Tuesday, August 25, 2009

iSponge Campus – Our School

After being in Seoul for a week and going for a medical check, we finally got to have a tour of the school we will be teaching at. We are working for a franchise called iSponge, the location we are at is brand new – students are just registering for the first time there now! We will be the first native English speakers to have worked at this school, so we get to help get the place started!

The school looks amazing! Lots of bright colours, it is designed to make the children feel that they can have a lot of fun while learning. The teaching style the school employs has a lot do with learning through activities as well as regular workbook learning.

The school staff consists off one owner/principal, vice principal, secretary, two Korean-English teachers and two Native English speakers (Krista and I), and the bus driver! As it turns out, I am the only male on staff, aside from the bus driver, but he is not around often.

These last two days we have been going through lessons and role playing – pretending to teach each other. On Friday and Saturday we will have two days of training at their head office.

On Monday we will be doing some other prep work and then Tuesday is the big day. September 1st we have our first day of teaching with brand new students!

We took some pictures of the school, check it out! (You can click on the pictures to enlarge them)

Front entrance

iSponge Campus_13edit [1024x768]

Front desk

iSponge Campus_12 [1024x768]

iSponge Campus_14 [1024x768]

iSponge Campus_02 [1024x768]

Play room

iSponge Campus_01 [1024x768]


iSponge Campus_03 [1024x768]

Classroom, same as above but different view

iSponge Campus_04 [1024x768]

Sponge room, this is used for various activities and games

iSponge Campus_05 [1024x768]


iSponge Campus_06 [1024x768]

Kids can wash their hands here before lunch and after activities

iSponge Campus_07 [1024x768]

Activity / game room

iSponge Campus_08 [1024x768]


iSponge Campus_09 [1024x768]


iSponge Campus_10 [1024x768]


iSponge Campus_11 [1024x768]

Teacher’s room – this is just a partial view

iSponge Campus_15 [1024x768]

Until next time.. after we start teaching!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Apartment in Korea

After arriving at Incheon Intn’l in Seoul at 5am we were greeted by a driver who helped us load up our 300+ lbs of luggage into a van and drove us to meet our new director and our new apartment.

After an hour or so drive we made it to our apartment building, or officetel as it is called here and met our director. We had to wait an hour for the building manager to arrive so the three of us went for a coffee. We got to know the director a little bit, she lived in Minnesota for a few months while studying for a semester. We learned that our new school will consist of our director, an assistant, two Korean teachers and two foreign teachers (Krista and I). I also learned that I will be the only male employee there!

We were suppose to meet the parents of some new students on the 18th, but because of the swine flu outbreak we were told to ‘rest’ in our apartment for a week to make sure we're not sick. Well.. that didn’t last long we had to venture out to get groceries and explore the area a little bit. So far we like the area we live in, it is a lot busier than where we were before. There is a major street a few blocks away where many different bus routes will take us were we want to go. The subway station and E-Mart are nearby as well.

We start 2 or 3 days of training mid next week and then begin teaching September 1st. Until the weekend, we will ‘rest’ and then on Saturday we’re off to meet up with a friend of ours for a party!

Anyway, we decided to take pictures of the apartment right away before we add some decor. It is definitely a step up from our last apartment in Korea! This time we have a loft apartment with A/C!! Surprisingly enough our apartment stays pretty cool even without it on, we could have died of heat stroke in the previous one (30C / 86F degrees in the kitchen when cooking!

Korean Apartment 01 [1024x768]

Loft area with bed and plenty of closet space.

Korean Apartment 02 [1024x768]

Korean Apartment 03 [1024x768]

Korean Apartment 04 [1024x768]

Korean Apartment 05 [1024x768]

Korean Apartment 06 [1024x768]

Korean Apartment 07 [1024x768]

We have a sink in our bathroom this time!

Korean Apartment 08 [1024x768]

So far so good, we’ll post some more pictures after we make this place look less of a jail cell :)

Sailing on Lake Vermillion

A week before we left for Korea we went spent some time at Mari’s Cabin (a long time friend of Krista’s family). While we were there I was fortunate enough to have my first sailing lesson! It was a perfect afternoon to test out the Sunfish and my skill.

After a ten minute lesson I was free to sail Lake Vermillion on my own. What fun! I couldn’t tell you all the new terms I learned that afternoon, but I will tell you it was a great time! There were a few close calls but I managed not to tip over.

It was so peaceful sailing across the lake, all that was missing was a bottle of wine!

Mari's Cabin_02 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_03 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_04 [1024x768]

Later on that afternoon we took a road trip to Vermillion Falls Recreation area to check out a gorge where two rivers meet. The scenery was beautiful and the sound of rushing water was exhilarating. Too bad for all the mosquitoes, we were eaten alive!

It sure was a nice way to end off a great time in northern Minnesota.

Mari's Cabin_22 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_21 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_05 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_10 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_07 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_13 [1024x768]

Mari's Cabin_16 [1024x768]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Going Back to Seoul

On Saturday, August 15th we will be heading back to Seoul. We have spent about a month and a half in Minnesota having a great time. Partying on the 4th of July weekend, going to Rockfest, having fun at the lake and of course having bonfires and taking saunas. It has been a whirlwind of fun.

But now it’s time to leave the Western world and dive back into Asian culture for another year. We will be teaching at a new school and living in a different area than before. This time, we will be much closer to the metro area (which we’re really excited about). We will be working for a school called iSponge which is a franchise. They are opening a brand new location which means we will be the only foreign teachers for a little while! I suppose this could go both ways, hopefully it’s a really good thing :)

We will be departing Minneapolis on our way to Chicago and spend 6 hours there, then depart and arrive in Seoul Monday, August 17th 5am local time. It’s going to be a looooong travel time (14hrs in a cramped seat!)

When we get there and have our internet setup the plan is to get a few blog posts up per week. So keep checking in for the latest on interesting places, good eats and other quirky things we find!

Below are a few pictures of Krista’s mom’s place, which is where we stayed this last month and a half.

IMG_4183 [1024x768]

IMG_4182 [1024x768]

IMG_4184 [1024x768]

IMG_4187 [1024x768]

Thank you for the great time in the States, we’ll see everyone next year!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

While were in Minneapolis, Krista and I walked around Nicolet Mall (outdoor street mall like Scarth Street in Regina, but waaay better) on a sunny afternoon. It just so happens they have a street market on Thursdays too, what luck we had! We took a few snapshots of the area and then walked to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden near the Walker Art Center and wandered around there as well. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to walk around!

This was just a building downtown that had a nice reflection.

IMG_4037 [1024x768]

IMG_3980 [1024x768]

IMG_3981 [1024x768]

On the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge

IMG_3987 [1024x768]

Double Curve

IMG_3995 [1024x768]


IMG_3996 [1024x768]

Glass Fish

IMG_4001 [1024x768]


IMG_4005 [1024x768]

IMG_4016 [1024x768]

Prophecy of the Ancients

IMG_4030 [1024x768]

The Spinner

IMG_4031 [1024x768]

Spoonbridge and Cherry

IMG_4033 [1024x768]

Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II

IMG_4034 [1024x768]

After we finished wandering around we walked back to the Nicolet Mall to have a light lunch and a beer. What a great way to finish off a beautiful afternoon. We ate are Barrio and sat outside on the patio. Somehow I forgot to take a picture of the place.. can you believe it??

Anyway, that was the end of our trip to Minneapolis. One of the main reasons we went there was because three of my friends from Canada came down to visit, so eventually there will be some of those pictures up as well.

For now we will be busy packing to go back to Seoul!