Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good(bye) Things

Our time in Korea has not been ideal.  It's been far less rewarding than most expats'.  The main cause of all our trouble here has been our hagwon (Yoon's English Forest), but sometimes it's difficult to separate our business culture experience from our overall culture experience.

So, I thought I'd post the top six "good things" that have come out of living in Korea.  No, not all of them are directly correlated to Korean culture, but they've been made possible by this journey.

  1. Personal Growth
Korean culture is backwards from U.S. culture in many ways.  Working and living inside it has been a challenge from day one.   It seems that everyday I had to relearn how to problem solve and step outside my comfort zone.  I tend to keep to myself and not ask for help, so starting from the ground up has been a really good experience for me.
 2.  The Kids

Working with kids is always rewarding.  While they give us hell sometimes, it's only a handful that are actually true troublemakers.  The rest of them are a mix of clownish girls and boys who just want your attention.

I wish I had more photos of students, but here are some memorable kids:

Jenny and Ann.  You might remember Ann from a video I posted when Mom was here titled "Ann talks about bodily functions."

Cameron.  He's a smarty, but he's a crier.  He cried about everything from forgetting his homework to losing a foot race from the street into Yoon's.

Mattew and Eric.  This dynamic duo will do anything to weasel out of work.  But, it's all in good fun.  Mattew knows just about every way to say "What?" in English.  There were always periods of class which were punctuated with Mattew's barely restrained giggling and repeated "Pardon me?"  "I'm sorry?"  "Come again?"

3. Korean food
Being a vegetarian in Korea is difficult, but manageable.  It really taught us how to eat our veggies and enjoy a wider range of flavors and textures (both in Korean recipes and others).

Remember the first time we ordered pizza and it came with ham?  We were so sad.  And hungry.

First experience with bibimbap.  Note that in this post we call Chun wha "Kim."  Is that her English name?  I actually have no idea.

Fishy bread!

Homemade puchingeh and overcooked rice.

Kimbap and ramen.

Rainbow ddeok (rice cake).  My favorite.

Homemade bibimbap with brown rice.

Ddeokguk (rice cake soup) for Korean New Year's. 

"Nostalgia Drink" is not for Ian.

Sushi and yubu chobab (I can't remember the fried tofu stuffed with rice's Japanese name).

Take out bibimbap, all mixed up.

4. The People

Sure, our company sucked and the director is an evil dictator.  But, we met some really wonderful people here (Korean and otherwise) and we've built some international friendships.

Haso teachers (and Chang su).

Hayley, SJ and Kate.

Jeff, Adam, Matt and Albert.


Iris and Michelle.

Tina (in the maroon, I don't remember her friend's name, we only met her the once).

Rahee (far right).



Chun wha, Chang su and Min su.

5. Travel

We're about to embark on a trip back around the world and we got to spend New Year's in Japan.  Neither of those things would be possible without our time teaching here.

Zojoji Temple, Tokyo.

6. Our Marriage

Hopefully, it's a given that a married couple be best friends.  But, dropping ourselves into this new culture has made Ian and I iron clad.  We've shared a one room apartment for almost a year.  We (literally) do everything together.  And, we faced a bully of a company together.

Thank you for reading!

Good night!


  1. Awesome farewell post. It brought tears to my eyes, as it made me feel as though I am saying good bye to a good friend. You will treasure all the good that has come from this experience. Your journey continues as you travel the world for a month, and then a new chapter will emerge in your home land. I see exciting things for you and Ian, you both think outside the box, and I admire you for that. One other thing that would not have transpired if you had not embarked on this journey has to do with me. I would not have traveled to Cambodia or Korea, you helped to push me out of my comfort zone and I am a different person as a result. So though that is a completely selfish reason for being happy you took this journey, it is most definitely not the only reason. As a parent you want your children to have full rich happy lives. And I can say that both mine are doing that.

    I will go back to the beginning of the blog and start over, and through that process realize just how much you both have grown. I am so proud of you both.

    Cheers to the next leg of your journey!

    Don't forget to make the blog public again after you get your last pay check!

  2. This last post made me cry too. I will so miss the blog, and as your Mom said - I will be saying goodbye to a friend and a habit that I enjoy and look forward to every day. May the next leg of your journey bring you peace, joy, and safely home again.

  3. Beautiful post, Casey. I think this experience will turn out to be a blessing for both of you because of all you've learned and grown. And, as time passes and the hurt and anger alleviates, I'm sure you will look back on this time with more happy memories.

    And, wow, your travels! I think that more than makes up for all the baloney.

    Love you and looking forward to the 27th.

    Oh, and tell Ian that, yes, we'll take care of AES.

  4. D'you guys know about Huell Howser? ( ) Somehow that guy parlayed taking travel videos into a career where he travels around to cool places in Calif, exclaims how amazing everything is in a strong Tennesse hillbilly drawl, and gets paid for it.

    Maybe you can parlay travel blogs into a career, and spend the next 30 years travelling the world on someone else's dime?

  5. On to new adventures! I can't wait to hear all about them. Have a wonderful trip and put all the bad feelings behind you.

  6. Such a beautiful tribute to your time in Korea...and to you both! A wonderful piece on appreciation of your journey. I so love your writing style, Casey! Have a great trip home, you two!

  7. I've been teary eyed all day since you guys left this morning and afraid if I let myself start crying I may not stop for a while. We'll miss you both sooo much. Thank-you for passing on so much helpful knowledge to us since we got here... and your pantry left-overs (THANKS CARI : ) they are much needed and appreciated! You guys are MFEO (made for each other) thats from sleepless in Seattle in case you didn't know, and going through experiences like living in Korea just solidifies what is already there. There are lots of hard times but plenty of memorable ones. We're so glad we got to be apart of them and look forward to many more. Cheers! Hope your long trip home is a dream come true! See you in a few months in Portland : )