Tag Archives: Teaching

Surprises that warm the heart.

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The days keep flying and I just keep wishing I had more time.

More time to read, write, work out, bake delicious food, travel, longer weekends, drink coffee, drink tea. Drink wine with my husband. I keep finding myself wishing for more time.  Our weekends here are precious and valued time that Tom and I spend together traveling Korea and (if we are lucky) sometimes with our friends!

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…and so when Tom and I were presented with the opportunity to volunteer at an International English camp a few weeks back we debated over if we would give up our “precious time” to spend a weekend with kids after working 40 hours with kids. – We all need breaks every now and then 😉 We had heard great things about the camp and decided: “What the heck! Let’s do it.”

So, three weeks ago Tom and I went with 40 other foreign English teachers to volunteer at an International English Camp about 2 hours away from our city of Yeosu. 200 Korean middle school students in grade two (equivalent to our 8th grade in America) lined the pavement holding signs and cheering as the foreign teachers got off the bus upon arrival at camp. This was only the beginning of a fun-filled weekend teaching the kids how to cook food from our native countries, playing games/sports, doing a talent show, having a massive bonfire (fireworks were included!), stargazing, and teaching them a little about the places we originally call home.The best part about this was being able to hang out and have fun with the middle school kiddos in a normal environment! No pressure of studying. Just conversation and having fun. I have talked a bit about the pressures that the kids have in Korea to study, perform, study, perform AND repeat. If you’re interested in learning what these kids go through or just grasp an understanding of our life as teachers in Korea click here for a short 20 minute documentary! The camp was a great opportunity for us to be immersed in the culture of Korea that we so dearly love while getting to know some of the most amazing kids in a fun environment.

It was a heart warming weekend to say the least.

At the end one of the boys gave a wonderful speech that made me cry. He said the camp had given him confidence to use his English in conversation without being scared. Through all the hard days of teaching…feeling like what we are doing isn’t making a difference… that I am not teaching them enough. It’s the moments like this volunteer English camp that reminded me sometimes it’s the little moments in life that make a difference. It’s the smiles, hugs, and love. It’s the company of spending time with kids. Just getting to know them. Having the opportunity at the International camp showed me that what we are doing CAN make an impact!

The weekend we spent with the kiddos was a weekend that warmed my heart. I realized how selfish I was initially to view it as giving up “my time” when the kids had done SO much to warm my heart during our weekend together.

What things have you been doing lately (or have others done for YOU!?!)  that warm your heart?

Confessions of a writer at heart.

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It’s been a whirlwind of a week.

Just one of those weeks when it all comes apart at the seams. I am not talking earth shattering life changes (thank goodness and knock on wood.) Whatever it was that was going on this week I think it was time for it to happen. I have been sharing SO much about how much I adore Korea. While, I do. Life isn’t always perfect. Communication falls apart due to an ever present language barrier. Expectations go unspoken because “saving face” is a big deal here AND lastly…I swear there was a full moon this week because my 3rd and 4th graders were crazy while my 5th and 6th graders were in zombie mode.

Let’s just leave it at the fact that I am really freaking happy that Friday is here.AND. I get to see these amazing friends this weekend.

I have done a lot of thinking this week. It hit me that so many of us aren’t using the talents we have been given. We keep skills/talents dormant for no other reason besides fear. A few of you have reached out and told me that I am impacting your life in a positive way through my writing. Do you know how that makes me feel? It made me feel pure joy. It also brought tears to my eyes. Yep, I am getting sappy for a moment, but hear me out.

In 5th grade my teacher wrote on one of my papers “Elicia, you write exactly how you talk. I love that.” A simple sentence. At conferences she told my mom and I the same thing she had written. Growing up my parents told me that I should be a journalist because I could write (disclaimer- They are my parents so of course they may be bias.) The thought of going to school and having to deal with grammar and editing made me sick to my stomach. I felt like it would suck the life out my creativity. If you just started reading I should tell you: I hate editing. I hate grammar. You’ll probably find multiple mistakes in my writing…and that’s ok to me. I am not perfect. Maybe deep down I was afraid my writing wasn’t as good as the next person? I was always comparing. My college speech professor once told me my biggest flaw was that I was incredibly hard on myself. I guess it makes sense. I have never been afraid to be different, but I do think I was afraid at failing if I pursued writing.

