Friday, December 31, 2010

A Harrington Christmas in Korea: The Eve of Christmas

The day of December 24th was spent at computer desks in front of students carrying on as if there were not a holiday to be celebrated. Needless to say, a day spent in that fashion can be a bit disheartening. Fortunately, the Harringtons had the joy of anticipating the arrival of a dear friend from the USA and some equally dear 'expat' friends to share a meal with in the final hours of 'anticipating'.

So it was, in the evening of the 24th of December, Mike and Melissa Harrington made their way to Seodajeon to enjoy a dish of 'yachae bulgogi' - a sweet stew of sorts with thinly sliced beef and some of Korea's best side-dishes: japche, rice and kim (seasoned seaweed), and of course a variety of kimchi. Following dinner, the Harrington's accompanied their friends the Callaway's back to their home to watch a bit of a Christmas Classic - Elf. About 45-60 minutes into the movie it was time for the Harrington's to make their way to Daejeon station.

The subway ride felt longer than necessary but was made exceptional by a young Korean girl wearing a Rudolph hat, sharing a giant smile and wishing the foreigner's a 'Merry Christmas' followed by more smiles, a few hellos and the addition of her older brother asking where we were from. With bulgogi in their bellies and joy in their hearts, the Harrington's made their way above ground where they frantically searched for their first American visitor, Haleh. She spotted them first and within minutes all three were back on the subway making their way to a festive '519' home.

Once home, the trio chatted a bit, enjoyed a cup of tea, vitamin yogurt and the opening of one Christmas Eve present: a pair of fuzzy blanket-like pajamas. With heavy eyelids, anticipation for morning and warmth wrapping their legs, the three made their way to bed where 'visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.'

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Harrington Christmas in Korea: Cookies and Catan

In a moment of brilliance, Melissa Harrington proposed a get together much a kin to a cookie exchange with a few added twists. Twist One: Cookies would not arrive baked, but rather as dough to be baked in one of two 'easy-bake' style ovens. Twist Two: Husbands and other non-bakers would be invited and encouraged to enjoy a game or two of Settlers of Catan. Twist Three: Rather than pot-luckin' it up, guests would all chip in a bit of cash money for some Pizza Maru. The outcome, a FABULOUS pre-holiday gathering which served as an ideal, joyous precursor to many guests Christmas Eve day of deskwarming or teaching English in Korea.

Guests, cookie dough and Catan boards arrived at the Harrington's '519' home between 6 and 7 pm on Thursday the 23rd of December. Within minutes, smells of fresh baked (and overbaked) cookies filled the air. Sounds of "Sheep for Wheat, Sheep for Wheat" were heard in the living room. Korea's famous Pizza Maru made it's way from cardboard box to American digestive system. And to bring it all together, guests gathered around the living room to sing Christmas Carols and a few other choice tunes. And this dear readers, is only the beginning of A Harrington Christmas in Korea

Jen Mullen and her stellar cookie baking skills showcased for all to see!

Baking, baking and baking.

Friends and pizza boxes and cookies, oh my!


More Cataning

Joyful caroling!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Stories from the Couch:December 5th

The Harrington Times makes every effort to provide frequent and regular updates regarding the life and times of the Harrington's, however an occasional week or month will pass so quickly that we at The Harrington Times find ourselves recalling moments in the life of the Harrington's which have gone un-recorded. Such is the case with the Harrington's most recent CouchSurfer.

Hailing from Jeju-do, the 'Hawaii' of Korea, Bora Kim arrived at the Harrington's '519' home the evening of December the 5th, 2010. Bora is a Korean High School student who amazed the Harrington's (particularly Melissa, as Mike had many work-related obligations to complete while Bora was in town) with her energy and pursuit of a full and incredible life. With high school tests out of the way, Bora asked her teachers if she could take 2 weeks to travel around her country of South Korea so that she could be well prepared to travel the world and fulfill her life dream. With an extraordinary amount of spunk and independence for a Korean woman, Bora hit up Daejeon in full force and with great energy.

