Dear Korea:

I’m sitting at Incheon International Airport, like I have on several occasions before, trying to will myself to understand the magnitude of this particular flight.  I’m going home.  No, I’m MOVING home, with no plans to come back to Korea anytime soon.  My worldly possessions have all either been packed, stored, or thrown away, and Emmett has been locked in his crate and surrendered to the friendly faces of the Delta Airlines flight crew. Still, it just doesn’t feel real.  

English Village was my home for 17 months - longer than I have lived in one place since moving from my parents’ house where I grew up.  It is hard to come to terms with the fact that I’m back to being a nomad, getting on another plane to set up my life in another new city.  This particular move has been almost a decade in the making, and I’m feeling entirely surreal now that the day has finally come.  

Korea, it’s been great.  A life experience that has shaped me more than I ever thought it would, an adventure that has served to broaden both my mind and my world view.  Goodbye to my wonderful friends and coworkers, goodbye to kimbap, bibimbap, and galbi, goodbye to the 2200 bus.  Also, goodbye to the ONLY place in the world where I will ever be regularly compared to Brad Pitt.  Sigh.  

In 10 minutes or so, I’m getting on a plane and ending the big fat Asian adventure that has become so normal, and heading back to the states to re-acclimate myself with what it means to live as an American in America.  There is plenty to be excited about, but plenty I will miss.  

If this post goes off as intended, it should be published a few hours into my flight, where I’ll (hopefully) be fast asleep rather than wide awake and stressed out thinking about Emmett down in the cargo hold.  

If not, then I’ll have to give it another try when I’m in the states, and that just wouldn’t be very poetic, now would it?  

In any case, I should be in Chicago in 20 hours or so, and I’ll be sure to let everyone know that I (and Emmett) have gotten from point A to point B safely!  

To all of my Korean people - 안녕히 가세요!  Now come visit me.  

All of my love,


Things are starting to wind to a close for me here at GEV - I’ve performed my final Concert Hall show, attended my final company meeting, and just finished my only remaining project.  This video, “Meet the Edutainers + A Day in the Life”, is the only big “to do” I had left on my list.  It’s a look at a typical day at the English Village, featuring all of the current Edutainers, with a particular focus on my girl Grace Abele.  Enjoy!

Last month, I finally got the opportunity to visit The War Memorial of Korea.  Since arriving here in October of 2010, this trip has been at the top of my to-do list.  Not only because the Korean War was such a major event in US history, but because my grandfather, Byrl Harlan, served in Korea in 1950 as an Air Traffic Controller with the US Air Force.

The War Memorial is more of a museum than a memorial, and if you’re ever in Seoul, it’s very much worth a visit.  The Memorial is devoted to the entirety of Korean military history, with 3 huge rooms focusing on the Korean War.  Much of the Korean War exhibits are devoted to the UN countries who provided enforcements and other kinds of aid, and I was more than happy to gain a deeper understanding of Korea’s tumultuous history as it relates to the rest of the world.  

Having lived less than 20km from the DMZ for the past 16 months, it baffles me to think about what this area must have been like when my grandpa was here, a mere 60 years ago.  It’s hard to imagine what it has taken for Korea to make its transformation  into one of the most thriving nations on Earth.  It reminds me of visiting Berlin and wondering how such an impressive city managed to rise from the rubble of WWII. 

Here are some of the pictures from the visit - one of my favorites is the last one, a sculpture entitled “The Drop” located in the UN room of the memorial.  The sculpture is made from 1,300 identification tags and is wrapped in metal thorns to symbolize “the horror, suppression, and danger” of the Korean War.

Happy 2012, friends!

This year started off with some new Southeast Asian adventures - this time the destinations were Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Bali, Indonesia.  

Éanna arrived in Korea just before New Years, and on January 2 we headed south for a week of warm weather and relaxation.  We flew with AirAsia  - Southeast Asia’s budget airline based out of Kuala Lumpur.  It’s no frills, but it was altogether pleasant enough, considering the trek from Seoul to KL is about 6 hours.  Our next flight, to Bali, wasn’t until the next night, so we made our way into Kuala Lumpur and spent the next day and a half exploring.

KL is a very cool place - it almost feels like two separate cities, and there is a good amount to see.  The most striking sight is undoubtedly the Petronas Towers, two twin structures that held the record of the world’s tallest buildings from 1998-2004.  We also got to see a good amount of the older sights on the other side of town, including Merdeka Square, where the Malaysian flag was first raised at the conclusion of British rule in Malaysia in 1957.  

The next evening, it was on to Bali.  We stayed in Canggu, on the southwestern part of the island.  Bali is beautiful, if somewhat impoverished.  The landscape is stunning, with dramatic beaches, cliffs, and rice terraces everywhere you look.  The people are incredibly friendly and accommodating (although terrifying behind the wheel).  With a population of almost 4 million on this relatively small island, it is nearly impossible to get from one place to another in a timely fashion…you’re better served to stay put and see everything you can in one area.  

We spent our days relaxing, exploring on a rented scooter (and we lived to tell the tale!), and eating (too much) great, inexpensive food.  We also spent one morning taking a surfing lesson from a Balinese competitive surfer… it was a blast, but we paid for it dearly in sunburn and aching muscles!

It all ended far too quickly… Éanna is already back in Scotland, and I’m back to reality at work.  Exciting news, though: I have officially booked my flight for the move home, and will be returning stateside on March 5 - only 6 short weeks away!  I’m incredibly excited to make the move, but there is plenty to do before boarding that plane.  Life is busy, but exciting.  2012 has already been an adventure, and I have a feeling that it’s gonna be a great year! 

Until next time…


Well THIS just made my day.  

In case you have forgotten, I am completely and irreversibly devoted to my Harry Potter nerdiness.  

In other news, I HATE the words “Coming Soon.”  Can we get a firm date, people?



“When Harry Left Hogwarts” - this actually looks pretty good.

This movie is going to make me cry.  No doubt about it.

This is pretty incredible - it’s like she’s a delivering a sermon to the Church of Creativity.  I don’t usually find writers to be such engaging and capable public speakers.  Well done, Elizabeth Gilbert! 

Reblogged from : thedogwalker:

Obsessed with this speech. 

Beautiful. Funny. Brilliant. 

This is the language I try to teach every day by singing and dancing around a stage like I’ve lost my mind.  Sometimes I wonder about my career choices.  


This is the language I try to teach every day by singing and dancing around a stage like I’ve lost my mind.  Sometimes I wonder about my career choices.  

Last weekend I took on Bukhansan, Seoul’s highest mountain, with a group of friends.  We wanted to take advantage of the fleeting and beautiful Korean Autumn, so we set early and made a day of it.  It was a struggle, but making it to the 837 meter summet (called Baekundae) was an incredible feeling!  It was my first mountain hike, and hopefully just the beginning.  If you find yourself in Korea in Spring or Fall, get yourself up this mountain - you won’t be disappointed!  

…in other news, I think my fear of heights is abating with age.  Either that, or I was just delirious from the altitude.  Either way, I consider it a victory.  

For how many inspirational quotes can one man be responsible?  This makes at least 385.  

For how many inspirational quotes can one man be responsible?  This makes at least 385.  

Sometimes reality TV wins.  The X Factor (UK) has dug up some incredibly talent this season with Janet Devlin, a 16-year-old singer from county Tyrone in Northern Ireland. 

Her audition is killer, namely because she doesn’t sound like a second rate version of every other pop star (ahem: American Idol), and she seems to have a genuine humility about her.

Take a watch and try not to love her.