Hello Ma’am!

I left Jeju Saturday for Seoul and then hopped over to the Philippines for a late night flight. And it must be that time of year where people are taking family vacations, because I’ve never been on a flight with more crying babies than I was on this flight. Good thing I was able to tune it out and get a good nap in. (Hopefully it’s this easy when I have kids of my own someday!)

I am only 5’4″ and I’m sitting all the way back in my seat with about 2 inches of leg room… Times when I’m glad I’m short!!

I landed in Manila around 1:20 am. I spoiled myself with a late night/really early morning breakfast of french toast, bacon, & milk at a little cafe in the airport. The milk tasted a little different from Jeju’s milk, (The best milk comes from Wisconsin and I can’t wait to get back to it!!) but the bacon was scrumptious. And the french toast… Well my french toast is hard to beat, but it wasn’t too bad. My next flight to Palawan wasn’t until 11:15 am, so I had some time to kill. First thing on the to-do list… Find a place to get some sleep! All the chairs were taken, so I found a quiet part of the airport and camped out on the cold, concrete floor for a little bit. I got a pretty good nap in! But my shoulder was pretty sore from how I was laying on it. My “quiet” area eventually became a high-traffic area for people heading to the bathroom. Around 5:30am, I just couldn’t sleep anymore, so I got up and walked around. Some little shops upstairs were opening up and I found one with an open couch! I bought a croissant, so no one could bug me about only paying customers can use the couches. After I enjoyed my nice, hot, buttery croissant, I fell asleep for a few hours. So comfy compared to my last location!!

Manila Airport… The view from the comfy couch!

At 7:45 am, I got up and went to check in. When going through security, we had to take our shoes off! This is the first time I’ve had to do that going through security since I flew out of Chicago!

While I was waiting by the gate, a Filipino man sat across from me and started talking to me. He asked a lot of questions, one of them being “Are you traveling alone in the Philippines?” “Nope, I’m meeting some friends in Palawan for a few days and then heading back to Korea.” (Lies! About the friends part anyways.) Then he was telling me about his two brothers that are doctors in America. Then he asked if he could sit in a seat closer to me so he didn’t have to talk so loud, I said sure. We were talking for a little bit longer when he asked if he could hold my hand… What?! I’ve known you for 10 minutes, what makes you think we’ve already moved to the hand holding stage?! I said no and that I’d rather go back to reading my book. He asked if I’d like him to move somewhere else and I said yes.

The flight to Palawan didn’t take too long and the view of the clouds on the way was incredible! A man from Annabelle’s Pension came to pick me up from the airport. I was greeted by two women when I got to the pension with “Hello ma’am.” (I couldn’t even tell you how many times I heard this for the next 4 days! And the “ma’am” sounded more like “mom.”) They showed me to my room where I slept for the next 5 hours, until a driver came to pick me up for firefly watching later.

Flying high above the clouds!

Annabelle’s Pension was down a dirt road. After the driver picked me up, we were driving back to the road and had to go up a little incline right before the road. He stopped to look for traffic… Bad idea. First of all, it’s not a busy street to begin with and there was nothing coming. Second of all, he stopped on a pile of clay. We were stuck. Eventually with the help of 5 men and 1 woman, we got out half an hour later!

Firefly Watching on the Honda Bay

Getting ready to head out to watch some fireflies…

Firefly watching was nice, but not what I expected. We went out after sunset and there was a full moon.. Beautiful! There was also a lightning storm over the mountains on another island in the distance. We took a bigger boat with a smaller boat attached. The smaller boat was used to go out into the mangroves to watch for fireflies. When I heard about firefly watching, I expected that there would be swarms of them everywhere… Not so much. The fireflies just hung out in the trees. They weren’t everywhere, but when they did light up it looked like Christmas tree lights. It was kind of magical floating down the river and seeing some random trees lit up with fireflies and a lightning storm in the background all under a full moon.

Firefly watching under the full moon.

The served dinner on the bigger boat. We had a nice spread of shrimp, crab, marinated chicken, cucumbers, bananas, and fish. I made friends with Edwin and a couple that he’s friends with. They are all Filipino and just vacationing in Palawan for a few days. They were all pretty awesome and invited me out to go dancing after the tour. I unfortunately had to pass, because since my pension is so far out of town and I’m not sure how to tell a driver how to get me back there.  So I just got a ride home from the driver that brought everyone back to their accommodations after the tour.

A new friend, Edwin, and I sportin our lovely life jackets!!

On the drive back, I was talking to the tour guide and she was telling me all about the many languages she speaks… Wow! And she taught me how to say thank you very much (malaming salamad) and thank you (salamad).

A nice relaxing first day in Puerto Princessa City, Palawan!! 


