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 ❤ 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)

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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! ❤

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! 

 

Congratulations to the 6th Graders & to Me!!

Getting ready for school Monday morning, I noticed a dark bruise under my chin from my fall the day before. Wonderful! It doesn’t look like a bruise. It looks more like a pencil smudge… You know when you make a big drawing with a pencil and then put your hand on it and it’s covered in graphite… Yea, that! Well, I only saw my co-teacher for about a minute before we had to run to class, which was not enough time to tell her what happened. While I was teaching, I noticed some of the 4th graders were talking to my co-teacher and looking at me. As this has always been a normal thing, I thought nothing of it. After 1st period, I told my co-teacher about my fall and I saw the light-bulb expression wash over her face. I guess the students had been asking her the whole class period what happened to my face! She said she would’ve felt rude asking me, so she just told them she didn’t know. Haha.

My lovely little bruise..

My lovely little bruise..

On Tuesday, we had our last teacher dinner!! We ate at a fancy little Italian restaurant and shared some delicious pasta and pizza! Eunmi, Hosun, Seunghee, Suim, Kyoungnam, and Jinyoung were all so wonderful and helpful throughout my stay in Korea! I’m going to miss these woman so much!!

Eunmi and Hosun!

Eunmi and Hosun!

Kyoungnam and Jinyoung!

Kyoungnam and Jinyoung!

Seunghee and Suim!

Seunghee and Suim!

Our Last Dinner!

Our Last Dinner!

By Wednesday, I still had my bruise and it was still a bit difficult to bite down and eat. My co-teacher Seunghee (a.k.a. my Korean mom) was really worried! She kept insisting that I should have a doctor look at it. I told her it would be fine and that my jaw was just swollen and will just take time to go down. She didn’t care, so she called the dentist and brought me in. This was the weirdest trip to the dentist… First of all, I was sitting in the chair 2 minutes after I walked in the door, so absolutely no waiting time! Then the assistants needed to take my Xray. They didn’t speak any English and Seunghee didn’t come over by the Xray machine to translate.. Haha this was an ordeal. After they put me back in the chair, the dentist comes out to look at my Xray. After talking to my co-teacher for a few minutes, I was waiting for her to say something to tell me what’s going on. There was an awkward pause and then the dentist started telling me in English what he saw! Very, very slow English, but very clear! Just like I had thought, it was swollen and just needed time to heal and he gave me a prescription for 3 packs of mystery pills for the pain and whatever else.

While talking to one of my co-teachers, I found out that the students’ last day would be this Friday… What?! Good thing I talked to her, otherwise I would’ve been stuck with about 4 bags of Sweethearts for Valentine’s Day. So the next day my co-teachers took me to all the classes so I could hand out Valentine’s Day candy my mama had sent for them. They were ecstatic!! And they LOVED reading the little phrases on the candy hearts! The best times were when boys would get something about a kiss… They’d ask me what it meant and I’d make a kissy face, and of course, their immediate reaction was total disgust! Haha.

I also wanted to take pictures with all of them! My co-teachers helped conduct this after I handed out candy. A 4th grader in the first class asked why we were taking pictures. Hosun told them that I wanted a picture with all of them before I left… They had confused looks on their faces. Then Hosun said something else. All the happiness and joy on their faces from the candy was instantly washed away. I asked Hosun what she said and she had just told them that I’ll be going back to America. Apparently, they had no idea. So I got lots of hugs before I left their classes. I’m going to miss these little fruitcakes! 🙂

3-1 Class... My favorite little CRAZIES!!

3-1 Class… My favorite little CRAZIES!!

The 3-2 Rugrats!

The 3-2 Rugrats!

My Little 3-3 Nuggets!

My Little 3-3 Nuggets!

The 4-1 Kiddos!!

The 4-1 Kiddos!!

My 4-2 Sweeties!! I'm going to miss play Rock, Paper, Scissors with them!!

My 4-2 Sweeties!! I’m going to miss play Rock, Paper, Scissors with them!!

My 4-3 Class... Basically, you're looking at a normal day with them. :)

My 4-3 Class… Basically, you’re looking at a normal day with them. 🙂

My 4-4 Pipspeaks!

My 4-4 Pipspeaks!

The Mischevious 5-1 Class... But missing the most mischevious one of them all!

The Mischevious 5-1 Class… But missing the most mischevious one of them all!

The 5-2 Class... Where the girls are angels and the boys are NOT! :)

The 5-2 Class… Where the girls are angels and the boys are NOT! 🙂

The 5-5 Smarties!!

The 5-5 Smarties!!

And my 1st and 2nd grade after school class… Haha this was fun.

