Month: May 2012

Girl’s weekend and paragliding!

What a weekend I’ve had!  I decided that it had been a while since I had done anything truly crazy – running away to live in Korea for a year notwithstanding.  So, last weekend my friend Sarah and I decided to go…….paragliding!!  It was something I’ve wanted to do for years now, so when my friend Lorna messaged me saying that she was getting a group together to go, I jumped at the opportunity.  And Sarah, even though she lives really far away, decided to join me.

So Sarah got to Gyeongju around 8:00 pm on Friday night.  We had cake, exchanged gifts (we always give each other presents when we see each other), and stayed up late talking.  Then Saturday morning, bright and early, we caught a bus to Ulsan.  After meeting up with a few other people who were also going with us, we met up with our tour guide and headed up the mountain.

I tell you what, people do things differently in Korea.  When I went skydiving in America, everything was very well defined.  We went to a certain place, we had a certain launch time, there were numerous forms to fill out for legal purposes, blah blah blah.  When I went paragliding in Korea, we met this guy and his friend at a hotel, had some rushed conversation in Korean with them for a little bit, then got into their personal cars (I was certainly glad for safety in numbers!) and drove to the launch site.  Along the way we just randomly pulled over on the side of the road and hung out for a while, then got in the car and continued our journey.  No one knew what was going on, lol.  The actual jump was equally confusing.  The guides spoke almost no English, and we spoke almost no Korean, so there was a lot of pointing and grunting.  That’s one thing about Koreans that bugs me.  If you don’t speak their language fluently, they often don’t say anything when they want you to do something – they just use gestures and inarticulate sounds.  But in my experience at least, I’ve found that people make a lot more sense when they talk, even if you don’t really speak their language.  Even if you can only catch a word or two, you can usually piece that together with their body language and figure out what it is that they want.  But a total lack of words usually just makes for one very confused foreigner.

But anyway, we finally made it up to the jump site and got suited up and ready to go.  This was about the time that I started freaking out.  I’m not particularly fond of heights – just the opposite, in fact.  This fear of heights is exactly why I insist on doing so many things involving heights – I don’t like the idea of being beaten by a fear – but it also means that I always freak out just before the plunge.  The jump was terrifying – who originally thought that strapping a kite to your back and jumping off of a mountain was a good idea?? – but after that it was fun.  Not nearly as much of an adrenaline rush as sky-diving, when you’re free-falling from 15,000 feet.  But it was relaxing and soothing, and I got to observe the entire countryside from above.  Overall, a pretty awesome experience.  I’m glad I did it.

The jump site 
I was scareeeeed

Can you tell that that’s not a real smile? 🙂 

There goes Sarah!!

Our Charlie’s Angels pose – totally earned it after jumping off of a mountain 🙂

One of the paragliding instructors offered to give Sarah and I a ride to Gyeongju, since we lived on the way to his house.  So we accepted (once again, the whole safety in numbers principle), and I had a conversation with him in Korean all the way from Ulsan to Gyeongju – about an hour.  It was very empowering :D.  After we returned home, Sarah and I went for a walk, and took a nap among the hill tombs in town.  Our friend Art, another Fulbright teacher, was meeting us for dinner, and we didn’t want to go home before that, so we just curled up in the sun and went to sleep while we waited.  Oh, and got ice cream.  Yummy :).  Once Art arrived, we went to an Italian restaurant.  We realized as we ate, that we were the 3 youngest Fulbrighters, all together in one place.  We’re the only Fulbrighters who were born in 1990.  Just a little tidbit, but I thought it cool :).  After he left, we went back home and had a girls’ night – chick flick and painted toenails, for the win!

Fulbrighters reunite!  Yay for the young-uns 😉

Pretty ladies…. <3

Sunday morning Sarah went to church with me, and then we went to the cake decorating place.  Sarah had heard about it from when my students took me before, and really wanted to go, so I took her while she was here.  We had a blast.  The store owner seemed rather terrified when 2 foreigners walked in, because he didn’t speak any English, but we were fine.  He was really nice :).

She was a bit excited…hehehe

We took our cake home, and ate it in the evening with my host sister, In-suk.  It turned into a mini party of sorts.  In-suk was in a really playful mood – it was fun to see a lighter side of her.  She’s always at school or just super tired when I’m home.  But this night she was laughing, joking and cutting up.  The cake had 2 face cookies on them, and she ate one of them – which she decided was me.  For the rest of the evening, she was making jokes about how Lauren had died, and she was so full because she had eaten Lauren, yada yada yada.  She even printed out a piece of paper that said “Lauren died today.”  It may seem silly or even slightly morbid to you, but to me it was the humorous side of In-suk that I rarely get to see, and it was delightful to be around.

