more to see, always more to see

This is one of my favorite pictures. I pass this back street every day on my way to work. I think I would like to title this pictures "beautiful functional mess". My life feels like that sometimes.

The other day I bought a corn dog from this stand. But this wasn't your ordinary corn dog. It was Korean Extraordinaire! It was a hot dog, dipped in corn bread, and then rolled in french fries. The whole thing was deep fried and then she put ketchup on it. Yum!
Subway shopping.
Great prices on shoes!
This will soon be fermented into kimchi I'm sure.


This is my all time favorite Korean meal. It is called Bibimbap. I can't get enough of it! It has rice, spicy red sauce, carrots, sprouts, sea weed, greens, and a fried egg on top. It's amazing!

crazy cow

Today was a rough day at the academy. The students were restless, tired, sarcastic, and completely void of any ambition. I felt like I was forcing the lessons on them. My boys were out of control. A physical fight broke out in both of my classes, I almost laughed the second time around. They are good kids, but today was one of those days...the epitemy of Monday's dread.

There's a lot of talk in the news about Mad Cow. You may have heard the reports of the protests going on here in Seoul. Even the kids are aware of the issue. They call it "crazy cow" and they talk about it a lot. Don't worry about me, I'm fine. I haven't been attacked or anything.

Here is a picture of my school building. My hagwon is on the second floor.

Here are a few of my kids. The boys were playing pogs during classtime break.

I'm such a good teacher. I really keep the energy level at a high!


things i see

I've been here and there, and some places I can't even recall. Wandering has become a pastime. Here are a few pictures of beauty and intrigue in different forms.



Today was a good day. I went for a long walk. It was refreshing to be away from the crowded streets and the loud noises and the rush of the subway. I met a girl from Serbia. Her name is Selka. She is an artist. We talked for a long time while dipping our feet in the cool water. This river is near my home. It will be the perfect escape for me during this year.

This made me smile. I followed this family for quite some time. Hey! What's crackin?


sunday is a day of rest, from all things.

I saw this sign in the subway yesterday and it made me laugh. But it was also quite timely. It was indeed a "feeling fine" day for me. Last week was miserable and difficult and awkward and humiliating and on more than one occasion I wanted to quit. But I made it through the tests and agony and on Friday I shadowed a class at my school. Once I spent some time with the kids I felt calmed and confident. The kids are amazing. The school is nothing at all like the training.

Today is Sunday. Today is another day of rest for me, but not just from work. Today I went grocery shopping and I found ingredients for spaghetti! Oh my gosh, I got so excited!!!! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the food here but it is such an extreme difference from what I eat in America. The thought of comfort food was almost overwhelming. I think I might designate Sundays as my Amercian food day...maybe. Or maybe my taste buds will keep falling in love the the Korean cuisine.

I compromised and I ate my spaghetti with chopsticks. Jen, I've made a huge improvement, you'd be proud of me!

home again home again jiggity jig!

So many of you have been asking about my apartment. Here are some pictures.

Well, there it is, see it? That's it! Don't blink, or you'll miss it!

Here is my kitchen. It's perfect. And it is finally complete with a pound of Caribou coffee! Thanks mom. I'm having a moment with my coffee right now as I'm posting this blog.
It's a little weird having my washing machine right under the stove but it's kind of convenient!

Okay, so this is my doorway. How exciting.

This is the lifeline of Seoul. I'm pretty much a pro at the subway now :-) If you'd like to see where I live, you can maximize this picture and I've added an arrow.

I have pictures everywhere and I love it. Every where I look I am reminded of the people I love.
Don't you love my bedding? Bright? Beautiful? Well...it could be worse. Korean people have a very curious obsession with Mickey Mouse so I guess flowers and butterflies and bright pink is just fine!

Oh looky there. There's a picture of my cheesy brother, and my cute parents, and Vanessa laughing, and Jen and me in Lake Geneva...and well...all the people I love. My world is full of amazing people!

That's my desk. Duh. The window is fantastic. I look out onto the busy street and I can see the sun rise on a good day.

And there is the air conditioner...a blessing! And don't you just love that wall paper?

Here. I thought I'd give you a close up of the wall paper. If you want, I can bring some home for you! I mean...don't you just want that on your bedroom walls?

And here is my bathroom. It's small, but functional. You can see the shower head hooked on the wall. There isn't a shower really. You just stand in front of the sink and use the hose. There is a drain in the floor. It works pretty well actually. I like it. I just have to be careful not to spray the toilet paper.

And here is my piggy. This is to remind me to throw away the toilet paper instead of flushing it. This is a habit that is hard to break. Every time I forget and accidentally flush the toilet paper I cringe and hope that the pipes don't explode.

