Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Our Christmas class


So every year we try to do something fun with the kids before Christmas. This year we decided to get my family involved and asked my nieces and nephews back home to send my students a video message. Just something short about themselves.

We then showed the messages to my students and allowed them to respond in whatever way they wanted. The results were so wonderful, we have some amazing videos, cards, mini presentations about Korean food and some origami.

Everyone involved had a lot of fun. My students loved seeing my family back home and were so excited when I told them that I would send all of their cards back to Ireland.

I absolutely love doing these fun activities with my kids, it allows the lower level students to express themselves in other forms and it allows my higher level students to show off their English skills.

Here is a collection of some of the cards, videos and other miscellaneous materials that we made:

video
6th Grades Christmas messages to my family.













Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

2014 The Best Parts


2014 was a great year for myself and Jason! Here are a few of the memories that stick out in my head:

We got to go to Ireland twice in one year! 

This was so wonderful for me. Since we'll be moving to America next year I know that I won't be able to visit my family as often as I have while in Korea. The first trip was taken a couple of days after Christmas and happened because my sister won a free return flight to Ireland for me in a competition! Myself and Jason were just newly engaged (on Christmas day last year) and kept it a secret until we arrived in to Cork airport. It was so nice to be home in Ireland during the winter (although I forgot how dark it gets) and we spent our entire time drinking champagne and celebrating with the people that I love most!

I got to bring my nieces and nephews to the panto.

I love Ireland so much!

We got a car and were able to take some fun road trips.

Right before Willys surgeries we realised that we would need a car since the surgeon was located in Haeundae in Busan which is about an hour and a half away from us. Having the car allowed us the freedom to take trips and not worry about if Willy will be allowed on the bus or having to find a sitter for him. Now he gets to come on all of our adventures with us! 

Jason and Willy on one of our adventures!

The beauty! As you can see Willy loves
to chill in it.


Our puppy had a surgery to help him take adventures again.

When we rescued Willy his front paws turned inwards. This didn't cause him any pain in the beginning but we gradually started to notice that he couldn't walk for long distances. It got to its worst point when I brought him for a hike and he just layed down after about 15 minutes and couldn't go on. Since then we found a specialist orthopedic surgeon who managed to remove Willys joints completely (they were what was causing the problem) and replace them with some of his stem cells, cow bone and blood. Amazingly his body grew new bones where his joints were and he can now do everything that every other dog can do.

This was Willy in the vets office after his second surgery.

His first walk after being stuck in doors for about 6 months!


We got married!

What can I say, it was an incredible day and a day that we won't forget for a long time to come. To read about our wedding day click here

Happy, happy, happy!


We signed our last contracts in Korea.

In September we signed our final contracts in Korea (we hope!) So that means that as of the end of August our time here in Korea will come to an end. We are both excited about what new adventures America will have in store for us.


We became debt free.

This actually only happened at the beginning of December. It was such a great feeling to pay off our final debt and know that when we move to America, whatever money we have will be ours! I cut up my Irish credit card also. We have both learned to live modestly while here in Korea and are hoping to bring that lifestyle with us to America. Which means no more loans unless it's for a house!

We bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate becoming debt free.



I hope you all had a great 2014 and an even better 2015! Merry Christmas everyone!



I got to see this lovely lady twice in one year!

Willy is back to hiking like a pro!

Just after arriving in Ireland and surprising
my family with our engagement!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Don't cry over a turkey...

At least we have our tree decorated! (It has since collapsed, but we have managed
to keep it upright)
Being an expat definitely has it's pros and cons. Unfortunately the biggest con for me is having to spend Christmas in Asia. Christmas is the biggest holiday for my family and unfortunately this will be the 5th Christmas in a row that I won't be spending it with them.

Myself and Jason try to make the best of our Christmasses here in Korea. We usually go to Nampo-dong in Busan to see the beautiful decorated streets or watch movies, bake cookies and drink egg-nog and wine. Unfortunately we have both been so busy this year that we haven't managed to do any of those things. It has been hard, so now it's the Monday before Christmas and I have no Christmas spirit :(

Ghosts of Christmas past in Nampo-dong.

...and again.
And one more.
We did decided however that we were going to cook a turkey for Christmas dinner. Of course being in Asia makes it hard to find a turkey so we packed ourselves and Willy in to the car and went on an hour and a half journey to Costco looking for our turkey. We were both so excited to be able to buy some food for our Christmas dinner. But, as life goes, they had no turkeys. I was so upset. Yes I know, getting upset because of a turkey is ridiculous. But it felt like so much more. I'm fed up with living the expat life. I'm fed up with having to go searching for 2 hours for something that is in every shop back home. I'm also fed up with missing Christmas with my family.

