Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hiking on Mt. Mudueng!

Hello Everyone!

We hope everyone has been enjoying the sunshine when you can find it! ;) We have had some nice days here in Korea and now it's starting to warm up even more! Yesterday it was even hot enough to wear a skirt to school (a big jump from when we were wearing long underwear, heavy coats, and thick socks to school everyday). However, today reminds me of Oregon as it's been very rainy and cloudy. But that's ok,  the sun will return later in the week! :)

This past weekend was beautiful here! On Friday we were able to meet up with our friends Natasha and Nick, who live on the southern coast of Korea. Our story of how we became friends is very interesting. Last year we both were following the blog of another English teacher, Lily, who lives in Korea. Reading other peoples blogs helps future English teachers get the feel for Korea and learn more about daily life. Sometimes both Natasha and I would comment on Lily's blog and mention things about our future plans. It turns out both of us were planning on applying to the same program in Korea and Lily brought us together by letting us know that! From there we started emailing back and forth, comparing application experiences and such. Both her and her husband and Tyler and I were all set on coming to Korea in August until there was a surplus of new teachers and some teachers needed to be pushed back to the November intake. Somehow Tyler and I were able to keep our August departure, but Natasha and Nick had to wait until November to come to Korea. We continued to talk through social media and after all those months of talking and communicating we were able to meet up in Gwangju this weekend!

It was really great to finally meet them in person and we had a great time eating delicious food at our favorite Western Restaurant!

On Saturday we knew it was going to be extra nice outside so we wanted to go explore more of Mt. Mudueng, the mountain we hiked on earlier this fall. Now, we say mountain, but in comparison to mountains in Oregon, this is just a tall hill. ;) We figured out how to take the bus to the base of the hiking area and it was really easy (and fairly quick too!). So off we went on a mini adventure! The mountain is very beautiful and definitely not a walk in the park to hike , but it was fun! We randomly chose a direction that we were pretty sure we hadn't climbed the last time and started off!
The base of the hiking trails with TONS of hiking stores.
Little bird! 

Off we go! 

I know we've definitely talked about this before, but hiking culture in Korea differs slightly from America. All hikers are fully dressed in colorful hiking cloths. Most have a hiking pole or 2 and generally all hikers have a small hiking backpack stuffed with many hiking supplies, which commonly includes alcohol of some sort. Korean's cover their entire bodies with cloths, shielding it from the sun. Their nice hiking cloths are probably breathable, allowing them to wear them in the hot sun. But it's definitely different seeing the face masks and bandana wrapped around their heads with a giant hat or visor to complete the look. Needless to say, we look extremely different than the norm. 

Beautiful red flowers! 

It also isn't uncommon for people to sit anywhere and enjoy some coffee, alcohol, and snacks along the way. ;) 

Napping anywhere is permitted and normal as well. 
The hike up was pretty vertical, but thankfully not too long. It was beautiful walking next to a stream and seeing lots of little chipmunks! Once we made it to the top (of where we wanted to go) we walked through this paved area and got many views of the city. It was very nice! We even got to fill up our water bottles with fresh and cold mountain water! 

So pretty! 

Rolling hills! 

Gwangju! That round roof building is the World Cup Stadium, near our church! 
Because we hiked later in the day the trails weren't as busy and as we came down the mountain we didn't see anyone until the end! 

Pretty little bridge.

At the end of our trail we came upon a small traditional temple! It was very pretty!

On our way home we were trying to decide what to eat for dinner. Thankfully the "Chicken Man," as we call him, was right outside our apartment complex. He sells roasted chicken on the street for only 6,000 won (~$6). So we bought a pre-cooked roasted chicken for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed not having to cook that night! ;)

Great deal for a small cooked chicken for 2! 

So we had a nice weekend outside! Next week is our mini vacation to the coastal city of Busan! :)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!

It’s been a long time since our last post! We apologize for the delay! Our goal was to post shorter pieces more frequently, but...that just didn’t happen! ;)

Here’s what we’ve been up to!

School Graduations: After our China trip and vacation time with my parents, we went back to school to finish up the last 2 weeks of the school year. This consisted of a lot of down time and desk warming as English class wasn’t exactly a priority anymore and students had many other things going on. So I (Val) spent some time re-organizing the classroom, cleaning the classroom, and lesson planning for next term. Tyler and I both got to attend our schools graduation ceremonies. My elementary school graduated it’s sixteen 6th grade students with a short ceremony and goodbyes. Tyler’s school graduated and sent off it’s 8 middle school students to high school and also graduated its 60 high school students and sent them off into the world! An obvious difference we noticed at both ceremonies was the lack of parent attendance. When we graduated middle school, and especially when we graduated high school, our ceremonies were full of parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and even aunts and uncles sometimes! Here, ceremonies are held during the day (when most parents are at work) and only about half of the students had some family member there. We’re not sure why the ceremonies aren’t held in the evening instead, but this seems to be the norm. After our graduation ceremonies we went out to a special lunch with our schools to celebrate the end of the year. Then, it was time for spring break! :D

With the end of the school year means we get to use up the rest of the budget! Time for new books! :)

6th grade girls!  
6th grade boys! 

