Seasons of Seoul and Beyond: Autumn

Seasonal Changes--what to expect and things to do

After living in the rain driven splendor of Norway and the sun filled days of Cairo.  I have learned to love the shift in weather that South Korea provides.  South Korea is known for 4 very distinct seasons, some better than others.  Regardless of personal comfort and preference, there is always something to do in the ROK.  Whether it be hiking, photo walks, eating, or festivals, a variety of change and flavor comes with each season.  After living through almost 2 years of weather cycles (minus summer, as most international vagabonds use that time to travel and return home to family:) I find that I look forward to each season--even the 5 month winter period.

late September- early November

This is a great time to hike the mountains of Seoul.  Grab your gear (if you go Korean-style it will be a statement of colors, expenses, and unnecessary  paraphernalia.  If you're simple and practical, a small trekking bag, a water bottle, and some durable cross trainers are more than sufficient.  If you find that you are in need of provensions there will be a strip of hiking gear stores and food sellers as you approach the trail head.  Don't forget your camera as the explosion of fire reds, and ocher oranGEE-yellows are not to be missed.  At the end of hiking partake in some filling galbi bbq, celebratory soju, and self service water.

Hikes not to be missed:
  • Bukhansan
  • Seoraksan


Jeonju Food Festival--early October
A place to palate the famous
bibimbop, a rice with five colors of steamed vegetables that symbolizes harmony, peace, friendship, coexistence and cooperation.  Bibimbop comes in all forms, yet you may notice the missing egg when ordered in this town notorious for bibimbop.  A restaurant owner mentioned that the egg messes up the harmony of colors and flavors, therefore, Jeonju omits the crack of the yolk.

In addition to food, there is a nearby Hanok Village (traditional Korean houses) that absorbs most of the visiting crowd once they are done sampling and buying food at the pavilions.

This is a blog I came across that goes more in depth about Jeonju.

Apple Festival--mid October
Small towns in the Chungcheong Province about 1.5 hours southwest of Seoul is where one can pick apples (for a hefty price 2,000krw/1.90usd per apple), consume cheap soju, make apple pie/sauce, and partake in silly apple games. 

Busan Firework--last few weeks of October
We traveled across the country of Seoul on the KTX speed train to partake in a fun weekend of K-pop and fireworks.  Since this was the tail end of summer, (aka the wet season) we got rained out.  Until next year...

Autumn is one of the best times to be in Korea.  The loaded kimchi pots, fermented maekoli wine, and unlimited excursions make for an ideal time to get out and see the change of seasons.


Happily Stuck in the Middle (sept. school startup)

Some items that claim the middle:
1)Oreo filling
2)custard filled donuts
3)perfect, soft core of a cinnamon roll
4) cheese filled dok bokki (Korean rice cake)
---food, food, food, sorry---
5)breakables that get placed in the middle of a suitcase
6)me as a middle child
7)the tallest finger--the middle one
8) middle school

I am quite the fan of middle labeled objects with the exception of #7.  Therefore, I have found my comfort teaching "hormonal" "temperamental" "attitud-al" teens who by the way do not match the cliched comments I often get by outsiders.  "I don't know how you do it?"

Step into their world.  Listen, watch, share, participate

1)Wear something they would wear (accessory, nail polish, Abercrombie, Raybands, Converse)
Field Day team spirit

2)Listen to top 40 music (itunes it)

3)Wikipedia their favorite idols (become a name dropper and watch their reactions)

4)Know how to make and keep a best friend (show, share, model this)
Yearbook signing, K-pop bows and nail polish

5)Be goofy with them (let them see your flaws.  If you're a bad singer sing to them, if you wear mismatched shoes give bonus points to the kid who notices first)
Students translating Korean Photo Booth pics for us

6)Eat junk food ( ynot? BTW--great blog!)

7)Share the latest drama about life (attach a teachable meaning here)

8)Be real--let them see the fun side (they figure their teachers out fast--down to the nervous scratch,
ring twist, fake seriousness...
8th grade promotion

9) Hang out with them at the end of the year (for the daring and comfortable.  This is the best way to pass off the leadership role and truly see that these teens have a voice worthy to be listened to)
Students show us Seoul
Street Food in Shanghai with a personal student tour guide

I am a proud to be stuck solid in my 8th year of middle school.  The creme filling cliche that sweetens the labels that get plastered on teens.


Korea--take 2!

Having seconds is a great thing--especially after time has elapsed.  As a novice cook I am a big fan of leftovers.  To me, it no doubt tastes better, allows for more trial and less error, and doesn't compete with others.  So dish it up Korea!

Here is my Live Now list (similar, if not exactly the same as a bucket list, yet you can go for seconds, thirds, fourths...)

  • Speak  Korean like a 5 year old
  • Make more Hogwan friends
  • Take structured Korean lang. class
  • Run for a cause
  • Eat at the mess hall in Yonsei
  • Get shoes cleaned in a Korea side street car
  • Apply for a game show (Wipeout)
  • Pay for a meal for a stranger
  • Learn Spanish
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • Buy a surprise plane ticket to Korea
  • Learn how to drive a scooter
  • Be on Korean TV
  • Medical Tourism
  • Tres Dias
  • Progressive Ho Bar pub crawl chronologically find all 10 in Hongdae
  • Silent temple stay
  • Ride all the subway lines in 1 day
  • Go to Incheon airport and hang out with no scheduled flight
  • Drive stick shift better
  • Float in the swan boat on the Han
  • Write an article for an expat mag.
  • Small group bible study through OEM
  • Collect important Korean pieces (hangi lamp, jewlery box)
  • Take seasonal picture walks
  • Go to 3rd K-pop concert
  • Join Seoul Int'l hiking club
  • Read Hangeul 한 글
  • Learn a K-pop dance
  • Eat only Korean for an entire week
  • Kimchi week detox--everyday eat kimchi
  • Korean drum circle (water paint)

    Walk an over accessorized Korean dog 


    Next Post--Check Yes, Korea

    A list comprised of touristy and not so touristy spots around this country of Morning Calm and Nights of Neon Lights




K1- Korea Year One

Reflecting on the path of growth from the flower to the seed.

