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Recording happy days

June 16, 2014
I enjoy following the photographic records of #100happydays that so many of my friends are collating on Facebook, although I will probably never sign up for the project myself.

The reason?

It's pretty simple. As I saw more and more people make a positive effort to record the good stuff in their daily lives I realised that I already notice that stuff. I did used to wonder if I was:

a bit weird for experiencing child-like joy at simple pleasures


unusual in noticing the small things that create thin layers of happiness that bond to create happiness in a pure form.

It's good to know I am neither!

Today I got a lot of happiness from three things.

One was the look on a student's face when I gave him a large, fancy lollipop thing as a reward/thank you for being class captain. 'For me? Only for me?' He felt the need to check a few times, and by his face you'd think I'd given him a $100 prize.

The last student to take the speaking test today was the weakest in his class. The type of learner who responds to 'Hello' with a face frozen in fear. Today he blew me away. His answers were considered, and much more confident than I could ever have expected. I happened to see the class captain for that group a little later, who informed me the student had worked very hard to prepare. That he cared so much made my heart happy.

My final mini-happiness moment is a little offbeat, as it involves having a tooth pulled. I am not a good dental patient, yet today I was able to experience the entire procedure with no anxiety and 100% trust in the doc. I attribute this to a mix of her amazing skill and my personal self-growth.

This was the third local clinic I have tried out, and the only one where I felt comfortable enough to go through with treatment. Many thanks to my friend Sha for recommending the place. (I will come back and add the website link tomorrow, in case anyone happEns to be looking for a dentist in the Cheonan-Asan area of Korea.)

The Sewol Disaster

June 7, 2014
I haven't posted anything new to my blog since the devastating Sewol ferry tragedy. It has been such an overwhelmingly sad few weeks, and something that has changed the way a lot of people here think about things: well the foreigners at least.

Safety awareness isn't a priority.

I smile now when I recall asking my very first boss here when I would get the expected health & safety induction. I had no idea then that such things generally don't exist here in South Korea. In the seven years and seve...
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A fabulous blog about frugal living

April 11, 2014
Blog snob?

There are few blogs that I find interesting enough to bookmark and actually visit regularly, so it's always a treat to find something that catches my attention.

Money talks!

I've never been particularly motivated by money, but planning for life post global nomadism has put finances firmly on my agenda. I made a decent start to 2014 by actually applying for a tax refund. It was worth trading some of my sanity to battle with several Korean websites to get a little cash back from the gov...
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Weeks 7 - 12

March 23, 2014

Weeks 7 – 12

I haven't updated the staycation section for several reasons.

1.    I was really busy from weeks 7-10 as my good friend Rebecca got ready to leave Korea. Every day seemed to be a whirl of running around doing chores, or making memories.

2.    After she left I felt too sad to write about it. (Miss you Beckster.)

3.    I started my M.A. in Professional Writing. (Which will definitely get its own blog post or section.)

4.    The weather was wonderful, actually warmer in February than ...

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Where there's smoke watch out for fire!

February 3, 2014
For the last couple of days I had noticed a faint whiff of warm plastic in the air when I was using the toaster oven. I stuck my nose  all around it but nothing. Felt it up a bit, nothing. Plug seemed fine. Keep calm and carry on toasting.

Tonight my omelette was about done, tomatoes sliced, just the bagel to finish toasting and I'd be good to go with a late dinner. (The washer hadn't spun properly, causing a 30 minutes wrestling match that I barely won.) Anyone who knows me well is aware of m...

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Important message for foreign drivers in South Korea

January 27, 2014
If you are:
  • foreign
  • drive in South Korea
  • have exchanged your home country licence for a Korean license
you need to read this.

You did what to my driving license?

One of the chores on your 'to do before leaving'list is to get your home country driving licence back. This involves a trek to the Driving Licence Agency centre where you originally exchanged it for the Korean version. Sounds simple, right?

So what if you get there and your licence isn't there anymore?

What if they tell you they threw it awa...

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Weeks 3 -6: a short report

January 26, 2014

Apart from two separate days when the snow came and went within 24 hours we continue to enjoy spring like weather for the most part. It's fabulous of course, but leaves me bereft of anything much to say. So here's a very short collection of highlights from the last four weeks.

  • I quit playing Candy Crush!!! I have wanted to stop for a while but the addiction was pretty strong. In the end the app made the decision for me. I just couldn't take the new level with shimmering candies for more than t...

