Friday, December 14, 2012

Accepting Endings and Putting Seals on Future Endeavors

As I sit in my classroom, at 4:22 pm, I should be getting ready to walk out the door but two important things have happened this week that made me feel as though an update (even if small) was necessary.

Our students have completed their English textbooks for the year.

On Monday and Wednesday when Jiyoung and I finished the last of the final chapter in the textbook, our students threw their books up in the air, shaking them around like maracas.  For the sixth grade, it's an even bigger celebration because these next few weeks will be the end of elementary school as they know it.  I had some mixed feelings about this.  I was HAPPY to be finished with the lame textbook because I knew that the few weeks ahead would be filled with fun winter camp days and teaching them Christmas carols.  However, I was sad because I am also aware that our time together is now extremely limited. I'm very proud of many of my students as I have actually seen improvements in some of their English abilities, even if it's just an increase in their confidence in the English room.  On Wednesday, when I stood in front of my fifth graders for the end of their final "book" lesson, tears filled my eyes.  Two of my girls were looking at me and saying something in Korean that I did not understand.  I looked to my co-teacher for a translation and she looked at me sadly, translating, "Don't go back to America, teacher." I looked at the girls and I said, "DON'T MAKE ME SAD!! Rachel Teacher's mother and father and brothers and sisters want her to come home! They miss me too!" My students stared me dead in the face and in all seriousness said, "Teacher mother and teacher father.. go to KOREA!" I laughed back, "bring them to Korea?!" They nodded their heads quickly, as if saying, "well that's exactly what should happen!" Of course I said, I didn't think they would want to come to Korea and my students began pleading... "teacher, please, please, please!"  I quickly reverted into, "time to study" mode in order to hold back the tears that I could feel forming behind my eyes. Saying goodbye to them on the last day is going to be so incredibly difficult. There will surely be tears in the English classroom on February 19th.

On a more exciting note, today I officially booked my flight for my backpacking trip in February!

I will officially be leaving Korea on Sunday, February 24th and heading to Bangkok! Upon arrival in Bangkok I will spend two days in the city and explore the area before heading to northern Thailand. In Chaing Rai,  Northern Thailand, a small orphanage with 13 children awaits my arrival. I will be spending two weeks volunteering at the center in conjuntion with the International Humanity Foundation.  I couldn't be more excited! As of now, I have the last two-three weeks open to explore more of southeast Asia (if I don't get too attached to the kids and decide to stay). My hope is to cross the border into Cambodia and spend some time there touring Angkor Wat, the oldest religious temple in the world.  After a short visit to Cambodia, I plan to hit at least one or two of the islands in Southern Thailand. I would like to spend at least four days sleeping in a beach bungalow or renting out a tent to sleep under the stars next to the clear blue waters on the coast. My first two weeks at the orphange are the only truly solid plans I have, so far.  I will be spending anywhere from 4-8 hours a day socializing/playing with the children and teaching them some English, although only four hours are required of tourist volunteers. The rest of the time, I will be free to explore the jungled areas in Northern Thailand. For most of my journey, I will be playing it by ear.  I believe that by drawing out and planning everything before I get there, I will be limiting myself.  I plan to thrive off the things I find and the people I meet and see where it takes me- let my spirit be my guide (I always did love Pocahontas).

I am obnoxiously excited for my upcoming adventure.  I am not sure at what point in my life I became so fascinated by travel (I think perhaps it was during my plane ride to Korea), but regardless, it is one of the greatest loves I have ever had.  The experiences are so raw and real, so worthy and inspiring, it brings ache and happiness to my heart all at once.  It's something I hope to continue to do forever (or at least until I have kids.)  Although, I know it's time for me to come home and secure a teaching job in the states, I also now know it's time for me to live.  Living every day life at home does not mean I have to stop living my adventures, my life IS an adventure and I just have to continue to cultivate these wonderful experiences for myself.  The world isn't going anywhere (as long as they aren't right about 12/21/12), but I, Rachel Lynn, am going everywhere and anywhere (except Russia, I really have no desire to go there).

And so, I will leave you with two things that inspire me: a beautiful quote and a man who inspires me and millions of other people around the world.

