Category Archives: Korea

Memories from a blink away

I am completely overwhelmed as I prepare to board the plane that will take me away from the ROK. Why did they have to so brutally cut up my alien registration card? Why did that bug me so much? Do I have to leave right now, or can I go back for one final, final goodbye? What is everyone else doing, back there, where I used to live? Why am I leaving?! It all feels a bit wrong.

Everything about Korea is now just a memory. Something that happened ‘when I lived in Korea’. I wasn’t prepared for this. I have been preparing for the last 3 months.

There are so many memories. Memories from a blink away. From two years living in Asia. It all feels so distant. Like that time I went to the Philippines a month ago. The winter camp I did for my students 2 months ago. Snowboarding in Muju for the new year. Trying to organize a turkey for Christmas dinner. Drinking cocktails out of a bag in Daegu. Trying to control out-of-control students. Wishing I was leaving Korea. Loving Korea. Drinking hite and soju. Saying goodbye to friends. To students. To co workers.

Where have the last 2 years gone? Somebody stole it right out from under me. It doesn’t feel fair. It’s a bitter sweet goodbye. More bitter than sweet. It tastes like that first bite of kimchi I ever ate, sour and spicy and horrible. I guess my taste buds will change, get used to it. Adapt. I have to keep on thinking what lies ahead of me- South East Asia. Adventure. Exploration. Uncertainty.

Goodbye Korea.

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Gallery

A sneak peak at what I’ve been up to the last 2 months

This gallery contains 4 photos.

There was Christmas, which was spent getting up to all sorts of festive shenanigans with friends.               Christmas is always followed by New Year’s. This one was celebrated snowboarding on the slopes of Muju … Continue reading

Gyeongju

One of the first things that I noticed about Gyeongju were the huge, grass-covered mounds. And then I was struck by the absence of high-rise buildings.  What is this place and how is it blessed with open areas and uninterupted skylines?

Gyeongju, which is also known as ‘the museum without walls’, and for good reason, was the old capital of the Shilla Dynasty and the home of kings and conquerors. It is in this now- small country town in modern day Korea that you can walk into old kings’ tombs, pray at ancient temples and enjoy a bit of open space.

Here are some of the photos that I took there yesterday.

The entrance to Bulguksa Temple

The main courtyard at Bulguksa Temple

Saying their prays

Little Buddha sitting amongst the wishing stones.

Sunny and I under a red canopy of leaves.

Cabbage clad bike

The entrance to Cheonmachong park.

The last of the autum leaves

The season of ‘homesickness’.

After you leave home, you might find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a better dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.

Those are some wise, wise words from Mr. Lemony Snicket himself. And if there is ever a time to long for drab wallpaper and bad dishwashers* I’d say that the time is nigh. The festive season. The time of endless family gatherings, delicious foods, tasty beverages and, being from the southern part of this fair world, summer.

[*Korean abodes most certainly have nicer wallpaper than any I’ve ever seen in South Africa, but I’m not so sure about the dishwashers, my Dad is ever so good at that and as back up there was always the electric-powered dishwasher, not yet widely available in Korea.]

Last week was Thanksgiving, which wasn’t a big deal for me, (although I did say ‘thanks’ and teach my students all about it) but it was a big deal for all of my American friends. They were dreaming of roast turkeys, pumpkin pies and football. It also, pretty much, marks the ‘one month to Christmas’ point. And then there’s New Year. So, basically a whole bunch of family fun and merriment. Except you aren’t at home, and you might be feeling a little sorry for yourself. Maybe just a little? This is my second festive season away from home, and here’s how I plan to deal with it, being an expert and all.

1. The Care Package. If you are very well-loved and cared for you can ask one of the people back home who love and care for you, to send you a package fill of love and tasty treats. It always feels wonderful to receive mail when you live abroad, especially if you have to go to the post office to pick it up. Ask someone to send you your favourite chocolates, festive treats or something that you can’t buy in your new home country.

2. Make festive plans. If you are one of those types of people who are super organised and love to rally people together, organise a Christmas party. All of your less organised and ‘leave everything to the last minute’ friends will love you. But seriously, when you are away from your biological family your friends are your new family, so make use of them,or be used (depending on your level of organisational skills).

The Christmas feast that was lovingly prepared by 2 wonderful friends. PS. Check out the AWESOME wallpaper!

3. Friends! Like I mentioned in the previous bit of expert advise, your friends are your family when you are far from home, so spend time with them. Hopefully some of them will love the BoneyM Christmas carol collection as much as your mother. And hopefully you can also tell him/ her: ‘Turn that wretched music off! It’s only allowed on Christmas day!”

4. Skype. From time to time, although you love your new-found family of friends, you will need ‘the real thing’, so just call them. Technology is a wonderful thing, so use it.

5. Embrace your new home. Do things that the natives do. In Korea Christmas is seen more as a couples holiday as opposed to a family one, so if you have a better half, hold hands, give each other giant teddy bears, or if you’ve been together for 100 days buy a ‘couples look’. If you don’t have a better half, well, see points 2 and 3.  Natives of Korea also love to go around wearing ridiculously festive jumpers and leggings with reindeer frolicking across them. I must admit, it is very festive.

Festive jumpers, festive socks, festive hats, festive mood.

Follow these 5 simple steps to endless, if somewhat different, festive fun. And remember, the wallpaper is always brighter on the other side. Or something to that effect. And here’s to a fantastically, friend filled festive season!