Grandma Sees Jeju!!

Monday morning I called in sick with “food poisoning” and the only thing to make me feel better is a day of touristing with Grandma! (For all those out there judging me for telling a little white lie, I feel my actions are totally justified! I mean, how many times does your grandma come to visit you in Korea?! And my co-teacher did just fine teaching by herself. No harm done.)

Our first stop was the pharmacy to get something for Grandma’s cough. We looked around and then she pointed to a silver bag and said…
“Will these work?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Why not?”
“Because I’m not sure if condoms are very good for helping get rid of a cough…”
“Oh! Jeez..”
Bahaha!! Oh Gram, I love you! Luckily, the man behind the counter spoke English pretty well and was able to point us in the right direction.

Then we took the bus out to Seongsan on the east side of the island to go to the new aquarium! My co-teacher told me how to say ‘aquarium’ in Korean: 아구아리엄 (ah-koo-ah-ri-um). I soon began to wonder if there was a different word for aquarium because no one seemed to be understanding what I was saying. Sure enough! Good thing I had my little pocket dictionary with me!

Aqua Planet

Aqua Planet wasn’t as big as I expected, but it was still lovely! We saw some really cool fish, some really colorful fish, some really fat fish, and some really ugly fish!


Eeeek!! Oops, I mean Eel!!

One of my favorite parts of the aquarium was this little hallway that had a bunch of different little square fish tanks…

Hey there, big blue eyes!

These guys were cool!

Little starfish and some spiky creatures!!

Found Nemo!

These guys look friendly…

There were some little penguins! They had some little head holes you could crawl into to get closer the little guys.

Gram with the Penguins!

Me with the Penguins!

I also ran into a little bit of trouble…

Uh oh…


They also had a HUGE tank filled with fish, sharks, stingrays, and a couple baby whale sharks. I’ve never seen a huge whale shark. I was really looking forward to seeing one at the Osaka Aquarium, and that didn’t work out. I was really looking forward to seeing one at Aqua Planet, and that didn’t work out either. Maybe someday.

Just another little tank we passed by…

There were also some haenyos (women divers) performing a little show in the tank, followed by some swimmers doing some kind of synchronized swimming show. It was neat.

Then we went to the little ice cream shop for a cup of cold sweets and sat and watched fish while we ate. Nice relaxing time! We also saw some really cool jellyfish tanks!!

Sunrise Peak

Then we headed over to Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). Too bad the only way to the top is walking up hundreds of stairs, because it would’ve been so cool to show Grandma the view from the top! Instead, we sat for a little lunch and a little souvenir shopping.

It’s a long way to the top… If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll!! (For my ACDC fans out there!)

Look what Grandma found that made her feel right at home! 🙂

Going to trade in your blues for some reds??

Glass Museum

After that, we headed back towards Seogwipo and headed out to the Glass Museum! What a beautiful place!! Grandma loved it too! There were so many things made out of glass (surprise, surprise!) and it was stunning. It was kind of like being in some kind of fairy tale land. We watched a man make some little glass pumpkins. (Ugh! There are just way too many beautiful pictures from this place to choose from! Sorry if it’s too much for you to handle.)

Smile pretty!

Holding hands…

Duck.. Duck… Goose?


99 bottles of soju on the wall…

Glass bibimbap? That might hurt a little going down.


Made me think of Geomi! Miss that little guy!

Not too bad of a view…

Making some little glass pumpkins!

Gram & Me!

Chunjiyeon Waterfall

Then we headed to Chunjiyeon Waterfall down by the harbor. It was nice,  but our nice relaxing stroll was interrupted by a bunch of 6th graders on a field trip. We waited around for a while to get a decent picture without getting knocked over by the little wild things running around.

Pokpo! (Waterfall!)

Grandma Goes to School

Tuesday was Gma’s first day of school in Korea! We missed the bus I normally take by about 30 seconds! No worries. We just grabbed the next one 20 minutes later. When we got to school, we relaxed in the English office for a few minutes before we headed to our first class. For classes today, we taught our regular lesson for 20 minutes, then the students gave a presentation about Jeju for about 10 minutes, then they gave Grandma a little gift, and then Grandma talked about her journey to Jeju!

My first two classes were with 5th grade. The first class gave a presentation about Korean Culture and It’s Environment. The first student spoke about kimchi (fermented cabbage that is usually really spicy!), taekwondo, and the hanbok (traditional Korean clothing). The second student talked about the four seasons in Korea. Then some students gave her a bouquet of flowers!

Hyuna talking about traditional Korean clothing… all in ENGLISH!!

Joongchan talking about the environment… all in ENGLISH!!!

Jinchul (boy- naughty, but so cute he gets away with it) and Soojin giving Gram some flowers!

