ok i didn't think i was going to feel the need to have multiple postings today, but that's the way it turned out.
first of all, good news! i have a three-day weekend coming up, which i thought was a possibility because i knew it was a holiday weekend. i just wasn't sure if the school was closed until i asked today, because i wasn't even sure what the holiday really was. all i knew was the fact that it's called chuseok, and i remembered reading something about a harvest moon festival. but i just looked up the facts and this is what it's all about, according to lifeinkorea.com:
"The full harvest moon festival occurs on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, and is similar to the American Thanksgiving holidays. The day before 14th and 16th of the 8th lunar month are also holidays, giving a total of three days off to allow people time to visit their hometowns. As the most important of all Korean holidays, during this period people jam the highways to visit their hometowns and family members. Similar to the lunar new year holidays, family members pay respect to their living relatives and visit the graves of their ancestors. Family members exchange gifts and play special games."
so it's kind of like korean thanksgiving. and i could tell something was happening this week for a few reasons. first, i went to timeworld on monday and all of the women working there were wearing hanbok, which is their traditional korean dress. second, all of the teachers have been a little more happy, and third, i keep getting little food gifts every day- most of them are homemade "sweets" that really aren't so sweet at all. i'm not really a big fan of them because they have a gelatinous consistency, and i hate food like that. yuck. i'm guessing one of the things i had was hangwa, which is a "cookie" made from fruit, nuts, powdered grains, and honey. i also had some cookies made from glutinous rice (i think) with bean paste- it may or may not have been songpyeon, which is a cookie made only for chuseok. but most of this stuff i've had to swallow down because i don't really want to offend any of the koreans who really are very proud of their cuisine.
anyway, tomorrow i guess all of the teachers are getting a present from the school. fred says this happens twice a year- for chuseok and the lunar new year. and i guess last time all of the guys got spam and the girls got various skin care products... sounds pretty equal to me. but if i get spam i'll definitely be passing that onto another teacher.
the downside about this weekend is that apparently traffic is CRAZY over the weekend, because everyone is trying to go home to be with family, which means you can forget about really doing any traveling unless you made plans way in advance- most highways get ridiculously congested and trains by now are probably all sold out. so i'm thinking the bus thing to donghak-sa isn't going to happen, yet again. it's ok, i have a little over 10 months left, i'm sure i'll get there one day.
i took a picture of one of my classes today, it's one of my larger ones (13 kids) that i think is exceptionally cute. they used to be so quiet but i think they've taken a liking to me and sometimes get overexcited. and there's one student who used to never talk and for some reason he's a problem now and never wants to do anything. i honestly think it's a hormonal thing with him- he's ok to talk to and he'll do work if i go over and help him, but the second i walk away he'll stop working. i think he's beginning to take an interest in the girls in the front, because he's always talking to them now.
the boy i was talking about (richard) is the one standing in the back- i moved him last week to a desk at the side of the room and he keeps sitting there now although he doesn't have to, i'm not really sure why. the boy next to him in the back with his hand up is bob, and he's really sweet, i've really taken a liking to him, i think because he goes out of his way to work hard and wants everyone else to work hard too. in the front to the left is anna, and she's awesome too. to the right of her is shelly, then sunny, bella, and ginny. i love the girls in that class, which is why i waited till today to take pictures at school. i guess because i mentioned almost everyone in the picture i might as well introduce you to the rest of them. the kid in the yellow shirt is jerry, and honestly i have no idea who the boy is next to him because he was new last friday and for some reason i keep forgetting to have him write his name on my attendence sheet at the beginning of class. so right now he's nameless, but he's pretty cool. and the other boy in blue looking down is gun/kun (korean name, and g and k are kind of interchangeable... just didn't want you all to think that he chose his name because of the weapon). he's kind of a handful- he used to be the loudest one until richard's hormones got the best of him.
another observation: when i call the kids crazy, or when i agree with the kids when they say someone else is crazy, they get a kick out of it. and then richard always says "crazy is handsome," because usually he's the target of the crazy comments. yes, crazy is quite a funny word over here. if you ever want to make kids laugh you say "you are crazy" or "he is crazy" or "you are making me crazy" and they get into hysterics and it's the cutest thing ever. in konglish, koreans actually interpret crazy to be something a little more negative, but i don't care... i think the kids know we use this word in a joking, friendly manner. these kids are really easy to amuse and i love it... that's crazy man. dig it.
so here's the funny story of the day, which i shall call "yes, random korean man, let's date!!!"
i was waiting to cross the street in front of my apartment, listening to my ipod, when a guy next to me starts talking. i turned the music off and he repeated "you live in obelisk villa?" and i said yes and he told me he lived there on the 9th floor. he seemed a bit older and harmless enough, and his english was better that most koreans i've talked to. he asked if i'd be interested in teaching his daughter, and the idea of making extra money teaching privately (everyone does it) sounded great, so i said yeah. he got my number and we walked to the apartment together, chatting about why i came to korea, the importance of english, etc. he told me i was beautiful and fantastic, but i didn't think anything of it because most koreans are like that with westerners (see previous posts). the he asked how old i was and told me he was either 34 or 36, i forget now. then he said "maybe it is possible to date?" that kind of threw me off for a second because i figured that since he had a daughter he was married. i said no. he asked why. why? why??? why are koreans so blunt and why can't they just take no for an answer? do they really want to hear i'm not interested or they're too old? so i lied. i said i didn't want a boyfriend, i didn't want to date, and he asked why again. so i lied again- he asked if i was seeing someone and i said "kind of." he said "in korea or you have american boyfriend?" and i said "in america." then he asked "is he financee?" (no, that wasn't a typo, he actually said "financee") and i said no. so he said "just boyfriend?" listen buddy, don't get your hopes up, it's not gonna happen. yes, i'll teach your kid, but we're not gonna date. i think for my next paycheck i'm gonna go buy a fake engagement ring that i can whip out during unwanted advances. i'm sure i could find one for around $30. so i got off on my floor and he said he'd call me to talk about teaching. yes, "teaching..."