Konichiwa from Tokyo-Narita

I’m sitting here at the Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan. I’m on my way back to Korea after having had a one week visit back in Oregon. I’ve plopped down on the ground to charge my phone, which I’m using to write this very blog entry. People are giving me some pretty strange looks-I guess sitting along the wall of a busy walkway isn’t conventional around here. But I don’t care. In watching the passing people in return.

Passing me now is a campus couple. A campus couple in Korea is a couple wearing the same thing- the same sweatshirt, same hat or sometime even the same shoes. I guess they have campus couples in Japan too! Or maybe they are also headed back to Korea.

Stewardesses pass, either having just arrived off a flight or heading toward one that is departing. If they work for an Asian airline, you would never know the difference because of their high level of professionalism.

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Ahn nyeong from… Seoul!

I recently re-read my last post and laughed at my certainty for leaving Korea. The yearning for change was met with a giant whirlwind that swiftly picked me up and has yet to spit me out. But did I leave Korea? No. Well at least not yet.

I am not settled and for a long while, nor was I grounded. But luckily, after a much needed, restful Sunday filled with a whole lot of reflecting and introspection, I seem to have found something strong and sturdy to hang onto. It comes from within myself and despite this crazy vortex that is life, I have regained some stability, something that can be difficult to grasp when you are not settled.

So what’s been going on lately? Here are some highlights!

Last month, I celebrated my last day of two years teaching at a public school in Anyang City. Some 900 students at this school will remain in my heart forever. 

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Still Alive!

Who’s the worst blogger in the world? ::Raises hand:: This girl! Time in Korea is a funny concept in that it moves really fast. In fact, everything in Korea happens at super speed- driving, eating, walking, grocery store lines (I like this one), etc. Well, I feel like it’s been moving even faster than usual lately and I think it’s because spring brought wonderful weather and now summer is bringing even more. Talk about being spoiled…

Dancing Queens: Serendipity in Daegu

Last weekend, what started as a quest to visit Shannon in Daegu and for the both of us to hike Palgongsan, turned into singing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” on stage in front of hundreds. Part of being a foreigner in Korea means a whole lot of attention wherever you go. Often times you’ll be the only foreigner (s) at an event, and therefore, given special opportunities to participate- or make a fool of yourself. The attention can be difficult if you enjoy a low-key existence, but if embraced, there are often positive outcomes.

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Learning to Rock Climb at Bukhan Mountain, Seoul

The air was fresh, as it always is when waterfalls nourish the surrounding trails. The scent of mossy rocks mixed with decomposing leaves from the forest floor filled my lungs as I breathed  in, each breath taking me further from the tiring work week and closer to the natural world. We were a group of 8, some from my usual hiking group led by Mr. Kim and others, friends of Mr. Kim and members of a different hiking group. Half of us would hike to a ridge where we would then rock climb to the top and half would take the valley trail and meet the climbers at a shelter on the other side of the mountain. I had been invited on this trip to learn to rock climb and teaching me would be Mr. Kim, his friend aka Spiderman, and Jorge, a fearless climber from Spain. I guess you could say I was in pretty good hands. 

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Politics off the Mountain: A Trip to Wolchulsan National Park

Imagine someone from America, Korea,Saudia Arabia, Pakistan and two from India talking politics on a  crosscountry bus ride in Korea. We were headed down south to walk thefamous 구름다리 (Cloud Bridge) at 월출산 (Wolchulsan) in Joella Province and congregated in the back ofthe bus as the remaining 30 or so hikers napped. Our conversation switchedbetween American, Korean and Middle Eastern politics with a hint ofhumanitarianism. When will the North Korean regime collapse? Who is fighting inSyria? Why does America feel the need to intervene in fights outside theirresponsibility? These are just a few of the topics that came up. 

Seoul Goes Green: St. Patrick’s Day Festival 2012

Spring in Korea signals the arrival of festivals celebrating just about everything- cherry blossoms, canola flowers, snow crabs, green tea, ceramics, etc. This weekend, a friend of mine attended a festival dedicated solely to the sport of tug of war. Oh, and next month there will be a mime festival. The people of Korea work really hard, sometimes too hard in my opinion, but they certainly know how to go all out when it comes to celebrating. So when St. Patrick’s day rolled around this month, it was no surprise there would be yet another festival

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Dobongsan (도봉산) in Monochrome: In Seoul, but Not

One of the greatest things about Seoul and it's outlying areas is the ease in which one can hop on a subway and, in less than an hour, be at the base of a a mountain- an escape from the city life. Dobongsan is one of my favorite mountains in Seoul. I've hiked it many times, but it always feels different. Once I climbed to the top and found cats perched on tiny trees near the ledge. There weren't any cats on this trip, but of course, the massive slabs of rock were there to make me feel ever so grounded.

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