Vlog Entry #18: Finding Nathan

Happy Father’s Day to the best dad I could ever hope for! Dad, thank you for your endless love and support, and for giving me all the tools I’ve needed to succeed during this crazy adventure I’ve been on. I may be 12,000 miles away for now, but soon I’ll be using that compass you gave me before I left to find my way home. I love you so much.

 

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Hiking Mt. Jiri

A few weeks ago, as spring was just beginning to give way to summer, I took a whirlwind trip to Jirisan National Park in the south central part of the country. As South Korea’s biggest national park, it offers some amazing scenery and spectacular views! The only unfortunate thing is that there’s no major city nearby, so getting there without a car of my own proved to be just as exhuasting as actually climbing around on the mountain (literally 12 hours of roundtrip travel and 12 hours of hiking/being out and about, all in the same span of 24 hours). But it was worth it!

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Expanding Vocabularies, Expanding Minds

When I think of a teacher, I imagine more than just a person giving a lecture in front of a class. I picture someone who, in addition to educating students, also acts as a coach, a mentor, a friend, and quasi-parental figure; someone who guides and influences young people on their quest to understand the world, the people around them, and how they fit into it all.

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A Surprise Mother’s Day Visitor

It’s the kind of thing you have to see to believe: waking up to the sound of a mysterious knock on your door; turning over in bed because you assume someone has the wrong apartment; hearing the knock again and begrudgingly rolling out of bed; opening the door ready to give some random Korean person a piece your mind, when suddenly… you see your mom standing right in front of you.

Crazy right?! And on Mother’s Day weekend of all times! I was shocked and overjoyed, to say the least! If I were someone just reading this post I wouldn’t believe it either. So while my mom and I were out making the most of our short weekend together in Korea, I took pictures every step of the way as proof of all the fun things we did together! Below are the highlights. Hover over or click on each picture for details!

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Naver Get Lost Again: A Guide to Bike Paths and Bike Travel in Korea

Naver is to Korea what Google is to America. It’s the go-to search engine and directions provider. And as far as mapped-out bike paths are concerned, Naver and Korea are both way ahead of the game. While it can be intimidating to stare at a screen filled with Korean words (there is no English setting, sorry), it’s actually still very possible to navigate. Here’s how:

To find a bicycle path near you:

1. Go to Naver Maps and zoom in on your desired location. Move about the map by clicking, holding and dragging. To zoom in and out, use the + / – feature placed vertically on the righthand side of the screen.

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A Take on EPIK Intakes: When to start?

Native teachers enter the EPIK program via one of four different intakes: Winter, Late Winter, Fall, and Late Fall. Regardless of when they start, all teachers receive the same pay and benefits; and no intake is reserved for hiring more or less experienced teachers.  So when it comes to beginning your year in Korea, objectively speaking, no time of the year is better than another; and one could argue it really doesn’t matter. But after giving it some thought, I’ve realized there actually are pros and cons to arriving with each intake; which really means (if you have the luxury and freedom to choose) it is important to consider when you’d like to embark on this adventure. To make the comparison easier, let’s generalize the intakes into two groups: Winter and Fall.

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TREEt Others The Way You Want to Be TREEted

Not Just A TreeIt’s the classic golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. But in the East, it’s more like: treat elders and higher ranking officials the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their position, whatever it takes.

Whether it’s a matter of age or authority, hierarchy is of the utmost importance in Korea. At all times, younger or lower ranking people make concious efforts to show their superiors the proper amount of respect they deserve; from the way they introduce themselves to higher ranking people, to the way they acknowledge or address them, to the way they eat and drink with them–as well as…how they plant trees for them.

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