Category Archives: blog

Do not mess with Koreans and their baseball

via deadspin

Councilman Kim Sung-il egged Ahn Sang-soo, the mayor of Changwon because of the relocation of a baseball stadium. For more (but not super insightful) information, read deadspin’s article.

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An open letter to my students

Dear Students,

First, thank you for letting me be your teacher. I learned what you like, what you don’t like and how you see the world. It is inspiring to see how hard you work. I am encouraged everyday to work harder and learn more because of you. Thank you.

There are a few things I noticed as I taught you for the last few months, and I want you to know that you are special. Every one of you has something amazing to offer the world. My biggest hope for you is that you are happy. I loved seeing you laugh and have fun together (even if you only spoke Korean and were likely saying something about me). I had fun teaching you, telling you stories, listening to yours and being with you two days a week. I hope you learned something and most importantly, enjoyed my class even if just for a moment.

My last lesson is one that I find most important. Here are 10 things I wish someone had taught me when I was 14 years old:

You deserve to be happy. If you are lucky enough to know at 14 what makes you happy, do that. Do what makes you happy because you deserve to be happy. Now, while studying for hours on end might not make you happy, you must do that, too. In the midst of all the studying and the obligations, remember to do what makes you happy. Go on a walk. Listen to music. Be with people you enjoy. Be happy.

Be the best version of you. We spend too much time looking at other people wishing we were more beautiful, smarter, more charming or whatever it may be. I wish more people told me to just be the best version of myself. The best version of me will never be the smartest or the most beautiful, but the best version of myself is still a really awesome person. The same is true for you.

Be kind. It has been ten years since I was 14, and I still remember the classmates who were kind. I don’t necessarily remember who had the best clothes or the best exam scores, but I do remember the people who made me feel good. So, be kind. Be kind to the little old lady at the supermarket, be kind to your teachers (even the ones you don’t like) and especially be kind to everyone at school.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking questions does not make you seem stupid. It makes you smarter. The students who asked me questions are the students I knew wanted to know more. As a teacher, there is nothing I want more than a student who wants to learn. Wanting to know more is a great way to live life, too. So, ask good questions and be curious. The world is really interesting!

Be positive. I’d like to lie to you and tell you that life will always be easy and fun, but you likely already know that is not always true. However, life is really great. Even after a bad exam, there is always a good day to come. If things are hard, know that things do get better. Life gets much much better after middle school and even better after high school. You have a lot of fun days ahead, so when life is hard, stay positive. A positive mind is not always easy to achieve, but it will help you when you have a bad day. With a positive mind you will have more good days, too.

Life is short, and time only goes by faster and faster as you grow older. Enjoy the moment. The last year in Korea has been the fastest year of my life, and the year before that seemed to pass by quickly, too. Enjoy today because tomorrow will be here before you know it.

Good friends are better than being “cool.” Do not spend time trying to be the most popular. Remember what I said, being kind is the best thing to be and the thing people will remember. Find good friends rather than cool or popular friends. Finding a good friend is the best thing that has ever happened to me. When I am sad, I want to be with her. When I am happy, I want to be with her. Even when we live on the other side of the world, I can text her, and she will be there. We laugh the hardest and enjoy life together. I hope you, too, make good friends.

Your siblings are going to be with you for life (so be nice to them). My brother and I were not always friends, but I have made an effort to be a better sister to him. If you have a brother or a sister, be nice to them, at least some of the time. They will be with you for the rest of life. Unfortunately, your parents won’t always be there but, hopefully, your siblings will. Plus, when you need someone to have your back, there is no better person than a brother or a sister.

The world is full of good people. The news (and often adults, too) will tell us that the world is scary and full of hate, but as I travel, I learn that the world is full of kind people who want to better know the world and enjoy their time on earth. When I travel, a smile is universal. That leads me to my most important lesson: smile. I am thankful to every person, young or old, who smiled at me while I have lived in Korea. Remember to smile at least once every day. This is different than being positive. Just smile. Smile because you are alive. Smile because life is too short to be frowning all the time. Smile because you have at least one person you can always message if you need, and that person is me: your loud, storytelling, silly American teacher.

