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Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Letters #42

And another week has passed me by with no posts. All I can say is I'm sorry. I would like to tell y'all I've been busy, but really I've just been lazy. 

I have been studying a lot this week {T-minus 2 weeks till test day!}, but mostly I have just been watching Scandal and reading on my Kindle. 

Although I was really bad about posting this week- a Friday isn't a Friday until my letters are complete, so here we go. 

Dear Schmit Family, Thank you for having us over for dinner on Sunday. It was a delicious meal and even better company. It was so nice to be part of a family dinner that included more than the two of us. It was also amazing to have all those nice American dishes. Oh the perks of being in the military. 

Dear Scandal, Well- I went ahead and took the plunge. I wouldn't say it's my favorite show, but it is pretty entertaining. I'm glad I followed my friend's advice and picked it up. Thanks J.  Dear Olivia Pope, I think you need to take a chill pill. On a fun note- Matt and I have now started talking with what we call our "Olivia Pope" voice. We get really intense and start talking like she does over the smallest things. Like- "YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO ME. LISTEN TO ME. HAND ME THE WATER." Oh- we crack ourselves up. 

Dear Basketball We Bought, One day soon we will actually go play with you. One day soon. I wonder how rusty I am? 

Dear Bella Puppy, Thursday I got the call that you had passed away. I guess being 11 years old makes it time for you to say goodbye, but we will sure miss seeing your energetic little self around the house. I can't even imagine coming home next year and not see you running around. Have fun in Puppy Heaven and say hi to Sydney and Missy. 

{only picture I could find of Bella} 

Dear Transformers 4, Nice little Friday night date night you were. While it wasn't my favorite movie- it was a perfect ending to the week. Oh how I love seeing movies here. 

Dear B, I hope you are having a wonderful Bridesmaids' Luncheon. I'm glad I got to participate in your special weekend. I wish I could be there for you tomorrow, but I know things are going to go great. Take in all the details tomorrow and enjoy your day! 

{Invite ordered from BrightCharisma

Dear Barry, Happy Happy Birthday! I hope you are having a wonderful day. Sorry for pulling mom away to go host the luncheon for me. :) 

Dear Bloggers and Readers, I hope to get back into the swing of things soon, but I feel like until the GRE is over- that's not going to happen. So until then- don't give up on me. I promise to be back! 

Here's a little sneak peak to keep you going. 

Happy Friday Y'all! 

Love, Alex 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Letters #41

Happy Friday Y'all! 

Woo-hoo another week down. 

Here's my week in letter format. 

Dear Maleficent, You actually were a pretty good movie. I enjoyed taking a break on Saturday and getting some date time in with my husband. It's always great when there's a movie out that I want to see here- and if it's in English- hurray some more! 

Dear Father's Day, Thanks for giving me a wonderful excuse to Skype with my family back home. It was nice to chat with everyone for a while. Oh- how I can't wait for next May to be here! 

Dear GRE, I know I was supposed to be studying this weekend, but I really didn't want to. I know the test is sneaking up on me, but I am just so tired of studying. I am going to put a few more weekends into and then it will all be over. Hopefully I can just get my goal score. But I know I need to be putting the last month of effort into my studies. 

Dear Work, Thanks for being relatively easy this week. I love when the middle school students are preparing for their tests- it makes teaching so easy. Dear Middle School Student, This week you learned what happens when you tell me 'no'. Haha- I'm glad I still have the ability to scare the crap out of my students. I'm sure you have learned your lesson. In the future- just remember- I'm the boss. When I tell you to change seats- you flipping change seats. 

Dear Grocery Store, Thanks for carrying both avocados and seedless grapes this week! Delicious. I thought I would have to go without grapes for another year. Seedless grapes are pretty much unheard of here. And grapes with seeds are not worth the effort. I'm so happy it's summer and there's all this fresh fruit around to buy. Although- not so happy about the hot weather that's about to hit. 