"Travel. Get the hell out of here and see what's out there.  Break your prejudice and see how people live elsewhere.  We develop empathy with this habit, we learn our potential in unfarmiliar surroundings, and we develop communication that isn't bound by language."

This is one of the many yearly videos titled, "Where in the World is Matt?"  Matt spends his time traveling the world and DANCING with people everywhere he goes (although now he has a wife and child).  The astounding thing about Matt is that through his videos he is able to show the world something that we ALL learn from travel, and that is this... even though we are all different, we are all just the same.  We all laugh, we all love, we all strive for things, we all suffer, we all want happiness... we all DANCE.  Thank you Matt for bringing the world together in such a simple way.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Funny Things My Students Say

No explanation necessary... (the compilation of these began quite long ago)

Rachel Teacher: What did you do yesterday?
Student with English name, Obama: I winner election!
Whole class: WOW! Congratulations!
Rachel Teacher: hahahahahha! GO OBAMA!

A student has a ball we use for classroom activities tucked inside his jacket.
Rachel Teacher: Give me the ball, please.
Student: (throws the ball back to me)
Rachel Teacher: (throws the ball to another student)

A student walks up to the front of the room to answer a question using the touch screen (one piece of his hair is sticking up in a peculiar way).
A bunch of students begin laughing.
Rachel Teacher: Why are you laughing?
Student: Teacher, Hector's hair is... WIFI!
Hector: It's beautiful.

Rachel Teacher: Which prediction did you choose? A, B, or C?
Student: B.
Rachel Teacher: Okay. Can you read B for me?
Student: B.
Rachel Teacher: No.. I mean ACTUALLY read B.
Student: I did. B.
Rachel Teacher: READ THE SENTENCE!

Rachel Teacher: Today we are going to sing a song.
Student: Today we are... teacher, no thanks-uh.

Rachel Teacher: How often do you wash your hands?
Student 1: I wash my hands once a year!
Rachel Teacher: ONCE A YEAR?! Are you sure?
Student 1: Yes.
Student 2: Dirty boy!!
Student 3: Don't touchy me!

Student: Rachel Teacha... I haveeee-uh GIRLFRIEND-uh!
Rachel Teacher: Really? Who?
Student: Her name is LADY GAGA!
Rachel Teacher: (laughing) Really? Lady Gaga?
Student: YESSS-uh! We eat steak and also drink the wine in restaurant!
(fast forward to the next day)
Rachel Teacher: How is your girlfriend?
Student: Girlfriend is NO. She kicked to me.
Rachel Teacher: Really? That's too bad!
Student: Now my best is-uhhhh... ROMNEY!
Rachel Teacher: (staring blankly) Where do you learn these things!?
Student: LADY GAGA!

No students want to volunteer to do a dialog role play. Naturally, I bribe them with candy.
Rachel Teacher: I will give you candy?!?! (flashes the goods)
(Just about every students' hand shoots up)
Student 1: Beautiful teacher, pick me!
Student 2: Wonderful, beautiful teacher, I love you.
Student 3: Amazing spider man teacher, give-uh me the candiessss!
Student 4: NO! Rachel Teacher, wolverine! Wolverine teacha, wolverine teacha!
Student 5: Show me the money!
Rachel Teacher: (laughing uncontrollably)

Student: Rachel Teacher, are you married?
Rachel Teacher: No.
Student: I LOVEEEEEE Rachel Teacher! Do you have a boyfriend?
Rachel Teacher: do your work...
Student: Teacher!!!... I LOVE YOU!

Student: (pointing to another student) Dan is CASANOVA!
Rachel Teacher: Why? Dan has many many girlfriends?
Student: No, Dan is many many gay.

Three students pick up a package in my classroom that my sister sent me from home.
Student 1: (sniffing the box) WOW! Smell is AMERICA! America smell, America smell!
Student 2 & 3: Begin sniffing the box.
Rachel Teacher: (observing and laughing in the corner)

Rachel Teacher: Do you want $10 US dollars or this candy? (showing him BOTH)
Student: (yelling) CANDYYYYY!!!
Rachel Teacher: Are you crazy? With ten dollars you can buy many candies!
Student: TEACHA... GIVE ME THE CANDY!!!!!!!!

