Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Another day well spent!

Today was a day well spent with my nephew "D".  I haven't really done much one on one with any of the children that my mom currently watches but today I saw my nephew playing yet another video game and thought to myself, "He really needs to get outside and play".  So I went and grabbed some baseballs and a couple of gloves and said, "Hey 'D' wanna go play catch"  His face lit up and he said, "Can I finish this last game first?"  Of course I wasn't complaining.  At least he didn't say, "NO"
I remember when I was younger and video games weren't that popular yet.  My friends and I spent the whole day outside playing games.  We had great imaginations.  We played kickball, stickball, baseball, soccer, street hockey.  That was the good life!  Still to this day I don't understand how anyone can sit inside in front of a computer/tv screen and play a game.  The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, it's beautiful outside.  Go do something!!
I spent about an hour outside with him.  First we tossed the ball back and fourth, then he went and got a bat and I tossed the balls and he pretended that he always hit a homerun.  Good times!!   Of course, he got tired after a while and I was a little sad when he said he wanted to go back inside :(
But I look at my hour I spent with my nephew and think, "I did something really nice for him."  I hope that in the future i'm more of the type of person who will take my children outside rather than let them sit inside on the computer!  I hope that my nephew looks back on this day and smiles and thinks of how much I love him!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Home Sweet Home

After spending 2.5 years in South Korea, I finally got time to go home!  When I first got my ticket home I was nervous and excited all at once.  Nervous because people can change a lot in 2.5 years.  I for one know that I am not the same person I was when I first went to South Korea.  Excited because I hadn't seen my family in 2.5 years and I missed my beautiful home.

When I went over to South Korea I was coming from just spending four years at a Christian University and spending one year working with kids at the Boys and Girls Club of America.  Both of which teach you that you are always being watched by the people around you.  You are always to be on your best behavior.  Basically I felt as though I hadn't had the chance to make bad decisions because I was living in fear of who would see those bad decision and what that would mean for my job and future.  So every decision I made in those five years was based on what I was told was right and wrong and not what I believed was right and wrong.  So, here I was getting ready to travel back to America, back to my parents house to stay for a month and a half, and I had learned who I truly was while living by myself in South Korea.  I like to drink!  Now I don't mean the get drunk and black out and not remember what you did the night before kind of drinking, I mean the get together with friends and have a few drinks while chatting or complaining about our jobs or talking about what we read in the Bible that day kind of drinking!  My parents don't know that this side of me exist.  I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I don't post pictures of me at bars or clubs on facebook.  So I was nervous to be going home, nervous of what my parents would think of my new found identity.
I was excited because I loved living in the country.  There is so much beauty to see in the country.  I miss the
stars and the clean air.  I missed being able to walk around in my pj's if I wanted.  I missed not having to look perfect when I walked out my door.  I missed having a big house to walk around in.  I missed the view. So I was looking forward to going home.  I was looking forward to seeing the animals and smelling the hay!
My parents house is beautiful.  But being in the country means you are far away from the town.  Even farther away from the city.  And since I don't
have insurance I can't drive here in America :(  So i'm here at home and as wonderful as it is, it's also extremely boring.  Although I live on a farm, the farm appeal has been lost since i'm no longer a kid.  We have all these land and all these animals.  But after living in the city and being able to walk to places when I get bored.  Living on the farm is quite boring.  Beautiful but boring!  I have read so many books while being home.  My favorite of which just happens to be the Bible!
The first book I finished was called The Help.  I've been wanting to read this for some time now.  It's a book written from the view point of black maids after the civil war.  How they were treated.  I heard there was a movie made about the book.  But books are always better!  I liked reading the book.  I enjoyed reading about the four different people and their view points.  If you enjoy reading about struggles and how people have overcome them.  This is a good book for you!
The next book I read was called Fallen.  It's much like the Twilight books.  Except it's written about a fallen angel who keeps falling in love with the same human girl.  But each time they fall in love, she is killed.  This pattern repeats itself every 16 years.  If you enjoy love stories you should try reading this series.
The current book i'm reading is called, It Starts With Food.  This book i'm the most excited about.  Although I enjoy fiction books, I also enjoy reading about how to stay healthy.  I feel even more focused on learning about being healthy because of my current job.  I want to be a good role model for my students.  I want to teach them good habits.  So i'm reading about eating healthy.  I know what you are thinking, Oh not another book about eating healthy.  But this book doesn't just tell you how to eat healthy but why you should eat healthy.  It back up it's statements with research and with personal experience from over thousand of people who can testify that this way of eating is good for your overall health.  It doesn't tell you that it's a diet, because it isn't a diet, it's a way of eating.
Of course i've been reading my Bible and studying Korean!!
I've also had lots of time to spend with my mom.  I always learn so much from her.  She is such a super person. She does foster care!  The three kids we have now have some major issues.  Sometimes I watch my mom and how she treats them and I take notes on what I think I could use for when I return to the dorm.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pictures are worth a thousand words!