“로렌 (my name in Korean) is died today”   Lol…. 😀

So Sarah left me early Monday morning, and now it’s back to my normal life.  I miss her, but we had a lovely time together.  I met with a Philippine friend from church on Monday afternoon for a lesson in Tagalog (the language of the Philippines).  I’m not really sure why we decided to do that, since everyone in the Philippines also speaks English and I’ll never really have to learn Tagalog, but I had a blast, anyway.  I loveeeee languages :).  We decided after the lesson, kind of spur of the moment, to go see Men in Black 3.  It was a lot of fun, although we saw a TON of my students, all of whom are now convinced that I have a boyfriend, so I’ll have to deal with that next week when I go back to school.  I won’t see them this week because they’re going on a school trip, so I get a week off – woohoo!  Time to catch up on everything that was neglected while we were preparing for the performance :).  So that was my weekend!  Undoubtedly one of the best this year!!

Me and Henly after our Tagalog lesson, waiting for the movie to start

A week in their shoes

I have a new-found appreciation for what the average Korean student has to endure nearly every day of their high school careers.  Last Monday, my school participated in a “Good school 2012” festival, known as APEC.  It was a pretty big deal, with schools coming in from all over the province.  I had been volunteered to do a dance performance with some of the students at the festival.  So, since the students were only free during lunchtime and in the evenings after dinner, that’s when we had to practice.

And for 1 week and change, I lived the life of a Korean high school student.  I went to school at 7:00 or 7:30, and didn’t leave until 10:00.  I taught all of my regular classes, and then practiced dance in the evening.  Only one or two other times in my entire life have I experienced such bone-deep exhaustion.  I didn’t think such complete weariness was possible.  And I thought to myself….Korean students do this every single week for 3 solid years!  It’s truly incredible that they don’t all drop dead from exhaustion.

But we finally finished, the performance is over, and I can get some rest again!  I’ve included some pictures from the festival below.

Oh, also, in other news, I finally got my hands on the footage from the TV filming 2 weeks ago!  Here it is: http://asx.kbs.co.kr/player.html?title=%C6%AF%C1%FD&url=1TV%2420120521%24special20120521_01_00_00_m&type=201&kind=300_2week#.  You’ll have to log in to see it, but one of my students has very graciously given me her log-in information so that you can watch the footage.  As the vast majority of my readers don’t speak any Korean, I’m not too worried about anyone using her information for nefarious purposes; please don’t prove me wrong!!  Her ID is tjr213, and her password is chaeyeon8524.  My school’s coverage starts around 38 minutes and 30 seconds.  You might have to watch it in Internet Explorer, so if it’s not working, trying switching browsers.  I can’t believe they were here all day for a 4-minute final product!!!

Some of the signs for APEC, as seen all over town….yeah, it was a big deal.

Getting ready for our dance

The stage that we performed at.  It was huge!

The massive tent and huge number of people at APEC

Our school’s booth – it was awesome! 🙂

We had a bunch of iPads set up that had pictures and videos from my school scrolling through them

Our school, Seondeok high school, was named after a famous Korean queen.  So we had a student dress up like Queen Seondeok and go around taking pictures with people.  It was cool :).  

Some random guy who asked to talk a picture with me.  I have no idea who he is, lol.

Hwacheon peace forum

This weekend I headed up to Hwacheon, for what was undoubtedly my last trip up there – possibly ever, and certainly during the remainder of my Fulbright grant in Korea.  Knowing that made the whole weekend a little bittersweet, but it was still a great time overall.  School’s been really stressful and exhausting lately, so honestly I really didn’t want to go – I would have much preferred to just stay in Gyeongju and rest – but in the end I’m glad that I did.  I think I really just needed to get away from Gyeongju for a little bit, and I got plenty of rest during the 6-hour 1-way trip there and back :).

