Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Buddha's Birthday in Busan

View from Busan Tower
This past Monday marked an important day for me - my first day off from work.  In the states people were observing Memorial Day, and in Korea it was Buddha's birthday.  The other teachers and I decided to spend the extended weekend in Busan, South Korea.  Busan is a sunny, southern port city full of happy people and beautiful beaches!  Many others had the same ideas as us, foreigners and Koreans alike, because the trains and beaches were full of people from everywhere.  It was a glorious weekend! I cannot wait to go back!

Gwangan Bridge at Night
I didn't pack a swimsuit for my year in Korea because I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to go swimming.  How silly was I!  When we went to Haeundae beach on Saturday the sand was scorching and the water was cold.  I lasted for about 30 minutes watching everyone else sunbathe and jump in the water before I took off to find some swimwear myself.    Armed with a 9,000 won ($9)  pair of men's swim trunks, my tank top and a sports bra I embraced the Little Mermaid inside of me.  I was in paradise for the entire afternoon. Some of the highlights included: a leathery gentleman, wearing a blue thong on a jet ski, patrolling up and down the beach, multiple Koreans and foreigners asking to take pictures with one of my coworkers in her bikini (=, the Russain man wearing a speedo and posing next to us for over three hours, and talking to random Korean people swimming in the ocean.  My biggest regret from the weekend is not reapplying sunblock after changing into swim clothes.  I do not think I have ever burnt the back of my hands like this before!  And, now all my students ask me, "Why Teacher is red?" lol

Nasty pants !
The whole point of our weekend trip was to get a break from school and our students for a few days.  That would have been too easy though.  Thanks to my students, I spent most of the weekend with pink eye! Unable to find a doctor's office that was open on Saturday, I want to give a big THANK YOU to the elderly couple that owns a little pharmacy on Haeundae beach for hooking me up with some fantastic eye drops.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
We visited a really cool Buddhist temple right on the ocean.  Every inch of the place was covered in bright colored lanterns to celebrate Buddha's birthday.  What a beautiful place!

ttfn <3

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Teacher's Day

Hiking Field Trip on Children's Day
May is already my favorite month of the year, and yet, Korea managed to make it even better. This month is chalk full of holidays. It's only the 15th and we have already celebrated Children's Day, Parent's Day and Teacher's Day.  These holidays are a great opportunity for families to spend more time together.

You may have guessed it - today was Teacher's Day!!! Student's are supposed to thank their teachers and wish them well.  It's the sweetest thing! Consequently, this also usually results in student's mom's buying presents (sometimes shockingly lavish ones) for teachers.  My school in particular sent out letters to families stating a no-gift policy. Apparently some schools now close on Teacher's Day because of bribery issues and mounting competition among parents to have the best gift.

Luckily though for me flowers, food, and little trinkets were okay to accept.  ^-^  Over Monday and Tuesday I received many little gifts from students and I feel so special!  I was especially excited to receive a new scarf, a bottle of white wine, and a cute new headband.  The gifts are very nice, but the best part is getting homemade cards from students - they're too adorable!

That's all for today! I've got some essays to grade and it's already after midnight (-:

Homemade card with Hello Kitty stamps
To Chris teacher
I'm Elly
I love you <3