Saturday, January 31, 2015


Cooking bacon and eggs at the end of the night at 6am for Leslie and myself, I was reflecting on the amazing people I know and the ridiculous city I live in. It was my last Saturday night in Seoul and we certainly made the most of it!

In a happy coincidence, many Daegu friends came up to visit so there were 14 of us dancing our way around Hapjeong and Hongdae. I learnt some new moves and taught some of my own, had a dance with a very flamboyant bar tender, and sang like crazy to some early 2000s goodness.

I haven't had so much fun in ages and while the music was absolutely on point, I know it was the people who made the night great.

Red-faced and sweaty; how you can tell if the dance moves are good!

Friday, January 30, 2015


Haere ra!

What a beautiful expression. Well, kind of. It literally means, "Go away", but to my ears it was a lovely surprise.

When I hang out with the kiwis I realise just how much of NZ I have lost. They work together at a NZ hagwon so they can share a common language and background.

Somewhere along the way my culture got a bit lost in translation and pieces have dropped away bit by bit to make it easier to adapt to life here.

But I miss it. And I'm looking forward to winning it back again.

Doesn't dinner look good!?

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I'm counting down the lasts.

Tonight it was the last trip to Costco, an Americana oasis, where the samples are plentiful and the avocados are ripe.

Goodbye, overpriced Western goods!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


How the heck do holograms work!? I understand it's some sort of light reflection thing, but it's absolute witchcraft.

The kids were playing with them when we walked into the class today and they showed us some cool stuff. They had fireworks popping in their little prisms and diamonds spinning.

Science is real, people.

Here's a terrible photo of a diamond.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Being silly is just great, and today there was a fair bit of it. During the staff meeting, Suyun and Sue showed me a picture of this old Korean guy with the same hair, so when I went home I really did it well and sent them a picture.

It's fun to have little things that make you laugh. It really makes the day that much better. How lucky am I that it's people I spend every day with who can appreciate my silliness.


Would you ever get plastic surgery?

That question is unavoidable in this country. Any time I step onto a subway I'm bombarded with before and after pictures which promise impossible things. My bus to church takes me through the center of 'medical tourism', codename for facelifts, implants, jaw chiseling at heightened prices for Chinese visitors.

Today in the office the conversation turned to plastic surgery. There wasn't an ounce of negativity towards the tasteful new face of one of Jungjin's friends. The ladies were discussing what they'd like to get done themselves.

It made me really sad that they couldn't see their own unique beauty. I didn't know what to say because I know uniformity is a big part of Korean culture, but it really makes me sad. Coming from a culture that really celebrates diversity, I don't understand the need to have the aesthetic of a plastic doll. Sure, it's pretty, but it's not real.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Oh Sunday, Sunday. You are my favourite I think.

It's just peaceful. I get to catch the bus and that's always a good time. It's fun speeding by people who are just out doing their thing. I like making eye contact as the bus goes past. It's kinda weird, but it's cool how the bus compels the bond to break as it moves forward, without a care for the beautiful human moment happening.

I looked down at a woman in the bus stop and we locked eyes just as the bus started pulling away. There's a force that drags you forward so it's ok to make eye contact with a complete stranger. The discomfort will be temporary anyhow.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I said my first goodbye today, to Michelle. She's so cool. We've actually only hung out a few times but she really is my unnie and it's so nice to have that relationship. It's such a special part of Korean culture and I was so happy when she used the word today.

Unnie means "big sister" because collectivism is the way of society and effectively everyone should be one big family. But it is also very special because it signifies a close bond between two people and a protectiveness. So it made my heart do a little warm thing when Michelle used it to describe herself.

Even though I hardly see her, it's just nice to know she's there and to send her texts in between our dates. I really will miss her and her informative tours of Seoul, gossip about the who's who of Korea, and insight into true Korean culture.

We went to an art gallery

Friday, January 23, 2015


Just when I finally feel like I'm being myself around all my coworkers, it's time to leave. Or perhaps it's because I'm leaving so soon that we're all being more authentic. The amount of hand holding and arm linking has increased exponentially over the past couple of weeks.

We went out for dinner tonight and it was so great. Jungjin and I teased each other the whole time and I subjected the girls to a personality test. There were many giggles. It was so far from the somewhat stiff first staff dinner last year.

These people have really become my friends.

Found all my beauty samples.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


There are these chips, right. They're called Honey Butter Chips and Korea is going crazy for them. It's like the Lewis Road Creamery/Whittakers milk in NZ.

These chips have been sold out for months, people are selling individual chips online for ridiculous prices.

But one of Sue's students loves her so much they gave her a packet. The whole office screamed, because, well, Korea. And we all rushed towards her.

She's so kind that she shared them with us all and to be honest I was so confused.

They were sweet and buttery, but then someone had the audacity to mix sour cream and chives into the flavour. What the heck!?

Korea is nuts.

With her prize

Sunday, January 18, 2015


A kind bus driver can really lift your spirits.

I encountered one today that said hello to me and then goodbye as I left the bus. We did spend about 20mins of quality time together and I was the last person to get off so it put a little bounce in my step to be recognized.

I smiled the rest of the walk home.

It's amazing the positive impact such a small gesture of humanity can cause. It's not all bad, you guys.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


A seriously good strawberry can give a regular mango a run for its money as the best fruit of all time. And there's nothing like these Korean strawberries.