During ball toss, pass and say..
Student 1 throws the ball to Student 2 and hits him in the head..
The WHOLE class all at once: HEAD SHOT!!!!!!

One student drops his pencil case and it burst open all over the floor.
All at once the whole class yells: UNBELIEVABLE!

Rachel Teacher: How old is Rachel Teacher?
Student: 145!

During a chant song about directions:
Song: Where is the bank, where is the bank? Go straight and turn left.
Students: (repeating...)
Song: Where is the school, where is the school?
Student 1: (screaming as though he can't take it anymore) I DON'T KNOW!!!!!!!

Rachel Teacher: What will you do this weekend?
Student: I will DATE with Rachel Teacher. Do you like date?
Rachel Teacher: Sorry, Rachel Teacher only dates Wolverine.

Rachel Teacher: Good morning!
Students: Good morning!
Rachel Teacher: How are you today?
Students: How are you today?
Rachel Teacher: Don't repeat.
Students: Don't repeat.
Rachel Teacher: I smell bad.
Students: I smell bad.
Rachel Teacher: I am stupid.
Students: I am stuuuupiiidddddd???...TEACHER, OH MY GOD!!! (laughing)
Rachel Teacher: I win!

Rachel Teacher: If you steal my candies again, I will eat your fingers.
Student: OH MY GOD.

Student: Wow. Rachel Teacher... hair.. shiny... very good! K-pop.

Student: Teacha's face is very small today... but eyes, SO BIG!
Not sure? Somewhere between a win and a lose.

Student: Teacha, eyes... circles. Very dark.

Rachel Teacher: Have you ever been to Seoul Zoo?
Students stare at me with wide eyes and look around at each other.
Rachel Teacher: WHAT?
Students: Teacher... SOJU!?!?
Rachel Teacher: OH MY GOD! NO! Seoul ZOO... you know.. THE POLAR BEARS LIVE THERE!

During a lesson on rooms of the house:
Rachel Teacher: What's in the bedroom?
Student 1: The bed is in the bedroom.
Rachel Teacher: Good. Where is the stove??
Students: It's in the kitchen!
Rachel Teacher: Good.. and where is Rachel Teacher?
Student 1: In the bathroom! (student's start laughing)
Rachel Teacher: (can't help but laugh) IN THE CLASSROOM!!!

Over time my students have learned what "chill out" means and how to use it in context since I frequently use the term when they get a little wacky.
Student 1: Teacher, he is writing no. Looks like worm.
Student 2: No, mine is like butterfly.
Rachel Teacher: Butterfly... like Rachel Teacher!
Student 2: Teacha, why?
Rachel Teacher: Because I am soooooooooo beautiful!
Student 1: Teacher... CHILL OUT!
Rachel Teacher: (laughing)

After first snow..
Enter two students with an actual snowman: Teacher, this is for you. SNOWMAN!
Rachel Teacher: Woww, very cool! Ummm... I think it might melt?
Students: Yes, here is a tissue.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Final Countdown

With my last entry, came a  written illustration of autumn. Oddly enough, as I sit here now, my hands already want to start spewing out thoughts about winter just a short week later.  Today especially, it seems as though winter is about to hit Seoul with fury.  Naturally, being a fall and winter person, I'm enjoying it far more than I did the humid and sticky summer days in the city.  The temperature is dwindling between the lower 40's and the high 30's and I can't help but think that with the deduction of a few more degrees in the coming weeks, I can expect snow.  The walls that line the sidewalks which guide me home have officially lost all of their vines, leaving them looking a bit like death, but the trees are still hanging on to life. Each day at 4:40 the sun is beginning to softly set as I stroll home, leaving the buildings in the distance with a glowing essence. I have purchased and am now fondly wearing an over-sized purple scarf that both keeps me warm and makes me hate myself when I realize that under my coat it makes me look like I'm carrying (and I don't mean books).  My winter taste buds have taken a specific liking to green tea lattes, replacing a gap that in past winters has been filled by the Starbucks peppermint mocha latte. Sooner than later, in my opinion, winter will be in full swing.  If that means sitting in my bed under soft winter blankets, with heat rising up from my floors, a candle lit, and cheesy winter movies, I'm ready. However, winter's arrival could also means that I will be smothered in so many layers that I will begin waddling around like an anime giant, lacking the ability to move my limbs effectively and that the subway operators will start blasting heat. With those two things in mind, perhaps I should enjoy the lighter side of winter before I start to feel like I'm in a sauna in Ralphie's winter snow suit. I hear that winter's can get bitterly cold in Seoul.

