Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Out of the blue this morning SuYun asked me if I was going to renew my contract next year. I stuttered my way through an, "I love this school and you guys but I'm not sure yet." Sue hit her and said it's too early to ask me questions like that, I only just arrived!

SuYun said that she'd just been thinking that if I wasn't going to stay, neither would she. She said she's had enough of bad experiences with NET's and that I'm one of the good ones.

It was a huge compliment for me because she's an amazing teacher and I'm learning so much from her. I'm touched.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Today felt like I was on holiday already. I can feel the long weekend looming and I don't feel like doing any work because of it.

I also only taught one class today which added to the apathy. 

It's like I'm back at school with end of year exams to study for but the beach calling me. If only I could make these PPT's outside on my imaginary deck whilst sunbathing.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


The birthday festivities continued this evening over dinner and wine with Keke, Daniel, and Moe. We're a great combo because we always end up talking about relationships.

It really felt like such a treat because the boys paid for everything and there were many laughs. Some days in Seoul are just the best.
Irish ingenuity: Hair straightener or iron?

Saturday, April 26, 2014


This day started with an amazing dance party hosted by the lovely Lucy Foster in my apartment. She serenaded me with her twist on a classic, "We Wish You a Happy Birthday" and did some of her trademark bum wiggles. All in all it was a tremendous start to a fantastic day.

After a good sleep we woke up, I opened presents and chatted to family, then we went to my friend, Laura's vegan restaurant.

We ate some amazing Vietnamese rice rolls and some zoodles (zucchini noodles)! It was like real food and so delicious! She gave us free lollipops and sent us on our merry way. We hopped in a taxi and off to Gangnam we went to meet Keke for some wandering down Garosugil which is the fancy road. 

After stumbling across some outrageously priced vintage Chanel and some very cute scented candles we found a cafe and I had an affogato. It was pure bliss (especially with the added shot of Kahlua). After that, we bought matching juices and decided that Keke made the best decision.

We then met Mariyah and Sarah in Itaewon for dinner. Bulgarian was on the menu, followed by cocktails with real juice and ingredients at Berlin! After that we migrated to a French bar for some classy drinks and I got a free creme brulee because the girl told our waitress it was my birthday! 

I had a really special day filled with favourite things and lots of food!

Lucy Collins on form with the birthday snaps

Friends and family at my birthday party

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I went to Dongshin today and it was so, so good to be back. It felt like being back with family, even though there were so many new faces.

I picked a great Sunday too, because Pastor Leon announced that he and Santjie will be moving on from Korea in July. It's very sad because I love listening to his sermons and they've really made Dongshin a welcoming and well-run church. We'll miss them a lot.

But it's good to remember that God builds The Church, not people. We just do our best. I know he'll have great things in store for Dongshin.

It's another reminder about how transitory this life in Korea is. People come and go often.
Jess made me an amazing breakfast.

Riding the KTX at dusk was a beautiful experience

Cushy first class seats were the only available ones. Well if you insiiiiiiist!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


People go through all kinds of struggles in their lives and when they let you into their darkness it can be very beautiful.

It started with this afternoon and the catch up with Rebekah over coffee. She was so cute. I saw her across the street and she did one of those big, two-arm waves like she was signalling an airplane or something. Then when I finally crossed she gave me a big hug and was practically jumping up and down with excitement.

We had a really good talk about many things, including her mum's sickness and my Poppa's passing. I shared how I could see God's hand on the whole thing and how I felt so at peace about it. When I looked up she was weeping. I don't know what was going on in her head, but I know it was to do with her fears about her mum passing away. I got a glimpse into her pain and the raw vulnerability of human connection was truly touching.

Later on tonight I went to a story slam. It's basically the same idea as a poetry slam, except people share stories instead of poems. Everyone did a really good job. They were so brave to offer up so many haunting memories. We sat in silence as people shared stories of boarding schools, lost families, child psychiatric units, and pedophiles. There was laughter joy along with the bitterness.

