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Still here..update

Yes, I’m still here. It’s been busy the past few weeks for so. In addition to going to school on Saturday until noon to make up for those days at the beginning of the year, I’ve also taken a lifeguard and WSI (water safety instructor) course. Those courses were held on Sunday’s so there were some weeks that I was going to school for seven days straight. But today was my last WSI course so I am done, free and feel like I have my life back a bit. The courses were good PD for me to have but I’m glad that they are over.

What has been happening here? Well, lots of things…

Lunar Break –

Lunar Break was the middle of February and by this time I was sick of the cold and wanted some warmth. This is also the time that I was missing winter in the ME. I headed to Cebu, Philippines to celebrate L’s 40th birthday. Since it was a big birthday we went all out and rented a villa with its own pool. This was amazing on so many levels. The best reason is that we could lay out by our own personal pool and not be around any people – perfect. I wanted to go and relax somewhere and this was perfect. All I wanted to do was workout, relax and go to the spa. I accomplished all three of those things every day, it was perfect.

 

Fire Dancers at dinner.

Our own private pool – worth every penny.

Nice view for a week.

Fire Festival –

The Jeju Fire Festival was the first weekend of March. It is held to pray for a good harvest and good health in the new year. There were a lot of different vendors and performers at the festival. It was very similar to a fair in the states. Basically, they set a hill on fire and it was pretty cool.

The hill before it was set on fire.

They used the hill as a backdrop for a video about the fire festival history.

Lots of fireworks.

Fire!

We were pretty far away but could feel the heat a little bit.

Kerin and Frances πŸ™‚

Getting home after the fire festival was a bit of an adventure. We stood in line for about 45 minutes hoping to get on the right bus to head in the direction of home. Luckily, there was an elementary kid from one of the other international schools that translated for us of what bus to get on. It was complete chaos with people waiting for buses, there not being enough room on the buses and everyone getting angry. At one point a bus passed and people were banging on the side of the bus to stop as the whole crowd we were in was being pushed toward the bus. It was crazy. In the end, we all got a bus even our new elementary friend we made along with his parents. We had to stand on the bus but it was fine as long as we were headed in the direction of where we lived.

We decided to get off the crazy train of public transportation and grab a drink to complete our night. A new shopping center of restaurants, shops, and bars recently opened near us and I’ve been wanting to go to a bar called the Devil’s Door so this was perfect timing.

Canola Flower Fields –

Spring is here so that means flowers and lots of them on Jeju. This is a welcome change from the ME for sure. There are many different fields or patches of the canola flowers that you can go to. You just drive around until you see one, pull over, pay 1,000 KW which is less than a US dollar and then walk around and take some pictures. My first question was how does everyone walk around and not ruin the field? Answer – paths (see bottom picture), genius.

L and I in the canola fields.

Canola flowers and Mt. Sanbangsan in the background.

Paths through the fields.

 

Later skaters,

-B

 

 

Snow Days in Jeju

First week back to school after Christmas break and SJA Jeju is blessed with two snow day. A snow day in Jeju? Is that a thing? As I re-read the e-mail from my principal at 6:15 a.m. I was like wow this is awesome, is this real life? I looked outside and wow there was a lot more snow than I was expecting. Not only did we get one day off but we ended up with two snow days.

The weather here is always changing, quickly. It will be overcast one minute then the next minute it will be snowing then the sun will come out. When leaving the house one should always be prepared for rain, snow, cold, and hot because it will be all of those things in the course of one day. It’s fun to watch how quickly the weather changes as I’m teaching during the day.

View from my apartment to the courtyard.

View from the third floor.

No plows = no clear streets

Now depending on where you are from you might say that’s not a lot of snow or wow snow that’s cool. To me this is nothing but in a country where this is considered a lot of snow and they lack the necessary equipment to deal with this much it becomes a bit of a problem. School was closed due to the roads being bad. The roads were bad because there are no plows or salt trucks.

Later skaters,

-B

 

 

Home for Christmas

This past Christmas break was probably the best so one so far since I’ve been internationally teaching. My little one’s are getting bigger so Christmas is becoming more and more exciting. My nephew also entered this great world in December so lots to go home for.

In true Christmas break fashion I was delayed getting home. Although the 9/10 hour delay in Seoul due to fog was a blessing in disguise in helping with my jet lag. I was suppose to arrive back in Chicago Saturday morning at 8:30 but instead arrived Saturday evening around 5:30. No big deal picked up my rental car, the last one in the lot, and then headed home.

Nice view from the plane.

First stop is always at the BFF’s house to see the girls. Right away I was having make up put on me by the Monkey and playing family with K-dog. Side note: always say no to the make up, it doesn’t come off very easy, has glitter in it and gets everywhere and always be the babysitter when playing family, trust me.

Missed these two!

Being Christmas time Kohl’s was open 24 hours – how crazy is that. Since I was in desperate need of clothes the BFF, Monkey and I went to Kohl’s around midnight. The Monkey wore her pj’s because we had a PJ party while shopping duh. I thought we would be the only people there – I was wrong. We had to wait in line to check out – so crazy.

Pajama party in the store and we ran into this guy

The next day I got to meet my nephew and spend a few hours with the new parents. My nephew is adorable; my brother and sister in law were tired, such cute new parents.

The new parents plus 1.

