In Korea, Valentine’s Day is still celebrated on February 14th, but it is when the women show appreciation to the men and get them chocolates and gifts. They have another holiday on March 14th called “White Day” where the men reciprocate and get the ladies something. In Korea, gift giving is a big thing, but there are many rules involved. When someone gives you a gift, you are expected to return the favor with a gift of equal value. You shouldn’t gift something that is too expensive that they may not be able to reciprocate. Since Korea’s culture, and even their language, is extremely polite, this comes as no surprise, but it’s definitely interesting to compare it to the customs I’m used to.
Every Friday, we get off work at 6:00 instead of 9:00 like every other night, so we typically go out to dinner as a group. We usually switch back and forth between two places – Kyochon (fried chicken) and Samgyupsal (Korean BBQ). Although both are delicious, we opted to try something different this time. So we tried a new restaurant, called “Italian Restaurant”. They have very clever business names here. This restaurant was a winner! Our ban-chans consiste of tiny slices of lemon cake, pieces of bread, and salad. The salad was so strange yet unexpectedly tasty – shredded cabbage, some sort of ginger-mayo sauce (?) and cereal flakes. Never would have thought this was a thing, but it was a thing, and we tried the thing, and it was great. Luke and I split a pepperoni pizza and it was everything I could have dreamed of. I found a pizza place less than 20 minutes away from us. Yay!
Saturday, some of us adventured into Changnyeong to check out their local street market which occurs once every five days (days that end with a 3 or 8). Luke and I stumbled upon this market one of the first weekends we were here, but weren’t as familiar with anything at the time so it was nice to go check it out again. Here’s a cool blog post that talks about it in a little more detail with lots of pictures! I bought two little plants that now sit at my desk in front of the window. Guess we’ll see how long it lasts. (*That’s what she said.) For anyone dying to know…I named one of them Cory and the other Topanga. We also tried a Hotteok, which may have changed my life. It was a pancake with a cinnamon, brown sugar, nutty filling on the inside. Sooooooo good! I was so in love with them that I went and found a recipe later that day. Hannah tried the recipe and said they tasted the same so I will be giving this a go very soon. That evening, we went to a tiny little restaurant that had no English and only a few pictures. After many strange looks and some laughs, we successfully ordered some Korean sushi (gimbap) and fried dumplings (gun-mandu, pronounced “goon-man-do”). They were delicious and only cost us 4,800 won (about $4.50) for the two of us!
On Sunday, Luke and I decided it was time for another Costco trip. I had been having cheese withdrawals since it’s so hard to find here in the local stores, and after tasting pizza again, it was necessary. Even though we had been once before, we were both still very overwhelmed with how crowded it was. Back in the States, a Costco or Sam’s Club are pretty common. A few in a city maybe. Here, there are a handful in Seoul (4 hours away) but just a few that are all within an hour from Changnyeong. And keep in mind the population is so much higher. People are literally everywhere you look and it’s a pretty normal thing to bump into someone and just keep walking here. But nonetheless, we made it out alive. We left with cheese, tortillas, coffee, wine, coconut oil, peanuts and so much more. Needless to say, it left me satisfied. (*That’s what she said.) I now get to make homemade peanut butter for the first time ever, and we can enjoy burritos and wraps again! (I may have also bought an 18 pack of Kraft Mac & Cheese online, but let’s not talk about that.) For anyone who remembers one of my first posts about Costco, I mentioned the “onion table” where customers go up to the condiments/utensil counter to get what they need, and many customers end up just eating a full plate of diced onions, with ketchup and mustard piled on top. Well, ladies and gentleman… I not so casually captured a couple pictures this time.
The past two weeks we haven’t had students and have instead worked on creating the next teacher book that the students will get and we will teach from. CEV is making some changes – including curriculum! Instead of teaching terms and concepts for each of the simulation rooms, we will be teaching subjects like Western Culture and Pop-culture, Space, Math, Biology, Geography, Sports/Hobbies and Art. I think this is due to many of the CEV students returning every year and our bosses thought it would be good to teach new content. We will still be using the simulation rooms to teach vocabulary, but we will be focusing on the other subjects and will hopefully be able to incorporate them into each room. We finished the book fairly quickly but it looks great and we are all very excited to change it up and to teach new things to the students.
We have one more week of no students and I have started a couple more Netflix shows, as well as gotten back into learning Hangul (Korean). I’ve almost got the reading portion down, but still much to practice as with any language! Fortunately, Spring is right around the corner and I’ll be able to spend more of my time outside.