I feel very honoured to have seen a glimpse into the deepest parts of these strangers' histories.

It was good to go back to Buy the Book

What a great face


Friday, April 18, 2014


I went to Daegu today after school. I'd been looking forward to it all day and finally it was time.

It felt really weird to be doing a weekend trip the other way around after all the times I visited Seoul last year. 

Walking through Seoul station was amazing because I feel like I really belong here so I wasn't sticking out or acting strange. I got my 갈비탕 (beef bone soup) from the food court and ate it like a pro while I waited for my train. 

Walking through Dongdaegu and getting the subway was really strange. I stepped on and immediately realized how narrow it was. I only went two steps and I had reached the other side. I stood there freaking out until I got off and met the ladies for some makgeolli.

It was so good to see them and catch up. We had laughs and chats like old times.

Strawberry was deeeelish!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Tonight at language exchange I met the best group. We chatted the whole time and didn't even get to the handouts because conversation was flowing. I loved it! We gelled.

At the end I told them I liked them and they said they liked me too. The guy who does the groups said I could stay with them if I wanted and I said yes! Hooray for a lot less awkward chats in the future. 

They were all lovely but sometimes it dragged. Not with these people though! Yay!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Today I was walking up the steps when my favourite little first grader jumped around the corner. He froze when he saw me and gave me the biggest grin.

I said, "Hi!" and he replied with a very confident, "Hello" before he continued leaping down the stairs. 

All of this was made even better by the fact that he has a great perm. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Oh boy have I got the travel bug!

I've been searching all the things I have to do this year in Korea and Southeast Asia. There are so many places to go and not enough time to visit them all! 

I'm going to do my best though. First stop is Geoje Island. Then Laos to visit Dani and the Jeju with Mum. Ooh! Let the planning begin!

Monday, April 14, 2014


Today I was really looking forward to Skyping Mum. I had been looking at dates for my holidays and I found the perfect window for her to visit.

I really hope it works out! 

Seeing her was a great way to spend my evening. I love our weekly chats.
Lunch today wasn't so bad.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


After church I found myself staring into the most delicious looking Kimchi chiggae, bubbling away in front of my eyes. The smell was filling my nostrils and I was trying to hold a conversation with my new friend but I kept getting distracted by my overactive saliva glands.

The restaurant was famous for a reason. The meat was so tender, the kimchi tasty, and the broth was the perfect level of spicy. It came with a bowl of rice and all the seaweed you could ever need.

It's safe to say I will be experiencing that weekly from now on.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


This morning I made my way to Itaewon to meet Sarah for breakfast. She's my Language Exchange friend. I think we are legit now because we hung out on a different day than class. It's so nice to make new friends!

Anyway, we had an amazing breakfast and then walk to Plant, a vegan cafe. We were going to do some food shopping. It was actually the main purpose of our trip, but we only realised we had forgotten it completely when it was too late. We were already on the subway! What fools!

Later that day, Keke came over for dinner. I made a lamb rack and it was amaaaaaazing! I can't believe how well it turned out! It tasted so familiar. I'll definitely be having that again!

Friday, April 11, 2014


Isn't it great when you have an unexpectedly great conversation with someone?

Every Friday afternoon I meet with my 3rd grade coteacher and have the usual, slightly stiff "What are you doing this weekend?" talk with her.

This time we got going on travel and dreams and suddenly I looked at the clock and an hour had passed! It was really fun.

What a nice treat!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Tonight at language exchange a girl I met last time gave me such a sweet little ricecake with a heart on it.

We went home together last time and I bought some for us to share so she was repaying the favour in a totally unexpected way.

I ate it on the way to the subway, so chuffed by the simple gesture of friendship that the ricecake represented.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Today I got TWO packages! TWO!!

It was the best thing ever. The one from Mum arrived to school and I saw it sitting on the table when the office was empty. It couldn't have been more perfect. I got to unwrap it all by myself. Inside were loads of Easter eggs for my students and birthday presents! I'm keeping them. 