Every year in Busan we have The Fireworks Festival.  I LOVE FIREWORKS.  
When I first arrived in Busan I was told about this wonderful display of lights and colors!  I was so excited to witness it for the first time.  This event usually takes place in September!  I arrived in December so I had almost a year to wait and to build up my excitement.  I remember having a picture in my mind about how awesome it was going to be. I did have a whole year to form in my mind what it was going to look like.  I had so many people tell me different stories about how awesome it was.  I heard they shot off fireworks to the beat of different songs as they played in the background, I heard that there were lasers, I heard there were so
many different kinds of fireworks it would blow my mind.  So naturally I formed in my head what it was going to be like.  The thing about having something so talked up is that you form an opinion and usually what you form is so much better than the actual thing.  And that's exactly what I did.  My first year I was very disappointed at the end, but now looking back it was still the best display of fireworks I had ever seen.  I was only disappointed because my mind made it much more spectacular than any thing could ever really be.  My second year I went and I loved every minute of it.  It was BEAUTIFUL!  Right now it is the beginning of July and i'm counting the days until The Fireworks Festival will be here.  I'm telling you if you like fireworks, you should definitely make a trip to South Korea to see this marvellous display.

Here is an example of the very beginning...so as you can imagine it only gets bigger and better throughout the rest of the show.

Here is about the 3rd or 4th song in!  As you can see the fireworks are still going strong!

As we all know you can't have a fireworks show without somewhere over the rainbow!!!

Here is a good example of the lasers they used throughout the show.

Sadly my battery died after I took this video :( 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What's belongs to you is your's and what belongs to me is mine

Working in a high school dorm as the dorm parent has it's ups and downs.  For me i've begun to learn how many cultural difference there really are between Korean and America.  Not just the surface ones that i've known about since moving here 2 1/2 years ago but the less common ones that I just simply don't understand.  
About a month ago I came across my first strange cultural difference.  It was while my co-worker and I were discussing how many times a week the bathroom should be cleaned.  What a crazy thing to have to discuss.  But that's not where the cultural difference comes in.  And that's a story for another time.  While we were in this discussion my co-worker notices that I have a pair of shoes on my bedroom floor.  I thought she was going to die as she freaked out because I had shoes on my bedroom floor.  The woman doesn't think the bathroom needs to be cleaned but having a pair of shoes on the bedroom floor is a BIG NO NO.  I understand where she is coming from as in Asia you are supposed to take your shoes off at the door and put on slippers to walk around the house.  But that's nothing new to me.  At my house in America we also take our shoes off at the door.  I also understand that we live in a big city where God only knows what is on the sidewalk and what gets stuck to our shoes.  So I understand that having a pair of shoes that you just walked around in on your bedroom floor my be gross.  However, this was when I first moved in and I had not unpacked my stuff yet.  So those shoes...they were clean.
Yesterday, I came across another cultural difference.  This time I was furious.  Every night I either take my students phones from them or I take the chip inside their phone so that they are not up all night talking and texting their friends.  As I've told them a million times, sleep is important for brain function.  Yesterday I accidentally left one of the girl's chip on my table instead of taking it to school.  Since they can't have their phones during school hours I told her I would go home during lunch and get her chip so that she has it for after school.  As it turns out I forgot to give her the chip.  I went to Bible study that night and when I got back to the dorm I went to get her chip to give it to her and it was gone.  I freaked out thinking OMG I lost her chip.  I felt so bad.  Fastforward to the next day at school.  I thought it rather odd that she wasn't asking for her chip back so I asked her where her chip was and she told me, "I have, I get from your purse yesterday"  And right there, I lost it.  The girl went into my room, into my purse, into my glasses case to get her chip.  Now yes, it is my fault that I did not give her the chip the day before, but where I come from you DO NOT go into some else's room into their thing especially their purse.  I so MAD.  As i'm explaining this to her, how she is not allowed to go into other people's things I am getting a weird look from all the Korean teachers and my friend Mo (who is Brazilian).  They simply don't see the problem with going into other's things to get something that belongs to them.  And I get if something belongs to you, you want it right.  But you still have to have respect for other's things.  The right thing to do is to ask that person if you can go get you thing.  You don't just simply go get it without permission.  For me that shows a lack of respect for that person.
I still have a lot to learn, but I refuse to back down on the issue of privacy of one's personal belongings.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bear with me!

