One year ago today I got off of a plane and found myself in the *ahem* “Land of the Morning Calm”. It’s been a crazy year, for certain, and anyone who has read this blog can see why. So I think I’m going to do a little photo re-cap of some of my favorite things that I did/saw this year. At the very least you can see how much my hair has changed. Really, it’s gotten a lot longer, and my bangs are almost completely grown out!
The weather was quite nice when I first got to Korea-much warmer than Ohio. Unlike this year, there wasn’t a speck of snow on the ground (although we got an unexpected heavy snowfall in March, but that only stuck around for a few days). My roommates who were moving out did a wonderful job of showing me their hospitality, and took me on a little tour of our town. I wasn’t too overwhelmed back then, just excited and a little nervous to be living in Asia. Oh, and impressed by the sheer number of neon lights that can inhabit a city block around here.
This photo is from my first field trip with Reading Town. We took a bus to Guri, a city about 20 minutes away from our school, to see the “children’s theatre”. I adored how absorbed the little ones were by the play we saw-I can’t remember much of it myself now, although I remember Lucy leaning over to me at one point to translate some Korean into English for me. “Teacher, it is ‘the sun and the moon’.” Sweet, sweet child. She ended up being one of my favorites.
April was when things started picking up around here. Our next class field trip (can you tell I love field trips?) was to a farm. Potatoes for everyone! The kids spent a significant amount of time trying on my stunner shades. Which was really cute. Here is Tony, who would eventually leave Reading Town, and who was an unforgettable character in my teacher-life.
I also went to see my first Korean palace, Changdeokgung, with Marisa, Jenny, and Gloria.
AND we took a trip to my favorite park in all of Seoul, Yeoido, to try to catch the blooming of the cherry blossoms. Only a few trees were really bursting, leading to a Korean bottlenecking of picture takers-everyone lining up to take their photo in front of the sporadically placed foilage. Humorous.
May gave me my first real holiday in Korea-Children’s Day! This meant no school, so the adventuress-es of RT (Marisa, Jenny, Gloria and I) took a terribly long bus ride to Sokcho. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was beautiful, and I fell in love with Seoraksan Mountain. I’m still disappointed that I never had the chance to go back in the fall to see the leaves change. I’m sure it was gorgeous.
That was also the month we discovered that Korea has recreational trampolining areas where you can pay 2000 won for an hour of jumping goodness!
The first true month of summertime brought wonderful hot weather and tons of things to do. It was a super busy time, with a Korean wedding to attend (and bachelorette party to organize), an in-honor-of-4-people birthday party to host at our apartment, a trip to that wondrous amusement park- Lotte World, and a weekend adventure to Everland and a traditional Korean Folk Village.
By now summer was in full swing. July was rockin’ with two big events: Mudfest and a huge 4th of July America/Canada loving bash that brought expats and Koreans from a 30 mile radius to a little rooftop in Pyeongnae. Mudfest didn’t go so well, fun, but rainy, and I got a severe case of flu. (Was this due to swimming in the ocean and in the rain at 5 in the morning and running around in wet clothes all night long? I really couldn’t say). The Independence Day celebrations-mine included a baseball game with some other Americans before coming back for the party-were a wonderful way to celebrate my swell country.
And then I went home! For one glorious week I went back to Ohio, saw my beautiful niece for the first time, and soaked up some time with all my favorites.
My last summer month was full of frolicking. Lady Gaga came to town and put on an amazing show. I took a trip to Busan to enjoy Korea’s South Beach. And Jenn and Colin bid us farewell as they flew back to life in Canada.
Autumn came, and school continued at its steady pace. Life chilled out a bit. The biggest events that I recall-going to the Dog Cafe with Jon, and heading for a lovely night out at a jazz club in Apjugeong to say goodbye to our friend Delanie.
Also, Juan and I took this picture that night-it’s still one of my favorites of us.
Who cares what else happened this month? It was my BIRTHDAY! I rang it in in style. On a boat. Then, when the weekend came, with dancing and snake-striped spandex.
But there was more to October than my birthday. There was Chuseok, and the ensuing adorable child pictures…
And there was arguably one of the best Halloweens I’ve ever had. With definitely the best costume so far in my 25 years.
This was also when my lovely boyfriend bought me my own real live Olympus E-450, so I began to take both more and better photographs.
It was nice and quiet. A few birthdays, a few goodbyes, a lovely cocktail party and a traditional American thanksgiving in my little home.
No matter where you live, December is a busy month. Gift exchanges, holiday parties,frolicking in the snow, school vacation…it’s not slow for anyone. My Korean December was full of the above, plus a short jaunt to Hong Kong with the bf for Christmas. Pretty fabulous.
I brought in the new year with a few too many drinks and a Chinese dress. It was alright though, because Jon, Ha Young, and Dave with there with me-no taxi rides home!
Then there was pajama day at Reading Town….and the wine train…..and Phantom of the Opera
Alright! So that brings me here. A full year later. This month alone has been super busy-birthdays all over the place, the academic school year ending this week, graduation ceremonies for the babies, along with some cultural explorations (i.e. DMZ tour) thrown in for good measure. I’m not quite done with my Korean life yet-another month or so till I take another plane far and away-but it’s been one hell of an adventure, for better and for worse. And I’m still alive! (And I’ve developed quite a fondness for kimchi dumplings and spicy ramyeon. Uh oh.)