12.29.2010

Best Blog Contest

I am not even sure how I ended up on the website or their list of blogs; however, HiExpat.com is having a competition to determine who has the best blog. If you enjoy my site, even just a little, or you like me, even just a little, please take the time to vote at:

http://www.hiexpat.com/korea-blog/contest-2010s-best-english-language-blogger-in-korea.html

Once you go to the page, you will see a sign in yellow that says Click Here to Vote Now. After that, click on my blog name - Korea: Suwon and Avalon. Then, at the bottom, there's a little button that says, "Cast Your Vote." I realize this is a little work and I appreciate any of the help I can get. Thank you for your time and I hope everyone is doing great! Take care and best wishes!

12.27.2010

Seoul Plaza Ice Skating

Skating at Seoul Plaza Ice Rink


video

(The rink before anybody was on it. Take a look at the buildings in the background.)


video
(This is just to give you an idea of how many people were actually skating)

My Christmas in Korea

It has long been a family tradition that I go to my grandparents on Christmas Eve and since I have been able to drink, I don't think there has been a night that I have left their Christmas Party sober. So, in honor of my grandparents and their annual party, I headed to Ju-Rok, the local bar with my coworkers and Katrina. It was an eventful night to say the least and I believe we got home somewhere between 3 and 4 am. The bars here don't close at 2 am like in the States, which can be a blessing and a curse.

Also, at work, during the day, we did a secret Santa exchange. I had a Korean teacher from the Middle School that I had never talked to and ended up getting her some things from The Face Shop. I ended up getting lotion as well. Everybody in the office was in high spirits and it was a fantastic Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day, Katrina and I exchanged the gifts we had by the tree, made some French Toast and fried potatoes, and then relaxed for a bit. After that we met up with all of my coworkers and headed to meet Jen, my other coworker in Seongtan where she regularly goes to a community house. The house is religious in nature and is there to serve the needs of the men and women on the Air Force Base and give them a place to call home. Also, it is open for anybody else who wishes to go. We had a fantastic meal (ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, pumpkin pie, as well as several other desserts). This may not sound that fantastic but any foreigner who is not on a base in Korea knows what an amazing meal this is.

The best part of the meal/event, there was a birthday cake for, guess who? No other than Jesus himself. And, we got to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus! It was a lot of fun!

Finally, we finished off the night in Seoul at Seoul Plaza going ice skating. Besides the fact that it was below freezing and the skates I had on had no edge and I could barely push off or stop, it was another amazing thing to do on Christmas! It was packed so I wouldn't have been able to go much faster even if I had wanted to. I guess it's like skating at Central Park or the like. It was fun to look around and see all the buildings while we skated. It was a lot of fun and I hope to get back up there before the rink closes.


(Tree at the office with Secret Santa gifts)


(Principal of my school handing out gifts)


(Me and my boy, Spenser - He is a good guy and without a doubt, one of my best friends. He got a neck pillow and me, some face lotion.)


(Some of the Korean teachers opening gifts. I got the one on the far left with the reddish hair.)


(This was my Christmas Tree or Christmas Bamboo with gifts)


(Friday night after work. As you can see, there are a few guys with their shirts off - yes, it did get a bit wild...)


(Early in the night when things were still calm. I got a crown for winning a game.)


(Spenser rockin' out at the community house)


(Jen, Erik, and Justin looking at something. Notice the large bottle of mustard and salt and pepper on the table by Jen's arm, both a rare sighting in Korea.)


(Right outside the rink you could get your picture in a snow globe)


(Katrina and Spenser getting ready to go skate in the sub freezing temperatures)


(Matching is the thing to do for couples in Korea so when I saw this couple and their pants, I just had to get a picture. PS - The guy was foreigner...)


(I believe this is a computer simulated overhead view of the rink but it gives you a good idea)


(So I have this exact same photo of me but for some reason it keeps getting flipped. Anyway, this is at the skating rink.)

12.22.2010

Children's Grand Park

Last weekend started off on the eventful side. We decided to go to the local bar after work on Friday and have a few drinks to end the week. I didn't end up getting home until about 4:30 in the morning. We ended up drinking for a while, then headed to a McDonalds. Spenser, who tries not to eat meat and does not eat fast food was the champ, downing a four piece chicken nugget and a double quarter pounder with cheese before going back to order an additional ten piece chicken nugget. After that, three of us went to the sauna while Spenser made his way home. The sauna was nice but I think they turn the temperature down at that time of night to save some money. So, it was not nearly as warm as I would have liked it.

Saturday was a photo hunt with Chelsea and Spenser which was a complete failure. We really had no plan but decided to go to the History and Culture Park somewhere. Turns out the History and Culture Park isn't quite open yet and there's a giant green fence all the way around it. Nevertheless, Saturday was successful because Spenser did help me find a guitar that was reasonably priced. So, starting in January, or perhaps sooner, I will again attempt to play, or I should say learn to play, the guitar.

On Sunday, Katrina and I went to the Children's Grand Park in Seoul earlier in the morning. It's a nice place to go but I would only recommend half a day. There's a free zoo so I got to see some animals. Quite sad though, seeing them trapped in a space that tiny, many of them trying to claw at doors or the ground. There are lots of play areas for children as well. And, some other weird and wacky things. Afterward, we ended up going to see Harry Potter. I was not impressed but then again I've never been really impressed. We also went to an arcade in the movie theater which was fun. Here are some pictures:


(The Entrance to the Park)


(Some snails)


(Cool animal of some sort)


(Katrina with some more of the animals. If anyone knows what they are, please share.)


(Water wheel - I believe they spray it at night. Nevertheless, I still like the ice.)


