The red shoes – a tale of twelve countries

On starting work and getting to know new classes, a favourite game is two truths and a lie. Everyone has to think of two true (and preferably interesting) statements about themselves, and one lie, and their new classmates can ask questions to find out which statement is false. It’s a great icebreaker for the group and, if you do a demonstration as the teacher, the group gets to know a bit about you, too, which helps in building productive rapport.

Recently, Wonderboy played this game with a new class and included the statement, “I’ve been to eight countries this year” as one of his interesting facts. This threw the whole game out of order as no one in the room could believe such a thing could be true! In fact, even for me the last twelve months have involved an epic amount of travel. Travel all witnessed by a pair of cheap pumps which I bought this time last year, specifically to see me through the biking holiday I went on last June.

Here, from the perspective of the Red Shoes, is a photo record of my travel adventures, June 2015 to June 2016.

Red Shoes' first day out - Seoul

Red Shoes’ first day out – Seoul

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Oh, the places we’ll go.

Or, adventures in expatting (verb, intransitive – the habit of living in countries that aren’t one’s own).

Booyah, Shakespeare, I just invented a word, too.

Or so I thought. This is a verb that has been hovering on the edge of my consciousness for a while, but it wasn’t until I idly looked it up to discover a raft of references in the Urban Dictionary that I realised why I feel part of neither one world or another. Even the wryly humorous term expatbagger (see note) seems to me to refer to someone who moved to one different country and then returned to their home country, rather than someone who left their original country, has travelled around and lived in a couple of others, and just hasn’t gone back home yet. In my current place of residence there are a high number of transient, short-term contractors passing through in a similar manner to me, but this is an exception. In previous places I’ve found myself part of a community who have moved in and stayed long-term. So what should I call myself that would fit the bill? More

Your mind is a crap camera

This was the simplified conclusion of a jogging conversation yesterday morning. I say, ‘your mind’ to mean ‘people in generals’ minds,’ rather than your mind, specifically, sitting there being good enough to spend your time reading this blog. Your mind is clearly quite discerning, as your choice of reading materials confirms.

I was Runsploring around Seoul, as I am wont to do of a Sunday morning, on a route which I last ran in April during cherry blossom season, or spring, as it is more commonly called. My running mate and I were discussing the nature of time and its effect on memory, or perhaps vice versa.

Spring flowers by Dongguk uni

Spring flowers by Dongguk uni

The last time I ran this particular route, I climbed out from Dongguk University station to be overwhelmed by the sight of a lane of trees in full blossom. The air was balmy and fresh, More

Language and thought

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a student. The clock in my classroom has been rubbish for several months. The battery was replaced at the beginning of the year, but it soon ran slow again. Eventually, after it became a hindrance to the smooth flow of classes rather than a mild distraction, I took it down. This necessitated the purchase of a watch.

I remember discovering the idea that language reveals the way a society thinks at university. If there isn’t a word for something, it’s because it’s a concept that culture never needs to describe, analyse or discuss. Al revez, if a culture has a lot of words to define different aspects of one thing (like the famed Eskimo communities with their myriad words for snow), it indicates the importance of the concept.

The discussion that brought this back to me was around my watch, More

Feathered friends

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