Friday, February 12, 2010

See Ya Later, Seoul!

My (new) bags all packed and ready to go. In that suitcase is all my clothes, etc, as well as $80 worth of stickers, markers, pencils, erasers, highlighters and fun papers for the kids in Cambodia and Laos.
Though it seemed like this day night NEVER ARRIVE, it is time for me to leave on my vacation! This will be my first time leaving Korea in six months and I am very excited. Excited does not even begin to describe it!

In a few minutes I'll be leaving to walk over to the airport shuttle bus that will whisk Erich and I off to Incheon. I've ridden that damn bus four times now and this is my first time actually going somewhere! Our flight to Cambodia departs at 6:30pm and we arrive in Siem Reap about 6 hours later. This weekend we're going to spend two days exploring the temples of Angkor Wat and hopefully seeing a traditional Khmer dance/shadow puppet show put on by kids from a local NGO. Monday morning we are taking a four hour 4x4 tour out into the Cambodian countryside and stopping to visit an orphanage and school there.

Monday evening we fly to Bangkok and then Phuket where we'll meet Ayzia at the hotel. Tuesday morning the three of us are jumping on a ferry out to Koh Phi Phi and lounging on the beach at some secluded bungalows until we return to Phuket on Thursday afternoon.

Friday morning we fly back up to Bangkok and meet Mike at the airport for our flight to Laos. While in Luang Prabang we'll get to go out and see a village where Pencils of Promise has built a school, ride elephants in the jungle, take an all day cooking class, and visit the Pak Ou Caves. Then we return home (via Bangkok again) on an overnight flight on February 23. We'll hit the ground running in Korea starting on February 24 and 5:50am! WOO.

Anyways, I need to get moving, but I wanted to just post this quick entry since I probably won't be posting much for the next two weeks or so. I'll take tons of pictures and have lots of stories when I come back, don't you worry.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bitter Is The New Black.

Today has been terrible.

To start, its doing the rain/fog thing with the added bonus of also being really cold. A shitty combination. This also adds difficulty to walking as you have to constantly dodge people swinging their umbrellas (open and closed) around like crazy people. Usually I don't really mind going to work- yes the commute takes 40 minutes, but its basically just mindless following of the masses and time to read. Plus I know I am on my way to DO something, specifically to teach kids, so it makes me more willing to wake up early, stick to the time frame, etc. Alas, that is not so this week.

When I heard I would be deskwarming this week I had wonderful visions of relaxing at my desk, doing anything I wanted. Sounds awesome! Psych. By 10:30am yesterday I was ready to beat my head against the wall. The following is a basic outline of what my days have looked like. There has been some variation between yesterday and today, but, lets be honest, very little. Times are approximate.

8:20am- Arrive at work, say hi to vice principal, sign in, go upstairs, change into my work shoes, go into my office.

8:27am- Boot up mycomputer (the only thing doing any work all day).

8:28am- Check my e-mail for the first time, log on to Facebook to read any new status updates (to be clear, these are only "new" if they have occured since I checked my Facebook before leaving home 45 minutes earlier).

8:30am- Begin to play Bejewled Blitz on Facebook games.

8:50am- Give up on Bejeweled Blitz because the voice is creeping me out and my eyes are starting to hurt, check e-mail for second time, switch to reading website updates on sites including (but not limited to),,,,,,,,,, and

9:42am- Exhaust complete list of time killing websites, check e-mail for third time, start playing Tetris at (which sounds like a organization working to abolish the imprisonment of tetres?).

10:22am- Right hand is tired of pushing arrow keys so tetris bites the dust, chat with Renee or possibly Amanda for a bit, check for Facebook status updates.

10:31am- Get online and try to find something interesting to watch, which has included an hour-long Google documentary on living in a North Korean prison camp and a few TED talks about poverty and human trafficking. Alternate useage of time: Solitaire or Spider Solitaire.