"Scrapbook" pages they created! 

I swear they are generally smiling and happy...pictures never prove that! ;)

Lot's of bowing at the ceremony. 

And lots of student recognition! 

Spring Break: For our 2 weeks of spring break we chose to visit Everland Theme Park and also go snowboarding up in the mountains of the Pyeongchang province. Both of these places are up north, so it was fun getting out of our southern province for a while. Here are 3 videos from our amazing “spring” vacation!

Everland Video!

Pyeongchang Video! 

Snowboarding Video! 

Beginning of the School Year: Unlike in the US, the school year begins in March, takes a summer break in August, takes a winter break in January, and ends in February. So when we arrived in Korea and began teaching, we were actually picking up in the 2nd term of the year. March 2nd came and we began a new school year as all of our students moved up a grade and we added a few new students to our bunch. It’s definitely not as big of a change as it is in the US because they had only been away from school for 2 weeks while transitioning to the new school year. However, for teachers in the school, there are many changes going on. Teachers usually change grade levels for one reason or another in Elementary schools, new administrators begin their jobs, and new teachers arrive. In Korea, there is a rule for teachers that they must change schools every 4 years. So many staff changes occur every school year. In the Native English Teacher world we joke and call the first day of school the “Day of Change” as it seems that everything changes. Some teachers have more of a dramatic change than others, but usually some changes are in store. For example, Tyler’s principal retired in February and on the first day of school he met his new principal for the first time. 2 of his co-teachers in the high school department also left and he inherited 1 new co-teacher to take their place. I didn’t have too many crazy changes, and most of the changes in my school were really good (like getting 2 new 6th grade teachers that completely whipped my 6th graders into shape).
Beginning of the school year tradition! 

My travel school remodeled a classroom to be a English room! 

Beautiful new classroom! No more teaching in the library!

Overall, the new school year has been really good for both of us so far. We are more comfortable with our jobs, students, and the culture of school, our lesson planning is going well, and our classes overall seem more at ease. We’ve learned from trial and error and now are perfecting what we can! We’ve definitely been keeping busy, but it’s a good busy and we’re enjoying it!

Easter: This year we got to host Easter in our home. We had our friends Brad and Maranda over for a easter lunch after church. Easter day was actually their due date for their baby, so we celebrated both easter and due date day! We made ham, (the Korean version of pre-sliced ham pieces), salad, deviled eggs, strawberries, and rolls made into the shape of bunnies! It was a fun day of fellowship and food as we celebrated our Lord’s resurrection.

Cherry Blossoms: Spring in Korea is famous for beautiful cherry blossoms. These trees are very common in certain areas and people come from all over to specific parks or areas to get their photos taken with the trees! Unfortunately the “peak” weekend for Cherry blossom viewing fell over Easter weekend, which was also the first time we’ve ever had a storm with thunder and lightning here, so we opted to not to go outside at that time. ;) But the weekend after we went to the Hwasun reservoir, took a walk/hike around the mountain and got to view many cherry blossoms in the beautiful sun! So it was worth the wait. :)

Baby Silas Bogue: As we mentioned, our friends Brad and Maranda were supposed to have their baby boy around April 5th! But, as this was her first, it was kinda unpredictable when he would arrive. Finally, on April 11th at 12:01am (my mom's birthday!) Silas Alan Bogue came into the world! We were all so excited for them! Tyler and I even got to visit them in the hospital and meet little Silas! It’s been so inspiring watching Brad and Maranda go through a difficult pregnancy in another country, with language barriers, different cultural customs, and lack of close family and friend support. Through it all they have trusted God and kept a positive attitude! We are so happy for them as they became a family of 3!
Baby Silas! <3

We have lots to look forward to in the coming months! In 2 weeks we get a random 5 day weekend and we are excited to go on a new adventure to the city of Busan, which is on the beach! We’ve signed up for a 5K race in Gwangju and look forward to more weekend trips around the province! And at the end of May our good friend Matt will be coming on his own adventure here to Korea to visit us and explore! We have a lot to be thankful for here in Korea and are enjoying our time here in this spring weather! :)