Grenada!!

One more overseas adventure before settling in America for a while… My good friend from college, Michelle, is attending vet school at St. George’s University down in Grenada! She told me I could come visit if I wanted to. After seeing how cheap flights were in April, I was in!!

Here I go again!

Here I go again!

I landed in the evening of April 9th and man, was it hot!! I got a taxi van… And I thought the drivers in Korea were crazy! These guys just barrel down these little roads honking away whenever they see a car or someone walking, just to make it known they are there. I told the driver I needed to use his phone to call Michelle for directions, which he wasn’t too happy about. A little while later, I arrived!! And I got to see Michelle’s lovely face!! She showed me around the campus a little bit and the docks.

Hanging out on the dock...

Hanging out on the dock…

The next morning while Michelle was in class, I headed out to the docks to chill and read a book. While I was out there, a security officer was lingering behind me like I shouldn’t be there. A little weird. When Michelle got out of class, we took a bus into town so she could show me where the beach and some other places were. I got lunch at a popular restaurant on the beach called Umbrellas. I sat up on the 2nd level under the umbrellas and enjoyed a little drink and some shrimp. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach!

Later on, I met Michelle back at her room so we could go to dinner. We walked to Dodgy Dock with her friend Caitlin, who was meeting her dad there for dinner. It was a nice little restaurant right on the dock. There were a couple little boats tied up about 20 feet from our table. As we were sitting, the sun was going down. A very beautiful view for dinner! We both had the lambi cobb salad. Lambi is a type of shell fish also known as the spider conch. It was pretty tasty!

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On Thursday, I slept in for a while before heading to the beach while Michelle was in class. I could really get used to this kind of life! And the people here are very friendly… Maybe a little bit too friendly. They don’t think twice about coming up and having a conversation with you while you’re relaxing on the beach. And then you also have the people that try selling you things left and right. I enjoyed chattin’ with people, but it was when people would sit down next to me and want to hang out for a while that I wasn’t too fond of. One guy was wearing a nice button up short sleeved shirt decorated with marijuana leaves… Haha welcome to the Carribbean, mon!

Grand Anse Beach!

Grand Anse Beach!

That night Michelle and I went for a sunset walk on the beach… Lovely! Then we headed to La Boulangerie for some dinner. I got some delicious shrimp alfredo. It’s so nice to sit and chat with this woman! :)

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Friday was so much fun! Michelle was able to get out of her classes for the day!! We went and did some shopping in St. George’s. When we got down there, this man insisted that he show us around. We were fine on our own and just couldn’t get rid of him. Eventually he said something along the lines of, “I show you around. You give me nice tip.” Michelle told him that we never asked him to show us around and that we weren’t going to pay him… He wasn’t too happy but he left finally. After shopping, we went to buy some floating noodles and headed down to Grand Anse Beach for the afternoon. It was sooo nice finally being able to hang out with her at the beach!

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Noodle Life!

Noodle Life!

Fish Friday

That night, we rented a taxi to take us on the 45 minute drive out to Gouyave for Fish Friday! Fish Friday is two intersecting streets lined with tents each cooking up their special fish dishes. We tried a little bit of everything: fish balls, mac ‘n’ cheese pie, fried fish, lambi kabob, grilled fish in garlic butter, and a couple others that I can’t remember. It was so much fun trying all this tasty food, listening to music, and soaking all of this lovely culture in! Awesome time! The only downside is we didn’t see any oil down. Oil down is a signature dish of Grenada that Michelle has heard a lot about… Hopefully we’ll be able to find some the next time I visit!

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Carriacou

Since Michelle has been here, she’s always wanted to go out to Carriacou, an island northeast of Grenada, so we took the ferry out there on Saturday! The ferry ride was pretty rough… We were so happy to finally get to Carriacou after a couple hours!

Can't get there fast enough!

Can’t get there fast enough!

We were planning on going to the tourist information once we got there to see what there all was to do, come to find out it’s closed on Saturday! What?! Haha that just seemed rather silly to be closed on the weekend. There were so many taxi drivers trying to get us to go here and there and it was a little overwhelming. So we stopped in at a little cafe for some smoothies and then went back out on the street after it calmed down. We wanted to go watch for sea turtles, but the ferry didn’t get there early enough or stay late enough to do that in one day… Next time when we can stay for the weekend I suppose. We chatted with a taxi driver to see what there is to do, and he suggested go out to Paradise Beach. There we could rent snorkeling gear and get a water taxi out to Sandy Island.

