This week has been pretty busy so I don't even know where to begin. So I'll start with just a random Korean fact. Koreans have a totally different method of counting how old they are. The day a baby is born here, it is considered one. So if I were born in Korea, I would have turned 33 this week instead of 32.
Last weekend was really eventful! I started my weekend at EVERLAND. We met at the station at 7:45am , which for a day at an amusement park, was pretty dedicated I thought. Everland met all my expectations. There weren't too many rides but the main one t-Express, was amazing. It was a wooden roller coaster that was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO long and went 200km/hr. I sat in the front car and wow, it was amazing! We spent the morning on rides and the afternoon just walking around and soaking in all the fantastically tacky stuff going on. Lucian and Laila are Korea's version of Mickey and Minnie. We tracked down Santa and Lucian and Laila for some sweet photo ops, mosied around in fake snow with Christmas carols blaring, and generally enjoyed all the over the top Christmas kitsch. It was a jam packed day of cheesy Christmas carols and seasonal stuff that was the perfect way to get in the holiday spririt.
Sunday I made another trip back to Seoul. It was another early start morning. I went shopping to an area called Insadong. It is a traditional shopping street combined with food stalls and markets and tea houses. We got there early and it was deserted and then by noon it was chalk a block, asian style, bursting with people. I love Seoul. The people watching is so captivating, I could stand in one spot for hours on end and be completely entertained. Again, the journey home kind of sucked. Thankfully we scored seats on the subway, but it took over an hour to make it back to Osan. Apparently the bus is quicker, I have to investigate this option.
Monday morning I took off to a 3 day teacher training course by GEPIK, which is the organization I work for. There were 150 other foreign english teachers. It was located about 30mins away from me, out in the sticks at a conference centre. It was a pretty full on few days. part of the workshops were really informative and helpful, while others were so boring and useless. I think it would have been way more effective in 2 days rather than spread over 3, but who am I to complain since I got 3 days off school AND was home by noon on Wednesday and had the rest of the afternoon off to muck about is Osan.
My actual birthday went by pretty much unnoticed here (if you don't count all the fire works North Korea sent to South Korea on the 23rd). It wasn't until I came home and checked all my emails and messages that I was feeling the long distance love. Then Thursday I arrived at work to the most BEAUTIFUL bouquet of flowers sitting on my desk waiting for me. A certain secret admirer, all the way from Canada, got MAJOR brownie points!!!! I spent half an hour at home trying to get them all into a vase and ended up settling for 2- there were that many flowers!
I made myself a nice little home cooked birthday meal, opened up a bottle of Californian vino (it wasn't my pinot, but it still did the trick), and unwrapped a few presents sent from home. It was by far the quietest birthday for someone who is used to doing somersaults on a pedastal at this time of year. I am managing to extend my birthday in the usual style, cause Im still waiting for a VIP package to show up in the post :) I wish I had some more exciting stories dripping with soju and noriebangs on my birthday but because of the training, it was really tame and uneventful. Oh actually, on Sunday evening, I did go out for dinner and got a slice of cheesecake with a candle and our table was surrounded by Korean waitresses singing happy birthday in a Jack Astor-esque style. Highly humiliating but still appreciated.
Yesterday was a monumental day in respects to my life in Korea. I OFFICIALLY became an alien. After a months wait, I received my highly anticipated ARC (Alien Registration Card). I couldn't really care less about the actual card, but it is my ticket to everything here. As soon as I got it, I went with my coworker to the bank and opened an account, so now I can finally get paid and have access to money. Then with a bank account I was able to get a mobile, and HOPEFULLY by next week I should have internet up and running at home. Can't wait for it!!!
Its the weekend again, and I have a handful of fun plans. Tomorrow I am meeting my adorable coworker Jihye, the music teacher, for a sushi lunch date in Suwon and we are off to explore some some palace. When I get back to Osan I am headed for a home cooked American Thanksgiving dinner (turkey a-la-toaster over!!!) Sunday I have a date to go for a 2 hr walk around some old fortress thats supposed to be a nice way to kill an afternoon. Oh, and more cleaning. My floors are a mess. It seems I have cleaned more in Korea than I have in my whole life. Thankfully my apartment is shoebox size so its not too much of a shock to my system to be on my hands and knees cleaning.
On that note, off I go. Happy Thankgiving to anyone south of my old border!