I went to school for teaching so I could help kids/families/parents. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten how much I loved to write. Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you that I am never afraid to say how I feel. It’s true. Sometimes a little too true. So I guess it makes sense that through blogging I am able to combine who I am with what I love. All while being an English teacher in Korea. When I am blogging I am combining the best and greatest of those dreams. I am being able to express how I feel or why I believe what I do. I get to share little pieces of my life with you. Most importantly I have gotten to help people. Helping people was my goal, but it’s different to get messages from real live humans who are telling you that you are impacting them in a positive way.

If someone has been inspiring you lately (a friend, family member, or even someone you have never even met) I encourage you to give them a little shout out. Cause people rock and sometimes all it takes is one person to say something to make a difference.

I am left wondering why more of us aren’t honing in on our talents and skills? Is it fear of failure? Have we forgotten to just get back to the basics?

-Happy weekend my friends.

May you find joy and spread it.

One of my favorite pictures of my 3 baby sisters and I. Pure JOY!

Making a difference.

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It’s been over 2 months since I last did a post on teaching, but today as I was browsing through my students notebook I stumbled upon this:

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“Full of dreams and full of hopes. I wish to convey my love to you”

I thought it was perfectly imperfect. I see TONS of wrongly written (or out of context) English on buildings/signs/shirts and school folders, but for a distinct reason this one hit home. I read it twice and let it sink in before I set the folder back into the hands of my adorable 4th grader who goes by the English name of “Kevin.”

It hit home, because one of the biggest struggles that I face teaching English in Korea is the communication barrier. Especially when it comes to discipline OR when a child is upset/frustrated. I felt like that quote was EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. It’s my students. It’s what they want to say to me… and I can almost hear them saying those words if only they knew how to speak them to me.

I look back on my previous teachers from when I was a kiddo. I can STILL name every single teacher I had starting with kindergarten. I can also still remember times when they made me feel insecure or times they built me up/ supported me.  No matter where you are or what you are doing you are a teacher. Someone is learning from you.

From the 4 weeks I taught of English summer camp this past July/August:

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To the students in my after school classes:

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The kids at my Friday “country” school:

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To even those that I now teach in my online distance learning classes (they live on remote islands):

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I can almost hear it…if they could only say it to me:

“I am full of dreams and full of hopes. I wish to convey my love to you.”

…every hug, every positive word, every smile. The most important things that I need to communicate to my students go far beyond what words could even clarify.

Be the difference today for one person.

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener…

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We have all heard the saying “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side”, or maybe you read the story as a child of The Three Bill Goats Gruff where the three billy goats had no food left where they were so they had to cross a bridge and try to outwit the troll who lived underneath. Did you ever wonder if there was food on their side of the bridge? As a kid I didn’t think twice about it.

Now though, as a teacher picking out which books to read to my students…I can’t help but over analyze every detail of a simple children’s story.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately, and I can’t help but wonder why do we as humans always want more? Why do we look at others’ lives and decide that we want what they have? I am all about setting goals, pursuing dreams, and reaching for the stars. I love cheesy love movies, quotes, and songs, but I can’t help but wonder why we constantly compare our lives to those around us. As a child, I was taught to appreciate what I had, but why does society seem to encourage the “you can get whatever you want if you work hard enough for it” attitude? What if “whatever you want” isn’t going to make you happy? What if sometimes what you need is exactly what you already have? Now, I am not saying to abandon your goals, dreams, and disregard holding yourself to the highest of standards. I believe we should always be working towards our goals/desires/dreams. I am teaching and living in South Korea with my awesome husband. There is nothing I want to do beyond that dream right now. Yet, sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we lived in Thailand or taught in Italy? I browse tons of amazing travel blogs, and wonder “what if?”

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As humans we avoid pain and we seek pleasure. We are taught to be independent go-getters and to make a name for ourselves. Whoever raised you,I believe,does the best to instill independence and strength, but not arrogance. We are bombarded by media telling us who to be and how to act. We are lured by the fact that life will be better when this happens, when I get this car….and then this house… OR when I travel here/then here/then there. There comes a point when you spread your wings to fly with the chance that you might fail miserably. Why are we so scared of the fall when the best lessons learned are those when we pick ourselves up, and try again?

