Is it weird that its taken me this long to like it? I actually want kimchi sometimes now. Not all the time of course. Not even most of the time, but every now and then...I want it. I'm so Korean.
Since I last wrote...let's see. Mostly just getting back into the swing of things at school. I'm pretty sure that it had been since last September since I had a true full week of classes at school. There was always at least a day where there was a test, or a holiday, or some reason why I didn't have to teach. Kind of nice. But now...the semester is in full gear and I think we're all coping with having to actually work since we've had so much downtime. Rough life ;)
So let's see. Last weekend I went out on Friday in Seoul with Sara, John, Q, and Rebecca. We went out in Itaewon which we almost never do. We'll definitely have to do it more often I think, because we had such a good time. Saturday I went out in Dongducheon with a big group of people who live in my area. We took up the biggest room at the noraebang which was hilarious, and pretty much every song turned into a group sing-a-long. Busted out some old school stuff, which is always fun.
This past weekend a group of us who live north of Seoul rented bikes and rode along the Han River in Seoul. I ended up with this crazy pink bike with a basket on the front. It was a little chilly out, but overall not too bad, and we had such a great time! Renting bikes was really cheap, even though we were late returning them.
Beenish, me and John in Yeouido Park in Seoul
After our long day of bike riding, we went out to celebrate our friend Chrissy's birthday with dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Hongdae and then out to our favorite spot...Zen Bar. This turned into the usual night of tequila and dancing followed by everyone crashing at my place (I'm the cheapest cab ride from Seoul). Sunday once we finally dragged ourselves out of bed we went for a little White Day date out to lunch and then to a movie.
Sarah, Reebs, Anna, and me @ Zen Bar in Seoul
Have I explained this already? I forget. White Day is sort of like another Valentine's Day. In Korea on Valentine's Day, the girls give the boys gifts. On March 14th, it is White Day when the girls receive gifts and candy from the boys. And on April 14th is Black Day, the singles "holiday" when people without that special someone sit around eating black noodles. I think my friends and I will celebrate with beer and tequila but maybe that's just a cultural difference.
I need to start keeping notes of what I want to write about here, because I had a bunch of awesome things I wanted to share but now I can't remember any of them. Sorry.
Came across an incredibly interesting article about the seemingly excessive studying that kids do here. check it out on Matador Abroad. I have to say...I agree with it. Even though I'm learning the ropes here more every day, I still struggle with certain things. Like, why is there "camp" during the winter and summer breaks? Why are the students still forced to come to school even after final exams have been completed? In my mind its a huge issue of quantity over quality, and in Korea - quantity means more. Study more. Work longer hours. Take more classes. Nevermind that these students are spread so thin with everything they're forced to do with the limited time they have. They hardly have any free time.
It makes me sort of sad to compare my high school life with that of my students. I remember spending weeknights at dance practices and cheering on my friends at basketball games, and weekends going on dates with boys or hanging out with my friends testing the limits of our parents' nerves and patience. There were football games, parties, and dances. Things that, in my opinion, define our youth and things that I feel like these kids are missing out on. They have no concept of these things. They literally can't even imagine it because these things don't exist in their society. High school kids partying? What's prom? Forget the fact that they (obviously) don't have football here, but they don't have any real outlet like sports for showing their school spirit. Don't get me wrong, I think studying is important and looking back, I probably should've done more of it both in high school and college. However, after seeing how things are in another corner of the world, I am incredibly grateful for having been raised in a society where the focus is not strictly on academics, but rather on creating well-rounded individuals. I was able to pursue my passion for dance, serve my community through volunteer programs, earn my own spending money by holding down a job, and even travel to Ireland with a group from my high school. The idea of a 16 year old doing all of these things is shocking to a lot of my co-workers and students here because they are so concentrated on the academics of it all that there isn't time for these things.
When we come back from a weekend or a holiday break, I always ask my students what they did the days preceding our class. I am met with 30 blank faces. One or two students will offer a meek "I slept" or "I played computer games" or the most common "I studied". Huh? That's what you did with your time away from school? I know their English isn't very good, but c'mon, they can do better than that right? Even the kids who can't recite those phrases in English will ask for help translating and that's what they say. When my peers and I were asked that same question in high school Spanish class there would be a different response from every one of us. "I went skiing with my family", "I went shopping with my friends", "I had a volleyball game". I think I would be shocked if I heard that from a student of mine.
Sometimes, especially growing up in America, we assume that our way is the best way. Traveling has definitely showed me that this isn't the case. There are things to be taken from every place, every corner of the world. Perhaps in America we should focus a little bit more on academics, although I would never advocate it to the extent that it is here. Would it be wrong to encourage a little less studying here, and a little more time spent with friends just (gasp!) having fun?
New K-Pop songs are out. Here's the latest from 2NE1 called Try to Follow Me (날 따라 해봐요 - Nal Ddara Haebwayo).
I filled out a bracket for the NCAA tournament. My friends and I joined a little pool here...we'll see how that goes. I tend to suck at these things as it is, but now I think it will be even worse since I can't just turn on ESPN and I'm not working in college athletics anymore so I'm not soaking up all that incredibly useful information for situations like these. Also, randomly, I signed up to run a 10K in April. Hm. Not sure what I was thinking with that one, but it will be a good incentive to start running again since I've sort of been slacking this past winter.
Hope everyone has a great St. Patrick's Day! My friends and I will be celebrating in Seoul this weekend at an Irish festival. Apparently there's Guinness and face painting. Sounds like an awesome combination. Later!
"I often think about the world in which I live today, of animals and plants and nature's gifts set on display. But the most amazing thing that I've seen in my time are all the different people and all their different minds and different ways. It would take a lifetime to explain." -- No Doubt