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July 25, 2009

Well, it has been quite some time since my last update so for that I do apologize. To my defense life has been quite, ummm, boring lately so not much to write about. As you can see the most exciting part of my year so far in Cheongju is about to occur with summer vacation. We finished school on Thursday and will have a little over 5 weeks off before the second semester starts. They tell me that the second semester just flies by. With all of the activities and a little less than 4 months of school (not to mention some holidays in the middle) it will be December before you know it.

The last time I wrote I was just starting my new job and trying to get adjusted to the new school, teachers and students. After a few months it has gotten much easier and have really started feeling more comfortable with everything. As with any job, you still have those days where it doesn't make sense or it is very frustrating but those are few and far between, which is good. The most difficult part for me these last few months was having my good friends from Seoul go new directions. Most of them are back in the states looking for jobs or going back to school and one of them is now in India teaching for a year. We were such a close group that it was hard to see them all go but we still stay connected which is nice. Also, I have gotten closer to my new teacher group so we have been able to hang out and get to know each other which has been nice.

At school things have been pretty busy too. The schedule itself is pretty easy and the materials are not difficult to teach, it is just trying to be creative with the materials so your kids understand. Sometimes it is really easy and other times it takes a little more effort but it is so fun to watch them just get it. My class has also started to take on my sense of humor, which could be good and bad. They use my humor on me sometimes and it is quite funny. We have made trips to the zoo and a history camp where we went to the far north-east part of Korea to visit old temples and parks. Those are a great time to get to know the kids too.

Outside of school I haven't been as productive as I would like. my goal for this year was to learn piano and Korean but unfortunately neither goal has been fulfilled. Yes, I still have a few months so you never know but...it is just hard to get motivated some days. I finished one online class and I will be taking another to renew my teaching certificate from Illinois. That should be finished around October so then I can become an officially licensed teacher again. That will open up many doors for me down the road so it is a good thing. I have also taken a trip to the beautiful costal city of Busan where I had the chance to hang out at the beach and, under great pressure, ate a recently killed, yet still moving, octopus. Quite an interesting experience and one I don't care to relive. I was able to meet as couple of friends also which was nice. As an ironic twist I was in Busan, Korea, went to Chinatown, and 90% of the shops were Russian. I just thought that was a little funny!! I was also able to visit a Korean Folk Village with friends from church. There is a really nice Korean couple that organized the trip. They were also my unofficial tour guides during the trip so it was good to get a historical perspective as we were walking around.

As I mentioned earlier, in less than a week I will be close to landing in Moscow, Russia. I will spend about 4 days there and then will take a train to St. Petersburg, Russia (not Florida Trish!!). I will be there for about 6 days, taking one day out to visit the oldest city in Russia, Veliky Novgorod. I have always wanted to visit so I am really excited about this trip. Next I will fly to Milan, Italy. My first stop there, after the hotel, will be to see the original Last Supper painting. I will then get a chance to explore the city. After Milan, I go to Venice for 2 days. From Venice I will actually take a ferry boat to go to Croatia for 2 days. I will be staying in a 1000 year old Italian influenced town called Porec. Once back in Venice I will take a train to Florence where I will be able to explore the city again and I will also take a half day trip to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and some of the surroundings. After that, probably the part of Italy I am most excited about it getting a chance to go to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. I will get to tour the ruins of that old city that was completely destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 AD and climb the mountain itself. It is still active but has been quiet for years. After that I spend my last few days in Rome touring the Vatican and the amazing architecture that is Rome. Know that I will be taking many pictures and giving everyone an update when I return.

I will have about one more week once I return from my trip so I might take a short trip and if I do another update will be included. This is the first time I have been traveling for that long so I am a little nervous but in the end I believe it will be an amazing experience to really experience two countries I have wanted to visit for many, many years. Croatia will be cool too... I would appreciate your prayers for saftey during this time especially. I am sure I will be fine but a little extra help never hurt anyone.

Please let me know how you are all doing. I love to get notes or updates telling me about what is going on. I know everyone is busy but if you get a chance I would love to hear what is going on. I am hearing quite a few things about what is going on back home with the economy and with other things like healthcare and it is a little scary. Mending fences abroad it important but there are so many other issues going on that I hope clear up soon. All we can to is stay educated and pray that the best decisions are made. From there, do the best with what we have and again pray that things will continue to get better. Know that even though I am 13-15 hours away I still think about you all often and hope that you are good.

Talk later~


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