Thursday, October 07, 2010

Random Subway Occurrence

So, I'm riding the subway on the way to Itaewon.  Beside me is a boy (about 12 years old) and his father.  The train stops at a station, and when the boy turns his head away from his father, the father very quietly and quickly gets up and slips out the open door.  A few seconds later, the boy turns back to see his father gone.  He looks around, confused, muttering something that probably translates as "Wha... I... wha?"  He then catches sight of his father looking at him from the platform laughing his head off!  Soon, a number of passengers (myself included) are grinning and smirking, doing all that we can to not burst out in peals of laughter.  As the train pulls out of the station, the father signals his son to catch the return train at the next station.  Needless to say, it was extremely hilarious.

I'm sure the child-abandonment issues and psychologist bills will be well worth the lols.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Bread and Circuses

So much has happened in the last few weeks, I scarcely know where to begin.  I realize it's been forever since I last wrote.  I didn't want this to become one of those blogs where there's a new post every few months apologizing for the lack of posts, followed by a promise to try to write more often.  So I'm not going to do that.  Moving on.

Chuseok gift: Delicious!
Tuesday, September 21st marked the beginning of Chuseok, a nearly week-long Thanksgiving celebration.  During this period, Koreans traditionally return home to celebrate with their families and exchange gifts.  Also during this time, many stores and businesses were closed.  Those of you who follow me on Facebook have probably seen the pictures of the gift of rice cakes (song pyun) and the awesome letter given to me by one of my students. If not, get on Facebook and/or pay more attention to me, dammit!  I'm looking at you, Jason!

Chuseok dinner
During Chuseok, one of my co-workers who goes by the English name "Clouds" invited me to his apartment to celebrate with his family.  They are a great group of people, and the food was more than excellent.  We played games and watched a couple of movies.  With it being Chuseok, we of course watched two traditional Korean films: downloaded copies of 21 starring Kevin Spacey and Christopher Nolan's The Prestige.  Oh, and to Greg and Pat: I know it took forever for me to watch The Prestige, and you were right, it was an amazing film.

Amy and Erika from Newfoundland!
The Saturday following Chuseok, I went to the National Institute of International Education (NIIED) for a five-day orientation with EPIK, which stands for English Program in Korea.  Most of the lectures were helpful and informative (with one notable exception - the people reading this who were there, you know what I'm talking about).  We had classes in teaching theory and lesson planning, most of which were old news to me.  What was helpful was the beginner Korean language classes, which have given me a good starting-off point to learn the alphabet and begin to really learn how to communicate and understand Korean.  The true value of the week, however, was found in the new friends and contacts I've made here, both in Seoul and in the rest of Korea.  There were only four of us from Seoul at the orientation, but it turns out we're all Canadian!  Amy and Erika (who lives only one subway stop from me) are both from Newfoundland, so hanging out with them definitely makes me feel like I'm back home in Grande Prairie, Alberta!

Gyongbuk Palace
Other highlights of the EPIK orientation included a visit to Gyongbuk Palace and the Korean Folk Museum, as well as watching the musical performance "Nanta."  When I saw this show, I wanted nothing more than to have my friends and family there to see it.  What an amazing performance!  It's been performed in countries all over the world, but sadly not in Canada.  Toronto and Vancouver, get on it!
Cookin' With NANTA!

The only noraebang picture I got
before my camera batteries died!
The last night of orientation was sad, as we had to say goodbye (for awhile) to our new friends who were leaving for various parts of Korea.  A bunch of us went out partying that night after the farewell dinner: Erika, Amy, Pat from Calgary, Linda from Ireland, Alex from Australia, and George and Amber from the US.  And let me tell you, I never thought this sort of this would happen to me, but let me just say we noraebanged like crazy that night!  (That was just for you, Jason and Greg.  That's all you're getting!  And to everyone else, my sincere apologies.)

I think I'll wrap it up there for now.  So much is continually happening here, and there is always so much to do.  I've never seen a city more active at four in the morning than Seoul, with the possible exception of Vegas.  I'm sorry, I haven't written lately, and I promise to write more often.  I know I said that I wouldn't type that, but what can you do?  Old habits die hard.  From Seoul, South Korea, Cheers!