Category: cake decorating

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

Winter English camp!

It is finished.  I’ll say it again….it is finished.  Winter camp, which consumed my life for the past 2 weeks and my thoughts for much longer than that, is finally over.  I have to admit, for as much as I had been dreading it, the end result was surprisingly enjoyable.  My students were absolutely fantastic (and I also had 4 senior students in my class, whom I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to teach during the regular semester, and they were amazing!), we did a lot of cool stuff together, and overall it was a lot of fun.  The administrative issues that I had to deal with were a bit less pleasant, but I survived.  For example, I showed up to school on day 1 of English camp, only to find out that my number of students, class location, theme, and time slots…everything…had been changed.  Oh, and they had pulled my funding.  But class was still expected to start that day!  So yeah, a bit of a stressful start, but I managed.

By the end of 2 weeks, they had written 2 acrostic poems, 2 haiku poems, 2 diamante poems (for an example of a diamante poem, click here), an expository essay, written and acted out their own plays in small groups of 3 or 4, watched the Phantom of the Opera and written a movie review of it, gone on a scavenger hunt, learned about idioms, cultural foods across countries, played lots of games, and made 2 class videos.  Looking back, I’m astonished at how much we were able to accomplish in 20 hours.  Seriously, I’m so super proud of my students.  Check out the videos that they made below, followed by random pictures taken during classtime.

And my life wasn’t all work and no play these past 2 weeks.  I was able to do some fun things, too, including going out for lunch and a movie with my host sister, attending a concert at my church which my friend Anthony was singing at, and also interviewing him for a book that I’ve started writing.  The most notable outing, however, was with some of my students just before class ended.  We went out for dinner together, and then they told me that they had a surprise for me.  They made me close my eyes, which made walking in the whipping winds and torrential rain difficult.  But they took good care of me, and made sure that I didn’t run into anything or fall.

Japanese food and Mission Impossible 4 with my host sister! 🙂

Anthony’s concert

Coffe and stories with a friend – doesn’t even count as an interview! 🙂

When I finally opened my eyes, I was astounded by what I saw.  I was in a baker’s paradise!  All around me, I was surrounded by cakes and decorations – delicately sliced fruits, marzipan flowers, icing, candy letters, colored powered sugar…it was pure delicatessen delight.  It was a self-decorating cake shop, and my students had taken me there to surprise me.  They didn’t even let me help pay for the bill, which was quite a big sacrifice for job-less high school students.  They insisted that I take the entire cake home with me, but then I evened the score by bringing it to class the next day and having a party on the last day of class.  But it was seriously one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had in Gyeongju yet, and I felt so completely loved by my students.  Add to that the barrage of messages that I got from my students after class ended – including one of my favorites, which said, “I learn many many!!!  Thank you so much <3 <3.  I never forget about your class!" - and I think that I can honestly say that winter camp was a great success, and I will truly miss it.

We wrote notes and left them on the wall of the cake store 🙂