With the passing of fall and the arrival of what seems like an early winter, some big decisions have rounded the corner as well.  Just one week ago, I was faced with the question that I knew I would have to answer from the moment I landed in Korea.  Do I stay or do I go? Contract renewal time.  The funny thing about big decisions is that you think you've got it in the bag, you know what you want, or what you'll do, until suddenly you don't. The questioning period begins.  Something about seeing it in writing, and signing off one way or the other, makes the decision much more real, and much much more difficult.  When I first came to Seoul, I knew that two years could be an option, but I was also convinced that it wouldn't be practical for me and that SURELY I would be going home at the end of this contract.  What I didn't realize, was that I was wrong in making a premature plan for my future without knowing what Korea would hold for me.  I could have never imagined that the decision to go home could be as difficult as was the decision to come here, harder even.

Three or four months ago, I recall being asked about renewal by my friend Cameron. I think, speaking for myself and many others, it's something that we had all thought about on a biweekly basis since arrival. Some weeks when we all were homesick, we would be leaving, other times when we were having the time of our lives, we couldn't imagine leaving.  At that time my specific answer was, "No, I'll be going home ." Not because I disliked Korea or my life here, but mostly because I planned for a year and the idea was to go back home in a year, find a good teaching job in the states, and reunite with my loved ones.  For many people, teaching here is outside their actual career choice but for me it's what I've studied, trained in, and strived for.  You would think that would make it a better experience for me but I'd be willing to argue that.  Although I'm still teaching, I'm not using my abilities and my knowledge of education to the fullest.  I still work hard, but I could work harder, and it is surely a more simplified version of what it would be to have my own homeroom class in the states.  With that said, my initial thoughts were validated with that being my main reasoning.  I don't want to become a lazy teacher by investing two years in a teaching job that is far easier than what I'm qualified to do.

Then, a week ago, the papers were put in front of me and the question was asked, "what will it be?"  The problem is, signing off on those papers, saying that you will be going home, puts a limit on your time.  It's like having realized that all of a sudden there is a ticking time bomb on your shoulder, reminding you daily that you only have t-x days to enjoy this place.  I never imagined that the decision would have been as difficult for me as it was.  In my case, I feel that I have grown, changed, and learned a lot from living abroad.  This has, hands down, been the best year of my life.  When you have an experience of that caliber, it seems almost impossible to walk away from it.  I feel almost as though my heart now has two homes and the strings that connect me to each are pulling firmly in opposite directions. After the past 8 months here, I was beginning to believe that home didn't have as much to offer me.  In reality, I think my hesitancy to go home is mostly weighed by fear: fear of not finding a teaching job at home right away, fear that home won't be as appealing as the big city has been, fear that my longing for my past life here will leave a small hole in my heart. The problem with that is that when it comes to fears, you have to face them, and you can't make a decision based on fear of the unknown, because most of the time, the unknown ends up being surprisingly refreshing and totally worth while (a little something I learned in Korea).

So, although it took me exactly one week to say the words, "I'm leaving." Although it took me crying on the phone with my mom, constantly discussing it with my friends, and weighing my options to the point of mental exhaustion EVERY DAY.  Although that now, every day, when my students make me laugh or make me smile it will give me both joy and a pang of sadness, I have signed the papers and have made it official.  February will be the end of my teaching contract in Korea.  At first, I wasn't sure that I had made the right decision, but I think it was the permanence of the papers that really had me shaken.  The reality of my time limit is still fresh, but IN time, I will come to terms with leaving this place and I have just under 3 months to do so.  Perhaps it's easier to leave home because you know it will ALWAYS be there, but I'm sure, I won't ever live in Korea again.  However, as one of my friends here in Korea said, it's better to be leaving on a high note, with an appreciation of this place, the friends made, and your time here, rather than stay another year and become fed up and ready to go.