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It’s just five simple words, but why don’t we ever just listen to it?

The.Grass.Isn’t.Always.Greener.

Sometimes what you need is exactly what you have.

Stop wanting and start watering your grass right where you are.

…and I promise to start doing the same… 

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One of my absolute favorite pictures of my husband Tom while we volunteered for a few days in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. (A place that is near and dear to my heart!!!)

School’s out for a MONTH!

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So first semester of school is over tomorrow!

My students go on break for “vacation” until September 2nd. I have memories as a kid of summer vacation being a week at the lake, lots of time playing outside, ice cream, and camping!

and while it is hot here like summer… Most Korean kids will be attending “Hogwons” or private schools in the summer to study.

Starting next week I will be teaching my summer camp! My summer camp is 2 weeks long from 9 to 12.I have 3 & 4th graders together, and then 5 & 6th graders together. In the afternoon I will “desk warm” which is just time at the desk. I am actually really excited to have time to blog, catch up on TV shows, and read.” I can do whatever I please… just need to be at my desk. My summer camp theme is “Summer Olympic Games/ Around the world.” I am really excited, because I think the kids will love being active. I want to give them a chance to get up and get MOVING! My school wanted me to create an English summer camp that was “fun.” My kids love games so I hope they get really into it. I’m pretty excited myself. Some things I am most excited for: Making piñatas, teaching them the game “steal the bacon”, designing and creating an Olympian, teaching them about other countries, water balloon toss, and MANY MANY relay games!!!

I decided I wanted to incorporate teaching them about other countries as I feel passionate about traveling, and want to expose my students to other cultures other then their own. It’s so fun being able to incorporate pieces of who I am into my teaching here.

I wanted to post a few pictures of my kids who make teaching SO fun.

Sweet girls who always visit me at my desk :)

Sweet girls who always visit me at my desk 🙂

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I love his shirt! :)

I love his shirt! 🙂

Love my Friday "country school"

Love spending Friday’s at my “country school”

We are always dancing!!!

We are always dancing!!!

This past Monday we had a ceremony to welcome exchange students from Thailand to our school.

There was singing...

There was singing…

...dancing!

…dancing!

...and Taekwondo!

…and Taekwondo!

My kids make teaching awesome 🙂

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Pieces of our life…

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Looking through pictures on my phone I am realizing that I have TONS of pictures that are like little pieces of the puzzle to our life in Yeosu, Korea. They are all so special to me, because put together they represent our daily life here in Korea. I decided that I should add the pictures to our blog that make up our every day life here. So often (me included) we over look the beautiful little snap shots of just a “normal” day. It is all apart of the big puzzle.

This is our life as of lately.

Love the flowers in full bloom!

Love the flowers in full bloom!

Care packages from our family= so much love.

Care packages from our family= so much love.

Monsters on my wall created by 3rd graders after teaching them my dad's favorite book "Where the Wild Things are"

Monsters on my wall created by 3rd graders after reading them my dad’s favorite book “Where the Wild Things Are”

My littlest "monsters"

My littlest “monsters”

Fireworks on every beach we have camped at!!! Koreans love their fireworks (and so do WE!)

Fireworks on every beach we have camped at!!! Koreans love their fireworks (and so do WE!)

We  have spent 4 weekends so far CAMPING!

We have spent 4 weekends so far CAMPING 🙂

I adore the open air markets.

I adore the open air markets.

:)

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My walk to the bus stop after teaching at my "Friday School"

My walk to the bus stop after teaching at my “Friday School”

Tom's new hiking backpack- name TBD

Tom’s new hiking backpack- name TBD

Fresh fruit right off the tree in Jeju. Tasted like a cross between and orange and a grapefruit.

Fresh fruit right off the tree in Jeju. Tasted like a cross between and orange and a grapefruit.

We FOUND CHEESE!!!

We FOUND CHEESE!!!

Tea from South Africa, Wine from Chile, and Korean BBQ for dinner. Love it!

Tea from South Africa, Wine from Chile, and Korean BBQ for dinner. Love it!

