Tag Archives: Travel

Surprises that warm the heart.


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!


…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?

“Home is whenever I am with you”


Almost 7 months ago (already) I boarded the plane with my husband at my side. To move across the world. Literally.


We said our goodbyes,and I sobbed the entire shuttle ride to the airport. I had my best friend with me and I was so excited to embark on a new adventure, but why was I so darn sad when it came time to say goodbye?

Saying goodbye to my sisters, and thinking how much I would miss out on their lives while we were gone hit home (they are 22, 9, and 7!)…and geez louise. Not to mention Tom’s family. Who had become like my own family long before I married Tom. I love them to pieces. I think it’ s because up until that point we had been so busy getting ready for the big move that I honestly didn’t have time to process, and dwell on how much I would miss them. It felt right in my heart, but why did my heart feel SO sad when it came time for goodbyes?

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I look back at the pictures when we first got to Korea (7 months ago) and I think about how much we have grown since that time.

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The morning we left for Korea my mom came into our hotel room, and gave me a much needed pep talk.

She said a lot of things to me with teary eyes, but basically it was this:

“You will always have a place to come back to.”

“Tom is where your home is now.”


” That we always can come back when we need help, advice, or a place to feel the love of your family.”

It’s like she just knew. She knew I needed to hear that. Moms are real good at that.  I wasn’t doubting the decision to move to Korea, but I just needed a little bit of reassurance that I hadn’t lost my marbles. Leaving comfort is hard, but man am I ever counting my blessings here. There’s too many to blessings to count. I know this though: I’ve never regretted traveling. It’s like each time I travel I am displaced from beneath the place I call comfort…and I LOVE it. I absolutely freaking love it.


If money wasn’t an issue. I’d travel the entire world. I can’t even pick my top 5 places. I’d make stops back in Wisconsin/Minnesota to squeeze my loved ones, kiss my baby sisters on their cheeks, drink wine with my sister in laws, laugh, hang out, catch up, and talk with everyone that I love.


My home is wherever I am with Tom,but I will always have pieces of my heart in Wisconsin/Minnesota.

Where would you go if you could travel anywhere?

Surfing in Indonesia? African Safari? Killer Whale watching in South America? The Great Wall of China?

Watching the sunset in Fiji? Climbing in the Himalaya’s?

Fijian village dancers.

Fijian village dancers.

How do you pick when there are so many places to see? Things to do? Do you just close your eyes, and point your finger, and then spin the globe?

Dear traveling: You’re way cooler than sliced bread.

…and moms advice is usually right- just in case you haven’t figured that out yet  😉

Why I live for last minute trips- Jinju Lantern Festival


Last week Tom and I scored four days off from work!

We had planned to hike and camp three National Parks while making a summit on 10 total mountain peaks on Thursday/Friday/Saturday (October 3-5th) of our long weekend.

We had both had pretty busy starts to our short week of work. It was over my daily coffee/break time on Wednesday with my Korean coworkers that something had caught my attention. My coteacher mentioned and begun to frantically show me pictures of the Jinju Lantern Festival.

…and it looked seriously AWESOME.

I got busy teaching classes and distracted with lesson planning. When 4pm hit I shot Tom a text prying to see if maybe he was interested in making a quick stop at the Lantern Festival on a whim before our big hiking excursion.

We weren’t packed for our big weekend of hiking/camping. We didn’t really know where in the city of Jinju the festival would take place. We didn’t know how to get there, how far it would be, where we would stay, or what time the festival ended. With a bit of teamwork speed packing, the help of my coteacher to translate festival info, and lots of excitment…we hit the road! We found out it was just a quick hour and a half car drive away from Yeosu. We arrived around 9pm in the city of Jinju. Checked into a cheap motel, and walked a few blocks to the Namgang river.

…and then I proceeded to walk around like a kid in a candy store for the next 2 hours… Stopping my kid in a candy store state to snap photos like a madwoman.

The Jinju Lantern Festival originates from the lantern lighting used during the Japanese Invasion in Korea that took place in 1592. The lanterns were used as precaution to try and prevent Japanese troops from crossing through the river. The festival takes place on Namgang river in Jinju, South Korea.

It was my absolute favorite festival we have been to in Korea. We had the perfect fall weather. The lights were so beautiful. We walked around the Jinju temple, both sides of the river, and stopped to snack on delicious Korean street food. We also had fun naming the countries that some of the lanterns displayed. The U.S was represented by a Statue of Liberty lantern!

I love last minute trips. For the spontaneity. The excitment. The element of surprise. The anything-can-happen vibes.

