Stop to Smell the Roses

The last week at school went really well.  I’ve gotten better at taking work in stride and not worrying about whether or not I’m doing everything exactly as my boss expects me to.  I know I have certain material I need to get through in the week, month, year, but on a day to day basis I’m getting better at switching things up if the kids aren’t interested in the material for that long.  For example, if we get 15 minutes of good, solid work done in our books, I’ve decided that since they’re six and have the attention spans of, well, six year-olds it’s alright if I use the last 15-20 minutes of class to play a game and then just let them color or watch a short youtube dance video (the Hokey Pokey is a favorite).  It’s easier on me and on them if I keep switching things up to keep them interested.  It also helps that I now have a multitude of educational games I can pull out of my hat if they decide they’re not interested in class. I’m also learning that my energy really rubs off on them and their energy rubs off on me.  If I’m happy and energetic, so are they (usually).  If I’m feeling sluggish and I’m not organized with the lesson, they can pick up on it and simply refuse to cooperate with me.  Needless to say, I’m learning!

Look!  Here we are doing a “science” project.  They loved it and they didn’t even end up throwing the styrofoam balls at each other like I imagined they would!

This last weekend was a good weekend to catch up on the boring day to day things that I don’t normally have time to do since Steve has been in the Philippines for the last week. Steve is constantly in “go” mode (which I really appreciate because most of the fun things I’ve done here are due to his planning and energy) so I don’t have time to clean, or do laundry, or just sit and read a book.  It sounds like I’m complaining I don’t have time to do laundry (this is not true, but we all know you can only wear clothes so many times before they start to smell…).  So on Friday I stayed in and watched a movie (the first weekend I’ve been here that I’ve stayed in on a Friday night).  I woke up early on Saturday and went for a run through the countryside, which I like doing because you get to see little Korean farms and it’s a side I don’t think many foreigners get a chance to see.  I then went home and got ready to head to Seoul with my co-worker, Erin, to go to my first Korean wedding!

One of Korean co-workers was getting married at a wedding hall near Bangbae Station (reminder: many locations in Seoul are determined by the subway station they’re closest to, such as in this case).  In Korea, the “non-traditional” weddings (the ones that are more like Western weddings) are held at wedding halls that are constantly pumping out wedding after wedding.  Saturday, the day we were there, there was a wedding every hour!  My co-worker’s, Jenna, wedding was at 12pm and the next wedding was at 1pm.  Jenna’s wedding, from start to finish, lasted 20 minutes.  Here’s what a typical Korean wedding looks like (although some of the things listed below were particular to Jenna’s wedding):

First, before guests arrive, the bride and groom have a photo shoot.  Then guests arrive and talk to the bride and groom for a little, then the groom walks down the aisle (which looks more like a runway since it’s raised up).  Jenna’s groom chose to walk down the runway to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme song.  It was quite entertaining!  Then the bride, wearing a dress that’s so big and intricate that she has a personal attendant help whenever she has to move, walks down the runway with her father.  Then the short ceremony ensues.  Once the ceremony is over, a close friend or sibling sings a song for the newlyweds.  Then after the song, it’s time for pictures with the bride and groom.  First it’s all family members, then close family members (mother and father of the bride and mother and father of the groom and siblings), and last it’s all friends and co-workers.  Yes!  I got to be in the pictures and Erin and I, as the only non-Koreans there, stuck out like sore thumbs and I think most people thought we were crashing the wedding.

Here’s a picture of Jenna and her new husband and their family.

After pictures you head to the buffet!  You give the couple several thousand won as a gift (they only give money, not gifts) and in return you get a ticket to the AMAZING buffet!  There’s a mixture of Korean and Western food.  There were also TONS of different dessert choices (I had almost all of them…).

One strange part of the wedding (and I’m not sure if this is true of all Korean weddings or just Jenna’s) was that no one really seemed to be talking to Jenna and her groom.  Erin and I waited for her to come to the buffet, but after waiting 45 minutes she didn’t come so we left and it seemed like we were the only ones left from her weddings—no one was waiting around for her or her groom!

After the wedding since it was such a beautiful day, Erin and I walked to Sadang Station (a larger subway station about a 15 minute walk away) where we discovered a small street market as well as a smaller mall that had a UNIQLO store and a “Bandi and Luni’s” bookstore.  The bookstore (a chain bookstore like Barnes and Noble) had a small English book section and it mostly had classics.  I purchased a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” which I’ve been wanting for years!  It was also only 9,000 won ($9)!

That night I went out in Songtan for a bit, but again, I called it in early and was asleep by 10:30, but because I went to bed so early I had a marvelous Sunday full of cleaning (ok, that doesn’t sound fun, but it was satisfying to get some Spring cleaning done), running, and reading!  It was 80 degrees out and sunny and I spent the better part of the afternoon sitting outside and reading and writing and I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday.

It’s also now rose season in Korea.  Seriously, there are roses EVERYWHERE.  I see them on my way to work, but I’m usually in such a hurry to either get there or get home I never stop to really appreciate them.  So, finally, on my way home from the grocery store down the street I stopped to smell the roses.

And they were gorgeous.

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