Blood full moon for Friday the 13th

Facebook & other social media erupted with meme’s about Friday the 13th’s full moon being the last one until 2049.  After some brief research (aka google) I realized that really depends where in the world you live.  Even if it isn’t THAT rare it was still pretty cool; especially since here in Seoul we had a blood red full moon for the first few hours!



Friday the 13th Full Moon in Seoul

Luckily my coworkers and I enjoyed it from our balcony while christening our newly purchased BBQ.  I enjoyed the best cheeseburger in almost 10 months (yikes, I’ve been here almost a year already!?!?) and we grilled up some steaks, chicken, eggplant, peppers and potatoes while dancing away.

Hiking in Bukhansan – a photo walk

Last weekend I led a hike in Bukhansan National Park with some of my coworkers.  This makes 5 times in Bukhansan and still love it!  The first Spring Sunday made for a delightful hike despite the crowd and some hazy views.  Along the way we saw beautiful forests, temples and some climbers even crazier than us!  The temple was decked out with pink lanterns in what we think was getting ready for Buddha’s Birthday and provided  a welcome reprieve from the swarm of Koreans.

Ever since my last hike I’ve been practicing using manual focus so I hope you enjoy this photo walk along the trails (and off a few) with Brian, Steph and Evan!

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Overcoming an unexpected hurdle

Day two with my new 4th graders went even better than I could have planned.  I cleaned up my computer and didn’t have random pop ups in the middle of my lessons; I knew who was a girl and who was a boy and even remembered a few names!  The presentation Mike & John (my team leaders) prepared continued along smoothly and helped my class generate a set of rules before laying down the 4th grade law.

YH morning meeting 2014-15

We used cupcake analogies to portray our 1-5 grading system and allowed the kids to get creative and make their own comparisons.  I had dilapidated cars (1 for needs improvement) turning into hotrods (5 for excellent), flip phones transforming before my eyes into low end smartphones and eventually a Galaxy 4s!  This was a clear favorite among the students and I will happily be able to refer to it when grading and explaining grades.

Today included Miss Nelson is Missing and provided the opportunity for me to read another chapter in The Witches.  All of that was pretty normal for a 4th grade classroom.  I expected these changes and embraced them as I began to embrace my new students and the challenges that we will face together.  After all I’m no longer working in a glorified daycare but rather a renowned private school!

The biggest change I noticed today was after the students had left.  We had a full team meeting including our 4 Korean counterparts.  Luckily one of the admins acted as an interpreter, but, as soon as we sat down (I’m ashamed to say) I got a little anxiety!  At my last job every meeting with administration ended poorly.  We were yelled at and blamed for things outside our control.  I was accused of lying and threatened with deportation; unfortunately that was the norm for myself and the other 10 foreigners.  Every time we needed a translator lies were told and we later discovered important info that was skimmed over.  I developed an unfortunate skepticism for Korean businessmen and administration after my horrible hagwon!

I kept this to myself, trusting in my veteran coworkers to vocalize any concerns.  Most of the meeting was the Korean teachers making sure that we were on the same page.  In fact, very little new information was dispensed in the meeting.  We made both sides aware of a few deadlines, some scheduling issues and shared classroom etiquette.  Extra attention was paid to advance notice regarding plans and changes (something that has appeared to be a luxury so far in Korea.)

Despite having a perfectly friendly and professional relationship with everyone involved I continued to find myself skeptical of translations.  Wary of the words coming from my Korean counterparts I forced myself to push these thoughts from my mind and leaned on my team lead while remaining silent.  Before long the meeting was over and I quickly realized that this new unexpected hurdle, this unfair prejudice that my previous boss instilled in me would be one of my toughest challenges in the coming weeks!

I want to end it there but I’ve gotta say that I love my new job and all my coworkers!  I know that this prejudice is unfair and am confident that my new colleagues will help prove just how false of a picture my previous administration painted for their brethren.  Oh, and I love that the Korean’s opened with “4th grade is best team!”  Clearly we are all on the same page.

A night out in Mokdong

Last night I cheated.  I’ve been so good these last 2 weeks but last night I had a lapse.  Okay, maybe there was some peer pressure involved.  I swear it was for a good cause though!

