Okay, so a lot of my friends are leaving at the moment, which is a little sad! The school year starts in March, so a lot of people leave and come out here at that sort of time. This doesn't apply to people working in Hagwons (private cram schools) which run all year around, but it does to anyone in a public school or university.
Things are going pretty well! I am really enjoying being out here, although there have been a few ups and downs. I love teaching, and I get on really well with my adults! I also am getting on a lot better with the kids, especially the older elementary to middle school ones, which I really struggled with at first.
When I first came out here, I had quite a few problems. A few of my adults complained about my lessons, the middle schoolers weren't too keen on me and I had one really rowdy elementary school class. Anyways, it all got way, way better! There have been no complaints for ages, and I genuinely enjoy teaching! I am still not mad keen on the kindies, but oh well! It is only once a week, and I have two weeks off at the moment, which is awesome!
I have also been getting on really, really well with people out here! I have a lot of great friends here, and I am closest to a great guy from the US and a wonderful girl from Korea. It is so nice getting to know people from so many different cultures. I mean, obviously I am interested in getting to know Koreans and learning about the Korean culture and language, but I am also loving the opportunity I have to mix with people from other English speaking cultures. I know it sounds strange, but meeting people from all over the English speaking world has been great!
Anyways, this weekend (which has been a busy one), I went out till 5am (I am living in a small city, btw) where we smoked shisha in a bar, then went to a nore-Bang (singing room) and sang our hearts out. There are awesome! They kept giving us more time (so we would buy more beer) so we paid for an hour or two and sung for at least 3, possibly 4. I love singing! I am also truely, truely awful at it! The nore-bang is great, because it lets you sing Kareoke, but only in front of your friends. You can drink and smoke in them, and they will bring you crisps (which taste like cheerios) and occassionally things like free juice. We also got some free photos to remember the evening by from a photo sticker place.
I then got up the next morning at 10am to go to lunch with a friend from church. He is Korean, and it was his treat. He took us for some awesome spicy roast pork with loads of side dishes. In Korea, every meal comes with side dishes (pretty much), and they range from strange dried fish things to delicious egg concoctions. This meal was amazing!! I haven't eaten food that good in a while.
A group of us then went to the orphanage to voluteer with the kids. In Korea, there are a lot of social stigmas surrounding children. For example, unwed mothers are still totally unacceptable. Korea is a pretty modern country, but if a woman has a baby she is likely to loose her job. In normal circumstances a married couple will plan for this and the woman will be a full time housewife for at least a little while. However, when she is an unwed mother, she both finds it nearly impossible to find a new job and also to pay for child care. To make it worse, a lot of families abandon daughters in this situation if they don't give up their child. Also, there is a lot of stigma attatched to having disabled children, so a lot of these end up in orphanages as well. The one we went to was VERY well funded. They also often had volunteers from the younger generation come and visit them (a lot of my students have told me they volunteer from time to time). They were super excited at having some foreigners come to visit, and we had a really great time at the orphanage! The kids were amazing! We will go as a church once a month.
A group of us then went for a Korean dinner and coffee (very popular over here, there are coffee shops everywhere and a large number of them sell the delicious Chai Latte).
This morning was church, were a lot of people were leaving! We said goodbye to 5 people in the service, and there was another person leaving who couldn't make it because of food poisoning. To give some perspective, there is about 100 people in our service, and we are a mix of Koreans and foreigners.
This evening I was supposed to go out for Italian with the girl who is ill. It is very sad that we don't get to give her a proper send off, but at the same time, given that it is not even 8pm and I am tucked up nicely in bed, maybe it is for the best!
Anyways, hope that gives you some taste of some of the things you can do in Korea! It has been a busy weekend, don't get me wrong (a lot of Saturdays I spend sleeping), but it has also been a very easily achievable one :)