Saturday, November 20, 2010

Americans Unite in the Name of Turkey

What is November without a good ol'  'merican Thanksgiving? That is the question that all of the 'mericans here in lil' ol' Changwon ask each other each year. And each year they decide that it is indeed a November not worth mentioning unless we do something to make sure Thanksgiving happens here. So, the community here manages to muster up the fixings to create something close to a Thanksgiving feast.

Being 'merican m'self, I was indeed invited to this year's Thanksgiving event by the 'mericans I know here (people from other countries were invited too, since we're such an inclusive nation and people). It was held the weekend before Thanksgiving though. The host of the party was in charge of getting a turkey from the military base in Jinhae about 20-30 minutes out of town, and then everyone else brought a side. My contribution choice was decided by the fact that it's kind of hard for me to get descent veggies in my diet on a regular basis here since I'm so busy. So Laura and I got really excited about the idea of making a vegetable dish for the event. We went to the market before the dinner and got all the stuff we needed and cooked it up real good. Everyone else did an amazing job with their parts of the dinner as well. There were tons of people and tons of food.....turkey, mashed potatoes, 2 kinds of pumpkin pie, apple pie, etc. So delicious! And it was fun eating it while talking to people from South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland about what kind of holidays they do and don't have, and what days they stuff their faces and such.

On the way back home, walking through the city Laura and I got stopped by Doraemon and Captain Frog who were advertising for a car company. We thought there were guys inside the suits because they immediately started hugging us when we walked by. But suddenly the cutest little cartoon-ish girl voice came out of the frog, "Hello! How are you?? OO you so pretty!"  *Gasp* Doreamon?? You're real?? And you think I'm pretty?? Lol, it was a fun end to a relaxing and food-ful night. Tomorrow, race day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some Autumn Hues

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I have been loving fall time here in Changwon! Although the temperature fluctuates from very chilly to icy cold winds, depending on the day, it's at least usually sunny and beautiful out. There's not much rain at all so the leaves have been turning ablaze and then staying on the trees a nice long time so that I can happily gaze at them as I walk to work. It's different from Seattle, where our trees turn color one day and then all the leaves fall off the next day from rain. Also, the main trees here are ginko trees (how stereotypically Asian, hehe!) and they turn a brilliant yellow in fall time. I caught some pictures of them here. Now, they are all yellow without any hint of green and the leaves are starting to litter the streets and sidewalks. On my way to work I saw the cutest little Korean girl pick up two fistfuls of the golden leaves and toss them into the air so that they could rain down on her head. I definitely remember doing that when I was little too....some things are universal I guess :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Pepero Day!

On November 11th, in the US, veterans are respectfully remembered for Veteran’s Day, and in Canada, they honor all troops for Remembrance Day. In Korea, however, this is a happy day where they buy thin, chocolate covered biscuit treats to give out as gifts to friends, teachers, coworkers and loved ones. The treats are called Pepero here, but I know them back home as the Asian snack called Pocky. 
A few days ago, every corner store started to fill itself with a variety of candies, colorful and fluffy gift baskets, and mounds of different kinds of Pepero. All of a sudden the stores were packed with the brightly colored packaging of these sundries. Pepero day was coming. This is a “holiday” made by a manufacturing company called Lotte as a ploy to sell more Pepero snacks. Now, although it seems that every Korean is aware that this is the sole reason that this day exists, they all still participate whole-heartedly, especially the kids. Some say it's almost worse than Valentines Day. The kids give Pepero out to their friends, and it’s a big deal as to who gets some and who does not, and from whom you got it, etc. Koreans also give to their coworkers, teachers, boyfriends, girlfriends, favorite shop-keepers, and whomever else they feel deserves it. Pepero day is on November 11th each year because the date looks like Pepero sticks (11/11). 
Hope you got a wrinkle in your brain from this little tidbit of info! :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HALLOWEEN (a la Korea)

What happened to our school??
Who haunted these hallways? hehe, me!
Korea does not celebrate Halloween, but they do recognize that it is a Western holiday. A few Halloween decorations and a limited amount of costume supplies are stocked in the local "everything" store in order to cater to the foreign English teachers who have to teach their students about Halloween. But other than that, Koreans don't decorate their houses, don't dress up in costume, and don't do trick-or-treating.

