Thursday, August 29, 2013

49er Fun Park

Last Sunday I took Ian to the 49er Fun Park in Grass Valley. Why? Because I figured it would be great to have some classic American fun with arcade games, mini-golf and go karts. It turned out to be a good choice and we had a really great time.

We won about 600 tickets from playing the games, which was a fun way to gamble money. The go karts were also a good time, even though I was scared at first. However, I managed to pick up the racing feeling on my second time around.

Mini-golf was also a lot of fun and a really relaxed way to enjoy the outdoors. I thought their course wasn't too difficult (even though I lost). I think mostly the mini-golf course was well put together and maintained.

My ball kept dipping around the hole and not making it in, which I felt was incredibly unfair. But perhaps I need more practice.

Another fun filled day in Nevada County that I can look back on fondly.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Get Away To Come Back

My trip back to California has ended and I'm writing this back in Seattle. But as I rest up and process the past 7 days I've started to gather that this trip was really good for me. I'm mostly feeling able to look back on those first five months I had here in Seattle after leaving Korea. During that time, it seems, I was making my new life in America and at the same time looking back at the life I had abroad.

I have to admit that there were some dark times in the past few months, where it was difficult for me to accept the decision I had made. There were also times I felt lonely in a new town and also stressed with the hardships that make up American life.

But it seems I was able to get through all that and end up in my dad's mountain town, where I could relax and take a deep breath.

Now I'm understanding that my decision to come back to America was in all essence a very good thing. In a sense I feel a lot more like myself being in America and that my experiences abroad have helped shape me in many ways. What I want to say is that I'm ready to go forward and carve more of a life for myself here. I want to enjoy this life as much as possible and to develop myself as a teacher along the way.

Coming back to Seattle, it did feel like I was coming home. I felt really good that I picked Seattle as my new place to live because already I have enjoyed so many things here. The seasons will be changing soon and summer will fade behind us, but I want to go forward with a renewed sense of spirit and enthusiasm. So ...I guess...better step to it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back at the Yuba

Weather has been cooling down slightly here but yesterday it was clear and hot enough to head back to the river. This time someone came with me and this would be a good time to introduce him.

Ladies and boyfriend...Ian...

We've been together about 6 months and he's never been out to this part of California so he's been having a good time. Anyways I won't really go into much detail about our relationship...if you have questions send them my way, I guess.

It was a good day for swimming and enjoying the California sun with some clouds here and there.

Mostly I was just really happy to be at the river again after being so far away from it for so long. So just today and tomorrow left here in Nevada County...then back to the Seattle grind. However, I do miss Tom and hope he's doing well without me. Hang in there little buddy!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Up here in the Sierra Foothills off of highway 49 lies two sister cities, one Grass Valley and the other Nevada City. My dad lives nearby Nevada City which is a quick little walk away. But down the freeway just about 8 minutes is downtown Grass Valley. It's a bit bigger than Nevada City and in some ways has it's own charm and unique style.

I had some time before meeting my friend for lunch and so enjoyed browsing through the local shops.
In one shoe store I found a really cute pair that I would definitely buy if I weren't on a student budget. But my birthday is coming up so I did get a new purse from the store, which I'll have to get a picture of someday.

I had lunch with my friend at the South Pine Cafe, where I consumed the best tofu scramble I've ever had.

Afterwards, we headed to a local thrift shop that sells stuff at decent prices. I'm talking $3.00 for a shirt, which is what the price of things at thrift stores used to be until it became hip.

Another fine time here in Nevada County~

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Return to the Yuba

One of the biggest reasons I was excited to head home this summer was that I could take a dip in the Yuba River. I did just that today with my friend from high school and her 3 boys. It was refreshing in so many ways.

I'll be back this weekend to get in more California sunshine and Yuba. Spotted this fish cozying up to my leg...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Random Around Seattle

Old game systems available to play at a bar/restaurant in Georgetown (above). Art posted onto a pole in Capitol Hill (below) (artist).

Studying at Volunteer Park on a warm and sunny Sunday...

Book exchange box found near Broadway on Capitol Hill...

All these treasures and good times were had over this summer here in Seattle...what else will be found?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On the flip side

My advisors asked us MATESOL students if we had the time to volunteer to give feedback to a group of visiting Korean teachers. These are a set of teachers who are here to learn more about teaching English, then head back to Korea.

Today I did just that, and with a panel of other students watched several groups give teaching presentations. I have to say I felt a lot of flashbacks to teaching in Korea, especially the coteaching part. It reminded me of many things and I almost felt like I was in Korea again, but this time I was on the flip side. I was giving feedback to Korean English teachers, instead of them observing me. It was odd, fun and quite educational.

Overall their lessons were very good and showed that they know to use different methods and strategies. I gave positive feedback and some pointers here and there.