It's still tugging at my heart strings a bit, and as I sit here writing this, I feel a surge of emotions making me tear up but, regardless, I'm beginning to become one with my decision.  It seems that even with the passing week, I'm beginning to have good feelings more and more about going home.  I have had good dreams revolving around home in the past week and it seems like where my mind suppressed my cravings for things I miss back home, they are starting to resurface. I cannot wait to see my family again, be with Lauren and Chelsea, and be home to help plan and attend my best friend, Morgan's, wedding.  The best part about leaving is that I'm planning a 3-4 week backpacking trip in Southeast Asia.  I plan to visit Thailand and Cambodia before making my way home.  I certainly need to scratch my travel bug just a tad bit more before landing back on the east coast of the USA.  The worst thing about leaving will be saying goodbye to my students, and I honestly think that it was one of the biggest factors in my hesitancy to go home.  I have always loved my students whether here or at home, but these kids truly hold my heart.  However, as my Mom has pointed out, I have cried when leaving every class I have ever taught for a substantial amount of time.  I suppose, it's both expected, and inevitable.  For now, I plan to enjoy my time that I have with them, avoid tearing up thinking about goodbyes, and live the next three months I have here to the fullest.

Instead of leaving you with the things I will miss about Korea, I will leave you with the things I can't wait to get back to at home... See you in 4 months USA, family, and friends!

My Family
"We may not have started out together,
but we sure do belong together."
Mom & Dad
Casey & Derek
Rachel & Tara

Bryce & Tara


My dear family, sometimes things can get a little crazy living a life like the brady bunch, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Our parents brought us together and they are the seam that will always hold us together. Even when our household is a circus, we still always manage to make light of it and laugh together. I can't wait to be home with all of you again! We sure do know how to hold down the fort.

My Whole Heart 

Morgan- "My Other Half"
I cannot wait to help plan and attend your wedding to the wonderful Ted!

Chelsea- "My Partner in Crime"

Lauren- "The Nugget"

My girls- I truly cannot wait to get back to spending every waking second with you- cuddling on the couch, vactioning together, smuggling car tires, riding in shopping carts, getting yelled at by lauren, sitting on rooftops at night, dancing, being families with our families, and doing things we shouldn't.  

 I also can't wait to...
-visit my Grammy (and eat corn bread)
-eat mom's home cooked meals
-drive my baby Shawndra
-visit my sister in Florida
-drink GOOD beer (Shocktop how I miss thee)
-go to the barn, see the horses, Coach Sue, and RIDE!
-eat boneless wings from Applebee's
-visit my OTB family.
-see all of my other friends :)
-be able to actually cook again & know what I'm doing.
-join my gym again
-swim in our pool!
(What's with hugging in Korea? It's like a foreign concept. Show a littleee loveee!)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Celebrating Halloween in Korea

October is a month that paints the world. The fresh crisp autumn air pulls at the changing leaves allowing them to fall freely to the ground.  The streets become painted with orange, yellow, and red pixels and a soft wind brushes against your face.  October reminds us that death, although something hard to come to terms with, can also be something of beauty.  For all of these reasons, October (and fall itself) has always been my favorite month.  However, I am specifically drawn to the fall month of October for one reason more specifically than others... Halloween.  Halloween is my all time favorite holiday.  The traditions of trudging through dirt paved pumpkin patches, mushing slimy orange guts through my knuckles as I hollow out my treasured pumpkin, feeling my heart race as my eyes graze the television set during one of my favorite Halloween classics, and running from a masked clown with a chainsaw while venturing through the latest haunted attraction.  What could be better? This year I discovered the answer to that question... sharing it with my students who have never celebrated it before.

This October, I felt a pang of sadness knowing that I was missing my favorite season and favorite holiday back home.  There are no pumpkin patches in Korea, and you are lucky if you happen to stumble upon a decent looking pumpkin large enough to be carved.  I don't have an oven, so even if I did find the ingredients for pumpkin pie, the effort it would take to make it would certainly outweigh my desire to do so.  Halloween stores are few and far between.  Korean people don't dress up for Halloween, and kids are too busy studying in after school academies to be able to take a few hours off to haunt the streets and collect candy.  So initially, I was quite disappointed, to say the least, but my expectations slowly made a quick turn around.  