My view EVERY SINGLE day walking to the bus stop after school. It will never ever get old.

My view EVERY SINGLE day walking to the bus stop after school. It will never ever get old.

:)

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Lights on a bus to visit friends in Mokpo. ;) Normal.

Lights on a bus to visit friends in Mokpo. 😉 Normal.

I am one happy teacher :)

I am one happy teacher 🙂

Sometimes we forgot to take a moment to appreciate the little pieces that make the big picture SO beautiful!!!

Bullying- A teacher’s point of view.

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Bullying.

It happens every single day. It happens in all sorts of schools. It happens all over the world. I’m a teacher, and I’d like to tell you that we too feel helpless. My experience comes from being an English teacher in a foreign school. There is a major barrier… it’s the language. BUT bullying still happens. It happens in school AND out. How do we fix it? How do we stop it? It’s serious, and it’s real. It’s happening, and kids are hurting.

I recently watched the documentary Bully with my husband on Netflix. It made my heart hurt. I felt like angry parents were giving blame to principals and teacher’s. I guess what I want to say is that there are teachers out there who do care, who love their students, and want the VERY best for them. There are teachers out there who STAND UP to bullying. Who do everything they can to stop it protect the kids, and to end bullying in their classroom. I don’t know the universal solution to end bullying. I wish I had the answers. This world we live in is full of sin, but I am here to say that I believe something needs to be done.

The day before watching the documentary I had an incident in my classroom where I witnessed bullying. First let me preface this story with the fact that I love teaching. I love teaching English in Korea. I love my schools…and I hope what I saw was the first/last time I ever have to see that again.

We are working on a project… I look over, and one of my kids is in a choke hold from another student. I run over and tried to pull them apart , but dang those 12 year olds are STRONG…and bigger than me in size. I have never yelled at my kids, but in a panic I screamed “NO” “LET GO!”- Side note. Discipline is difficult with a language barrier. My stomach was in knots. Why was he choking this other boy? What happened? To me it didn’t matter what was said or what happened violence is NEVER okay. I looked at the boy who used violence (trying to remain calm), and sternly said “THAT IS NEVER OK IN MY CLASSROOM. DO NOT EVER TOUCH HIM OR ANYONE EVER AGAIN. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” At this point my Korean co teacher ran over, and intervened. I explained to her what happened in English. She was already disciplining them. Both boys were in trouble. I told her that the boy who used violence should be punished. NOT both. It didn’t matter what I said. She told me that they were both in trouble, because they were fighting.I ran to the bathroom, and just cried. I just felt so helpless.

After having time to process all of it. I looked back on my experience as a teacher working at a very low income preschool. The kids who hurt others had been hurt their whole life by their own parents. They were damaged, bruised, and broken. Hurting was all they knew. Hurting others was “normal” life to them. Hurting was their survival. I love teaching. I love kids. Man,  it isn’t always easy though. See what I wrote here awhile back about being a teacher. I tell you my story, because I wonder if you have ideas on how to end bullying in the classroom. Or if you have had any experiences with bullying in the classroom?

How do we change bullying in our world? Is it more love? Is it punishment? Is it both?

Please tell me your opinion…

Together we can be the change.

Wishes...

Wishes…

Within and Without

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Within and Without

Yesterday, Tom and I went to see the movie: The Great Gatsby. I have always had a love for reading since about 4th grade so this classic novel was one that I read during high school. While many in my high school lit class despised the book…I remember getting so lost in the book that I would read for hours. I thought it was an incredibly well written book, and was completely fascinated with it. At 16 years old, I didn’t fully understand what some parts meant, and only would learn more as I learned & experienced more about life. Isn’t that the case though? The older you get…the more you learn. The more you experience. The more you love. I’d like to think that’s the case at least. It’s a sort of exhausting thing to think about, really. When all you need is time, but time simply goes too fast. Our time on earth is so fleeting.

The beautiful red roses are in full bloom around Korea.

The beautiful red roses are in full bloom around Korea.

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“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”- That’s how I literally feel some days. I can’t write enough about how much we love Korea, but some days my brain feels like mush when I begin to think about the variety of life. It literally is inexhaustible.