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Wow! Sooo incredibly beautiful! Going to Paradise Beach is like walking into the land of the most beautiful postcards! Blue skies scattered with white fluffy clouds, clean beach, turquoise waters, and a few little boats in the water with an island and a couple little mountains in the background. We got our snorkels and goggles and hopped onto the water taxi to Sandy Island. We snorkeled there for a little bit. It was a little windy, so the water was a little choppier than I would have liked, but there were so many beautiful fish to look at!

Beautiful jumping photo!

Beautiful jumping photo!

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I love jumping photos!

I love jumping photos!

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Later on, we had the taxi driver come pick us up and he took us on a mini tour of the island. It took us up on top of one of the hills to look down at the harbor and then to the top of a hill looking down at the other side of the island. From that side, we could see Petite Martinique, one of the islands that celebrities often vacation to and pay thousands of dollars per night… Crazies! Haha but it is really beautiful, so I guess it’s kind of worth it.

We've reached the top!

We’ve reached the top!

The view of the harbor from up above!

The view of the harbor from up above!

Petite Martinique in the distance.

Petite Martinique in the distance.

On the ferry ride back to Grenada, we sat outside… Our stomachs were feeling much better on this trip!

Feeling much better!

Feeling much better!

Back to Grenada...

Back to Grenada…

Bye Carriacou!

Bye Carriacou!

We also got to see a bunch of little flying fish! Try to see if you can spot them…

Where's the flying fish?

Where’s the flying fish?

That night, St. George’s University was hosting a highlighter party! At a highlighter party, there are a bunch of black lights, glow sticks, and highlighters. Everyone wears a white shirt so you can write messages or draw pictures on each other and then see them glow in the black lights. Michelle and I had a pretty good time tearing up the dance floor… As we always do!!

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Glowing!

Glowing!

Sunday was a pretty chill day… Michelle had a lot of studying to do (I learned on this trip that studying is basically your whole life in vet school…), so we took it pretty easy. Michelle heard that KFC was pretty good down here, but she hadn’t tried it for herself yet. When we got there, I was sooooo excited…. They had mac ‘n’ cheeeeeeese!!!!!! For those of you that don’t know, KFC has the BEST mac ‘n’ cheese on the planet!! (In my opinion anyways.) And the chicken was pretty tasty too. They add a little spice to it. Yum!

Monday morning it was back the US! I had such a great time visiting Grenada and seeing my lovely friend, Michelle!! I can’t wait to go down and visit again before she graduates!! :)

What I Miss & Don’t Miss About Korea!!!

Well I have just had one of the most AMAZING years of my life living abroad in South Korea!! It was definitely the BEST decision I’ve ever made in my 24 short years on this planet so far! On November 3rd, 2011, received a text message from Kristin at EduCon in Chicago saying I passed my interview! (What a FANTASTIC early birthday present!) Then on February 19th, 2012, Mikala, my best friend since about the 5th grade, drove me to the airport and sent me on my way for an early morning flight! For a year, Jeju Island was my home, and though I’m excited to be back home in America and being able to see my family and friends, I miss Jeju so much!! (Well I don’t miss everything…)

I miss the food!

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I don’t miss people’s driving “skills.”

I miss my students!

I don’t miss the last minute way of life that my co-teachers seem to enjoy so much.

I miss the Olle trails!

I don’t miss the pushing and shoving.

I miss my co-teachers!

I don’t miss Korean’s confusion as to what side of the sidewalk you should walk on.

I miss riding the bus!

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I don’t miss riding the bus.

I miss clothes shopping!

I don’t miss not being able to try on clothes before you buy them.

I miss inexpensive traveling!

I don’t miss seeing women wearing heels EVERYWHERE!

I miss the cheap transportation!

I don’t miss Korean heating.

I miss my friends!!

I don’t miss not seeing any facial hair on men.

I could go on and on, but mostly, I miss Jeju!!
Jeju will always have a place in my heart.

<3

Photo130103_001 Halla

I’m Going Home!!

Monday, February 25th, 2013 marked my very last day of desk warming… And I did absolutely NOTHING! I went out to lunch with the principal, other teachers, and Landon and then said my good-byes at the end of the day. What an amazing experience! The principal, vice principal, my co-teachers, other teachers, and STUDENTS were all so good to me this year and they will always have a place in my heart! I’ve learned so much in the past year and I couldn’t be more happy with whoever’s choice it was to place me at this school! Goodbye 대정 초등학교!! (Daejeong Elementary School)

Oh, I forgot to mention… Some middle school or high school girls came in asking if we’d like our faces drawn for 1,000 ₩ and here’s mine!

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Happy Birthday, Karima!