To begin with, early on in October, I had asked my kids what they knew about Halloween and if they celebrated.  Of course I got the generic answers, "Yes teacha, I know... Halloween is pumpkins"  Yes, I reassured them, but "what do you KNOW about Halloween... what else do we do for Halloween? Do you know trick-or-treat, do you know jack-o-lantern, or haunted house?"  Some of them knew just a bit about Halloween but they surely did not understand my excitement.  In order to change this, I offered up a Halloween party.  "How would you like to have a Halloween party together? I will teach you about Halloween, we can play Halloween games and have trick-or-treat!"  Of course, luring them in with candy takes a little less than two seconds.  With the little that they know, they are highly aware that candy is involved, and so... they were on board.  I gave them a bit of incentive by giving each of my 120 students a personal invitation to our Halloween party.  They were then told that each day up until the party, they would have to earn a sticker on their invitation.  If they did a good job in class, listened, did not talk when I was talking, and participated, they would each receive one sticker per day.  This made each of them responsible for themselves only.  On the day of the Halloween party, they had to have acquired a certain number of stickers to partake in the festivities.  Of course we made it so that they could each lose one sticker, allowing each of them to have one bad day and still be able to come play (surely, regardless, I had no intentions of neglecting anyone from the party either way but it sure did keep them on their best behavior for a week).  Once they learned that they needed a certain number of stickers, they asked myself and my co teacher what would happen if they didn't have enough stickers.  Jiyoung told them that students who didn't earn their stickers would have a private English class with her while the rest of the students would be having a Halloween party with me.  Their jaws dropped with wide eyes staring in disbelief, "TEACHA... OH MY GOD! Berry berry bad."

The week before Halloween came and went.  Sangwon and Hyun helped me decorate the doorways to the classroom with spiderwebs, ghosts with googly eyes, and balloon pumpkins.  I also spent the week prior wearing spooky masks, vampire fangs, monster teeth, and pranking them with fake spiders and jumpy Halloween videos. I absolutely adored their reactions.  Being that my kids are 5th and 6th graders, none of them were very taken back or spooked by my creepy attire but my coworker's 3rd and 4th graders sure did run screaming from me when I crept around the hallway into her room. Priceless.  The fake spiders were a success.  During lessons, I would find one kid in a group of desks that wasn't paying attention and put a fake spider on the desk, making the other kids aware and giving them the "shhhh!" symbol.  There they sat like little heathens, glad to be in on the prank.  We would then either wait until the victim turned, sighting the hairy arachnid on their desk, or tap them on the shoulder, gesturing at it in a frightening manner, and wait for their reaction.  Some of the kids jumped a few feet, others just gave me the, "nice try teacha," face and then protested that they in fact "like" spiders.  Then there was the kid who apparently has a phobia of spiders who practically had a panic attack in my room... and that's where the spider pranks ended.

Scary Rachel Teacher. Mwahahahahaaaaa.

Our classroom decorations.

Jiyoung and I in our classroom with our students pumpkin decorations.

We had two separate parties.  Tuesday, October 30th was set aside for my sixth graders and Halloween day was set aside for my fifth graders.  I happened to stumble upon a nice sized pumpkin for sale in Dungcheon the weekend before, so I managed to buy it, haul it home on the subway, and carve a real jack-o-lantern for my kids.  They were very impressed when Jiyoung told them... "Look how much Rachel Teacher loves you... she  took it home on the subway one hour for you." YES, I told them... and I got a lot of stares as well! They all clapped... "Teacha, THANK YOU!"  The party itself was awesome.  Each class had an hour long party.  When they entered the room, we had the lights out with spooky music playing and the jack-o-lantern lit. They had to sit through about a 15 minute power point about Halloween traditions in the USA before we could start any games.  They were all given 5 candies to chow down on as they watched and listened.  Surprisingly, they were all very interested in everything I told them about Halloween.  I incorporated some pictures of me and my friends carving pumpkins, at the pumpkin patch, and videos of haunted houses.  They ate it up!  After we finished learning about Halloween and eating our candy, we bobbed for apples and played musical chairs to the monster mash.  The games were by far the best part of the party.  Bobbing for apples was hysterical.   The first few contestants were too hesitant to dunk their head into the water fully, but within minutes we had participants going to town catching apples with their mouths sending the whole class into roaring laughs and cheers.  Monster mash musical chairs was also quite entertaining as I watched my students walk around like ducks desperate to get a chair and then let out ear piercing screams when the music would stop.  Last, our students voted on the best pumpkins from their class, as they spent the week before turning in pumpkin drawings and decorating the room with them. I was so happy to be able to share my favorite holiday with my students.  As I sit here writing this recall of events, I have an unmistakable grin spreading across my face.  The pictures say it all. I had almost 300 picture ALONE from our Halloween party... it was really hard to narrow them down, but I picked them ones with the best happy faces and apple shots!







