Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A second honeymoon

Last summer was a whirlwind of wedding planning.  After our perfect big day we had a wonderful honeymoon at Black Butte.  

Due to our budget and the immense beauty of Oregon in the summer, we decided to spend our first trip as a married couple somewhere local.  Black Butte was already full of fun memories for us, and since my grandparents own a cozy cabin in the woods where they generously allow us to stay free of charge, it made sense to take advantage of thatWe had an incredible time there.  We hiked, cooked, swam, boated, golfed (well Ryan did and I drove the cart) and took long walks and drives surrounded by beautiful scenery.

We are lucky enough to have an upcoming second honeymoon/one year anniversary trip to a tropical island since we didn’t have a chance to visit such a place last year on our official honeymoon.   

Jeju is the largest island in Korea, and is known as the country’s Hawaii.  It’s a common honeymoon destination for newlyweds from Korea and Japan.  We are staying only a few minutes from the beach, in the popular Jungmun Tourism Complex

Here are a few of our favorite pictures from our original honeymoon.  Many more to come soon from our second honeymoon on Jeju island. 

Here are the breathtaking views we have to look forward to in Jeju.
Countdown: FIVE DAYS!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Blessing in Disguise

Around this time last year we got the news that Ryan had been laid off.  The timing (three weeks before our wedding day) was impeccable.  Just short of two months later the school year began and I found myself without a teaching job.  In six years Ryan and I haven’t been through a harder time.

A favorite expression of my dad’s is “a blessing in disguise.”  We didn’t know it at the time, but that’s what our negative situation would prove to be. 

A visit with Ryan’s aunt and uncle had us thinking about travel.  It also changed our lives.  

A former member of the Peace Corps, Ryan’s uncle had hoped to move his family to Morocco in 2001 but had been wary of doing so following 9/11.  Why not live and teach abroad?  He asked us.  No reason came to mind.

What we said to each other that day after leaving their house in Bend made all the sense in the world.  “If not now, when?”  We didn’t have good jobs or own a home.  Though these are rarely thought of as positive circumstances, they meant we were free to do what we wanted without losing anything.  Suddenly our negative situation became a positive one.

Before we knew it, we were on the phone with recruiting companies and interviewing with schools.  Shortly after that, we packed our bags and arrived in Busan on a chilly spring night.

What we have realized by being here is how free we truly are.

It is impossible not to get caught up in the daily “rat race” when you’re in the midst of it.  There are bills to pay, deadlines to make and appointments to keep.  The act of juggling work, a significant other, extended family and friends, all the while attempting to make time for yourself can prove nearly impossible.  At this point I can’t even imagining throwing kids in there too.  Someday.  I have so much respect for mothers.

While it fills our days and is rewarding and fun, our job is fairly low stress.  We have the same daily routine, don’t have many work commitments outside of our regular school hours, and are left to do mostly as we wish in our classes as long as we get through the required material.

The weekdays are about our adorable kiddies and the evenings and weekends are spent exploring our new home together.  While our co-workers have become our friends that we often do dinner and go out with on weekends, we spend most of our time with each other.  We go for walks, cook dinner together, and have endless talks about every topic imaginable.  We lean on each other, support one another, and have grown closer than ever.

Every day we are more grateful for the opportunity we were given to come here. 

We didn’t plan on this adventure, and a year ago today if someone had told me I’d be sitting in a small apartment in South Korea writing this blog entry I would have written them off as insane.

Since our arrival nearly five months ago, both Ryan and will I periodically stop what we’re doing, look at each other, and one or the other of us will profess aloud: “We live in Korea!”
While we miss our friends and family very much and can’t wait to see them when we return, at this point in our lives, we’re so glad we do.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Flea Market Fun

Our students were given the opportunity to be bargain shoppers yesterday at the COREM Flea Market.  The kids were asked to donate new and previously owned toys, games and books to create the gym turned market.
Ryan and I showed our classes pictures of people shopping and went over some related vocabulary with the students before heading to the gym.

When it was their turn to enter the market, each child could “buy” two items with the currency they’d been given.  

They surveyed their options carefully.
 The teachers acted as cashiers, taking their money and bagging their purchases.  

One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure.  The kids were overjoyed with the used toys they'd adopted as their own.  

The last few minutes of class were spent playing with the new items. 

Fun was had by all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Silver Day

As mentioned previously, South Korea observes a monthly holiday on the 14th of each month.  As promised, here is an update on the holiday for July.

Today is “Silver day” in South Korea.  Couples celebrate the holiday by giving each other silver jewelry.  Often rings are exchanged to symbolize commitment, especially if the couple has been together for one hundred days or more.   

The number 100 is significant here, and shows that the relationship is getting serious.  Couples may also give necklaces, bracelets or silver earrings to celebrate Silver Day.

Maybe I should remind Ryan that there’s a Tiffany’s in the local mall….
Just sayin :)

Happy Silver Day everyone!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A weekend in the midst of rainy season

After a quiet Friday evening which consisted of wine, cheese and a movie (Knight and Day which wasn’t bad) we spent Saturday at the beach.  It was nearly a perfect day.  We started off with a delicious lunch at beachfront restaurant Breeze Burns: sandwich for me, burger for Ryan.

“Beach season,” which began on July 1 is now officially here.  This means umbrellas and inner-tubes now line the beach and lifeguards take their posts, eyeing the children as they frolic in the water.

Clouds were intermittent, but they kept us cool since there was mild humidity.  I soaked up the sun and attempted to finish my book, while Ryan passed the time playing volleyball with some new friends. 

About three hours into our beach day, the sun dwindled and I began to feel raindrops.  I decided it was a good time to do the shopping I’d felt too guilty to do in the sunshine, and left Ryan to his game.  By the time I arrived home from Shinsegae the clouds had progressed into a full on downpour. 

When the locals speak of “rainy season” here in South Korea they’re not exaggerating.  We’ve never seen it rain harder anywhere than it did here on Saturday.  However despite the rain it’s not cold, an odd phenomenon compared to what we’re used to being from Oregon.

When we awoke on Sunday the intense rain still hadn’t let up, so we discussed our indoor entertainment options.  We decided on a trip to the Busan Aquarium preceded by lunch at Hauendae Beach.

Fuzzy Navel is a foreign bar whose claim to fame is Mexican food and a variety of specialty drinks.  We opted for burritos there and were pretty impressed.

 I tried a margarita that unfortunately paled in comparison to the ones we had in Seoul.  Damn!

Almost directly across the street from Fuzzy Navel was the aquarium, located two floors underground its beachfront main entrance. 

We saw fish and sea creatures of all kinds.

"Jackass Penguins" and Sea Otters also provided some entertainment.

The second basement level was packed with many types of interesting jellyfish.

These ones live their lives upside down.

The highlight was an enormous tank displaying huge Grouper fish and some type of Nurse Shark.  At one point we were surrounded on three sides by the glass tank, and the animals glided effortlessly around us.  The pictures don't do the experience justice.

Towards the end of the aquarium was an African exhibit, featuring adorable lions and tigers. 

I even found Nemo in the gift shop.

We headed home in the ongoing downpour and into our cozy apartment, mentally preparing for Monday’s arrival.


We were unable two attend two weddings and a very important engagement party in Oregon over the weekend.  Congratulations to Georgia & Eric and Travis & Sarah on their marriages!  And to Dana and Chris on the beginning of their new lives together.  

My own parents also celebrated twenty-eight years of marriage on Sunday.  We're thinking of you and we love and miss you!