Archive | December, 2012

First time Ski-ers

21 Dec

Despite every frustrating moment this year has brought, I can’t deny that the Korean education office looks after their teachers. This week, we got 2 days leave to attend teachers’ training at High1 resort, one of Korea’s best skiing resorts.

The schedule that was sent to our schools showed two days of lectures with some free time. But, when we arrived there, we had about 2 hours of lectures and lots of free time.  We were there to ski!

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Alex. Edmond, Simon and Baden

In the evening of the first day, we paid about 100 000won each for a night/morning pass, hire of ski equipment, ski pants, jackets and we hit the slopes – literally, Baden’s bum hit the snow within 2 metres of the building. Although the others said they were “beginners” they headed off for the top of the slopes and we stayed at the bottom on the beginners’ slope (about 2 metres of downhill). After a few practice rounds, Baden and I took the open gondola half way up the mountain and I fell off trying to disembark. I had to lie flat on the snow as the gondola passed over my head before the ski operator helped me up. I spent the evening on the beginners’ slope snow plowing (feet turned-in) –  down, fall, up the carousel, down, fall, up the carousel again. Baden finally ventured to the top of the mountain to try the bigger beginners’ slope, which he said was actually much more scary than he expected.

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Baden getting the hang of it

That evening, we got to stay in a (paid for) fancy apartment, which we shared with Anna, Todd, Katie and Alex, and we were spoilt with all three meals paid for (we had an amazing English breakfast – with bacon and egg and hashbrowns and fruitloops) and hit the slopes the next day too. I stayed on the baby beginner slope again and finally managed to get down without falling. I even made friends with the ski operators, one of whom asked me if I was Russian (that topic could fill a whole other blog!) and the other who told me I’m as cute as a rabbit when I ski (whatever that means) – while Baden followed the others on the bigger slopes.

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Catherine and Anna

 We both fell a lot and took some time to get the hang of it. But really it was amazing time. I think I might want to go again.

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Why I change my shoes 12 times every day

12 Dec

On any given day in Korea, I change my shoes 12 times! And I’m not addicted to shoes.

As soon as I’m out of bed in the morning, I put on my inside house shoes. These are like soft slippers which keep my feet warm in winter and clean in summer. I walk 3 metres to the bathroom where I change into my bathroom shoes. This is because, in Asia, most bathrooms don’t have a separate shower. Instead there’s a nozzel attached to the wall so during a shower everything gets wet. The bathroom shoes keep my feet dry.

When I leave the house, I change into my outside shoes. For most Koreans these are either high heels (even in the snow), boots or, in my case, sneakers. When I arrive at school, I change into my inside school shoe. This is a comfortable informal slipper and it looks quite bizarre on my principal who wears a suit and tie every day with his fluffy slippers.

When I leave school, I change back into my outside shoes, leaving my slippers at school. If I visit a restaurant, some one’s house or a private academy, I will have to change out of my outside shoes into their inside shoes. Some places provide a comfortable, open toe slipper while others expect you to walk around in your socks, and leave your shoes in a huge pile at the door. Once, after a teacher’s dinner, I heard a coworker gasp loudly as he realised that he was wearing one of his shoes and one of someone elses.

When I go to my dance aerobic class, I now have to carry with me an inside pair of training shoes. So I arrive at the studio, wearing my outside sneakers and then I change into my inside sneakers for the class. Then when I leave the class, I change back into my outside sneakers.

Upon arriving home, I wear my inside shoes and then my bathroom shoes before stumbling into bed exhausted. But, strangely, since I only need 4½ pair of shoes (we share the bathroom pair), I probably own less shoes than you. And the best part is, I never have to ask: what shoes should I wear today?

 

 

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