Graduated Korean Kiddos Who I Love

I’ve realized that in the entirety of this bloggy blog, I so rarely write about the kiddos that I’ve come to adore, and are the reason I’m allowed to keep living legally in this second home o’ mine. So, I’m going to take a hop skip and a jump a couple months back to the third 6th grade graduation that I’ve attended. In fact, this was my favorite graduation to attend, mostly because I really didn’t care much for this last batch of kids and was thrilled to get them out of my hair. Sorry.

That’s mean to say about kids, but I seriously never connected with them. That is, except for a good handful, a handful of kiddos that I absolutely heart swelled for.

Let me introduce you, shall I!

Here’s a group of boys from 6-2. This was their last lunch as elementary school students, and every single one of these boys was one of my faves, minus Eric in the left front. He’s a little bizarre. But the rest – sweet hearts, and actually pretty good at English for little monkeys.

IMG_2414

As a teacher I don’t think you’re supposed to have favorites, but that’s a crock. I, along with every other teacher I know, has their favorites, and this one was my absolute favorite 6th grader. Olivia welcomed me to Nowon back when I first arrived by writing me letters and giving me little trinkets each time. She’d tell me about the boys she liked, the drama with her girlfriends, and the songs that made her cry. We were pen pals until about half way through her 6th grade year when I guess she grew up a little. But, though she stopped writing me letters, she always came to sit and talk after lunch.

Quite possibly my favorite thing about her is that she is totally well-adjusted and not into the super girly Korean way of *boing boing* selfie cutesy life.  While her friends would come to hang out in my classroom at lunch and take a never-ending stream of selfies, she always kind of scoffed at their narcissism and told me how silly she thinks they are.

Now that she’s graduated, we are Kakao buddies.  She’s always asking about makeup brands, the countries I’ve visited because she can’t wait to fly on a plane one day, and how to say and write things correctly in English.  Love her.

I actually met her mother yesterday while leaving school, and she gave me the biggest hand shake and smile, and Olivia translated how happy her mom is that she had me as a teacher.

IMG_1928

Kelly is a freakin smarty pants. She lived in Nebraska for a year when she was 4, and speaks English as if she’s a foreigner. She throws lots of  “likes” into everything she says which sometimes made me feel right back at home. Super smart girl, and always curious about who I am and where I’m from.

IMG_2412

This little Jack was my favorite boy hands down. When he was in 5th grade I knew there was something different about him. Anytime we did art projects, his were always excessively more creative than his classmates, and while he maintained the quirkiness, his English also skyrocketed. He has been to Canada once, and is obsessed with Canada. He’d come to my classroom a few minutes before class started and always ask to go on Google Earth to show me the little motel he lived in for a couple months while taking an English intensive course. It was a run down strip motel and it was like the happiest place on Earth to him.  He’s also addicted to Apple, and asked me everyday when I was getting an iPhone 5S. When I did finally get one, he exploded into shrills of excitement and had me open my phone with the fingerprint over and over again.

Jack also got very excited when he saw me Skyping one afternoon. He showed me the Skype app on his phone and added me. Now I’m just waiting for the day I get a call while sitting in front of my computer hungover and Jack just wants to know why teacher just declined his call. Cute kid.

Here I am as part of their family. His dad is a designer, and everything made complete sense as soon as I met him.

IMG_2405

These brothers are a couple of wild boys with ADHD, but in the sweetest, most fun way possible.  David, on the right, always came to my class after lunch to just sit and talk about whatever. Nothing ever too special, but he’d come sit on the ground at my feet next to my desk and ask me questions and it was the cutest thing ever. And he is a jokester, and I love jokesters. His little brother Benny boy is in 5th grade now, and used to climb all over the desks as a 3rd grader. That is, until I told him “keep your butt in your seat or X!” Everytime I tapped my butt he’d giggle, but enough butt taps and X’s and his butt stayed firmly in that seat.