Aunt Brandy and Edward πŸ™‚

Next up was Christmas Eve and Christmas with family and friends. Watching the girls open their presents will never get old. Their excitement level is through the roof – I love it. Then the pure fun of getting the toys out of their packaging and putting them together really starts πŸ˜‰

My birthday buddy K-Dog’s birthday is the 29th. This year we had a joint party. Yes, I had a joint party with a 3 year old and it was awesome. Our theme was Shimmer and Shine, if you don’t know what that is then you clearly are not around toddlers, Google it. We had matching shirts, which is always a plus. The Monkey had a shirt too because duh it was her sisters birthday party. Somehow I dropped the ball and didn’t get my BFF one, next year for sure and William too πŸ™‚ Seriously I had a great time at the party and celebrating with K-Dog.

Trying to get a good picture with a 3 and 4 year old is hard…real hard. This is about the best one.

Birthday cake and Happy Birthday

On the 29th for K-Dog’s birthday we went and had a tea party. It was fancy.

Probably playing family because K-Dog has one of her babies. She’s obsessed with baby dolls and I’m clearly obsessed with this hat – I wore it a lot over the break πŸ˜‰

The Monkey came with me to see my dad and do a little shopping.

It was great to see family and friends and to get some hang out time with the littles. See you all in six months for summer adventures!

Later skaters,

-B

Life on Jeju, South Korea

I arrived in Jeju early to get settled and to explore the island a bit before the rush of school started. There is so much to see here! We have it all – beaches, hiking trails, mountains, trees, walking/biking trails, museums, shopping and so much more.

There are 26 walking trails or “Olle” that go around the entire coast of Jeju. It’s one of the more popular activities that attract people to come visit Jeju. There are different level of trails and they are marked to make easy to explore.

The views from almost anywhere on the island are amazing.

One way of exploring is on the bike trails – they are almost everywhere, which is nice. I bought a bike the first week I was here so I could get out and explore some of the trails and get some exercise in. Egypt and Bahrain were not ideal to go for a bike ride so it’s a nice option to have. Although my actual butt needs to get back into “bike riding” shape.

In addition to the views there are little “museums” that have all sorts of themes to explore. One weekend I visited the Alive Museum. This place was awesome. The art was designed so you could be part of the picture or scene.

Don’t worry we were not harmed taking this picture.

πŸ˜‰

Does it look like I was stuck in a tank? I wasn’t.

Ahhhhh!!!

I punched the glass and broke it. Just kidding, I didn’t.

This is my favorite – my head is floating in the left container.

There are a ton of little quirky “museums” like this – so many more to see.

I also found my new favorite beers while in Jeju. One is Jeju Wit Ale – brewed on Jeju island the other is Kolsch by Magpie Brewing Co. which is also brewed on Jeju island.

My shipment was conveniently delivered the Saturday before school started. So not only was I unpacking all of my P.E. equipment I ordered but now I was unpacking my own stuff too. For any of you who really know me you know that I would have all of my stuff unpacked and put away the same day I got it. I know, I’m crazy – it’s who I am. My shipment was delivered and unpacked (with the help of my shipment company) all by noon. My entire apartment with the exception of stuff on the wall, only because I didn’t have the proper hanging equipment, was complete by 3 a.m. I did take a lengthy break during the afternoon until early evening to eat and watch movies.

My apartment in Jeju is MUCHΒ smaller than my villa in Bahrain but I was able to fit everything where it needed to be. I did get rid of some stuff but my apartment is pretty much complete. My coffee table that I got in Bahrain is huge and takes up most of my living room – but it’s awesome!

Living room

Kitchen and front door on the left

“Sun porch” off of the living room

My bedroom

 

That’s it – pretty small but has everything I need and it’s easy to keep clean πŸ™‚

Later skaters,

-B

 

 

Back to school…finally.

Well, the time has finally come to get back to teaching after being off for almost four months. This day had to come and it all happened on Monday, October 23rd. Ready or not the kids came and we were off and running with a new school – St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju was finally open.

Our campus is beautiful and once it is completely done and teachers are all moved in to their respective areas it’s going to be very nice. The gym isn’t ready so I’m having class where I can find space. Last week it was on the recess soccer field to just get moving and this week we will be in a learning pod doing some cup stacking. Hopefully, my students will love cup stacking as much as I do.

This week was also our first day of school on Saturday. Yes, we have to make up those days somehow. Two Saturdays a month we will have class from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m Not too bad but it’s still makes for a six day workweek and having to go to school on Saturday. But, we also had an extra two months of summer so….

It’s been a crazy first week and each week will get better and more settled. All of the teachers and admin have been supportive of each other and we have all really worked well together which is good especially in a late start situation like this.

In addition to the kids starting on Monday the first time that teachers could get into their classrooms was the Friday before school started and some later than that. That made for a busy weekend. On Friday I startedΒ to unpack, inventory, label my elementary P.E. equipment that I ordered. I had the amazing opportunity of ordering all of the equipment for the elementary school. It was awesome but also overwhelming at the same time. I ordered a lot…like a lot. It filled an entire fitness room. Thank goodness SJA Jeju hired a facilities manager to manage the Sports Complex so he has been helping me while I teach during the day. We have so much cool stuff to use this year.

This is most of my equipment that I ordered. It wouldn’t all fit in the picture.

In addition to all of my new equipment the school hooked all of the teachers up with a MacBook Pro and iPad.

Real nice…

Here are a few quick snapshots of the campus – more to come as more is finished.

Sports Complex – gym, pool, weight room, two fitness rooms, and team rooms.

Close up of the SJA Jeju athletic logo

Performing Arts Center – cafeteria, theater, MS/HS library

Performing Arts Center (PAC) with our mission in three words.

 

It’s been crazy but I’m happy so that’s all that matters.

Later skaters

-B