With the 5-1 class!!

The second 5th grade class presented about the Specialties of Jeju. Daeun talked about sora (turban shell or conch), jeon-bok (abalone), some special fish that you can’t get on the mainland, horse cuisine, and black pork.  Then the students gave her a 10 kg box of tangerines! Grandma whispered to me, “These are staying with you.” Gladly! 🙂

Daeun talking about black pork… It’s delicious!

(From left to right) Joohyun, Sangjin (sweetie!), and Hansae (funny little guy!) giving Gma a box of tangerines. YUM!

The 6th grade classes didn’t go as smoothly… Sunghee didn’t think the students could do the presentation. (Thanks for having confidence in your students.) Sunghee had me write scripts for the presentations she prepared and I wrote them using simple language so it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to read. All they would have to do is read from the script, but I guess she thought that was too difficult. I tried to convince her otherwise because I’ve worked with these students for 7 months now and I KNOW there are students in each class that are more than capable to give the presentation by reading from the script, but she just kept saying she thought it was too difficult for them. So I got the honor of presenting the PowerPoints to Gram. (I think it would’ve been way cooler to have had the students do it… A good way to put their skills to the test!)

For the first class, we presented about wind, women, and stone. These are the three things most common on Jeju. During the second class, we talked about onggis, which is pottery for storing rice and water. In the third class, we talked about the Olles! This was a presentation Sunghee didn’t show me beforehand, and I wish she would have because I feel this is something I could have done a lot with. For our last class of the day, we discussed the New 7 Wonders of Nature, Jeju being one of them! (A little fyi: the Amazon is the biggest river in the world, volume-wise, and there isn’t a single bridge that crosses it!) There wasn’t a formal gift giving in the 6th grade classes, like there was in the 5th grade classes. It was more Sunghee handing it to her as the students were getting up to leave class. But she made a haul: some little onggis made by one of my co-teachers father-in-law, some books on Jeju, some soap made by Hosun’s husband, and a little scarf/bandana.

Grandma got spoiled!

After lunch, we brought Grandma in to meet the principal before the last two 6th grade classes. We sat down for a little bit talking, Hosun translated. To my surprise, the principal made a PowerPoint about me with a bunch of pictures of things I’ve done here and with a little message at the end saying that they really love having me here! 🙂 Then he showed us a little video of the school through the years. He then gave her a CD with the school video on it and a little booklet with information about our school (all in Korean, of course.. Enjoy reading that Gram!).

The homeroom teacher for the 4-2 class has been saying for a while now that she wants to have me over for dinner sometime. When she found out my grandma was coming, she insisted that we finally make it happen! So after a long day at school, Hosun brought us to Jinsook’s house in Jeju-si. (I insisted that one of my co-teachers tag along because Jinsook can’t speak English and I can’t speak Korean. I felt it would be an extremely quiet dinner otherwise.) Jinsook left school early to prepare dinner, and she did an amazing job!! So many lovely delicious Korean foods! Grandma really liked the galbi and said it was similar to a roast in the States. Grandma didn’t have too much of an appetite, but I couldn’t help myself! Grandma made the comment “Good thing you hike all those Olles” after seeing how much food I ate. Haha I was stuffed!

With our wonderful cook and host, Jinsook!!

After dinner, Jinsook gave us each a little gift (cute little dish scrubbers her sister-in-law made) and then performed a little tea ceremony. When we left, she sent me home with a bunch of leftovers… Don’t mind if I do!

Some after dinner tea!

Then Hosun took us on a detour back to the bus stop. She drove us along the coastal road and a little bit around the city.

It was a great day! And Grandma found out that teaching isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes some energy and can be a little exhausting. When we were still at school after classes, Hosun told Gma she could go rest on one of the beds in the nurses room. Grandma says, “No, I’m not a wimp.” Five minutes later she was snoozing in the chair next to me. 🙂

I took a half day off on Wednesday. I was hoping to go do something fun with Grandma, but I was just too exhausted. So we rested for a while watching Sons of Anarchy. (Grandma’s new favorite show… Haha kidding.) Then we headed up to Jeju-si to get some bulgogi pizza for dinner.

Grandma’s flight out of here was Thursday morning, so we got up at 5:00 am to get ready and hopped in a taxi to the bus terminal at 5:45 am. (This is wayyy too early! And there aren’t taxis running around by my house at this time. Luckily, I have an AMAZING co-teacher, Seunghee, who said she would wake up early and call a cab for us.) Then we took the bus up to the terminal in Jeju-si and took a taxi from there to the airport. Planes, buses, and automobiles! We made it to the airport at 7:20, one hour before her flight. After she checked in and we said our goodbyes, I had to head to school. It was sooo nice having you here, Grandma! I am so happy that I got to have a little piece of home while I was here! I hope you enjoyed your stay!

