a small announcement

The Halifax Public Gardens are the most beautiful place on earth. I am in the process of digging a hobbit hole to live there permanently. That will be all.

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Picture stolen from Google Image because my camera has decided to die, but I don't think you really lose anything not seeing my goofy face in frame.
heroine addict

and i'se da bye dat sails her

Greetings, long-abandoned internet folk! It is I, Sarah, checking in after a nearly six month-long absence. Since I last updated, I moved safely back home to live with my family outside Vancouver. I will say this: it's a lot easier to get Western food in Korea than it is to get Korean food in Vancouver. I'd kill for some really good kimchi jigae right now, especially the kind with little chunks of Spam. Mmmmmm.

But that's not the point. A few weeks ago I started to get itchy feet to travel again - perfectly sensible, given that since I graduated high school the longest I've ever gone without boarding a plane is five months. Yet I have obligations both financial and familial, making catching a last-minute red eye to Serbia and hoping I find a job rather unfeasible. Plus, as my friend Sam puts it, I'm so po' I can't even afford the "-or" to be poor.

So I gathered myself together and thought of my options: where I could stay and who I wanted to see and the places I've always wanted to see. I knew I wanted to visit my family and friends in Ottawa, and once you're at Ottawa you're more than halfway across the country. It'd be foolish to not keep going, right? Right?

And now here's the plan.

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Red for flying, blue for busing. Shut up, Paint is perfectly serviceable.

I'm flying from Vancouver to Halifax, then busing to Amherst and Charlottetown, where I'm staying with friends and family. After gorging myself on Anne of Green Gables and potatoes until I'm sick of them (speaking theoretically; this will not happen), I bus to Halifax, staying in a university dorm room. (People, you have got to check this option out. It's almost a third of the price of a hotel room.)

After that, it's back over to Ottawa for a month with my family, and then waaaaaay back west homewards. Total time on vacation: almost six weeks. Total cost for travel and accommodations: very, very low. Very low. Super low. Go seat sales!

And I get to see the east! I was born in Halifax but haven't been east of Quebec City for almost twenty years. PEI and Nova Scotia and the harbours and water and Green Gables and Road to motherlovin' Avonlea. I can almost hear the Joel Plaskett music now.

My older brother said to me, "I guess when you've done what you've done, it's pretty easy to pick up like that." I never thought of it like that, but I guess he's right. He's married with two kids and a mortgage, something I pretty much dread. I don't think of myself as the adventurous type, but travelling on a whim like this really doesn't frighten me. Yes, I've got no memories of these places and I'm staying with third cousins (my dad's family is labyrinthine), but what's the worst that could happen? I could be assaulted? Probably more likely in Vancouver. I lose all my money and have to come home early? I can't be deported and I speak the language. I am so ahead of the game on this one. Give me your best shot, Maritimes. Korea was here first and they were better at it than you.

Wow, that got dark quickly. Long story short: this is still a travel blog. Even though I'll be in my home and native land, I am going to travel this region's brains out. I leave in less than a week.

heroine addict

there isn't that much ocean between boston and st. john's

I have to pack today. I hate packing. It always takes longer than I anticipate, and I'm never able to take as much as I'd like. Add in the fact that I will have moved four times in fifteen months, and I'm looking for anything to procrastinate. So I thought I'd write a list of useful info when taking a job teaching ESL overseas. I know that how my job worked out doesn't make me the ideal candidate, but I have learned a little and I thought I'd share it.

Use a recruiter. You can do it yourself, but in that case you should probably be in the country already and know a little of the language. Recruiters don't get paid by you, which cuts down on your costs before moving (nearly everyone I know arrives here broke). Yes, there are unscrupulous recruiters, which is why you should search around, just as in any job situation. I can recommend ESL World, and I've also heard good things about Footprints.

Bring earplugs. I think I'm probably going to have trouble getting to sleep when I move back. It's just going to be too dark and quiet. Korea is loud. There don't seem to be any noise pollution laws, so cars routinely drive around blasting out music or advertising that reaches up many, many stories. Sounds seem to echo and bounce in the caverns created by so many tall buildings. And it's never dark, even with the blinds drawn. If you need quiet and darkness to sleep, bring earplugs and a face mask.

Learn the language. Start as soon as possible back home. If you live in a big city, you might even be able to take lessons. Taking so long to learn so little Korean is probably my biggest regret. There are people who have been here longer than me who speak less Korean, and it's rare that I've come across a complete communication barrier, but god, it's hard. We take communication back home for granted so often.

My parents tell stories about me getting angry and upset when I was little because I couldn't read yet. I'd look and look at books and not understand them. A few months in Korea, and I suddenly realized that I was feeling a low level of background frustration all the time - and it was the same thing. It didn't matter that I could infer and deduce what a lot of signs said; it was simply the fact that I couldn't understand them instantly that made me frustrated. This is obviously a personal experience. I don't expect others to feel the same. But the Korean alphabet really is very easy to learn, and it was foolish of me to not sign up for a course to help guide my learning.

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In keeping with the cat theme:

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i would go out tonight, but i haven't got a stitch to wear

I got some bad news yesterday, which I'll touch on later. I was surprised, heading home on the bus, that I was actually feeling pretty good. The other shoe had dropped, so to speak, and so I decided I was going to take advantage of this mood. I wrote Christmas cards and watched QI 'til my face hurt from laughing, and I did some serious damage to a bottle of white wine.

