Road-tripping from Colorado to Washington…and back again

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As I mentioned in my previous post, our Christmas in Washington was awesome!
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On our drive up to Washington, we decided to take a different route than the one that we took when we first arrived in Colorado. We thought that it was too much of a risk to drive through Montana and northern Idaho with the snowy weather and mountain passes. So this time around we drove north in to Wyoming, then west into Utah, then into Idaho and Oregon and finally crossing north in to Washington.

It was a long 2 day drive, but the views were absolutely incredible!
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We’ve both decided that even from the small part of Utah that we got to see, that it looks like a beautiful state and we wouldn’t mind moving there! We also stopped in Boise Idaho for a short while and decided that it looked like a cool city with a beautiful backdrop of foothills.
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Below are some photos that we took during our road trip.

I hope you enjoy them 🙂
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Christmas 2015- A Family Affair

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This Christmas was truly the best Christmas that I’ve had in a long time! Living abroad is an amazing adventure but it’s always the hardest at Christmas time, not being able to spend it with your family.

This year both myself and Jason were feeling pretty down about not being able to be with our families, so we decided to risk the snowy roads and drive up to Washington to be with Jason’s family.
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Honestly, it was the BEST decision that we’ve made in a while!

Once we arrived at Jason’s sisters house it was like we had magically landed in Narnia! Snow was falling, there were beautiful evergreen trees everywhere and once inside her house it was so festive.
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She was making cookies and Christmas movies were playing while their beautiful Christmas tree lit up in the corner. It was perfect!
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We spent our first few days just playing in the snow with Jason’s niece and enjoying our time away from job searching and other frustrating things that happen when you move to a new city.
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Then on Christmas eve all of Jason’s family came to his sisters house to celebrate Christmas a day early. Jason’s mom and some of his siblings still didn’t know that we were going to be there so it was a lovely surprise for them, especially his mom, to see us and the Elliott siblings were all together for Christmas for the first time in five years!
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We had such a wonderful day, the snow was falling outside, the views from Ambers house were just magical.
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We ate so much food, I introduced the family to Christmas Crackers and we all exchanged secret santa gifts by the Christmas tree. I think I had a perma-smile on my face for the entire day because it was absolutely perfect.
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That evening we drove to Soap Lake, where Jason’s parents live, to spend Christmas day with them.

On Christmas morning we woke up and opened our presents in the guesthouse that we were staying in. Afterwards we went to Jason’s parents house to watch the kids open presents, cook an Irish breakfast, laze around, eat a great ham dinner and play board games.
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It was such a wonderful Christmas, definitely one to remember…even if it did take 2 days to get there and another 2 days to get back!
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My Top 5…Moments of 2015

IMG_7947Oops, I’m a bit late with creating this post since it’s already over a week into 2016, but I guess late is better than never!

 

2015 was an incredible year and one that I won’t forget anytime soon! Myself and Jason are, for the first time, heading in to a new year with so much uncertainty and a bit of fear. I hope that 2016 ends up being an amazing year, but for now I’m going to focus on how great 2015 was.

So here are my top 5 moments of 2015:

5. WWOOFing in Washington

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This was a great chance for both myself and Jason to firmly leave our comfort zones. We worked hard, learned a lot and most importantly had fun while working at Paradisos Del Sol Winery in Zillah Washington.

I highly recommend WWOOFing to anyone interested in getting off the beaten path and seeing the world in a unique way.wpid-img_20151003_084246.jpg

4. Weekend trip to Seattlewpid-img_20150910_074009.jpg

For Jasons birthday I got him tickets to see the Mariners play baseball. That, coupled with the gourmet food tour that our friend Ian gave us, created an awesome weekend full of fun memories that I’ll cherish for a long time to come!wpid-img_20150908_120110.jpg

3. Beomosa Temple Stay

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What an incredible experience! We got to live in a temple for the weekend, meditate, pray, eat and drink tea like monks. We also learned a lot about Buddhism and were able to clear our minds for that wonderful weekend. IMG_9292

2. Finally Spending Christmas with Family

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It had been 6 years since I’ve spent Christmas with any family. Both myself and Jason were getting down in Denver thinking about spending another Christmas alone, so we made the decision to load up the car, drive 2 days to Washington and spend the most incredible 2 weeks with his family! We even had a white Christmas…it was so perfect and gave our spirits a badly needed lift.
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1. Our honeymoon in Singapore and Bali

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Ever since myself and Jason got engaged we both knew that if we had to choose, we wanted our honeymoon to be the highlight instead of the wedding. At the end of the day, we care way more about travel and experiences than we do about dresses and place settings so we did exactly that, had a low key wedding and enjoyed the most wonderful 2 weeks in both Singapore and Bali. We splashed out and stayed in an amazing villa with a private pool in Ubud and the memories from our honeymoon are going to stay in my mind forever.wpid-img_20150224_073315.jpg

 

So there we have it, my top 5 moments of 2015. It was so nice to look back on them while writing this.

