Thursday, May 19, 2011

Residual Effects

Jet Lag. Reverse Culture Shock. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's been a little over a week since I've returned stateside and all these conditions are slowly abating. I came home to Texas a little shell shocked and fell into a metaphorical black hole. Laying in bed at 4 am wondering why the heck I came back to my parents' house. Did I leave too soon? Was the party just getting started? Why am I so masochistic to walk away from so many good things?

I've slowly returned to the world of the living. Left the pity party I gave myself, allowing only one week to celebrate/be miserable, and now am trying to move onward and upward.

My last few months in Seoul were INCREDIBLE and if EVERY single month could be like that, then absolutely, I would stay in Seoul forever. But I know that wherever I am, I will not have an incredible month all the time. As long as the incredible people who have been in my life for the past 2 years stay in my life, then it won't matter where I am or where they are.  This magical period of my life will stay that way. I got so much more out of this round than I did the first. Of course, I was a little more wiser, a little more experienced. But I also had more of an appreciation for what the city had to offer me.

Dear Reader, I'm not sure what direction this new road is taking me but I'm excited for the next journey. I've still got a few more things to blog about regarding Korea/Seoul/etc, so I'm not putting this blog to rest quite yet. Just want you to know that if you still have any questions about teaching or living in Korea, I'm still more than happy to offer my own two cents!

It's been amazing. Truly amazing.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Weird thing...

It's Rainageddon and last night we were caught in a torrential downpour, arriving home last night I left my open umbrella outside in the hall to dry out. I remembered it just now and went out to retrieve it but found it on the door handle of my across the hall neighbor. On my door handle was a dry purple polka dot umbrella.

Was I supposed to trade umbrellas? No matter, I took my wet umbrella of his door and left his much more girly one on mine.

What's the umbrella etiquette on this?

Pension Party

A last hoorah at Suncoast Pension happened a few weeks ago. I had my pension family in tow and we had delicious food, beautiful sunsets, a rockstar hot tub, a Wii Bowling Championship Game, and another Big Chill-esque weekend.

Our pension family has gotten smaller and bigger throughout the year but the one thing I really enjoy is the escape from the city and the inevitable fond memories and laughs that come out of these trips.

A new Bro-mance is forged

Ignore the boys, check out the view!

Grampa took a walk after lunch and fell asleep sunbathing next to hot tub

Liz relaxes by doing work

Loser of Wii Bowling (Haglin) has to give a pony ride to the Champ (Usher)

Family Breakfast
My favorite thing about my past two years here in Seoul were these weekend getaways. I regret not having done a pension my first year here and if I talk to any newbies coming to Seoul I would recommend planning as much of these as possible. They aren't expensive (probably the same amount as a weekend of partying in Hongdae or Gangam on Friday and Saturday) and if you are with the right group of people it really is a blast.

You may have noticed a long delay between my last post and this. I've been putting off the inevitable fact that I have less than two weeks left here in Korea. I'm going to leave my coup de grĂ¢ce until the last possible second but will try to put more posts up before my departure.

It's a rainy Saturday (after an AWESOME 3am thunderstorm) so I've been spending the morning packing and organizing as much as possible as I know I won't get the time to do it during my last frantic days here.

 However I had to take a break and wanted to continue my productivity. We're almost to the light in the tunnel, readers. Will keep you updated on the progress of our journey soon!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mistress Mindy (a Fake Eulogy)

I've been back in Korea for two years, and something I hadn't needed to deal with during my return was "the Goodbye." My first year was a revolving door of people. By contrast, it seems my second stint has held a more constant presence of all my friends. Maybe because we all realized that as much as the n00bies might complain, it really isn't bad here in Korea, especially when you have wonderful people to share it with.

Thanksgiving Calzones @ Jamie's
Pizza night @ Jamie's with Eurohot
Mindy was one of the new people that I met when I came back. She was at a disadvantage because I thought (incorrectly) that I had ENOUGH friends in my life and no room for one more. Somehow, though, she managed to wrestle in and nest squarely in my heart! Not only that but she even helped to expand my circle by bringing ME into HER Anyang Gang. Now I have almost two years worth of wonderful memories attached to her name. From Sunday night dinners to our catastrophic Taiwan Trip, signing from our classes whether we wanted to shoot ourselves or the administration, teaching English lingo or sweet dance moves to our kindergarteners, we did these things together and it wouldn't have been the same with anyone else.

Let's Have S'more Fun Together
She's talented in so many ways but this woman is truly a lyrical gangsta. She can articulate feelings and thoughts so right on, it's uncanny. Sometimes, all she has to do is look at the expression on my face and then can proceed to verbalize it. Whatever expression I had quickly turns into a look of awe and wonderment.

I love to laugh with her. Especially when she starts to cry when she's laughing. When the tears start to roll down her face, you know you hit a jackpot. She shares my love of horrible television and I'm never ashamed to tell her about the latest episode of the Bachelor or Gossip Girl. We're on the same internet meme level and can spend hours (at work) finding the most useless/entertaining things. A Sporcle partner is leaving me and I'm truly disheartened.

Mindy, you are a wonderful spirit and an amazing friend. This is not goodbye but just a delay until we're on the same side of the world again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Last Graduation Post Ever!!

I made it my mission to have this song sung at Graduation... if only I could have found a banjo for the instrumentals...