Somewhere up near Seoul there is a place called Bear Tree Park.  In this park you will find the native
Moon Bears.  These bears are supposed to be only found in Korea.  Actually, they are only found in this park.  Rumor has it that a long time ago, you know back when tigers lived in Korea, there use to be an over population of these bears.  Rumor has it no one knows how they became almost extinct.  So this man built this park specially for these bears.  So I guess in a way he single handedly save the population of these moon Bears.  What an accomplishment!  One day you will be asked what you did with your life.  What will your answer be?  I hope that some day I accomplish something as amazing as saving a species of bear.  
I'm not much of an animal lover but they are super cute.  They have patch of white fur on their chest that looks like a half moon.  GET IT.  That's how they got their name.
Actually it would be something else in Korean.  Anyways.  I walked around this park, which was a nice break from the city life. It was near the end of  fall time, my favorite time of the year!  The leaves were all red, yellow, and orange!  It was beautiful! If I could live anywhere in the world I would live where it was fall time all the time! I got to see many normal animals to me.  Peacocks, rabbits, dogs, cats, sheep, baby bears, brown bears, and the famous Moon Bear!  Because it was close to winter time when I went to the park so part of me was for sure that the bears would be hibernating, but no.  According to one of the workers if you feed a bear regularly they don't go into hibernation.  I wonder if that healthy for the bear?
We got to feed the bears walnut bread!  They love walnut bread!  They do this thing when they want you to throw them some bread.  They stand up on their legs and clap
their paws together.  Almost like a little kid who just did something they think is amazing!  It was super cute!  I wonder how long it took them to learn that trick?  I wonder who taught it to them?  I wonder how much bread they consume in a day?
In part of the park there were bear statues!  Bears getting married, bears playing jump rope, bears that look like they are going to attack you, and bears getting arrested?  It was the perfect opportunity to take funny pictures!  This park is amazing!  I would recommend it to any one!  Although I would say to go when it's a bit warmer outside!!
It was a good day!  I got to spend the day with my friend Reba!  I hadn't seen her since she moved from Busan to Seoul!  So all in all it was a good adventure!

Anyone have marshmallows?

 In Korea every year they have a big bon-fire on the beach.  I've heard about it in the past but never had the time to make it to see if it was really worth all the talk.  This year I actually circled the date on my calendar to make sure I made it!  I also sent out an invite to all my friends to see who would be interested in joining me.  I mean come out...a big bon-fire, on the beach, what could be better than that?
Sadly, the day of the bon-fire I had to work.  Grrr...Korean academy life.  But, I got off at 3:00 and the fire didn't start until 6:00.  Why they decided 6:00 I don't know as it's still daylight out at 6:00.  But I assumed that a big fire would be awesome in the daylight or night!  So after getting off work I met with my friends and we headed to the beach to see this big fire.  Honestly I didn't think it would be that great.  We got to the beach a little early but I was hungry so we decided that there was time to grab something to eat!  As we were walking down the beach we saw the trees they were going to light.  I say trees because that's what they were, trees.  Big trees.  Not bushes or logs...but real trees with roots attached.  As the massive tree mound came into view I realized that this might actually be something really amazing!  Then I saw all the people.  It must be a really big event because there were so many people there.  Actually I was a little worried about the people in front.  Fire is hot...and when it's a big tree filled mound they are lighting I bet it would be pretty toasty in the front row.  And true to Korean fashion, I don't think they thought of that.  People were standing pretty close to it.
I started to get worried because naturally I wanted to see the fire up close.  But with all the people on the beach we were located across the road from the beach.  It worried me because I thought, "what if I don't get to see it?"  Silly me!  Who wouldn't see it?  The tree mound was massive.  So we decided to not stop for food because it was almost 6:00 and we had awful standing positions.  When they lit the fire it was like how I would imagine a forest fire spreads during a drought.  It was pretty fast and wickedly awesome to watch.  Another thing Korea didn't think of was the smoke.  Naturally dead dry trees with the leaves still on them are going to cause much smoke.  I actually felt bad for the people on the beach.  Not only was it unsafe because of the massive flames of fire but all that smoke.  And when the wind would change you know smoke changes directions.  It was pretty epic from where I was standing though!
As people left because the main show was over, my friends and I slowly made our way down to the beach to get a realistic picture of how big the fire really was.  When we got down there all I could do was think, "man it's too bad no one brought marshmallows"  what a waste of a perfectly good fire.  No marshmallows.  A big fire, lots of people, but no marshmallows.  Who does that?
We also discovered that they did have a small area that no one was allowed to enter.  I assume for safety reasons but I can't imagine it did much good.  That fire would have been super hot.  And true to Korean style, no one was concerned that you weren't supposed to enter.  As they entered any ways and went right up to the fire.  OH KOREA!!
This just makes me want to go camping!

