Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas in Korea

As the Holidays grew near I could sense more of my friends here feeling a bit down, missing family and things going on back home.  I'm not sure if it should make my family proud or sad to know that I didn't really feel too bad not being home for the holidays. I guess it shows that i'm independent enough to survive on my own and understand that I do have a great family back home who continues to support me as I explore the world.  I guess a big part of it too is that i'm loving my life here, all of the people who surround me make it hard to miss another place, I guess i've just always been one to try to live in the moment, my friends and family will always be there next year. 

About a week before Christmas we gathered at my friend Caitlin's house for a full day of baking. I think I baked more Christmas cookies here than I ever have back home. By the end of the day we had made an assortment of cookies and had plenty for each of us to take home and share with friends....sugar cookies, peanut butter kiss, brownie cookies, monster cookies, and Oreo balls. 
Mother nature was even nice enough to provide us with tons of snow for Christmas....the friday before there was a huge (by Korean standards) snow storm, blanketing Buksam is a lovely shade of white.  I'm pretty apathetic when it comes to snow but I did score a shortened work day because of it so i'll take it.  It's also not as bad now that I don't have a car to scrape off and deal with driving - which is a good thing because Koreans are terrible drivers when it comes to snow.  I told one co-teacher that we get a lot of snow in Wisconsin and she proceeded to ask, "oh, well then do you put chains on your tires"....umm no we just drive in it.

The saturday before Christmas some friends and I were lucky enough to score a visit to the grocery store at camp carol (US army base in Waegwan).  I met some guys last spring who offered to let me shop there but unfortunately never took them up on that, now after being I definitely regret it.  It's so true that you don't miss things if you don't think about it or are reminded about it, but as we strolled the aisles in amazement I was reminded how many things I can't buy in normal Korean stores.  The guys we were with said we were like kids in a candy store and they were right - especially when we were excited by such simple things as Pam, cookie dough, cottage cheese, greek yogurt....the list goes on.  Anyway I bought some supplies so that I could attempt no bake cookies to give to share with my staff and students for Christmas, and so that is how I spent my Sunday - thankfully I had success! 

Monday (Christmas Eve) was a pretty ordinary day at school...basically Christmas is a "couples holiday" in korea so you either go out with your significant other on Christmas eve or go drink with your single friends.  Nothing big happens Christmas day either, hence the reason I only had one day off for the holiday.  Teachers did wish my Merry Christmas though and students seemed to be excited, especially as I passed out candy canes to accompany watching "Elf". 

Finally finished with my classes I made the trek home to get ready for the night, big Christmas eve party at Corona "the foreigner bar" in Gumi.  I was planning to get dinner with a friend before hand but those plans fell through so I met up with Loudine and Caitlin for some drinks and then we made our way over. It was a ton of fun and a lot of my friends from nearby towns came, some of which I haven't seen in months, so it was great to catch up and celebrate the holidays. 

The next day we gathered at Caitlin and Joonwoo's house to celebrate Christmas together. Thanks to our awesome trip to the grocery store on base we were able to have lots of the typical food we all would eat at home for Christmas. Compared to our Thanksgiving feast we got a bit lazy though and opted for boxed scalloped potatoes and instant stuffing....less work and still delicious.  We also did a small gift exchange and watched a few movies before making our way back home, unfortunately we all had to work the next day.  Although I was away from friends and family and only had Christmas day off from school it was still a successful holiday.  Like i've said before my friends, students and co-workers here are sure to take care of me so that I don't miss home too much. 

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