So anyway, the purpose of my trip was the 7th annual Hwacheon peace forum.  It was a really unique experience.  Around 20 American English teachers are each paired with a Korean high school student, and we spend the weekend getting to know each other and promoting inter-cultural peace and understanding.  
I got to the meeting point around noon on Saturday, and had lunch and caught up with the other Fulbrighters who were participating.  It was really nice to see them.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed talking in fluent English to people, and not being interrupted and ignored whenever someone came along saying something in Korean.  So it was a nice time to re-charge my batteries, which had been sorely worn down from frustration at school.  
Sarah’s host brother, Eunchan.  I love that kid.  He reminds me of my own little brothers <3
Anyway, since we were short on time, we jumped right into the weekend’s activities.  We drove to the Hwacheon cultural heritage museum first, and that was where we met our Korean “partners.”  They took us through the museum, telling us about some of the stuff behind the cases.  We even got an opportunity to dress up in tranditional Korean clothes, and I convinced my partner, Gwang-sik, to dress up with me and take a picture.  It was fun :).  

Me and my partner, Gwang-sik

I think that Eunchan was jealous of the swing 😉
After that, we headed to the DMZ.  I had been to the DMZ before, during orientation, but it was much different this time.  We went to a different zone, one of the closest South Korean bases to North Korea.  I could literally see the North Korean guard houses across the 3 layers of barbed wire fence and land mines.  We were cautioned that, while we were outside and within visibility range of the North Koreans, to please “don’t do anything that would make them suspicious and cause them to shoot on you.”  Comforting words, no?  Aside from that, though, it was much more poignant experiencing the DMZ with Koreans.  I talked with several of them who had family in North Korea; hearing their stories, seeing their earnest desire to be reunited with their families, touched me in a way that a simple tour of the DMZ could have never done.
After the DMZ we headed to our lodging for the night – a hanok, or a traditional Korean-style house.  We got a couple of demonstrations before dinner – how to make ddok (Korean rice cake) the traditional way (basically, by just pounding the living daylights out of super sticky rice and constantly rubbing water over it), and also how the hanoks were constructed.  We got to try to put together a model of one of the corners of the house – it was fun, like an enormous puzzle.  We also got to try our hand at pounding the rice, and I’m happy to report that the carpenter’s daughter did not disappoint, and that I pounded it quite satisfactorily (thanks, dad!).  

Sarah smashing the rice

My turn….

….and Leora.  From her face, it looks like she had some inner aggression to work out 🙂

Telling us about how hanoks are built

Tada!  We did it!
That evening, the Korean students’ parents treated us to a Korean barbecue dinner, with watermelon for dessert.  Yummyyyyy.  We played lots of games outside until it got dark, and then we all moved inside and played more games.  I love group games, but I don’t often get to play them, so this was a lot of fun – the added cultural element of doing it with Koreans and Americans made it all the more interesting :).  
Barbecue!  Yummy!

Me and Hanna.  She was awesome 🙂

Playing games…..we were silly 🙂

The next morning we went to see the World Peace Dam and Bell.  I found the bell, which weighs around 35 tons and was made from the recycled shells and casings of wars that have been fought all over the world, very symbolic and moving.  That was also where we had our official “peace talk.”  We sat down in a group, and just popcorn-commented, each person sharing their feelings on peace, North/South Korean relations, the roles of foreigners in the Korean conflict, and whatever else they wanted to say.  It was a very moving, touching time.  I felt so honored to be a part of such a special time of cultural exchange and awareness.  

There are 4 doves, facing North, South, East, and West.  If you can see in the picture, the dove facing the North has a broken wing.  It will be repaired when North and South Korea are re-united.

Ringing the peace bell!

It’s hard to see, but the peace dam is behind us to the left

Peace talk
After the peace talk, we got to take a ferry back to Hwacheon – I was super happy about that.  I loveeee boats :).  And then, that was it!  Many Fulbrighters had traveled a really long way, including myself, so no one really wanted to hang out much after the weekend ended.  We all scattered and headed our respective ways, wanting to get home so that we could finish up our lesson plans for this week and get some sleep.  I finally made it home around 9:00 pm.  It was a long weekend, but I’m really glad that I went.  Now if I can only make it through this week, I’ll be golden!