IMG_2408

This tall little girl is Shelby, who’s English sucks, but who is sweet as can be.  Every time in class she’d call me over to her seat just to tell me “Danielle Teacher love!” When we took this photo she hugged me so hard and just kept crying.  Saying goodbye to me was the end of her world as we know it, obvi.

IMG_2400

Oh my, John, the little red spectacled nerd stole my heart this year. When I first came to Korea, up until he was in 5th grade, he annoyed me so much. He is so smart, and he didn’t understand that I needed to give the other students a chance to answer questions. When he got to 6th grade he finally learned that teacher knows he’s smart. His English is through the roof, and he always came to talk to me about how much he loves Twitter and politics. Politics! He wants to be a computer programmer, and every Tuesday morning when I asked what they did that weekend, his answer was always “I build my computer program. It’s just demo but it is very fun to me!”

He’s a chatter box and is one of those A+ students who fully embraces any knowledge that is thrown his way. Any song we sang, John was the loudest singer. He thought my riddle about scrambled eggs was the funniest thing he’d EVER heard. During the Golden Bell competition, when he lost right at the end, it was as if his world came crashing down. He’s a huge nerd and the girls think he’s weird, which he is, but nerds will run the world one day. Watch out girls!

I wrote him a letter that I gave to him on graduation, and when I happened to be at the same restaurant that afternoon for lunch, he was so proudly reading it to his family.  My heart just smiles when I think about this kid.

IMG_2413

Last but certainly not least, I got a surprise visit from two of my all time favorite already graduated kiddos, who aren’t such kiddos anymore! You might recognize my now taller-than-me ex-6th grade boyfriend, Jinho, and my other peach, Max. I love these boys and was thrilled when they ran up  and threw their arms around me.

IMG_1927

Graduation also marked the last time I’d teach with the best co-teacher in the universe. Here is the last co-teacher photo of me clinging onto Jin’s arm. I love her, and probably would not have decided to stay as long as I have if I hadn’t been blessed with her awesomeness.  Major sadface day.

IMG_1931

So there you have it. I’ll leave you with this video of the group of girls who drove me insane all year. The condition of me being allowed to record this was “Teacher! No show anyone, ok!”  Sorry I’m not sorry, girls.

 

 

Dokdo & Ulleungdo: Where I Got Lucky

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but my luck has GREATLY increased over the past few weeks.  Why?  You ask? Well, because according to Korean thought, if one lands on the island of Dokdo, you are a very lucky person. And well, I am of the less than 1% of the Korean population to have stepped foot on the sacred and prized and heavily disputed over island of Dokdo in the East Sea or Sea of Japan.  It’s all relative depending on your location in the east, or the map you chose to peruse, I suppose.

SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education ~ my employer) was generous enough to take 36 of the almost 700 native English teachers in Seoul, on an all-inclusive 4 day 3 night trip to Samcheok, Ulleungdo, and the mighty Dokdo.  Dokdo is comprised of 2 islands that have been in heavy dispute with Japan for many years over who’s territory it actually is.  So, we knew that in signing up for this trip we were in for a weekend fueled by propaganda and many a botched map to take many ganders at.  And it was and we did.

I actually didn’t know much about Dokdo prior to my trip to Japan back in September, when Josh decided to jokingly shout “TAKESHIMI TAKESHIMI” everywhere we went. TakeshimA is actually the Japanese name for Dokdo, so of course this was a controversial stance for a giant white man to make whilst being employed by the Korean government! 😉  Both Joshua and I, and our friend Art, ended up being part of the lucky (highly weird) few to go on this trip, so I was very happy to be in extra FUN company on a long weekend to Takeshimi. 🙂

Our first stop on the trip was Samcheok, where we struggled to listen to the translation of the first propaganda lecture regarding “the correct understanding of Dokdo for peace in East Asia”.  We ogled at some artifacts from the Joseon remains and General Isabu’s time, and took a walking tour down by the water, which was really beautiful.  I felt like I wasn’t in Korea which was amazing on my peepers and lungs.  Being stuck in a concrete jungle can really wear on you.  We also visited a temple which is said to be the coolest (in temperature) place in Samcheok.  Many people would come here to pray before traveling to Dokdo because they didn’t know if they would return to the mainland alive due to the roughness of the water.  Many also used to walk through this rock in hopes of being impregnated with a son, so I took the liberty of forging my way through (without falling) said rock.

