It’s almost winter, and it’s been 3 months since I arrived in Korea. Time for another update!
From October to November, here’s what I’ve been up to:
– Yangyang Surfing festival
– Kimchi making
– Student field trip
– Teacher field trip
– Sinbulsan I
– Sinbulsan II/Gajisan Base
-I’ve been eating a lot, working a lot, hiking a lot and studying Korean a lot
-If you want to stay current, instagram is my main medium these days. I even made a hashtag for all the wing murals I’ve found (#sarahkcanfly)
– My sister is coming to visit for 2 weeks in December (!!!!) and we’re going to Japan for Christmas
– I now have a small community at the gym, consisting of gym attendants, a prof and many Hyundai workers. GYM GAINZ IN SO MANY WAYZ
– It’s starting to get cold here, so the heated floor is in full use.
– Schools aren’t heated well in order to save money, so I’m wearing thermal layers and scarves to teach. For some reason, the halls are colder than the outdoors
– It’s getting harder to remember what I notice because the Korean culture is becoming my norm
-the more Korean I learn, the more I understand the culture and relationships I can develop
– Autumn is incredible here. I’ve never seen entire mountains covered in orange and red foliage
-Oatmeal, my staple food, costs about $7 CDN for a kg… Avocados.. $3 each. Persimmons, mushrooms, oranges and sweet potatoes are still cheap as chips
– The country is trying to impeach the President Park because she was essentially a puppet to the ideas of her friend, who I believe is considered a shaman (read here). The protests in Seoul are massive.
-One gym friend told me this week, through translation, that my Korean needs to get better. lololol screw u
– Having male Korean friends makes me think about North Korea differently. I would never want to see any of them have to go to battle.
I attended a surfing festival in Gangwon Province with the wonderful Paz and Fatima. We listened to Bob Marley played in a restaurant called Surfdog, and ate chili cheese fries alongside the coolest Korean people.
Seeing this surfy way of life completely shifted my thinking of Korea. We used couchsurfing.com to find accommodation in a tiny Korean ocean village called Hajodae. We were hosted by the kindest South African English teacher that let us stay in her home without her even there.
I have yet to be convinced that there are viable waves here (한국애 파도는 없어…)(not that I could surf said waves well), but it was SO good to paddle around in the ocean and think to myself, “the next rock out there is Japan..”
I made kimchi, and then proceeded to make 김치 찌개 (Kimchi stew). The best Korean recipes can be found at this website. My Korean famjam, co-teacher and principal all said my kimchi was delicious. That’s a pretty good sample size, so I’m confident they didn’t lie, or at least I know my fermenting cabbage creation is palatable.
Upon tasting my kimchi, my principal then asked me if I wanted a Korean husband and told me she knew of a principal whose son is single.
Therefore it is safe to infer: Single eligible foreign female + kimchi making ability = marriage material for a Korean man
Recipe for success, I say.
TIMA’S BDAY IN BUSAN
For Fatima’s birthday, we spent a night in Busan, Korean’s bumpin second largest city. Here are some pictures of Gamcheon Cultural Village, along with some pizza that literally has baby octopus on it.
Panorama pictures distort faces sometimes…
Here are some of my fav grade 5 students.
Yes, I have favourites.
I’ve also included a pic of the humiliating song and dance I was forced to do for the school and parents.. Lucky you, you only get a picture. I have yet to send the video to digital hell so it can be obliterated along with my dignity.
It was for the school’s music festival, and let me tell you, I’ve never seen such well rehearsed performances by children. I was blown away by the costumes, choreography and musical ability. They practiced so hard, for so long.
I should know… because the grade one class is right next to my class and they practiced the xylophone for about two months straight.
Doing the song and dance really showed me my role here in Korea. I am an accessory to the Korean English teacher, but not a real teacher. As much as that sucks, it has helped me bond more with my students and become their friend. I am way better at that anyway. I have quickly learned that the faster I learn names and say hi to the students outside of class, the better they pay attention during my lesson.
