In China, they have a saying: "Don't put your winter clothes away until Tomb Sweeping Day". This may seem like a really obscure guidleine to follow when changing over your wardrobes for the seasons, but without fail it proved correct for both my Springs in China.

Last week, the weather in Korea was absolutely spectacular: mid teens throughout the week. I was tempted to have my winter coat dry-cleaned and sent back to Canada, but then something in the back of my head told me to keep it around for a bit alonger.

This year, Tomb Sweeping Day (QingMing Jie) falls on April 4th. Sure enough, despite the spectacular weather we'd been having, this Sunday it rained and cooled off enough for me to need my winter coat again this week. Chinese wisdom strikes true again! Mark the 4th on your calendar and don't put your warm woolies away until then!


This week I've been doing station activities with my students where they rotate through 4 different stations during thier class. There is a listening exercise, a speaking exercise, a vocabulary development exercise and finally a writing exercise which is supposed to bring all the skills together. In the last station, I instructed the students to put their finished writing in an envelope so that it could be corrected and I could write some feedabck on it. This seemed like a brilliant idea to me, until I looked at the stack of papers on my desk and rememebered I have approximately 780 students. Right.

My hopes of creating personlized comments on their papers quickly progressed into a marking scheme of smiley face, ambivalent face, sad face (I wish I knew how to insert emoticons for a full demonstration).

Out of all 780 papers, only one stood out from the group. His wriitng is so messy, I can't make out his name, but this is what he wrote (the unit we are covering is on recognizing acquaintances from the past):

A: Excuse me, but aren't you Tae-Hyun?
B: Yes, I am. Do I know you?
A: I'm Ted. We went to the same college.
B: Now I rememeber! Hi, Ted. You haven't changed at all. How have you been?
A: Well, I'm unemployed. How about you?
B: I'm doing okay, I'm a slave of the mafia.
A: Are you okay? I think that it's very dangerous!
B: I'm okay. I just get broken bones and then go to the hospital.
A: Oh. I'm sorry to hear that.

This kid got a smiley face.

On the Metro 03/20/2008

Spotted yesterday, on the line 7 metro from Taereung to Suraksan in full rush hour train-car squishiness:

A man playing air drums with pure abandonment.

And he had sheet music (I kid you not).

An Update 03/08/2008

Although it's not officially Spring here in Korea, the weather would make you guess otherwise. The last couple of weeks have been absolutely beautiful, with daytime temperatures floating around the +10 mark, and this weeks forecast expecting a high of +17 by Thursday! How happy am I?!?!

Unfortunately though, my journal updating has taken a turn for the worse because of it. I warned everyone in the beginning that I wasn't the greatest writer and that it would be hard for me to stay motivated, but through the winter months it was relatively easy as I stayed cocooned in my apartment for the greater part of most days. Now, using yesterday as an example, I spend upwards of 6 hours outside wandering around and enjoying the sunshine, replenishing my vitamin D levels. So, I figure an update is in order! Here we go...

February 24th marked the half-way mark for the completion of my contract in Korea. I knew it was coming, and now that it's technically in the home stretch, it's time to start thinking about plans for the new academic year. So far my brother and my best friend Kate have been more than kind to offer me suggestions of where I should go (conveniently, out west, near them) but I am still up in the air because of job certainty and a mix of wanting to settle down and not being finished with the world yet. It might be another year overseas for me to continue to build the savings reserve, but August is still 6 months away and a lot can happen in that time, so I'll keep you posted :)

The new school year in Korea started on March 3rd, but the week leading up to that I took another 5 days of holiday leave, and stayed in Seoul to explore things that are a little closer to home. The War Memorial Museum had an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so I finally paid it a visit, but find that I need to go back to really do it justice. Even in the couple of hours I spent there, I only managed to get through the outdoor exhibits, the Dead Sea Scrolls special exhibit and the first floor historical war exhibits, where I finally found out what a Turtle Boat is!

The famous Turtle Boat, complements of Yi Sun Shin.

