Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall fall fall...Finally

Field trip with kindergarten to a farm...where Britney Teacher and Nathan Teacher really enjoyed the hay ride...maybe more than the kids?

Hay ride, wooo!!!

Feed the goats!

The students dug the fields for sweet potatoes- quite fun to see their pride in discovering even the tiniest, ugliest little sweet potato (Example A: Jamie, above)

He was quite the go-getter

Workin' the fields

Good thing you're wearing your mask, so that you don't breathe in the clean, fresh, country air. Makes sense.

Yes, she actually wore those pink bunny ears at school. All day long.
And no- it wasn't for Halloween.

Happy Birthday, Jamie! Cute as a button in his little bow tie

I love my Jamie :)

The birthday paparazzi- Mommy and Lily Teacher

Well, don't you look handsome in your little hankbok, Sean.
Vicky looked like a little American girl doll in her hanbok
Somebody put on their crabby pants this morning...
We made seongpyeon, traditional rice cakes for Chuseok.
Chris was very proud of his.

Making the seongpyeon: all you need are big blobs of glutinous rice and some red beans!
Vicky and Kelly in their hanboks, the traditional dress

" Teacher, my crown seongpyeon!"

Crystal- so very ghetto?

I have cute kids.

Finally- the cold and blustery autumn evening I have been awaiting for weeks now. The perfect autumn evening, in fact. Leaves swirling aimlessly in the wind. A chill that makes you stamp your feet as you impatiently wait at the bus stop and intersection. Rosy cheeks and cold skin upon entering a warm apartment. Good thing I was ill-prepared for such an unexpected autumnal arrival- I was caught in my Birkenstock sandals and little other protection from the biting wind. And yet, I had no problem embracing it. Fall, I love you.

Heat, goodbye- I have had quite enough of you. As a Minnesota denizen, I must experience the coldest, most testing of conditions again in order to thrive. Korea, I know you have that in you. Humidity, good riddance- I will not experience you in Korea again. There will not be another summer here...for me, at least. Henceforth, the cold is all I shall know...for here begins the stretch of my last four months in Korea, a stretch that will carry me through the winter until I leave this frigid peninsula for the equally frigid flatlands of Minnesota in early March (and I do hope for the extended Minnesota winter...I've got my eyes on the prize of squeezing in some Nordic skiing once I return- wait another year to ski again? I think not). How strange to think of my time left now as fitting into this neat little package of months that I can count on less than one hand...a neat little package of a single season. How has time arrived at such a point, yet again?

The fall thus far- or what we have referred to as the fall, despite the lack of autumnal weather- has passed me by in a whirlwind of new friends, new experiences, and even new emotions. Was I naive to think that all new, terrifying, and confusing emotions would surface within the first full year of living abroad? Absolutely. September and October...oh, what you have taught me and where you have brought me. I recently experienced, for truly the first time since being here, an utterly frustrating and defeating sense of annoyance and dislike for Korea: the masses of people, the sharing of personal space, the waiting in lines, the cultural taboos. I always knew it would be inevitable...and honestly, I've been feeling both happy and scared that it's taken so long to finally experience it. the sense that I have wholeheartedly enjoyed discovering and experiencing and living "Korea." the sense that I perhaps loved it too much, that it would keep sucking me in until I finally opened my eyes 5 years later, wondering where the time had gone. So I guess I feel grateful for these dissatisfied feelings...this is my gut, telling me that March is my go on home.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sue in Seoul

Heaviest rainfall in Seoul in 104 years...and it didn't even dampen our spirits!
Demonstrating the public "exercise equipment" around the city...

What a pro!

I love this guy.

Lots of children at the palace were dressed in their hanboks, traditional Korean clothing

So crowded!

Gyeongbukgong Palace in Seoul on Chuseok day: lots of festivities!

Last meal in Korea: cheesy ramen. Literally, a bowl of ramen with a piece of processed cheese on top. Salty, spicy, and delicious....Sue is STILL talking about it, one week later...

Boguengsa Temple, Seoul

It's tradition: McDonald's iced coffee

Perfect day for a walk

She's got the Asian pose down!

Water break, hiking the mountain in Suji
Made it!
Like mother, like daughter...

New friend, my elementary student Christina
Jasmin loved Sue...and the special treats Sue gave my kinder students!
Asia. In a single picture.

Thirteen months after a tearful airport goodbye, a happy mother was reunited with her little bunny in Seoul!

Ten days in Korea...not nearly enough time to catch up from a years' worth of missed hugs and morning conversations over coffee and crossword puzzles...but nevertheless, perfect.
Couldn't have asked for anything better, celebrating the Chuseok holiday of giving thanks with one of the people I am most thankful for in life. What a surreal experience, walking my usual paths through the city with my mom beside many times have I embarked down those paths before with the wish that someone from home could share them with me?

I could never have dreamed up such a bizarre scenario for myself at this point in life...drinking coffee at a Starbucks in the heart of Seoul on rainy fall days...hiking mountains far above the high-rise apartments that stretch like endless rows of dominoes across the land below...deciphering Korean menus and signs and subway maps as a second nature...spending my weekdays in a classroom, not as the student that I've been for 18 years but as a teacher.
Having my mom experience all of these with me last week have now made them so much more real...I haven't just been dreaming them up, living a fantasy life over here on the other side of the world! I guess in a strange sort if way, my mom's presence here has been a validation of these is no longer just unfamiliar words and faces and places told in stories over skype and in is all real, and familiar, and wonderful, because my mom has seen it for herself.

I wish I could better describe these feelings...I've realized that every day is still about processing and reflecting and trying, without much success, to verbalize the sights and sensations of this life in Korea. But I'm so incredibly happy to have at least been able to introduce my mom to it...when my dad visited last year, I was still in the process of adjusting to a daily routine, having been in Korea for less than two months, let alone being able to introduce him to my favorite foods and places and people. It's unbelievable to me how life has progressed in the course of time between my dad's visit last fall and my mom's visit this fall...

As I said earlier, my mom's visit was absolutely perfect. Just enjoying the time we had together exactly as we would have at home...idling over coffee in the morning, seeking out new streets and restaurants for lunch in the city...spending the most time possible outdoors, taking advantage of some beautiful fall weather by hiking and running and walking just about everywhere. And of course, indulging in the most excellent Korean ever...and maybe an iced coffee or two from McDonald's (truly, a rare indulgence, but one of the best a mother and daughter can share). One of the best experiences of the week: introducing her to all my students at school. For weeks and weeks, my students had been excitedly awaiting the arrival of "Britney Teacher's Mommy." Their interactions with her were absolutely priceless! Sue gained many new friends and received lots of special hugs that day at school! Again, how surreal to go about my daily routine in class with my mom sitting at the table alongside my tiny Korean kindergartners!!

Miss you so much, Mom...and happier than you'll ever know that I got to share a week with you here.