Tag Archives: new england

Let’s wrap this up?

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I’ve been a neglectful mother to my blog that I began nurturing back in late 2011. Writing is like a good workout for me. I think about it daily. I put it off and make excuses because IT’S HARD. Yet, I crave the satisfaction of walking away from the computer upon hitting the blue ‘Publish’ button after writing a time consuming and well-crafted post. Coming home has been fantastic, yet I feel as though I’m walking around constantly missing something. Did I forget my make-up? Do I have pants on? I am no longer an expat or a teacher in Korea and on top of that I have lost my ‘Travel Blogger’ title. Don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic for what is next and I know I am ready for it, but I also know it is going to take some time and I miss having the blog platform to go to late at night or when I’m feeling creative.

photo5I may complain about not having a full-time job at the moment, but I know in a few weeks (fingers crossed) I will be missing mid-week beach visits like this one.

I arrived stateside about a month ago and it’s been a crazy yet wonderful return home to New England. Mere hours after landing in Boston and still battling jet-lag, my family descended upon Schenectady, NY for my brother’s graduation from Union College. After a weekend of reminiscing and lamenting to my parents as we passed early morning kegger remnants and sleepy-eyed students that, “Oh, those were the days…” we packed up my brother’s life and headed home. In the back of my mind I was thankful I was currently post-expat and not simply post-grad. Looking at the newly diploma-ed youngsters did bring me back to memories of late nights full of you-won’t-believe-it stories, but I also recognized that although I was job-less and living with my parents like many graduates would be for the summer of 2013, I had 17 months of Korea under my belt and in some mysterious way I knew the adventure was going to guide me to what was next.

photo2Portsmouth, NH, oh how I missed you!

I’ve spent the past month catching-up with friends and family, enjoying New Hampshire’s beach-lined coast, and missing Korea, and all the friends I left there. Oh, and when I’m not stuffing my face with hummus, making small-talk with (English speaking!) strangers in Starbucks and Trader Joe’s, loving the salty air and familiar landscapes of my beloved Martha’s Vineyard (Where I WILL own a house someday.), and sweating it out at my dearly missed Bikram yoga classes, I’ve been learning the art of NETWORKING, because really people, THIS IS HOW YOU GET A JOB.

photo1Early morning lessons and networking with Stonyfield Social Media experts!

I won’t bore you with all the details, but finding a full-time job is a full-time job and as hectic as it’s been it’s also been kind of fun. I’ve entered rooms full of strangers and forced myself to mingle. I’ve woken up at 6am to eat bagels and sip coffee with other ‘Social Media Enthusiasts’ at the #PortsBkfstClub. I’ve reached out to company owners and New Hampshire leaders through LinkedIn and friends of friends of friends. I’ve answered questions about my past and done so honestly and I’ve gotten fantastic responses to my answer, “I was teaching and living in Korea and I just got home and now I am job searching…” Korea gave me Psy socks, a new appreciation for barbecue, and life-long friends, but it also gave me a sense of confidence and the assurance that everything is going to work out. I’ll have to revisit Korea someday and thank the old jimjilbang ajummas and my Korean students, because if you can survive a naked scrub-down from an old woman and manage to control a room full of horse-dancing Korean speaking children all in one week, you can do anything.

photo3Catching up with old friends is hectic. We couldn’t stop chatting to take a photo!

I’ve come to the realization that while living and teaching in Korea may stand out on a resume timeline, it definitely brightens the page rather than tarnishing it. I’ve had to formulate some creative answers to show people how my time in Korea prepared me for my future career in marketing and communications, but it’s been a good exercise for me to find multiple ways to tell a story. And isn’t that exactly what I was doing in Korea? Staring back at adorably clueless Korean faces after explaining a lesson in English forced me to find a different way of expressing myself. I want to continue to create stories and find clever ways of telling them and luckily I’m re-entering the world of communications where content marketing is “about continuous storytelling. It’s about a steady stream of storytelling innovations—large and small—delivered as an ongoing pulse. A drumbeat.” (Read more from Jake Sorofman’s blog post here.)

photo4You can travel around the world, but nothing beats a familiar summer sunset from your porch.