Another beautiful day during that week of holidays, Sara, Richard and I decided to hop on the Seoul metro for 2 hours and head to Suwon and it's famous Folk Village. You just can't come to Korea and not see a Folk Village! Being the middle of the week, we were close to the only ones there, so it made for a nice, quiet outing. It was definitely Spring-y with the clear blue sky, the heat of the sun, the snow and ice melting, and all the farm animals copulating. Kid you not, we interrupted a ridiculous number of mating attempts that day. I managed to get quite the look from a goat at one point after coming around the corner and bursting out in laughter, scaring off his partner. Oops.

Richard let me use his super-fancy camera that day, so we ended up with over 250 pictures capturing the Folk Village as I happily snapped away, including over 50 of my new obsession...

...Kimchi pots!!
Cue Sara and Richard both rolling their eyes

We spent the later part of that day hiking up a hill in the middle of the city to walk around the walls of the Hwaseong fortress. Really spectacular, and it offered some amazing 360 degree views of the city.

And that pretty much brings us up to date other than this past week I returned to school and so far, it seems things may go a lot smoother than the last 6 months. I have three new co-teachers, half of my students have moved up to high-school and I am trying some new things in my lessons which have so far proven good for behavior management and keeping the students on task. In my current job, I generally manage the success of the day/week by the number of times I have been told to 'Go f*** myself'. So far this week: 0 .  An absolute record. Hopefully this is the start of a new beginning and not just them going easy on me because it's the first week :)

And so, that's me. How have you been lately?

Meet Kyle 02/22/2008

Lianne, Sara, Me and Kyle - Shanghai 2006

Let me introduce you to my friend Kyle. If you've ever had a conversation with me lasting longer than 5 minutes, Kyle has undoubtedly been mentioned at least once. Although realistically, he's probably even made it into conversations under 5 minutes. And usually the dialogue follows something similar to this:

Me: "...blah, blah, blah, my friend Kyle, blah, blah, blah..."
Other Person: "Who's Kyle?"
Me: "Oh, Kyle?! He's great. He's just great. He's just, you know, great. He's....great..."

It's really hard to describe Kyle, and usually I get a little overwhelmed at trying to wrap all his awesomeness up in a few words, so "great" is the unfortunate descriptor that he's acquired. Ask any of my friends now, and they will say, "Oh Kyle! That great friend of yours?" Yes, that great friend of mine. *Sigh* I have never really done him justice, so I'm taking a little time out of my Saturday morning to give him and his greatness the attention it deserves, particularly because he's out doing something  that I think everyone should know about.

I first met Kyle back in August of 2006 as I was starting my second contract teaching English in China. Sara and I were doing the new staff orientation and training, and one day Kyle (a newbie) came up and introduced himself. A small group of us went out for dinner, hung out at his apartment afterwards laughing (and laughing!) and the rest, as they say, is history. We continued to laugh together, shop together, cook together and travel together. Then came the unfortunate day in February 2007 when we had to say goodbye. Kyle was only on a 6-month contract, and as hard as it was to let him go (there were tentative plans to tie him up and keep him in a closet), it was for a good reason. He was off on his Dream it. Do it. World Tour.

As a spokesperson for Youth Venture, Kyle was traveling to 11 different countries on 5 continents to highlight youth-led organizations for social change.  Youth all over the world were taking action to change their communities - on local, national and global scales - and Kyle documented it all through writing, video and pictures on his website.  Currently, Kyle is off on another adventure. This time, he's on a 40 day road trip across America and Canada with the same purpose of highlighting social change through youth initiatives.  Take a minute to check it all out, and you'll see why it's hard to wrap this guy up in just a few choice adjectives...

Official Blog:
YV Road Trip America Website:

Surprises 02/22/2008

Generally, I'm not a big fan of surprises. I tend to react a little strongly, turning into a over-emotional bubbling fountain of tears who looses all ability to form words let alone comprehensible statements of thanks (ask Jen and Jeff - they witnessed this first hand after super-surprising me at Christmas). That said, I was pretty thrilled at the surprise I received today...