Our last day on our contracts also marked Karima’s birthday!!! We had dinner at home and I gave her a little gift before we headed to Rose Marine down by the harbor. We enjoyed some cakes and drinks with friends! A lovely little night. :)

Cards, fire, and makoli at Rose Marine!

Cards, fire, and makoli at Rose Marine!

Tuesday, my last day on Jeju, was filled with STRESS!! I packed up 2 more boxes of stuff to send home and brought them down to the post office in the rain. On my way back home, I caught a taxi driver and put him on the phone with Seunghee so she could explain to him that I needed a ride home to pick up my stuff and then up to Jejusi. Most taxi drivers don’t like making the hour trip over the mountain to the north side, but he was happy to do it. When we got to my place, I brought out one suitcase and my big backpack and he met me at the top of the stairs to carry down the suitcase. Then he put it in his trunk and closed it. I said, “No, no. More.” pointing back to my place. Haha he looked at me a little shocked. Sorry guy, but when you move to a different country you’re going to have more than a suitcase and backpack… He carried the other 2 suitcases down the stairs in the rain and we were on our way. What a champ! With all the stress and anxiety I was dealing with, I was so grateful to have a very helpful taxi driver that didn’t complain. Thank you!

After the hour taxi drive, we made it to Jeju-si and he brought me to Seunghee’s home. She was at work, but her husband and daughters were outside waiting to help me with my luggage. Then we had some hot tea and apples before I had to head out to give my phone to another foreigner… Cerise wanted to take over my contract, but the first store told us we had to go to a different store to do that. When we got to that different store, they told us we were in the wrong place. Ugh! Well by then, she had to leave for work. Hopefully she figured it out! I don’t understand why only certain stores can switch over contracts. You all have computers and access to my account, so what’s the big deal??

Next I went to the bank to transfer all my money back home. Before I sent it, I realized the school didn’t send me my last paychecks for transportation allowance and after-school pay even though they promised they would have it done by noon that day. So that was fun trying to get ahold of someone at school when I no longer had my phone. The woman at the bank was helpful, but when I called the school Jin-young said that they don’t do payments today. WHAT?! Hosun and I spent time talking to the people at school yesterday and they said they could do it, but now they all of a sudden can’t. The stress went overboard and I was hot! I took a walk over to Tom ‘n’ Tom’s to get a snack and calm down. After about an hour there, I went back to the bank and surprisingly the school had sent the money!

Then I went to meet Karima at a coffee shop. She wasn’t there, so I just sat down at got some juice while I waited. I was waiting for a while, but I had no phone and I couldn’t get the wi-fi to work, so I had no way of getting in touch with her. After about an hour, I just decided to go for a walk. When I got back out on the main road, I realized that I might have been at the wrong place and she might be at this new coffee shop we went to on New Year’s… And sure enough! Found her!

Later on we took a taxi to Raj Mahal for my going away dinner!! I’m going to miss this delicious Indian food sooooo much!! I enjoyed my last dish of butter chicken curry and garlic butter nan with some good friends I’ve made in the past year: Karima, Landon, Leo, Sarah Y, Tyler, Becca, Sarah R, and Hannah!

Tyler, Sarah, Leo, Landon, & Karima... Awesome friends!

Tyler, Sarah, Leo, Landon, & Karima… Awesome friends!

Hannah, Sarah, Becca, & Tyler (again)... More awesome friends!

Hannah, Sarah, Becca, & Tyler (again)… More awesome friends!

While we were talking at dinner, it got brought up that I had never been to a noraebong before. Noraebongs are places where you can rent a room with your friends and sing karaoke for however long you rent the room for. There are multiple microphones, flashing lights, tambourines and countless songs to choose from… Bohemian Rhapsody, Wannabe, and Super Bass were just a few that we sang our hearts out to. What a blast!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTr54CWNoSU&feature=youtu.be

Then we said our goodbyes… I’m going to miss all of these awesome people!!!!!!! I’m so happy that each of you were apart of my adventure this year here in Lovely Jeju!!

Wonderful last night in Jeju!!

Wonderful last night in Jeju!!

I'll miss you guys!!

I’ll miss you guys!!

Karima and I then headed back to Seunghee’s to spend the night. While we were checking Facebook, I saw that some people mentioned something about my plans back home!! Eek! For the past 6 months, I had been planning to surprise my mom out in Colorado after I get back and it nearly got ruined the day before I leave! Thankfully, my mom didn’t check Facebook before I was able to remove the comments! *Sigh of relief.*

We woke up early the next morning for my flight and Hyun-jeong and Jong-eun were already up studying at 5:30 a.m! Champs! You would NEVER find me up that early studying on my day off of school! I prepared my luggage, we had some bagels for breakfast, and then Seunghee drove Karima and I to the airport. Thank you soooo much for everything Seunghee!!

