because in California it's expensive! So far we've had kimchi for every meal (except breakfast) and I love it! So good.

The weather has been pretty cold & brisk, but not too terrible.  On average during the day it's between 45-55 degrees. It's almost spring, so it should warm up soon *knock on wood*.

Here's a couple of pictures I took when we first got here, but I will have more (and better!) photos soon. Promise.

February 24, 2012

안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)!!

We’ve arrived!

I’ve finally had time to sit and type. We’ve only been here for 3 days, but we already love it! Here's a rundown of what's happened so far:

We left California Monday night (technically Tuesday- our flight was at 12:30am). We had invited some friends and family to our favorite local pizza joint to get together  and “say goodbye” beforehand. So earlier that day my mom made a reservation for 20 people. So we go there and our family and friends start coming… then more come… and by the end- I realize we have about 30 people there.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes to everyone- which I hate doing, but I think they’re all used to it now. My mom started to cry a little, which made me tear up. It’s always so hard to leave home. Jason’s dad took us to the airport, and as we were driving away and waving bye to everyone, I was thinking how awesome it was that all these people love us and how Jason and I always seem to get a lot of people together (and most of those times are when they have to say bye to us, lol). Then I also thought how much I wish they could all just come with us and how much I’ll miss them all. *tear*

So we get to the airport, check-in was all good, the 14-hour flight wasn’t bad because we slept most of the way, and I have to say- Asiana airlines has some bomb food! We had Korean food (bimbimbap) and it was good! We arrived in Seoul around 6:30am Wednesday morning (it’s 17 hours ahead of California time). We hustle through immigration, get our luggage, go through customs, no problem. Then we took a subway from Incheon Airport to Gimpo airport (where all the domestic flights are).

There were a few parts on the train where we were outside, and my first impression of Seoul was that it wasn’t that impressive- just another big city, just instead of Roman letters on all the buildings and signs, there’s Korean characters everywhere. It actually kind of reminded us of Pittsburgh. No leaves on the trees, a little snow on the ground, dark & cold.

After our short flight from Seoul to Busan, we got our luggage and was immediately greeted by our recruiter who gave us a welcoming gift of coffee.

She was really nice. She called a taxi driver to pick us up, and first thing I notice when I get in the taxi is the GPS system. The dude had 2 GPS’s and looked all fancy. It was just really different for me to see because taxis in Costa Rica and Ecuador were not fancy-- at all. So I was amazed by it, and of course had to take a picture.

So on our way, our recruiter tells us that we’ll be staying at a motel for a week because our apartments won’t be ready until then. When she said motel- in my head I was thinking some crappy little hole in the wall thing… but boy were we surprised! We walk in and they have Champions League soccer on (Chelsea vs. Napoli) on a 40 inch flat screen TV (Jason was immediately in heaven), they have a free computer with internet for us to use, a UV light cup sterilizer, a water dispenser, a DVD/VCR player, robes, body wash, toothpaste, hairspray, hair gel, soap, shampoo/conditioner, blowdryer, skin conditioning milk (I don’t know?), a comb, a brush and some stuff in a bottle that says “special treatment for skin & lotion” (??). So we are pleased with our current accommodation, but we can’t wait to move into our apartment.

Our recruiter told us that a director and teacher from our school will come by in the after noon, so Jason and I had some time to kill. So we wanted to walk around a bit. We were immediately happy to see this whole walkway of people selling fresh produce, meat and fish. As we were walking down that street seeing all the variety- we looked at each other and said we love it here already!

We worked up an appetite and started to look for a place to eat. We went to this local place, and it was apparent no one spoke any English (which is VERY COMMON here- but we aren’t surprised). Jason had prepared some phrases to use, but when we started to try to order, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to work-- so we just started pointing at pictures. It was an entertaining experience and the lady was really nice about everything. I don’t know what we got, but it was delicious!

After lunch and after a short rest back at our motel, two ladies from our school came and picked us up. We walked 3 minutes to the school and they showed us around. First things first- when you go into a place, you have to take off your shoes and wear indoor slippers- this includes at work. So when we work, we have to take off our "outside" shoes and put on our "indoor slippers." Mine are the blue polka dots, and Jason had to wear the green floral print ones. We felt awesome:

Then they showed us around the school, and I was in awe. It looked like a PeeWee's Playhouse or something- all the classrooms looked like a place- for example a hospital, a market, a library, etc. It's really cool, and I immediately knew that this was going to be a fun school to teach at.

There are currently 4 foreign teachers teaching here and they're all leaving next week because their contracts are up. Then they hired me and Jason and another couple (who seem really cool- thank goodness!!) to replace them. These past few days we've just been going in and watching the other foreign teachers teach. The school we work at is a kindergarten and elementary school. Each grade has different levels. And in Korea, you add a year or 2 to a child's age- and that's their "Korean age." For example, if a kid says he's 7, he's actually 5. Today, we got our class assignments- which were all anxiously waiting for all week. Jason gets to teach the Apples- which is the highest level in the kindergarten and the age of the children is 5 years old (or 7 years old Korean age).