How about you? What are your favorite memories of 2015??

 

5 Reasons Why I’m Excited To Move To America

download (5)Well, the countdown is on!

We officially only have 7 short weeks left before we pack up everything that we own (including the dog) and move to America. Of course we are quite apprehensive about certain aspects of living in America (healthcare, guns and no legal requirements for employers to treat their employees well, to name a few)

But, overall, we are so excited for this next adventure!

I’ve decided to write a list of things that I’m most excited about:

1. Clothes!

This may sound so superficial but that has been one of the hardest things about living in Korea. Koreans are super tiny so it makes sense that their clothes are too. I had always been an average weight and size back home in Ireland and coming here where the XL won’t even fit was tough to deal with! I have given up buying clothes in Korea and if I do I have to buy clothes that have a free size and I’m not fully comfortable in.

I miss having my own sense of style and dressing for my body type rather than having to wear the only thing that fits. And I miss having options! I can’t wait to be able to be in a store and pick any piece of clothing that I want and knowing that they will probably have my size and if it doesn’t fit…they’ll have a bigger size!

And the bras…I can’t wait to be able to have options when it comes to buying bras and shoes! (Korea doesn’t do shoes in my perfectly average Irish size 6)

2. More food options

I love Korean food…seriously, I could probably eat it every day if I could! But what I do miss is being able to find a recipe online and cook it at home. Yes I can do this but 85% of the time I have to substitute certain ingredients and omit others. I can’t wait for all of the food options in the supermarkets in America!

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I warned Jason that we are going to be eating Greek food A LOT in America!

 

3. An Easier Life With Willy

It’s no secret that I love my dog, he has become a staple on this blog and I try to include him on as many of my Korean adventures as possible. But at the end of the day it can be hard to have a dog here. There is a lot of litter on the streets which means I have to constantly check to make sure he hasn’t picked up something dangerous or disgusting. Most dog owners have very small dogs who are either completely unsocialised and aggressive or their owners are terrified that Willy will eat them so they pick them up and run away when they see him. Unfortunately Willy doesn’t get much chance to socialize with dogs so we are so excited to be able to bring him to dog parks in America and be around dogs of all different breeds. Oh and being able to let Willy off leash, I just can’t wait!IMG_7516

4. CHRISTMAS!

I HATE Christmas in Asia, I’ve had to celebrate it 6 times here and no matter what I do, it feels so depressing. There is no Christmas cheer in Korea (understandable) and people don’t understand how difficult it is to be away from your loved ones during this time. I know that I’ll still be away from my loved ones in America but it’ll be easier, I’ll be surrounded by Christmas cheer and I’ll be able to buy food for a great Christmas dinner.  I can’t wait to go on Christmas overload and do all of the things that we couldn’t do all of these years! (Jason has promised me that we can do all of the Christmas things this year, no matter how cheesy they are)IMG_20141130_205253

5. Being like everyone else.

I won’t be stared at anymore, I won’t be approached by South Asian men on the bus. I won’t be targeted by older Koreans to shout at. There are some wonderful aspects to being different, such as little kids coming up to say hello to me at least ten times everyday. People understanding when I do the wrong thing at the bank/restaurant/bus etc. and getting free things in restaurants. But after 5 years, I’m ready to blend in and not be the odd one out.

 

Apart from these reasons, I’m so excited to see the beautiful American landscapes, get myself immersed in the beautiful nature that Colorado has to offer and try my hand at lots of new sports.

 

What do you think of this list?

If you are in Korea, is there anything that you would add to this list?

 

Our Christmas class

So every year we try to do something fun with the kids before Christmas. This year we decided to get my family involved and asked my nieces and nephews back home to send my students a video message. Just something short about themselves.
We then showed the messages to my students and allowed them to respond in whatever way they wanted. The results were so wonderful, we have some amazing videos, cards, mini presentations about Korean food and some origami.
Everyone involved had a lot of fun. My students loved seeing my family back home and were so excited when I told them that I would send all of their cards back to Ireland.
I absolutely love doing these fun activities with my kids, it allows the lower level students to express themselves in other forms and it allows my higher level students to show off their English skills.
Here is a collection of some of the cards, videos and other miscellaneous materials that we made:
6th Grades Christmas messages to my family.

Merry Christmas!

Don’t cry over a turkey…

At least we have our tree decorated! (It has since collapsed, but we have managed
to keep it upright)

Being an expat definitely has it’s pros and cons. Unfortunately the biggest con for me is having to spend Christmas in Asia. Christmas is the biggest holiday for my family and unfortunately this will be the 5th Christmas in a row that I won’t be spending it with them.