Monday, June 17, 2013

I spy...Geoje!

My friends and I decided we needed a mini one day vacation!  We decided we would head to Geoje Island!  The trip there began at 8:00am and the bus driver shhhhhed us a few times on the 2 hour ride there.  There are many historical things to see in Geoje, but we didn't do any of them.  Actually I was a little sad we didn't go see the POW camp.  We stopped by for a little while but in the end no one really wanted to pay to go see it.  I love history so naturally I was a little upset that no one

else thought it would be a good experience to go see the camp that held the North Korean POW's.  How could you not be interested in that?  Any ways we spent much time on the bus or walking to find a bus stop.  Above you will see the picture of us taking over the back of the bus.  Oh, there are no seat left?  No problem, we'll just sit on the step.  Now if you know anything about Korea, you will know that sitting on the floor is like the biggest of all NO's, DON'T DO IT!  I'm sure that the Korean's all thought we were crazy.
The day was great though.  We made it to the beach which didn't have sand but rocks instead.  What does one do when you see a bunch of flat rocks that are oh so good for skipping.  You begin the search for the perfect rocks to skip across the ocean.  To your left you will see two beautiful women, E and L, looking for rocks.  E wants to skip them, L wants to keep them??  Ok L!! The great thing about a beach full of rocks is that you will find many interesting colors and shapes.   The only one I remember is the heart shaped one that took me about 10 minutes to find even though my friends were all telling me where to look.  I would say I need glasses...but I already have glasses.  Maybe a new prescription?
When you get tired of looking for fun shaped rocks or rocks good for skipping, then what? What do you do?
That's easy.  You play a game.  What game you ask?  Simple you throw rocks at a target and see who can hit that target first.  Easy enough right.  WRONG!  Rocks tend to bounce off of each other.  When they bounce...they tend to bounce really far.  In fact I think we scared the Korean mom that was there with her children.  I'm pretty sure that if we would have continued to play she would have gone all Korean Ahjama (Korean older grandmother) on us.  Ahjama's are scary people.  They just don't have a care in the world.  Of course no trip to the beach is complete without Makgoli (Korean rice wine?)  Actually I don't really like Makgoli unless it's flavored but I smiled and drank it anyways!
At the end of the day, we stopped at the inlet and watched the boats.  It was a beautiful site, as you can see from the picture below!  Our long 2 hour bus ride back to Busan began at 9...I think.  Actually I don't remember what time we left.  But when we got back on the bus to go home the bus driver was the same one
that was driving the bus that morning and yes he did remember us!  He asked us to not be loud on the ride home like we were on the ride there.  I thought it was funny that of all the foreigners he must see everyday, he remember us because we were a little too loud.
In all the day was great.  It was sunny! I enjoy the sun!  Even though I wore sunscreen, I still got sunburnt!  It's been 2 and a half years since i've been sunburnt.  Actually it's been 2 and a half years since i've seen any color on my skin.  It was a welcomed change!