Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: A Year in Review

Dear Future Rae,

Here we are again, at the end of one year and at the start of a new one. When you think back on 2016, what will you remember? In comparison to 2015, my big "Year of Firsts," I feel like 2016 is almost eclipsed... but this past year was still full of fun adventures and shenanigans.
A snowy lane to end the year...
And thus, here is a chronological list of some of the highlights, for when you seek to remember the days of Past Rae...
  1. January - While at the time it was a bit of a nightmare, the 2016 Jeju Blizzard is now a funny story in hindsight. Stuck ON my airplane for over five hours (failing to go to Busan) and then at the airport for an additional four... my friends and I had an interesting time finding a place to stay the night and then getting back to our school the next day. The snow closed the airport (and my school) for a couple of days, which made it crazy in residence, but, at least I could make snowmen
  2. February - My first trip to China was for the Lunar New Year. I wasn't sure what to expect--especially not the constant fire crackers! But it was a lot of fun, I learned how to play Mahjong (and probably forgot most of it by now), and I ate some delicious home cooked food!
  3. March - I may have completed my first official "10 k" in 2015, but my first successful race was with my coworkers at the Jeju International Peace Marathon. A beautiful run and some super-awesome people made the day extra awesome--especially with the post-run food.
  4. March-April - The Cherry Blossoms in Korea are a remnant of Japanese colonization. One of my friends calls them "stealth beauties" because before they bloom, they look like grey, uninteresting and spindly trees. Then BAM! While the reason they are so extensive now in Korea is both painful and sad, they are still beautiful and it was a lot of fun wandering around Seoul and Jeju beneath their canopy.
  5. May-June - Future Rae, let's not forgot that you conquered the multi-week process of getting your Korean Driver's License! That's an exciting milestone. Congrats to that, and all that jazz.
  6. July - Home again, home again after a long year away. My mum and I managed to do a bit of camping AND we also went up the CN Tower. New adventures all around! 
  7. July/September - At last, I visited Busan and not once but twice (day trip)! This is a city I must visit again. Although it's a big city, it's definitely very different from Seoul. As I continue to explore Korea, I hope to find other awesome places!
  8. September - Some may find it weird travelling to a city in order to play a cellphone game, but as Pokemon Go can only be played in Sokcho, South Korea (yes, still only in Sokcho), Alyna and I weren't the only ones. It was cool to see many families out playing the game together and we enjoyed walking around the city. Another town I will have to visit again!
  9. Inktober - Paper, ink, and a challenge!
  10. October-November -Vietnam. Such an amazing place. At one point, I thought I would travel to places and cross them off my list, but I'm finding that instead I'm just creating a list of places I want to visit again...
  11. November - A few of my students expressed interest in running a race before they graduate last year. Because of our breaks and the exam schedule, it hadn't worked out and so we bumped it to this year. Race day was colder than what we expected, but all three finished with decent times considering they did not have as much opportunity to train as we would have liked. Hopefully I can encourage more students to participate in races in the future.
  12. December - To end the year off strong, I returned home for the holidays. I was able to see a lot of people, despite the short time frame, but as always wished I could have seen more. I also cut off most of my hair (for Locks of Love). Ha.
Before
After
 As I prepare to close this post, I think it's important to also remember that 2016 was also a big year for goodbyes. At the end of my first year's contract, many of my friends moved on to other opportunities and far-off places. It was a sad goodbye (I balled) because we knew that we might never see each other again--or at least not for a number of years...

Future Rae, Korea is still a fun place to be, for now. I'm happy I stayed for another year and hope that my current job search goes well for next year. I'm still waiting to run into a celebrity at Incheon Airport. It could happen. Someday. Hopefully I'll get lucky in 2017 and that celebrity will want to be my friend. ㅎㅎㅎ.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Almost There: Home for Christmas

Less than a week to go and then school will be over for 2016!
One of our Residence Trees "decorated" by Osulloc Tea Museum (오설록).
In some ways it's hard to believe that Christmas is almost here, but on the other hand, I'm sure teachers everywhere can also agree when I say "Finally!" It's been a crazy-busy fall and I am ready for another kind of crazy-busy with my friends and family back in Canada.

I'm only home for two weeks and I'm sure the days will race by all too quickly. Last year, I couldn't afford the plane ticket across the ocean and while travelling around south-east Asia was fun, it didn't really feel like Christmas. Without the family, food and usual (habitual?) disappointing lack of snow, it just wasn't "Christmas" in some ways.
Throwback: The sun's rays hitting the peak on Mount Kinabalu, Christmas morning 2015
Throwback: My friend Jade and I bundled at the top of Mount Kinabalu. My hat? A t-shirt.
So, family, friends, I miss you and I am so excited to see as many of you as I can soon!

Love and Hugs.