Looks like I’m having a boy guys!

samcheok boy rock

When we finally checked into our pension for the night, we were shafted to the one next door to the “nice” hotel we were originally scheduled for. This place gave me and one other interesting fella bed bug bites for days!  I also got cursed with a ridiculously bitchy roommate who got an overdose spoonful of the “Schaeff’s-not-listening-to-you-sideways-up turned-head-tilt”.

Bright and early the next morning, we had Korean breakfast of gamjatang, AKA pork spine soup, and kimchi.  My breakfast therefore consisted of rice and the few bits of kimchi I struggled to shove into my mouth that early in the morning.  With an awful taste in our mouths, we were off to the Sunflower 2, our ferry over to the beautiful island of Ulleungdo.  This journey was about 3.5 hours.

My first thought after landing on Ulleungdo was that it was so strikingly lush and gorgeous. The abundance of green had me feeling like I was in Jurassic Park. We were taken on a tour of the entire island and heard many age-old myths about the different rock formations, the volcanic origin and the people who call the island their home. Currently, less than 7,500 people live on Ulleungdo, and it houses 3 (if I remember correctly) elementary schools, 1 high school and oddly enough, 3 universities.  It’s special delicacies include dried squid (sold in Dokdo packaging), and a sweet pumpkin type bread and pumpkin candy similar to taffy. Brought some of that goodness back for my Principal and Vice Principal.

Here’s me, Josh and Art Turtle Rocking out. This rock is said to have many tiny formations that look like little turtles climbing all over it.

turtle rock

The walk up to our pension overlooking the ocean.  Seriously beautiful and nothin’ but fresh air for days!

ulleungdo pension

We went to this temple where we heard an old Korean myth about a young boy and girl who were left behind by their families.  They never came back for them and both ended up dying here. Or so the tale goes.

boy girl myth

And we walked along these massive cliffs overlooking the sea. Super gorge!

ulleungdo mtns

The next day was the BIG day! After all the praying we were told to do, we guzzled down our seasickness drugs, filled out our tickets and hopped aboard our righteous boat to the beloved Dokdo! We took one of the 45 journeys per year that the boat makes, and got inducted into the tribe of the lucky.

dokdo ticket

Here’s an aerial shot of the islands that make up Dokdo.  The eastern island is where we went, and the western island is home to the two people who actually call Dokdo their home.

dokdo-airshot

2.5 hours and no seasickness later, we made the arrival of a lifetime.  We were ushered off the boat and told we had 30 minutes to take pictures with the Liancourt Rocks, signs and guards that protect the land. I’m not quite sure why our stay on the island is so short, but let me tell you, Josh and I with our “DOKDO IS OUR LAND” signs made fantastic use of it! If two grown adults could run around an island like kids in a candy store, that is what we looked like.

We gained some enemies along the way when Joshy “bali bali’d” an old Korean woman to hurry up and take her photo in this exact place.

dokdo rocks

We also acquired a fan club of Korean women who wanted to hop in every photo with us. Here is the sign mandating that this here is Korean territory.  We saw nothing indicating it was otherwise Japan’s. Questionable I tell ya!

dokdo korean friends

These are the guards who live on Dokdo.  The only time they have other human interaction is when a boat reaches Dokdo.  So, any of the less than 45 days a year the boat actually docks.  You can also see stairs behind us which we weren’t allowed to climb up.  I’m not sure what is on the other side, maybe something Japanese?

dokdo guards

And with that we were off, but not without bidding some fond farewells.

josh goodbye dokdo

ajumma phone dokdo

The 3 of us were the last ones to get back on the boat, as we kept getting whistles blown on us to hurry up! Round trip, the entire journey consisted of 9 hours spent on a bus, 7 hours on a ferry and 5 hours on a boat, so we definitely make that 30 minutes count!  That night we met up with our groups to think up a speech to give on our final day.  Josh and I must have been sipping happy water, because when we told our group members that we had so much fun on Dokdo, they looked at us like we were crazy faces from another planet. Sour puss foreigner freaks.