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Thursday after school, I met up with Jen and Derek for dinner. We went to a shabu shabu restaurant… YUM! You cook up some meat and veggies in a boiling pot and then you take these plastic-like circle things, get them wet, and then put the meat, veggies, and sauces inside. When you have all you want, roll it up and eat it.

Shabu Shabu!

Shabu Shabu!

Friday on my way to school, I was waiting at a bus stop when I heard a really strange noise… I turn around and there’s a car coming down the road with chains on the tires. Huh?!? There isn’t even enough snow on the ground to consider it a dusting and people have chains on their tires!! Oh Korea…

Got Snow?

Got Snow?

Friday, February 8th, 2013, Daejeong Elementary School held its 101st graduation ceremony… Congratulations 6th Graders!!!! So proud of all of you and so happy I got to be your teacher!! I made a good-bye video for them and had their homeroom teachers show them earlier this week! Here it is!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17yntnzZ5SA

It was so great to see them walk across the stage! Their kindergarten pictures were put up on the screen right before their 6th grade picture was shown… How cute!! Haha. There were lots of pictures and a video made by all the teachers, staff, and younger students in the school made for them. I think the principal also talked about the highlights of the year, as far as news and culture, because he brought up Gangnam Style… Really?? After the ceremony was done, the parents swooped in taking millions of pictures. A few students came up to me to get a picture and some even gave me gifts! So sweet. 🙂

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Friday night, I had Stitch ‘n’ Bitch with Becca and Tarryn joined us. I FINALLY finished my first project!! It turned out to be a neck warmer. (I didn’t have enough yarn to make a scarf. Haha) I’m giving it to Seunghee (my Korean mom and co-teacher) as a gift for being so kind and helpful this entire year! 🙂

Photo130208_002 First knitting project COMPLETE! Neck Warmer!

Olle 20

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Saturday morning I headed out to the East side to meet Leo and hike Olle 20! It was a bit windy and a little chilly, but overall it was a nice hike. There were a lot of wind turbines on this trail, so I’m guessing that area is known for having lots of wind… Well, this entire is known for that! We started this 16.5 km Olle at about 11 am and finished at 3 pm. The trail ended at the Haenyo (women divers) Museum, which I’ve wanted to visit for a while, so we went to take a look at that.

Wind POWER!

Wind POWER!

Almost finished with my Olle journey...

Almost finished with my Olle journey…

Haenyo Museum

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The women of Jeju are known for being very dominant. They are very hard working with very strong personalities. (Don’t cross them.) Back in the day (and it’s probably still true for some today) when men couldn’t find work, they would sulk and go to the bar. So it was often up to the women to take care of the family and provide for them. One very common career/lifestyle these women picked up was diving. They would dive down incredible depths and hold their breath so long (I forgot how long, but it was pretty impressive!) and collect sea creatures and plants to sell. I do believe that haenyos can be found on Jeju Island more so than the mainland of South Korea, but the only other place in the world where you will find women divers is some places in Japan. It was so amazing to read about the haenyo lifestyle and to see their tools, gear, and structures.

This is a little fort they would build by the water to change, eat, and hang out during the day in between dives.

This is a little fort they would build by the water to change, eat, and hang out during the day in between dives.

Haenyo Life!

Haenyo Life!

Haenyo School!

Haenyo School!

Getting ready for a dive...

Getting ready for a dive…

Olle 21- My Last Olle!

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Sunday morning I headed out to Olle 21 by myself… My last Olle! It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be outside!! A little chilly but not bad. Only 10.7 km kept me from the end! Towards the end, I had to climb Jimibong, which was a really big oreum (small mountain/parasite volcano/giant hill), and it was pretty difficult! I basically had to walk straight up! The view from the top was stunning!

Jimibong from afar... Doesn't look THAT big.

Jimibong from afar… Doesn’t look THAT big.

But it is THAT big!

But it is THAT big!

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!

After that, I knew the end was near. I kept telling myself how excited I was and how great this would be to finish my Olle adventure… But I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to feel all the excitement, but it didn’t hit me… Until I turned a corner and saw the wooden horse about 100 yards ahead of me. There was a sudden feeling of happiness/accomplishment/pure joy that washed over me and I was from ear to ear, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much!

DONE!

DONE!

I DID IT!! It took me 106 hours & 45 minutes to hike 422.1 km/262.3 miles on 26 Olle trails on 4 different islands!!! My Olle journey has come to an end, right as the Year of the Dragon is coming to an end! I was born in the Year of the Dragon in 1988, so this past year also being the Year of the Dragon was a bit special for me!!

Olle DOMINATION!!

Olle DOMINATION!!

