Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer vacation to Korea

For summer vacation, Emily and Luke Martin and myself took 2 weeks to go to South Korea. It was as warm as it is here and a bit similar but in many ways very different. We concluded that Korea is a mix of China and Japan along with their own little twist. It was quite interesting. We were able to visit palaces and markets in our first week in Seoul. We also watched the Korean soccer team practice as well as visited North Korea on a tour. There was just enough relaxing mixed with exploration. We had Korean food as well as all the Western food we could find. Korea is more exposed to the western culture which is why we were able to eat Outback, On the Boarder and Taco Bell. Most Korean food is quite spicy and cooked in front on you on a grill like a barbeque. We were able to meet up with Emilys friend one night who father is stationed in Seoul as well as a Korean friend that I know. Those were helpful interactions in that it gave us a better feel of what life in Korea was actually like.

Next we went to Jeju Island. They call it the Korean Hawaii and I can see why. It was a beautiful island. I flew in by myself because Emily and Lukes flight was full so I went a day early. It was sunny and hot when I got there and I was looking forward to several days on the beach. I explored close to my hostel which included walking around another small island close by. It was beautiful. They arrived the next morning and we went straight to the beach. I was thankful we did because after that a HUGE typhoon rolled in and we didn’t see the sun again until the day we left. We were able to keep ourselves busy with exploring lava tubes and waterfalls despite the wind and rain. All in all the vacation was a success. I was able to experience another culture but also relax a little bit after a long semester with my kids. I am looking towards this semester hoping that it will be as good if not better than the last.

Teachers trip

Quite some time ago I was asked by my teachers if I would like to go on their teachers trip with them. I had heard about others getting a chance to go on theirs and I didn:t want to miss out on mine so I said yes before they could even tell me what it was. It ended up being a bus tour to Nasu. Now I wasn:t really sure where Nasu was nor was I sure that I knew what we would do there but I wanted a chance to get to know my teachers outside the classroom and here it was.
Sunday morning, we all arrived at school about the same time that school would actually start. The first shock of the day was that everyone was in normal clothes. Of course, Japanese fashion allowed the women to look similar to school clothes but it started the day off right because everyone was more relaxed. My favorite was the youngest teacher I teach with, he just finished college so we are the same age. I had always seen him in suits or sports clothes and never pictured him in street clothes but he surprised me with him trendy outfit.

So we get on this big tour bus and somehow I get shoved in the back with all the men. My vice principal, who speaks the most English, a 5th grade teacher and this young teacher…all of us in the back. It ended up being really fun but at first I was skeptical, these men ended up being my buddies for the day. We played Bingo on the drive which was good because that’s something I could do. It lightened the mood and allowed me to relax. We stopped at a dessert shop, what looked like a European church and then the Cheesecake factory. Japanese cheesecake is not the same as American I come to find out which was a bit disappointing but still good. Lastly, we went to an outlet mall for a couple of hours. The best part of the day was that these men really did follow me around. Yuya, my youngest teacher, didn’t leave my side. It was quite funny since we can hardly communicate. He can understand more English but harder to speak it. It was an interesting day but so beneficial to really get to know these teachers and what they are like outside the classroom.

Taco making...

I wanted to do something nice for my teachers for being so sweet to me so I decided I would make them tacos. I had my mom send over taco seasoning and I set the date. It was diffifult to explain that I wanted to make them food but eventually they got the picture. Tortillas are difficult to get here because they are so expensive so Emily and I went to town learning how to make them ourselves. On our second try we dominated them and so made several for my upcoming dinner date with all my teachers. I cooked the meat in the little kitchen near the teachers room and cut up all the toppings. Throughout the process, teachers poked their head in to see how and what I was doing. I brought everything out for them and explained how to make them. I watched as they all went thru the line and loaded up their tacos. They were thrilled. They all seemed to love them and even if they didnt I would never know because Japanese culture is to fake it. It was a fun little experiment to show them my graditude for being so kind to me as I fumbled through my first semester as an English teacher.