Later we celebrated our new found fortune by noraebanging our hearts out. We bonded with a few others on the trip and shoved ourselves into a massive VIP room for what seemed like 3 hours. I broke a glass, there was table dancing, and no shortage of mic hogging on my part, per the usual.

The next day we were forced to eat fish and tofu soup for breakfast (awful to begin with, more awful when you’re hungover), and then were given a tour of a South Korean Coast Guard ship where we learned that they do not skimp on their entertainment, event whilst at sea protecting Korea’s oceans. This ship was fully equipped with a jjimjilbang (sauna) and a noraebang (karaoke room).

Our last stop was to a little ocean side town.  We stopped to look at some more historical Isabu sites, but we opted to check out the ocean view and vibrant murals instead.  I really find myself appreciating how beautiful Korea is whenever I get out of Seoul and visit places so tranquil and remote like this. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often.

old man and muralsstu ocean

The trip was really wonderful, and I’m extremely grateful that SMOE was so generous in offering such an opportunity to a group of us foreigners. I know we look at the island of Dokdo much differently and with less seriousness than Koreans do, and mostly viewed this as a chance to A) get out of teaching for 2 days, B) take a free trip out of Seoul to a couple islands that we probably would never seek out on our own, and C) a weekend filled with propaganda. However, seeing as so few Koreans actually have the chance to make this journey, I’m very grateful to say that during my time in Korea I got to check off such a huge cultural experience from my list. As far as who’s territory it actually is, I don’t know. I think there has to be something more than fishing rights and lines being drawn on a map, but I think Koreans are so passionate about it because the Japanese have been so awful to them.  So, they want the right to that land. Or there’s oil.  Who knows.

Here’s a video that Jon Pak, the SMOE head coordinator, made of the trip.  See if you can spot me for the smattering of nanoseconds that I make an appearance.

And just for good measure so you can see how serious Koreans are about this island, and because who doesn’t love a flash mob set to the Dokdo song.

WTF?! Wednesday ~ A Row Of Phalluses

HI guys! Another week, another WTF?! Wednesday! It totally crept up on me this week because my weekend all blended together.  I was chosen to go on a 4 day trip with the Seoul Office of Education to the island of Dokdo along with 35 other native English teachers, so the weekend and the week have flown! That being said, a post about Dokdo will be coming shortly because that is a very special island to the people of Korea, so you’ll want to hear a little bit about it.  You’ll also want to know why I’ve since acquired a new sense of good luck now that I’ve been there.

ANYWAYS, for this week’s WTF?! Wednesday I’m presenting you with something phallic.  I think it’s absolutely odd that Korea has parks and sculptures enshrined all over the country dedicated to the male member, when anything related to sex is so taboo.  Many Koreans when asked don’t even know the scientific words for penis or vagina.  It’s BIZARRO.

While in Samcheok this weekend, we were walking up to the top of a mountain to pray (for the millionth time) for good weather so that we’d be able to reach Dokdo’s holy soil.  As we were walking, we passed this row of glorified penises. The boys I was with walked right past them at first, but I of course caught wind of them and lept at the photographic opportunity.

IMG_8224

Korea, you cray!

 

Planet Moron Round 2

Remember this guy?

