Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Christmas Ron!

Merry Christmas! Or at this point, Merry Day After Christmas in Which Everyone Sleeps In and Eats Leftovers. Ah, leftovers. How I miss them so.

The week leading up to Christmas was the strangest thing. Not because anything out of the ordinary happened but because everything was so ordinary. I got up everyday, ate breakfast/lunch, browsed the interwebs, went to work, came home, ate dinner, rinsed, and repeated. There was no rushing around trying to find last minute gifts or baking mounds of Christmas cookies or wrapping presents into the wee hours of the night or taking advantage of Amazon's holiday shipping to make sure that so-and-so got just the right such-and-such gift. It was incredibly bizarre.

It wasn't the easiest week either because obviously spending the holidays away from loved ones never is but on the whole I'm pleased to say that I digested it a lot better than I'd expected to. Wednesday night I went for dinner with a few of the other teachers and at the end of the meal they surprised me with a belated birthday cake that the waiter brought out. It was such a nice gesture and it made me feel loads better about being so far from home on my birthday. Plus I now know that Korean dessert cake looks like a box made of French Toast with big scoops of ice cream in the middle. Om nom nom nom.

After dinner we went to the local watering hole for drinks and darts and a while after that we ended up at a noraebang (노래방) aka Korean karaoke. The few times I ever did karaoke in the US was actually at a Korean karaoke place near my college campus. It's different from the typical bar karaoke you might think of in that you get a private room with your own TV screen and books filled with songs. They had plenty of English songs and to borrow a favorite phrase of a friend back home, it was a pretty absurd time, but in the best possible way.

The rest of the week wasn't bad either. Here are some flattering pictures of me that some of my students drew on Thursday:
On Friday, Christmas Eve, I brought in candy for my kids and our boss gave us all Christmas cards which apparently he's never done in the past. He doesn't interact with us a whole lot, in part because there's this whole chain of communication thing at CDI where the teachers and the boss both go through the head instructor and also I've heard he's uncomfortable with his English speaking abilities. So I actually got nervous when all of a sudden he came into my homeroom. I had a Christmas song playing and I turned it off real quick but he was just like, "Merry Christmas Carly!" and handed me the card. It was nice of him.

Oh and we had a cake too.
Like I said, Christmas cakes are hugely popular in Korea and as I was passing the bakeries on Christmas Eve I could see boxes piled against the windows going all the way up to the ceiling in preparation for the holiday rush.

Working on Christmas Eve was lame but to be honest I'm lucky that Christmas fell on a Saturday this year or I'd have been working then too. After work there was a Christmas party nearby that a friend of a few of the teachers was having. That was a good time and then Saturday I slept in a bit before heading upstairs to Brianna's, who was hosting (an afternoon) Christmas morning for the teachers at our branch.
We did Secret Santa and then Brianna and another teacher, Heather, each bought small gifts for everyone so that we would all have a few things to open. Most of us showed up in pajamas and we made a big breakfast of muffins, pancakes, sausages, home fries, and scrambled eggs. I helped out in the kitchen making pancakes and eggs and that actually made it feel much more, uh, Christmassy-er for me, the whole hustle and bustle of it all.

When breakfast was made we ate and watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation then opened presents. I ended up with a decent haul that included a fleece blanket, soju juice boxes, and snack that is amusingly named Dick Stick.
Then we watched Elf and everyone headed back to our respective apartments for a few hours to nap and such. The timing actually worked out nicely because when it was 10:30pm here, my family was getting up at 8:30am so I watched them opening presents over Skype. Mostly I hadn't wanted to miss out on my niece and nephew opening presents from Santa and I was really happy I could "be there" for that. My niece tried to give me some M&M's through the screen, it was so cute.

After I hung up with my family I went back out to meet up with everyone for drinks. It was low key but that was good. People just hung out and talked and I was glad we stayed close by because it'd been a tiring week and I was looking forward to just sleeping in once the night was over. Which I did, until 2 this afternoon. Glorious.

So on the whole a pretty good Christmas. That the other teachers put so much effort into making it feel like Christmas for everyone and making sure that everyone had some place to celebrate meant a lot. I very easily could have spent the day alone eating cereal and downloading The Santa Claus so I'm more than happy with how the day turned out.

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, however you may have celebrated and whoever with :)

Trivia of the Day: Taekwondo (태권도) is the national sport of Korea and one of the country's most famous sports. According to ancient Korean history, soldiers learned taekwondo as a principal source of physical training. Besides fighting skills, taekwondo is known to enhance the spirit of the practitioner, through its mind and body training. Taekwondo has become an official Olympic sport, starting as a demonstration event in 1988 and becoming an official medal event in 2000. In Korean, tae (태, 跆) means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon (권, 拳) means "to strike or break with fist"; and do (도, 道) means "way," "method," or "art." Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as "the art of the foot and fist" or "the art of kicking and punching."

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