I know it's been a couple weeks since my last post but we're still alive and doing well! After getting home from vacation, we needed a bit to unwind and get back in the groove. It was really great getting together with the group again and exchanging travel stories...and being able to easily communicate again! Between the four couples, we went to Canada, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia! There are so many cool places in this world and it would be a dream to be able to see all of them, but just being able to really experience Korea and even Thailand and Cambodia as much as we have is such a blessing. Our first week back, we were still dealing with some sickness. Part digestive issues, part cold symptoms. Made for a very lazy week. One morning I took an early morning bus (8:50, ha!) into town to setup bank account transfers and 30 minutes later found myself at the doctor's office getting a check up haha! I'm not sure how this stuff even happens to me, but it's pretty regular. I went to the bank...without my passport (silly) and was therefore unable to be helped. Walking back to the bus stop, I decided to stop by the pharmacy to pick up some medicine for us. Following the pharmacy sign and arrow, I ended up at the actual doctor's office playing pictionary and charades with the two receptionists as they took my information. "No doctor, just medicine" I kept trying to tell them, but nothing was helping - I succumbed and just told the doctor I had a cold. Afterwards, they generously pointed me in the direction of the pharmacy to pickup my prescription - 3 pills after every meal for 3 days. I was also advised to stay warm. Ohhh Korea. I laughed to myself the entire bus ride back replaying in my head everything that had just happened.
Our first two weeks back to the grind were spent teaching elementary students. I had a very quiet and adorable group of 5 students the first week. The second week, I had 9 students who were a bit more rambunctious. At one point, I came back to the classroom after break and the students were being lectured by the computer technician here. (Although, he is much more than a computer technician since he helps us with so many different things!) I walked into the room and each student was holding both of their arms in the air. This is a very common form of punishment in Korea when students are misbehaving. The students hold their arms straight up in the air until they are told to put them down. After he spoke to them, they were much more cooperative that day and it had made it a little easier for the week. Still, it was a good challenge getting them to listen, but it forced me to get a little more creative with games and activities that would interest them and require them to pay attention. We played a fun monster game to practice body parts vocabulary. Each student took turns rolling a large die to determine which mouth, nose, eyes, etc. of the monster were to be drawn. We drew four monsters and the kids loved it!
The following weekend, the teachers all took a trip to Geoje Island to celebrate the Harvest Moon Festival. This festival is to celebrate the start of spring on a full moon. Unfortunately, the festival was cancelled due to the Avian Flu and Foot and Mouth Disease in the country! We went to the island anyway and had an awesome time even without the festival. We had a beach house rental, a gorgeous view of the sunset, a bonfire on the beach, fireworks and great company. For dinner, we made rice wraps with pork and veggies and oh my goodness, I think that is now my favorite food here. You take a piece of rice paper, soak it in super hot water for a few seconds, then put whatever you want in it. Pork, onions, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, rice, mushrooms, red bean paste and soy sauce is my favorite combination thus far. Luke and I even made it again ourselves for dinner this week. They are also delicious with peanut sauce! We had a sweet setup of three tables and it felt a little like a Korean Thanksgiving.
The weekend was like a little retreat and even though we had just gone on vacation, it was a fun getaway with the whole group. We also played a LOT of hacky sack. Working and living in a very rural area, there isn't a whole lot to do so some of us have begun practicing the art of hacky sack. Some of us are more spastic than others *cough, me* and it is always funny to watch and play. I love that others are just as competitive as me and always want to beat our high score. I think we are currently at 13... and some might even call us semi-professionals, haha.
In addition to hacky sack, I have been brainstorming trying to find a new hobby (or 3) since my current lifestyle is a bit slower paced and more relaxed than I have ever been used to, so I'm getting kind of stir crazy. Fortunately, it should start getting warmer outside which should make it easier to go for runs and get into other outdoor activities. I also plan on learning more of the Korean language since that has slightly fallen off the rails. But by all means, if there are any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!
I found my dream home y'all. Pizza Mall for life!
On our way back from the beach, a few of us decided to spend a few hours in Busan while we were there. We walked through a couple western farmer's markets setup in various restaurants and bars. There were lots of homemade foods being sold - hummus, brats, chocolates - as well as other goods like soaps, bags, and coin purses. Luke and I purchased a heating pad filled with barley, lavendar and rosemary. It smells amazing, and we can even use it as a cold pack! At the last market, we stopped for dinner. American dinner. Buffalo chicken sandwich, seasoned fries, and nachos. Yummm! Cheese is such a specialty now and besides friends and family, that is the one thing I miss the most! They sell some mozzarella cheese at the local stores, but it is very expensive for very little, and it's a bit rubbery. We are due for another Costco trip and we will most definitely be stocking up on cheese!
The big exciting holidays and vacations are over for a while so if you made it this far in the post, you rock. I will try to get creative on upcoming posts - and try not to wait so long for the next one. Let me know if there are any questions or topics you want to know more about!