Let me back up a minute.  I proclaimed December to be a special month, one that I dubbed “Don’t Drink December.”  Feel free to read more about it on my previous post but basically instead of drinking I am collecting funds to donate to the Philippines Red Cross for Supertyphoon Haiyan relief.  I’ve been going strong so far and raised $70!

Well anyway back to last night.  I was supposed to get dinner with some Korean friends but plans changed after fencing practice and I found myself meeting Brian and Susan (2 coworkers) at a Makeoli and Pajeon restaurant down the road.  I sat down and had a bite of the delicious Korean pancake ignoring the bowl of yellow rice wine in front of me.

Susan commented “Oh I totally forgot you aren’t drinking!  Sorry I poured you a bowl.”

She grabbed the bowl and asked “What would it take for you to drink tonight?”

I laughed.  We’ve been down this road a few times this month and I tell her I’m fine not drinking and the conversation goes back to how delicious the pajeon is and how excited we are at the new jobs & apartment.  A few moments later Sara joins us as we pay and I’m struck by a brilliant idea.

“I tell you what.  Since we are celebrating all four of us signing a new lease tonight I think I can make an exception.  But there’s a catch.  I will drink tonight if you donate to the Philippines Red Cross.”


I guess I must be a fun party-goer because I immediately was presented with $20 in donations as we walked into a Korean Barbeque.  Sara had been here before with Sejun and we are assured they have excellent Samgyupsal (pork).  I declare that I want to try a new cut of meat as we order Soju, Mekju and a thinkly sliced pile of pork.

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A heated seat, a bidet and my first night out

My little studio apartment is full of surprises, most notably in the bathroom.  I’ve been assured that I live in a pristine location only 25 seconds from the subway with a washing machine, microwave, fridge, “stove” (its really just a built in hot plate), TV, DVD player and plenty of storage.  But, apparently the best feature of my apartment is not my plethora of appliances but rather the heated toilet seat.  Thats right, my bum is being warmed as I write this and will stay toasty even in the coldest of winter nights!  Oh, and I have my very own bidet. Haven’t quite figured out how to use my “robot toilet” yet but it  which made one coworker seriously jealous because he doesn’t even have enough water pressure to take a shower while my toilet can shoot a stream across the room.



My shower is attached to my bathroom sink.  Moving on.  Plenty of storage and not too messy of a room.  Sleeping in my sleeping bag until I find a good place to buy sheets.  I’m told they’ll rip me off locally but was given a few suggestions.  Clothes washer but no drier so I’ve got this nifty drying rack too. A big shout out to Megan (the teacher I’m replacing and taking the apartment from) for leaving me all these gadgets, along with some kitchenware so I didn’t walk into a bare apartment.




Megan leaves tonight for Taiwan and a month of backpacking before heading back to the States.  We all went out for Korean BBQ, a fantastic little restaurant where we have a grill in the middle of our table and cook our own meal.  This was amazing and will be a regular occurrence!  There was plenty of beer, beef, kim chi and some soju among a soups and salads.  After dinner we all went back to my apartment so Megan could get her things.  With some more beer we said our farewells and the rest of us went to the Beer Garten.



One of my favorite discoveries of the the night was the lack of open container law!  Obviously we grabbed “road beers” at 7-11 and walked to the bar.   Walking down busy streets it felt a lot like NYC; except that the 6 of us were the only white people in sight.  Lots of traffic, bright lights and colorful advertising everywhere; too bad I can’t read any of it.


We arrived at the beer hall and quickly found our seats.  They bought us massive glasses and I got the hot seat.  New guy got to answer tons of questions, I was a willing participant and shared my story although I’m not sure they realized they didn’t have to loosen my tongue with more beer.  I didn’t mind.


The jet lag hits me in waves.  By the afternoon my body keeps thinking its the middle of the night but I get a second wind and am great for a few hours.  Well, by midnight the second winds stopped failed me.  Brian, one of my coworkers lives across the street from me and helped make sure I didn’t get lost on the way home.  A successful evening but for now its bedtime; I’m told I’ll regret the soju tomorrow.