Now that Grandma’s gone, it’s time to start packing for the Philippines!

Friday night, Karima and I went to the jimjilbang down the road from our house. It was amazing!! It’s a Korean bath house where you can take a shower, scrub down, go in saunas, relax in hot tubs, and swim in a pool, while walking around with a bunch of naked Korean women. I was a little nervous at first and honestly felt like a little 12 year old back in middle school in the locker room again. I soon got more comfortable after I stripped down. There were women of all ages (little rugrats running around and the old ajummas) and all shapes and sizes there. I think it’s actually really great! First of all, it felt lovely to take a hot shower and scrub down, but it was also a really nice feeling walking around so exposed with all these naked women. (NOT in gross way!) It was like a safe haven. We’re all women. We have all the same parts, but all look a little different and that’s more than okay. There are no men and no one to sit there and judge us here! We are free. If you ever get a chance to experience something like this, do it!

Saturday, Karima’s friend Isaac flew in from L.A. So I met them in City Hall for a quick bite to eat for lunch right after he landed and right before I had to head to the airport myself.

Now off to the Philippines!!


We had yet another typhoon early Monday morning! Typhoon Sanba. It was pretty intense when I was getting ready for school, so I messaged Hosun at 7:00 am  to see if school would be delayed. She replied with, “No, school will still start at 9:00 am so you should be there at that time.” Ugh! I was just about to head out the door to catch my bus that comes at 7:26 am. I got a text message from Hosun at 7:23 am saying that school is delayed until 1:00 pm!! So happy I didn’t have to go out in that crap! So since I had some free time, I decided to surprise my friend Codi with a call from Korea! It was nice to hear here voice!! 🙂 And the 4-hour workday was surprisingly very productive! Finished lesson plans for the week and uploaded and ordered a bunch of pictures on Snapfish! (When I get home, there are going to be so many packages of pictures waiting for me… Probably enough pictures to wrap around the world… 5 times!)

Karima and I FINALLY started painting our house! The concrete walls were looking rather fancy with some wall paper still stuck to them, but we thought it’d be a good idea to paint over it. Our motivation for finally getting around to this task was that my grandma was coming to visit the next week and her friend was coming the week after that. It took us 3 nights after school to finish… Almost! We ran out of paint in Karima’s room, so one part of her wall is still the lovely wall papered concrete. Then I also realized that we missed the part of the wall above the bathroom door… Oh well. But it was relatively finished! Here is the “Before” video of our living room…

And a tour of our home!

My co-teacher, Sunghee, told me she’s pregnant! Which makes total sense why she’s been taking so many naps at her desk. 🙂

This week I told my co-teachers that my grandma is visiting next week and that I’d like to bring her to school one day. We had to get permission from the principal first, which he said yes, and the very next day my co-teachers come to me with a schedule of events for the day my grandma will be visiting! Haha I was not expecting that. I was just thinking that my grandma could come sit in on my classes and simply see a day in the life of Brooke Teacher. They also told me that they each class is preparing gifts to give Grandma. Seems like a pretty big deal!

We had an open class for my 1st and 2nd grade after school class. Some parents came and other teachers came to watch. Basically, they were seeing how well my after school co-teacher teaches. I think it went pretty well. I really loved looking at the pictures afterwards! Little Dong-hyo must have had something bothering him…

Dong-hyo is the little boy in the white shirt right by me. Notice where his finger is…

Wiping away the mess..

And again…

Doh. Didn’t get it all…

Diggin’ a little deeper now…

This one is for little Hee-eun with the glasses… I just love how she’s looking back at the parents and teachers. She kinda has that “What are you looking at?” expression.

I started a new class this week! I’ll be taking a hip hop dance class from now on taught by my friend Harris! We learned some choreography to the song “Dive” by Usher. Dancing = Fun + Exercise!!

Friday I played a game with the 3rd graders that turned out to be a lot more fun than what I’d thought. The class is split into two teams. Twelve kids from each team are given a necklace with a letter on it. They wear the necklace backwards so the letter can be seen by people behind them. Then the kids on each team that don’t have a letter are called the Spellers. At the start of each round, I bring the Spellers to the back of the room and whisper a word to them. They then have to run and find the kids on their team that are wearing the letters that spell the word and put them in order in front of the room. Whichever team finishes first wins that round. They LOVED it!! I had no idea it was going to be such a hit! SUCCESS!! 

Saturday, I got up bright and early and was heading off to do 2 Olles! I’ve only ever done one in a day, but I’m pretty awesome and I knew I could do it. (Not cocky, just confident!)

Olle 7-1

1st Olle of the Day!

