I’ve officially been in South Korea over 2 months now and the kids have mid-terms today. This means that 1/4 of my teaching for this year is already over! I can’t believe that and I sound like a broken record but time really does fly.
The weather is starting to get nicer and we are now enjoying all that a Korean spring has to offer-the good and the bad. Back in the US, the spring is characterized by warmer, almost hot weather and a nice layer of pollen over everything. Well, it appears that South Korea has their own version of pollen and it has been in full force for the past month. Instead of coming from plants, their “pollen” comes from the pollution in China. Yellow haze, as it’s called, is exactly like it sounds and it travels across the sea from China to South Korea during the spring. I’ve been told that a while ago, South Korea gave China a bunch of trees to plant in order to help prevent this haze from traveling over the water and causing many Koreans to become sick. However, there weren’t any stipulations on where the trees were supposed to be planted, so China decided to plant them along the highways to make it more scenic, and have absolutely no effect on decreasing this yellow haze. Now, I have no idea if this story is actually true or not, but I thought it was kinda funny. Luckily, it rains at least once a week so that helps to clear it out.
The beginning of Spring also means the beginning of baseball season. Daejeon has their own baseball team, and it’s interesting because the teams are named after their sponsors. For example, they aren’t the Daejeon Eagles but instead they are the Hanwha Eagles,Hanwha is an energy company, and they played the LG Twins. I find it odd that they use English team names instead of Korean names and have no idea why they do this. I don’t know if we went to a bad game or if the Hanwha Eagles are the absolute worst team ever, but it was UGLY. They lost 18-2, where’s the mercy rule when you need it.
One of the pros of a South Korean spring, is the beautiful flowers that are blooming. It’s also a great time to visit the many national parks and be outside. This past weekend, I finally stayed in Daejeon and sorta relaxed. A friend that was in my orientation group organized a scavenger hunt around one part of the city and some friends from other cities came to participate. We were all in groups of 5 and had 3 hours to get as many “tasks” done as possible. As well all know, I a nerd, so I was incredibly excited about this-probably too much. I won’t go into detail but some of the “tasks” included taking a photo with a Korean family, propose to a complete stranger, and buy a bottle of soju. It was interesting asking a family if we could take a picture with them because in the US, no parent would ever let some completely random stranger take a picture with their children. Luckily, we aren’t in the US!
Then, there were more Korean specific tasks but I need to give some background information first. Koreans are incredibly dependent on their phones/tablets….like more than Americans. Therefore, when you are on the subway or bus, it is pretty difficult to find anyone that isn’t on their phone/tablet. So, we had to take a picture on the subway and got points for every person (not on our team) that wasn’t on their phone/tablet-quite a hard task. The trick is to find the older generation on the subway because they are still anti-technology.
Koreans also love their K-dramas, which are I guess their soap operas, and when they get mad instead of throwing a drink in the person’s face, they slap them in the face with kimchi. We had to get a random stranger to kimchi slap one of our team members, and at first we couldn’t find anyone that would do it. I know if you were to go to Buckhead or any bar area of any city and asked an American to do this, you would probably have 10 volunteers immediately. Finally, we were able to convince a guy to do this- I mean we needed the points! After 3 hours, we all returned with our objects, photos, and videos and somehow my team ended up winning!
Sunday was a beautiful sunny (and yellow) day. My friend and I decided to go to the foot spa and then take a walk along the river and through a park. This was really the first time I’ve been able to just relax outside and enjoy the day. I’m loving the weather right now, but I’m ready for this haze to be gone so I can breathe again!