As expected, this month has just been pretty quiet overall, excepting a few weekends in Seoul. For instance, I spent my first few hours of the new year at a club in Korea, listening to reggaeton; foreshadowing my new year? I sure hope so. During the day I called to wish my family a happy new year and wandered the mall; hopefully not foreshadowing? I should have caught an earlier bus home.
Days Danced: 4
Days Sick: 0
Faint to Start the New Year; Paraglide into Recovery
I lazed around all week, and fainted on Thursday afternoon, hitting my head in a near-repeat of 2014’s eyebrow stitches incident. Life goes on, though, and stays interesting. I stayed home that weekend to recover, and was wandering around town on a sunny day, looking for a place to get my hair cut when I wandered into a coffee shop. Scrolling Instagram as I sipped my latte, my phone pinged with an incoming message from my town’s EPIK Program director asking “did I want a free tandem paraglide?” Of course I did.
So I went right home to gather myself and met my friend in front of my apartment. After waiting in an office for an hour, an insane man drove me and some other paragliders up a mountain and I swear I almost threw up. I’ve never been in a car with a crazier driver, and sans seat belts no less! That very same certifiable man ended up being the one who took me paragliding. Turns out, he paraglides on Korea’s national team. And he is damn good.
We actually went out for dinner with my new crazy friend and some of the other paragliders for Korean Chinese food, to celebrate his brother’s marriage earlier that day. I met a guy my age from a nearby town, and learned several more Korean drinking games, all involving vinegar, and none of which I’d willingly repeat. The next week brought the stresses of teaching winter English camp at a middle school.
Chocosploring Seoul & Wintertime Peace
For my winter English Camp kids, some of whom could not even read short words, much less know what they meant, it was a difficult week. Camps here tend to involve a lot of translating from higher-level classmates, though for me it was a lot of Korean vocabulary learning. When I finally got to Seoul for the weekend, I really deserved it. Camp was exhausting, so my friend and I went Latin dancing, and then I headed to the Seoul Salon du Chocolat and an Escape Room on Saturday.
Some of my favorite memories in Korea so far definitely come from just lazing around playing cards over brunch, and stumbling through conversations in Korean at the climbing wall. Add in chocolate making and tasting, and what could be a better way to spend your twenties? Peaceful weekends at home are definitely a Korean pastime of mine.
When I returned to my town after a rousing weekend, there was more desk warming and messing about in my office, and studying Korean with flashcards and TTMIK. I had a three-day workshop at another local school near the end of the month. The presentations were actually immensely helpful in terms of game ideas and insight into the problems that secondary school teachers have with their kids, i.e. what I need to work on as an elementary school-level English teacher.
Seoul During Seollal
The last weekend of the month was 설날 (Seollal), or Lunar New Year, which brought a four-day weekend and a very abandoned Seoul. I stayed in Itaewon, the foreigner neighborhood of Seoul, with a friend. We met up with and made various connections along the way, but mostly we just danced and tried to do a bit of vacation shopping before my weeks on the beach. She had actually just returned from a week and a half in Dubai, so she was more than happy to concentrate the spending in my corner. I even managed to convince her to go salsa dancing with me twice! There may have been some alcoholic beverages involved.
How did your new year start off? Do you think it was an omen about the future, or nah?