July 31, 2011

Seoul meets body

People come and go, especially when you live the nomadic life of a traveling teacher, it is part of the deal and you learn to enjoy each encounter for what it is. You will go insane if you expect every person you meet to have some great impact on your life, yet their presence alone can alter the course of the future, such a novel thing we sometimes forget.  Some are good for just one night, others for a continuing relationship that eventually meets its end when your paths diverge, still more that will remain in contact with you over the years and a rare few that will stick, the ones that you can never forget or leave behind.

Memories are what make up most of these people in your pysche, and its perfect that way, sometimes memories are better than reality, however skewed they may become over time. Being able to appreciate and take advantage of the ambiguity of friendships in life is a skill only mastered by a select few. Some might not even think this view is a healthy one, but not everyone can live the way I do, people with no real place to call home must be resourceful.

In the words of the most enlightened philosophers of the century, I get by with a little help from my friends (I get high with a little help from my friends too!) and even though I may not be the girl who is reliable enough to be a bridesmaid or remember every birthday (am I just making excuses now about being a terrible friend, shit...) that is just who I am.  I couldn't live this life without the people I have met along the way, so while I may not always be around, I cherish every moment I spend with the people I have known, however fleeting it may be.

Do you neeeeeeeeed anybody? I need somebody to love.
Thats all I need. The rest is all icing on the cake.

Just some of the beautiful faces of the people I have met this year, who will not soon be forgotten, xox

July 27, 2011

dancing in the rain

I feel like all I have been talking about lately is the weather here in Seoul but it is utterly consuming! It has been raining non-stop with no end in sight. Been trying to keep busy for my last few weeks here regardless but it is hard to keep a positive attitude with the grayness outside. Looking forward to my travels more than ever and hoping that the weather will cooperate for us.  No quote can more properly describe my outlook as much as this one, it has gotten me through some tough times before and continues to inspire me... 
Art work by Charlotte Smith

"Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s learning to dance in the rain."

I walked home tonight with my umbrella closed, raindrops wetting my face and the coolness relaxing my heart. It was refreshing and liberating, people stared, I smiled with my eyes closed. The next few days should be more of the same, hopefully Seoul doesn't flood or float away before I leave, either way I will miss this city. 

much love xo

July 12, 2011

lemonade for sale!

My students are just so gosh darn cute! I am going to miss them more than anything in Korea, hands down!

This week I organized a lemonade stand for my after school to operate and sell to the other students. Bought some lemonade mix, made some cute posters to hang around the school and they were on their way to being just like any American kid during the summer (except it was raining outside, fucking monsoon season.)

They really are so smart, I gave them everything they needed, they made the lemonade, handled all the money, poured each student a glass and ran around with signs yelling "LEMONADE FOR SALE!" We made 13,000 krw and on Thursday I am going to buy them pizza to celebrate the end of the school year. This is the last week of school and then for four weeks I have summer camps, which is awesome because I only have to work from 9 -12 everyday :) These kids are real dolls and have made my experience in Korea so amazing!!

First we made the signs...

Our eager customers (my 5th grade students, they were so excited all day  to buy lemonade from us!)

Harry was an expert lemonade pourer...

These girls walked around the whole time yelling, they will be good salesgirls one day.

Jayden, one of my favorite students!

Lemonade stand = success!

July 11, 2011

extra baggage

It's absolutely crazy how much shit I have accumulated in the past year. Like mind-boggling. Why, oh WHY did I need that stupid mask for Halloween, the yoga mat that I rarely used since my gym already had some there, 10 different blankets/pads for my bed, the art supplies I HAD to have for school, or the countless random pieces of clothing that I deemed necessary for my life to be complete. In the final weeks of my stay here in Korea, I am already trying to get rid of the stuff I used only once and have no real need for on my travels and the winter clothes and coats that were valuable here during the winter months but will thankfully not be needed again. I knew this was not a permanent home and while most of my purchases were not totally frivolous, lesson learned, you can't take it with you.
This last month is Seoul is going to be bitter sweet for me, excited to be traveling for 2 months but will be sad to leave this little Asian peninsula I have called home for the past year. There have been days when I want nothing to do with Korea and there have been days when I can't get enough of it; its a love/hate relationship, living abroad, mostly love but its not always what it is cracked up to be. Thinking about the things I will miss here makes me a little emotional, although I am so excited to see Eric and explore together, he can't fill the void of kimchi as much as he might try :)

Life is all about new beginnings, we all make decisions and live with them but we always get the chance to start again fresh. Moving to Korea is the best decision I have ever made, I am finally realizing my dream and am never looking back. I'll learn many important lessons along the way, (ie. how to live simply so that packing is never again this stressful!) and each day start anew, improving myself and my life and hopefully the world.

