Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ten Years, Ten Memories

 Next Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of my arrival in Korea as a terrified greenie - a fact that astonished both myself and my Dark Lord and Master (who was the largest part of the reason I was terrified back in those days - it took me a while to realize he was just a big bunny rabbit) when we discussed it on my way through Seoul at the beginning of July.  To celebrate, I'm setting the Wayback Machine to count down a memory each day from each of those ten years to share with you....

The problem with doing one memory for each year you've lived abroad is that unless you moved at the beginning of January, you're really looking at 11 calendar years.  I've solved that problem by ringing in my first memory with the time we rang out 2004.  Another reason Korea was hard for me at first was because I didn't quite fit with the teachers who were at GDA when I got there.  One of the wonderful things about being Mormon, though, is you'll always have a second place to look for friends, and the Seoul English Branch is where I found my first friends overseas.  It was wonderful, because it had the eclectic mix of black sheep you expect to find teaching English in Korea, but with the added bonus of us all sharing the same standards.
We started our New Year's Eve at Bennigan's by Seoul Station, and then packed our way onto the subway to go to Jongno 3-ga.  It's an intersection in central Seoul that has a big bell tower named Bosingak, and that night it was packed with tons of people.  What would New Year's be without some fireworks, you may ask, and that's a great question - we obviously had some sparklers.  What the photo doesn't show you is that lots of people (including my friends) had Roman candles, which we were shooting into the air over this crowded intersection next to an old, wooden pavilion.
There was also swinging.  And swaying.  And music playing.  We were dancing in the street.  Over the three years I lived in Seoul I came to love their traditional drumming and dancing, and it was impossible to resist being swept up into the action.
How much do I love Korea?  SO much.  I've told you so many times you probably want to barf every time I start.  One of the many, MANY reasons is the fact that it's a night owl's paradise.  Not everything is open 24 hours, but it's damn close.  When everything finally ground to a halt in Jongno we went to Hongdae.  It's a university area and the only place I've really ever gone "clubbing."  We found a cafe and warmed up for a while before going to look for a DVDbang.  We picked out a couple of movies and split into the two rooms set up as personal home theaters.  Somehow most of us stayed awake - I remember the movie my group watched being really good.

We ended the night at the 63 building - a skyscraper in the financial district that has an observation deck.  We watched the first sunrise of 2005 from there, and I felt I was finally starting to feel at home in Korea. 

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