Karima hung out with me at the airport before I went through security… No tears, but I’m going to miss that woman soooo much!!

On the plane, I got a whole row to myself! Right as the captain said “Prepare for takeoff” the tears started rolling! What an amazing year! Jeju was my home for a year and I absolutely adored every minute of it!! Hopefully I’ll be able to make it back here someday!

Here is what my trip back home looked like…

Jeju to Busan 8:45 am- 9:40 am (55 minutes)
Layover in Busan 9:40 am-4:50 pm (7 hours 10 minutes)
Busan to Seoul 4:50 pm-5:55 pm (1 hour 5 minutes)
Layover in Seoul 5:55 pm-7:10 pm (1 hour 15 minutes)
Seoul to Detroit 7:10 pm-6:10pm (13 hours)
Layover in Detroit 6:10 pm~9:00 pm (2 hours 50 minutes) *There was a delay, so I’m not exactly sure how accurate times are from here.
Detroit to Appleton 9:00 pm-9:25 pm (1 hour 25 minutes)

Total Travel Time: 27 hours 40 minutes

Sooo happy to be HOME!! My grandma Monica and best friend Mikala said they were both going to be at the airport to welcome me home, so I was a little surprised and very happy to see those two AND Chelsea, Kayla, Tracy, Uncle Tony, Uncle John, Marc, Aunt Sue, Uncle Dean, and Aunt Adella!!! What a great welcome home! Love you all!

First meal back in the US of A!!!

First meal back in the US of A!!!

Then we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for my first meal back in America!! I stuffed my face with a delicious plain cheeseburger and fries!! My cousin Marc decided he wanted to do the Blazin’ Challenge. You have to eat 12 of their chicken wings with the Blazin’ sauce (the hottest sauce they have, which is known to be 60 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper!) in under 6 minutes. He had to sign a release of liability… Pretty intense! If he finishes, he doesn’t have to pay and he gets a free T-shirt. If he doesn’t, he has to pay for the wings. Crazy kid! Check it out to see if he finished it or not…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z-p9tiviwo

When I got home, I laid in my bed, watched TV (every channel in English!), and ate cheese popcorn with a spoon! Feels so good to be home!

The next night I went to Mikala’s house and enjoyed pizza, wine, and some old school CD’s from our high school days with Chelsea and Kayla! I also gave them some gifts from my trip to Thailand, so we had fun with those!

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Friday my grandpa was in the hospital, so I went to see him and we swapped gambling and traveling stories. :) Then Friday night I went to the famous Ken’s Riverside and ordered my usual… Burger and fries!! My grandma Joyce makes the BEST burger I’ve ever had!! Out of all the burgers I’ve had around the world, these are my favorite!!

Mama’s Birthday

My mom knew I was coming back from Korea, but she didn’t know I was coming out to Colorado to surprise her on her birthday! I flew into Denver Sunday morning and Dillon picked me up. Before we left the parking lot, I called my mom “from Wisconsin” (or so she thought) to wish her a happy birthday. She told me they were going to Chili’s for her birthday lunch and she said she can’t wait for me to come visit to we can go to Chili’s and have our favorite margaritas and  queso! That would happen a lot sooner than she expected…

About an hour later…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_N0I-VCMm4

After being back for a couple days, I find myself sometimes bowing to people and using Korean expressions… Not sure how long that will take to wear off. Haha. Getting behind the wheel again has been awesome!! Driving down back country roads jamming out to my Lady Gaga CD’s has never felt so good! Finally being able to see my friends and family again in person instead of over Skype has been sooo great! I LOVE AMERICA!!!

The End is Near!

I started off my last full week in South Korea desk warming… Woo-hoo! It really is amazing to me that I can sit at a desk for 8 hours and not really accomplish that much. I spent the day working on my blog, but mostly just looking through old pictures and reading old letters of recommendation, which were so heartwarming to read!

Olle Headquarters

I spent my 3rd and final sick day doing laundry before I took a walk down to the water by Olle 6. I walked down Olle 6 a little ways until I came to the Olle Headquarters. I walked up the back stairwell and into an office where a bunch of Korean women just stared at me. There was a little talk before a women from the back of the office came to greet me. (An awkward minute of standing there while they decide who’s going to have to speak English with me…) When I told her that I had finished all the Olle trails, she was very excited and shocked, as were the rest of the women. I found out I was the first foreigner to come in and get my completion certificate!! (But I know I wasn’t the first to finish them all… A fellow Wisconsinite and former English teacher on Jeju Island, Kristin, finished back in November!!) While I filled out the forms, the woman and I chatted about my Olle experience and she was a bit surprised when I said that I had done many of the trails by myself.