Olle 7-1 starts at the World Cup Stadium and ends at Oedolgae (Way-dul-gay). The first half was pretty much all up hill, and then I also came to an oreum to climb up! It was a lot more fun running down it! It’s usually not very easy to run down the oreums (parasite volcanoes) because they build steps on the trails that they think will “help” you. These steps are hardly ever consistent in size.. Some are higher than others, some are longer than others, they’re just not safe to run up or down really. I don’t think so anyways. But this oreum didn’t have steps going down! It was great! I had a couple of dogs follow me for a while. One was acting like my body guard when we’d pass homes with other dogs, and the other one wasn’t too sure about me, he just wanted to stay with his buddy. I passed a man unloading his truck and said “An-nyoung-ha-say-oh” and he then hands me a few tangerines! This is one of my favorite things about Korea… 98% of the time it’s totally safe to accept food and candy from strangers! They were delicious! There were so many lovely smells on this trail… Lots of pine and orange! I also walked through a rice paddy in a volcanic crater! My shoes and socks got a little wet  though. I finished the 15.1 km trail in 3 hours and 17 minutes! Then I started my 2nd Olle for the day…

World Cup Stadium!

The lovely “waterfall.” I’ve heard it’s actually supposed to be a beautiful waterfall after a heavy rain… Well anything would be better than this!

My new pals!

Yay! I made it to the top of the oreum!

Oreum, you suck!

Rice paddy in a volcanic crater!

Olle 6

Olle 6 ends in Oedolgae and starts in Soesokkak, so I took the trail backwards. I found this to be a little more difficult. When you are following a trail the “correct” way, you follow the blue arrows. When you follow it backwards, you follow the orange arrows, but sometimes they don’t always have orange arrows. Plus, a lot of it went through town, which I’ve always found to be just a little more difficult following the arrows, blue or orange. To start off, I had to climb a BIG hill. Glad to get that out of the way. I saw a little waterfall and stopped by the Olle Foundation to pick up an Olle bandana! Woo! There were also some unexpected waterfalls flooding the road while I was walking along the shore road, just in time to get my feet wet again after they were finally getting pretty dry after the rice paddy. It also started raining, well more like a heavy sprinkle, a little bit towards the end. This 14.4 km trail and the 1.5 km walk to the bus stop took me 4 hours and 15 minutes!

H for Hallasan!!

As you can see there is much variety as far as the colors of cars goes here!

A lovely little temple… Forgot the name.

Sojeongbang Pokpo!! (Pokpo means Waterfall)

Waterfalls on the road!

A hug from dolharubang (stone grandfather) for a job well done!!

31 km in 7 hours and 32 minutes… My body was a little sore, but I felt AMAZING!!! 

GMA to CJU!!

Grandma landed in Jeju Sunday!! Her plane landed a few minutes late and then it took her a while to get out. At one point I saw her back a ways when the doors opened. They closed and the next time they opened, she was gone! What the heck? I thought maybe she was being quarantined or something…? Then she finally came out! She was looking a little rough, but I suppose traveling for 2-3 weeks will do that to you, especially if you caught a cold on the Transiberian Railroad and have to sit in a little compartment with 3 other people! Poor Gram. So happy to have her here though!

She has ARRIVED!!!!!!!

I thought it’d be a good idea to have some juk for supper. Juk is a rice porridge soup and there are a bunch of different flavors. Koreans eat it a lot when they are sick (basically like our chicken noodle soup) and it is soooo delicious!


Hello from Korea!

After a stressful week of teaching 6th grade last week, I wasn’t looking forward to this week. The most stressful part last week was disciplining and then have my co-teacher undermine me and tell the kids it’s okay. So I made the decision this week to back off of discipline. Since I’ve been teaching with Sunghee, we really don’t co-teach. She teaches one part of the lesson and I teach the other part. I decided to only discipline when I’m teaching and kind of mentally withdraw from the class when she’s teaching. I feel a little guilty, but I feel if I don’t I will go crazy with stress! Plus, she needs to learn on her own. So it’s also kind of a good thing. I hope she learns fast though, because I can see the kids’ behavior is slowly getting worse! Not good! Especially considering this is only the 2nd week of the semester! She’s also having trouble with sticking to the time schedule… She left me with 5 minutes at the end of class when she told me I’d have at least 15. I was going to be doing a little project with them, but it still takes me at least 5 minutes to explain because I can’t just jump right in and explain it super fast in Korean. Ugh… Breathe.

I made one of my 6th grade girls cry this week… Some girls were talking the ENTIRE time while Sunghee was teaching and I decided I didn’t want to deal with that, so I made them change seats with other students. They were not happy at all and I’m pretty sure I saw little Jiyun shed a few tears. It’s rough being a 6th grader!