Dear My Wonderful Grandparents, Thanks for all the birthday cards. I got all my cards this week. I'm so happy to have  Nana&Papa and Grandma&Grandpa (x2) and Abuela&Papa and Obachan in my life. I love getting my cards and all the nice notes. Thanks y'all! 

Dear Weekend, I'm happy you're here. I look forward to finishing season 5 of The Vampire Diaries and finishing reading Eleanor & Park (one of the best books I've read in a while). And of course studying away. 

Have a great weekend y'all!

Love, Alex 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Khmer Cooking Class

Happy Tuesday Y'all! 

Today I wanted to share some pictures from the cooking class we took while staying in Siem Reap. A few weeks ago, I showed you the trip we took the market to get some ingredients for our class, so today  I'll show y'all what we made. 

While there are tons of places around Siem Reap that offer cooking classes, we opted for the one that was right at our hotel. We paid about $100 for the class, which I think is more than most places, but it was really convenient for us. It was just the two of us in the class, so we didn't feel rushed. We could literally just walk out of our room to get to the class. And we knew the staff would show us a great time.

Most of the prep was done for us. There were only a few things we need to chop up, and I think that was just to show us how to get things started. I'm glad most of the prep was finished because I could not imagine prepping all of the dishes on our first go. 

We were able to work with both the executive and sous chefs and a few of the kitchen staff. Everyone was really friendly and patient with us. They made sure we knew what each ingredient was and exactly what to do. They really wanted to make sure we would be able to make these dishes back home. They also gave us a mini history lesson on how the meals used to be made before all the modern day kitchen conveniences. 

Matt was the king of the class. He was chopping way more than I was getting through. Towards the middle of the class, the chefs were just talking to him. I guess they figured I was useless. 

We were able to make a four course meal. 

Cambodian Fresh Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Hot and Sour Beef Soup 
Fish Amok 
Banana Sago in Coconut Milk 

The food was all so delicious. The soup and dessert were my favorite. 

I am really glad we decided to take the opportunity and do the cooking class. Including the market trip, it was about a 5 hour adventure. I really wasn't expecting it to be that long, and I don't cook at home- so I was a bit tired after all the cooking. But it was so worth it. 

Now we have five different recipes to bust out when we get back to the states. 

If you have the time in a new place- I would recommend a cooking class. 

And if you're interested in the recipe let me know and I can e-mail them to you. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reflections: Month 10

Happy Monday Y'all! 

Last week I celebrated my 10 month anniversary of living in Korea. Woo hoo- another month down. At this point I'm actually doing a countdown of going home and a countdown of hitting my one year mark. I can't believe that next year we will be back in the states. We've hit the downward mark of our expat lives. 

I'm actually ready to go home. I'm excited for the adventures we have planned in the next 10 months, but I'm ready to be back in the good ole' US of A. I'm also ready to get on with our next adventure of grad school. I'm starting to get the itch to move around again.

There hasn't been too many highlights from this last month, but I like to do a monthly check in each month to keep up with time.

Last month, my coworkers invited me to eat lunch with them- which was a big deal. It was pretty cool to be invited and to share a meal and chat with them. This was the first time the head teachers asked me to join them, so hurray for that.

I also think my students are finally used to me and the rules I have in my classroom. I noticed my students pick up after themselves and push their chairs in when they leave. This is such a big deal because I no longer have to remind them to do basic tasks.

When I first started teaching here it was such a chore to get them to clean up their stuff. If I asked my students to push their chairs in you would have thought I was asking them to cut off their arms. The complaints I would get! But it's been so much better now. I know it seems like small stuff, but I guess the small things need to be documented as well. 

Anyway, that's about all that's been going on here in terms of life in Korea. Things are pretty steady. We've really gotten into a groove here in Korea. 

Onward to month 11! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Letters #40

Aloha and Happy Friday Y'all!

If you haven't noticed- I've been absent from the blog this week. Matt and I took a whirlwind trip to Tokyo to celebrate my 26th birthday, and it really took a lot out of me. I've been tired all week, and I haven't really felt up to writing. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things this weekend. 