After they gave me my completion stickers, certificate, and pins, I was on my way. While walking past the temple a little down from the Olle Headquarters, I got a text message saying “Congratulations!!” with this picture:

small_Brooke Von Ruden

Later on when I got home, I saw this Facebook post:

제주올레 첫 번째 외국인 완주증 수령자, Brooke Von Ruden씨입니다~ 

고향은 미국, 2012년 2월 제주도에 와서 영어교사를 하던 중 아름다운 제주도의 속살을 탐험하고 싶어 제주올레를 걷기 시작했습니다. 2012년 4월부터 2013년 2월까지 장장 10개월간 때로는 혼자, 때로는 친구들과 제주올레 26개 코스를 모두 완주 했다하네요.
다음주에 고향으로 돌아간다 하니 몹시 아쉽지만 제주올레를 걸으며 경험했던 소중한 기억들, 길 위에서 나눈 우정을 주변의 지인들과 함께 나누어 주기를 바랍니다~
축하합니다~!제주올레 완주 관련 정보 : http://www.jejuolle.org/index.html?mid=3&act=view&BOARD_NO=24852We pleasantly introduce Ms Brooke Von Ruden, the first foreigner recipient of Jeju Olle Trail Certificate of Completion!
She’s been walking Jeju Olle Trails from April 2012 to Feburary 2013 for 10 months to explore Jeju Island. She said, ‘It’s a great idea and gives people a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of Jeju-do. I visited lots of places that I probably would not see if it weren’t for the Olle courses.’
Congratulations Brooke~!

 And I got an email saying I made it into their Hall of Fame! 

이중섭 Museum

On my way home, I stopped at the 이중섭 (Lee Joong Seop) Museum. He was an artist who spent time on Jeju Island, mostly in Seogwipo, during the Korean War. His unique artwork can be seen many places in Seogwipo, but especially on the street named after him, Lee Joong Seop Street (a.k.a Art Street).

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I also had a gorgeous view from the top!

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Later on, I met up with Karima and Becca to try out this pork restaurant called Soba that Karima has been raving about for a while. All the vegetables are fresh from the owners garden and everything was delicious!! The pork was a bit spicy, but what good Korean meal doesn’t come with something that’s a bit spicy? Nonetheless, it was GOOD! After that, we picked up some Baskin Robbins before heading up to Sarah’s place for Stitch ‘n’ Bitch! A lovely night with the girls and Cricket (Sarah’s cat)!

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Yum-Yum!

Someone was a little curious about my yarn...

Someone was a little curious about my yarn…

While in Korea, I totally embraced the phrase “When in Rome…” (I apologize in advance to anybody who is offended…) My fried Tyler and I went out one night to try dog stew. (And no, they don’t just go grab every Pomeranian and Labrador they can get their hands on.) Let it be known that I would NEVER try this in the States, but since I’m in Korea, it’s a different story. (Same goes for not eating beef in India or pork in Muslim cultures.) From what I’ve been told, they only use the Jindo dog, a Korean breed. Someone asked me if I thought of my dog while trying this, and the answer is “No.” Though there are many people in Korea that keep dogs, Jindos and other breeds, as pets, many Koreans don’t consider them an important part of the family like we do in America and other countries. The meat they serve comes from dogs that were raised for this purpose, just like cows, pigs, and chickens are raised on a farm. And just like beef, pork, and poultry, I found it to be quite delicious! It was served in a spicy stew and it was very filling.

While sitting down for dinner, I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. There was silence on the other end after I answered and then all of a sudden, I heard “Hello 브룩 (Brooke)! My name is 팍지해 (Pak Ji Hyae).” Haha one of my little 2nd graders called me to say hello and then we talked about what she had for dinner. I was very surprised and happy that she understood what I was asking when I asked her about dinner… Proud teacher moment!! Then she sent me a text after we hung up saying “브룩 i <3 you” Haha so cute!! ^^

At lunch with Eun-sook and Landon one day, our waiter was wearing a shirt that caught my attention. I was rather shocked because Koreans (to my knowledge) don’t do drugs and the punishment for doing any kind of drug is SEVERE!

Oh Korea... I will miss your fashion.

Oh Korea… I will miss your fashion.