Well, it appears that I have been served up a second serving of him, and it tastes just as foul as I remember.  My school  A) doesn’t care about the English its students are learning and B) travels to planet Moron to retrieve specimens of idiot to throw into a classroom with me and see how well I can tolerate their just.standing.there.doing.nothing.  I AM NOT HAPPY. Especially when I had finally been graced with a young, lovely, SMART, new co-teacher who had a strong enough grasp of the English language and a spectacular eagerness to learn more. Hong-Eon was my new little dream boat and she was snatched away before I could even say “Thank you”.  Good thing I didn’t get a chance to.

A homeroom teacher in the 3rd grade had to go and get pregnant (the nerve!!!….totally jk) and the school decided that since Hong-Eon is young and new she could be moved easily, so that’s what they did.  The Vice Principal actually asked her if she knew anyone looking for a job and could fill in for a month and a half, regardless of their ability to speak English, just so they could finish out the semester, and a new English co-teacher would be hired at the new semester in September.  She and I were both severely annoyed by that.  The school ended up posting the job opening somewhere, and that’s where they got this guy.  Thankfully he’s only here for a month and a half, but still.

When I met him, my principal actually told me (thru Jin), to learn Korean so that I can help him out since his English is really poor.  Excuse me, but I am here to teach English to the students, not do my job AND his job for him.  During the upcoming year I’ll probably finally get my ass into gear and  take some Korean classes, but I’m definitely not going to say anything to the school, especially after they said this.  I was so irritated by that comment.  What nerve! Hire someone who is qualified for the job they are applying to work, not just to have a body fill a space.

I know I have come into this situation with preconceived notions about the whole arrangement, but so far it’s shaping up just as it did last year with Mr. Jang…  Me leading all of my 3rd and 6th grade classes with a man who literally stands in front of the classroom leaning against the white board not paying attention to the lesson or the kids in the class.  Not picking up on cues to their lack of understanding and need of translation.  Him not disciplining them at all, even while he’s standing directly in front of them and they have not responded to my scolding in English. And me jumping around like a monkey between touchscreen and handing out points because he doesn’t help out AT ALL, even after I’ve asked him to multiple times. Worthless!!!

I have also picked up on some of his mannerisms at lunch, and I just think he hates kids. He makes weird faces whenever they’re messing around and doing things kids do with each other, and it annoys me. Maybe that’s just one of my weird neuroses, but it does.

I’m trying to breathe and bare with the fact that I only have about a month-ish left with him.  I’m just crossing my heart and hope to die that my school pulls through and hires someone like Hong-Eon or Jin for the coming semester.  It makes a world of difference teaching with someone you have a rapport with, and someone who even if they can’t speak perfect English, they are willing and eager to learn from you and work together. 

PRETTY PLEASE WITH A CHERRY ON TOP!

Lucky Number 3?

Remember this post?  Well, scratch that.

Here’s a sentence I never envisioned myself uttering during those tear-fest drives to LAX on August 16, 2011 and January 25, 2013: “Year 3 in Korea is happening.”

Yep. I have renewed for one more year, and the 3 letters W-T-F are still swimming thru my brain.

I knew by going home in January I’d ramp up my anxiety a bit about the future.  I live a rather anxiety-free life, especially in Korea, except when money or big changes are happening, which I think is fairly normal.  However, when it kicks in, it kicks into full blown I’m-not-slowing-down-to-even-let-you-sleep mode.  The past 1.5 years in Korea have been completely void of this feeling, which is the most wonderful thing ever.  That is, until recently. Dun dun dun.

Up until 2, maybe 2.5 weeks ago, I was completely 110% set on the fact that I would be leaving Korea by September 2013 at the very latest.  I had started thinking I’d go to another country in Asia (maybe Hong Kong, Taiwan or China) for a new experience after traveling India and going home for a bit.  Then shit started getting more real.  There’s only 4 months of our current contract left, and I realized I’m almost 30 and need to have a more stable plan in order for that return home, and then the jumping off point after to go off without a hitch. I know myself, and if I were to go home with just the money I’d leave Korea with (which would be a pretty penny after 2 years!) I’d sit and stew at home about my next move, blow that cash in the process, and my anxiety would be left even worse.