Then I get to teach the Cherries- which is the very first level- these children are 3 years old (or 5 Korean age) and have never been exposed to English or anything. It's going to be a challenge for me, but I'm excited. Children at that age are so adept to learning- especially language. And they're so cute!! It's going to be fun. I feel good about everything.

February 20, 2012

Almost time to go

Right now, my bags are about 98% packed. My camera battery is charging. My MP3 is charging, loaded with new music. And now as I sit here I realize- we're heading to Korea in a little over 24 hours. WOW!

It seems like yesterday we were just getting back to the States from Ecuador. But as I think about it- it's actually been about 2 months! I can't believe it- time went by so fast.

People have asked me how I'm feeling about this whole Korea thing. My usual response is I shrug my shoulders and say that I'm excited. But in reality-- I'm feeling all kinds of different emotions.

First off, I'm sad because I will be missing my family and friends. I really wish I could put all of them in my pockets and luggage and take them with me. They're the number one reason I miss home.

Second, I'm anxious. All these questions rush through my mind-- are my kids going to like me? Are the people going to like me? Will I be able to learn the language and communicate? etc. etc. Sometimes I just want to fast forward to a month so I can get past the whole settling-in part.

Third, I'm scared. I mean, I'm moving to a whole 'nother country where they speak a language I'm not familiar with (Ecuador was a different story- I can communicate in Spanish, so I wasn't scared at all). And all these hypothetical situations pop in my head that scare me even more-- sometimes I really wish there was an "off" button for the brain.

And lastly, I'm excited. Despite my sad, anxious, scared feelings- I am really excited to do this. I can't wait to be immersed into another culture. I'm excited to be teaching again. I'm excited to see Korea, experience Korea. I'm excited to see what our apartment is going to be like, to eat good Korean food, and to meet new people.

I will miss my friends and family very much, but after being home for a while, I get antsy and need to move on to my next adventure- and I am so ready for this one!

I'm almost ready to go, but not really ready for the 14-hour flight (I hate flying- the only downside to traveling).

Next time you hear from me, I will be in South Korea. =)

February 13, 2012

The decision: South Korea

It was October of last year. Jason and I were in Ecuador. We were teaching English at a private school. We loved our jobs. We loved Ecuador.

One day we were talking about other possibilities for our lives (as we often do)- where we can go next, what we can do, etc. Our funds weren't looking too hot. We had spent the majority of our money on our wedding in Costa Rica 2 months earlier. And we weren't making great money in Ecuador. We had enough to get through the weeks, but we weren't saving much.

We had always had South Korea, or Japan, or China, in the back of our minds. We knew that if we wanted to make money being an English teacher, those were the countries to go to. So we had a serious discussion about it and finally decided that we should do it. We bought our tickets back to the United States shortly after that and started to apply to a ton of jobs (we wanted to see family before we went anywhere else again). We applied to a couple of jobs in Japan, Taiwan, and others- but the majority of our applications were going to South Korea.

What attracted us to South Korea, and I will be honest, is the pay. They pay well and the cost of living isn't high like Japan's. Plus, all the job listings for South Korea said they paid for your rent. Awesome. Other things that attracted us is the food (of course) and we had a friend who taught there and loved it- he had even extended his contract because he loved it so much.

To make a long story short, after multiple phone interviews, we finally had a job offer. We were- or are- excited! We met with our friend who taught there and had a long discussion about South Korea. There was nothing negative said- and it made Jason and I more excited.

The Visa process was kind of a headache, but we got it done. We've been getting e-mails from our recruiters- our plane tickets are purchased (yes- they paid for that, too!) and our apartment is ready. All we need to do now is show up.

P.S.- if you're interested in teaching English abroad, Dave's ESL Cafe is an awesome website. This is where we got our jobs! It's a great resource and I love it.

February 11, 2012


I'm excited to finally start this thing! I should have started it years ago, but was too lazy, and now I have so much to backtrack on. My plan with this blog is to not only talk about my present travel experiences, but also my past travels (and future travel plans).

I can say that I became addicted to traveling in the summer of 2006, when Jason and I went to Costa Rica. From there, it just took off. Since then I have been to Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Philippines (I've actually been there 3 times), Palau, Costa Rica (again). Ecuador, Peru, and in a week and 2 days Jason and I move to South Korea.

I feel kind of sad because I have seen and experienced so many incredible places and never documented anything- except for a couple of photos. (Although- some experiences need no documentation and will just stick with me forever).

I'm hoping this blog will help me feel a little better and a little less sad as I try and remember things from my past travels. I'm also excited to start writing about my experiences in South Korea.

So if you want to come along for the ride, feel free. If you have Blogger, you can follow this blog, or follow by e-mail (via the buttons on the right column).
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