July 6, 2011

the north.

My time is dwindling quickly here in South Korea and I am trying to do everything before I leave, a big one on my list being North Korea, or the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone). Some friends and I booked the tour with the USO specifically so we could go to the JSA (Joint Security Area, you know how the military love their acronyms) which is where South Korea, North Korean and American troops occupy and have been in a tense stand off for over 50 years. We got to see North Korea up close, stand in the room which is half in the South and half in the North and experience one side of the story (apparently when the North gives tours of the area, they have a different version, weird.) It was a day that words cannot do justice, something you must see for yourself to fully understand, so I won't try here.. but some pictures to give you an idea. 

For me, what really hit home was that North Korean people are the same as their southern relatives, all kimchi eating, soju drinking, Hanguel speaking Koreans. Yet there is so much hatred between the two, they are no longer one race of people and this is an interesting yet sad fact about the peninsula. "You are human, and I am human." 

Can't we just all get along?

The best tourist attraction in Korea!
They explained the reason for standing facing the wall, but I don't remember it, either way it is kinda funny..
Guarding the door to North Korea, I was so tempted to try and go through it, just so that I could get attacked by a soldier and have a good story! 

I'm standing in South Korea, taking a picture of North Korea.

North Korean village, we were told it is basically like a movie set with lots of nice buildings, but no one living there, pretty creepy. 
Bridge of No Return
Wish I could have taken a better picture of the DPRK and its beautiful scenery, but  shoot past this line and a guard will  delete the photo. 
Next Holiday??
The subway that goes nowhere...
North Korean beer is so much better than Cass...

July 2, 2011

Itaewon freedom!

Haters gonna hate, but over the course of 11 months, I have grown quite fond of this magical place that has real cheese, hummus and other cherished items from home. Only a short subway ride and you arrive in a place with actual diversity, English speaking Starbucks baristas and "big sizes" for all!  I am not, however, a fan of the late nights there, a bit TOO different for this Korean acclimated drinker, but during the daytime I enjoy strolling along the crowded, ethnic streets, people watching to my hearts desire ( it is a prime spot for my psychology major hobby.) Itaewon gets a bad rap for some foreigners in Korea, for others, it is the only place they can imagine going, for me, the old phrase "it's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there" comes to mind. This area is near the US army base, and as soldiers aren't strangers to violence and drama, you can understand the nightlife here gets a bit spotty at times and it has gained a reputation as the dirtiest and most dangerous area in Seoul.

Another area I am much more fond of, which is close to the (in)famous Itaewon subway stop, is Noksapyeong, home to the two streets known as Haebangchon (HBC) and  Gyeongridan. Located here are tons of delicious America-esque food choices, the yummy Jacoby's Burger (the best burger I have had in Seoul), the fabulous Indigo restaurant and Craftworks, famous for its brunch and Bloody Marys. There are a ton of cute cafe's, bars and clubs that make up what is known as the "hipster" foreigner area, haha much more my style!

Went to Itaewon one day after work this week, and here are a couple of my purchases that make my life much happier: )

- Tillamook cheese! (13 dollars, but TOTALLY worth it!)

- Sidharrtha and a couple other good reads from What the Book!
- green olives
- Skippy peanut butter
- Boxed mac and cheese
- Nag Champa - (I love when this is the smell of my life, reminds me of home...)

- Taco Bell, which turns out is just as shitty as it is back home. Hurts so good!

Also, if you haven't watched this music video, do so at your own risk. It is a damn catchy tune. ITAEWON FREEDOM!!
(and for your viewing pleasure, the other classic Gangnam Freedom, very close to my home and one of my favorites!)