(Some stone statues)


(Fairy tale land with some wooden totemesque poles)


(I believe it's from a Korean fairy tale. Again, if you know, please share.)


(They had some very interesting roots/natural sculptures/interesting displays)


(I'm not sure if this is the same guy or not. In the background you can see some of the roots.)


(Some more totemesque poles - don't know the meaning)


(In the summer this area is filled with water and it's a mini water park for kids)


(Ok, this is the one that gets me. The polar bear was scratching at the ice and Katrina and I couldn't figure out why. Then we saw a picture of a polar bear in the wild clawing through the ice so he could do some ice fishing. Too bad for this bear all he'll get to eat is concrete once he gets through the ice.)


(Sleeping lion)


(Katrina with two sleeping tigers - good thing they are sleeping...)


(This was a cool little area inside one of the buildings within the park. Katrina and the giant heart.)


(Pictures inside the heart)


(Me with a little famous cartoon)


(Me and another famous cartoon)


(Just hanging out with the wooden sculptures)


(Another awesome ice sculpture/formation)


(Grain elevator turned into art)


(I was giving the stone statue a hand holding the egg up)


(These monkeys were intelligent. Somewhere you could buy food for the monkeys and they would stick their hands out to ask for food. After they got one piece they would do a trick of some sort to try and get another piece.)


(Katrina at the arcade. This game was sweet! There were only three different buttons and hundreds of games you could play using the three buttons.)


(My beverage of choice before Harry Potter. Plus, I just was taking random photos with my camera.)


(I wish I knew how to use my camera better. If you look closely, only the green in this photo shows up. I love the concept, the picture not so much. I just need to dink around with it a little more I guess.)


I hope everyone has a very happy holiday, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. I am going to a community house with all of my co-workers, Katrina, and some other friends for Christmas where we will get a real ham dinner - EXCITING! Then, we are going to go into Seoul and go ice skating at Seoul Plaza. It should be a wonderful Christmas in Korea, not quite the same as in America, but it will suffice. To my family and friends, I love you guys and miss you! Have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the company of those closest to you.

12.11.2010

Office Update

One semester just ended and I am half way finished with my contract. When they say that time flies, it does. I cannot believe I have been in Korea for over 6 months now. A year is definitely a very short time and I will probably re-sign with Avalon after my first contract is over. The end of the semester is always good and bad.

First, the negatives. The kids already know if they leveled up or are staying at the same level. Therefore, there is no real incentive for the kids to try. So, classes tend to be a bit louder and a bit more out of control. Also, with one semester ending a new one is beginning. Therefore, I need to prepare for the next semester which includes checking all my books, checking the syllabus for my level, creating 160 Reading Questions for my representative level, preparing for Winter Intensives which means creating two lessons, as well as a lesson plan for my level. So, the end of the semester is quite busy.

With that being said, after three months, I am ready for new classes. I am looking forward to getting some new students and a bit of a change in pace. Also, there are no essays to grade. By far, that is my least favorite part of the job, grading essays for students when they continually make the same mistakes over and over again. No essays for two weeks which is wonderful. I have a new schedule which I am quite pleased with. I will be teaching the highest level as well as a class to prepare students for Cheongshim, an international middle school. I also have three JA levels which is the highest intermediate level and a JI class, the middle of the road. I have break at the same time throughout the week and an extra break Tuesday/Thursday which is nice. However, on Wednesdays I teach four straight classes. Nevertheless, I love my schedule and I am looking forward to the new semester.

Here are some quick photos from the office:


(Mindy, first co-worker to ask me to dinner. There's not much communication at times so I was quite pleased when she asked me to dinner. She is also the one who recently got married.)


(Justin and Lucy, part of the corner I am in. I sit directly across from Lucy, right next to the wall and Liz.)


(Liz)


(The Head Instructor Anna. Yes, she is Korean but she is the Head Foreign teacher)


(Middle School Teachers)


(Elementary School Teachers - Calvin and Jen)


(Ciaran - last day at Avalon. He's coming back to Korea but will be teaching at a different company.)


(Benjamin taught in the Middle School for two years. Great guy, it was his last day as well. I did get an invite to South Africa and might take him up on his offer.)

Friday Morning Hike

There are some positives associated with working from 2 pm until 10 pm. One, a large part of my morning is free. A co-worker started a Morning Club on Facebook where he plans events and then whoever wants to show up, can. I've been to a soccer and ultimate Frisbee event thus far. Well, this Friday was a hike.

I do not know the name of the mountain but it is less than 30 minutes away by bus. So, I will definitely be back at some point. All I know is that it is close to the Suwon Reservoir. The hike itself was nice since there was snow and the ground and it was relatively easy - about an hour up and an hour down. Here are some pictures from the hike...


(Just wanted to get the older Korean playing croquet with snow at the ground. This was at Manseok Park, the place where we met.


(Matt and Eun Ji trying to figure out what bus to take. I will say the public transportation in Korea has been phenomenal. This was Eun Ji's first Morning Club activity.)


(Had to get off the bus and transfer at the fortress so I figured I'd snap a few photos of the main gate)


(As I'm sure you can tell, there was some leftover snow/ice still on the trail. It wasn't exactly ideal hiking conditions but we made the best. Fortunately, nobody fell although we were all close to falling at one point or another.)


(You had to grab ahold of a rope and pull yourself to the top of the mountain. I wasn't planning on doing it but then I figured I walked that far already, what's another few feet.)


(Sweet view on Suwon in the background)


(Not so sweet view of some other mountains in the background)


(On the way down there was a little workout area so I decided to life some weights. I have never lifted in the snow before and thought this was an ideal time to start!)


(Just a random photo as we were headed down the mountain)