As the final stage of an international year closes out I have to look Closure in the eye and say thanks for giving me reason to feel sadness. Albeit, emotion adds value to the fun events and reconfirms the relationships that have been made, moving on never gets easier with experience. An international lifestyle must be looked at the same way you enjoy cherry blossoms reach full bloom. Notice the beauty of each stage, as the process is temporary and constantly unfolding.

Stage 1-You anticipate and prepare
Stage 2-You overindulge with pictures, walks and gawks
Stage 3-You accept the change from delicate petal to sturdy leaf
Stage 4- You look forward to watching the cycle the next year

The time has come to pack up, bid farewells, and turn a new leaf.

Unforgettable moments of my K1 year

June-Hanging out with our students on a Saturday, MELKs final night, waving goodbye to the last school bus

May- driving a scooter to the DMZ, boating on the Han River, eating Kimchi fries in Itaewon, and climbing Ansan Mt. at midnight all in one day, every weekend spent outside of Seoul, being on Korean news, VIP k-pop concert.

April- Catching up on sleep in Okinawa
All of my birth month events
Dead Celebrity Party
Being super tour guides
Looking to site Lady Gaga
Dressing up for Gaga concert
Eating woof woof and sanakji

March- Big Bang k-pop concert, Shanghai, battling my first cold

February-29 day challenge of exploring Seoul

January- Guam, snowboarding

December- dressing up as Princesses with MELK, Ellie's b-day dance party

November- Taiwan, first time exploring Seoul solo

October- becoming a certified lifeguard

September- eating tons of street food

August-public nakedness and first time introductions with colleagues at a jimjilbong.


Hands down, this has been my best life year--year 29. Thank you, Ellie Meza for modeling the importance of impromptu fun. I have faith that anyone can experience their best life year if they act on these simple suggestions:

-Celebrating each day of your birthday month
-Eating cake for dinner
-Riding roller coasters midweek
-Skipping to work hand in hand with a friend
-Taking afternoon naps to stay up even later at night
-Making Mondays your favorite day of the week
-Wearing bows, frilly socks, and wigs to work.
-Swinging when you pass a playground.
-Surprise Wake Up Attacks at 3 in the morning to go to a cafe.
-Holding babies at an orphanage after the busiest workday of the week
-Dressing up for themed parties
-Hugging people you care about just because
-Painting your nails with bright colors
-Riding random buses around Seoul trying to get lost.
-Sleeping party with Oreos and pizza while watching movies in your classroom
-Dancing until dawn opens a new day
-Riding  bikes on a sunny day
-Vacationing on the weekends

Life is an awesome gift--taking advantage of the simplicity of fun day by day.

Slumber Party at school
Dancing with MELKs
Korean Bows--can't get enough
Biking on the Han River
Wigs and glasses have debuted more than once with MELK
Wednesday, why not?
Weekend Vacation--Why not catch up on sleep in Okinawa
Getting on random buses and trying to get lost= finding  interesting cafes
Hallway Hugs
Dead Celebrity Party


Awesome World of Middle School

After 7 years of being cushioned in the middle I am no closer to being an adult than my students are. The only difference is, I no longer try to act up to my given age. I have humbly
accepted my 14-year-old maturity level which is 4 years away from adulthood. In addition to summer vacations, this is another awesome gift from the school calendar year--time that
regenerates year after year.

The faint smell of glue and crayons wafting from the elementary past to the future student directed debates from the high school corridors. I get to interact, facilitate, coach, and hang out with the best age group of kids on a daily basis. 13-14 year olds.

Thanks to my awesome roommate, another out of the closet 13 year old adult (Click for Ellie's post) who just happens to take on the "mature adult" title of Spanish teacher that gives hallway counsel to kids and colleagues, our combined maturity ages of 13 and 14 totals 27 which
makes us perfectly suitable to be responsible for the academic instruction required to be awesome middle school teachers.

To our 8th grade graduating class and soon to be C/O 2016-- life only gets better.

Some student quotes that reveal the true Ms. Meza and Ms. Effinger:

"You and Ms. Meza are just like us-- like teenagers but with money."

"You and Ms. Meza are roommates? So it is like a slumber party every night."

"You and Ms. Meza just get us."

"One of my favorite memories is Ms. Meza and Ms. Effinger wearing funny clothes."

"You must be rich, you go on vacation all the time!"
8th grade promotion dance...take my hand we'll make it I swear, living on a prayer
Shopping for ugly Christmas dresses to wear to work
Advisory kiddos at the beach
Appreciating myself with a special handmade jumper on Teacher Appreciation day
Wearing these once a year until we retire
Epically Rad 8th grade team chaperoning the promotion dance
Taking pictures at a photo sticker shop with our students
Photoshoot after church thanking one of our kiddos for these awesome purses
Eating silkworm larvae with our kids
Beach Retreat
Another one of Ellie's dare...
Birthday at school
Boldly showing off our frilly Korean socks
This says enough...
Waiting for 2 of our girls who got closed off the crowded subway train
Opening up a care package and revealing intimates (bikini) on accident...