While Mike and Melissa worked, Bora explored, the highlight of her Daejeon experience being her first ever trip to a zoo. Upon Melissa's return home the girls headed to old down-town to grab dinner and enjoy the fountains and light show in the river. The hosting experience again left the Harrington's with nothing but good vibes and good thoughts regarding the CouchSurfing project. Having the opportunity to meet numerous wonderful souls and learn from their energy, culture, character are of increasing and immeasurable value in the Harrington's household.

The Harrington's Capture Holiday Magic

As our regular subscribers know, last weekend was a total dream. The Harrington's and a dear group of friends enjoyed some utterly magical moments, from The Nutcracker, to Burritos, to Night Scenes and Romantic Dinners the day screamed of holiday magic. Two shots which capture the magic most closely associated with the holidays are shown below: the closing bow of The Nutcracker and a Holiday Light Show played out on a city building in Seoul, South Korea. For the Harrington's these two moments rang of the holiday season in a way they've been missing this season of living in a far away land where Christmas just isn't the same. Holiday magic however, is always in the air, if only you look for it.

For more shots of Holiday Magic, head over here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas! With Love from South Korea


The Harrington Times would like to take a moment to wish all their readers a very Merry Christmas. The Harrington's are beyond honored and blessed by your readership, friendship and kinship. The couple would love to thank of you each personally for the joy you've added to their lives, the support you've shown, the effort you've made to stay in touch and keep connected. This journey would more difficult, less rewarding and nearly impossible without the community which has challenged, nurtured, encouraged and loved this couple.

To the community of family, the Harrington's say "thank you for life, values, strength and a support that allows miles to separate us during many special and important moments on the home front. We miss you terribly and love you deeply, we would not and could not be the individuals or the couple we are were it not for your support."

To the community of friends 'stateside', the Harrington's say "we miss you, more than is expressable in words alone. You too are the reason we can take on this adventure and lifestyle with confidence and comfort. You have commented, messaged, emailed and updated us keeping us connected to these freindships which are so dear to us. You are forever on our hearts and in our minds."

To the community of 'expat' friends, the Harrington's say "we couldn't do this without you. Our Korean experience exceeds our expectations because you are here, you are wonderful and you are willing to love us like long-time friends and family in the times we need it most. If we came to Korea, only to meet you, the journey would have been worth it."

To the community of readers and stumble-uponers and such, the Harrington's say "thanks. Thanks for caring. Thanks for researching what you may get yourself into, thanks for increasing our page views because it just feels nice. Thanks for occassional comments and letting us know we've presented something that is useful for you in your planning and preperations."

To the community as a whole, the Harrington's say: "Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Rest assured that All is Merry and Bright in Daejeon, South Korea! With Love, The Harringtons"

Merry Christmas Michael Teacher - from Nameson Middle School Students

One students interpretation of Michael Teacher and the 'rendition'

Students grades: 3, 4 and 5 wishing you a Merry Christmas with a little
Seoul Christmas Light Show in the middle. Merry Christmas from the ROK!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Story of 5 Wives and a Spectacular Surprise

On Saturday, December 18th, 2010, five beautiful wives of five loving and impressive husbands were awoken with promises of a fun-filled magical day to begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. Beyond the start time, the wives were offered only one 'clue' as to how the day would unfold: "look elegant, dress nicely, if I had a suit or suit jacket, I would wear it."

With that, the ladies prepared for the unknown, full of anticipation and excitement at what may lay, unaware that soon their paths would intersect and the five wives would not only enjoy the company of their beloved husbands, but their dear friends as well.

The days events would begin to unfold as three out of five couples boarded the KTX with the remaining two couples going by car. Upon boarding the KTX, three wives were able to confirm that the upcoming day would be spent in Seoul, South Korea, doing what had yet to be determined.

On the KTX en route to Seoul

Subway Rides in Seoul--Before the Crowds

Arrival in Seoul led the three wives and their respective husbands to an impressive book store with an equally impressive Foreign Section, within minutes the three wives were united with an additional two wives and soon found themselves entering the doors of Dos Tacos, a tacquiera haven in the land of kimchi.

Burritos and Joy at Dos Tacos
 With deliciousness in their bellies the wives followed their husbands lead and piled into taxis and cars as the next chapter of the days events began. Drivers arrived at their final destination and each wife found herself at the front doors of the Seoul Art Center. Posters and advertisements boasted plays, operas and the one which quickly caught the wives attention: The Nutcracker. So it was, five wives found themselves sitting next to their beloveds and cherished friends watching Korea's National Ballet perform The Nutcracker to the sounds of Korea's National Symphony.

