Monday, October 26, 2009

Hurry up and wait, so close but so far away

So, I have a Kinesiology degree, and one of my major reasons for coming to Korea was to help me decide what path to take next. For the last few years I've been torn between going to teacher's college or doing a compressed nursing degree. I finally made up my mind about a month ago that Nursing is a much better choice for me. It's been such a relief to finally make that decision ... and takes a lot of stress out of my life.
I just applied to school today ... wish me luck!
Trent Compressed Nursing, fall of 2010? I hope so.

Now that that's major decision making is out of the way I just need to wait and see if I'm accepted, then figure out what I'm going to do from April-September of next year once I'm back in Canada.

Take time to realize

Well, almost at the 7th month mark ... it's scary how quickly the time is passing! As excited as I am to see everyone at home (and don't even get me started on how excited I am for the food), it's sad to think that we only have 5 months left here.

However, the last few weeks have been great.

On the 17th a bunch of our friends gathered in Gwangalli to watch the Busan Fireworks Festival. My language exchange partners and co-teachers had all highly recommended it, and I was not disappointed. It was definitely one of the coolest things I've seen in Korea so far! There were 40 minutes of steady fireworks, which were set to music, and were launched above, below and around the gwangan bride ... which of course also had a pretty great light show going on to add to the fireworks. Enough talking ... check out some video! The first video is the end of the opening number, the 2nd video is to a section that was set to "doe a dear" from The Sound of Music. The final video is part of the finale. Enjoy :)

I'm pretty sure I spent the entire 40 minutes with a stupid grin on my face ... it was just soooo good. If you are in Busan for this event next year (yes, it's an annual thing), then GO!

This past weekend George and I also decided to go to the UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea. It's located near Kyungsung University ... I think the closest subway station is Daeyeon. Anyways, we really weren't sure what to expect, but were both very impressed. The grounds are massive, and covered in trees, grass (which we never see in Korea), and beautiful monuments, statues and flags. It was created to honour those killed in the Korean War. It was beautiful, peaceful, and really forced us to think about how far South Korea has come since the end of the war. Definitely high on my list of Busan reccommendations, especially if the weather was as perfect as this past weekend :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And that's the way it is.

Laura, Erin and I are successfully registered for our 2nd 10km race in Korea! It's not until November 15th, so I have just over a month to get healthy, and it better shape. I would like to take a couple of minutes off of my time ... we'll see how that goes!

Good news - the 6 mystery pills 3x a day prescribed to me at my 2nd hospital visit seem to have worked - my cold is finally gone!

I went to the Busan Foreign Language library at the Haeundae Beach Tourist Centre on the weekend, expecting to walk out with some new reading material. However, it turns out that they will only loan books to Korean citizens, or those married to Koreans. Boooo. I miss the endless supply of great books at home. I also really miss cottage cheese (random, I know).

Aside from that, everything is going great here. The weather has finally cooled off, and dropped as low as 14 degrees today. The flip flops may need to be put away soon.

Above: some pictures from a relaxing Sunday afternoon in Haeundae ... sweet car!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All of the people start to rush, start to rush by

Yesterday I ran my first race in South Korea. It's been a hassle trying to find races and register when I don't know the language! Luckily, a Pusanweb post helped me to find a Korean woman whose husband is an avid runner. She informed me of the Busan Ocean Half Marathon Race, and Laura, Erin and I signed up for the 10km distance.

We have all been battling colds for about 3 weeks, and our training has suffered. We arrived at the race yesterday sniffling, coughing and feeling unprepared and NERVOUS!
Some ridiculous sights soon helped us to relax a little bit:

- there was a group led stretch ... hundreds of people were participating, it was to set counts and there were girls in miniskirts and crop tops leading it on stage
- there were people whose job was to mist passersby with sanitizing spray ... need to be careful of H1N1!
- the first aid team were all on rollerblades .. and some were looking not too steady on their feet
- a lot of runners were wearing jeans

We found a grassy area to stretch, and relaxed until race time. When we noticed the crowd moving out we headed for the starting line with George, our trusty photographer in tow. After lining up and posing for pictures we were approached by a man.
"Um, are you 5km?"
"No, 10km"
"Oh no, this is the half marathon course. You need to go that way"

Panic immediately set in ... we had less then 10 minutes and we lined up at the wrong line with no real idea of where to go. We had to push through the entire field of half marathon runners, run over their start line and a few hundred metres down their course ... mildly embarrassing. Volunteers continued to point us in the right direction, and after a minute or 2 we saw a huge group of runners lined up. Unfortunately it was the 5km start line. There was no way to go around so we had to push through thousands of people to find our start line. Luckily I have learned how to say "Excuse me" in Korean, so after a few hundred "실래합니다's" we managed to pass the 5km start line. Finally ... the 10km participants were in sight! It was at this point that the race started. We were trapped behind thousands of people, so even though we tried to work our way to the front we were unable to cross the line for 7 minutes. I mean, at least we found it!

The race itself was a lot of fun. Running on the bridge was amazing, such great views! The incline was barely noticeable, which was a relief. We made sure to pose for the photographer that was perched on top of the bridge ... can't wait to see those shots. It sure is tiring to run while holding the double peace sign or the heart-above-the-head pose. I expected the crowds to thin out as the race progressed, but that never happened. I feel like I spent the entire time dodging through the huge amounts of people.

Some interesting things that I saw along the route:
- hoards of people stopping in the middle of the bridge for photo shoots
- runners in jeans
- people lining up along the side of the course so that the first aid rollerbladers could douse their legs down with numbing spray
- volunteers whose sole job was to hold open garbage bags at the water stations ... and everyone used them ... well, everyone except us ... I just threw my cups in the general direction. There were barely any cups on the ground - bizarre!
- free post-race acupuncture
- Kyungsung university football players doing the race in full uniform, including helmets

Overall it was a fun event. My time was 53:57 ... which considering the circumstances I'm happy about. I plan on doing another race in November and improving that time!

Thanks to George and Cliff ... our cheering section and photographers :)

After a lunch at Quiznos (a turkey sub was the closest I got to Thanksgiving dinner this year), George and I spent the afternoon on the beach, staying until the sun went down. A perfect end to the day!

Happy Thanksgiving Canada! Wish I was home for some turkey.

Holiday, Celebrate

Chuseok weekend was a great break from work and responsibility!

On Friday George and I took a scooter ride to Igidae Park (이기대 공원) which is on the far side of the Gwangalli beach. There is a boardwalk/trail that runs along the coastline and provides some spectacular views. The road that winds through the park reaches some pretty high elevations, so the view from some of the upper lookout points is amazing. One of my new favourite places in Busan!

Our friends Wade, Baerg and Ric came down from Seoul again on Saturday morning. We were lucky enough to have beach days on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I wish I could say that we took in some cultural sights, or did anything other then relax on the beach and party ... but I can't.

Overall a great long weekend.