When I woke up this morning, I decided I was going to tackle today the same way. I put on a new shirt, necklace, and scarf. I put my hair up into a tiny, scraggly bun, only because it's an awkward length and I need to get a haircut. I wore earrings, too. Earrings and a necklace on the same day. I should have just pinned the A on and saved society the time.

I was walking to a classroom this morning when about six or seven kindergarten students streamed into the school. "Teacher, who are you?" one of them, a tall boy with a fivehead, asked me. I'll call him Nick.

I was little confused. "What do you mean, Nick?"

"Teacher is so pretty! Teacher, did you -" and he motioned with his fingers to indicate a haircut.

"Haircut. No, Nick, see?" I turned around to show him my hair in a bun.

"New Sarah-teacher!" he christened me, and the name stuck. In no less than three classrooms today, I walked in and kids wigged. Granted, they've got a median age of six and rely pretty heavily on body language and dramatics, but that does no harm whatsoever to the self-esteem. Today, I was New Sarah-teacher. I rule.

(Oh, and as for the other nonsense: the school hasn't paid me for two months and it's either closing or being sold by the end of the week, with little chance of me getting my pay. But I prefer the first part of this post.)

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everything sounds better auto-tuned

Finally, my heat is on! I'll spare you the boring details, but suffice it to say I am very happy at this turn of events. Now to curl up with some hot chocolate and watch Glee.

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Having the heat run through the floor is delicious on the feet. North America, get on this!

Had a few funny things happen lately at work. The first instance was with a student I want to nickname the Littlest Hobo, because she likes to go for wanders, but that seems mean-spirited. Let's call her Susie. Susie also hates wearing clothing, and is usually struggling to take it off as fast as I put it back on her. I'm not talking sweaters here, mind you - more like pants. (She shrugged when I asked her why she took her pants off once. "I'm hot," she said. All well and good, but not during phonics, dear.)

Anyway, Susie also has only the haziest notions of personal property, which was why she took another kid's pencil today and refused to give it back. What she didn't realize is that holding it behind her back meant the other kid couldn't get it, but I could. I gave the pencil back to its rightful owner, and Susie turned to me angrily as soon as she figured out what I'd done. She was brimming with anger and spat out at me, "Teacher, me no 'I love you'!" Thank goodness she doesn't know how to say 'I don't love you,' because otherwise my feelings might have been hurt. As it is, I think I'm landing on bittersweet as the judgment call on this one.

When discussing curly vs. straight and brown vs. blonde hair in classes, I have also been told lately that I have curly hair and quote, "golden locks." They must have gotten this from a storybook, but I know I didn't read it to them. I have sort of wavy hair as compared to the majority of Koreans, but curly? And golden? I know that biologically we consider children cute because they need us to care for them, but damn if my students don't seem to be working double time on the cuteness factor lately.

Speaking of which, I read them If You Take a Mouse to the Movies today, which is a holiday-themed book in the If You Give a Moose a Muffin series. I'm now fully in the holiday spirit. It's early, but hey, everything happens a little sooner on this side of the international date line. So if you want a holiday card, drop a comment with your address! Comments are screened, which means only the commenter and I can see your address.

Macro tiem:

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if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe

Blergh. I have suspected that the heat in my apartment has not been working properly, and my suspicions were confirmed when I woke up at 4 AM this morning because I was freezing. That's not an exaggeration. I have no heat and the temperature was below zero outside, which doesn't bode well for inside.

I had someone write a note that I handed off to the sweet ajosshi caretaker that explained the situation, and he came up and tinkered around for two hours. Still no luck. (On an interesting note, it looks like my heat is supposed to come through water pipes in the floor. That's different from what I'm used to.) Someone's going to come early tomorrow morning, but I'm still freezing tonight. Double blergh.

I'm staying up to conk myself out and hopefully get some real sleep, so I thought now was as good a time as any to post a bunch of uncategorized photos that have yet to find a home. As always, click to embiggen.

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Dongdaemun at sunset. I'm not a little proud of the way this turned out. The neighbourhood itself is kind of grotty-looking, but the gate's beautiful.

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heroine addict

you're my h-h-h-h-heartbreaker

bergeronprocess asked me to post more photos, so I shall! The issue is that I often forget to bring my camera with me when I go out, or I take a ton of pictures on a very exciting day that wears me out so much I lose the energy to post them. That's exactly what happened last week when I headed into the big city. The plan was thus: go to Seoul's neighbourhood of Myeong-dong, an area largely known for shopping. I wanted to get yarn for a sweater and try to find a winter coat.

This is me pulling faces in the elevator. (Click all pictures to embiggen, though why you’d want to for these is beyond me.)

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No, shut up, you’re adorable.

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It's not a post without a macro:
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oh kirk

hold. the. phone.

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what is this i don't even


Stupid North America stealing all the awesome. Bonus: They got the Starfleet delta insignia wrong on the science blue and cannon fodder operations red. The internet disapproves of your blunder, renowned New York City designer jeffstaple.

I'm just saying. If somebody out there* is looking for a Christmas present for me, I WOULDN'T MIND.

* Note to imaginary friends**: My family reads this blog a lot. I'm not asking you to send me stuff, for that is tres gauche.
* My mother calls my online friends imaginary. I think I find this funny.