The Seoul Arts Center: Opera House

The Nutcracker: A classic holiday performance
  Filled with holiday cheer and warmed by the love and cleverness expressed by their husbands the five wives enjoyed the show and began to wonder if yet another chapter would be added to the fairytale of a day. Alas, the magic only continued and after a bit of driving and crowding into subways the wives found themselves riding a cable car up to Namson Tower. City lights and Christmas lights welcomed the couples at the top. The husbands informed their ladies that dinner reservations had been made and in about 20 minutes we could sit down to enjoy our meals together. Until then, the wives were given an explanation regarding the 'magic' of Namson Tower. The love that is consistently locked up for safe keeps on this hill in the city. It was then, each wife was presented with a lock which they would soon lock onto the chain link amongst the others which had 'stood the test of time'. Each husband and wife discussed what message they would write to include with their lock, a representation of their love. Mike Harrington, being thoughtful and committed to his wedding vows surprised his wife, Melissa Harrington by having already written their wedding vows onto papers which would be locked to their padlock. With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Harrington kissed this husband whom she so dearly loves and signed her vows, in honor of love.

Mike and Melissa Locking their Love for all of Eternity

The whole group of wives and husbands
  The end to the perfect day came in the form of a delicious and gourmet meal with an outstanding view of the city. Each couple enjoyed each others one-on-one attention and company, recapping the day, their love and appreciation for one another and all the valuable, honorable, special and silly things a husband and wife are prone to discuss over a romantic dinner.

Dinner at 'The Place'

City Lights and views from The Place

Friday, December 17, 2010

'519' Galma Gets a Holiday Make-over

For those who are unaware, December has arrived and sped along at a slightly ridiculous rate, particularly in the land of Korea. For the Harrington's, the days and months have flown by since their arrival in Korea and with calendar taking on the name of December, they (Melissa most specifically) found themselves desiring a good dose of 'Holiday Cheer' and 'Decorations'.

The answer to Christmas cheer and decorations when living in a foreign land can be hard to come by, but not illusive. As the Harrington's have always been marked by their frugality, the Christmas decoration goal was cheap yet festive. In Korea, the answer to this question lies primarily in Origami paper as well as a few other easy to snag goods. Should you find yourself enjoying the Holiday far from home in an Asian nation or elsewhere, here are a few tips to DIY decorations:
  • Origami Paper, a Bit of Hemp or String, Mini-Clothespins, a Marker or two and a pair of Scissors is all it takes to create a string of snowflakes or handing advent calendar. In the Harrington household the advent calendar was accompanied by a jar of "Christmas-insipired" missions such as sing carols, read up on St. Nicolas and Donate to Kiva - one for each day.
  • Christmas Lights, a Plant from a local Flower Shop and a few Oranments is all it takes to have a little Christmas tree joy which at the end of the season will provide some indoor greenery, a huge bonus!(Need a 'tree skirt' - just use one of your summer dresses or skirts that you haven't been wearing and wrap it around that not so attractive planter!)
  • If living in Korea, a Stationary Store or Daiso is all you need to find a stocking ... actually, in Korea, you need much luck in finding a stocking, Santa Hats are by far the most popular 'Christmas' item to be found. However, if you're lucky, you'll also score a red stocking bearing a cut-out image of Santa on ice skates holding a snow-ball, fortunately, the Harrington's were among those fortunate souls.
  • Wrap a few presents in black plastic bags, newspaper or actual wrapping paper, place under the decorated plant and sure enough, it begins to feel like Christmas in your home-away-from-home.



The Harrington's Get Outside

This week the Harrington's, namely Mike, took on the challenge from "I should be Folding Laundy" to capture some outside photos. Currently, there is no snow in Daejeon, there are only a few holiday lights strung primarily on Department stores and in the already well lit streets of bustling Daejeon and the air is crisp if not bitterly cold. These factors plus a relatively full schedule, including South Korea's opening night of Harry Potter 7, had the Harrington's enjoying the majority of their week 'inside'. However, last night, as Mike waited for the arrival of a friend to come play Settlers of Catan and enjoy some spiced Pear Cider, he  captured these shots outside of 'the Harrington's' Subway stop.

