Jeju is often referred to as "the Hawaii of Korea." However, except for both places being windy volcanic islands and vacation destinations, the two have nothing in common. The biggest difference, aside from culture and size, is the weather. Jeju, being located much further north that Hawaii, has distinct four seasons, and the winter season can be quite brutal (though not nearly as brutal as on the mainland). Winter winds are bitter cold and snow covers Mt. Hallasan. The seas are rough, and the cold, moist air often brings some snow to the coasts as well. Therefore, many of the expat teachers will leave the island during their winter break and head for warmer destinations. This winter, I decided to do the same.
I spent the majority of the winter break at home in Kentucky with family and five fuzzy fur babies (cats), but on the way back to Jeju, I decided to make a short stop in Oahu to soak up the warmer weather and see a few friends. The archipelago did not disappoint. In fact, by the end, I was wishing I'd had more than just a few days to explore.
My trip started out with my wonderful friend, Kathy, picking me up from the airport and taking me to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, which I hadn't been to in 7 years. The next day, we spent the day soaking up natural beauty at Makapu'u Lighthouse, Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, and Kailua Beach. The day started out rather sunny, warm, and windy, so, naturally, I got sunburned. However, the afternoon was more overcast. In between one ocean scene and another, we stopped for an acai bowl lunch.
On day two, we drove out to the North Shore to eat the famous shrimp and visit the Polynesian Culture Center. This was probably my favorite day of my visit, as it hit two of the things I love most about traveling: trying new and delicious foods, and learning about different cultures. I loved learning about the island cultures of Samoa, Aoteaora, Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, and Hawai'i. It's always fascinating to me to see not only how wonderfully varied and diverse human cultures are, but also how interconnected we all are.
For day three, I arranged a whale watching tour and lunch with a coworker from Camp Fulbright, Quinne. It was great to catch up and her about her experiences in college. As for the boat ride, the sun was out and it was all very lovely, yet there were unfortunately not any whales. There was, however, a very friendly sea turtle!
All in all, I had a great visit and a lovely time relaxing before heading back to a grim January on Jeju.
Sometimes, life gets ahead of you. That is certainly what has happened in the past couple years. I started teaching at a new school, started and ended a relationship, traveled to several countries, and learned much in the process.
Given that 2019 is already underway and that I will be making another change in my life come June, it's time to play some catch up. And what better way to do so than through my favorite photos from my 2-year hiatus:
It has been a long time since I have updated my blog. Although much has happened since December 2015 - field trips, a summer spent at home and Fulbright English Program, new students, and beautiful moments teaching and learning - the truth is that the past two years have been the most difficult years of my (short) teaching career. I couldn't bring myself to write about even the good moments.
I have been through many trials and tribulations at GIS, and many times I found myself on the brink of giving up. There have been many moments when I have regretted, in some way, the decision to teach there. However, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have met some of my closest friends and confidants. I have to thank the friends who have stuck by and supported me through these two years of strife; I would have broken long ago without you. Thankfully, my time of struggle at GIS is over; I will be moving on to something bigger and better, and I'm genuinely excited for the future.
As of June 30th, 2017, I am no longer the English Language Arts teacher at GIS. In August, I will begin studying at Indiana University Bloomington for a Masters of Education in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education. Then, in October, I will be starting a new chapter in my teaching career at St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju. I couldn't be more excited for these opportunities to learn and grow, and to start this personal blog again. Please join me once again on my journey!
I woke up this morning to the sweet smell of cinnamon and baking pastry dough wafting upstairs. Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls; one of our family's Christmas traditions. Last night, after I got home, Mom and I set about decorating our mini-Christmas tree and setting up the porcelain village. Back when we lived in CO, we always had a large tree all dressed up, and the family room decked to the nines in Christmas spirit. These days, our celebrations are much smaller - Dad is living in CO, and Lauren has recently moved in with her boyfriend. There is no longer need to deck the halls.
Tomorrow, though, both Dad and Lauren will be here to celebrate. I'm looking forward to seeing them both, and to having dinner with Lauren and her boyfriend.
Later in the week, Mom and I will visit Grandma. She's 95 now, so every time I come home, I make it a priority to see her. Over the past year and a half, there have been several health scares that serve as a reminder of just how unpredictable and fragile life is. I wish I'd been able to see Granddad before he died as much as I see Grandma now. It's still a regret of mine that I didn't visit him in the hospital before my study abroad in France.
But, Christmas is not a time for regretting; it is a time for celebrating and appreciating those who surround us.
'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the skies
Flew a plane and a girl
Who heaved a great sigh
Home she was headed
With visions of kitty-cats
All in her head
After a hectic semester, I'm finally on my way home for Christmas break! I'll be recuperating for two weeks with my mom, my sister, and our four cats before returning for the second semester. I'm so excited to have these few weeks of a break because I need them. Adjusting to my new job has been stressful, to say the least, and I was starting to suffer from stress-related health issues. In the last three weeks, I've had a bad cold, a partially dislocated shoulder, and an aura-accompanied migraine. This migraine was particularly frightening, as, although I've had migraines all my life, I've never suffered from an aura before. It was the worst headache I've ever experienced.
The semester hasn't only been stressful; it's been drama-ridden, too. Some of the drama comes with teaching at a school where the students are all from very wealthy and well-to-do families, and some comes from the age of the school. I was prepared for none of it. I also wasn't the only one. It's only the end of the first semester, and already we've lost several teachers and even some of our administrative staff. Given how rough this semester has been on all of us, I'm not all that surprised, but it does make me worry about next semester. When teaching at a new school, anything can rock the boat and cause the school to fail. Our principal has told us not to worry, but I can't shake this bad feeling. I'm praying that I'm wrong.