And lastly, here is the remote that controls it all. Ha! Dad, you think it's confusing to figure out the three different remotes that you have for the tv, cable, and VCR? Well, this thing controls my water heat, my floor heat, and some other things that I'm not sure of. I'm getting the hang of it, but it's a chore!
So hey, thanks for coming over for a visit. Next time you're hear maybe I can make a pot of coffee!


hot and mushy in a plastic bag...

In this picture I was _____________

(a) taking out the trash?

(b) cleaning up after the dog's business?

(c) getting ready to enjoy a delightful lunch?

You guessed it! (Hopefully. I have faith in you. I don't even have a dog!)

On today's menu-- duk bok ki

Yum! And I bought it from a sweet older woman in a tent on the corner!


a week in a day

I have been here for one day and I have a week's worth of information for you. I'm stuffed, just like my luggage was yesterday.

My flight was ridiculously long. I thought I would be smart to choose a non-stop flight and yet I failed to imagine myself sitting in a window seat in a packed out jet for 14 hours. I won't say that it was dreadful, but I will say that I somehow contracted a bout of diarrhea, I woke up from a nap to find a man using my shoulder for a pillow, my dinner was filled with mushrooms and I spilled my coffee on my lap in reaction to an accidental elbow nudge from my napping neighbor. It was a great flight.

I was greeted in Seoul by Paul and Michelle. They are from my school in Seongdong. They were so kind, and welcoming. Paul carried my 52 lb. backpack and Michelle offered me some gum. They brought me to my apartment, explained how the building door codes work, showed me how to use my air conditioner, my floor heater, my water heater, my washing machine, they gave me a subway map and then they left. And then I took a deep breath, and I cried. I don't even know why, but perhaps they were tears of joy, or relief, or an overwhelming excitement, or nerves, or the fact that I feel like I stick out like a broken toe. The tears were quick, and probably necessary. But I am rambling, and have more to tell, so lets continue here...

Before plopping down in my bed I decided to take a walk around town. I took deep breaths as I walked. The air was refreshing, the walking was therapeutic, and I decided right away that I love it here. There is so much to process. There are illuminated signs at multiple levels all along the streets. There are so many people here, and the drivers are crazy, and most things are completely foreign to me. I just want to stop and stare at everything. I stopped at a Family Mart and bought some toilet paper and laundry detergent. It was my first Korean monetary transaction. I was proud of myself and bowed politely at the cashier on my way out.

This morning I met Jane, my neighbor and colleague. She is from Manitoba, and is Korean. She is a true gift, totally and completely a life saver and hopefully a new friend. Jane speaks Korean, showed me a delightful little bakery, gave me a lesson on managing the subway, and is teaching me basic Korean vocab so that I can make this place feel more like home. I already feel like I'm improving. I feel less shy, and honestly it's just plain comforting to have someone to talk to.

Oh, and this morning I enjoyed an iced coffee. I inhaled it. It was perfect. Then Jane and I trekked to the Chung Dahm Training Center (my school training headquarters) and we worked through session 1 of our week full of training. It was informative, interesting, and exhausting. Then we went to the hospital for our medical exams. I'm glad that's over. I learned that I have perfect vision in my right eye. Cool! I also learned how to urinate in a cup, while squatting over a flushable hole in the floor. I'm telling you, this place is going to change my life!

After that we navigated our way to the bank where we opened up my bank account. That was fun. Then I was treated to the most amazing lunch. Bamnaengmyeon. It's a cold noodle soup that has all sorts of weird things in it like radishes, pears, hard boiled egg, spicy red pepper stuff, sesame seeds, and a bunch of other things. It was so yummy, I think I'm going to order it again soon.

We stopped at the school to meet some more of the faculty. Everyone was kind and welcoming. The school is in a great residential area with hilly streets and nice markets and a park. It's only 3 subway stops from my apartment. The school seems nice. I think I'll do well there. There are 13 EFL teachers total. The kids seemed energetic and as I watched them my heart was happy to think about teaching them. My Head Instructor said "Some of them are not angels". I had to laugh a little.

Jet lagged, hot, tired and arms full of books and training manuals, Jane and I returned home. And that's where I am right now. My apartment still needs some love. I need to acquire a bath towel, a trash can, some bed sheets, and a pot to boil water for coffee. But for now, I have some tuna, some multi grain pita's, some cashews, and a new craving for bamnaengmyeon.

Tonight I have homework. I have a huge grammar test in the morning quizzing me on my knowledge of subject verb agreement, infinitives, gerunds, participles, clauses and all the tricky verb tenses like "future perfect progressive". It has been so long since I've had to think about this stuff. It's a lot of information but I secretly love it.

Until next time...

Yours Truly


leaving on a jet plane

Seat 57A. My home for the next 14 hours. How do you entertain yourself for 14 hours?
Well, here I go!


just serve

I want to ask, finally, Why judge? Why hate or rage? Why not just serve, wherever and however and for as long and as gratefully as we can, step by step, heart to heart, move by intricate move?
David James Duncan