On Wednesday, all my classes were cancelled except my 1st and 2nd grade after school class. I was not only a teacher, but also Jihyun’s personal jungle gym! He loves it! His favorite is to have me spin him around, but he also enjoys climbing on my back and sitting on my foot and holding on to my legs as I walk… We don’t get too far with that one though.

Wednesday, Hosun told me that we would be going out for an English teachers dinner on Thursday night and we were going out for pizza… YES!!!!! Then come Thursday afternoon, Jinyoung sends me a message on the school messenger that we’re going out for fish soup. UGH! So I asked why we changed… And also kinda hinted that I was really disappointed that we’re not going for pizza. I’ve been pretty good about trying all the other foods we’ve had for teacher dinners, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to stick to the menu when they told me it was going to be pizza. 🙂 There was lots of discussion in Korean and then I heard, “Ok, Brooke? We will go eat at Stone Grandfather Pizza.” YAY! Delicious! For the 7 of us, we ordered two 1-meter long pizzas and each  pizza had 4 sections: potato & ham, bulgogi (my favorite part), kimchi, and sweet potato. They were all very tasty, and I was surprised that I actually liked the kimchi pizza too! At the end of dinner we went around and said how many pieces we each had and I was dubbed “The Champion!”

Sunghee, me, Jinyoung, and Kyeongnam with out meter-long pizza!

Our pizza!!!!!!

Seunghee, Hosun, and Landon with their pizza!

Friday the schedules were still messed up because the kids needed to practice for sports day. They’ve been practicing the dance for Gangnam Style that they will perform this weekend. If you don’t know what Gangnam Style is, then you’ve been living in a cave!

I went out for dinner with Karima and some other waygooks (foreigners, like myself) Friday night after school. What’s on the menu, you ask? Duck and pumpkin! And it was scrumptious!

Oh yeah!

Saturday, we went to Jungmun Beach to hang out with some people and then went to Gecko’s for some burgers and fish & chips. It was pretty tasty! We also played some pool and made origami with our place mats (don’t judge us). We also saw some posters for some shots with quite the interesting names…

Take your pick!

Karima and I finally watched the last episode of Mad Men!!! It was good! Now I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all this free time I’ll have now.

Sunday was a lovely day spent calling people from Skype! A little shout out to everyone I got to chat with!! It was so wonderful talking to each and every one of you: Dad, Jessica, Jamie, their friend John, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Allan, Grandma Joyce (again!), Mikala, Jill, Mindy, Mi Mama!, Sharon, and Dillon!! Dillon proved to be the most difficult one to get ahold of. 🙂 Miss you all so much!!! See you in about 5 months or so!


Well it was my first week teaching with Sunghee… I want Eun-mi back!! I tried teaching Sunghee some of the chants Eun-mi and I did to get the class to be quiet and settle down. For the chants, the teacher yells something and the students respond. For some examples: “Class, class?” “Yes, yes?”; “Listen!” “Carefully”; “Clap your hands 1 time” clapping, “Clap your hands 2 times” clapping, etc; “Sit up!” “Straight.” The first time she did it, she was so quiet with absolutely no energy put into it and all the kids just stared at her with the most confused looks on their faces. Haha she tried. And discipline was an issue this week! When some kids would misbehave, she didn’t do anything. When kids would be talking while she was teaching, she would just talk over them instead of trying to get them to calm down. I had to discipline a student one time and the student kept saying things back to me in Korean (which I obviously don’t understand) and Sunghee just stood there. Then the student asked her something and she said “It’s okay” (in Korean) and the student left. What?! Thanks for the support! Every time I would make suggestions or give advice to make class run smoother, she would say “Ok” but didn’t change anything. This was a really tough week of teaching 6th grade. I felt like I had no support from my co-teacher. I felt completely undermined. I kept having to remind myself that she has never taught before and this is her first week… Hopefully it’ll get better! Just breathe.

The school is celebrating Sports Day on September 16th, so until then there is lots of practice going on, which results in lots of changes to the schedule! A little frustrating, especially when I wasn’t told or was told the wrong thing. This all just added to the stress of teaching with my new co-teacher.

Haha poor bunny!

The Mad Men marathons with Karima continue! I love them, but I am very excited to finish all the seasons because it is VERY time consuming!

On Friday, I wore all my hair back in a ponytail. Apparently, this is the first time I wore my hair like that to school, because I got so many compliments on it. My 3rd graders loved it, and all the girls who were wearing their hair in ponytails that day had to come up and show me the back of their head so I could see that we have the same hair style. Haha too cute! I was also wearing a dress that day and one of my co-teachers says to me:
“Brooke, do you have plans after school?”
“No, why?”
“Oh, because you look so fancy with a dress and a ponytail.”
“Oh thank you, ponytails are a really casual hairstyle back in the US.”
“Oh really? Well it looks really beautiful.”
The only reason I even wore a ponytail that morning was because I didn’t have time to take a shower. I had no idea it was going to cause such a reaction from students and co-teachers. Haha.