I was asked to come back tomorrow for the wrap-up session since they will be leaving for Korea in 2 days. Maybe I'll get a chance to mingle with them and share thoughts and stories.

I have to say, though, that it did feel good to be over here and on this end where I can help teachers teach English.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

End of the 2nd Quarter

Summer seems to be winding down here in the Pacific Northwest. I can tell this because it starts becoming dusk around 8:30, as opposed to 9:50. However, I realized today that I like summers here and will hold on to that as the cloudy days are to come in winter.

Well tomorrow is my last week in this quarter and that would make two quarters already done. I think I've got the hang of graduate life and understand how it works. So far I find myself enjoying my classes and find it's easy to grasp the things that interest me than to struggle with topics that I don't yet quite understand. On the side, I've been reteaching myself grammar, because I think it's high time I have a strong background in that department.

As much as I've been enjoying class, studying and doing school work we will have a 5 week break before the next quarter. So I'm going to head down to California to visit my folks who I haven't seen in some time. One of the reasons that I decided to live back in America was that I'd be closer to family, and so this is a way of making that work.

In essence I am grasping the fact that it will almost be 6 months since I left Korea. And although at times I feel like I'm missing something or homesick for Korea I do remember some specific reasons I left. I know American life is certainly harder than Korean in finances and moving up in the job world. But I also know if you work hard enough you can get there. So when I'm traveling around the outer edges of Seattle and see cute cottages next to tall evergreen trees, I think, "I sure wouldn't mind living like that." It's a dream I'm holding onto as I count every penny in my pocket and time spent with my nose in a book. I guess, it's my American dream.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What to make of Bellevue

Across from Seattle is a town called Bellevue. It's where some Microsoft buildings are and other tech firms. When going over to Bellevue you know you have left Seattle because several things look different. For one it's a newer looking city with tall, shiny glass and steel buildings. It also is like the retail core here in Seattle but on a larger scale. In some sense, when I go to Bellevue I sort of feel like I'm going to Gangnam. The new shiny buildings, retail shops and abundance of what looks to be well off people sort of resembles what it's like to head to the core of Gangnam back in Korea.

Last weekend I went to Bellevue with a friend to enjoy their arts festival. Overall it was a good experience but I think it was more crafty than arts and pretty much scaled down. They did have musicians playing, so I'll give them that. But it wasn't really what I was expecting and after a while the booths became repetitive.

Unlike Korea though this was easy to navigate, look at things and walk around without having to tip toe through a large crowd. So in some sense it's a bit of a welcome compared to Gangnam.

I had a good time despite my mixed feelings on Bellevue and found some treasures along the way.

The Kettle Corn wafted throughout the air...

As we left the art fair we walked through one alley that was a designated chalk drawing area.

Throughout the region there are other art festivals that go on so I might be pressed to visit those and see how they compare. For now I'm still going to work out how I feel about Bellevue, but I don't really go there that often anyways.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Those Early Days in Korea

(first arrival in Korea on bus to Seoul)

I don't want to forget the life I had for the past five years, and I feel like if I don't some how visually see it, I will not remember. So I've decided to put together a series of photo albums to tribute my life in Korea.

To do this I need to look through all my photos. If you know me, you'll know I have a lot of photos from Korea. I couldn't help but take one right after the other. My curiosity was always on high even towards the end. So I just plowed through my "2008" file and couldn't help but feel sad, happy and fulfilled all at once. Let's take a look back at some of them...

I first stayed at a semi-love hotel place that was near a Dunkin donuts and Emart. But everything was incredibly new to me. I didn't know what to eat and at the time only had a very small mini-fridge. So above is a picture of small orange juice boxes I found along with mini hodukks to snack on. 

In my first place the previous teacher (tenant) left behind this potted plant.  It was my source of greenness in my new city of concrete and neon. I sometimes wished I had took it with me when I moved around Korea. I wonder if it still thrives by whatever teacher lives there now.

At some restaurant and I don't really know where. Distinguishing Korean-ness: pitcher of water you pour yourself and the big bag I use to carry around. 

For those living in Seoul this is a significant picture, because for one it's before they built the tunnel barriers. Remember the wind blowing? I also like the framing going on here. 

If there is one aspect of my memories from Korea that will bring tears, it's from the students I taught across my five years there. That boy in the picture holding up his hand became a good friend of mine. He had to move down south, and throughout the years I would get a text from him asking how I was and that he missed me. I wish I could go back to myself and say, "You are an inspiration Joy! Do more...more!"

The second place I lived in was in all sense of the word, horrible. But there were odd times when I would spot beauty amongst my concrete urban living. In this instance I caught snow flakes beaming through sun-rays that are peeking through two buildings. 

I don't know, but there is a lot of weight to carry in one's heart and mind knowing they have all these memories in a place far away. I know I want to create a photo album, but in some way I also want to create some artistic response to all these images. We'll see.