Greetings!! It has been quite some time since my last post … I’ve been a busy girl, but I will try my best to update you on things over here.
My birthday was quite memorable! The teachers took me out for a delicious Korean BBQ dinner, then we picked up a frozen yogurt cake and went to my apartment for dessert and some more drinks. There was a rule implemented that they could only speak in English … and if they broke the rule they’d either have to take a drink, sing a song, or pay 1000 won (just under a dollar CDN) … surprisingly they did very well, but when the rule was broken, most decided to pay! As a result we had a nice little stash of money building up, so we decided to put it towards a Noreabong (Karaoke) Room … so we went and sang our hearts out. It was really really fun! The following weekend I celebrated my birthday and my friend Maddie’s birthday with all of our friends. It was your typical birthday night, minus the fact that we were in Korea and it was ridiculously cheap. haha The only downfall of the night was knowing that I needed to be up at 5:30 AM the next morning to go to the train station to board the train to Seoul. Sure enough, mere hours after making it home, my alarm went off and I was on the train to Seoul. I am certainly glad I didn’t miss it though. Sunday was a pretty remarkable day … (we had a 4 day weekend that weekend so I went to Seoul from Sunday – Tuesday) … so on Sunday we went on a tour to the DMZ – the de-militarized zone between North and South Korea. We first stopped at the Freedom bridge, and then it was on to explore the 3rd infiltration tunnel that was built by the North in an attempt to invade Seoul. The South has found 4 tunnels so far, and they believe that there are at least another 10 tunnels … scary thought that they have yet to find them! We got to walk the actual tunnel, which was a pretty surreal feeling after knowing what the tunnel was built for and how perfectly it was designed.
After the tunnel we drove to the top of the mountain to a look out area overlooking the North. It was looking out over the ledge that it totally hit me that places like the North do exist and made me realize how lucky I am to never had to endure anything like that. The security is on high alert between the North and South that even standing on this ledge you weren’t allowed to take pictures of the North from the edge … but instead you had to stand behind a “picture line” which made it nearly impossible to get a decent picture. If you even attempted to touch your camera or pull out your cell phone past the picture line, you’d be approaced by a solider and told to step back. It was intense. But it was such a great experience. We all loaded back on the bus and then I think in an attempt to improve the gloominess of our moods, they took us to a train station that remains a symbol of optimism for South Korea. Basically they have built a train station that one day they hope will connect the North and South again. It was a nice feeling to end the day on, but even today, that day of peace seems further and further away. The fact that they used to let tours enter the North, but last year shut the tours down, is a clear indicator that things are no longer on the incline.
After a long day of riding the bus and touring around, we checked into our hotel and then grabbed some dinner. We turned in early knowing we’d be up and touring around the next day. Sure enough we were up and visiting the famous palaces of Seoul … followed by hours upon hours of shopping! In fact, Monday and Tuesday were completely dedicated to palace tours and shopping! Oh – and finding the Forever 21 store and a Subway restaurant! haha … the shopping was amazing ! As was Subway …MMMM.
After the long weekend I was not surprisingly exhausted, so the next few days I just caught up on much needed sleep, but despite my attempts, I came down with a nasty cold. The following weekend was devoted to working on my tan at the beach … and again, resting up. The following week, I still wasn’t feeling any better, so I was taken to an Oriental Doctor by one of the teachers at my school. Now this was certainly a different experience! haha … after feeling my pulse about 20 times, I was diagnosed as a “tree” body constitution… was told never to eat fish of any kind, leafy greens, exotic fruits, or green tea ever in my life. haha … so basically I shouldn’t eat anything good for me. Instead I am supposed to eat meat and root vegetables and plain fruits like apples and oranges. BORING. I live for salads! haha … the one thing I was told was to keep my body temperature high by climbing mountains or going to the sauna, so that diagnoses I liked! After a couple visits to the Oriental Doctor, some acupuncture and some nasty powder remedy – I was feeling better – just in time for the big volleyball season!
All of the public schools’ teachers play volleyball, and up until a week ago, we were only playing once a week, nothing too serious. But the stakes got a whole lot higher last week … we started playing every day, picked out and tried on our team jerseys … and it was worth it. Yesterday we left school at 1 PM and went to a sports stadium where we took part in a round robin tournament … and I am happy to report that our school not only WON but we creamed the other schools! It was hilarious and so fun! Lets just say, I made about 55 new Korean friends due to my skills. haha After the games, the school took us all out for dinner, in which I was asked to stand up and thanked for my skills … hahahaha it was amazing. So since we won yesterday, we get to play again next week … and if we win next week, so we go on to play other schools from different regions … on a Saturday … which is completely fine with me – especially since after they told me this, they said “If you don’t play, we don’t play.” … haha Love it. My skills are increased tremendously since first arriving and even since high school! I am going to miss it once the season ends 😦
Other than that, I have made some really great friends … we have started a Euchre night once a week so that’s always a low key night to look forward to ! As well, my girlfriends and I had a girls night last weekend … it was a wine and cheese night – I actually like wine now, shocking, eh mom? … but we had some wine and cheese and lots of snacks … then after sitting around chatting all night we decided it was necessary to go to a Noraebong (Karaoke room) and sing our souls out until 5 AM. It was so fun and absolutely hilarious.
Well, I should end this here. I will try to update this more frequently!
Miss and love you all!