Monday, September 20, 2010

Ranaa, you're bootiful!

Beomgye Neighborhood
I feel like the luckiest person alive to be granted an experience such as this. Sure, there are moments of frustration, especially when communication boundaries prevent myself and others from expressing ourselves, but more often I find myself taking in the deepest of breathes, trying to inhale every ounce of each new encounter.

I taught for a total of four days last week during which my co-teachers, vice principal, principal, and students welcomed me with open arms. Many staff at my school do not speak English, but are certain to show their gratitude by other means (food, body language, etc.). My students are hilarious and swarm me each time I walk the halls. They all pronounce my name "Ranaa" and call me "bootiful." I say: "You are beautiful" and we high five, hold hands, bow, smile, or do any combination of the greetings. I think a lot of people in Western cultures might have an image of students in South Korea as being serious, quiet and subdued when at school (I thought this prior to my arrival). True, they are serious about learning, but the way they run through the halls in mobs, shout out answers, and constantly chat in and outside of class is hardly quiet nor subdued. This is my kind of school environment. Students can learn socially and have fun while learning. It is so much more meaningful than the experience in the many silent classrooms in the states.

This week, I have the entire week off of school, as Koreans are celebrating Chuseok Holiday, which is similar to Thanksgiving. During this time, Koreans celebrate with family, so many are leaving the town of Anyang and it is looking a bit barer than usual. My co-teacher invited me the coastal city of Yosu to celebrate with her family, but I had to decline. I have not yet unpacked nor have I made my apartment "home" and this week will give me the time I need to do this. And although I can finally explore the city without getting lost, there are also so many things around here that I want to see and do. First on my list is to find a bathing house and sauna!
Traditional Sam Gye Tang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)
with the co-teacher.  

My friend Jake (who is also teaching in Anyang) and I have been exploring quite a bit and I have also been spending some time with my co-teacher, who took me to Seoul on the subway to get my alien registration card (necessary before I can get a bank account, my own internet, etc.). Some of my favorite times, though, are when I head out on my own and just walk and walk until I cannot walk anymore. I found out that my Native Korean friend that provided me with an internet password works at the coffee shop below my building. Yesterday, when I was waiting out front to meet my co-teacher for our Seoul trip, he ran into me outside of the coffee shop. He was on his way to my apartment to bring me the coffee I have been ordering lately and some Songpyeog. Very sweet.

As for all the other Korean food that I have been eating, I love it all! I have yet to eat a dish I do not like. In fact, the only food that I have not liked since my arrival was the "American" pizza side dishes my principal ordered for lunch last week.

Today, my home becomes home!  And I will upload a video of my apartment afterward :)

Anyang Underpass
At Roller Rink
Outside Happidus Bar

P.S. I do miss good Portland beer and strong Portland coffee. 

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