Outside of Galma Station: Exit 2 -- Waiting.

Outside one can find many 'vending' machines: including the claw.
For more outside images head over here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gapcheon 10k

On Saturday, December 4th, Mr. Harrington participated in the Gapcheon 10k. Having not run for who knows how long, and not doing any physical activity other than walking to work and playing a few soccer games, Mr. Harrington was less than excited about running 10 kilometers (about 6.25 miles). However, he made a promise to a couple of friends, and he wasn't going to back down, plus it was for a good cause--the Korean Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The day was beautiful! Running shorts and a t-shirt were all the clothing that was required, something new to Mr. Harrington, it being December and all. Mr. Harrington somehow managed to run the entire race without stopping, and his only discomfort coming from a hardy slap on the rear from his friend while being passed. He finished with a time of 53:49, not bad for not running in a while, tho no where near his old standards. Perhaps, once he overcomes his current bout with the cold, he will lace up the running shoes more often.

More information about the race can be found here and photos can be found here.

Bongam Elementary Students Master the Alphabet

In August of 2010, Melissa "Teacher" Harrington was granted responsibility for the teaching of English to a group of Korean first graders and second graders. Completely thrilled and slightly terrified, Melissa Teacher thought quickly how she could best train up the precious little gems of students while maintaining her sanity. Having worked three years in an Elementary school back in Laramie, Wyoming, Melissa Teacher had some tricks up her sleeve for teaching the alphabet as well as phonics. Realizing the students would have a limited attention span, Melissa Teacher combined these teaching techniques with a 'project' of students creating their own ABC book. With flying-colors the students have learned the alphabet, a bit of phonics and vocabulary and each created an ABC book. It is therefore, with great honor and pleasure that we at The Harrington Times present a video presentation showcasing some of Melissa Teachers favorite Alphabet Art.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An American Tradition makes it way to South Korea

Unintentionally, Melissa Harrington and some dear Daejeon girl-friends, found themselves engaging in a bit of a "Black Friday" sort of phenomenon after celebrating Thanksgiving. Having planned a shopping trip to Seoul for the Saturday following Thanksgiving, the ladies found themselves enjoying a full out Thanksgiving meal on Friday evening then re-uniting Saturday morning to board a train and take on Seoul's shopping scene with goals of Christmas gifts and unbeatable deals in their minds.

Seoul did not disappoint. Boarding the KTX, Korea's speedy train at about 9:30 on Saturday morning (fortunately, the crazy early morning hours of a traditional 'Black Friday' did not plague this five-some of ladies) the group arrived in Seoul less than an hour later. Hitting up Forever 21 and H&M the crew found some stellar deals and continued on with the day. Highlights of the shopping day included amazing Mexican food from Taco Amigo (located in Itaewon for those in the ROK), a trip to What the Book (also in Itaweon) followed by a bit of strolling around Insa-dong picking up a few souveniers and gifts for dear friends back home.

And the number one highlight, specifically for Mrs. Harrington on this shopping extravaganza? A pair of stellar brown boots. Price tag: W218,000 (US $218). Discount: 90%. Price paid: W21,800 (US $21.80). A stellar deal that easily compares to those found by many Americans on Black Friday. Overall, a successful and fully enjoyable shopping day in Seoul for five American souls.

Getting There/Away: KORAIL offers various train options. The ladies went via KTX (45 minutes) to Seoul and returned via Mungunghwa (2 hours). Once in Seoul their Subway System will get you just about everywhere you need to go.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Capturing and Sending a Sweet Gift

The Republic of Korea is not lacking in 'sweetness'. The ROK is amongst the leading nations in things which are adorable, cute and particularly sweet. This set of sweet springy character pens will arrive, perhaps after the holidays, to a group of sweet children in Wyoming that Mrs. Harrington can't seem to forget.

The sweet face of a sleeping 'bobble' cat pen

A sweet gift, for sweet friends.

The sweetest pen combination.