I’ll always be an email away. You can message me two weeks from now or ten years from now, and I will still be your teacher, and maybe someday your friend. I have been blessed to have had a life full of good teachers (and bad ones, too). The good teachers are always an email away no matter how much time has passed. My second grade teacher will still remember me and give me a big hug if I run into her at the supermarket. My high school science teacher and I are Facebook friends, and she messages me asking about my life as I travel the world. My college professor encouraged me to come to Korea, and here I am.

I hope you have enjoyed having me as a teacher as much as I enjoyed being your teacher. Thank you for an amazing year.

Sincerely,

Sarah Weaver

Bucket List Item: Hike Bukhansan

With one month left in Korea, I was determined to hike Bukhaksan (북한산국립공원-도봉 지구). I hiked to the top of Bukhansan’s highest peak yesterday to check off another Korean Bucket List item. The highest peak is Baegundae (백운대), which is 837 meters high (2,746 feet).

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Chris and I took our time and enjoyed the day hiking along the fortress wall, originally built in 1711. While the hike wasn’t horribly hard, it did seem more difficult than Seoraksan, but it also could be that I have not been running lately because I’ve been sick.

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To get to Bukhansan National Park, take the subway to Gireum Station (길음역) on Line 4. Walk out of exit 3 to the bus stop for bus 143 or 110B. We took bus 143 and got off at the last bus stop and made another stop for water at a nearby convenience store. I recommend taking a good amount of water. There was only one spring water station along the hike, and it was pretty early on (maybe within the first half hour). We packed some tuna and crackers, which gave us just the right amount of fuel to make it to the top.

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From others’ experiences and blogs I have read, this hike is meant to be really crowded. So, in hopes of avoiding the crowd, I hiked on the Monday of the Chuseok holiday. Chuseok is a Korean “thanksgiving” holiday, which meant I had a five-day weekend. In my opinion, it was a great time to hike Bukhaksan. Most Koreans are spending time with their families. While Chris and I ran into a handful of hikers here and there. We spent most of the climb alone.

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On the way down, I twisted my ankle. It really wasn’t a big deal. It hurt really bad (including my pride), but I didn’t need medical attention. However, we were conveniently outside one of the information centers situated along the mountain pathways. A Korean or two witnessed my tumble and found me professional attention. I was embarrassed, but I let them work diligently as they wrapped and sprayed my ankle with some type of Korean icy-hot spray, which felt awesome.

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Architecture Cafe Utopia

I visited the Architecture Cafe Utopia in Seogwipo City on Thursday during our visit to Jeju Island at the end of July. Seogwipo is the largest city on the southside of the island. Within a few miles, you can see waterfalls, coastal views that will amaze you and enjoy black pork on about every block.

The Architecture Cafe Utopia provided a different experience from Korean BBQ. Stop in for some coffee, quiet time or bask in the sunshine.

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This cafe opened earlier this year and provides an open air experience including quality beer and oddly shaped seating arrangements. I first read about it in the Jeju Weekly article. I knew I wanted to stop here if we had time. We thought the weather was going to be alright on Saturday to hike Hallasan, so we had a leisurely day on Friday. Unfortuantely, we were so so wrong and missed out on climbing Hallasan. However, we got to spend our day drinking beer and eating pizza, so we shouldn’t complain…but we will. Just a little.

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Order a coffee or a beer here.

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The cafe had an art exhibit which including electronic exhibitions. There were three or four raised areas to sit and enjoy the view. The cafe also included a large reading area including a bookshelf full of both English and Korean books. However, this light-up horse was the highlight of the displays.

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We grabbed a pizza at eMart and bought beer at the Cafe. It was nice way to enjoy lunch outside.

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Directions: South on Leejungseop-ro. Turn right down Jungang-ro 4-beongil. Architecture Cafe Utopia is on the left.
Address: 409-10 Taepyeong-ro, Seogwipo City
Phone number: 064-762-2597

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Gamcheon Culture Village 감천문화마을

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The Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을) is located in the coastal town of Busan. Typically, expats visit the beaches of Busan, spending time on the most popular beach, Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장), or late-night hours in noraebangs (노래방), singing rooms or karaoke. My trips to Busan were never much different.