Anyway, onto the letters. 

Dear 26th Birthday, Thanks for being awesome. I had a pretty fun time wandering around Disneyland and eating all the yummy snacks throughout the park. Although it was a rainy day- it was a fun adventure to walk around feeling like a kid again. I just wish I could have had some Skype time with my family. It just isn't the same if your family doesn't sing Happy Birthday. I really missed hearing my Abuela and Papa sing to me… and my mom and little Asian babies. 
Dear Matt, Thanks for going to Disneyland with me. What a great weekend. Last year's birthday surprise you gave me was amazing, but I prefer actually spending the day with you. 

{Birthday Dinner at the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. Yes- I look exhausted. This was after an 11 hour day at the park.} 

Dear Disneyland, Thank you for being fun and just as magical as I remembered. I can't wait to write more posts about our Disney adventure. I really loved finding all the many different Mickey shaped foods and eating them. 

Dear Tokyo, If I'm being honest with you- I was pretty exhausted with you by the time Sunday came rolling around. I didn't really love you as much as I loved Kyoto. I'm glad we were able to visit, but I don't know if I need a return trip. 

Dear Flight Home, Really you were just a pain in the butt. Being delayed an hour really messed up our plans getting back to our apartment. We ended up having to stay the night in Seoul because we couldn't make the train back home. Boo- was that a long day and night. And could the customs lines at the Incheon Airport BE any slower?!? 

Dear Monday, Woo- you came on pretty fast. It was a struggle to keep going at work, but I made it through. Was it bad I was already for the weekend? 

Dear Tuesday- Friday, Pretty much ready for the week to be over. Although our trip was quick- it wore me out. I had no energy, and couldn't be bothered to do anything. I really just read the last book of the Mortal Instruments series and watched Vampire Diaries

This weekend we have plans to relax. Clean the apartment. Catch up on laundry. And of course- get a little GRE time in. I am looking forward to lounging around after our three day trip to Tokyo. I love traveling, but I'm really glad we have 7 weeks before our next trip. 

I hope you all had a wonderful week. 

Love, Alex 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Letter's #39

Happy Happy Friday Y'all! 

By the time this post is published, Matt and I will be on a plane heading for Tokyo, Japan. We are taking advantage of our three day weekend and going on an adventure. It just so happens that tomorrow is my 26th birthday, so it's an extra special adventure. 

Now onto the letters. 

Dear Saturday, Like most Saturdays- I was stuck inside studying for the approaching GRE. I took a practice test and of course bombed the matt portion of the test. Although my overall score did improve, so hopefully come test day I get my goal score. 

Dear Sunday, Thank you for being a nice and relaxing day. And thank you for introducing me to my newest addition- Vampire Diaries. Yup- I went there. I really couldn't help it, and really- y'all should be impressed I held out this long. Dear Vampire Diaries, Thank you for being so awesome. At this rate, I should be all caught up within the month. Hooray for binge watching! 

Dear Monday, Thanks for going by fast. Nothing much happened. I got caught up with my journaling and got some more studying done. Dear Students, Thanks for being pretty well behaved today. Much appreciated. 

Dear Tuesday and Wednesday, Again boring work days. Matt and I cleaned up the apartment and started getting things together for our trip. More studying was involved and of course, more Vampire Diaries. Oh yes, and Matt and I bought our very first pair of couple shoes! Yup- we are THAT couple now. I'm excited to walk around the Disney parks in our matching shoes. It's going to be amazing. I mean- if you can't wear matching outfits to Disney- when can you?!? 
{In my defense- I really needed good walking shoes.} 

Dear Jenny, Thank you for the wonderful video chat date. It was wonderful. We really should do that more often! Thanks for wishing me a happy birthday. I'm thinking instead of taking your vacation time to go to Utah- you really should just come to Korea. Come on- it will be fun. 