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Weeks 1-2 of my strange staycation

December 29, 2013
I was expecting to have many tales to tell by now. Stories of drawing on previously unknown inner strengths as I battled cabin fever, surrounded by tons of that nasty white stuff that blights the winter season. Wrong!

Ironically, we are having the mildest winter I can remember in the 6 years I've been in South Korea. Not that I'm complaining, mind. I can live with see-ing the sun most days, especially as it quickly melts the odd bit of snow that has dared to fall.

Of course this means I have mu...

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My strangest winter holiday plan - ever!

December 8, 2013
The problem
It's not much of a secret that I dislike the cold, ice and snow that winter in South Korea brings. The problem for me is that in the last couple of years this has morphed from a pet hate into an aversion, and it's now pretty close to being a phobia. (This started when a friend here slipped on the ice and broke a bone.)

My coping mechanism has been to suffer it for the unavoidable week or two at the end of semester, then escape the day after we finish work. California, Sri Lanka, Mal...
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Reflecting on my unusual mid term test assignment

November 6, 2013
In semester 1 of this academic year my students had loved the opportunity to go outside and use their phones to shoot a 1 minute sketch based on some dialogue we'd just studied. In fact this was so successful that I decided to adapt the exercise and use it for this semester's mid term assignment: making a 10 minute movie.

Was it fun? Overall, yes.

Would I do it again? Probably not!

I've reflected on the entire experience for a week or two and decided that in the end the hassles outweigh the (man...
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About Me

Valerie Ann Hamer Global nomad, writer, teacher


"bary inn kuala lumpar #100 happy days 'shopping confusion" 'teaching english in asia" 1970s music 50 shades of grey 50th a korean village abba abba tribute affiliate marketing apartment in korea asia auschwitz authentic teachers be a better teacher beijing beijing sideways being a writer birthday birthday. blind dates blog blog notes book stores in asia books books and expats bread british culture budget airlines budget travel busan busan dog cafe candy crush candy crush saga cargo ship passenger cargo ship travel charity china chris backe chuseok comfort food comments communication complimentary medicine concierge travel coronation street costco cultural identity culture currency confusion dentists in korea dictionary definitions of expat dina porell dirty dancing drinking at convenience stores driving in korea driving in the uk e-books efl efl activities efl and esl activities efl game efl games efl job applications efl teacher resources efl teaching tips egyptian food egyptian street culture emotional spring cleaning english engrade esl jobseeking essential efl classroom tips exceed driver training exchanging driving licence in korea expat expat friends expat friendships expat medical care expat writers expatriate expats expats in asia facebook facebook fan falmouth university filters fire risks foreign food shopping foreigner foreigners driving in korea free esl teaching aid friends friendship frugal living fun efl activity fundraising getting a korean driving licence gift giving in south korea gift sets girl scout cookies goukon great wall of china group dates guest blogging gypsies habarana hanjin brussels help korean kids hepatitis a in korea hi tech japanese toilets hite hoarding home how to engage efl students hygiene in korea identity theft inequality insurance for foreigners in korea interaction jackie bolen japan japanese apartments jeffrey miller jeongnamjin group home kindle konglish korea korea and road safety korean korean apartments korean convenience stores korean culture korean education korean education system korean thanksgiving korean toilets korean wedding halls ktx language language learning mistakes language learning. japanese learning japanese lee min ho little house on the prairie living in tokyo lost in translation ma professional writing manu fieldel marketing massage chair medical treatment in asia mid term test motivating teenagers in efl class motorbike motorbike and sidecar muslims naked without books nanowrimo national coffee day national novel writing month negombo new year resolutions nina davalun noise noise sensitivity noisy neighbours nomad nomadic lifestyle nomads nonsense english on the buses online food ordering onsen page paid forum posting patriate patriot pepero picky sticky or just plain icky? poland possessions prejudice private students in japan pyeongtaek questions racism readathon reading reading and expats recording student grades relationships relocation self publishing in korea sento sewol ferry tragedy sidecar sigiriya. smashwords smoking plug social media social media marketing society songtan south korea south korean hospitals spa resort malaysia spam sri lanka stereotypes tb in korea teach efl in korea teaching at a university in south korea teaching efl teaching efl at a korean university teaching english in a south korean university teaching in korea the power of words tokyo tokyo coffee shops top websites travel by freight ship travel by freighter travel insurance travellers treasure hunt turning points twitter uk uk travel university apartment south korea university grading efl university jobs in south korea us visa waiver usa to korea by ship used book stores in korea used bookstores in tokyo vacation plans virtual book tour want to write a novel what is an expat? what the book wholegrain bread winter in korea words writer's block writing writing articles
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