Breaktime! Christmastime! Vacation time!

December in Seoul is COLD! Shorter days, freezing temps…a Southern girl’s dream!

The first semester is coming to a close. YIPPEEEE! This school year has been going well, but it’s time for a break. Students and teachers everywhere are rejoicing!

We’ll be going to Italy for winter break! Usually, I would prefer a warmer climate for Christmas, but this year, we’re opting for a different type of vacation. We’re wanting to travel to a variety of places as a family of 5. Caleb loves art and we’re looking forward to going to museums and seeing a whole other piece of the world.  The younger two are excited about the pizza and pasta. If we could only avoid jetlag.

Most of our presents will be opened before we leave and we’ll actually celebrate Christmas in Italy. Jacob insists that we have a few traditions upheld while on our trip, so we’ll see how that works out! I’m packing stockings, hot chocolate and candy…

Merry Christmas!

Advertisements

Hi, October

It’s already October, the best month of the year! Overnight, our weather changed from warm to very chilly, but I refuse to wear a jacket, like a true Southerner.

Our middle school will have their annual Week Without Walls trip soon. I’ll go with 8th grade this year. Should be fun!

Caleb will be going on a soccer trip soon to Malaysia. I might be jealous.

Julianna takes ballet and basketball at school and loves both. That’s a good representation of her personality. She also wishes I was Korean. I get it. It’s hard being different when you look like someone who should speak Korean and have a Korean family.

I still love my middle school students. They’re just a fun group! I’ve always enjoyed being around teenagers, including my own two.  Jacob is a funny 13.75 year old. Caleb is our pseudo-adult, like always. He’s our creative soul who questions why. It’s hard to give answers when you question why, yourself.

Why are people not interested in life outside of themselves?

Why don’t people think for themselves?

Why should I conform to something I can’t agree with?

Why are people scared of truth?

Those questions do not have simple answers.

 

 

Link

He’s moving on to 8th grade! Jacob is a pro at being a middle schooler. His favorite classes were Bible, Pre-Algebra and Social Studies. He liked chapel and his small group, too. If we can get him to stop carrying everything in his bookbag, I’ll be happy.

A few 7th-grade highlights 

Week Without Walls in Korea (ziplining, lots of outdoor activities, traditional Korean food, etc.)

Everland (amusement park)

Skiing over Christmas break

Turning 13 in Hong Kong

The New York City Subway System is the largest subway system in the world, with 468 train stations and 26 subway lines. That's one massive subway system!

 

 

 

Another Day In The Life

For those who may wonder what our life looks like here…

Most days are hurried and loud and tiring and loud again.  Very fancy!

Our typical weekday includes going to school at 7:20. You would think I might be a morning person by now, but nope. Not happening. Coffee or not.

School, work, after school meetings, practice and activities…

We may or may not eat at home. There are so many restaurants around! I’m excited about the new dumpling shop near our house.


We can eat for around 15,000 won or $13ish. Yippee! 

Homework, bedtime…rinse and repeat.


On weekends we like to venture out and 4 of us like to try new foods. There are noodles or rice most places so I don’t starve-don’t worry;)

Occasionally, I paint with friends- quite therapeutic!

My “Congratulations” similar-to-Tiramisu birthday cake! Yum!

Birthday scarf❤️


Kid Pics


It’s freezing now so we don’t drive the scooter but drive our tiny car instead. Parking can be pretty scarce so we use public transportation, too. We’re used to a lot of things about the city but grocery shopping is still a process. Another reason why I’m thankful for our new dumpling shop! And endless coffee shops!


The biggest difference for us is city vs. suburbs. Otherwise, our lives in Seoul are strikingly similar to everywhere else we’ve lived. People are people everywhere and we all want the same things!

So Close!

Aside

Only 2 1/2 more school days! Jacob asked me what we would be eating during the summer. I guess he questions my abilities to provide meals. 

That means that next year we’ll have 1st, 7th and 10th graders. Mhmm. I’m not sure that’s going to work for me. 