Today is the first day of our new school year. Because I'm T - 2 months, they have switched me up to the afternoon classes. I'm more happy than sad about it, but the best part is I'll be getting most of my Orange Owls in the afternoon!!!! Yippeee!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dog Days are Over....

Graduation has come and gone for the kindergarten Superkids... Tears were shed but I was so pleased with every single student's accomplishments and growth. I hope they won't forget Ms. Casey, just as much as I won't be able to forget each one of them.

I'll probably get banned from YouTube but I couldn't help using "Dog Days are Over" by Florence + the Machine...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I will miss...

these perfect little gems of photo opps. This pic was taken by my Seoulmate in an alleyway in Insadong as we were looking for a place to get some good kimchi chiggae. While Andrew was looking up the restaurant on his iPhone, the girls (Mindy, Liz and I) at once all looked at this little scene and collectively let out an, "Ooooh let's take our picture here!"

I was having a discussion with a friend a few weeks ago and he said that Seoul, while not known for its great architectural style and aesthetic beauty from a bird's eye view, actually flourishes in "micro design." Now I'm not sure if this is the correct or designated term (I just Googled it and got zilch) but the idea is that while Seoul's broadstroke landscape is gray shoebox apartments and boring buildings, there are corners and small scenes close up that offer an aesthetic "breath of fresh air."

Seoul does have its sense of humor in that regard. Areas around Hongdae are a given with an abundance of murals and street art. But it's those unexpected places (around a business district or in a historical place) where it really is refreshing to catch these charming tableaus.

While Austin does have its fair share of, if you don't look twice you'll miss it, I will truly miss all of the small surprises you get when you just take a peek into an alley. Unless you accidentally peek at a guy pissing in an alley. That's just gross.

Monday, January 24, 2011

SkinFood Beer Conditioner

My dear blog readers,

I am back after suffering what I've now discovered was a two month death defying bout of bronchitis. I went two weeks without my senses of taste and smell which is why it took so long for me to blog about my latest Skin Food find. I bought it during my sickness but couldn't fully appreciate or even critique this latest product. After a nice shot in the tush and a cycle of antibiotics I'm almost back at 100% (I'd say 96%) but have I been loving this conditioner!

Small bottle packs a wollop
So, I purchased this on a whim while out in Hongdae because I was plum out of conditioner and didn't want to cart around one of the huge bottles of Mise En Scene (another Korean hair brand).

"Avocado? Or Beer?" I asked Liz at the Skin Food. I'm not really a huge fan of either in its pure state but I remember Mindy raving about the Beer Shampoo and Conditioner from our trip back in Taiwan.

"Go with the beer." My Seoulmate replied. Either way, I knew I would at least score some Gold Caviar Serum in the brown baggie of free samples. So I took my loot home and showered up.

As I mentioned, my whole upper body was doing battle with Bronchitis and its cohorts so I wasn't even able to notice the smell of the conditioner. But while I was in the final rinse I was surprised that I was able to run my fingers through my hair without even having to comb it! Unbelievable! My hair felt soft and luscious even 3 minutes in! There was noticeably less frizz when my hair was dry.

A week of recuperation, I can smell (and taste, Hallelujah!) again, and while I wasn't a fan of the scent at first, I've really come to like it. It's not the fruity scent that evokes Herbal Essence or even the chemical sweetness of Pantene and the like. It smells like, well, hoppy beer.

Clearly I am not a hand model
So my verdict: I'm definitely going to stock up and send some home. I love the pump bottle, even though it's a bit small. I'm also going to try the shampoo (when my gallon of Mise En Scene shampoo runs out).

Unlike actual beer, I can tolerate this and even enjoy it.

Caution: Steer clear of me when I whip my hair back and forth as unsuspecting peers might get a buzz.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fun-due is very (n)ice!

January is cold. The snow has stuck now for about 2 weeks. So what's the best thing to do to stay all warm and toasty? Why ICE CREAM of course!! Koreans are impervious to the thought that one should not eat ice cream in the winter. They frankly are right.

Mindy's friend from Seattle, Sara, came in for New Years and got to be a Korean tourist for a week. We met up on Sunday at Central City Sinsegae and after some shopping decided to go to La Boca for lunch. After meeting with Jamie and munching on good Italian nosh, we decided to go elsewhere to satisfy our sweet tooth. In half truth, half jest I noted that Baskin Robin's ice cream fondue was still on my Korean Bucket List.

For those of you outside of Korea, Baskin Robin Ice Cream may conjure up pictures of a shop filled with hot sweaty kids in the summer. Here, you'll find a few gaggle of school girls or couples on a date. The basic ice cream flavors are here but you also have a few "Koreanized" flavors as well. And then you have their ice cream fondue.

I was pleasantly surprised when both Mindy and Sara said, "Sounds good! Let's go!" So we bundled up into our winter coats and headed the three blocks down to BR 31. We arrived and were (surprisingly) the only patrons in the shop. We made a beeline to their display case and pointed at their plastic fondue model. The ice cream scooper guy went to work. In a few minutes he brought out the most glorious and beautiful display of chilled confectionery delight. Not only did we get an assortment of 12 flavors in adorable little balls, but we got fruit (bananas, kiwis), and bite sized morsels of cakes (choco, vanilla, cheese).

One nice little "ah!" moment? You dip the ice cream into the fondue and it forms a nice crunchy chocolate shell!!

Posing before devouring

Too pretty to eat? Ha!

Let the fun(due!) begin!