School and stuff

Yesterday was teacher’s day.  It also happened to be the day that I was suffering from a cold, migraine, nausea, and only 4 hours of sleep the night before, and I was facing a 14 hour day at school, with 7 classes to teach, plus dance practice for a performance I’m doing next week.  So the small shower of little gifts, notes, and comments from students was perfect – it was just enough to get me through the veryyyyy long day.  I had no idea how I’d make it through the day when I woke up, but thank the Lord, He gave me just enough push to make it through! 🙂  Take this note, for example, that one of my students from winter camp left on my Facebook wall: “Hi Lauren!!  happy teachers day~~ 🙂 sorry for not giving present!!! but we will give you our heart <3<3<3<3<3 And thanks to your teaching ;-) we love u <3".   Priceless... <3  Here's a few other notes below:

I feel like the little engine that could this week – I keep saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  I’ve learned to not even think about the entire day – just focus on what’s right in front of me.  Getting through a 50-minute class is much more manageable than worrying about 7 classes, 3 lesson plans, dance practice, and 12-14 hours at school every day.  So, I focus on the immediate future, and take naps as often as possible, and I’m somehow surviving this week.  It doesn’t help that I’ve been fighting a nasty cold – it’s finally started getting better this afternoon, but the last 5 days have been truly unpleasant.  
But anyway, onto happier things!  I had an open class today (which means that anyone who wants to can come in and watch me teach).  One of the other Korean teachers came in and filmed me, so I finally got some footage of me teaching!  I’ve been wanting some for a while, but always found it really awkward to ask someone to come to my class just to record me teaching, so I’ve never gotten any footage.  But yeah, I’ve included two clips below, if you’re interested.  I was teaching how to use the “If I could ____, I would ____.” construct, by talking about high schools.  What happened after, that’s not seen in these clips, is that students created their own dream high schools, telling us what would happen if they could have a perfect high school (i.e. School would start at 1:00 pm, there would be a club for sleeping, only handsome men would be teachers, etc – yes, these are real examples from the students! :D).  Each one is about 4 minutes long, so only watch them if you really want to! 😉

High School Musicals and the like

Life’s been busy these days.  I feel like I’m always saying that…but then again, it’s always true! I had an interesting week at school last week.  I’ve always thought that the impromptu singing and dancing from the High School Musical movie franchise was totally contrived.  No one actually does that, right?  Well, I learned last week that people do, indeed, to that.

A TV station crew from KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) came to our school on Tuesday to do a feature piece.  This of course meant that the school had to do something special for the camera.  So they recorded my dance class (and interviewed me – in English and Korean!!), a few other “normal” classes, and then a bunch of the students performed a song and dance in the middle of the English lounge.  Well, I suppose it was still contrived, just like in HSM….but that doesn’t mean that people don’t do it!  It was a stressful day, full of class cancellations, additions, location changes, and the like, but in the end it was fun to watch the TV crew at work.

The students’ performance.  This doesn’t look contrived at all, right? 😉

It’s amazing the things that people will do when there’s a camera watching them.

 

My dance class.  Still working on getting the video footage from it….

This week will be super busy.  I’ve got to stay at school every day until almost 11:00 pm, practicing for a dance that I’m performing with some students at the beginning of next week.  I’m fighting a cold, so hopefully I’ll be able to survive!!  I had a nice calm before the storm this weekend, though.  On Friday night, I went our for dinner and ice cream with my favorite co-worker, Ye-ji.  We had a nice chat, and it was lovely to just chill out and relax.

Me ‘n Ye-ji with our mango-banana ice cream <3

Then on Sunday myself, 2 other foreign English teachers – one from Canada, one from Hong Kong -, a Korean teacher, some Chinese friends from church, and some Korean students went out for a picnic after church (we’re such an international group! ;]).  After that, we took a bus for an hour or so to the beach.  It was actually the underwater tomb of the ancient Korean King Munmu, but you can’t get to the tomb – it just looks like a bunch of rocks in the water – so I’m just calling it a beach :).  We played in the sand, and climbed the rocks, and took lots of pictures.  I have a feeling that the wind and cold temperature had something to do with the cold I have today…but I’m still just trying to focus on how much fun we had! 🙂

And that’s my life these days.  I will be very happy when this week is over.  Please pray for energy and focus and health for me!  Many updates to come in the near future!

The whole gang….

Me and Lin, with the tombs in the background 🙂

It says, “I love you”

….I have no idea.  I think that was his impression of dancing the Tango 🙂

10 Korean customs you should know about before you come

I found this post on a different website (http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/10-korean-customs-to-know-before-you-visit-korea/), but I just had to share it.  Every word rings true.  Especially the last tidbit about Dokdo and the Sea of Japan….don’t EVER start an argument about those with a Korean!!!  Enjoy! 🙂

1. Kimchi is culture
Kimchi is sliced cabbage, fermented with red chili sauce and anchovy paste. It is pungent, spicy, and sour. Koreans love it and eat it with every meal – usually on the side – though they also use it as an ingredient in countless other dishes.
Kimchi is symbolic of Korean culture: it’s strong, distinctive, and defiant. Some foreigners can’t stomach it, but if you can, you will earn the locals’ heartfelt respect.
2. Shoes off
When entering a Korean home, you must remove your shoes. To do any less is a sign of great disrespect.  Koreans have a special relationship with their floor, on which they sit and often sleep. A dirty floor is intolerable in a Korean home, and they view Westerners as backward savages for remaining shod in our living rooms.
 
