Slow City

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I’ve been thinking lately (surprise surprise) about what Seo Myung Suk (founder of Jeju Olle Trails) said in her speech during my stay at Jeju Island. Before the creation of the Olle Trails she wondered why people in Korea (or even in the world) are so one directionally driven into making money, climbing up the ranks, or achieving superb academic grades. So many children nowadays are spending more time indoors in academies rather than enjoying the simple pleasure of their environment. People nowadays are so driven in buying properties in high rise apartments, and then afterwards aim to get an even bigger one and so on.

Are we really put on Earth to save up for a Lambourghini?

That’s why sometimes I envy people who live in slow cities. Whenever I visit Jeju Island, the people seem to take it more easy…do what they love, or earn enough to get by whilst appreciating their social and natural environment. And the fact that they have less stress may be the reason why they look so much younger than their age!

…but most importantly, their grace and kindness…I’m always blown away by it~

BTW There’s a reason why they say ‘money is the root of all evil‘ haha I just wonder if there was no need for money anymore…will all the problems that humanity currently face in Korea all be solved? *AHEM* Suicide…

Anyways would love to know what you guys think too =D

[Instagram] ~ Melodic March

Instamarch 1

[From left to right]

1.  Quirky cafes here, there, everywhere!  2.  Jjolmyeon and Kimbap  3.  Supermario is the fashion icon here, not G-dragon  4.  A van in a cafe?  5.  Not banana milk, but melon milk!  6.  Coffee by the balcony.

Instamarch 2

7.  In search for Polish ceramics  8.  Oreo cereal, only available in Korea  9.  Spring menu has arrived in cafes~ Berry mocha  10.  SNSDs Mr.Mr. ~ great song, terrible lyrics  11.  Kimchi Jiggae  12.  Unexpected independent cafe round the corner.

Instamarch 3

13.  Exploring the mural village in Gwangju  14.  Bossam feast!  15.  Cupcakes…expensive here  16.  The bear…  17.  All pumped and ready for Jeju Island18.  Morning dose of coffee.

Instamarch 4

19.  Sundubujiggae and Sundae kukbap all for $6  20.  Just you know…posing.  21.  End of Winter  22.  My sister’s book is out soon~ Adorn  23.  Multi-colored roof tops in Jeju  24.  Buy your cute Jeju olle ganse dolls!

Instamarch 5

25.  City of Seogwipo, Jeju  26.  Views never dissapoint when you are here…  27.  Canolas  28.  The most posh rice burger ever tasted  29.  Art and craft toy shop  30.  Duruchigi…so delicious!

Instamarch 6

31.  What’s great about the Jeju Olle course is that there is always a cafe nearby to take a breather  32.  Ohhh…food porn  33.  Using my skills for the Jeju Olle Volunteering organization  34.  This way?  That way?  35.  Goodbye Jeju  36.  Don-Gga-suh…or Money gas.

All i can say is good riddance to the nippy, butt biting cold air and fat goose feathered puffer jackets. Sun’s out, shorts out.  Cherry blossoms, canolas, mae-hwa, and azaleas have also all bloomed! April’s feed will be floral flollalalalalalalallal~

Check it out on my Instagram here!

[Instagram] Fat February

Instagram February 01

Looking back on my February Instagram feed I really want to count how many calories I have consumed. It also definitely explains as to why I have grown myself a pair of manboobs…Can’t help it, Korean food is so damn good and if I have the chance to eat like a Joseong King, why not?

Oh and I just turned 24!  Woop Woop~

[From left to right]

1. Peaceful countryside in Damyang   2.  Cotton candy latte in the Banana Tree cafe (post here)   3.   Cheese Dalkgalbi   4.  Fish Oddeng street food for dinner.   5.  Do you want to build a snowman?   6.  Cakes disguised as a plant pot.  

Instagram February 02

7.  Damyang DdeokGalbi   8.  Waiting for the train in the Seoul subway station.   9. Incheon International Airport still have their Christmas decorations up!   10.  Arrived in Hong Kong   11.  Perks of visiting family? Moneyzzzz   12.  Dim Sum.

Instagram February 03

13.  Hong Kong Breakfast – Pineapple buns and milk tea.   14.  I’m a tart…and egg tart.  15.  Village floating on a lake.   16.  Galbi goodness!  17.  PungoBbang with a custard filling.   18.  Potato soup – KamjaTang

Instagram February 04

19.  Sizzling samgyupsal   20.  Valentines luvin’    21.  Studying Korean and listening to ‘Set me free’ by SM the Ballad.   22.  Birthday bouquet    23.  Gifts and messages.  Thank you all.   24.  Snowboarding in Muju resort.  

Instagram February 05

25.  Nightboarding > Dayboarding   26.  Gyeongbuk Palace in Seoul   27.  Naked line of trees   28.  Which cake?   29.  Forget Kimchi, it’s pizza time!   30.  Jeyokbokkeum and side dishes all for $3!

Follow my journey in Korea via Instagram

Water Balloon

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Usually I don’t write long pieces because if I was the reader I wouldn’t really bother or my attention span isn’t mature enough to handle lines and lines of texts.  However once I get inspired (usually once in a full moon) my brain tends to give me a speech and lays everything out for me.  I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because I feel so strongly about it, or it may have been a time where it changed and made me a better person like the time I was with Mr. C in Jeju Island.  Anyhow I wouldn’t write anything if it doesn’t benefit you, the reader too, so here it goes.