Wednesday was my last after-school class with the little 1st and 2nd graders. No more using Brooke Teacher as a jungle gym. :( Friday was my last after-school class with my 3rd and 4th graders. SAD DAY! These were the kids that I had the entire year for my after-school classes. I will especially miss three little boys: Seungwon, the outspoken smartypants; Jiwoo, the one who at first wouldn’t say ANYTHING in class and was volunteering by the end of the year; and Yoonbin, the little mischievous (I think he was only mischievous to get my attention… it worked) tough guy who won my heart with his laugh and curly hair. These three little guys were in my very first after-school class and came to nearly every class until the end of the year.

My craziest crazies!!

My craziest crazies!!

I will miss them so much!!

I will miss them so much!!

I surprised my 3rd and 4th grade after-school class with a candy hunt for our last day! I wasn’t one of those teachers that brought in candy all the time, and they knew it, so this was suuuper exciting for them! Before class started I hid candy throughout the entire room. Some of the kids spotted little candy pieces here and there when they came in, but I said “No candy!” After they all sat down, I explained what to do and then yelled “Go!” Complete chaos!!

Saturday, I hung out at Tom ‘n’ Toms Coffee to catch up on my journals before meeting up with my co-teacher/Korean mom Seunghee. I was going with her and her family to watch her oldest daughter and nephew perform in a piano contest! Hyun-jeong was sooo nervous, so while we were sitting and watching the other kids in the age group before hers, I gave her a pep talk. I told her to keep telling herself “I practiced very hard! I am prepared! I am awesome! And I will do great!” (By the way, her English-speaking ability is phenomenal!) She was spectacular!! But she didn’t quite make it to the next round… Just about 10 points short, I think. She was so proud of herself!! (She’s the 2nd pianist.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK9ak1Cf8eU

We celebrated afterwards with ice cream, waffles, and toast, all of which are considered treats/snacks in Korea!

Marado

Sunday was spent with my two favorite ladies on this island!! Hannah, Karima, and I spent the day on Marado, the southernmost island of South Korea! And this island is sooooo “big,” we were able to walk around the whole thing (taking our sweet time) in about an hour. We had to take the ferry over, which is always an adventure… People insist on feeding the flock of seagulls that follow the boat. I think they probably eat more of the snacks than the people who bought them. The weather was perfect, my company was perfect… A perfect last adventure here in Korea!

Having a little lunch before getting on the ferry. (Walker)

Snacktime. (Walker)

Playtime. (Walker)

Playtime. (Walker)

Ferry time. (Walker)

Ferry time. (Walker)

Weight time. (Anderson)

Weight time. (Anderson)

Adventure time. (Walker)

Adventure time. (Walker)

Ugg photo shoot time.

Ugg photo shoot time.

Wisconsin time. (Anderson)

Wisconsin time. (Anderson)

Southernmost point time. (Anderson)

Southernmost point time. (Anderson)

Get pushed off the island time. (Anderson)

Get pushed off the island time. (Anderson)

Temple time.

Temple time.

Relaxing time. (Anderson)

Relaxing time. (Anderson)

A Year in Photographs!!

I loved photography before, but I love it even more now!! This year was great for photography! I finally spoiled myself with a DSLR camera, that I’m still learning to use… I’ll be a pro at it someday! And I was insanely spoiled with living on a gorgeous island that I never got sick of taking pictures of! Here is a little gallery of my favorite snapshots of the year… One for every month! Plus my favorite picture from each country I visited while I was here. (I have a feeling this is going to be rather difficult to just pick ONE for each month… We’ll see how it goes.) Enjoy!

February 2012

The start to an amazing adventure!

The start to an amazing adventure!

March 2012

Me, Jeong-eun, Hyun-jeong, and Seunghee... Who became my little Korean family!

Me, Jeong-eun, Hyun-jeong, and Seunghee… Who became my little Korean family!

April 2012

The start of my Olle journey!

The start of my Olle journey!

May 2012

Teaching with my co-teacher and good friend, Eun-mi!

Teaching with my co-teacher and good friend, Eun-mi!

Probably the cutest face in all of Osaka, Japan!

Probably the cutest face in all of Osaka, Japan!

June 2012

Being silly with Hyae-jeong, Jyoo-yun, and Ji-su at the English Story Telling Competition!

Being silly with Hyae-jeong, Jyoo-yun, and Ji-su at the English Story Telling Competition!

July 2012

Jun-hyung stole my slippers for the story book I made called "Brooke's Slippers!"

Jun-hyung stole my slippers for the story book I made called “Brooke’s Slippers!”

August 2012

Damage at the school from Typhoon Bolaven.

Damage at the school from Typhoon Bolaven.

Climbing the Great Wall of China outside Beijing!

Climbing the Great Wall of China outside Beijing!

