Thursday, January 27, 2011

A delicious dinner party

Sometime earlier this week, Violet (the woman whose wedding I attended in December) asked me to come to her home for a small house warming party. I told her I would absolutely love to go! I purchased a book before I came to Busan about Korean culture and tradition and I remembered reading about what to do if invited to someone's house. It seemed there were a million things I had to remember and I didn't want to offend anyone. But Violet and her husband, Zach, are young, so I knew they wouldn't be too upset if I did something wrong.

I arrived at Violet's studio apartment with Stella and Julie, my co-teachers at school, and first thing is first... must take off my shoes when I enter a home. She had made us spring rolls that we could fill with delicious meat, veggies, etc and then dipped in a bean paste. It was so good! Violet offered me a fork, but I was having a surprisingly good day with chopsticks, so I was able to navigate my way through the food just fine.

After we ate, Zach poured us all wine. Now, I know there's some kind of tradition and a sort of rhyme and reason to how drinks are supposed to be poured, but I think they kind of skipped on the rules so I wouldn't be embarrassed. I tried to be respectful by holding my cup with two hands and I believe I was then supposed to pour the drink for him, but Violet did instead. Then we ate fruit and cake and watched videos from their wedding and honeymoon. It was such a fun night! Here's to hoping I didn't embarrass myself too badly...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Adventures in Geoje-do!

My friends and I decided to mix it up and go to another city to see what it had to offer. We chose to go to Geoje-do, an island near Busan. A bridge was just completed sometime last month, so we were able to take a 14 dollar round trip via bus instead of a 40 dollar ferry ride. The trip was only about an hour and a half and we got there and back fairly easy. While there, we went to an abandoned amusement park that closed down several years ago. We wanted to see it for ourselves, take some pictures and get creeped out. Read more about the park and what happened there:

Anyway, we asked around and eventually got directions to it. After walking up monstrous hills and asking for a little more help, we found the entrance and "snuck in."

Upon entering, we stopped immediately in our tracks when we saw other people there. It was at this point we began to fear for our lives when we saw these people were also holding guns. I decided to turn around and forget about the entire thing, but Kavita (the girl who went in first with me) started to talk to the seemingly nice gentlemen. Turns out, it was just a giant game of tag with BB guns. They were more than willing to stop what they were doing for a while to let us explore and they even wanted to stop and pose for pictures with us.

It was bizarre walking through the park which has been left to mother nature's mercy. Trees have started to grow around the rides and the paths are barely walkable. I don't know how much of the story is accurate, but it was still fun to walk around. It's strange that it has been left for abandonment, seeing as it's not far from town (once we knew where it was, it was easy to see from different parts of the city). It would be interesting to return to Okpo Land in 10 years to see what kind of shape it's in.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hurricane Busan?

I can't really explain the cold here. It doesn't snow which is nice. But it's windy. And it's not "oh, that was a sudden gust of wind!" It's "oh my gosh, the wind is stinging my face and blowing at me no matter which direction I walk, how is this possible, get me into shelter where I'll probably be just as cold." I feel like the bone-chilling cold has taken a toll on my body in a number of ways. And I've admittedly become a hermit as of late. To say I'm excited for the summer is an understatement.

But being a hermit wasn't all that bad this weekend. I saved some money, which I desperately need to do with my trip to Hong Kong coming up so quickly. And I got to do something I felt pretty good about. There's a group here in Busan called ATEK- The Association for Teachers of English in Korea. They put on all sorts of events and coordinate volunteer opportunities throughout the city. With the help of the organization, I was able to spend time at the boys orphanage here in Busan on Saturday. About 15 other volunteers and I went to "Boys Town" to spend time with the kiddies. We split into two groups, one group played basketball and the other did crafts. I cheered for basketball, I didn't play it, so I stayed with the group that made crafts. The little boys came in and my heart instantly melted- they were SO CUTE. Every month, they learn new English words, and this month's topic was weather. So we went over some basic words with them, then they made some groovy sunglasses to wear. We played a few games with them, brought out the play-doh and then gave them snacks. It was a small time out of my day that I would have otherwise spent sleeping. I think the little ones genuinely enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them in the future.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy 2011!

A new year already? I can't believe how quickly time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was ringing in 2010 at home and preparing for my last semester of college. Now I'm living in Asia with no idea where my life will take me next. I hope this update finds each and every one of you healthy and well!

It's been a pleasant few weeks since I updated last. I spent new year's with a lot of great friends here in Busan. We had the day off on Friday, so a few friends and I headed to the Busan Aquarium. I hadn't been yet and it was fun to walk through. Although I'm not really a fan of sea life, it was still enjoyable.

The kids are on winter break now. I believe they'll return to school in February or March from what they've told me. So we've had a few class changes. I now have a one-on-one class with a new student named Zanobia (exotic, right?) She's going to university in Seoul in March. She's from a small town right outside Busan, but while she's on winter break she's staying with her aunt here in the city. She's so interesting to talk to. She paints and plays a traditional Korean instrument, though I forgot what it's called. She said she came to our school so she could have conversation with a native English speaker, so I'm going to look forward to just talking with her as well. She's already taught me so much.

Happy 2011, everyone!