Monday, December 28, 2015

It's our 3rd Christmas in Thailand (Week 1: Phuket)

Three times makes something a tradition right? This year, we celebrated Christmas before leaving Korea. We made gingerbread cookies, opened presents, then got on a plane to Thailand.

Our first week was spent beach side in Phuket, Thailand.

Here's a summary:

Phuket 2015 from Farley on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Go big or go home. Literally.

We have made a big decision...

For those of you in international teaching, you'll get this. For those of you who are not, let me tell you about this process. Generally, one's initial contract at a school is 2 years. After that, you can sign a contract for varying lengths of time, including only 1 year. After our initial 2 year contract, we've signed year to year. At our school, which seems to be typical, this contract is due December 1. Since this is the typical deadline, most people need to quit with nothing lined up for the following school year. Everyone hopes to land something before the December 1 deadline, obviously, but there's not much to be landed until things open up on December 1. See the problem? Can you imagine both working members of a family of 5 quitting their jobs at the same time? It's enough to make one think they're going to throw up all the time.

We agonized over this decision. I have cried and cried. Here are the places I've cried about this: in the principal's office, in the 5th floor bathroom at work, out running along the Tancheun river path, in our bedroom, in the 4th floor bathroom at work, in my car, in my classroom, at the school Christmas party. Jim has not cried, but his sleep has been a mess. We both like our school, we're happy here, but we're ready to explore again. Why walk away from a good thing? It's time. We came here for the adventure.

We tried to land something before Dec. 1. We requested an extension and got one until December 5 and tried to land something before that. We were close. We had some Skype interviews, but the timing is so tricky.
Jim in the middle of an interview
skype interview selfie! (a few minutes before the actual interview)
You can take notes during a skype interview
We had to decide: are we the kind of people who walk away when things are good? Oprah did it. 
I told Jim it was like jumping off a high dive. He said, "it's like jumping off a high dive not knowing if there's any water in the pool". Jim has also said this is like riding a roller coaster where only some of the seat belts work. There were more analogies about sky diving and hot air balloons. I think you get the idea.

As our deadline of 5pm approached, we had gotten out of the house to meet up with our friend Christian for some head-clearing shopping and food. As we talked it over, it became clear that this is the right time. 

Here's Jim at 5:03:
I think he just shit himself 
Eating our feelings with banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. 

You might be wondering what comes next. Here's how this works going forward. We get our information out, we hope to connect with schools and have more Skype interviews. And then, while we're vacationing in Thailand over the winter break, if we don't have anything lined up, we will go to the job fair (that's a whole different story). Our safety net is America. Did you know you can get a house in America for like $10,000? DETROIT 2016!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weekend trip to Busan, South Korea

Jim had SeoMUN this weekend. It was solid, nonstop work for him. The kids and I were going to just hangout here during our 3.5 day weekend, but at the very last minute, I decided to join some other families and take a quick trip to Busan. Busan is a coastal city in the south (fact: Busan is the 5th busiest port city in the world). We caught the bus with the Cabalunas earlier than I would have liked on a day off, but it was worth it to get more time in Busan.  

We took the bus to Seoul Station and got on the super fast KTX train.

We stayed at a fancy hotel-which is not our usual style but it was right across from the beach and it had a great pool, so it was worth it. We went to the beach as soon as we arrived at the hotel. As you can see from the picture, some of us thought it was warmer than others.

There were people feeding chips to the seagulls. They encouraged the kids to hold the chip up in the air for the birds to swoop down and get it, but as the bird approached, August got scared and pulled his hand down and dropped the chip.
In case you can't quite see that:

Next, the kids tried out the pool and I tried out the hot tub. 

Saturday we visited the aquarium. We've been there before and enjoyed it so much, we went again. Of course, there was a foreigner discount! (Can you imagine what would happen if places in America offered foreigner discounts?!).

As we've lived abroad with the kids, I've noticed a gradual shift in their cultural awareness and preferences. I first noticed it when I was out with the girls and we were in a public bathroom and they asked if the toilet paper should go in the toilet or in the trash can (that's a thing, people). That was the first time I was like oooh, the kids are thinking about things differently. Well, after the aquarium, we got lunch at a food court and the girls chose Korean food over burgers. On the train ride home August said, "Mom, why isn't G Dragon the president?" There it is. 

Ruby using chopsticks
After seeing fish in tanks at the aquarium, we went to see fish in tanks at the fish market. 

The 2nd floor of the fish market are all restaurants so we went to one and ordered fish and eel.

We got a white fish and it was good, we did not get the "sea ass":

Here were the tanks of fish you could choose from at the restaurant we ate at. Look closely at the size of the crab just beyond August's head. Yikes.

1st floor 

We left the fish market and went to the regular street market.

5th busiest port:

Saturday night we got the BEST Indian food. Seriously, if you go to Busan, you have to go to Punjab.

Sunday morning we needed to leave early to catch our train back, the kids begged for one more swim in the pool. The pool opened at 8, and I let them swim for about 20 minutes. We really got our moneys worth out of that pool.

Because I booked my KTX tickets at the last minute, we couldn't travel with everyone else because all the trains to Seoul were sold out by then. Lucky for us, though, there were trains to Suwon, which is actually and closer to where we live. The KTX train and the yellow subway line that goes very close to our neighborhood are in the same building in Suwon. Despite how easy it actually was, it still felt like a huge victory to make it back with just me and the kids. I celebrated my victory by eating some kimbap and taking a nap.

Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving was similar to those that we've had here before in that it was a week of eating. Hooray! We started with a staff Thanksgiving meal after school on Monday. We sat with the Cabalunas and Snordichs (neither will be here next year, which makes me super sad, but I guess there's always the possibility they'll fly to back Korea next year just to celebrate American thanksgiving) too bad Jeff wore the ugliest shirt he owns.

Then on Thursday, we had a half day and, at our campus, the PTO (I'm president this year!) gets a Thanksgiving meal catered from the American Army base for the whole school. It's awesome. I got lots of pictures of my students, and it's not my business to put their pictures on the internet, but the next time I see you, I'll show you all of them. I brought Grace and Ruby, who don't go to school at my campus, with me because Jim had SeoMUN (he'll tell you about that later) and it was just easier and because Thanksgiving!

Then on Thursday evening, I had all the teachers come over for a potluck Thanksgiving. Each year I am so completely impressed by how good the food is. We started the evening by taking cheesecake to all of our immediate neighbors (upstairs, downstairs and next door) because of our loud "American Cheusok" party. Sue wrote me a note in Korean to show to the neighbors when I gave them the piece of cheesecake. It worked! No one called security on us!

Justin smoked a turkey all day and then carved it.

The following are just random pictures from the night:

This is how much they love each other*:

*for those of you who are not American here is a documentary about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry:

Enjoy this with some leftovers.