So, in the long run, a year is only a year, and for my own sanity it’ll be easier for me to get my ducks in a row this year abroad than it would be to do the same thing at home in the crazy Schaeff abode. Not to mention, I’ll basically be doubling the money that I’m going to be leaving Korea with.  I never thought I’d be here for 3 years, and I thought I’d have my shit together, but turns out that even though this year has been awesome, I feel like I didn’t do anything remotely proactive to make that happen.  So big girl pants must be worn this year.  And I plan to write a lot in the process.

I know my mom is not happy about it, per our 10 minute phone call resulting in a swift click of End Call, and Sista wants me home for her and the pups.  But, after talking to some pretty unbiased close friends who have their heads tightly screwed on straight, my dad, and lots of introspective Seoul searching, accompanied by a very trusty dusty Pros/Cons list, I feel that I’ve made the adult, mature, responsible decision.  Even though my heart is running rampant and can’t flutter straight, my head is the only thing that feels remotely clear, so I’m ultimately happy with my decision, albeit the massive pit in my stomach.  Plus, that means more travel adventures para mi, and there ain’t NOTHIN wrong with that! 🙂

Oh, and I will also be looking into finding a new apartamento in a more central locale, because home girl can’t hang in the boonies of North Korea (not really) for one more year.  And word on the street is that a good handful of my loves will still be around, so that is easing me just a skotch.

So folks, you’ve got 16 more months to find a way to make me even more popular than I already have been in the visitor department. August 2014 will be my OFFICIAL OFFICIAL departure date from South Korea.  You’ve got my word 🙂

And one last OH! I’m going to look into flights home for August.  I know, twice in one year…CRAY! But, this is in order to make Mama Schaeff and Sista a little happier, and to ease my probably forthcoming anxiety if I were to come home in January.  I may try to come to NYC as well, so I will keep all you fine lovelies abreast 🙂

A Pupu Platter Of 2012 Whathaveyous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

Wow, another year has come and gone, and I must say, 2012 was my favorite year of my almost-29 years gracing this planet.  So much that I had always dreamt of in years past same to fruition this year, and I can honestly say I am in the best place I have ever been in my life.  And it feels damn good 😉

I had made the resolution in 2011 that by the end of the year I would be living a life abroad ~ check.  In 2012 I promised myself I would do absolutely as much traveling of Asia as possible.  I came to Korea to conquer this continent like a blaze of fire, and in looking back I can say I did just that.  Along with the travel resolutions, I really put my best foot forward to work on getting what I really want, and making that start from within.  I try my best to communicate what I want, but a lot of time it fails when walls get put up, or life just gets in the way.  So, I’ve really tried to be as self-aware as possible just be the best version of myself and hope that it brings with it what I truly want.  That being said, 2012 has definitely been the happiest and most honest year to date 🙂

Now I’m just gonna throw together a few highlights from each month of 2012. Badabing herrrrrr goes!

I began the year on the beach in Koh Phangan, covered in florescent body paint and drinking liquor by the buckets with one of my dearest and oldest friends on the planet ~ my fave biatch and sista from anotha mista, Miz Diamond ❤

389416_10100547874676587_6679915_n

January marked my first birthday to be celebrated away from everyone I’ve always shared my (obviously) favorite holiday with.  I felt a little down about it, then in flew a gift from THE BEST sista ever ~ Sista Schaeff in the flesh, in Korea!

399825_10100601838417817_379245813_n

On her last night here, she snuggled my foot to sleep.  BY CHOICE! ❤

400230_10100601838432787_1590944865_n

In February I visited two of my favorite countries so far ~ Vietnam and Cambodia. I saw some of the most beautiful snorkeling waters, caught my first fish, shot my first gun, ate a bowl of pho a day, wondered why they allow Americans in, and saw my life flash before me about 1million times while in ‘Nam.

