“Do you know about Dokdo?”

Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit Dokdo with a cohort of other native English Teachers from all over Korea. The trip, sponsored by Gyeongsangbuk-do and the Dokdo foundation consisted of 3 JAM PACKED (see schedule below) days on Ulleungdo, and of course, eventually, Dokdo.


제목 없음

For those unfamiliar, Dokdo consists of several islands east of mainland Korea, and west of Japan. The islets have been a point of contention between Korea and Japan, as both countries claim the islands are their territory. Given the history between the two countries (think the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula) the issue brings heavy emotion here in Korea, especially in the realm of politics.


Being brainwa..I mean educated about Dokdo.

Were the foreign teachers and I used as a propaganda piece in the trip? I mean, yes, to an extent. The trip was funded by organizations with aims at promoting the claim of Korean sovereignty to the islets. And why else would we be given neck towels adorned with the words reading “Iheart Dokdo”?  I mean honestly some great PR planning given the era of instagram and social media. Who knows how many people would end up googling “Dokdo”, because, well, who outside of Korea really knows about the islands (no tea, no shade, just facts on that )

But given that I have been in Korea for some time now, I felt as if this was a trip that is on my Korea travel bucket list (yes, that is a thing I have going).



Upon landing at Dokdo we had FIFTEEN minutes to quickly see the surroundings lol

Dokdo – one of the most difficult locations in Korea to visit. Often times, ferry services to the islets are cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Given that Dokdo is only accessible from Ulleungdo – A 3 hour ferry ride from extreme eastern Korea (which, if we are honest is far AF from urban Korea), the trip is risky given that you may not be able to even step foot onto the fabled land.

Continue reading

Travel: Flower festivals in Korea

Ah, yes. Korean flower festivals. One of the many themed festivals you will hear about during the spring, summer and fall months. So far, I have been to three different flower festivals here in Korea. In this post I will share my thoughts on these festivals and some tips on if you choose to go to these festivals yourself.

Continue reading

Goals: Studying for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK)

If I write it for others to see, I will feel more committed and actually follow through with it…theoretically. While in Korea, one of my personal goals is to take the TOPIK, aka Test of proficiency in Korean. While many people who take this examination are doing it for academic or career-oriented reasons, my motives are more casual and personal. I know, it sounds strange to take an exam just for fun, but I want to challenge myself. Continue reading

Japan: KAKEHASHI Project Reflections Part II

As you can see from the title, this is the second part of my KAKEHASHI Project reflection. If you missed part one you can check it out here –> Japan: KAKEHASHI Project Reflections

1381759_10205509848696084_3206462469446760849_n.jpgAfter returning to the U.S. and sharing my stories with friends and family (shout out to everyone who put up with that for a while lol), I began planning the lessons I would share at local elementary schools. After several weeks of contacting teachers I was scheduled to give my presentations in December. I think the teachers wanted me to be an end of year treat for their students? I’m not sure, but either way this gave me plenty of time to prepare a powerpoint and an activity related to daruma. Fast forward to December and I conducted several lessons at a public elementary school and a private elementary school. I was surprised with how much the students actually knew about Japan.  I mentioned Pokémon a few times and I had their full attention lol. Continue reading

Japan: KAKEHASHI Project Reflections


Tokyo Metropolitan Building

In 2014 I was fortunate enough to take part in the KAKEHASHI Project, a large-scale cultural exchange program promoted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The aim of the program is to expand people-to-people relations between the youth of Japan and the United States. During this program, I was dispatched to Tokyo and Shizuoka Prefecture. I realized that I haven’t created a proper post to reflect on the experience itself. Now that two years have elapsed, I feel that mt views have matured and the way I view those experiences has changed as well.

Following a rigorous application process complete with forms, essays, and an interview, I joined the ranks of 26 other undergraduate students from various universities in the state of Kansas. Our flagship university was the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!). We were joined by University of Califonia (Irvine), University of Pittsburgh, United States Military Academy, Five Colleges Consortium, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Clemson University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of South Florida during our intake on June 24-July 3. Each flagship university selected for this program was assigned a host university in Japan. Our host university was Shizuoka University.

Continue reading

The Story of Hong Gildong

A few months ago, I was excited to hear that Penguin Classics would be publishing its first Korean classic, The Story of Hong Gildong.

Several friends mentioned that they had never read or heard the story in its entirety, but they were familiar with the plot and that the story is perhaps of the most well-known in Korea.

  • It is often referred to as the “Korean version of Robin Hood”.
  • 홍길동 will often be placed on forms as an example name, similar to “John Doe”
  • It is known as the first Korean novel written in 한글
  • The story has been adapted as a drama (naturally) as well as anime (great for those who like to read and compare adaptations!).

Continue reading