Myself and Jason try to make the best of our Christmasses here in Korea. We usually go to Nampo-dong in Busan to see the beautiful decorated streets or watch movies, bake cookies and drink egg-nog and wine. Unfortunately we have both been so busy this year that we haven’t managed to do any of those things. It has been hard, so now it’s the Monday before Christmas and I have no Christmas spirit 😦

Ghosts of Christmas past in Nampo-dong.
…and again.
And one more.

We did decided however that we were going to cook a turkey for Christmas dinner. Of course being in Asia makes it hard to find a turkey so we packed ourselves and Willy in to the car and went on an hour and a half journey to Costco looking for our turkey. We were both so excited to be able to buy some food for our Christmas dinner. But, as life goes, they had no turkeys. I was so upset. Yes I know, getting upset because of a turkey is ridiculous. But it felt like so much more. I’m fed up with living the expat life. I’m fed up with having to go searching for 2 hours for something that is in every shop back home. I’m also fed up with missing Christmas with my family.

I try to be positive in my blog postings but sometimes it’s hard.
So I came in to work this morning feeling down about life when I noticed a Christmas card waiting for me on my desk by some of my wonderful students. It cheered me up and has given me the spur to try and find some Christmas spirit before Thursday!

The beautiful card.

Wish me luck everyone and I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas wherever you are!

I know that this guy will always try his best to make our
Christmasses fun 🙂

A girlie weekend in Seoul

This photo is courtesy of Ane.

I love taking photos of the places that I go but sometimes I get scared of what the world is becoming. I look around and see people in coffee shops not communicating with each other, with their heads stuck in their phones or people spending hours trying to take the “perfect” selfie.

So this past weekend when I went to Seoul with my good friend Ane, I actually had too much fun shopping, drinking, eating and chatting to really take photos! I think everyone needs a weekend like that every once in a while. Unfortunately I only took about 5 photos and realized afterwards that I should have taken more for the blog…oh well.

So, I’m not going to lie, I love Seoul. I love how it becomes even more multicultural every time I visit and you can find anything that you want there.

We flew up from Busan on the Friday evening, it gave us plenty of time to check in to our hostel and have a nice dinner. We stayed in Itaewon. Itaewon is a huge foreigner area and you can find every type of foreign food or drink imaginable here. I love staying here when I visit Seoul because I can get so many things that just aren’t available in Gimhae.

I always say that if I lived here I’d be fat and penniless. That first night we went to The Wolfhound, an Irish pub for some dinner. There is also one in Busan that I love to visit. We had some delicious fish and chips and I got some alcoholic cider so I was a happy girl. We spent the night just chatting. I love having friends that I can literally chat with for days on end and never run out of conversation! We then met Anes friend from home (South Africa) and spent so much time chatting that before we knew it it was 3am!

The next morning we decided to look for some brunch (BRUNCH!! It’s impossible to find in Gimhae) First we went to a beautiful coffee shop and I ordered a coconut latte, which was absolutely to die for! Brunch was equally good, we had salmon and rucola and a chicken sausage dish.

My amazing coconut latte and Anes Mocha latte.
The beautiful Christmas decorations where we had brunch.

Then it was time to head to Myeong Dong for some shopping. Myeong-dong is a huge shopping area in Seoul and as my Christmas gift this year Jason decided to give me a shopping weekend. I’ve been feeling pretty bad about my weight lately and the fact that I’m a double xl (if I’m lucky) here in Korea doesn’t help matters (I’m usually a size medium back home). I’ve also had some comments from teachers in my school about my weight which affected me quite a bit so we both thought that some shopping up in Seoul would do me well.

SHOPPING!

We had a great day shopping and 300,000w later we decided to head back to Itaewon for some Greek food for dinner. Afterwards we headed to some pubs and began chatting and once again it was after 3am when we were heading back to the hostel!

Enjoying our girlie chats.

Our final day in Seoul was spent with both of us sniffling and feeling under the weather so we had a yummy brunch of paninis and a cheese and bread set. We then headed to the train station for the trip back to Gimhae.

All of the carbs, but it was amazing!

I’m sorry that there aren’t many photos, but we just too much of a good time 🙂

Where we stayed:

POP hostel: We booked a twin room but were given a double room which was fine with us. It is in a really nice location, right in the center of Itaewon but down some nice side streets away from the action. They are basic rooms but did the job perfectly.

Website: http://www.guesthouseseoul.net/

You can see their tripadvisor reviews here.

How to get there: We booked an Air Busan flight up as the regular KTX seats were booked out and the flight was only 10,000w more expensive than the 1st class train tickets.

We then went to Seoul station on Sunday and managed to get seats on the next available train to Gupo station (in Busan) in their movie section. Unfortunately for us the movie showing was the new Dumb and Dumber…it was shocking!

There were Christmas decorations everywhere!
It was the perfect way to get in to the Christmas spirit.