The horse I named Marida (means 'horse' in Korean) that I rode for 9 days all of the rolling, green steppes near Ulan Baatar, Mongolia!

The horse I named Marida (means ‘horse’ in Korean) that I rode for 9 days all over the rolling, green steppes near Ulan Baatar, Mongolia!

September 2012

Jin-sook made a delicious dinner for Grandma's visit!

Jin-sook made a delicious dinner for Grandma’s visit!

October 2012

Three cuties selling peanuts in Puerto Princessa City on Palawan Island in the Philippines!

Three cuties selling peanuts in Puerto Princessa City on Palawan Island in the Philippines!

A lovely time with my grandma's old school mate, Carole, and her husband, Jim, on their visit to Jeju!

A lovely time with my grandma’s old school mate, Carole, and her husband, Jim, on their visit to Jeju!

November 2012

On Chuja Island hiking the hardest Olle!

On Chuja Island hiking the hardest Olle!

Sticka Foto session for my 24th birthday with Karima & Billy!

Sticka Foto session for my 24th birthday with Karima & Billy!

December 2012

Putting together a puzzle on Christmas with Becca and a couple of Sarah's students!

Putting together a puzzle on Christmas with Becca and a couple of Sarah’s students!

Was able to talk and Skype with family back home and even open presents "with" them on Christmas!

Was able to talk and Skype with family back home and even open presents “with” them on Christmas!

January 2013

An amazing day on Olle 14-1! Thank you to Sarah, Hannah, and Dominique for making it so much fun!!!

An amazing day on Olle 14-1! Thank you to Sarah, Hannah, and Dominique for making it so much fun!!!

Going through the low-ceilinged caves on the Tam Coc River near Hanoi, Vietnam!

Going through the low-ceilinged caves on the Tam Coc River near Hanoi, Vietnam!

Spending the day feeding, riding, and bathing elephants near Chiang Mai, Thailand!!

Spending the day feeding, riding, and bathing elephants near Chiang Mai, Thailand!!

February 2013

Karima, Sarah, and Hannah hiked Hallasan!! It's a volcanic mountain on Jeju Island and the highest point in South Korea! (Very sore for days after!)

Karima, Sarah, Hannah, and I hiked Hallasan!! It’s a volcanic mountain on Jeju Island and the highest point in South Korea! (Very sore for days after!)

Jeju, it’s been great! It has definitely been the best year of my life thus far!! There were so many new adventures and food and FRIENDS!! The people I’ve met in the past year have been wonderful! I’m going to miss you all so much!! Until we meet again… CHEERS!! :)

I didn’t notice this until after I posted, but February 20th, 2013 (the day I posted this) is exactly 1 year after I landed in Korea!

Happy Lunar New Year Hallasan!!

This week started off with no school for Lunar New Year! The Year of the Dragon was absolutely fantastic!! Now the snake has slithered it’s way into 2013, hopefully bringing along with it as much health, happiness, and adventure as the dragon did! A bunch of us met up in Jejusi at one of the temples for a fun-filled day of flying kites, hacky sack, and NEOLTTWIGI!!! We also enjoyed some delicious hoduk and bulgogi! HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR!

Wishes for the new year!

Wishes for the new year!

Karima doing an amazing job with that kite!

Karima doing an amazing job with that kite!

Kite Repairs!

Kite Repairs!

Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height!

Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height!

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

K and I dominating at Neolttwigi!!

K and I dominating at Neolttwigi!!

Get it, Leo!

Get it, Leo!

Tuho!

Tuho!

Maybe a little closer...

Maybe a little closer…

There we go!

There we go!

On Tuesday, it was back to desk warming… Yippee. This week of desk warming consisted of working on my blog, putting videos together from my trip to Vietnam and Thailand, repairing some holes in my backpack, emails, and Facebook. It was super nice when I had to take a break from desk warming for my after-school classes and a trip to the dentist!

Galentine’s Day

If you’re single, Valentine’s Day is a lovely little reminder that you don’t have a Valentine… So instead we celebrated Galentine’s Day! A fabulous day full of love from your gal pals! Karima, Jordan, Tara, and I headed off to a restaurant Jordan had been to before only to find that it’s no longer there. Boo! So instead we found this Italian restaurant on the top floor of a building across the street… Pizza, pasta, REAL garlic bread!, wine, and girl talk all makes for a fabulous evening on Galentine’s Day!! And the little funny man we had for our cab driver home was a nice little touch as well! <3

Friday night was spent with some more lovely ladies eating some DELICIOUS butter chicken curry at Raj Mahal! (I’m really going to miss that place when I leave!!) We also got to see Jen and Evan there… Their last night on Jeju. :( Happy trails you two! Hope you have a fabulous time! :)

Safe travels you two!

