Talk about a long absence! Please accept my sincerest apologies of not keeping up with the blog. Teaching, hanging out with friends, traveling, and just living got in the way. Now it is time for a serious update.
Amy (Hwacheon Elementary) and I caught a bus on Friday afternoon to head down to the city of Daegu. A few of our friends in that city host a language exchange on Friday evenings for anyone from their high school students to other teachers like ourselves. Since it is a city there are already several ETAs in the area and a few others were visiting as well. It was a great evening to chat at this awesome cafe called Buy the Book which sells used English books and American snacks. I did my share of contributing to the business.
Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to head an hour away to the Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival with Ammy and Tracey from Mokpo, Katelyn from Iksan, Christina and Nic from Gumi, and Elaine, Bridget, and Susie from Daegu. The tour brought us to an organic farmer’s market, a wine tunnel specializing in Persimmon wine (Cheongdo is famous for persimmons), the bullfighting, a bbq lunch (hot dogs! ah!), and finally a strawberry farm to pick delicious, juicy strawberries. The day was tainted by unfortunate weather, but we still made the most of it. Tracey and I won big when we bet on the red bull and won. She had bet 100 won (about $0.10) and I bet 1,000 won (about $1.00). I believe she won about 4 cents and I won all of 20 cents. High rollers. For future reference though, bullfighting is interesting (?), but I don’t think it is something I will be running back to any time soon.
4/27-4/30 Payal, Tracey, and Jonathan visit Hwacheon
Payal from Busan came up to visit Hwacheon for a few days since she had midterms at school and therefore a mini vacation. She arrived on Saturday afternoon and we spent some time in Chuncheon taking in the beautiful weather. We did a little shopping, admired the beautiful cherry blossoms in the sculpture park, treated ourselves to manicures and dinner at an Italian restaurant. We headed back to my homestay where we spent the night enjoying maekkolli and a bbq with my host family and the farming students. They were trying to convince her that she should give one of them a chance and in Korea, under 60 is very young so it’s ok.
Sunday morning, we met up with Rachel, Kate, Amy, and Amy’s host brother to head back to Nami Island. It was much more beautiful this time. The snow from my last visit had been replaced by gorgeous spring blossoms. We spent the day walking around the island, looking in the museums, taking pictures, and catching up with one another. The 4 Hwacheon girls decided Payal had to try the 2 foods Chuncheon is famous for-dakgalbi and makguksu. After dinner, the 2 of us heading back to my homestay where we spent time with my host sisters playing volleyball, watching The Lion King, taking pictures, and playing beauty salon.
I had not 1, but 2 special visitors at school on Monday. Our friend, Tracey came up to visit from Mokpo and was staying with Amy. Unfortunately, my 4th-6th graders were going on a trip so they only had a chance to meet some of my students. Payal teaches middle school and Tracey teaches high school. They were giddy as they sat in the back of my classes with 1st and 3rd grade over how cute the kids were. We left school early to meet up with the girls in Hwacheon and another visitor, Jonathan from Daejeon. We ate dakgalbi and makguksu again before Payal and I had to catch the last bus back to Yuchon. My host parents sat and chatted with us for quite awhile that evening as we discussed the cultural similarities and differences from each of our backgrounds; Korean, Indian-American, and Irish-American. I love nights like that when I really get to learn more about Korean culture and share my own background as well.
Payal headed back to Busan on Tuesday morning and I headed to school for a morning trip with 1st-3rd grades. We went to a chicken farm, owned by the grandfather of one of my students. I have never seen so many chickens in my life! We each had a chance to go into the chicken coop and pick out an egg. The students then decorated their eggs, enjoyed hard-boiled eggs, and wrote/drew about the life cycle of a chicken.