Dear Co-Workers, Thanks for finally inviting me to eat lunch with you guys. I know this was a big step, and I felt so happy. I really did like the noodles- I just was full from the lunch I ate with Matt. I hope you invite me again soon. (PS- that was a major accomplishment!) 

Dear Thursday, Thank you for being my Friday. I briefly chatted with my mom. Work day was good. Matt and I finished packing and are beyond excited for our trip. I bought a bubble tea in celebration of the start of my birthday weekend.  It was delicious as always. 

Dear Friday, Yay! You're here. Today we are planning on getting a half day in at Disneyland Tokyo. Hopefully we can catch the early bus to our hotel and hit the ground running. Dear Tokyo, Please be as amazing as you sound. We have been looking forward to this trip for months now. 

Dear Uncle Beau, Happy Birthday! I love you. 

And that's about all. We plan on having a blast in Tokyo, and I can't wait to share our trip with y'all. 

And let the birthday celebrations begin!!! 

I will be updating on Instagram, so make sure you follow along. 

Love, Alex 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ta Nei and Banteay Kdei: Small Circuit Tour

Happy Tuesday Y'all! 

Today I am continuing to share some of the temples we saw while on the small circuit tour in Angkor Wat. At this point, I feel like I will be sharing temple pictures with you guys for months! Oh well, I guess the consequence of taking a lot of pictures is having a lot to catch up on. 

Ta Nei was built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. It was built to be a holy reservoir and was dedicated to the Buddha. 

Banteay Kdei means 'A Citadel of Chamders'. It was built in the 12th century during the reign of Jayavarman VII. 

While Ta Nei and Banteay Kdei are on a much smaller scale than Angkor Wat or Ta Proem- there is something just as special and unique about them. 

Everything we read suggested on spending longer than a day in the complex, and I completely agree. I think going to a lot of different temples in one day is hard, but it's worth it. Matt and I did two days at the temples with a break in between. This worked out well because we were so templed out after the first day, but after our break- we were ready to go again. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Matt Hits the One Year Mark

Last Wednesday, Matt hit his one year anniversary of living in Korea. It's so crazy how fast the year went. It feels like just yesterday we were eating our last dinner together at IHOP and then I was driving him to the airport.

Because one year is a pretty big deal- I thought we should have a mini celebration. After work, I picked up a cake, and a party hat to surprise Matt when he got home from work. It's the little things right?

I decided to turn the blog over to Matt today so he could give everyone back home a little temperature check on how he's doing in Korea.

What I Love
- Public transportation. It's convenient, fast and cheap (albeit somewhat frightening at times).
- Korean BBQ. Delicious, 'nuff said.
- The plethora of candy and snacks, especially the Pocky and Koala's March.
- People. We have met some really friendly people here, and have made some great friends. The ladies who own some of our favorite restaurants our super friendly and make us feel like we are family. The friends we've made feel like friends we have known for years.

Drives Me Crazy
- All the smoking. Smokers everywhere, even where they shouldn't be. 
- The -one beer away from blackout/alcohol poisoning- drunk men that stagger aimlessly around town babbling and shouting incoherently.
- My middle school girls. I literally can not even.
- Students' parents: lots of unreasonable expectations, demands, and their misplaced beliefs about their "little angels" abilities and behavior.

What I Miss
- Real hamburgers, root beer, apple pie, mexican food and american breakfast.
- Diversity. Korea is pretty homogeneous in many more ways than just race, people just aren't lining up to stand out, be different or break away from the mainstream.
- My friends and family back home.
- Comic book stores.

Things I've Picked Up
- Konglish

Highlights from Year One
- Getting lost when I had to go to immigration by myself.
- Picking Alex up from the airport.
- Going to the Korean Folk Village and really getting a glimpse of Korea's past and culture.
- Finding mexican food after not having any for six or so months.
- Going to Japan and Cambodia.
- Seeing a drunk man with a man purse run away from a breathalyzer checkpoint.

It has been a great first year, not without a few bumps along the way, but all in all it has been a great experience and Korea has been real good to me.