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Monday, May 9, 2011

Mugunghwa!

The first three are from the Hampyeong Butterfly Festival... a little boat ride, some pig chasing and beautiful butterflies!






The highlight of my week was my day off on Thursday (Children's Day). Mom… are you ready for this, here is your Mother's Day gift… I love you and…I got a tattoo. Ahhhhh… I know what you're thinking family, but it's in a hidden place (the outside of my right foot). I have been thinking about this since September and I told myself that if I still wanted it in spring, it was going to happen. The tattoo is a Korean word, written in Hangul (the Korean language). The word is mugunghwa which is the Korean national flower. The flower is a hibiscus, it represents ever lasting life, love, determination, prosperity and hope. The people of Korea live by this flower's meaning. They put the hibiscus on sides of buildings, on cabinets, refrigerators, wall paper, etc. In my apartment, there is a hibiscus print all over my curtains, cabinets and on my wardrobe. I have learned to live by its meaning as well. This flower's strongest meaning is determination and that is something that I will always carry with me. In the hardest of times, I have been able to fight through the pain and sorrow with determination until I reach prosperity. I was just thinking about myself this time last year. I was graduating from college on this same weekend a year ago. I have grown in so many ways since then. I have learned what it means to be an adult and to make it on my own. Not currently but…I have been stressed to no end and homesick.. I've learned how to push through it and find the light at the end of the tunnel. I've learned how to make it in a country where English is not the first language. After living here, I feel like I can do so much in life. I have learned a lot of life lessons thanks to Korea. With all that being said, I wanted this tattoo to forever remember my amazing journey in South Korea.

After a great day off, we had to go back to work on Friday.. ugh! I hate how all these holidays fall in the middle of the week. Why am I complaining, it's a day off from my TNE hell! Tuesday is another holiday, yay! Thank goodness for Buddha's birthday! Anyway.. this weekend was lovely, as most are! It was supposed to rain all day Saturday but I don't know what happened, I didn't see one drop! My friend Molly and I went to a little town about 40 minutes away, Hampyeong. Hampyeong is known for it's beautiful butterflies and every year at this time, they hold a 10 day butterfly festival. Usually these little festivals are kind of corny but this one was extremely well done and so much fun. The flowers were incredible and the plethora of butterflies were just amazing! The festival stretched out over a huge area of land. Not only were many types of flowers and butterflies but there was a farm, an amassment park full of rides, mud fishing, a variety of food vendors, gift shops, museums, train rides through the park, pig/chicken/duck chases/races and swan paddle boats. The swan paddle boats were a must. The man running the swan paddle boats saw two white girls coming and he reached down into the bottom of the box for the largest life vests he could find… this is so typical. No matter how small you are, if you're white, the Koreans always think you are way bigger than you actually are. My life vest was so giant that I had trouble catching my breath. The damn thing was choking me! Minus the choking, the day was fantastic!

Molly and I were having so much fun together, we didn't want it to end. We continued our day "date" late into the night. We drank wine while listening to what reminds us of home, more specifically, our dads….James Taylor and Neil Young… good feelin music! We reminisced about our child hood until we were good and tipsy then it was time to head downtown. We danced and sang until the wee hours of the morning. Good old Saturday nights in Korea!

I don't know what's better… a fun filled adventurous day with one of my best girls or a relaxing evening of at home with my boyfriend, scary movies and a tasty meal!? Well luckily, I enjoyed it all! Thank god we don't have school Tuesday… it's wearing me out and I want one more relaxing day with my boy!

I'm crossing my fingers that I get paid this month… ahh, my school is hangin on by a limb and they are trying so hard to put off paying us. It's so, so sad and pathetic. Some people live paycheck to paycheck.. I don't think they would do very well here. I still can't understand why we are going on this extravagant vacation to the Philippines in a few weeks? Don't get me wrong, I can't wait. It just seems a bit silly to be going on this vacation when school can hardly afford to pay us.


Korean Facts/ Randomness:

-Sunday was Parents Day… a little history about this special Korea holiday: In South Korea, May is the month for families. May 5th denotes Children's Day while May 8th reflects as Parent's Day. Originally called Mother's Day, 8th of May is now celebrated as Parent's Day in South Korea. This was done to make the fathers feel that they are not alienated. Parents Day, just like Mother's day or Father's Day, is meant to commemorate the efforts of the parents in building up their children - physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially. Though there is no national holiday declared on 8th of May, Parent's Day is still deemed as one of the special days in South Korea's yearly calendar. The recent times have not only modernized one's thought processes, but also one's expression of emotions. People in South Korea are now giving their parents cosmetic surgery as a gift for Parent's Day. Face lifts, botox treatments and hair transplants, to enhance the look of the parents and to make them young again, are common resorts by children in the 21st century. In this fast paced world, a day like this helps us to realize and thank our parents- our mentor and guide who have made us what we are today.

-It is incredibly hard to find bathing suits here… well, other than sport bathing suits. I am looking for something that shows a little skin but is tasteful. I am going to the Philippines at the end of the month with my co-workers and the entire Korean staff. I feel a little awkward wearing my tiny bikinis. I hope I can find something!
-If your a size bigger than a 4… from what I've heard, it is hell to go shopping. They don't make any big sizes. If you see something bigger that you want to just try on or even buy for a friend, they give you a dirty look and tell you, "oh, I don't think this is what you're looking for"… it's like a scene out of Pretty Woman. This country has encouraged me to slim down cause I love to shop.
-It's bad enough they don't make shoe sizes bigger than an 8 and if they do, there is not much of a variety in that size… it gets worse… no bra sizes bigger than a B cup. Thank god I have tiny boobs… if only my feet were the same, dammit! Occasionally, you will see a woman with larger breasts. These women have to get their bras made specially, order them, wear spot bras or go to Seoul. Sorry to all my big breasted friends!
-The yellow dust from China is here and its killing us all. It's very similar to pollen but ugh, so much worse!

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