I decided I’d like to dedicate a post to my “school life” as a teacher…since it is such a large part of my time here in Korea. I work with incredibly amazing kids. I teach grades 3,4,5,6. I have three sections of each of those grades and I see each class 3x a week. I also teach “after school” English classes. On Friday’s I go to my “country school.” Where I teach one class of each 3,4,5,6th grade. I stay quite busy, but I really like that! Adjusting to teaching kids who speak hardly any English was a big transition for me in the beginning. Learning the expectations, schedules, and content of what I am teaching and how to teach was tricky in the beginning. I would say I FINALLY feel comfortable to be my goofy self, and throw in my own teaching style to the content of what we are required to teach. It took about a month of teaching to get into the groove. You know, it’s always that awkward beginning part of learning anything new. Mastering the ropes, adapting, and being FLEXIBLE!

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The most important thing about being a teacher in Korea is be flexible. Well, maybe for any teacher. Some days though I come to school to find out a class is cancelled, I don’t teach at all tomorrow, or I have more classes then I expected. It is crazy to fly on the seat of your pants…but I am learning that’s just the kinda girl I am anyway. Up until a few years ago corporal punishment was accepted ,and used in the Korean schools. Now, they resort to things like P.E exercises for punishment, standing in the back of the classroom with arms up and eyes closed, or no outside time. Tom always tells me that “we didn’t come here to change their ways” and while I do understand that… I always try to give my kids some extra love while they are with me.

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Tom is teaching middle school BOYS. ALL BOYS. I think God knew that I couldn’t handle middle school boys. So, he gave it to Tom! I think it is better that way since in Korea they respect men and especially love him because he is so tall. I mean let’s be real… I would die. Overall we are pretty happy about our jobs. We both work 8:40-5pm and we commute via bus each day. Tom and I both have multiple korean co teacher’s depending on the class and day. Mine teach along side with me while Tom’s teacher’s give him full reign of the rowdy, hormonal, and sassy boys… eh hem.I mean angels.

Just a sweaty commute home from work! :)

Just a sweaty commute home from work! 🙂

We did NOT plan this… note the “slippers” (sandal type things) we must wear while teaching! No regular shoes allowed.

One of my coteacher's (Mina) and I.

One of my coteacher’s (Mina) and I.

I’ve got lots to update you on. Including the past weekend on the Shinan Islands, and our after school adventures.. I look forward to writing more this week, and weekend!

All of my love from Yeosu, South Korea.

Home

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Home

There is so much I want to tell you. Pictures don’t even do it justice. Today while on the way home from work… I thought WOW, so this is our life? To be honest it took almost a month of being here to finally feel real. This. is. our. life! We didn’t come to Korea, because we couldn’t find jobs at home. We choose to come here to experience a new adventure and I feel SO blessed beyond words to be here…in this moment, and sharing it with my husband. As I sit at a little coffee shop with the sound of water running and music in the background I sit here feeling like God has given me so much more than I ever deserved. I teach the greatest kids. I live in a beautiful city. I am happy. I am healthy, and God has us exactly where we should be.

Yeosu, is beautiful. The mountains are unbelievable and the ocean is breathtaking. It is a breath of fresh air. I want to tell you about orientation, and the temple we visited during our 10 day orientation. I want to tell you how so many “God moments” have happened since we have been here. I want to tell you how the kids I teach make my day every single day…but first. Let’s start with our city of Yeosu.

So, we have been “home” for a week. Life has seemed a blur the past week! From figuring out the city,  our new jobs, bus system, and where to shop and eat… Each day has sort of run into the next. In a good way of course 🙂 I finally feel like I am learning what is where, and how to take the bus home from work. We live in a fantastic location! It is known for all of it’s places to eat and go out for a drink. We met up with other foreigners one night, and our neighborhood seems to be the place everyone meets for dinner. Which is awesome for us because it is all within walking distance. Our schools are both down by the ocean. We take the bus together each morning. It is about 15 min by bus, but from our apartment to the ocean/school it is probably only 3 miles. The problem is we have to go around a massive mountain. I am not complaining though. That just means we have another mountain we get to hike!!!