I was chatting with my British neighbor (so, read with an accent) and her friends who are also teachers and they said that the first year overseas is terrible. The hardest. You can’t make decisions and feel out of control. Really? You don’t say… 

This school year is ending with saying goodbye to students and friends, some only for the summer but some for longer.  Bittersweet is an understatement. I’m not usually the “girlfriend” type but I’ve met friends that I didn’t know I needed.

Everyone is ready for the break. Time for relaxing (after the flight, of course!) and visiting our people. We’ll be in our Southern homes mid June, where there is brewed iced tea. Jacob wants fried rice when we get there and we all want Memphis Pizza. But, I’m sure we’ll miss our Gong Cha!

A few “day in the life” pictures:

   
    
   
Happy Spring and Summer!

Latest Adventures in Asia

Status

 

We went to Thailand over Spring Break.  Well, 4 of us did.  Caleb went on a service trip to Cambodia. So, now he wants to go to Thailand and we want to go to Cambodia.  Not sure how that’s going to work out….

A few pictures……(maybe some that weren’t on FB? Who knows?)

So, it turns out, Thailand is super hot! It was a great Spring Break, heat and all. Lots of food, shopping and many different forms of transportation.

In April, we went to Jeju Island for 1 night that turned into 2.  We had a good time touring the island with people from school…..and then the storm came;) A jillion people were stranded on the island since flights were delayed.Oh well, at least we were able to explore a bit more.  Food was running low in the airport, but the bathrooms were still clean–it’s the little things, people. We survived on dried mango–it was crazy, but a good story! (oh, we had Macadamia nuts and lots of candy, too….survived may be a bit of an exaggeration, but just go with it)

There are so many interesting places to go to on Jeju. We want to go back with all 5 of us and see the volcano and lava tubes. And the beach, of course. And any of the 100s of coffee shops on the island.  I mean, I’m glad I live in a country who values coffee the way it should be!

From my house, I could walk to 10+ coffee shops in 10 minutes. It’s great! Now, some of the coffee may come from a convenience store, but who cares? It’s (almost) just as good as that from the coffee shop! This means way too much to me….

Back to Jeju pics…..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Caleb did some sight seeing and service projects in Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia) with a group from school. They visited different parts of the killing fields, a sad part of Cambodia’s past.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Caleb is our creative one. His pictures are always much better than mine.

Two weekends ago, we rented bikes. It was fun, but the two youngest Garricks did fall off of their bikes. Jacob ended up with a few scrapes, but Julianna did not have anything to show for her unexpected dismount from the back of the tandem bike. We are glad Spring is here and we can go outside!

We’re almost finished with school! The children have survived and done well, overall. I’ve probably taken the longest to adjust.  I feel like I’m settling in now and it only took 9 months! We’ll be visiting the U.S. over the summer. Seeing people, going to the beach and clothes shopping are on the top of the list of “things to do this summer.” Tall people are hard to buy for in Korea.  Especially when the kids keep growing. Gah!

I started my Masters of Special Education recently.  I just began my 2nd and 3rd classes. Wish me luck!  I love so many things about special education, but one thing I do NOT love is citing sources on papers;) In the words of my 6 year old, “It’s so bored!”

 

 

Happy Lunar New Year!

We are on break for Lunar New Year. (I have big plans-like organizing stuff-but we’ll see how much really happens.)  We’re going to stay around Seoul over the break. It should be less crowded since people travel to see family for the holiday.  -Since it’s been so long since I’ve written a blogpost, I wanted to take a minute to bring you up to speed.

We are over halfway finished with our first school year in Seoul! The boys have really settled in and are doing well in school. Caleb just finished his basketball season. Julianna is doing okay but has had a very difficult transition. Lots of insecurities, feelings and questions to navigate. It has not been easy but it is getting better. Her speech therapist is wonderful and I believe she will continue to feel more secure as she is able to express herself better. We’re learning that she really loves music; I’m sure there will be lessons in our near future.

FAQs: Do you like the food? Yes. There are many restaurant options around and we’re getting more comfortable with the shopping/meal planning/cooking aspect. Believe me, it’s a thing.