I got an email from Skype saying that I can call landlines and cell phones back in the States free for one month… Let the calling begin. I called my old supervising teacher, Vietta, from when I was an intern teacher at Bartels Middle School in Portage. I always really enjoy talking with her! I also made a call to Ken’s Riverside. My cousin Amy was waitressing and answered the phone:
“Hello, Ken’s.”
“Hi, I was wondering if you would deliver a burger to South Korea?”
“Shut up!”
Haha it was great. I got to chat with her for a little bit, then she put my Grandma Joyce on the phone. I heard her say in the back ground:
“Hey Gram, someone on the phone has some questions about a big order.”
“Is it Colorado Springs?”
“I don’t know.”
“Hi, I was wondering if you could deliver a dozen burgers to Korea?”
“Oooooooh my!”
Ahhh it was so much fun hearing these reactions!! Then I got to say hi to my grandpa.. A man of few words. Gotta love him! It was soo incredibly nice talking to people back home and I knew it would make me happy talking to them, but I didn’t realize how MUCH I missed them til I heard their voices. I love Korea, but I will be happy to go home and see my family and friends again! 🙂

I had a bunch of plans to hike some Olles this weekend, but Mother Nature didn’t think that was a good idea. It rained during the day on Saturday and Sunday. Ugh! Why can’t it rain during the week when I have to be inside all day anyways, or at night while I’m sleeping?? The rain cleared up Saturday night, so Karima and I went down to the harbor in Seogwipo, because we heard there was a big festival going on. Well, we were a little too late I suppose because the only thing that was still going on were some school bands playing. We listened for a little bit and then went to Rose Marine, a little bar on the water down in the harbor. It was a beautiful night and we chatted, had a couple drinks, and a little food. Nice night out with a good friend! 🙂

A little soju and orange juice!

The aftermath of a lovely night out with the roomie!

Cleaning Up!

My week started with more desk warming, but the kids are finally back in the building! It feels so much more like a school rather than a desk-warming prison with all the little crazies running around! I love it! And now that the kids are back, the lunch ladies are back too. SCHOOL LUNCH!!! In the US, you would NEVER hear me this excited about school lunch, but here it’s good! Not that I didn’t enjoy chips and kimbap from the corner Family Mart everyday for lunch while the kids weren’t in school, but it’s nice to have a little variety.

Hosun, my 3rd & 4th grade co-teacher, called the post office Monday morning to see where I could pick up my package and the man told her they sent it back to the States! What?! I guess my landlord told the postal carrier that Von Ruden didn’t live there. She only knows my first name and apparently didn’t notice the “Brooke” written on the package. I was sooo disappointed. Surprisingly, they called back that afternoon saying they found the package before it was shipped back and will now send it straight to my school! Yay!!! Can’t wait!

Monday night, we were expecting another typhoon. Typhoon Bolaven. It’s supposed to be pretty nasty. On my way home from school Monday, I saw a lot of windows taped up and people preparing their houses and businesses for the storm. I never saw any of this for the other typhoons we’ve had so far. This typhoon was expected to be a category 3 or 4, which is the strongest they’ve had since 2002 (which caused about 200 deaths- not sure if that’s just in Korea or if that covers the typhoon’s whole path). We lost power at about 9:30pm that night, which is the first time I’ve been without power because of a typhoon, and it sounded pretty rough outside!

We were happy to wake up and not see any damage or flooding in our apartment! While I was waiting at the bus stop, one of my co-teachers called to tell me that school was delayed til 11:00am! Woop woop! When I got to Daejeong, it didn’t seem like anything was open. I discovered why when I got to school, no power. So I’m thinking, “Why would they have us come to school with no power? We going to just sit and stare at each other all day?” Nope. We get to clean up all the debris the typhoon left behind on the school grounds. Had I known this, I would’ve chosen a different outfit and shoes. All the teachers were given white working gloves that were painted red on one side with a really thick, waxy paint… To make them waterproof? I think that’s what they were going for, but it wasn’t really affective though. We got to pick up the millions of leaves that were blown off the trees, along with the sticks and branches. The big tree that makes up the school’s entrance bent right in half! The principal was pretty upset. This tree was put up to mark the school’s 100th birthday a couple years ago.

Tree Down! Tree Down!

