Published: February 16th 2012February 12th 2012
Probably about time I did an update, been a bit lazy the last few weeks!
So in Korea Lunar New Year (or seollal
) is one of the most important holidays. It's the same as the Chinese New Year, and this year is the year of the black water dragon. Apparently people are quite superstitious about these things - it is good for a boy to be born in a dragon year, but very bad for a girl. I guess because dragons are big and scary and no one wants their baby girl to behave like a fire breathing monster. I could be wrong on this but I think that year of the horse is supposed to be the worst one for some reason? I was talking about this with my co-workers the other day and they told me about another interesting superstition that is taken quite seriously in Korea and Japan. We often talk about star signs, but here you are more likely to be asked what blood type you are. In fact, on the South Korean facebook, you can even add your blood type to your profile. Here's the breakdown for you:
Type A: considerate but shy, known
as 'farmers' (and apparently can't hold their drink)
Type B: creative but a bit eccentric, known as 'hunters' (men with this type have a bad reputation in Korea and apparently don't make good husband material - there is even a Korean film called 'My Boyfriend is a Blood Type B
Type AB: rational but calculating, known as 'humanists'
Type O: sociable but unorganised, known as 'warriors'
My co-workers were trying to get me to guess their blood types, and as usual I managed to offend everyone - can't win with questions like that! Apparently AB is the worst one to have according to them. I'm not even sure what my own blood type is!
Anyway I'm going off track - the best thing about Lunar New Year is that we got some of those elusive days off work. So I had a nice 5 day weekend to play with, and took the opportunity to go snowboarding again with some friends from Busan. This time a bit closer to home, to a place called Muju. It still meant a 4am departure though unfortunately. During Lunar New Year there is a mass exodus of people from the
cities as they all head out to the countryside to spend time with their families. Pretty much all public transport is booked up completely for the holiday, which makes it difficult to get anywhere. It was a blessing for us though, as it meant that the slopes were really quiet, one day in particular we pretty much had them to ourselves. Although that didn't stop the skiers there from trying to cause as much carnage as possible by not paying any attention to anyone or anything else around them! The way people ski here really is identical to the driving. We stayed in a pension, which is basically a small room with a bathroom, and no beds. You get blankets and just sleep on the floor, which is thankfully heated (and also probably one of the best inventions ever - why this isn't a common thing in England is beyond me!). It's actually more comfortable than it sounds, although a bed would still be nice after a day of getting battered on the slopes. Anyway, it was nice to be out snowboarding again, and the views from the top of the mountain were pretty incredible too. Pretty cold though -
Temple at the top of the mountain
credit to James Nixon for this one...great photo
bottom of the mountain was minus 14 one morning, and the top was way colder! I know it's been cold back in the UK recently, but I have never experienced cold weather like it's been getting here - further up north it was getting as low as minus 26. I love the cold (because I'm weird like that...) but even I'm getting a bit sick of it now, roll on Spring!
So this past month at school has been pretty easy. Along with having my hours cut, (I'm now only working from 11 to 5 most days), the kids have also been preparing for their annual concert. This meant that instead of making worksheets all the time, I could just help them practice their songs or whatever. Although this has resulted in me despising the song 'Fame' now more than I did to begin with, which is saying something! The concert consisted of the kids doing songs, ballet, dances, plays, you name it. They had to wear different costumes for each act - some of the costumes were hilarious - my favourite was the younger kids dressed up in fish outfits, so funny. Unfortunately I managed to forget my
camera so don't have any photos... Anyway, me and my flatmate, Chris, had to do the opening speech for the concert, which as usual I left to the last minute to learn. I had it all memorised though, but walking out to the front of the stage to be faced with an audience of people holding up cameras left me with a huge mind blank and I ended up having to make something up on the spot. Not that anyone in the audience would care, most of them don't speak English anyway, I could've said anything! Although I felt bad that all the kids had memorised a bunch of songs and plays in their second language and I couldn't even remember two paragraphs in my own! I also had to be in one of the plays, Ali Baba, but luckily I only had a few lines. Although unfortunately for the audience that did include a duet with Chris. I really am dreading watching the DVD. The only other thing I had to do was sing 'Fame' with all the kids, and sing a Korean song, which I successfully managed to mime to make it look like I knew the words.
I've really been trying to make the most of this easy month, as next month is going to be a killer. The majority of the Korean teachers are leaving the school at the end of February, for reasons unknown to me. It seems to be a common theme in the schools here, that the foreign teachers are the last to know anything - it can get quite annoying sometimes that they just don't feel the need to tell you things, even if they are important like a change in schedule or something. Anyway, it means that my flatmate will be the most senior teacher in the school, which is pretty crazy seeing as he is a foreigner. The beginning of March is also when the new semester starts and all the new kids come. So that means that we are going to have a bunch of kids that will need to learn how to behave in school for the first time, which I am not looking forward to one bit. It also means my baby class will move up a grade, which will mean I won't have any Korean help in the classroom. Nightmare. March is going to be
the worst month ever! But there's no point worrying about it until it happens I guess!
As I mentioned last time, the longer I've been here, all the weird things that happen become part of normal life and don't seem so weird any more. Sometimes things happen though that are just bizarre. A couple of days ago I was cycling back from rugby training along the cycle path only to be confronted by a man with his trousers down, bent over in my direction, having a good old number 2. Never have I seen anything that horrific. I can't even close my eyes at the moment, the image has been burnt onto the back of my eyelids. There were so many places he could've done that hidden out the way, but apparently when you've got to go, you've got to go!
There's a nice thought to end on anyway. I hope all is going well with you all back at home, keep me updated on what you're all up to, it's really nice hearing from you!
Love Ross x
There are more photos below