I went with the grade 6s on a class picnic on the nearby mountain. Gimbap is the picnic food of choice. The grade 6s are leaving after December for Middle School (best of luck in the most miserable period of your life my little friends, RIP), and I’m so sad. I know almost all their names and enjoy teaching them most.
It’s been funny witnessing the beginning of puberty. Voice cracks, growth spurts, acne and even some blossoming romantic relationships. Too many hormones in the air, but some wild entertainment.
I went on an overnight teacher’s trip to Gangwon and hit a lot of cool stops along the way. My teachers try their best to speak some English to me, and I try to speak in Korean.
Based on other NETs’ experiences, I’ve been pretty lucky in that they try their best to include me and I genuinely feel like I’m apart of the Yangji team. It really helps that I play volleyball with the teachers, and that I am learning Korean.
I’m also the youngest person on staff and have been told by one teacher that I’m his son’s age.
Check out the pic of my principal and I, as well as the rice fields. This is the Hahoe Village in Andong. It’s considered the World Heritage Historic Village of Korea, aka, it’s really old.
We went to Naminara Republic, or Nami Island. I love my fellow teachers so much.
At one point, the bus turned into a Norae..bus? Or a “karaoke” bus (we don’t call it that because karaoke is the Japanese word for it).
One teacher who drank far too much soju sang a song, and then the most quiet and awkward male teacher decided to have a go. He butchered it and it was amazing.
Apparently they wanted me to sing too but I fell asleep, although I’m not sure how I managed that with the amount of reverb echoing off the mic…
I live on the East Coast of a country again, like I did in Christchurch. Unlike Vancouver, I get to see the sunrise over the ocean, instead of a sunset. One Friday morning, I decided to get up half an hour earlier to catch the first rays of lights.
It was only the Hyundai workers and I, starting our day strong.
I met my friends Marcos and Leticia in Seoul, over Chuseok weekend in September. Them and their other friends in the hostel happened to be on exchange from Brazil at Ulsan University. Now we hike together.
After a late start due to bus timing, we unknowingly hiked the difficult trail of Sinbul Mountain (Sinbulsan), the side with ropes and rock climbing.
We were advised by many over-concerned Korean men that we should turn around before it gets dark. We listened and stopped at the first lookout and took in the incredible view.
I’ll say it again, I’ve never seen any Autumn like this.
Okay, if you scrolled this far down, you’re in for a real treat. Here come my favourite shots so far.
Marcos and I returned to Sinbulsan because we wanted to see the Chinese silver grass it’s famous for, as well as Paraeso Waterfall. The grass was disappointing and we traversed over the mountain but did not find the waterfall. Still, 17km of no regrets.
I’ve even incorporated some Korean symbol emojis for your enjoyment.
The best part was, the bus we caught on the other side of Sinbulsan took us back to the base of Gajisan! Here’s a comparison of what the river looked like in Summer versus Fall. I live in a calendar stock photo land.
Get ready, here come the rest of the Gajisan pics
The less groovy bits:
-An English teacher from Arizona (my age, same name and teaching in Donggu) was hit by a drunk driver that tragically ended her life. I didn’t know her well, but it’s been a good reminder to cherish the life we have. Prayers for her family and friends are needed.
-I really don’t want to remind you, but the parasite for president of the US has really shaken the world, including South Korea. The US is a huge military presence here, and I’m not really sure how Trump will affect ties with North Korea.
-The mess that is the President of Korea is also causing serious unrest within the country.
-The South Island of NZ was hit with a 7.8 earthquake, wreaking absolute havoc to my favourite spot on the island (Kaikouraaaa <3). The seal colony I studied is likely gone, the tunnels I drove through on the highway are buried, and the train tracks I crossed over with my surfboard have bumped and rumbled their way onto the otherside of the street. Huge feels for my Kiwi whanau at this time.