Let’s Get…. Political

28 01 2009

The world waits with bated breath to see what President Obama will do with his First 100 Days in Office. It’s important for him to make smart moves, as the whole country is depending on the economy to get better or something to just CHANGE. Personally, his first handful of days in office have made my idealistic little liberal heart swell up with pride. It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at decisions coming out of the White House (say oh, my entire adult life?) and agreed with them from a values standpoint. From the promise to close Guantanamo Bay, the envoy already sent for talks in Israel, the lift of the federal funding ban on abortion education, to finally, FINALLY! taking a wider perspective on relationships with Middle Eastern countries. It feels like a breath of fresh air and a modern take on the global world we live in, rather than the extremist views held by the former administration that were unfortunately passed on to the country at large for a time (or so it felt).

From a travel standpoint, it’s been simply lovely to be greeted by strangers with a fist pump and OBAMA! call instead of the range of emotions that usually came with being associated with the U.S. in the past few years. Mind you, this is only my personal experience, but I know plenty of Americans who have felt the same way. Clearly once you have a conversation it’s easy to see personal opinions and differentiate the traveler from the political decisions made by the country they came from, but I’m talking simple first impressions. Bottom line: I’m just impressed with the 180 that has happened in the White House. Keep those great decisions coming, Mr. President.

(I have a few posts brewing about Japan and of course will be posting photos and stories soon. Loveloveloved it!)

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안녕히 가세요 Korea…. Konichiwa Japan!

22 01 2009

I’ve got my mental checklist (actual bag packing happening after this Sex in the City episode), my Tokyo-Kyoto train booked, the hostel booked in Tokyo and Kyoto, and the dog is boarded until Wednesday. I love trips! I wish I had more time to explore Japan, but with the Korean won at its current rate I won’t be throwing yen around anytime soon. 4 days should stretch the budget quite enough! I’ll be back next week to let you know how the trip went, and of course post photos!

The title is in Hangul, the Korean language alphabet. It says Annyong hee kaseyo which means Goodbye! and of course Konichiwa means Good Day in Japanese, though I don’t know the alphabet there 😉





Self Improvement Updates

19 01 2009

Week 1: Resounding success. Ran wayyy more than 3 times, I think 6 times? Anyway, good start.
Week 2: Badbadbad. Ran once. Scale was mean to me. To be fair, it was a tough week at school. We had a field trip AND administered the end-of-the-year tests. But! Success on starting to study French again, so not a total failure.
Week 3: Monday off to a good start, ran today and planning on running tomorrow both ways. Studied Spanish last night and remembered many of the verbs today. Will keep repeating.

Need to keep on track on these goals, so far doing ok. 🙂 Does anyone happen to know of an online calorie tracker that has foods from other countries? Of course I can’t really calculate Korean food (or Indian or Thai, my main foods here) accurately on the ones I’ve been trying. Life.





Mother Tongue

17 01 2009

Speaking the english language is brilliant. I love it, and I wouldn’t have the opportunities to travel as extensively without the jobs I can get by speaking it. But I’ve always had this desire to know another language, and I don’t feel quite right not being able to communicate while I travel. It’s kind of a respect thing, and I would like to be able to at least make an effort. I studied French in high school but then didn’t make time in college. I picked up passing phrases by traveling, and I halfheartedly taught myself to read Korean. I only know about 10 phrases (and a handful of random words) in Korean, which is terrible since I live in the country. To be fair I spend the majority of every day surrounded by English (since I work at an immersion school) but I still don’t feel quite right about it.

Adding to my goals for this year, I am going to start making a concentrated effort to study languages. I got the program Rosetta Stone and have found a few language packages on the internet. While I know that it isn’t a perfect program, for me it is already better than buying a book. The program is interactive and teaches in a way that tries to immerse you in the language instead of allowing you to associate back to your native language. I’ve been doing a review of French to try to gauge where to begin in those lessons, and have done introductory lessons in German and Spanish. I haven’t been able to find Korean lessons, but I will keep trying because I know they exist! My co teacher is all over me to get on with my Korean learning, and keeps texting me in Korean to boost my learning. I know that isn’t the most effective, so I need to find the lesson!

Of course I will keep the interwebs updated of my language efforts. I’m kind of taking the Korean mentality with studying on with this new project. Some of my students study three languages or more, so I’m going to try with the self-improvement. So far, the lessons are easy and enjoyable, and the native speakers on the program make it easy to repeat. I’m so happy that my laptop has a built in microphone so I can do the speaking lessons too! I’m not expecting fluency or any such crazy thing, but more comfort with a number of languages, and the enhanced ability to communicate while on the road. Looks like I’ve got to make my way back to Europe! 😉





Flowers and incense: Bangkok, Thailand

14 01 2009

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Of course can’t remember which wat…. but this actually MAY have been the city shrine… memory… failing. Anyhow, I love all the colors and textures in the temple offerings in Thailand. Double plus good for the photo practicing.

Best news ever: I’ll be heading to Japan for the Lunar New Year! Japan is mega tons expensive, so I’m glad to be doing just a short trip even though I know that I will want to go back to explore more fully. It will be my first trip with my dear friend Kaitlyn (if you dont count Seoraksan, I suppose), who is leaving Korea at the end of February. Korea will become a much sadder place, to be certain. We’re excited to visit Tokyo and Kyoto, but mostly excited for the fashion. Korea’s colored tights have nothing on the Harajuku girls, so we’re hoping to pick up some inspiration!

Any advice on must-sees for a quick trip? We’ll be a day and a half in Tokyo and 2 days in Kyoto. Definitely the most money I’ve paid for a quick trip, but it should be well worth it for a chance to see another corner of Asia, and some much needed quality time with my dearest Kaitlyn.





Tridge: Midland, MI, USA

7 01 2009

tridge-at-night1Not so much a travel photo as a…. home photo! The tridge is the claim to fame in Midland MI, where I spent the first 18 years of my life. Anytime a Midland native brings someone new around, the tridge is one of the first things we show. I’m not sure if there are other “tridges” out there, but ours spans the meeting place between the Chippewa, Pine and Tittabawassee Rivers. Not the first place you’d want to swim because of Dow Chemical Company just a few miles upriver, but of course we’ve all been in anyway (that’s why we glow in the dark). I felt it was time to post a photo of somewhere I’ve been a billion times before, instead of a travel photo!

Have an enjoyable evening (or morning on the other side of the world)!





Wombats in Steve Irwin’s Zoo: Australia

6 01 2009

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I love wombats. They are so cool. The only one I’ve seen in the wild was when I went camping near the Jenolan Caves and one ran out in front of our car. Luckily the darn thing was fast because we never saw it coming!

Doing well on goals: ran to work today. Posting. Writing. All good stuff. 🙂