November 29, 2010

Photo booths!


This weekend Laura and I had a new experience - the Korean photo booth.


The set up is a room full of photo booths with tons of girls and couples milling around. Laura and I weren't really sure what to expect, but basically you pay five dollars or so and pose for pictures with crazy backgrounds and decals.


You can add glitter, stickers, and text all over it.. even other people (like the blonde girl in the picture).


These are pretty blurry, because we didn't realize the different sizes we could pick and they ended up really small. Luckily, Laura's camera worked enough to get a general picture, because mine didn't zoom enough to work.


They print out as stickers, which we cut out and then I turned mine into magnets. We will for sure end up going back and printing bigger pictures, so look forward to seeing those sometime soon!

November 24, 2010

Gwangju



This past weekend Laura and I went to Gwangju. It is notable because it was the heart of the democracy movement in Korea. The first place we went was the May 18th Memorial Park - which was the setting for the 1980 student protest that ended in several civilians being killed. In my mind this is the closest Korea has to its own Tienanmen Square, so I had been wanting to see it. Gwangju is also notable for me because had I not signed my contract with St. Louis, I would have been living here instead.

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This is a huge monument, these children are young and unsupervised. It isn't really surprising, in Korea, but I thought it was notable because they were climbing so high and were adorable.


Under the giant triangle the kids are climbing on, there is a list of names, which I am not sure if these are people involved in the democracy movement, or if they were those killed during the protests.


This was a stone carved mural on one wall, and in the middle was a statue of a mother carrying her son, killed by the soldiers in the movement.


This is Laura. These giant metal poles are surrounding the giant triangle.


I am becoming a more and more capable tourist. Lonely Planet is extremely helpful in this endeavor.


Next we went to the Gwangju National Museum. It was a beautiful building.


The most interesting thing to me was the capsule style coffins. The captions were only in Korean, but from the photographs, like the one in the background, I think they tuck one jar's lip inside the other, to create a seal.


Gwangju is also famous for "Art Street." We went pretty late, so some stores were closed, but its all art galleries and stores, selling supplies, original art and pottery. Everything was beautiful and so well done. I was a little sad, because Daegu doesn't have much of an art scene, there isn't a museum or galleries really. This is one thing that has depressed me a bit, and Art Street was a wonderful treat for me.


We stayed in Gwangju, and the following day we went to Damyang.


First, we went to a bamboo forest. It was really beautiful, and it was great to see things so lush and green in fall, where most trees' leaves have already changed colors and fallen off.


When we finished exploring the forest, Laura and I tried to get a cab to a bamboo museum. We realized pretty quickly that Damyang is not Daegu - there were absolutely no cabs. Our only option was to call one, which was difficult given our limited knowledge of Korean. So we stood at the road and looked around contemplating our next move. Luckily, we were in Korea - within a few minutes, we were stopped by a random Korean man, who looked at our map and gathered where we were trying to go. Turns out, he was a tour guide leading a bus around Damyang full of older Korean couples from Seoul. He invited us to join them - for free- and took us on a pretty awesome tour of the city.


Metasequoia Avenue has been voted the most beautiful road in Korea. I can see why.



These little guys were all over Damyang's tourist locations, which I thought were the cutest things ever.

Soswaewon was made in 1520 and it was great to see the traditional architecture.


I'm excited for our tour. The guide communicated what he could in English, and one of the other tourists spoke a little English, and would translate a little more. We got the jist of most of it, and my guidebook helped, too.



In Korea, Autumn lasts months. Its wonderful, the leaves are still changing and colorful. I'm happy to have nice weather still. Of course Thanksgiving isn't exactly a holiday here, we still have to work.

As for the concern about the artillery fire earlier this week... I am not to worried, and don't think you should be either. Life is continuing on as normal here. I am registered with the US Embassy, and if there is an evacuation, I will be the first to know. Yes, it is the most serious threat since the Korean War, but I believe all parties involved will be rational and show restraint. My plan is to be in Korea until next August, and as of now, that is not changing. Obviously, if the situation becomes untenable, I will put my safety first. As of now, thats all I know. Keep Korea in your thoughts, watch the news, and eat some mashed potatoes for me on Thanksgiving!

November 14, 2010

Sweet Potato Farm

November's field trip was a day at Goo-Am Village, the folk village I went to in September on the Daegu City Tour. We were going to dig up potatoes with the kindergarten students.

Michelle, our director, is showing the kids how to use the tools for digging up potatoes.


The village is on beautiful Palgong Mountain.

Joanne, my coworker, helping the kids pack their bags for optimal potato fitting. She's traveled all over and is truly kind and intelligent. Joanne really is one of my favorite people at St. Louis.


Wini and Mina - Wini is one of our newer students. I teach their class first, and they are always diligent and excited to learn .


This is my wonderful homeroom class, K-E

Korean style swings, the kids loved them. I was worried they were going to wipe out jumping off of them, but luckily there were no injuries.


Cindy and Julia, their class is awesome.

We were finding bugs.

Earlier this month I realized I have now been in Korea for over 100 days. This means that I've been in Korea for over three months, which leaves nine more here. I feel like I have established a life here. Its nice to have groups of friends and people I can count on. I've met so many people from all around the world, it really is an amazing experience. I have had friends leave, which is hard, but am comforted knowing that most of my close friends here will be here at least another 6 to 9 months with me. Its nice to be able to say that I am happy with my life.

November 8, 2010

Daegu in the Fall


It is fall in Korea, and I couldn't be happier about it.


This weekend I went hiking with my friend Evan in Daegu. We were attempting to climb a trail to Gatbawi, which is a famous Buddha statue, but didn't end up making it to the top. Its a pretty long trail, we started late in the day, and didn't prepare for it ahead of time.


We did end up making it to a beautiful temple, however, which I loved.


This is Evan. Don't let the backpack fool you, it did not hold hiking gear.







Evan took this picture of me. I like it a lot, even though I look awkward in it.


The following day I went to the Daegu Arboretum with Corinne and Shelley.



There was some sort of festival going on there that we were unaware of, but it involved giant flower animals.


A dragonfly landed on Corinne and wouldn't leave her shirt. I think its a beautiful brooch.


There was also a huge glass greenhouse with cacti. It reminded me of the Frederick Meijer Gardens, which I miss.



This is Shelley. We threw leaves in the air together, it was great.




Corinne took this picture for me, so I could show you guys some more Korean food. We went out for Gamjatang, or hangover soup. It is made with pork spine, and you have to use the chopsticks to pull off the meat to eat it. It is really spicy and delicious.

For those that might be wondering, I have finished my 3rd month in Korea. The weather is great here still, not too cold. I have a bit of a cold, but the health care here is pretty cheap, so I'll see a doctor this week. I love Korea still. My students are wonderful, and I have made some great friends. My cat is the sweetest thing. My parents, sister, and I are going to Thailand in six and a half weeks. I am excited already.