That evening, to celebrate, I made queso for Karima and I with the ingredients my mama sent me… Oh sweet and CHEESY victory!!!

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Busy Jeju Life Resumes!

Over the weekend, I “caught a cold” and I was still feeling “a little sick,” so I took a sick day to rest! And naturally, by “rest” I mean hike an Olle! (Future employers who may be reading this, this is probably the only job I’ve called in sick to have a fun day, but how many times am I going to be living on a beautiful island in South Korea?! Trust me, it won’t be an issue anywhere else.) 🙂

Olle 19

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It turned out to be a PERFECT day to be outside! Clear skies and seasonably warm considering it’s January! I took the bus up to Jeju City and then another bus over to Jocheon for the start of Olle 19. It started at the Jocheon Manse Dongsan Memorial, and I do believe it is for some protesters against the Japanese colonization of Korea.

A really beautiful start to the Olle!

A really beautiful start to the Olle!

I had a beautiful view of Hallasan for nearly the whole day! Unbelievable! The walk along the coast was so great. They have turquoise waters on this side of the island!! Hamdeok Beach was gorgeous, and now I really regret not making it out here during the summer. Boo!

Oh, hey Halla!!

Oh, hey Halla!!

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As I was nearing Seoubong, I noticed a soccer team of elementary boys… Their coach was making them run up and down the really steep hill multiple times! Whew! Poor little things! The view from the top was spectacular! This area, in general, is absolutely stunning!

Seoubong from afar... It's MUCH bigger up close!

Seoubong from afar… It’s MUCH bigger up close!

The trail also went inland a little bit and I came across Bukchon Lava Tube, which was discovered relatively recently in 1998 (the year my little sister was born)! As I was walking through the woods, I came upon a herd of black goats… What?! Haha they were followed by this old Korean man who giggled as I walked by. I finished the 18.8 km course in 4 hours!

Bukchon Lava Tube... Wish I could've done a little bit of exploring!

Bukchon Lava Tube… Wish I could’ve done a little bit of exploring!

Goats!?

Goats!?

The mystery behind the doors...

The mystery behind the doors…

On Tuesday, I decided that I’m finally ready to go back to school and there was a little care package on my desk waiting for me! My mama sent me my last care package and it was so great! She sent enough Sweethearts for all 450+ of my students for Valentine’s Day AND all the ingredients (minus the ground beef, but that’s not necessary) for me to make QUESO!!! Oh, the excitement and salivating that occurred at that moment!!

Happiness arrived on my desk!!

Happiness arrived on my desk!!

For this first week back after vacation, I only had three 3rd grade classes and three after-school classes, all of which were on Friday besides one after-school class on Wednesday. So Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were some very busy and productive desk warming days! I uploaded tons of photos onto Facebook and Snapfish! Birthday cards and letters were sent back home! Emails were gone through and responded to! And I discovered something really awesome… Windows Movie Maker!! It’s ridiculously easy to use and I’m going to have so much fun putting some video projects together! (You’ll see my hard work featured in other posts!)

I was also really surprised one afternoon when who walks into the office?! None other than Miss Eun-mi Jeong herself!! (She’s my old 6th grade co-teacher that I taught with 1st semester and a really good friend! She had spent part of 2nd semester studying on the mainland and another part of it teaching in Hawaii.) So happy she’s finally back!! And she brought gifts! She gave me some macadamia nut chocolate. The picky eater in me hesitated for a moment, but then I worked up the courage (I’m not a fan of nuts at all.) and tried one… Wow! Amazingness!!

Yea, be jealous!

Yea, be jealous!

I was able to make it to a couple classes of yoga this week! Sometimes it was a little painful because my toe, that I jammed when I fell in Vietnam, hurt really bad! So those poses where we were putting pressure on the toes I had to sit out for. I hope it feels better soon!

I also had a Stitch ‘n’ Bitch meet up with Becca! It was nice to chat with her again. It’s such a relaxing and stress-free time of just knitting and chit-chatting! Speaking of chit-chat, I got to Skype with my lovely and amazing friend, Alyssa, from college!! We talked for such a long time and I’m so anxious to get back and talk with her in person! It’s going to be so great being able to call or text friends whenever I want and not have to schedule a time to chat with them!

Class with the 3rd graders was so great! I missed these little stinkers! Haesoo came right up to me and gave a nice, big, long hug! (I’m going to miss those when I leave!) I played some of their favorite games with them… 4 Corners and Pass the Ball and they still were begging for Simon Says! Haha.

The 6th graders graduate next Friday, so the 6th grade teachers were going around making a video for them including all the teachers and students in the school. The other English teachers told me that it would be happening but didn’t bother to come get me when they were filming. So I didn’t make it in the video… 😦 No worries… I’ll make my own video for them!