I try to be positive in my blog postings but sometimes it's hard.
So I came in to work this morning feeling down about life when I noticed a Christmas card waiting for me on my desk by some of my wonderful students. It cheered me up and has given me the spur to try and find some Christmas spirit before Thursday!

The beautiful card.


Wish me luck everyone and I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas wherever you are! 

I know that this guy will always try his best to make our
Christmasses fun :)


Thursday, 18 December 2014

A girlie weekend in Seoul

This photo is courtesy of Ane.

I love taking photos of the places that I go but sometimes I get scared of what the world is becoming. I look around and see people in coffee shops not communicating with each other, with their heads stuck in their phones or people spending hours trying to take the "perfect" selfie.

So this past weekend when I went to Seoul with my good friend Ane, I actually had too much fun shopping, drinking, eating and chatting to really take photos! I think everyone needs a weekend like that every once in a while. Unfortunately I only took about 5 photos and realized afterwards that I should have taken more for the blog...oh well.

So, I'm not going to lie, I love Seoul. I love how it becomes even more multicultural every time I visit and you can find anything that you want there.

We flew up from Busan on the Friday evening, it gave us plenty of time to check in to our hostel and have a nice dinner. We stayed in Itaewon. Itaewon is a huge foreigner area and you can find every type of foreign food or drink imaginable here. I love staying here when I visit Seoul because I can get so many things that just aren't available in Gimhae.

I always say that if I lived here I'd be fat and penniless. That first night we went to The Wolfhound, an Irish pub for some dinner. There is also one in Busan that I love to visit. We had some delicious fish and chips and I got some alcoholic cider so I was a happy girl. We spent the night just chatting. I love having friends that I can literally chat with for days on end and never run out of conversation! We then met Anes friend from home (South Africa) and spent so much time chatting that before we knew it it was 3am!

The next morning we decided to look for some brunch (BRUNCH!! It's impossible to find in Gimhae) First we went to a beautiful coffee shop and I ordered a coconut latte, which was absolutely to die for! Brunch was equally good, we had salmon and rucola and a chicken sausage dish.
My amazing coconut latte and Anes Mocha latte.

The beautiful Christmas decorations where we had brunch.
Then it was time to head to Myeong Dong for some shopping. Myeong-dong is a huge shopping area in Seoul and as my Christmas gift this year Jason decided to give me a shopping weekend. I've been feeling pretty bad about my weight lately and the fact that I'm a double xl (if I'm lucky) here in Korea doesn't help matters (I'm usually a size medium back home). I've also had some comments from teachers in my school about my weight which affected me quite a bit so we both thought that some shopping up in Seoul would do me well.

SHOPPING!

We had a great day shopping and 300,000w later we decided to head back to Itaewon for some Greek food for dinner. Afterwards we headed to some pubs and began chatting and once again it was after 3am when we were heading back to the hostel!

Enjoying our girlie chats.

Our final day in Seoul was spent with both of us sniffling and feeling under the weather so we had a yummy brunch of paninis and a cheese and bread set. We then headed to the train station for the trip back to Gimhae.

All of the carbs, but it was amazing!
I'm sorry that there aren't many photos, but we just too much of a good time :)

Where we stayed:

POP hostel: We booked a twin room but were given a double room which was fine with us. It is in a really nice location, right in the center of Itaewon but down some nice side streets away from the action. They are basic rooms but did the job perfectly.

Website: http://www.guesthouseseoul.net/

You can see their tripadvisor reviews here.

How to get there: We booked an Air Busan flight up as the regular KTX seats were booked out and the flight was only 10,000w more expensive than the 1st class train tickets.

We then went to Seoul station on Sunday and managed to get seats on the next available train to Gupo station (in Busan) in their movie section. Unfortunately for us the movie showing was the new Dumb and Dumber...it was shocking!

There were Christmas decorations everywhere! 

It was the perfect way to get in to the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

8 Hours in Amsterdam


Myself and Jason are always looking for an opportunity to see more of the world so when we were flying to Ireland a couple of years ago and found a ticket that involved an 8 hour layover in Amsterdam we jumped at the chance to see another part of the world.

After doing a quick search online we found that it's pretty easy to see some of Amsterdam while on a layover. The airport is close to the city and they are connected very well with a train that leaves every 10 minutes or so. Once we landed we headed straight down to buy our train tickets (luckily our bags were going straight through to Korea). The train was waiting for us and we were right in the city center about 15 minutes later.

On our way in to the city center.