How could you not love a festival of lanterns?

Jinju Lantern Festival at a glance:

Putting our wishes on the wishing wall!

Putting our wishes on the wishing wall!

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Getting ready for our close up :)

Getting ready for our close up 🙂

Traditional Korean clothing.

Traditional Korean clothing

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These lanterns were created by students.

These lanterns were created by students.

View from the bridge overlooking the river

View from the bridge overlooking the river.

Exploring the Jinju temple
Exploring the Jinju temple

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The citizens of Jinju were able to purchase these lanterns in advance and write their wishes on the lanterns in the tunnel. There are over 30,000 of them!

The citizens of Jinju were able to purchase these lanterns in advance and write their wishes on the lanterns in the tunnel. There are over 30,000 of them!

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Each festival in Korea had the opportunity to have a lantern representing their city's specific festival

Each festival that takes place in Korea had the opportunity to have a lantern representing their city’s specific festival.

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Taking a break with some delicious street food snacks :)

Taking a break with some delicious street food snacks 🙂

Getting ready to release our "wish" lantern into the water!!!

Getting ready to release our “wish” lantern into the water!!!

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My favorite picture...

My favorite picture…

Loose (ing) Sight of the Shore.


“You can never cross the ocean unless you have courage to loose sight of the shore…”

I came across this quote on pinterest.. It really couldn’t be more fitting. Also, how ironic my last post on this blog titled “Why not you? Why not now? really is! HAHA sometimes I think God is looking down at me and laughing…like “oh my goodness Elicia I told you to trust me and be patient!” Sometimes I complicate it way more then I think he would like. Humans do that. I want to say though our summer was full of happiness, joy, and lots of changes.

Let me start at the beginning though.

Tom and I got married August 3rd in the Dominican Republic. It was God centered and absolutely perfect.  I know I am bias.. but really what else could we have done to make it more beautiful then to be God centered and by an ocean with beautiful people?!?! I honestly have no words and sometimes in life there are no words for what you experience or what you feel. It just “was”…and I am going to let it just “be” what it was without trying to explain in a million words. Did I mention it was AWESOME?!? I wish I had more words to describe it’s beauty. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

All photograph’s done by Hernan Btesh. I wish I could post them all. Here are a few favorites.

The reason why the post prior to this one is ironic… Well you’ll just have to stay tuned to see why and where this story unfolds to. This event though the one we call “wedding” is most important because it leads us to the next turn of events…Well and the fact that I married Tom. Which of course.. if you know that story is a miracle in itself. It was one of the prayers God answered for me. I think he knew I needed Tom and of course that Tom needed me 😉 OR so I like to think! HA.

Here’s to Sunday’s. 

Here’s to “Loosing Sight of the Shore”

Here’s to a new beginning…and a story to be told.

With love,


Why not you? Why not now?


I think all to often we are scared. Comfortable. Safe…

There are all kinds of people in this world. That is what makes it beautiful. Variety. I mean really how boring would it be if we were all the same? I have to say though that I feel adventure has been calling my soul again lately (when does it not?) I have started to realize how easy it becomes to get “bound to the wheel.” What I mean by this is our vision of what society wants for us. We live in a beautiful, but sometimes twisted world. American people can all to often be self seeking, self motivated, and self centered. No person is to blame when corporate America wants you to climb the ladder of success only to find you are still climbing exactly where you started years ago. Americans can live years without knowing their neighbors. In Fiji this would almost be considered a crime. I think about how how short our time is here on earth and I can’t help, but think this, my friends, is not how life should be lived.

We are given 24 hours a day. 24 beautiful hours to LIVE. Not live for the weekend, but to LIVE. Live for the moment and LIVE for the day.

We are given a mere few years (or maybe many years) if we are lucky. To experience life. Help others. Make a day, make a smile, make a friend. Not make a million. We can’t take it with us when we go. You can rest assured at the end of your life you won’t look back and wish you would have worked another day in your life.

So maybe your adventure is a new job. Maybe your adventure will take you a few miles away or perhaps thousands of miles away. Maybe your adventure will be skydiving, camping, traveling, organizing. Whatever it may be. Do it for others. Do it for you. Do it because our world needs a few more adventures and a few less “comfort zoners.” I know God never intended for the sorrow that life may sometime bring. God did however intend for us to love, love, love and to give, give, give… I plan on fully living a life for others and I challenge you to strive to do the same.

This world is far to big and this life far to short to live walking the road that is traveled. I dare you to pick the road less traveled. So I ask you my friend. Why not YOU? Why not NOW?