3. Soju
Korea is a drinking culture, and their national booze is soju, a clear, vodka-like drink.
Soju is drunk out of shot glasses, and like all liquor in Korea, it’s always served with food. Koreans drink in boisterous groups, regularly clinking glasses, while shouting geonbae! (cheers) and one shot-uh!  At night you will see men coming out of norae bang (karaoke rooms) and staggering through the streets, laughing, singing and arguing. Just be sure to avoid the puddles of reddish-vomit often left behind, which are also known as kimchi flowers.  Koreans have strict drinking etiquette: never pour your own drink, and when pouring for someone older than you, put one hand to your heart or your pouring arm as a sign of respect.
 
4. Rice
Like the Japanese, the Koreans eat rice with almost every meal. It’s so ingrained in their culture that one of their most common greetings is Bap meogeosseoyo?, or ‘Have you eaten rice?”
Unlike the Japanese, Koreans usually eat their rice with a spoon, and they never raise the rice bowl off of the table towards their mouths.  Also, chopsticks must never be left sticking out of the rice bowl, as this resembles the way rice is offered to the dead.
5. Do not smile
Koreans are a warm and generous people, but you would never know it from the sourpusses they paste on in public.  Sometimes, the chaotic streets of the peninsula resemble a sea of scowls, with everyone literally putting their most stern faces forward. This is NOT true of the children however, who will invariably grin and laugh while shouting “Hello! Hello!”
 
6. Beware of elbows
Korea is a crowded country. It’s a cluster of stony mountains with only a few valleys and plains on which to build.  The result is a lot of people in small spaces, and folks will not think twice about pushing and jostling in order to get onto a bus, into an elevator, or to those perfect onions at the market.
Don’t even bother with “excuse me,” and beware of the older women, known as ajumma. They’re deadly.
 
7. Protests
South Koreans fought hard to achieve the democratic society they now enjoy, and are among the top in the world when it comes to exercising their right to protest.
Dissent is alive and well. Koreans protest with frequency and they protest with fervor – on all sides of the political spectrum.  Protesters employ a variety of methods, from the violent (angry students regularly attack riot police with huge metal rods), to the absurd (cutting off fingers, throwing animal dung, covering themselves in bees).
 
8. Hiking
As Korea is mountainous, it should come as no surprise that hiking is the national pastime.
Even the most crowded of cities have mountains that offer a relative haven from the kinetic madness of the streets below.  Koreans are at their best on the mountain. They smile and greet you and will often insist on sharing their food and drink. Make sure to stop at a mountain hut restaurant for pajeon (fritter) and dong dong ju (rice wine).
 
9. Bow-wow
Yes, some Koreans do eat dog meat, despite some sporadic attempts by the government to shut down the boshingtang (dog meat soup) restaurants, in order to improve the country’s “international image.”
Dog meat is mainly consumed during the summer and by men, who claim that it does wonders for stamina.
 
10. Nationalism
Koreans are an extremely proud people, and sometimes this pride transforms into white-hot nationalism.
You see this nationalism displayed at sporting events, where thousands of Korean fans cheer their national teams on in unison, banging on drums and waving massive flags.
This nationalism especially comes to a boil whenever Japan is mentioned, as Japan has invaded them several times, and occupied Korea as a colony for almost the first half of the 20th century, decimating the country’s resources and conscripting thousands of their women as sex slaves.
 
Finally, please remember the two following things:
To a Korean, there is no such thing as The Sea of Japan. The body of water between Korea and Japan is known only as the East Sea.  Also, Koreans fervently believe that Dokdo – the disputed islets between Korea and Japan (known in Japan as Takeshima) – belong only to Korea.  It would be most unwise to attempt to disagree with either of these points, as Koreans don’t consider them up for debate.

