Published: November 18th 2008November 18th 2008
I feel I must apologise for my relative lack of activity on here recently. It's not so bad though since it means that I have a couple of things to report. I also now have my own camera which will hopefully give my entries a bit more context from here on in.
The difficulty of my Korean lessons has gone up a notch and along with it the amount of time I devote (or at least should devote!) to my studying. Still enjoying it though and slowly but surely I’m picking a few things up. All I need now is for somebody to claim that a pencil is a book and I can correct them using accurate Korean. Well, you never know!
Since I last wrote I have performed magic tricks at the school Halloween party and been to my boss’ wedding. I also now have some extra private tuition work on Saturday afternoons and I’m being pulled every which way by numerous Korean acquaintances who want to use me for my ability to speak English and/or the fact that I do so with an English accent. Throw in a day of receiving presents from my students and the
fact that the best people I’ve met here have gone home and you can see that it’s been a busy but interesting few weeks.
Halloween was well celebrated at school because learning English here is almost entirely Americanised. This didn’t really please the three of us foreign teachers since we are all British and therefore uninspired by Halloween and its associated dressing up silliness. Still, I did a surprisingly good job of looking like Dracula (including make-up) and my magic went down a storm. I’d been practicing a little bit too much if anything but it was all worth while when it actually worked. Unfortunately Halloween was in the pre-camera era but if I can get hold of some pictures I’ll post them later is it looked quite funny.
Last weekend was the much anticipated wedding of the headteacher from my school. It meant buying a suit (not enough room for anything smart in my bag when I came here) but it the wedding was an interesting experience and it’s a nice suit so I can use it again. The service itself wasn’t too far removed from a Western wedding. It was held in a large wedding hall
and the formalities seemed similar as far as I could tell. The groom is a military man so there was a kind of guard of honour down the aisle. Then there was a strange performance at the end where they blocked the aisle with their swords and wouldn’t let the bride and groom back out until the groom had performed several tasks including one which involved giving someone his shoe. I just laughed along with everyone else whenever appropriate. There was more bowing than I’ve ever seen and in some cases the most respectful type of bow you see in Korea such as when the bride bowed to her new in-laws. Then there was the groom’s friend performing a rap and the photo session before we all went for the buffet. No wedding anywhere in the world is complete without a buffet, although I was disappointed by the lack of chicken legs, vol-au-vents and cheesecake. It was strange how all the other weddings going on in the wedding halls that day were eating at the same time in the same room but I gather that this is normal.
The 11th of November is a day of significance here just
as it is at home but for completely different reasons. Korea celebrates the date 11/11 by giving out packs of four chocolate sticks to represent the four 1’s in the date. ‘Pepero day’ is a strange and slightly pointless concept but I got inundated with these things from the children at school and they taste like those KP Chocolate Dips (the ones that Nan used to buy us when they lived at Titley for those of you who can relate to the reference) so I was happy with that.
My experience in Korea is continually evolving and as a stranger in a foreign country you get used to constantly meeting new people and to others moving on. I’ve made good friends with a number of fellow foreign teachers since I arrived and regretfully many of them have now left or are leaving. It’s strange to have strong but really brief relationships with people and I only hope that some equally nice folk come along soon. In the meantime, it’s head down and continue to enjoy my job, my Korean lessons and spend more time with the locals.
There are more photos below