An Instant Fill(terd) Day

What does one day look like for me? Does it involve all the excitement you would except of a YAV living in South Korea? Glad you asked. Let me show you show you through my lens. (I recently fell in love with the Instant Filter so bare with me as I have a theme)

I like to start my day with Coffee or Tea and ideally fruit. If I remember to eat breakfast. A lot of the time I forget and then get grumpy around lunch time. It’s one of my Lenten activities to add a morning routine that involves actually eating before I start my day.  img_5511


In addition to my morning I try to spend a few moments meditation, reading or journalling. Again I emphasis to try because most mornings I “forget” in favor of social media. Yoda’s wise words “Do or do not, there is no try” echo in my head as I work at establishing discipline in my life.

The rest of the morning is getting ready for the day and staring at my computer screen pretending to be an inspired writer.  substandardfullsizerender.jpg

Then comes volunteer activity number one. Monday – Wednesday for wo hours in the morning I go to three different sites. On Monday Lauren and I attend a Korean Class a Migrant Woman’s Shelter. Tuesday we both go to a Homeless Support center for a different Korean class, or sometimes we teach English. On Wednesday Emi and I go to a Youth Center and help out at the climbing wall.

img_5513We were reading The Little Mermaid on Tuesday. This particular version is better in Korean then English. 

IMG_4761.jpgOn our breaks of children to harness in to ropes and sending them scurrying up a 20 foot wall, Emi and I get a climb. 

After my morning activities I walk to my afternoon site. It generally takes about 40 minutes as I have now figured out side roads and subway underpass shortcuts.


Take out deliveries are made from the back of these bikes. Often they blare music as they hurtle down the road. I am constantly jumping out of the way, sidewalk or road. But food arrives quick and hot! 🙂


One of the places I walk through is Daejeon Station. A lot of vendors sell their wares on the street or small shops. Navigating through on a busy afternoon can be tricky. Many Grandmothers are out with their carts and bags shopping and bargaining. When maneuvering in a small space with a Grandmother expect the Grandmother to win. Every time.

img_5004A lovely view on my walk. 


I often arrive at my earlier then most the children do. (Though as it is still school break they are all beating me there)  Sometimes this guy is early as well so we hang out and play games or take pictures together.


This is 화진 Hwajin. She was the winter volunteer at Sauem. She’s pretty awesome and responsible for all the schedule of break time field trips. Now she is back at University and I shall miss her and our share struggles or trying to communicate. Language barrier and all we made it work.


The kids love to pay outside, even when its cold enough to make your face hurt.


The rest of the afternoon is filled with activities and lessons. They were designing how they wanted their paper mache masks to look. It’s seriousness stuff.




Dinner is served to the children and staff around 5:00. I really love the food that is cooked. There is nothing like home cooked meals. 🙂


Now that spring is coming the sun is still out when I leave after dinner. The park across the street is always lit in a evening time glow.


Whereas I walk to my site, I ride the bus back. I have started to recognize regulars who also ride the same routes as I do. It’s kinda funny when I see them other places in the city.


img_4318No bus is complete with a request to refrain from assaulting the driver. 

My evenings after work are filled with socializing with my friends. We mostly just hang out and laugh as we try to communicate and pronounce everything wrong. The dictionary is our favorite friend. However, that doesn’t stop us from having a good time together.


Then there are my housemates. At some point we are all back home together and we share our day’s adventures and trials. This was our valentines day photo.


Although we don’t get to watch everyday, our day includes our favorite Korean Drama, Dokkaebi (Goblin) in one way or another. No evening is complete without at least a an episode in which Gong Yoo is an immortal demi God Goblin, or if time is limited a commercial of him selling beds. It’s important. I promise.


Then my day ends and I head off to bed. Nothing really exciting or amazing happens, but the moments are filled with small beauties. The things I remember at the moments spend with people, be it the children at my site, my friends or housemates. They are the moments that make my time in Korea so special.


Just Keep Eating

You just watched a video I made while visiting a family for the Lunar New Year.

Korea recently celebrated the Lunar New Year, 설날, Seollal. It is the first day of the Lunar Holiday. People back home probably know of it as the Chinese New Year. 

Given the close historical ties between Korea and China through the centuries and the passage of ideas and culture, it is clear that much of the same traditional exist between the two. This year is the Year of the Roster. 


It is one of the two large celebrations in Korea.  Families typically gather at the eldest son’s house with the grandparents. Many wear the traditional clothing Hanbok and partake in a bowing ceremony to honor the grandparents. Afterwards the children of the family receive money as gifts for the New Year.  Then there is a lot food, family activity, perhaps a visit the family ancestral burial ground to honor the ancestors and more food!


I was invited by a friend of mine, Areum, to spend the weekend with her and her family in the Southern Ocean City of Ulsan. We got to ride the fastest train in Korea, the KTX. It went around 170 mph!

While visiting I got to meet the members of her very large family and extended family.  I ate so much I thought I was going to burst on multiple occasions.


For all the subtle differences there was so much in common with family gatherings back home. We ate together, laughed together and shared stories about what had happened over the year.  It really was a beautiful time spent.

img_4602(Areum’s family. Her other sister took the picture and her older brother was in the Czech Republic and couldn’t come. )

Besides the main festivities on Saturday, Areum and her family took me on mini vacations as documented in the photos below. 

img_4378Exercising before all the food! 


Taehwa River Seepri Bamboo Grove

Bamboo Forest – 대나무숲 –




Taehwa River –


img_4629This is the whale bridge. Ulsan has a special attachment to Whales. There are prehistorical drawings of them and they have a Whale festival every year. 

Oegosan Onggi Village (외고산옹기마을)

Onggi Potts are the traditional kimchi and sauce pots. Onggi Village is famous for its tradition of making the clay pots.

img_1829Broken Shards of pottery. 


img_4599Just chilling in a kiln with Dream, Areum’s little sister. 

img_4628Who has the best face?

img_1838Magpies 까치 kkachi are everywhere in Korea!

Ganjeolgot – The Ocean at Ulsan 


img_4789Maybe my packages won’t get lost! 

img_1852There are many myths and legends surrounding the sea and dragons. 

I feel very blessed that I was invited and welcomed into the family to celebrate a pretty intimate family holiday. Thank You Areum!