A Year in Seoul - video by Maddy

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A cold breeze, a cup of tea, and a plan

Beautiful Boracay

More Boracay... be jealous (pics not mine, obviously)

Suri mountain, view from my window

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan (these pics not mine either, you'll see my version next week!)

It only took one night to go from walking to school with no jacket to wearing a winter coat. One night like any other in which the icy winds crept in replacing the gentle breeze with biting gusts. The cold weather brought something with it other than chills, however, it brought a nagging feeling that my year here was coming to a close and I needed to begin planning for the future.

If you know me at all, you know I am not a planner. A schemer, maybe. An impulsive day dreamer who dives headlong into recently concocted, half planned adventures...sure. It's my nature, so I go with it. Besides, it hasn't steered me wrong yet. Nevertheless, staying in Seoul requires some forethought and I am certain I want to remain where I am.
Sure, a huge part of me wants to move on and continue journeying. I can teach anywhere, right? Well, not with massive student loans breathing down my neck. The huge financial benefits of working in Seoul mean not only that I can pay off my debts, but that I can afford to travel all over Asia whenever I get the chance. Plus, I have a lot of friends here and I am only just starting to feel at home. There is more time to be put into Seoul.

The frigid winter winds also coerced me to start thinking about my winter vacation. Yes, that's right, two months after my last two week vacation I am planning the next (why is it I want to stay??). I found out I have 17 days off starting on Christmas Eve, not coincidentally the same 17 days that Lacy will be off work. So, we've booked a flight to the sunny blue skies and crystal clear waters of Boracay in the Philippines. Flights are cheap and the living is easy, so it was a simple decision.
We want a nice tropical vacation to take us away from the winter chill, but we also need to conserve cash. Why? Well here is next year's plan, still in the works:

After our vacation, winter camp begins. Between Christmas and the end of February, there is only a week and a half of regular classes, the rest being various English camps (and often half days). My contract ends at the end of February and I plan on switching to a new school so that I can get a shared apartment with Lacy who will also be staying another year. Living alone has definitely had its perks, but living far enough from my best friends that I don't get to see them during the week has been a bummer. Being able to come home and cook dinner with Lacy and take classes together will be such a nice change!
Another development is that we are trying to get a job beginning in April so that we can take our end of the year bonuses and go backpacking for a month in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. We figure one of the huge advantages of our job is the flexibility and if we have the ability to do this we can't pass it up. How amazing it would be!! I'm crossing my fingers that it all works out.

So that is the plan, I mean scheme, as of right now. I'm working with a recruiter at the moment to make it all happen and until then I'll just keep living the dream.

Bringing it back to the present, we went on a teacher's hike today on Surisan (Suri Mountain). I thought a "teacher's hike" meant just going for a nature walk, but I was so very wrong. We scaled a beast of a mountain! As we climbed teachers began to drop out, but I was determined to prove yet again that foreigners are not inept, so not only was I going to the top, I was going to be one of the first to get there. Our principal led the way, I assume as a symbolic act, but even though he was the oldest one there, he could really move! After mistakenly believing I had arrived at the summit several times, only to turn and climb more, I made it to the top panting and sweating and was greeted with high fives and looks of astonishment (yes, foreigners can climb). Cell phones were whipped out for pictures, and celebratory cups of makkoli (a milky Korean rice wine) and fresh cucumbers were passed around to "rehydrate." And, even after nine months, they squealed with delight when I said "kamsamnida" (thank you) when they passed me a cup.
After the hike I had my Korean class and then I had to teach an evening class for second graders. At the moment I am exhausted and sore and a little worried about my stamina for this weekend's hiking trip to Seoraksan National Park. I'm excited to enjoy the outdoors in one of Korea's most beautiful areas, however, before winter sets in for good.


  1. we, Americans thank Britt for taming "the beast" and maintaining american pride in the process.....foreigners, by exact definition, are not inept....necessarily. I now also read Chris Bakke (?) blog that you also follow......he refers to a girlfriend and I wonder/hope that she is YOU, as Chris is so like most alive and interesting.....facerbook me your address perhaps a little greeting card is in your future ....Jodie Christiansen under Leo christiansen fargo, No dakota....but we actually live in detroit lakes, Mn....from twin citiessome yrs ago. thanks , Brit

  2. I feel that you and Lacy will indeed be co-roomers....however, I am sorry to be truthful in that Nam, Laos, cambodia will be on "hold" for some time for you.....just my mental paranormal side of me !!!

  3. those breathing mountains..........ooohhhh

  4. climbing Great wall of china may be similar

  5. Those pictures of Boracay are gorgeous. I want to go. I am living and teaching in South Korea as well, the Gunsan area. I have been following your BLOG for few months before I left now. You say the trip to the Phillipines was going to be cheap, can you hook me up with your travel agent? My email is tonyaa@eduwizards.com. Thanks for writing and posting, I do enjoy them, my BLOG is www.gunsanadventure.blogspot.com. Thanks, Tonya.

  6. Wow great, lovely photos. There a good atmosphere there, mostly at nightlife...

    Tanya Gemarin