Shyla, the amazing spider!
Teachers in Costume, Watch Out!
a Mum-a-mum-a-mummayy
All wrapped up, what to do?
Kids posing during Mummy Relay

Too cute!!
Schools here almost always do some sort of Halloween celebration for the kids to teach them about this very Western holiday. That included the school I work at too, and we went all out! We decorated the hallways of the 6th floor to a festive and spooky sight. We transformed each classroom so that we could host a variety of activities for the students. There was a "Pin-the-Face-on-the-Jack-o-Lantern" game, a scary story room, a Mummy Relay game, and a craft room where they could make masks. We had a short Halloween movie for them to watch, and a photo room where they could dress up in various costumes we provided and get their picture taken. And we had a "Gross Room", where the kids stuck their hands in black boxes and had to describe what they felt (we said mashed bananas were brains, peeled grapes were eyeballs, noodles were worms, sticks were spider legs, frozen hand, zombie hair, etc). And all of us teachers had to dress up! A coworker, Shyla, had a great spider costume she made, which was so perfect since she was in charge of the gross room....the kids loved it! Some of my Korean co-teachers were cats, witches, pirates....and Laura, Jacquie, and I were Sailor Scouts from the Sailor Moon cartoon anime we grew up with. I ran the Mummy Relay room, which is where the kids get a roll of toilet paper and try to wrap up someone on their team like a mummy. Best mummy wins candy, or course. It was great to see the kids having so much fun, and they were hilarious! We tried to get some good action shots of them :)

I love it!

And the best part...throwing it around!

Can't mess with these girls!
Sailor Venus pose, what what!
Sailor Venus, Sailor Jupiter & Sailor Mercury
Now, back to our costumes. All of us girls liked the Sailor Moon show when growing up, and since we are in Asia for Halloween and all together for the school Halloween activities, we thought it would be fun to dress up together. It worked perfectly for the 3 of us too. Laura was Sailor Jupiter because she has longer brown hair, Jacquie was Sailor Mercury because she has short brown hair, and I was Sailor Venus because I have the long blonde hair. But in order to make this vision happen, we had to physically make the costumes. So we went to the market and sifted through the random fabric till we found the right colors for our bows. We found an amazingly bright orange dress in one of the clothes piles at the market, which suited for the orange skirt I needed. And then we got ribbon and other necessities for all of our accessories. We glued, sewed, and tied together everything ourselves and, considering that, they didn't turn out too bad if we do say so ourselves :) Some of the kids thought I was trying to be Wonder Woman, but a good enough amount of them could tell we were Sailor Scouts, so that's a win in my book :)  Technically, for those fans out there, we were missing 2 other scouts in our sailor-posse, but oh well we just told people that Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon were out fighting villains. The kids might think we're a little crazy now, hehe!
Bye bye for now!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dangerously Cute!

At the market today we finally saw the puppies and kittens that they sell there. They are soooo cute that it's dangerous. You just want to take them all home with you and hug them all day long. Not just because they are cute, but because you also feel bad for their living situation. The old man who sells them does not seem to love them very much, and they look malnourished. At least I was able to confirm that Koreans do not buy live puppies and kittens for the meat, thank goodness. They actually do have them as pets, but more in the suburbs where they have houses.

We were able to realize that it would be really hard to have a puppy with our schedules. So we reluctantly tore ourselves away from the puppy stand empty-handed. I don't think I should go to that part of the market anymore, hehe, too tempting!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Busan had a fireworks festival this weekend! I wasn't sure what the festival part would entail, but I do know I like fireworks, so I definitely wanted to be there! 
We recently got a new teacher at our school, so Laura and I brought her along with us to join our adventure to Busan. Apparently the rest of Korea had the same idea though. We left for the bus station at around 4, and there was a huge line for the buses to Busan. Then, once we got on the bus, we had to sit through over 2 hours of traffic to the city. Once we got to the bus arrived we then had to take a taxi to the other side of the city where the fireworks were actually going on. Since Busan is the 2nd largest city in Korea, and there was traffic within the city, this took a while too. But, finally we got there and found the best spot to stand among the crowd of Koreans. The crowd was insane, and there was not much of a festival, just a few food stands around. But that's ok, because the fireworks were amazing! 






The bridge is on fiiiiiire!





Aaahh the colors!


Oooo so bright!

They're going off from 2 sides!

Bridge after the explosions are done

Thursday, October 21, 2010

and Changwon Fountain

I can't forget to show the fountain in the center of downtown! It's pretty cool, and at night it lights up a little and has music....not too shabby.