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I first visited Busan for the Firework Festival in October 2013. Then I had one epic night in a penthouse suite with my friends. We spent the evening lighting sparklers on the roof, dancing on the bed in fancy dresses and suits (Okay…I think only one guy had on a tux but it set the mood). There was pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, alongside shots of soju. Needless to say, Busan never ceased to impress me.

This past weekend, I wanted to see another side of Busan, so I decided to venture west of Busan Station to the Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을). Just four stops away from Busan Station, the Gamcheon Culture Village is well-worth a visit.

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The alleyways and staircases act as art galleries themselves. This step was my personal favorite: “You need diet.” Nothing like a reminder that you’re out of breath as you climb the stairs.

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During the 50s, Koreans were fleeing to safety, and Busan welcomed half a million refugees in 1951 alone. Places like the hills of the Saha district (사하구) were a refugee for hundreds of thousands. In the early 1950s, the refugees in the Saha district started building shacks, communal areas such as toilets and drinking wells. Before long, the Gamcheon village had grown to more than 800 homes.

Today, nearly 10,000 residents call Gamcheon home. These residents live peacefully in the colorful homes. That is if you consider thousands of tourist visit peaceful.The village seemed to welcome tourist with open arms. A handful of villagers shot me a quick smile before going about their day. The visit was extremely touristy considering I paid 2,000 won for a map so that I could collect stamps like a scavenger hunt. However, the bright colors and winding alleyways made for a beautiful scenery and a good morning.

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I suggest visiting when the weather is nice because you’ll spend a good amount of time wandering the alleyways, exploring the shops and taking handfuls of photos. The mountains create a beautiful backdrop while the sea provides another breathtaking view on the southside. On Friday, the weather was turning for the worse. I thought I was going to be poured on but, thankfully, it was just spitting rain all morning.

Collecting stamps was fun at first, but after about four or five, I was ready to move on. If the weather had been better, and I had had a partner in crime, I might have stayed longer and enjoyed a cup of coffee with a view.

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For more pictures, you can visit my Flickr page.

Directions

Take the Line 1 subway to Toseong Station (토성역). Only
Take Exit 6, walk straight to the intersection and turn right.
Walk 100 meters or so to the first bus stop.
Take bus 2 or 2-2. It costs 1,000 won and takes about 10 minutes to arrive at the Gamcheon Culture Village where you can buy the 2,000 won map to collect stamps and explore the village. Or forgo the touristy map and simply walk at your leisure.

Free entry.
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Website (in Korean): http://www.gamcheon.or.kr/

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Ed the Jeju Horse

Chris wanted to pet one of the horses tied up alongside the road, and who was I to stop him? He named the horse Ed. So, meet Ed.

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A few Koreans took notice and before we knew if we had a group of seven twenty-somethings and a family of four wanting to pet Ed the horse. The twenty-something guys asked us in broken English how we know how to be with horse. These two little boys were amazed that we were touching the house, too. I took the boy’s hand and touched the horse. The boys’ eyes got so big and his face lit up. It was a cool moment.

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This is near Seogwipo (서귀포시) on the south side of the island (제주도).

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Camping in Jeju Island

We spent our first night camping on Hyeopjae Beach (협재해변) on the northwest side of the island. We woke up to someone outside of our tent yelling in Korean to get our attention. When I poked my head out, he seemed very surprised to see two white people inside.

“외국의,” he said loudly with a look of disappoint. Translation: Foreigner.

Guilty as charged.

After a moment of contemplation, he pointed his finger at me and said, “No Camping!”
“Ok,” I replied with a weak smile.
“No camping!” he said again sternly.
I shook Chris and informed him of the news, “No camping!”

Looking for Hyeopjae Beach (협재해변)? Hyeopjae-gil, Hallim-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do (제주 제주시 한림읍 협재길)

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Reminiscing: Skydiving in Spain

Daegu National Museum

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On my very first day in Daegu, I made a trip to the Daegu National Museum. This museum is quick and easy to tour. A majority of the signs have English translation.

The highlights include Buddhist relics and statues, jewelry, and traditional clothes. I especially liked the seventh century Buddha statues. How did they make those? They’re so detailed and well-preserved. There is also an extensive children’ area with interactive games and exhibits.

Did I mention that it’s free? An easy stop in and out site – you can likely see all that you want to see in thirty minutes.