As I walked up the stairs to my floor I had the thought that it would be stupidly awesome if Lucy's package was waiting by my door. Then I brushed it off because that would just be too good to be true. 

Ha! I found a little white packet by my door and my insides did a happy dance. Inside is a birthday present so that one is waiting too!

I'm excited now.

These weird and wonderful things are friend plantains and they are deeeelish!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I had my first Korean lesson today and it went ok. I was a bit concerned all day because I found out it was a 1 on 1 lesson with a guy I've never met. He turned out to be ok. Not a creep. Phew!

I hope I'll be fluent within a couple of months. Ha! But at least I'm doing something proactive!

Monday, April 7, 2014


Today I taught the little third graders. I love Mondays because they are just so adorable.

One little girl reached out and took my hand as I walked past today and wouldn't let go for the longest time, even as I got further and further away.

I thought she was going to get out of her seat and follow me around.

They don't look like much but they tasted awesome.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


This retreat has been awesome. Not once have I felt awkward and alone, which was my biggest fear. I think it was wise to sign up for children's ministry because it meant I had to get to know some people.

I think I can go to church next week, confident that I can say hi to at least 5 people before I run out the door. That was the goal, and I got there!

The place was stunning. So cool.

I love these kids so much already.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


I really really love this church. These people are great, the kids are so cute, and I feel so at home here.

I am surprising myself more and more each day. Today I played baseball with a bunch of competitive guys! I don't know how it happened. One minute I was kicking a soccer ball with some children and the next I was on a baseball team. I thought the kids were following me but they didn't and then it turned serious.

The guys were super nice and gracious when I struck out and after then I started getting more confident. I hit the ball and even ran home three times! I contributed to our win! What a great feeling. Now I have more people to say hi to at church, and I stretched myself in a new way. Team sports are definitely outside my comfort zone!

Matt Damon in a bathtub in my toilet stall.

Friday, April 4, 2014


In the spirit of doing things alone I went off to church retreat tonight all by myself. A few times I wondered what the heck I was doing, but it worked out pretty well.

I've been excited all week and I really hope I can meet new people and make some good friends this weekend. I have high expectations.

Tonight we pretty much just got there and went to bed but I did get to talk to my roommates who were both so friendly and seem super cool.

As I fell asleep on the warm floor I was happy indeed!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Tonight I hung out with the Choi family. It was sooooo weird to see them in Seoul. It was kinda like transplanting a little bit of NZ into Korea.

I first heard Andy say my name in his strong NZ accent which was incredibly strange. It was like the voice wasn't real, especially when I turned around and couldn't see them. Then Diane emerged, except she was at least a foot taller than I remember and so grown up-looking. I'm sure my mouth was wide open for a few seconds before I gathered myself.

It was amazing to spend time with them in another country, once I got used to it! It was like having younger siblings there. After a while Diane got back to her usual huggy self and Andy started hassling me. It was like it always was, only I have to look up when I talk to them now.

I bet you can't guess how much these shoes are. More than a month's salary anyway!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I knew I should have gone home straight after church tonight and gone to bed but Keke cast her magic spell and made me buy some of the delicious little custard things in the subway and eat them with her.

It's not really her fault, but somehow when I'm with her I always end up home far later than I wanted. I think it's some kind of sorcery. Or maybe she's just too fun to be around.

Today we discussed her newest crush on Steven Yuen at length and spotted many imposters as we chomped away in the subway station.

This was dinner. Eggs in pergatory.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I did a big-girl thing tonight and signed up for a language exchange. I'm so much more joiner-y now that I'm in Seoul. It's a bit out of character, but I like this new independence. I feel like I am ok going to things alone.

Last year I would have begged someone to come and sign up too, but it didn't even occur to me today. I just got on the subway and there I was sat in front of a guy who was asking me to read sentences.

He told me I'm very beginner. I could've saved him the time!