This past weekend Tom and I spent the weekend exploring Yeosu. Taking the bus, and LOTS of walking around. It was gorgeous outside. The weather here has been consistent, and mostly in the low 60’s.  The weekend highlights were as follows: Meeting up with our Irish friends Roy and Ciara, exploring the MASSIVE fresh (and live) fish market, walking across the big Dolsan bridge to the cutest little coffee/tea shop on the top of this hill overlooking the city, and checking out the 2012 World Expo site down along the ocean.

This week brought teaching (mostly introducing ourselves to the kiddos) ,and getting to know our co teachers. I have two co teachers who speak excellent English! On Friday’s I go to a different school to teach kiddos. This past Wednesday, all English Teachers had the day off for Labor Day! Tom and I spent the day at my school for the kids’ sports day (like track and field day back home!!!) The kids were THRILLED to meet Tom. Seriously, everyone is obsessed with Tom. They adore him for how tall he is and I can’t tell you how many times a day men, women, and child alike yell “HANDSOME MAN!!!”  It makes me laugh, because he does not like the attention. After Sports day was over at 1:00 the entire staff of my school went out for “Teacher dinner” and invited Tom to come with us. We spent the next hour eating on the floor, and various teachers coming over to say the sweetest words to me about how thankful they are to have me here ,and pouring us a drink of beer and soju. I am SO thankful to work with such amazing, and kind co workers. Then all of the teachers went back to school to play volleyball (they take it very seriously!) Tom got roped into playing, and it was entirely too entertaining. I laughed the entire time as they tried to coach him (in Korean) ,and the men proceeded to grab his butt and slap him on the back. Most of the time I don’t know what is going on, and the best thing to do is smile, and nod. 🙂

This weekend we are having another married couple visit us in Yeosu who are from the states as well. There is a big festival going on in our city! It is called the Turtle Ship festival. There is a parade, and we are hoping to catch fireworks after dark. I will do my best to keep the blog updated. I miss writing, and I am trying to write everything down as I know this will all pass too quickly.

These pictures are all of our new home!

Walking across the Dolsan Bridge:

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Checking out the map!

Checking out the map!

Massive Fish market

Massive Fish market

Strollin along the ocean

Strollin along the ocean

Love.

Love.

Happy as can be!

Happy as can be!

Walking along the ocean to the World Expo site...

Walking along the ocean to the World Expo site…

2012 World Expo site. It is ALL new buildings (feels like chicago!)

2012 World Expo site. It is ALL new buildings (feels like chicago!)

Checking out the digital aquarium at the Expo Site

Checking out the digital aquarium at the Expo Site

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The big "o" it is where they have laser light shows in the summer!

The big “o” it is where they have laser light shows in the summer!

My school :)

My school 🙂

:) My kiddos at Sports Day!

🙂 My kiddos at Sports Day!

Tom with my kids

Tom with my kids

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I love this picture

I love this picture

Baby girl watchin Sports Day!

Baby girl watchin Sports Day!

Cooling down with stretches

Cooling down with stretches

My gorgeous view from school...every single day.

My gorgeous view from school…every single day.

:)

🙂

I really hope to post pictures of our apartment soon, update about the temple we visited during orientation, and of course the festivities from this upcoming weekend of the Turtle Ship Festival.

Make today special- wherever you are!

All of my love from (Yeosu) Korea,

Elicia

Days gone by…

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Yesterday, we celebrated a wonderful friend’s Bachlorette Party. It was an exciting time, but also remained a bittersweet day because we are in the process of packing up our lives into little boxes (on the hillside little boxes made of ticky tacky) as we transition out of our (WAY nicer than just a college ish) apartment that we have lived in the past two years. With two years comes a LOT of memories folks. Let me tell you from the male issues, to teaching stories, to late( or way to early nights)… I have shared some great memories with these gals. We are excited as we start to plan our future.

I am excited for what lies ahead in careers in teaching and getting married to our best friends. It is though, a rather peculiar feeling to know that I will never live with gals my age again that I am friends with. We are movin up and over to real life. I am ready to see what God has in store for us and where he will take us. I plan on never letting go of these friendships that I have made. God really blessed me and I have leaned on them through thick n thin!

Ready or not world. Look out because here we COME!!!!!

Here’s a peak into our day… Tom and I got a new camera and I am still trying to figure out how my new baby Nikon works 🙂 Bear with me!