Thursday, November 12, 2009

All the leaves are brown, And the sky is grey

I posted recently about how fall had been so far... complaining about the cold.

And then last Saturday the temperature climbed to 23, it was beautiful and sunny, and George and I spent the day on the beach. Pretty amazing weather for November 7th!

Just when I decided to give fall a chance, things took a turn for the worse. It's been rainy, windy and grey all week. I haven't seen sunshine since Saturday and it's starting to get to me. Also, with this nasty weather, it's been dark pretty soon after 5pm. That coupled with the rain and wind has really hurt my running schedule this past week.

Not good, since I have another 10km race on Sunday! Hopefully the training leading up to this week was enough to get me decently prepared. George and I finally braved the weather for a run last night, and aside from a bit of drizzle at the end of it, managed just fine. I'm hoping to beat my time from last month. I think the fact that I won't have been suffering from a cold for 3 weeks leading up to this race will definitely help. I also think that adding George to my training regime will also have done amazing things for my speed ... he's just so much faster than me! What better motivation is there than getting beat by someone who hasn't done physical activity in almost a year!?
I'll be posting race results and experiences on Sunday or Monday.

Also this week in Korea, yesterday was university entrance exam day for all 3rd year high school students (kind of like SATs). The whole country rallies around these students. All businesses and schools begin their day at least one hour later to minimize traffic. For 20 minutes during the listening portion of the exam, no flights are allowed over the country.
Crazy, right? Talk about putting extra pressure on these kids by magnifying the importance of this exam to ridiculous levels ... shutting down the airspace - really!?
My co teacher didn't tell me about this day so I arrived at school at the regular time and was the only one here (aside from the security guard, lunch lady and a few kids) until about 9:40. The extra hour of sleep would have been nice...
Here's an article further explaining the tests ... very interesting:

Overall things are going well here, minus the weather. Christmas decorations are making their way into Starbucks and some of the major department stores ... I am excited to see them/ sad that I won't be home for Christmas. I will however be on a beach somewhere in Southeast Asia, so it's not all bad!

Miss everyone at home xoxo

Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!

(more like giraffes and a penguin, but good luck finding a lyric to match that!)

George and I decided to spend Halloween in Seoul, the capital city of Korea. Our good friend Wade was finishing up his contract the following week, so we were able to say goodbye to him, see some other friends in Seoul, and get a weekend away from Busan.

We took the KTX (Korean high speed train) from Busan to Seoul on Friday night. The train travels at speeds of up to 300 km/hr, so it only took us 3 hours to reach Seoul. Unfortunately the city is massive, and Wade's place (our Friday night accommodations) was about 1.5hrs from Seoul Station. We arrived late Friday night and after just hanging out for a bit decided to get to bed in order to rest up for the next day.
I had all kinds of ambitious touristy plans for Saturday, but we woke up to rain. After gorging ourselves on pastries we made the trip back into Seoul before noon. George's friend from high school, Quan, lives about 5 minutes from Seoul station, so we decided it was a safer bet to stay there on Saturday night, in order to make it to our train home on Sunday.
The rain showed no sign of letting up, so instead of seeing Seoul Tower, going for a cruise on the Han River, or exploring one of the many palaces in Seoul, we went to a major shopping district and spent the afternoon browsing. I did however get to fulfill two of my goals for the trip - to shop at forever21, and to eat a Subway sandwich (it was disappointing).
Saturday night was Halloween so we got in costume and went out on the town. Koreans don't really celebrate Halloween, so there were people stopping to gawk at the crowds of foreigners in goofy costumes. I had a great night, and it was made better by the fact that my costume was the comfiest I've ever worn!
Seoul was great, but I could tell from a short visit that if I lived there I'd spend a lot more money. The shopping, food and the bookstores would eat away at my pay cheques, so I think it's safer for me and my wallet to be in Busan! I also like how Busan is so much smaller - nothing is really more than an hour away, ever, and that's really nice.
I had a great time in Seoul, and I can't wait to go back and actually see some of the sights that I wanted to see!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baby it's cold outside

So, fall has definitely arrived in Korea ... and this Canadan is having trouble coping!!

Up until this week our fall weather has consisted of temperatures between 13 and 21 degrees .. pretty nice! Suddenly, on Monday, the temperature dropped to about 2, with the high during the day only around 10. What a change ... it's terrible.

To make matters worse, Korean school are not good in cold weather. They are built so that the classrooms are all on the side of the school that gets the morning sun, which warms them up nicely. The hallways however recieve no sunlight, so are freezing. To further the problem, all of the hallway windows are open. I need to wear my coat to walk to class, or go to the bathroom ... which is also not heated. The kids all walk around in coats all day too ... it seems like closing the windows would solve this problem ... not sure why they have to be open. My office is in a portable behind the school, and recieves no sunlight, so is actually colder than the outside temperature. I haven't taken my coat off yet this week! The floor heating is nice, but takes hours to warm up. I think I'll be investing in a space heater to survive the winter. All morning I've been taking breaks from typing to sit on my hands becuse they are numb from the cold hahah.

The super fashionable Korean girls are still super fashionable .. even though the temperature has dropped. Miniskirts are still everywhere, and I've yet to see anyone wearing an actual coat ... just cute blazers and thin, cropped leather jackets. Brrrrrr!