Then in the little park, there was a big branch that broke off a tree but was still hung up on some branches. The male teachers were trying to get it down. They were all standing on a statue (pictured below) to try to reach the giant branch to pull it down to no avail, until the gym teacher jumped for it! I instantly thought of a monkey jumping from branch to branch when I saw this. He grabbed it and then he and the branch slowly came to the ground. Funniest thing! The branch was still stuck but since it was now low enough, the rest of the guys were able to pull it loose. Then we got to leave at 3:00pm! 4 hours… The rough life I lead.

Imagine about 5 Korean men standing on this statue reaching up to get a broken branch down…

Tree down outside the bus terminal!

The teacher that will be replacing Eun-mi while she’s in Hawii teaching for this semester finally came to school. She seems nice. Her name is Sunghee (which I soon find out gets confusing sometimes when I tell stories because one of  my other co-teachers’ names is Seunghee). So her, Seunghee, and I talked about the lessons we will be doing next week and what we should prepare. She already has all the lesson plans done for the remainder of the chapters in the book that we have to cover. Hopefully this is a good sign!

My package arrived on Wednesday from my lovely Aunt Karen! And oh my goodness… I hit the jackpot!! American flag lights, cheese balls (these didn’t last very long), pretzels, cheesy pretzel Combos, neon colored notecards, American flag design sticky notes, iTunes gift card (to buy a bunch of Kpop songs!), red, white, & blue stars marshmallows (It’s been a while since I’ve stuffed my face with marshmallows and it was sooo good!), Goldfish crackers, Twizzlers, Crackerjacks (which I’ve never tried before and honestly never really knew what a crackerjack was until this package came- tasty! Haha had I known it was just caramel corn, this probably wouldn’t have been the first time.), Ritz Bitz, beef jerky (also the first time having this- scrumptious!), Tootsie Rolls (I’ve never had a Tootsie Roll before, and still haven’t tried it yet. Saving it for a rainy day.), Kleenex, Shoestring Potatoes (also never had before- yum!), Tic Tacs, pumpkin seeds (LOVED this!), and pistachios (another thing I’ve never had before this- I was surprised that I liked them!). This put the biggest smile on my face and a lot of yummy treats in my tummy! My co-teachers also loved looking through the box of goodies with me! Kam-sam-ni-da (thank you) VERY MUCH Aunt Karen!!! You are amazing!!!!! 🙂


One morning on the bus, the driver kept honking at the other bus in front of us. He eventually passed him and then immediately pulled over on the side of the road. I immediately thought that our bus driver was going to go to the other bus and yell at the other bus driver. (I’ve seen this before.) But no, he just had to run to the bathroom and found it locked! So he rushed behind a truck and relieved himself there. Haha when you gotta go, you gotta go!

Another typhoon came Wednesday night. Typhoon Tembin. It was pretty mild like the first 2 we had, but school was still delayed til 1:00pm! When we got there, all the teachers had to clean up again, but thankfully it wasn’t as much work as the other day. Then they let us go home at 4:00pm… I can handle a 3 hour work day.

Finally! Classes resumed Friday, and what a great way to start off the semester, teaching the little crazies! I’m absolutely in love with these little 3rd grade munchkins! They are so cute and sweet and funny and naughty (but who cares, they’re cute!). I just want to squeeze them! It makes my day when they come up and give me a hug and say “Hi Brooke!” 🙂

I got another note from the post office for another package! So I got up early Saturday morning and headed to the post office in New Seogwipo. I tried the post office in downtown Seogwipo last Saturday and that was a fail, so maybe the one on the other side of town is open Saturday mornings. Nope. So I headed back home with my tail between my legs. But it was wagging wildly again when the postman came to my door a couple hours later with my package from Miss Alyssa!!! Another giant smile was pasted right smack dab in the middle of my face! She never asked for any suggestions on what to put in a care package for me, but she didn’t have to. By a look at the contents of the box, she CLEARLY knows me well enough to know what will make me happy!!! Thank you Alyssa!! You made my day!!!!! 🙂


Saturday night, we headed down to Maybe Cafe for a Welcome New People/Welcome Back Travelers Open Mic. Karima played some of her lovely songs, but it was hard to hear all the singers that night because so many people were talking. Just excited to be meeting new people and more and more alcohol may cause the volume of people’s voices to go up just a tad! Afterwards, we went to Kimbap heaven for a little midnight drunk snack. Lovely night!

Strummin away on the banjo!

I “slept in” Sunday morning… I fell out of sleep but just laid there for a while and napped not knowing what time it was. After laying there for what seemed like a really long time, I wake up and look at the clock and it says 8:00am. Haha so I just watched some movies and bummed around. Later on, Karima and I headed to the beach to hang out and relax for a couple hours. Then grabbed some pizza and headed home for a Mad Men marathon for a nice end to the weekend!

I love the pattern in the sand!