Find other sweetness here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Visit Korea

The Harrington's will have their first guest from America arriving at the end of December. Many conversations for the Harrington's now center on: What should be done to ensure the most "Korean" experience can be had? The Harrington's have also concluded (subject to change of course) that they will take their Holiday leave in Korea. The combination of planning a 'staycation' and a weeks worth of experiences for a friend, has the Harrington's scouring internet resources for information regarding what to do and when to go.

A couple favorites so far are:

Visit Korea Year - complete with coupons, festival schedules and information on a free shuttle bus systme running primarily out of Seoul

Visit Korea - more details regarding festivals, shows in Seoul and around the country, attractions, etc.

The Yeogiyo - many articles and stories detailing expat perspectives on some of Korea's 'must-see' sights.

If you happen to know of other stellar resources for travelling within South Korea, we at The Harrington Times encourage you to drop us a comment and share the knowledge.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Harrington's Capture Kindred

This week after hosting a Thanksgiving meal for our Korean co-teachers, Mike Harrington did the dishes.

Choosing to travel and live abroad means being way from ones blood relatives, ones kin. Even during the holidays.

Choosing to travel and live abroad with ones spouse, ensures a kindred and kind spirit to be a constant companion.

This week, The Harrington Family of two served guests in their home, a meal prepared by the Mrs. the clean-up accomplished by the Mr.
The Harrington's, kindred spirits in Korea.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Abundant Toilet Paper yields Abundant and Long Life

Korea has a beautiful gift-giving culture (as well as a not so beautiful side of gift-giving and consumerism, but that's not the focus of this article). The moment one arrives in Korea, they are showered with various gifts. Drinks, snacks, free colas at a restaurant, fruits and chocolates from co-workers, just to name a few. The moment one invites a few co-workers into their home is when the real fun and gift-giving occurs.

Early this week, the Harrington's hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner for their co-teachers. The first three to enter came with two giant packs of toilet paper (toilet paper with an inlay of puppies and a scent of plumeria). This was then added to the stack of toilet paper received from an expat couple who'd crashed the Harrington's couch in October plus the t.p. purchased upon the Harrington's arrival, needless to say, the Harrington's are not lacking in toilet paper.

Other gifts from the evening included

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving times Three

Should you decide to pack up and move to the opposite side of the world, you should not fear the lose of favorite holiday celebrations. Rather, you should anticipate the way in which others who have also left to the same foreign land, will unite with you to re-create those memories and/or how the local community will come together to serve you in these moments of increasing homesickness.

For the Harrington's Thanksgiving was a full and abundant Holiday season. Much like last year, the couple enjoyed celebrating this American Tradition with a variety of friends and 'family'.
The first celebration the couple enjoyed was hosted by Saeronam Church where the Harrington's have been receiving Korean lessons, worshiping and enjoying community with a variety of English speakers in Daejeon. Highlights of the event included a wide spread of traditional Korean foods, typical to their 'Thanksgiving' known as Chuseok; playing a traditional Korean game, which Mike Harrington showed impressive skills in; receiving a total of 4 tubes of toothpaste, and two gift certificates. It was an enjoyable evening kicking off the Holiday season for the Harrington's.

The second Thanksgiving was hosted by the Harrington's dear friends, the Mullen's, the primary reason the couple ended up in Daejeon. The meal occured the Friday after Thanksgiving and brought together a tight-knit group of expats and a good showing of Korean co-teachers. Each American expat guest did their best to provide a traditional dish to the evening producing for the crew such delicacies as stuffing, chickens from Costco, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and even pumpkin pie.

Finally, the Harrington's enjoyed a traditional meal with five of their co-teachers. Melissa spent the majority of Sunday afternoon and evening preparing the dishes which would be served on Monday. The menu would include sweet potatoes left over from Friday night, scalloped potatoes, Costco chicken, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, rolls and a walnut pie from Paris Baguette. Highlights of the meal hosted by the Harrington's were: rave reviews of the cranberry sauce, artwork from a co-workers daughter, receiving an uncanny amount of toilet paper, the gift also of cacti, a Christmas tree, mini-apples and bananas.

As always, the Harrington's have an abundance to be grateful for and enjoyed sharing their Thanksgiving holiday with so many beautiful souls.



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