Safe travels you two!

Hallasan

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Saturday morning started off very, VERY early… We hopped on the 6 a.m. bus to bring us up to Seongpanak so we could hike Hallasan!! (A.k.a. Halla Mountain- the tallest mountain in all of South Korea!) After getting off the bus, bathroom breaks, and buying last minute snacks, we started our journey at 6:50 a.m!

Here we go!

Here we go!

We were following the snow-covered trail through a bunch of pines when the sun was coming up. It was so beautiful coming through the trees.

Good morning Halla! (Photo Credit to Sarah Ranco)

Good morning Halla! (Photo Credit to Sarah Ranco)

The next thing that really piqued our interest didn’t happen until about 9:30 a.m. when we first saw the top of Hallasan (from below). We could finally see where we wanted to get to!! We still had a long way to go, but after trudging up the side of the mountain through the snow-covered rocky trail in a single file line, this was quite exciting!

Almost there!

Almost there! (Photo Credit to Sarah Ranco)

Then we turned around and realized that we could see the landscape below the mountain… Breathtaking! And it only got better the higher we got.

First view of down below!

First view of down below!

Looking down at Seogwipo!

Looking down at Seogwipo!

An absolutely beautiful view during our little break! (Photo Credit to Karima Walker)

An absolutely beautiful view during our little break!
(Photo Credit to Karima Walker)

Sarah taking it all in!

Sarah taking it all in!

The last 20-30 minutes before we reached the top was pretty rough… Koreans and their ideas of how stairs should be built… Well let’s just say they try. FINALLY! At 11:10, we reached the top!! People were scattered everywhere taking pictures, resting, and enjoying their kimbap and soju. After all the Olle trails I had walked, I thought my legs would be better prepared for this mountain climb, but my legs have never hurt so bad in my entire life! It was worth it though, I suppose. What a great feeling it was making it to the top of this mountain with 3 of my closest friends here in Korea! And the views weren’t too bad either. (We could have done without the cold, intense wind though.)

My first view of the crater at the top of Hallasan!

My first view of the crater at the top of Hallasan!

Right after I screamed "Woo-hoo!" at the top of my lungs!

Right after I screamed “Woo-hoo!” at the top of my lungs!

We did it!

We did it!

Chillin' at the top of the tallest mountain in South Korea!

Chillin’ at the top of the tallest mountain in South Korea!

Yay!!

Yay!!

Now to head back down… And there were even more gorgeous views! If it weren’t for these amazing views, I feel that keeping up the motivation and a smile on my face would have been quite challenging, so thank you Jeju for being so beautiful! We took a different trail, Gwaneumseo, down and it was a bit difficult. It was very steep most of the way down. Sarah and I had cramp-on cleats that we put on, but Karima and Hannah had a good time sliding down on plastic bags in some parts… Crazy girls. :)

Looking down at Jeju City starting our descent!

Looking down at Jeju City starting our descent!

Happy!

Happy!

Cramp-ons!

Cramp-ons!

No cramp-ons!

No cramp-ons!

My friend Hannah, from Australia, had never seen snow before living here on Jeju, and thus, has never eaten snow… Until today!! And there was so much fresh powder on this side of the mountain to choose from! YUM! The Koreans that passed us kept saying, “No, no, no.” Haha we’ll survive.

First time eating snow!

First time eating snow!

So beautiful!

So beautiful!

After about 8 1/2 hours of climbing up and down Hallasan, we finished our journey at 3:20 p.m!! VICTORY!! And we all still had smiles on our faces at the finish line!

DONE!

DONE! (Photo Credit to Sarah Ranco)

Our before and after bathroom pictures…

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Then it was time to catch a bus back down to Seogwipo, take a quick shower, then head back up to Jejusi to have dinner at Seunghee’s with her family! She, as always, made a delicious meal for us!! Karima also brought her guitar and played some music for them, which they absolutely LOVED! Hyun-jeong and Jong-eun were SUPER excited when I gave them each a CD with Karima’s music on it and they each got Karima’s autograph. What a lovely night!

With my Korean family!

With my Korean family!

And for anyone that would like to listen to Karima’s amazing voice, you can listen to or download her music here: A Good Year

Sunday was a rainy day, well spent making chocolate chip cookies, cleaning, doing laundry, and drinking Karima’s delicious mulled wine! I also had a little outing with my friend Harris…

Alive Museum

We had a pretty fun time at a trick art museum in Jungmun…

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If you would like to see all the fun pictures we took, check them out here.

Another lovely week well spent here in Jeju!