The 72 day update

I’m not sure why, as I am not particularly looking forward to leaving Korea, but I installed a countdown app on my phone a few weeks ago, telling me exactly how many days I have left before I fly home to America.  Perhaps it’s because I wanted to be reminded not to waste the precious time that I have left.  Anyway, whatever the reason, it’s there, and since I cannot think of anything clever to call this particular blog entry, it will also have to serve as the inspiration for my title.

No reason for this picture.  It just reminded me of my sister 🙂

According to my little app, I have exactly 72 days left in Korea.  My goodness, how the time flies.  I mentioned that to my host sister yesterday, and she got all teared up.  We then had a very heartfelt conversation about family, in which my host sister started crying as she told about how lonely she was growing up, because her brothers were so much older than her, she was always in school, and her parents were always working.  “I have no memories with them,” she said on more than one occasion.  It about broke my heart….and also made me so incredibly grateful for the love of my own family. (on a side note….I met said brother this morning.  They came down from Seoul late last night to visit.  The sight of them stumbling out of their alcohol induced stupor to come out and give me a deep, solemn bow, and then go back to bed, was amusing to say the least, and it was all I could do to stifle a giggle.  Oh, Korea, there’s always some new charming little cultural oddity about you to discover….)  But anyway, back to In-suk…we’ve been having a lot of conversations like that lately.  I feel like we’ve grown really close, and I’m really going to miss her when I leave :(.

Not too much to report on the school front.  Last week was midterms, so I didn’t have school.  Rather than do more traveling, I elected to stay in town and work on my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification, as well as other sundry things that needed to get done.  Not the most glamorous way to spend a week off, but I got caught up on a lot of stuff, and that feels great, so I am happy.  I also was able to finish an astonishing SIX units in TEFL (my normal pace is 1 a week), so I’m almost done with that!  Only 3 more units and I’ll be finished for life – super psyched about that!!  There were a couple of interesting things at school recently.  Yesterday was the 63rd anniversary of my school.  There was a big presentation that included all of the students and teachers (both high school and middle school), and lots of award giving and clapping.  Apparently the English department received an award, and I was sent up to accept it, although I’m still not quite sure what it was for….welcome to my life in Korea.  Lol…

Yeah….that was me up there.  So awkward, lol…

I was chatting with one of my students from winter camp on Facebook last night.  I told her that I missed teaching her, and she told me this: “We also always talk about you, Lauren :).  Lauren’s class was everything what I remember during vacation!!!  We were very enjoyed about your class :D.”  To which I replied, “Oh that makes me so happy I almost want to cry!”  And then she said, “It’s really what I’m feeling, too!  Lauren is a really good teacher. As we (who Lauren taught English to students) know~~~~”  Needless to say, any residual grumpiness that I may have had about Korea evaporated in that moment :).

Other than that, I don’t have much to report.  I haven’t done any traveling – going on 3 months now in the same city, closing on a record for me! 😉 – although I have been making a big effort to spend time with my friends in Gyeongju.  Check out pictures from some of our escapades below.

Lin and her husband, Pan.  I guess he’s camera-shy, lol… 😉

A student from school, Jeong-min.  She comes to the English service at church, and we often hang out together on Sunday afternoons.  She’s super sweet 🙂

Recently an English teacher from school from school, Mrs. Oh, has taken an interest in befriending me.  I’m not sure why, it kind of happened out of the blue – last semester we hardly ever talked.  I have a suspicion that it’s because she thinks I’m lonely – she was very lonely during her time spent studying English in Canada, and so I imagine that she thinks I’m having a similar experience.  While I am not, I am more than happy to be her friend.  We went to a little ceramics festival and then dinner in Gyeongju a few weeks ago, and then to the Silla Millenium Park last week (a sort of cultural activity theme park), and we have plans to go out together again this weekend.  At the millenium park, she bought me a set of blown glass earrings and necklace, which are really lovely.  We also got to see a wild horseback riding performance (they were doing all sorts of crazy flips and stunts with the horses running full speed!), but my favorite part was when the security guard allowed us behind the restricted area of the set of Queen Seondeok (an epic drama about the famous Queen of Korea who, incidentally, my school is also named after) and took our picture sitting on Queen Seondeok’s throne.  It was awesome :).  And now you know almost everything happening in my life these days! 🙂

Some of my favorite pieces from the ceramics festival 

Dinner with Mrs. Oh – Japanese shabu-shabu.  Yummy!!!! 
Millenium park – love the waterfall!

The set of Queen Seondeok

Behind the scenes!  Look at us being rebels!! 🙂