It is encouraging to see that people are still using this blog as a tool for living the ‘Expat life in Korea’ and I hope to remain a resource for those of you who have questions or comments. As my job search continues I am also working on creating a new blog for my new adventure. Who knows, ‘The Expat Comes Home’…and FINDS A JOB? Or perhaps overdoses on hummus? You’ll have to stay tuned. So, I guess this isn’t about wrapping it up, it’s just the beginning!

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Filed under devan teacher, korea in the news, travel, yoga

No Naps Allowed – Hamilton Hotel Pool in Itaewon

Just last week I was swimming under a waterfall on the island of Jeju and last night I contemplated turning the heat on in my apartment. The weather in Korea at the moment reminds me of the transition from summer to fall back home in New England. The change is quick and if you don’t take the time to look around and enjoy the last bit of summer it will be time for scarves and boots before you know it. Toward the end of August I found my ultimate summer escape in Seoul. I was always intrigued by the loud techno beats booming from the rooftop swimming pool at the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, but I had yet to bring my bathing suit, towel and sunscreen with me to Seoul. Each time I exited the subway across from the hotel entrance this past summer I told myself I must plan a day to enjoy this infamous pool. Summer flew by and after some internet research I learned that the pool was closing after the first weekend in September, so I went to bed early and set my alarm on the last Saturday in August and ventured into Seoul the next morning to spend the day poolside.

My friends and I arrived in Itaewon a little after 11am and the pool party was already going strong. The pool was packed with swimmers and sunbathers positioned around the pool making it difficult to walk from one side of the deck to the other. I had imagined a day of lounging on a chair reading my book and listening to music from my headphones but these plans were immediately squashed. This was a pool party and one of the last of the summer so people were making the most of the day. We stored out bags in a locker, grabbed drinks and made our way to the pool. There was no room to lounge on the deck so we spent most of the day floating around the pool.

A DJ in the corner pumped out dance music and the pool guests danced, drank and swam away the day. I was impressed by the Korean women who easily maneuvered their way around the pool in skimpy swim suits and super high heels while many of the men continuously applied tanning oil to their buff bodies and strutted by each other making sure to flex and convey how much time they spent each week at the gym. The pool atmosphere was one I had yet to experience in Korea and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the entertaining show that was the pool party until the sun began to set and we were ushered out of the pool facility by the hotel cleaning staff.

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I only made it to the Hamilton Hotel Pool once this summer and I regret this statistic. The pool provided a great escape from the summer heat and humidity and it was easy to get to in Itaewon. If you are in Seoul next summer I recommend checking it out, but don’t bring a book or expect to take a nap poolside. There will be dancing and loud music and you will love it. Just consider yourself warned.

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Directions: At Itaewon Station (line 6) walk out Exit 3 and you will find the Hamilton Hotel directly to your right. The pool is on the 5th floor.

The pool is open from 10am-6pm most days during the summer. Arrive early if you want to rent a chair and secure a spot on the pool deck. You can also rent towels and lockers. The pool is closed on rainy days.

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back to the beach – BUSAN!

I had no problem hopping a plane from Boston to Korea in the middle of February to teach English in Korea. I love New England, but I have never been a fan of winter. I was born to swim and I live for summers at the beach, as short as they may be. As summer made it’s way to Korea I admit I was a bit homesick for NH beaches and my favorite summer spot, Martha’s Vineyard. I quickly reached out to my friends in Busan from Chungdahm Training and planned a beach weekend. Little did I know, the weekend happened to also be the Busan Sand Festival. Traveling to Busan was simple – I left my apartment early on Saturday morning and made my way into Seoul on the subway and then caught a KTX train to Busan. I was dipping my toes in the water by early afternoon and spent the rest of the day and evening at the beach catching up with friends and swimming as much as possible.

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On Sunday, I spent time exploring the sand castles that were on display all along the beach and listened to live music booming from a gigantic stage set right on the sand. I think most of Korea joined me in Busan for the weekend, but I really didn’t mind the crowds. I loved watching the cute Korean kids squeal with delight as they chased waves and intently constructed sandcastles at the surf’s edge. In the sea of Korean families I felt very much at home – I knew that just across the world there was a very similar beach scene taking place. It was all too familiar – a mother lounging on her towel trying to skim her novel while keeping an eye on her kids, a father chasing the little ones into the waves and children making seaweed delicacies for all to try – oh summer I love you – wherever you are!

