Sunday, April 20, 2014

8 months in the Land of the Morning Calm

Happy 8 months from Meercat Christina!

That's right! Friday marked 8 months since I arrived here for this adventure in South Korea. It's been a crazy ride, and it feels like it's been a long time, but at the same time, 8 months have flown by.

This week was busy, but also very subdued. As most or all of you know, there was a disaster here in South Korea, where a ferry carrying hundreds of high school students capsized and sunk on the way to Jeju Island. The students were going on a class trip, and about 250 people are still unaccounted for at this point in time. Sadly, as the sun sets here in Seoul as I'm writing this, they've recovered a few more bodies, bringing the count up to 58, and most people fear/are accepting that that number will be much, much higher, and this will probably be South Korea's worst maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Being a teacher here, this tragedy hit me hard. The students were going to enjoy a trip to Jejudo, a place I visited and loved. They were only around 16 years old, just a few years older than my beloved students, who were also supposed to go on a trip to Jejudo this year (though I'm sure that isn't happening anymore). I see young students every day, including high schoolers giggling with their friends, probably discussing boys and hope and dreams... I am not a parent, but my students have become my babies, and I cannot imagine how the teachers, parents, friends and families must be feeling right now. I wanted to give all of my students a big hug and hold them tight this week...

I will give lots of kudos to South Korea right now. To acknowledge the scope of this tragedy, most things paused this week. No kpop comebacks, no variety tv broadcasts, no new drama episodes. My school picnic was cancelled, as I imagine others were, in order to pay respect to the victims of this tragedy. It probably doesn't help much, but I think it's a pretty neat thing. It's not all roses though. There was some serious mismanagement of the situation and information (it was first stated that everyone had been evacuated off the ship- sadly, we know this wasn't true), but what's done is done. Mistakes were made and a terrible accident happened. My heart hurts for everyone involved.

As the operations transition from rescue to recovery, I ask that you keep the families and friends of the victims in your hearts. Thank you to everyone who asked about me, messaged me or thought about me. Your love and support means a lot to me.

It's hard to deal with, what with the tragedy hitting close to my heart, and it's hard to swallow. It's hard to imagine that the world keeps turning and life goes on, when for so many, it feels like their worlds have ended. I can only hope that everyone has learned from this, and that those who were lost are never forgotten.

Sorry all, it's been a draining week. But here are some things I ended up doing.

I found this picture of Swan Lake on my camera. It's pretty
clear, so I just wanted to post it. 

On Monday, I got my hair done. Apparently, they don't use heat lamps in SK, so it takes and extraaaa long time to get my highlights done. But the lady who owns the salon lived in London for like 7 years, so we had a lot to talk about! I feel kind of bad when I get my hair done, because I'm not much into small talk, but after a little bit of chatting, I felt more comfortable and opened up. I always want to tell them I'm not trying to be rude or ignore them, I'm just a quiet person!

such a glamorous process, I know

I should wear it like this all the time, right?

getting my hair misted?

Flowers outside of my school

Dancing cows

Christmas pillows? It's APRIL!

Wednesday lunch is the best lunch!

A cozy cafe, where Sarah and I studied before our Korean class

Another shot of the pretty flowers. 

Mom and Dad's Easter package arrived at the perfect time.
It was definitely a pick me up after the sad, stressful week
we'd been having

On Friday, my students were launching bottle rockets. Apparently, it was a schoolwide competition. It was fun to watch!

action shot

Setting up the rockets

I met up with Sarah to study for a bit, and we also celebrated
8 months in Korea with some chocolate covered honey butter

I had a productive Saturday- I cleaned, studied, worked out, cooked and caught up on TV. It may seem boring, but after the ferry (and other stress at school- the nurse asked me to tutor her, and I had some anxiety issues telling her no because I hate saying no to people, but I am not allowed, nor do I have time. But I needed Young Ah to help me because the nurse's english level is low and I couldn't explain it to her myself. Ugh.), I needed some peaceful, no-rush, no-stress down time.

And then Sarah sent me this pic.
Her caption was:

Sometimes we take creeper pics on the subway. Sue us. Korean style is usually real cool. This is... not...

On Sunday, I went to a park by the Han River to have a picnic with my friends Sarah, Janell and Mona. We stayed there fore quite some time. We bought snacks, fried chicken and wine, and had a lovely day, chatting, joking and people watching. It was a beautiful way to spend Easter.

Janell, Sarah and Mona


This guy saw us squeeing over his dog, so
he brought it over for us to pet. It was SO

We had a beautiful day!

In happy news, I finally got asked about my renewal. Well, more like my handler came up to me, said "Hey Christina, I heard your sister is coming and that you want to stay here. You want to renew for next year, right? Let me get the paperwork." Except she hasn't actually given me the paperwork, haha. 

I'm nervous though, because I have to do an open class for the Principal, the VP, my co workers and maybe parents? I'm not sure. But I DO have to have an open class, and it's with my newest co teacher, and we are still figuring out how to work together. I think it's just a formality, but I can't help but be scared! I reaaaaally want to stay, and my handler basically told me not to worry too much, but you all know me. Worry is my middle name. So, in the next few weeks, wish me luck so that I can stay here for another year!

And for your enjoyment, here's a video of my students. The first part is my 4th graders singing a song to help them learn about time, and the second one is 2 of my crazy 5th graders acting out "Let It Go." They're funny, even though I now despise that song.

And for this week's Kpop, here's Super Junior M with Swing.

Keep a lookout for Sarah's bias (Eunhyuk, with the glasses) and my bias (Kyuhyun) at the copier at the beginning of the video.

BUONA PASQUA!! Happy Easter everyone! Please keep South Korea in your hearts, thoughts and prayers!

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