Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas time in Busan

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas! It was a little odd being away from home this holiday season, but it was made easier with great company.

To be honest, it didn't really feel like Christmas. I had to work on Christmas eve and I didn't have the usual traditions that remind me it's close (like putting up the tree, etc). On Saturday morning I was able to wake up and skype with my entire family while they opened the gifts I sent them which I really enjoyed! They sat me in the corner and for a moment it felt like I was right back home. When my mom asked if anyone else wanted a piece of dessert and I said, "I do!" it felt like it was possible to just reach through the screen and grab it. The best part was convincing my brother to eat some of the dried squid I sent. He did not enjoy it whatsoever.

For dinner on Christmas night, about 30 friends got together in Hauendae for a buffet. It was delicious! So many choices and all western food. Finally able to use a fork. And the free wine wasn't too bad, either.

I hope this post finds you well. Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

More tension

I think to myself... There have been thousands upon thousands of foreigners that have come to South Korea to teach English and I know I'm not the first one to keep a blog about the experience. How many posts have been titled "tensions rise in Korea," or something along those lines? Go to right now and you'll see about 10 articles with a slightly varied headline.

All of this comes from the attack from the North that happened back in November. I wrote about it shortly after it happened, thinking nothing would come of it. But today, tensions rose again as South Korea held a military drill (ok, I don't know the exact term or lingo). The North said this was grounds for war which absolutely blows my mind, but more-so breaks my heart.

What if there is war? I'm registered with the consulate, I would receive word and I assume I would be asked to leave the country, which I would. But what brings tears to my eyes and a heavy feeling in my heart is the fact that all the Korean people living here have nowhere to go. So what, I get on a plane back to America? Well this will still be going on here. I could go through my entire year without war breaking out and I would return home and these people would still have to deal with the constant threat of attack.

When will the violence end? Why is it still happening 50 years after the Korean war "ended?" And how are these people so brave to deal with it their entire lives?

I've been here for about 4 months now. I'm terrified at the thought of war on the peninsula. But the Korean people are so unconcerned with it.

No people should be accustomed to bloodshed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Love is in the air

I went to a wedding this weekend which was an interesting event, indeed. I don't really know how to explain the weddings. I think I would compare it to a Vegas-style ceremony. The whole thing seemed somewhat rushed. It started almost as soon as we sat down. I wouldn't say it was as intricate or emotional as Western weddings, either (although I have no idea what anyone was saying). When we first got there, we got to take pictures with the bride, who is my director at school. Her name is Violet and she looked absolutely beautiful! I got a little teary-eyed when I saw her. Such a stunning bride.

We went into a big room inside a building used just for weddings, in a nutshell. It had several different rooms that all looked the same, all used for the same purpose. It was very open and it didn't feel private. There were a few songs sung to the couple then Violet and her husband bowed to both of their parents. They also poured the champagne and cut the cake (with a katana) but they didn't eat or drink it. Then the both of them walked out and some funky music was played. The couple came back and took group pictures, first with family and then with friends. My co-workers and I were the only "way-gooks" (foreigners) in the picture so I'm sure we'll stick out like sore thumbs. We didn't know what to do, so we just smiled dumbly at the camera. We all got tickets to a buffet so we went and ate with other people, presumably coming from other weddings. Violet came in to greet everyone after we ate and she was wearing a traditional dress called a "hanbok," again she looked beautiful!

It was different compared to Western weddings, no doubt about that. A co-worker of mine told me that there are still traditional weddings in Korea, but they are far less common and they involve roosters (no joke). But I'm happy I got to experience it! Something I was hoping I would during my time in Korea.

Alix and I put together the gingerbread house my mother sent to me. It didn't taste good, but I think we did a fine job constructing it!

PS. Wondering what to get for a wedding gift? Money. I believe about 20,000 - 30,000 is standard. Maybe a little more or less, depending on the situation. You'll get a white envelope at the wedding where you can write a congratulatory message and slip the cash inside.