Christmas in Korealand

Sorry for not posting in a while, but I’ve been a busy girl. I’m planning on doing several posts in the next few weeks to catch you guys up on what I’ve been up to. For now, I’m starting with Christmas. Christmas in Korea is very different. It is not nearly as commercialized as it is in the states. There isn’t the ridiculous overindulgence and materialism. Aside from some sporadic decorations and the Christmas carols, you barely noticed it was that time of year. The incessant playing of Christmas carols is one of the few Christmas traditions that the U.S. and Korea have in common. Except that they play, like, the same 5 Christmas songs over and over. They REALLY seem like to George Michael’s “Last Christmas.” A lot. “Feliz Navidad” is a close second. I was fortunate enough to have the week after Christmas off, but many people I know didn’t get any time off at Christmas. It was a little hard for me because I missed my family a lot. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I really missed all of our family traditions. Fortunately I have a really great group of friends here that helped make up for the absence of my family. A supercrazyawesome care package (complete with a Christmas tree and ornaments from my cats) from home definitely helped, too. The Friday before Christmas we had a Christmas party in the morning for the kindergarteners and a Christmas carol contest for the older students. The guy that played Santa was hilarious! And sometimes had an Australian accent… All of the kids said they didn’t believe in Santa, right until he showed up. Then magically they believed. Mostly because they were afraid they wouldn’t get a present. I spend most of my teaching hours with my kindergarteners, and I absolutely adore them, so I got them all a little present. They love Pokemon, so I had my mom send me some American Pokemon cards. They are also crazy obsessed with Angry Birds here, so I got them some Angry Birds paraphernalia. I thought they were going to lose their minds! It was really adorable. All in all, it was a pretty fun day. On Christmas Eve, I met up with my friends Joe and Emily to go shopping for our Christmas day feast. Then we met up with my coworker, Teresa, at a local diner owned by a waygook. They had a delicious Western-style Christmas feast and an abundance of free wine and whiskey shots. The only disappointment was the lack of stuffing. I REALLY wanted stuffing in and around my mouth. Then we headed to our favorite bar to hang out with all of the other expats. It’s called Deep In and it’s the kind of divey bar with so much character and such a great atmosphere that you can’t help but love it the moment you walk in. It helps that they play really fantastic music (think Journey, The Proclaimers, Neil Diamond, etc.). Somewhere between dinner and last call, something magical happened. “Summer Lovin” from Grease came on, and without any prompting the girls lined up on one side, the guys lined up in the other. They guys were singing the guys parts, the girls were singing  the girl parts and for a brief, shining moment, my life was like Glee. It was A-mazing. There was another awesome moment when Oasis came on. I like Oasis as much as the next person, but the guys from the U.K. go a little nuts when they hear them. As soon as the song started, all of the U.K. boys got in a circle and took off their shirts while singing at the top of their lungs. Not to be outdone, the Americans soon followed suit. Best. Night. Ever. I crashed at Emily’s that night so we could get an early start cooking Christmas dinner. And by early, of course I mean noon. We spent the day eating, drinking, exposing Joe (who is British) to American Christmas movies, and playing Cranium. I had never played Cranium before, but learned that I apparently do a fantastic Justin Timberlake impression. And I can spell backwards like a champ. It was a great weekend, and I am so thankful for the amazing group of friends I have here. But in all honesty, I’m looking forward to spending Christmas at home next year.

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