If you know MV you will appreciate this beach restaurant/bar we went to – SHARKYS’! What!? Where am I?

Cheers for now…posting this back in my room as my fan blows warm air in my face…missing the beach!

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ARC: so official

hunger games <3
hunger games ❤

This past week I found myself feeling a tad jealous of my friends and family back home in New England soaking in the unseasonably warm weather. As if missing the HUNGER GAMES PREMIERE wasn’t enough (I have to wait until next month)!!! I felt the most resentment when I was running against fiercely cold wind and the sky began to spit snow on Saturday. I’m not a fan of the cold or snow, so I was very lucky to have such a mild winter. My months in NH before Korea were snow-less, except of course for a freak small snow storm on Halloween weekend. Since arriving in Korea I have experienced a few cold days, but nothing extreme. The weather has been pretty predictable spring weather…what the weather should be in NE. I guess I will just have to deal with all the annoying Facebook statuses for now: “BBQ and drinks outside!”, “I just got a sunburn during my lunch break!” and “Heading to the beach!”. I did discover that my apartment building has a great roof-deck this weekend – I am pumped to soak in the sun as soon as possible. Enjoy your short-lived tans New Englanders!!

I received my ARC (Alien Registration Card) this week – so I am OFFICIAL! It’s nice to have an ID to carry around. Most of my friends from training had to wait until they got their ARCs to set up a bank account or purchase a cell phone. I was lucky and was able to do both of these things without one.

I finished my 4th week of teaching on Friday and completed mini report cards for each student I teach. My time in the classroom has flown by, but it was interesting to look back and realize how much we have accomplished in the past few weeks. Many of my students have become much more confident in their English abilities. A few were so shy and it was a struggle to get them to utter a few words of English in week 1. Now they are raising their hands and are so eager to read or answer questions out-loud in class. Of course it didn’t hurt that I encouraged the “points” system. During class I have all of the student names on the white board and each time they earn a point for doing something fantastic I mark it next to their name. If they earn a certain amount of points during class they can collect official paper points from me at the end of class. They can use the points to buy snacks and candy from the school. It is amazing how much these students value their points. If someone acts up during class I simply erase one of their points on the board and the student quickly ceases any disruptive behavior.

I went into Seoul on Saturday with a new friend I met in Uijeongbu. We met up with 2 of my college friends for dinner and then headed back home early around 11pm to avoid the subway shut-down. If you go out in Seoul you have to either head home early at 11pm or stay out until 5:30am when the subway re-opens (or pay for an expensive cab). Every time I venture into Seoul I gain a bit more confidence in my subway navigation skills. It’s great to know if I want to I can get myself into Seoul and home again no problem. I have also mastered a few of the buses in my town. I can get from my apartment to downtown Uijeongbu or to the subway station. I still have a lot to learn of course…

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Lastly, here is an excerpt from an article about Obama’s trip to the DMZ today. He was in my backyard (kind of):

CAMP BONIFAS, South Korea (Reuters) – President Barack Obama peered across South Korea’s tense border with the North on Sunday in a show of solidarity with U.S. ally Seoul and a message of resolve to Pyongyang’s new young ruler in his country’s nuclear standoff with the West.

Arriving on the eve of a global summit on nuclear security hosted by South Korea, Obama flew by helicopter to a U.S. base on the edge of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as a solemn North Korea came to a halt to mark the 100th day after “dear leader” Kim Jong-il’s death.

“You guys are at freedom’s frontier,” Obama told about 50 troops crammed into the Camp Bonifas mess at one of the world’s most heavily fortified frontiers.

“The contrast between South Korea and North Korea could not be clearer, could not be starker, both in terms of freedom and in terms of prosperity.”

He spent about 10 minutes on a viewing platform at the DMZ, talking with some of the soldiers on guard as the flags of the United States, South Korea and the United Nations flapped loudly in the brisk, cold wind.

(http://news.yahoo.com/obama-visits-tense-korean-border-ahead-nuclear-summit-024028940.html)

 

 

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Filed under korea in the news, seoul, uijeongbu