Do you like your apartment/neighborhood ? Sure do! We have a great view, have now figured out the floor heating and we have enough bedrooms for everyone. We even have a small guest room if you want to visit! No complaints about our neighborhood either. Since we live near a recognizable hotel, it makes getting home in a taxi easier!

Do you drive or have a car? Sean has a license but I don’t. (Yet.) Driving can be problematic due to the lack of parking options. One does not, simply, hop in the car and drive to the store and find parking nearby…  So, walking and public transportation are often the easiest option!;)

How far do you live from school? 15-20 minute walk (or less when it’s freezing!), less than 10 by taxi.

Do you like Korea? Yes. It’s a busy city and its super cold right now, but we really like it. We’ve only been outside of Seoul a few times but Korea is an interesting country.

Shopping info: Sean and I are pretty limited on  our clothing and shoe options, Caleb can find most things for now, Jacob and Julianna are easy to shop for. Honestly, we don’t shop often because we restocked over Christmas break in the states. — Food shopping: bring your own bags!  Costco is available but soooo big! However, they do have the same snack bar as in the states, so that’s a plus. We can find almost everything we want and need, but it will take a multi stop shopping trip. I compare shopping here like shopping at Whole Foods all of the time. Local shops are less expensive but imported food can be more. So, we prioritize!

What food do you miss? Sean misses tea and Sweet and Low, Jacob misses Silk, grits and bacon (available, but at Costco and his mother doesn’t like going there), Caleb and I just randomly miss a variety of stuff, like canned green beans or soup. And our favorite cereal. Julianna is just fine! We all would like our favorite Mexican restaurant and maybe a Five Guys to be nearby;) Don’t feel bad, there are plenty of Western chains here, with only a slight twist. 

I’ll leave you with a few pictures…

Ju and kinetic sand

  

Eating Turkish food

  

A really good pizza!

 
 

Fall in Seoul

Quote

I love having an actual autumn (much fancier than fall)! The colors are beautiful and today’s weather was chilly and great for walking outside. My students and I journaled outside and others did a leaf rub and described the season. Middle school students are great! They still love doing fun stuff and we have a great time in class. I love seeing their confidence grow.

Julianna’s class also went out to gather leaves for science. It was too pretty to stay indoors.

Leaf collecting fun!


Happy Autumn from Seoul, y’all!

Birthday Prayer

Sean gave me a few books that I LOVE for my birthday.  I want to share one of the prayers that was in the Celtic Prayers From Jona. This was the one from my actual birthday, and it resonated with me so I wanted to share it.

 O Christ of the road

of the wounded

O Christ of the tears

of the broken

In me and with me

the needs of the world

Grant me my prayers

of loving and hoping

Grant me my prayers

of yearning and healing.

You are behind me and before me, O God. You lay your hand upon me.

(Ps 139:5)

Link

It has been almost a month since we moved to Seoul. We have started getting used to using public transportation (it’s really easy and reliable), eaten all kinds of good food, tried (and still trying!) to adjust to the humidity and heat and walking and we’re debating over getting a car. Should we, should we not?? 

  
Things we like…

Jacob–the orange juice and frozen chocolate covered pineapple pieces

Julianna–playing

Caleb–trying new food (street food, preferably)

Tonya–walking around the city

Sean–bubble tea

Things that we need a little longer to get used to…

The complicated recycling system, extreme humidity, not speaking Korean. (yet!)

We have started orientation for school–students start next Monday! I’m excited but a little sad to see the summer end. But I’m not going to lie…this summer has not been very restful!;)

This is a super short video of us in Namdaemun, an area of the city with lots of shopping. Stores and street vendors galore. But first, a picture of Sean thinking about how he would rather have a bubble tea than the coffee he just ordered…

    
Seriously.


Ok, you can’t see a lot past my face– I’ll do better next time. Maybe.  (Disclaimer: the video plays in my edit/preview screen. If it won’t play for you, I’ll post it separately.)   Next update will include a few pictures (or a tour!) of our apartment. Because, apparently, I need more than 3 weeks to set it up! Don’t judge.

All is well with the Garricks-hope the same is true for you.