11:28am- Check e-mail for fourth time, use Facebook to stalk former school mates by aimlessly clicking on faces in the "common friends" box (it's official...everyone is engaged or popping out babies).

12:09pm- Finally time for lunch.

12:27pm- Lunch is complete, head back to the room of mindless imprisonment.

12:30pm- Check e-mail for fifth time (respond as needed), check for Facebook status updates, make comments on a least two things on my Facebook feed.

12:44pm- Pull out Kindle and delve into yet another book that I bought specifically to save for myvacation (three have already been read and I'm quickly moving through the fourth).

1:43pm- Ponder whether time could actually be moving slower, like is it possibe I'm in some sort of other dimension? Check e-mail for sixth time.

1:47pm- Co-workers spring into short-lived but frantically paced cleaning spree (during which the giagantic windows are both opened, effectively dropping the room's temperature by at least 20*F) and feeling like I have to do something I take on some meaningless task like removing magnets from recyclable items, check e-mail for seventh time.

2:00pm- Bejeweled Blitz. Again. Check e-mail for eighth time.

2:26pm- Tetris. Again. Check e-mail for ninth time.

2:54pm- Pretend to be productive by creating a packing list for vacation, printing out all of the confirmations for various things I've booked for the trip, go dowstairs to print my Cambodian e-visa in color, send reminders to Erich/Mike/Ayzia about things, e-mail hotel people for a final confirmation.

2:37pm- Wish those tasks had taken longer. Check e-mail for tenth time.

2:38pm- Watch an episode of a television show online (X-Files, How I Met Your Mother, Law and Order: SVU, and the like.) Check Facebook for updates. Check e-mail for eleventh time.

3:20pm- Watch another episode. Check e-mail for twelfth time.

3:57pm- Apply Mango Mandarin lotion my mom sent me in hopes that the burst of citrus scent will wake me up and snap me out of the funk I am in.

3:57:30pm- Realize that's not going to work. Check and see if any of the blogs I stalk have been updated. Check e-mail for thirteenth time.

4:00pm- Bejeweled Blitz, my old friend. (Check e-mail for fourteenth time.) And a little Tetris thrown in for good measure. (Check e-mail for fifteenth time.)

4:28pm- Slowly start to pack up. Put everything on my desk away. Arrange post its and pens like a crazy person.

4:35pm- Check e-mail one final time and shut down computer. Change back into my street shoes, put my coat/sweater on, say my goodbyes.

4:40pm- You better believe I'm already on my way to the subway.


I don't know how I'm going to survive another two and three-quarters of a day like this! Then I come home exhausted at night because I haven't done ANYTHING all day. I have a bunch of stuff to do for my trip and I have to clean my apartment since my brother is coming straight back with me. I just hate sitting at school and knowing my time could be better used at home. I considered calling in sick tomorrow because I really wasn't feeling too hot and I have NOTHING to do at work, but then I thought about the chance that my Vice Principal would then tell me I couldn't go on my trip. Not risking it.

**Update: Now I know how I'm going to survive! I am going to work on making Creative Memories digital albums for my first six months in Korea. It will keep me busy and it's something I want to do anyway! The only downside is it requires me to schlepp my laptop to and from school. Honestly to avoid another day like today, that is a SMALL SACRIFICE.

Sorry for the bitching, sometimes I just need to get it out.
And of course I got a reality check tonight when I got a message from Adam (from SAS) saying "Your life sounds like it rules. I'm jelly." And you know, my life does rule. Today sucked, but in general, I can totally understand why he's jealous. I remember how jealous I was of others last year when I was miserable at my job. One day of shitty weather and an even worse mood is just a blip on the radar screen of my life.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Mundane Life!