Just as I was hitting the 'publish' button on the previous blog post, my doorbell rang. Opening the door, I found a man on my threshold holding a package addressed from my brother in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. And it was heavy! Sunday marked my two-year anniversary of being overseas and this was the first surprise package I've received so I was pretty stoked. Inside, a care package of Timmie's products with an awesome new mug to drink them from. My brother was pretty cool to start with, but he just bumped his coolness factor by an infinite amount.

One of two things will happen with my new treats:

1) They will be rationed and in 6 months when it's time to leave, I will still have  enough to be brewed on the airplane home.

2) Over the next week, I will be wired out of my mind on a daily intake of 6 cups and in two weeks, writing random strangers back home in illegible handwriting from withdrawal shakes to send me more.

Between this little care package from my brother and the tampons Jen is bringing me back from her most recent visit home, I think I'll be able to get through the next 6 months without a care in the world. Oh the things that make us happy...

Chit-Chat 02/21/2008

I am in the middle of moving desks this week as everyone gets organized for the students to come back on March 3rd for the new school year. In all this chaos, I tend to check both desks daily for anything people may have left for me in my absence. Today I came in and found two new teachers resource books on my desk from the district. Distributed to all teachers in the district, they are supposed to help spice up our lessons and add to our treasure chest of ideas. Always on the lookout for activities to get my kids motivated, I flipped through the first book, Elementary Communication Games, as I checked my email. Skimming through the activities I noticed the standard introductory English themes: directions, food, feelings, housingand then just as I was about to close the book for a more thorough examination later, something caught my eye in an activity called Chit-Chat.

The activity is a role-play whereby you give students certain role cards that lists their age, marital status, occupation, hobbies, etc. The students are also given a Find Someone Who…” survey sheet where they go on an information search asking for and giving personal information based on their given roles. Among the possible roles you can find:

Sam Steves: The judo practicing fireman
Celia Parsons: The doctor with a penchant for pottery
Harry Myers: The hard-working bank manager

And my absolute favorite...

Tony Owen
Age: 24
Lives in Brighton
Not married
Job: Student
Hobbies: Drinking

I dont know about you, but I dont think this activity it exactly Print and Go for my classroom! Cracked me up though :)


It's been about 10 days since I returned from holidays in Shanghai and Thailand and am only now getting around to posting the last few pictures on my Flickr account. You can access them either by clicking on the photos tab of this page or by clicking here. The photos aren't organized into a set like pictures have been previously because I have apparently run out of sets and need to upgrade to a "Pro" account for some ridiculous amount of money. Right now I am just happy that they're floating around on the web somewhere, but realistically we all know how the disorganization will break me down eventually :) Enjoy the photos!

A Quote 02/15/2008

"You've got like 9 degrees, 2 masters and 4 certs. You're the most educated vagabond I know".

- Chris Thomas (my little brother)
  February 2008

Aww. I miss my brother. Most days. He is currently try to convince me (again) to move to Cold Lake, Alberta and do some teaching there. And live with him. 'Cause we got along so well when we lived together for 22 years previously.

I don't even know what Freud would have to say about the situation. Especially since we have the most ridiculously identical eyebrows and dimples. Ask anyone, they also find it on the slightly creepy side of odd.


When traveling to the tropical beaches of Thailand, what better souvenir to bring back than a stone mortar and pestle.

For serious.

I have always wanted a mortar and pestle, and after taking a Thai cooking course on Koh Chang, I knew freshly made curry paste would be the delicious secret behind many meals to come.  While I look for the last few ingredients I need to make phad thai and panaeng curry,  I just had to find other uses for my new toy. So, tonight I made tahini for uber-awesome cumin and coriander hummus.

Happiest camper ever! Any other suggestions for mortar and pestle creations?


    Recently Updated...

    03.25 - Two posts! 

    About Me...

    Out and about in the world, teaching others and educating myself.

    Stuff I Like...

    Traveling. Cuddling a cat. New toothbrushes. Friends. Socks of the Joanne Younes variety. The smell   of sun-dried laundry. Baking.
    Chocolate. Cracking the spine on
    a new book. Sitting in a sunbeam. Knitting. Saturday mornings. Red wine. Opening a box of crayons for the first time.  Sharpened pencils.  Post-it Notes. Teaching. Learning.


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