We hope you had a happy Halloween from the students at Yeon Ji Elementary School!

My personal Halloween experience, beyond the classroom, was also probably the best Halloween I've had yet.  Celebrating Halloween in a country where it is not celebrated, made it all the better.  The weekend before Halloween we made our way out on the town all dressed up.  The stares were intense. As foreigners, we get stares ALL THE TIME.  On a regular day, it can be irritating, and sometimes you want to let out a smart ass comment, "Is there something on my face? Take a picture, it will last longer." On Halloween, we embraced the stares and played with people to the fullest.  Kimberly was a panda bear, Aileen was... (I'm not sure really) a sexy red headed retro girl, and I was my all time favorite, Wolverine. Kim and I made our way to Hongdae all dressed up on the subway.  We got some looks of sheer amusement, some people blatantly pointing at me and gasping WOLVERINE, some laughs and smiles, and some utterly confused stares. As the subway would come to a stop at each transfer, Kim would video tape me full on RUNNING out of the doors through crowds of people, doing a 180 jump and flashing my claws at people. I embraced the costume to say the least. If you can't have fun on Halloween, when can you?  There were moments when Kim and I were literally hunched over laughing uncontrollably in the subway and trying not to pee ourselves from people's reactions.  Once we got to Hongdae and met up with Aileen, the party was on.  It was my first night out drinking since the beginning of my ear treatment and we were going HARD.  We decided that we would attempt to get into Cocoon.  It boasts one of the top night clubs in Hongdae but the line is always an hour wait or longer.  While walking by, a bouncer from the club looked at me and stated the obvious..."Wolverine!"  Yes, we said... wolverine.  Kim then said something about us wanting to go to Cocoon, he motioned for us to follow him, and let us in front of an hour and a half line.  "I feel like I'm with a celebrity," Kim laughed.  "Don't turn around, the people behind us are going to be pissed." Just then, we felt a tap on the shoulder and the two Korean girls behind us in line were requesting a picture.  Inside there were free shots of tequila until 1am, and strobe lights and music loud enough to get anyone moving.  We stuck it out a while but we were some of the few in costumes so we decided to go check out another place.  Hongdae park was where it was at.  When we entered Hongdae park, my life changed.  I now know what it is like to be a celebrity, followed by paparazzi . Everyone wanted their picture taken with wolverine.  It was so much fun! Kim, Aileen, and I had a blast just taking pictures with people, and having fun with all the other foreigners and some Koreans dressed up in costumes.  The rest of the night after Hongdae park was somewhat a mess. We acquired more bottles of soju, hit up some other clubs and harassed people on the streets in our costumes.  Thankfully, Hongdae is a young and lively crowd so they were loving our Halloween antics and many people were right there beside us doing the same.  I have few words to describe the night other than EPIC. It was definitely hands down, one of my favorite nights in the city with my friends.

My epic wolverine costume! Success.

With the bouncer outside of Cocoon

My friends Brent, who is a talented writer and photographer nominated me for the Hongdae costume awards as "\Best Superhero." You can check out his blog here, with my picture, as well as the other nominees.  Show him love by reading more about life in Korea through his blog.  His pictures are unreal. Thanks for recognizing me in your blog, Brent!

Also, a special thanks goes out to my friend Hyun for making my wolverine claws for me all in twenty minutes time! Thanks Hyun!