Friday night, I went out for dinner with my friend, Tyler, and a woman from Busan that was couch-surfing at his place. We tried horse meat! (I’m really sorry to all my horse lovers out there, but when in Rome…) It was pretty good! Like most Korean barbecues, the meat was cooked right at our table and it took barely anytime at all to cook the meat and it was so tender! There were some pieces that were really chewy, but all-in-all, a lovely dinner! Then we went out for Baskin Robbins afterwards and I tried a new flavor, Rainbow Sherbert! YUM!! I’ve always loved orange sherbet and whatever other flavors came in The Flintstone’s Push-Ups, but I never wanted to mix flavors. Well I’m here to tell you that the combination of pineapple, orange, and raspberry sherbet is nothing short of amazing!

Grillin' up some delectable horse meat!

Grillin’ up some delectable horse meat!

Olle 14

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Karima met a Korean woman at a school where she did an English Camp that was very interested in walking the Olle trails. She asked Karima if she knew anyone that liked going on the Olle trails, as well, so she gave her my information. Her name is Jin-hee and we planned to walk Olle 14 together!

We headed out early for our long journey to the Olle starting point. The Olles on the western and eastern sides of the island take a little longer to get to, but especially Olle 14 because it starts in a little town inland, unlike the rest that start along the coast that the coastal buses drive by. The buses that go inland between the little towns aren’t as frequent, so it just takes longer. We finally got to the start at 10 am and got started!

Perfect place for a couch...

Perfect place for a couch…

We walked through some forested parts and fields on some rocky paths for a while. This part of the island is also known for its cacti! So we saw lots of those too! Once we got out to the coast, it was really beautiful, but REALLY windy!! Which made for some pretty big waves to look at!

Big Waves!

Big Waves!

We also walked by some lovely beaches and some trick art! We finished the Olle at 2:20 pm! Then we rode back to Seogwipo and I had to hurry home to grab some stuff and go back up to Jejusi to meet some people. I felt bad for Jin-hee because I can sometimes be a really fast walker and not take many breaks, but it was especially true today just because I had to meet people later. She was a trooper though! It was nice to spend time with her on the Olle!

This could be bad...

This could be bad…

Done and Done!

Done and Done!

Saturday night, I got to Skype with Jessica! I really enjoy talking to her! We were chatting and she said “I wonder if your dad will remember February 11th.” I didn’t know until just then, but that’s when they got married at the court house… Hopefully a little angel whispers this into my dad’s ear because I doubt he’d remember on his own! Haha.

Olle 15

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Sunday morning, I headed out to do Olle 15 by myself. I wanted to get an early start, but when I looked at my clock I realized that I was pretty close to missing the bus! It was a little chilly outside and I was running down the stairs and through our yard when I stepped on the wooden walkway that goes through our yard… BAM!! I didn’t notice before, but the walkway was a little icy and I went down as soon as my foot stepped on it. I hit my head on the wood pretty hard. My jaw hurt really bad! Besides that and the fact that I was in complete shock of what just happened, I felt fine, so I walked myself to the bus stop and it was 5 minutes late! All that running for nothing!

I started the course at about 9 am. I walked through some winding roads between fields and then up and around a hill near Nabeup Elementary School with a little building at the top that was used to hold sacrificial rites. (This was finally abolished about 30 years ago at a village meeting.)

Where they held sacrificial rites...

Where they held sacrificial rites…

Later on I had to climb up another big hill and had a lovely view going up! I also walked by a little temple on the way up. At the top of Gonaebong, there was a small tower you go up and have an amazing 360° view that I took a little video of… Enjoy the commentary. Haha!

I finished the 19 km course at 1:15!! Another lovely Olle walk… Only 2 more to go until I’ve finished all 26 trails!

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On the bus ride back, one of my 6th graders, Jisu, messaged me and said that she wanted to meet me to give me my late birthday present! Once I got back to Seogwipo, I met her and her mom and sister at Emart. Soooo sweet!! Jisu, her sister who’s in 4th grade (forgot her name), and their little brother all made me a big sign along with some paper flowers and a paper basket. Then her little sister got me some fashionista earmuffs! And Jisu got me a big, beautiful, blue scarf! Aww it was so great! 🙂

Some lovely belated birthday gifts!!

Some lovely belated birthday gifts!!

After my fall that morning, it was EXTREMELY painful to bite down, so eating was a very unpleasant task. I also started getting a headache towards the afternoon. I hope everything will get better soon!

I got to Skype with my dad later Sunday night!! Love talking to that crazy old man!