422577_10100677226279937_48203204_n

In Cambodia I visited the most breathtaking temples I have ever seen, spent an afternoon with beautiful children in an orphanage on the river, saw insurmountable beauties in some of the deepest poverty stricken eyes, and struggled to hold back tears while walking through a living history at the Killing Fields and S-21 genocide museum remnants from the Khmer Rouge of the 70s~80s.

424130_10100670071962247_1895316406_n

In March I visited the happiest place on earth, AKA the DMZ, for the second time.  This time we rode bikes along the most intensely guarded border in the world, all while Obama paid the peninsula a visit and peered over to the North with us.

526077_10100724236276527_1548630859_n

April means Passover, which also means the sea parts in Korea.  I made the trek down south with a homie and we met Moses, crossed the parted sea and drank makkoli while doing so, obvi.

579216_10100753526967747_1511141598_n

Later in April, my favorite story to date came to be.  A couple morons went to a Lady GaGa concert.  They got all gussied up in the hottest of pink and the tightest of attire, only to miss the whole thing whilst trying to attain the most coveted seats in the house during the “GaGa cover band”…. *face palm* At least we looked sexy.

33973_10100797141967937_428930537_n

In May, Wawa came for a visit.  We did many things, but by far our favorite day was our “Day of Culture.”  We visited Gyeongbukgong Palace, learned about the creation of Hangul (the Korean alphabet), ate a traditional lunch, drank tea in a lovely tea house, dressed up and cracked up in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress), and wrapped up with a journey to the Noryangjin Fish Market.  Twas a wondrous day!

292642_10100837689290777_174469039_n

Then came June, and Buddha’s birthday.  A crew of us high-tailed out of Seoul to Gangneung, a little beach town on the East Sea. There were makkoli and soju spurred chicken fights, sexy man-wrestles, toasty bonfires, crashing of high class fancy Korean booking clubs and frisbee games resulting in broken pinky toes and racial slurs. The Buddhaman had an awesome birthday!!

11802_10101614196718667_1052308168_n

538332_3485835258592_1603982897_n

Then came July and two events which could be classified as the greatest events of the century. One more than the other, but one got more hype than the other according to the Facebook.  You can use your own judgement on that one.  One required us to dress to the nines to bid adieu to all the homies we grew to call family, and also the ones we grew apart from because a lot of people that came with us were weirdos, let’s face it. The other required some prior temple-sculpting, lots and lots and lots of soju, mudmudmud and practically no clothes. Mud Fest was by far my favorite event of 2012.  Shit was CRAY TO THE MAX!

582038_10101675057398377_1247042343_n

576040_10151910103675533_522225362_n

August was the most bittersweet month of the year I’d say.  It was sweet because I took a 2.5 week summer jaunt on over to the Philippines with my lovely lass from home, Brianne.  We saw some of the most picturesque islands, snorkeled and ate our faces off, hiked miles in our little warrior Havaianas, posed with stalagtites, missed the whale sharks, got in a fist fight with a very mean typhoon, and let tempers fly with shitty budget airlines.

530133_10101730633802817_336303735_n

August was bitter because our contracts ended and some left KoKo and I had to face the harsh reality that the world as I knew it was shattering before me.  Well, that’s an over-dramatization, but that’s how it felt at the time dammit. I also got thrown into my deathbed by some plague I contracted in the Philippines.   So, not only were my friends leaving, but I was deathly ill and partying with an IV in the hospital, unable to hand out proper goodbye hugs. NOT COOL WORLD.

221837_10101729142017367_955163249_n

556478_10101734957183727_1250932164_n

559261_10101729141862677_1059884625_n

photo

Then on rolled September.  Grabbing my bearings on who was still left in my Seoul-cial circle happened naturally.  I got back in the go-out mode (at least for the time being), and some friendships from the previous year had the chance to blossom.  Late in the month for Chuseok holiday, a group of us gals decided to pop off to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan with boy toy Joshy. We frolicked by bicycle all over Kyoto, made the most of the typhoon stricken city by stuffing our faces with enough sushi and sake to fuel an army, and tore up (literally) a karaoke room.  Best weekend ever!!!

