Sunday, May 18, 2014

Celebrating the Small Things

The Taewa River and Seonbawi, one of the 12 scenic view of Ulsan
(and only a 4-minute walk from my apartment)
This blog post is a little different than the others.  I’m not going to talk about any exciting adventure I went on or anything surprising about Korean culture.  Instead, I’m just going to celebrate the simple things.  One of the things I really like about being in Korea is my slower pace of life.  Feels really good to s-l-o-w down.  Here’s what I mean…

I finished up a decent work week on Friday.  The highlight of my week was working with my Wednesday after school conversation class.  It is composed of about 8 girls who are in their final year of middle school.  They are hoping to go to a foreign language high school next year, so their motivation to learn English is high, and their English skills are much more advanced than my other students.  We’ve been studying the differences between American schools and Korean schools.  I partnered with a friend from the US who is a middle school teacher.  We sent her students questions, and they made a video of a day in their school.  That inspired my girls who decided to make a video.  I am so proud of them!!!!  Check it out:

Friday evening consisted of my typical dinner in Guyeong with some other foreign teachers who live in the area.  I always enjoy our low-key dinners.  We often go for drinks afterwards but skipped that this time due to a busy Saturday. Two of us had a Saturday program we teach every third Saturday, and all of us had a teacher training for the afternoon.

At the training on Saturday, it was nice to see some of the other foreigners I met at orientation when I first arrived in Korea.  The afternoon sessions were pretty good…I picked up a lot of little nuggets and strategies to use in the classroom.  (Apparently, the morning session was dreadfully boring, so I’m glad I missed it.)  Saturday evening I put together the video clips my students recorded and then watched a movie in the comfort of my cozy apartment.  Oh, how I love the occasional lazy weekend evening!
Photo: Talking with Betsy Foy in South Korea while listening to dueling pianos :)
Virtually attending Aly's
40th Bday Party

Sunday was a very relaxing day!  It started off with a Skype session so that I could virtually participate in my sister’s 40th birthday celebration.  I love how connected we can stay with technology!!!!  After talking with some friends and family, I went to my usual church service at Ulsan English Fellowship.  When I first started attending, it was just the American pastor and me.  It’s grown since then.  Today, in addition to me, there was an American, a German, and a Korean.  After our service, we all went to a Korean service at Ulsan University.  It’s an off-campus service where a lot of students and staff connected with Ulsan University attend.  My pastor was the guest preacher.  We had lunch, dessert, and the sermon.  I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting all kinds of new people since I’ve gotten here.  Some I click with, some I don’t.  But in every case, the conversations are always fun and interesting.  I’m enjoying the many relationships with various Koreans that are starting to develop.  That was definitely a goal of mine in living here; I didn’t just want to meet and hang around with foreigners.  I feel like I am exceeding that goal!  J

One of the trails near my apartment
Koreans enjoying picnics under a bridge by the Taewa River
On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store.  I got home about 3:45, put the groceries away, and had a fruit salad.  Then it was time to figure out what to do next.  I love that there was no schedule for a change!  It was a great day, so I decided to hit the trails near my home.  I ran into a Korean man on the trails who was wandering around like me.  He spoke good English, so we walked and talked together for a little while.  Then I sat on a bench to take in the view and do some journaling.  An older Korean woman sat on a bench next to me and started talking to me.  I was able to pick up a few things and respond with just a few things.  Then she must have thought that meant I knew Korean because all of a sudden she started speaking a lot and fast.  It wasn’t much of a conversation, but I enjoyed the interaction nonetheless.  As I walked home, I noticed a lot of Koreans having picnics and just enjoying time with friends and families. Wow…taking time to pause and be in the moment…what a precious gift.

Affogato: gelato with an espresso that you pour on top

My weekend ended with watching a sunset at Hands Coffee while enjoying Affogato, a new favorite dessert.  I truly am blessed and lucky to be having this experience.  I let the small things go too often.  What a great reminder of just how special those moments are! J

The end of the sunset (just 3 minutes from my apartment)

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