Sunday, May 31, 2009

Leaving Korea

We leave Korea in two days! This weekend was action filled with packing, organizing, and squeezing in a few more fun nights with our friends here. We've been eating our "last meals", repeating all our favorite Korean food in the last week. All of our things that we aren't taking to Vietnam are packed up in boxes. Today, we have to lug it all to the Post Office and then go to the bank to close our Korean bank accounts. Then we only have to clean our apartment for its next tenants, say our final good byes, and take the train to Seoul tomorrow afternoon. Aaah! 

Things I won't miss about Korea...
- hagwon life
- lack of cheese and delicious beer
- no city planning
- certain Korean students
- stone cold adjummas
- "more work is better than efficient work" work ethic
- squid
- always standing out
- Summer and Winter Intensive session
- national inferiority complex
- communication fails
- mandatory over-organized fun

Things I will miss about Korea... 
- excellent public transportation
- riding my sweet bike everywhere
- going out to eat and drink on the cheap
- certain Korean students
- generous adjummas
- no open container law
- safe cities
- cheap hotels
- yukechang
- shabu shabu / mongolian shabu shabu
- service-eu
- affordable health care
- the people who are our friends, neighbors, co-workers (and sometimes partners in crime) simultaneously. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Goodbye Gwangju Reading Town!

I just left from last day at Reading Town. The other teachers and staff were kind enough to send me off with an exuberant farewell! 

See ya later suckas!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cute Goodbye Letter from Tom

Yesterday, one of my cutest students shyly slipped me this letter after I told them on Monday that I would be leaving Reading Town after this week.
If you can't read it, here's what it says. It kind of made my day yesterday. I'm his writing teacher so I want to correct his spelling and missing periods, but I won't. 

"To Ashely teacher
Hello? ashely teacher? This is Tom Thanks to study 3 months at 2D1.
I sad you going to return the United States. but I like you very much. I love you but usally I caN MISS you. but You have to live in U.S. Thanks for to teach in Reading town. Good bye! 
(PS My gmail is ************)

From Tom"

My favorite  part is the "but usually I can miss you" part. I think he means "I will miss you."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beard and Salad

A few weeks ago Matt decided to forego shaving. This is his new beard-y face. He's working on looking rugged for Vietnam, I guess. Also, Matt can never make a normal face for a photo. Then he said that I'm supporting voyeurism. 

Here is my version of Korean salad. It's pretty simple and easy. The Korean version is totally soaked so that the leaves are soaked and wilted. I took it down a notch by using bit less dressing. 

Wash and rip up green lettuce leaves. Mince a couple of cloves of garlic. Throw on a little sesame oil and soy sauce. Shake on some red pepper flakes. Douse in sesame seeds (they are my new favorite thing to add to every thing). Toss. 

We're going to the beach this weekend. Then we're down to our last week at school. Aaah!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Korean Wedding

On Saturday, the foreign teachers from our school were invited to the wedding of a man who works for Avalon, Matt's school. Neither of us really know him and have never seen his wife before the wedding, but we were invited and took it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a Korean wedding. I was kind of hoping I'd get a chance to go to one while I'm in Korea. I'd heard what they are like (fast-paced, impersonal, cookie cutter princess-like), but nothing really prepared me for the real thing. It was interesting to say the least. 

The wedding took place at the "Jeonju World Cup Convention Wedding Center". All of these words apply to this place and none of them would a westerner really want to associate with their own wedding. It was in a convention center for weddings underneath a World Cup soccer stadium. There were 6-8 halls for weddings, each having a different wedding every hour. Bam, Bam, Bam- three wedding in three hours in one large room. You are milling about in the lobby with guests, brides, and grooms from various other weddings. 

Before the wedding, the bride just sits in this room for photos. We were lucky to get a photo opportunity with her even though we'd never met before. It was a little like a holding room for brides. Also, I'm really short when I stand next to Justin and Caitlin. 

Finally, it was our wedding's time (strictly from 1:30-2:30). Their guests milled in and filled the seats and lined the walls. I doubt many of the guest knew each other. The guest list is not a personal affair. You're expected to invite most co-workers and anyone you know (hence my invitation).  The groom had been in the military (as basically all Korean men have, but I think he was a lieutenant), so he had a military welcome down the aisle. All the flowers are fake and the candles are gas lit. In the above shot, you can see the liquor store-like security camera shot broadcasting the wedding on the wall to the left. When you walk in the front door of the convention hall, you can watch all the weddings happening on eight screens. 

The guests came in all kinds of attire, from jeans to traditional Hanboks. People didn't seem to think much of taking a cell phone call mid-ceremony or having a nap (see the gentleman in the right back). 

In your wedding package, you can have a stock wedding hall singer sing you a love song. I'm pretty sure this guy sings this song eight times a day. Also, note the dramatic fog machine. Artificial fog was dispersed several times for a dream-like fairy tale effect. 

Foreigner reactions to this warped westernization of a wedding. Matt is open-mouthed, Lisa is W-T-F. 

After the song, there was a drag-n-drop I-Movie-like slide show. The photos weren't even personal! They were all cheesy studio shot in wedding attire. Cue the fog machine. 

After the wedding, you don't even eat with the other guests. You get a meal ticket and head to a buffet hall and dine with the guests of all eight weddings from the center. But hey- free beer and soju!

This was someone's wedding, so I hate to crack on it too much. However, they adopted the format of a western wedding and condensed it into less than an hour and removed the personal or intimate elements. It's pretty Korean to put things in a nice easy package that is suitable for everyone. They put all of their products into nice easy packages that include every thing and a wedding is no different. Koreans travel, shop and eat this manner, so why not a wedding?Maybe, they have a traditional Korean ceremony that is more intimate and they don't invite everyone to.  Anyway, it was captivating to watch with the theme music and fog machine- a theatrical production of a fairy tale, stage lighting included. 

Here are some videos-

Monday, May 11, 2009

Three weeks left.

Matt and I have three weeks left in Korea. Three teaching weeks to finish. Three weekends to enjoy. Three weeks to get rid of a lot of stuff!

Three weeks of this....

Then this.....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Campus Couple!

Matt and I finally joined the ranks and became a real couple. We bought matching t-shirts! Wearing the same clothes as your significant other is quite popular among young couples. We're finally Korean.