246785_10101793784393527_575667527_n

October was of course Halloween, and we got down with our bad selves…and Bob the Builder.

549092_10102094756667677_1447584716_n

In November I actually had a REAL Thanksgiving, none of that Pho shit (pardon me, it’s just not suitable cuisine for Thanksgiving).  Josh Rich was also in town as my 6th visitor to the Orient. A Happy Happy Turkey Day it was!

531068_10102136514424797_168268462_n

And last but not least, I think the winner for best December event goes to my dance crew’s (WORD TO YO MAMA’S HIGH WAISTED JEANS) epic ass kicking in the 90s dance battle for the African kids. Real winners put in the effort, and effort we put in. Obviously you would know this had you been at our latke-rehearsal party, our cheese and crackers rehearsal party where Matty ripped his jeans, and our final rehearsal party that almost interfered with us attending the actual party because we were too focused on perfecting our dance.  What a BOMB DIGGITY way send out 2012!!!

-1

As you can see, 2012 was quite the year, and it’s been a pleasure looking back on it with you. Here’s to an even better 2013, and going home to America in 10 days!!!!!!!

PEACE & CHICKEN GREASE, HOMIEZ.

Ya Gotta Get Clean To Get Dirrrrty

As of yesterday, I’ve been living in Korea for 11 months.  It’s crazy to think that a year has come and gone in the blink of an eye.  I’ve met so many people over here.  Some amazing homies I will for sure remain friends with forever, some a little too ‘off’ for my liking and who I will be glad to see bounce. Real talk, yo!

So, the past 2 weekends have consisted of a couple so-long-farewell-i-bid-to-say-adieus.  No tears have been shed yet, but I’ve definitely told a select few to lock up their excitement when they talk about leaving Korea and all the things they will do when they’re back stateside for good.

2 weekends ago was the over-the-top black-tie-mandatory EPIK Farewell Party (or as I like to call it, Prom 10 years later) at the swanky Banyan Tree Resort.  Despite the annoying hype, it ended up being a fun night and twas lovely to see people all gussied up. Here’s a few of my fave shots from Prom.

US President Hord & his First lady on the right, Korean President Kwon Jee Won and her bodyguard/man toy on the left. Nations uniting.

Standard shot of me & a slew of sexy AZNs.

Game face time with Mr. Monette.

Making flirty eyes with my Benji Boo Boo Bear.

Dancing with my favorite Jordanian prince. Once again, uniting nations.

And what would a black tie event (or any event) be without me & boo sexing up the camera?

And last, just because Tony is making the most horrendous face in the universe.

THEN, this past weekend we dressed down for the most amazing weekend I’ve had in the past 11 months! Around 15 of us hopped on a bus and took it 2.5 hours out of Seoul to the Boryeong Mud Festival.  It was like going back to college for a weekend, and it was nothing short of awesome. Twas such a great way to begin wrapping up the best year of my life so far with some wonderful people.  I don’t really think there’s a significance of the festival, but it lasts for 10 days, and it’s mostly foreigners with a smattering of Koreans who think it’s appropriate to bring their sheltered children to a festival of naked, drunk waygooks.

When we were clean and excited to go get dirrrrrrrrrrty.

Last minute temple sculpting.

Dawning my (and Polio’s) best ajumma wear: leopard ajumma jellies and his pink visor.

Cue madness.

Polio threw us all in the pit. Then got the pit closed down with his actions.  Oops.

Superman that hoe.

Later that night outside our pension. “Is that 4names?” Nope…some random.

Fireworks to begin the festival!

Nothin like some good clean (and dirrrrty) fun to wind down a bombass year living on this tiny peninsula in the far far East.