Before teaching at my school, I remembered during my orientation that a guest speaker asked all of us who was going to teach at an ‘all boys middle school’?  Well, yeah that will be me…why? He came up to me…shook my hand and simply said ‘good luck’.

Ummm…thanks?

An all boys middle school seem to have a negative reputation in Korea and whoever got to teach them are seen as someone who got the short end of the stick.  Well, the truth was it WAS a little bit like hell in the beginning and things kind of got progressively worse.  It was to the point where I really didn’t know whether I was teaching or babysitting and was deciding whether to call it quits or not.   I blamed the boys a lot for turning the school into a zoo and complained to the teachers because I did not know what there IS to do.  I kept on complaining because I didn’t know the solution.  Me, being inexperienced, young, childish, selfish, freshly graduated…there was no direction to go forward somehow.  So my solution was to just ‘not care’ and go by the motto ‘teach your best and not care about anything else, because that’s all you can do and there is no way to communicate with these children’.  And so living by this, I taught, ignored the students outside of class, and didn’t care.  Discipline?  What can I do? I can’t speak Korean to them…even if there is a Korean teacher translating, the meaning does not come across the same way.  It’s useless…why bother trying?  Leave it to the Korean teacher…there’s nothing I can do….students don’t care, I don’t care…all is good!  I will only talk to ‘civilised’ students a.k.a the whizz kids.

So that’s how I spent my time at school for about half a year….ignorant, and a little irresponsible, it really did keep me away from suffering too much stress.  I kept on teaching, talked to some students at times, but never really cared for them…and that seemed ok.  I’m doing my job at least.  I tend to play the victim too when I speak to my friends outside of work and make them feel like no experience and position could be as bad as mine.

or so I thought…

So this happened one day a group of students were doing some charity event and the game was that if you hit a target with a water balloon you will get a prize.  Well that target happens to be one of my students FACE!  OHHHHHH how long I have waited for this!  This particular student was actually smart but lazy.  Because he’s really cunning he sometimes feels like he didn’t need to attend to my after school English classes and make up excuses like he needs to go to basketball practise but instead he goes HOME!  Cheeky little bugger.  So I picked up the water balloon and aimed at the center of his face whilst thinking about every joke he made in class, and every lesson he bunked off.  I decided not to aim at his face at the end so I intentionally missed…but to my dismay it went *smack* and water was all over his face and clothes.  At that moment…I felt something…like someone just made a dent in my heart (cliché I know but bear with it).  Ouch…

I saw him all soaked, wiping off all the water from his face and felt like I just hit my baby cub.  Haha…I immediately got a dry towel and wiped his face clean and apologised, yet I couldn’t stop laughing and smiling either~ It wasn’t a smile of malice, but rather I finally realised something.  It was literally a life changing moment.

I actually care for these kids.  And the times where I hated my kids…was my fault.  It was me who was ignorant…and inexperienced.  I had no clue what I was doing.  Just a stupid NOOB.

Over time, through harsh moments and simple moments you really don’t realise that you are making an invisible bond with your students.  Even if it is unintentional it is there whether you like it or not.  You are affecting these children’s lives whether they accept you or not….it forms and over time it gets stronger.  But the ‘realisation’ of this is where the bond reaches its full potential….more like the invisible bond evolves into a physical form (ahhh its hard to explain…you get me right?).  So once I realised that these students are my babies…the whole experienced changed.  As cheesy as it sounds , and I apologise in advance if I made some of you vomit in your mouths, but I started doing everything at school out of love for the students.  Teach them with love, discipline with love, counselling with love, punishing with love.  And this may sound crazy but the students will be able to tell too…they KNOW you are doing this because you care for them…or hitting their hands with a stick ten times is fine for them, because you are caring for them.  Punishing a kid with anger has a different feeling compared to punishing a kid with love.  Miraculously over time, they start to love and appreciate you back.  They come to my office to talk to me more…or just stare at me.  We make jokes, I pretend to get angry at them, talk about difference between girls in Korea and in England (so funny).  I look forward to every class I teach and you get to notice each of their charms and humour.  I miss them so much at times I will go out of my office and volunteer to monitor cleaning duties.  When I scream at a student with a red angry face, I turn around as I finish, smile and think “these children are so cute”.  Not only do I talk to the whizz kids but I got to know the ones who weren’t interested in studying either and learn their story, dreams, and aspirations.  Anyone who tried to insult my students I got really defensive too…

Not in a million years will I ever imagined to feel sad on my last day at work.  It was really the day where it hit me…I realised I have affected their lives just as much as they have affected mine (well maybe they affected me more).  It was a strange feeling…yet I felt like I got something very valuable out from this experience.  Yes the chocolates, the letters, and leaving gifts as well…but more, I felt like these kids taught me how to truely teach and love students.  Your mindset and choices really determine your experience and relationships with your student.  And they don’t have to know…because they already can feel your true actions and intentions.  Having a bad experience at school…is only the teacher’s fault.  Some of you might disagree, but in the end…YOU are the teacher…and YOU are responsible for their learning.

Anyways this post really is a dedication to them…to thank them for being awesome and giving me one of the most valuable and precious experiences of my life~ (enter heart sign)

Well, I will shut up now and will promise to not write as much until a long long long time.  To all the teachers out there whether it is all boys, all girls, co-ed…hope it’s going well?  I hope you all can have a great and valuable experience just as I did.

If you are having a tough time…well maybe all it takes…

…is one water balloon.

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