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Published: September 25th 2006
The famous turtle ship, designed/commanded by Admiral Yi/Lee, who is the national hero of Korean history for driving away the Japanese.
... and more complicated. But in the meantime, a few things that brightened my weekend. First of all, the most amazing thing happened. Although I did not have much time to play piano back in the US, I did at least have the opportunity now and again. It helps me release stress and be creative and all that jazz. So, of course, I was missing it-- and the musical things I've always done-- but I decided to bite the bullet. I mean, you can't expect everyone to have a piano, and I figured maybe I could convince them to let me play one of the pianos at church during off hours or something. I could beg and plead. Or, just not play piano for a whole year. Well, little did I know that all members of my host family (except maybe the host dad) used to play piano and in fact, in a back room (the one room I've never gone in-- it's a lot of storage and sometimes a guest room) of my host family's house, there is a piano. How amazing is that? Well, it's a little out of tune, but it was so great to have that. I
Me in front of the Turtle Ship (my host sister took the picture)
mean, that is one of the only tangible things I was really missing (tangible meaning not family or friends), so to have a piano at home-- it's more than I could ask for! And I thought my homestay was great already! So, yay!
So, that topped off a pretty good weekend overall. Saturday afternoon, a Korean teacher invited me to his house for lunch with his family (including his middle-school-aged son, who is very good at English after spending four months in Australia). It was really fun talking to Mr. Park's son-- he was so smart, loved to read, etc. He even loaned me a book (in English). He said, "I heard you wanted to learn more about Korea"-- of course, I always do!--and he gave me a book called Korea Unmasked
, which I've started already and gives an insider's look at the Korean culture and history. Very fascinating, and a pretty easy read. Granted, cultural study is never simple, but this book is really helpful at sorting it all out. Then, Mr. Park took me to Dong Baek Won to volunteer again, where I helped out with the disabled children. Afterwards, I met up with my host family
Stone and pebble beach on Dolsan Island.
in Dolsan Park, where they have live entertainment every Saturday. Not only were there singers (who sang two American songs in English because, as they pointed out to everyone in a break between the two songs, there was a waeguk saram
or foreigner in the crowd. Of course, everyone turned and stared at me, and when he asked if I liked the music, I responded in Korean (to everyone's surprise) "Ne, cho-aheyo
," which means, "Yes, I like it." Yes, only two words, but pretty impressive if I do say so myself.
The attention continued the next day when, after the church service (still don't understand the sermons but I follow along in my bilingual Bible with the rest of it), I heard the minister say "Miss Alexis blah blah blah (insert Korean words here)" from the pulpit. Bewildered, I was motioned to stand by my host mom, at which point every head in the huge congregation turned my way. As if I didn't feel like I stuck out enough. But, in fact, they were welcoming me to the church, so that's pretty cool, though I felt very much in the spotlight. Things got even weirder when after church, I
At night in Yeosu
A little blurry...
was escorted to a random room for a new member class. Evidently, I'm becoming a member (maybe my host mom's idea? At least it will get me more involved), so I must attend 4 weeks of these short classes. Well, at the time, this wasn't really fully explained to me. I was just told, "Class for new members. Four weeks. Eat with your host mom after." Basically. So, I was still bewildered as the class began (in all Korean) until the very end (maybe 20 minutes later?) when the head person for new members finally spoke in English and said, "Miss Alexis, this is just a requirement for new members of our church. You have to do this for four weeks. I'm sorry I don't speak English better." Of course, I understood-- my church at home has that, too. Still, I thought it was kind of funny because the class for me is basically useless as it's all in Korean. I still won't know any more about the church, the Presbyterians (it's a Presbyterian church), etc., when it's all done. But, rules are rules, and we must be fair. I just can't help but laugh about it.
At night in Yeosu
A little blurry...
to top it all off, I went to the jim-jil-bang (bath house) twice this weekend (there's one at my health club)-- both times with my host mother. I called my real mother last night and told her when she came to visit, we'd have to go together. She said something to the effect of "When hell freezes over." Maybe I'll be able to convince my sister... I mean, you really don't become close to someone until you've gone to the jim-jil-bang together, right?
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