Well, life has been highly unexciting since my last post. Students came back on Monday but we had no classe with the sixth graders so it was basically just a day of deskwarming. Tuesday we had our third graders and they watched Finding Nemo all day, as per the plans of my co-teacher. They had finished the textbook before we left for winter break, so I am sure they were fine with just hanging out. And it gave me plenty of time to read/mark up the sex trafficking case study from Dasi Hamkke. Wednesday we actually taught for the first time with the fifth and sixth graders. The sixth graders were sooooooo not loving being at school so they were annoying as hell. So Young gave them a little pep talk in Korean about what to expect in middle school, but I think their minds were already there instead of with us in class. Wednesday night I headed over to Daebang for a meeting at Dasi Hamkke and we spent about 2.5 hours discussing what would be staying in the case study vs. getting cut, things we had questions about, how the book should be organized, etc. I think it was fairly productive. The next meeting is when I'm on vacation so I'll miss it, making me feel like a terrible volunteer, haha. Oh well. Thursday and Friday we taught the fourth and fifth graders to finish out the week. I didn't see my returners at all because all classes after lunch were cancelled. I don't know ho they get away with this schedule!

Most of my down time this week has been spent planning the trip to Cambodia, Thailand and Laos that Erich and I leave for on Friday. I AM SO BEYOND EXCITED! Friday night we fly into Siem Reap, Cambodia where we're doing a two day tour of the temples of Angkor Wat, seeing kids from a local NGO perform shadow puppetry and aspara dancing, and taking a half day 4x4 tour out into the countryside to visit an orphanage and school. Monday we fly to Bangkok, Thailand and then Phuket where we'll meet up with Ayzia and stay the night before taking the ferry to Koh Phi Phi in the morning. We'll spend two days in secluded bungalows on the island before returning to Phuket for a night, saying goodbye to Ayzia, and flying out Friday morning to Bangkok (where we'll pick up my brother) and on to Luang Prabang, Laos. In Laos we're getting taken out to a village that Pencils of Promise has built schools in, taking a boat ride out to Pak Ou Caves, doing a full day cooking class, and taking a jungle trek on elephants. Then we fly through Bangkok (again!) and back to Seoul, arriving home at 5:50am on Wednesday morning. I have planned every step of this trip, from the plane tickets to the activities, which is great because I get to decide what we do/see, but a little stressful because if something doesn't work out, its on me. Hopefully everything will work out! I am very excited for sunshine and warm weather. Seoul has been hovering rightaround -7*C (19*F) for the past few weeks, so I figured I would check and see what the weather was like in Phuket the other day. It was 33*C!!! That is about 102*F!!! INSANITY! I was hoping to thaw, but now my goal is simply not to melt, haha.

My brother is coming back to Korea with us and then flying home to NYC on Sunday, February 28. As far as I know, I have to work Thursday and Friday, but So Young thinks we'll be able to convince the Vice Principal to let me leave early. I have to be back at school Monday, March 1, but apparently that is a holiday so the kids won't actually start until March 2. I am a little nervous about potentially getting a new coteacher (I am going to miss So Young so much if I don't get to work with her anymore!), but there is nothing I can do about it so I'm trying not to think about it too much.

Today I did my income taxes on TurboTax (thanks again for sending that Mom and Dad!) which I was really nervous about. These nerves were mostly due to the combination of my dad talking about how with-holding had been decreased for federal income taxes so I might owe more, and the whole foreign earned income thing for part of the year. As per usual, it would just be easier if we all moved on December 31, thus eliminating the need to split up your tax year, but that's just not so easy in real life! Anyway, I ended up owing Maryland $81, but my federal return is $631, still putting me $550 ahead of the game. Not too shabby for the girl who was convinced she was going to end up owing $1000+ dollars! Now that my taxes are basically done I have to think about doing some laundry and starting to pack for my trip. I am actually going to buy a new suitcase to take since I want something with wheels but I'm not taking my gigantic LL Bean rolling duffel bags. I'll probably check out HomePlus tomorrow and see what they have there. I want room for all the clothes and stuff I'm packing, but also room for supplies to take to Laos, like pencils, pens, markers and stickers. Daiso won't know what hit them!

Alright, I'm off to watch some TV and then possibly be productive.