To make things better, they're now fully in season and getting cheaper.

After a yummy dinner of roast chicken some fresh blueberries and strawberries definitely hit the spot. I couldn't believe how delicious they were. A++ Korea.

They're also really good as an omelet

Friday, January 16, 2015


I sat with Sarah, sipping tea in a cafe in Myeongdong for hours this afternoon. It was one of those times you keep saying, "I should go home now" but never actually do anything about it.

It's nice to find friends to do that with.

I bought some roasted chestnuts and gave them to a man begging in the station. He looked so grateful and he took them so eagerly with both hands. I hope I never forget his desperation for food and his readiness to accept them. It made me appreciate how easy it was for me to just buy them with the cash in my wallet. It was also so easy to give them, but so often I just walk by and make some stupid excuse as to why it would be weird for me to be generous. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I got out of the elevator at work today and heard giggles and babbling coming from the vice principal's office. It made me smile as I walked towards the source. The VP had gone home and Sue, Suyun, and Jungjin were making all the noise.

I don't know what they were getting so excited about, but it made me very happy to hear their voices again. The school feels so empty during vacation without their playfulness.
We made superhero goggles today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I met Jungjin for tea today in this crazy new shopping mall place with giant superhero figurines everywhere. Why they need a new one of these I do not know.

But it was so great to see her again. It feels like forever since I last saw her.

We talked all about her break-up and it felt like real friendship. I'm so lucky that she came to Majang Elementary. I have made a true Korean friend.

I have the selcas to prove it, too!


I booked the Philippines accommodation tonight and it feels amazing to know that we have beds waiting for us on the island. No sand for us! Although, during the day lots of it would be welcome.

It got quite stressful there with all the options and windows I had open.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


There's something to be said for really good tea, and Osulloc know how to make it.

Sarah and I enjoyed a refreshing beverage and fine conversation for a pretty penny this afternoon. Worth every penny.

I could get used to this afternoons off thing. It felt like freedom!

Monday, January 12, 2015


Today after the meet and greet time in the service I heard my name in a loud whisper coming from a seat close-by. I turned to see Eric, Moe, and Aaron waving. What a lovely surprise.

It turned out they were there with Renee and her dad, who were visiting. They invited me to lunch, and my default antisocial instinct kicked in so I said no. I had nothing to get home to, I just like it there.

But as I went downstairs and walked past the parking lot I told myself I was a fool. I heard their voices and turned around. I'm so glad I did. They're such quality people and I don't have too many chances to see them left.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


How long has it been since you noticed your shadow?

It's with you a lot of the time, and it's a pretty magic phenomenon but we take it for granted that we have a friend following us around wherever we go.

Even just a few years ago shadows were a great source of fun amongst my friends. We would shadow-box one another whenever the sun was just right, sometimes accidentally real life punching too.

Those good memories flooded back as I stood at the lights watching a kid play around with his own shadow, kicking the ground and watching it respond. He was in a trance, lost in the wonder of his companion.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Leaving early is such a gift. Walking out of school I felt so free.

Even the bitter wind couldn't beat the smile off my face!

Monday, January 5, 2015


Walking out of school today, I heard a tiny voice call my name.

I turned to see a very shy little third grader running towards me, arms wide with a huge smile.

I was a bit confused because she normally won't even make eye contact with me. It took me a moment to realise I should give her a hug so I picked her up and swung her around. She was delighted.

Once again, a child has completely made my day.

Fancy tea in Osulloc with Sarah

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Church was just so good today. So good.

It was about having faith, something which I definitely need to learn more of. I have a feeling that this will be a year of faith-building and I'm excited/scared for it.

Hopefully I'll be able to look back over the year and see God at work and his steadfast faithfulness in every leap I take.

Pastor Dave is probably one of my favourite preachers ever so I'm really going to miss his weekly input for sure. Gonna make the most of the next 5 weeks!

Saturday, January 3, 2015


I had no plans today so when Daniel sent an invitation out to watch a movie, I was excited.

And the film was incredible. It had that quirky Korean flavour, but it was actually about something pretty sombre.

It followed one ordinary man's life through the Korean War, struggle for food thereafter, loss of family members, plight for money in the mines in Germany, sacrifice almost of his life in Vietnam to provide funds for his sister's wedding, and then the disparity between the young people today and the ones who built the country from nothing.

Now when I see a halmoni or halabeoji (grandma and grandpa) in the subway or pushing their cart down the street, I have huge respect for what they've experienced in their lives. They can be pushy and annoying sometimes, but they've earned their right to push and jostle for sure!

It was called Ode to my Father or 국제시장 and every person interested in Korean culture or at least every young Korean should see it.

Friday, January 2, 2015


It hit me today that I have only got 6 weeks left in this amazing city.

Leaving is hard.

Breakfast for dinner.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


If the first day of 2015 is anything to go by, the rest of the year is going to be incredible.

I didn't realise how much I missed my home church family until I was experiencing the same emotions with new ones today.

I remember a time as a teenager when we wouldn't want to leave each others' presence. We would have spent many hours together already and we wouldn't be actually doing anything much, but we were so reluctant to depart from each other. We were just so content to be there with each other.

It's a very special feeling to be so comfortable with a group of people. And that's what today was like. All of a sudden it was 3pm and we'd just eaten, talked, worshipped, and cleaned together. Everything was packed up but no one was moving.