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Mar 12th 2007

7 months... how time flies!

It's hard to believe that we have been in Korea now for over 7 months! As march marks month #8 we look back at what we have accomplished, what has happened while we've been absent from Southern Ontario, and what we still hope to do.


What have we learned in 7 months?

Hangul - A few months back, Chris took the time to learn the Korean alphabet called 'han-gul'. Hangul is very easy to read, and a subject of pride for all Koreans, who talk with great respect about their 'scientific'
language. Jill has yet to begin her hangul training because it is so easy to get around without it. Because English is so prevalent here in the city, it is possible to get around with very little Korean, of course there are the most important words for food and learning numbers is essential when shopping at the market but beyond that English serves you quite well.

Sightseeing - There have been many opportunities for us to do some exploring around Korea as well as a trip to Japan back in October. Living 10 minutes from the Seoul subway line is a easy and affordable way to see the many interesting, cultural, and cosmopolitan things that the city of 10 million has to offer. Unfortunately the
winter has kept us from more sightseeing but as soon as the sun comes out we will be hitting up many more places in Korea, as well as a week vacation that is coming up in May!

The Subway - Learning the ropes of the Seoul Subway system is an art form. The subway is our lifeline to hundreds of different neighbourhoods around Seoul. With 11 different lines and a maximum fee of $1.50 cdn to ride, the subway is both confusing and cost effective.
The Food - Korean cuisine is like no other in the world. It is an acquired taste - either you like it or you don't. One other problem is that every meal contains meat or seafood, so Jill has to pick and choose. In our neighbourhood there are literally hundreds of food
from the standard (pork or beef barbeque) to the adventurous (boiled intestines).

Teaching - We should likely mention that we have actually been working, and working a lot. 6 days a week for the past 7 months has taken its toll - the weeks are long, but we feel that time flies when you only have 1 day for a weekend. It has taken this long to get into a routine
with our teaching. Working with ESL kids definitely takes a good mix of patience, clarity and a sense of humour.

Finding the comforts of home - while we are not denying that we are living in Korea, it is always to find things around town that remind us of home. Of all the asian countries, Korea likely is the place where you can find the most things western. With restaurants like KFC,
McDonalds, Dominos Pizza, and Outback Steakhouse and stores like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Wal-mart, and even Costco there's plenty to choose from.

Musicals - Nothing has cheered us up better than being able to see some musicals here. The best have been The Lion King and Rent and we plan on seeing several more in the months to come.


What have we missed in 7 months?

Christmas - Being away from home for the month of December was definitely a sad thing. Missing out on some of our favourite holiday traditions left us feeling a little sad.
Food - one of the things we miss the most is the chance to go out for a meal at one of our favourite restaurants and have a nice large salad.
Family and Friends - That's pretty obvious
Musicals - Right about now The Community Players are about a month into rehearsals for this year's production of 'Titanic' Chris will really miss 'show week' when the New Hamburg arena becomes his temporary home away from home.
TV - Although we get a number of shows and movies on Korean TV, Jill misses TLC and Chris misses watching the Raptors' Games.
Driving - We miss having a car, even though public transportation is great! It doesn't replace a car.


What do we hope to do still in the coming months?

Vacations - With time off in May July and September, one priority is to hit the beaches of Southeast Asia! Stay tuned.
DMZ - We plan on taking a trip to the longest fortified border between South and North Korea, definitely an interesting trip.
Fitness - now that spring is around the corner, we hope to get running and playing sports a little more. Chris hopes to continue to play more Basketball and he might even join our school's baseball team.
Korean Cooking - one of the best things that we could come home with are a couple new recipes from Korea. This will guarantee that there will most likely be several dinner parties with a Korean theme in the years to come.
More Sightseeing - there's always something new to see and experience and we will do our best to do some more sightseeing around the country. A trip south to Busan on the High-speed KTX railway will be a highlight.
Keeping in touch - over the coming months we hope to be able to keep in touch with all you folks back home and in other parts of the world by email, messenger, and skype in addition to this website.