We arrived in to the city at about 7 a.m and immediately nearly got knocked down by a bike as we wandered along the bike lane (big mistake, don't ever do that when you are in Amsterdam, people will hate you). We went for some breakfast in a restaurant close to the train station. We normally aren't big fans of hop on/hop off buses but found that that was probably the best way to see the city in such a short time plus our ticket also included a canal boat ride trip.

We weren't too sure about exactly what we wanted to see in the time frame that we had but when the bus went nearby the Van Gough museum we couldn't pass up the opportunity and jumped off to join the queue.

We waited in line for about 50 minutes but weren't disappointed when we got to see the beautiful works of art.

The outside of the museum. It was truly worth the wait.

Afterwards we decided to just walk back towards the main area of the city to try and fit in a canal boat ride. We got lost along the way but this allowed us to see some more of the beautiful city and even get a sneak peak of The Red Light District.

We were there during the day so we didn't see anything too crazy!


The canal ride itself was absolutely beautiful, we got to  ride through the tiny canals and get a peak as to what every day life is like in Amsterdam. I'd highly recommend taking a boat ride while visiting the city.

The beautiful canals of Amsterdam.

Enjoying our layover :)

One of the many boats the ride through the canals.

Once we got off of the boat we were a bit worried about time and jumped on a tram to take us back to the train station. Luckily for us our flight was delayed by an hour so we made it back to the airport with some time to spare.

We were both surprised by how much that we saw and did in our layover. It was such a fun way to spend the time and it tired us both out ahead of our long flight to Seoul. It also gave Jason a chance to see another part of Europe since he's only seen Ireland.

For those of you that are flying through Amsterdam and have more than 4 hours of a layover I'd highly recommend getting out and seeing the city!


One of the many beautiful buildings.

It's wonderful to see how many people use bikes as their main mode
of transport here!


The beautiful train station!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Shanghai; a world class city where you don't have to spend a fortune!


A couple of years ago myself and Jason were trying to decided where to go during our Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) break. We were checking up the cost of flights and found some cheap tickets to Shanghai so we booked it. We didn't have a lot of money so we found a hotel on Agoda for a good price and were all set for our trip.

We spent 4 days in Shanghai and excluding the new pair of runners that I bought I think I spent less than $100 during our time there (our hotel was prebooked).

The reason that we didn't spend so much money is that Shanghai is one of those rare cites where most of the big attractions is the architecture of the city. It has such a unique skyline that most people can recognise it just from a photo.


The skyline that everyone knows.

So what did we do while there?

Well, both myself and Jason love using local transport when visiting a new place. Our transport of choice while in Shanghai was the subway. It's such a great way to get to know the city, save money and see the people that live there.

On our first evening we decided to walk towards the beautiful skyline and found a tiny run down noodle restaurant and decided to grab dinner there. Inside, it had some handwritten menus on the wall, all in Chinese so we just pointed at a couple of options and hoped for the best. It turned out to be delicious and ridiculously cheap too!
That evening we walked around the financial district taking in the incredible modern architecture.
The old and the new combined.

The next day we grabbed some breakfast from a stall outside our hotel area and headed down to the famous Bund. Again the biggest draw to this area is that it has some beautiful colonial architecture and is the perfect viewing point to take in the modern Shanghai skyline. Afterwards we walked down the shopping area of Shanghai and took a stroll in a beautiful park right in the city center.
The stall that we got our breakfast from.


The beautiful view from The Bund


We then spent the evening meandering down the streets of the old town. We found a beautiful tea shop and bought some tea in there that had as many free refills as we'd like. We must have spent nearly two hours in that little shop just sipping on green tea while watching the world pass us by on the outside.

The streets of Old Shanghai.



My tea from the beautiful tea shop.


And Jasons tea...


The next day we decided to visit the French Quarter. Again the main draw to this area of the city is that it is very quiet, has coloniel buildings and beautiful tree-lined streets. We spent the morning strolling around this beautiful area of Shanghai and then got a subway to Quibao which is an old town just outside of Shanghai. This was very touristy but it was still very beautiful. Once again, as we did in the rest of Shanghai we strolled around taking in the scenery.
That night we decided to go to a tiny little local massage parlor and got full body massages for about $10



The leafy streets of The French Quarter


It was such a quaint area.

One of the canals of Quibao

Quibao was a beautiful town.


 We had an amazing time in Shanghai and brought a lot more money to spend but in the end found that sightseeing in Shanghai doesn't cost a thing! Other than our meals and subway tickets we really didn't end up having to spend much money at all!

A person pushed a baby in to my arms
so that they could take his photo with me.

The beautiful tea shop

Enjoying the tea.

One of the beautiful buildings in the Old City.

They were enjoying the serenity of The French Quarter

Enjoying Quibao