Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
As seen during the day and at night, the street I walk on every day to get either to the market, the store, or the PC Bang (for internet access, yay!)
One of my Sunday drives, this time headed to the Chungju Dam.
The skyline in the morning
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
"You are sunrise--You are blue skies!
How could I know the morning if I knew not midnight?
You're my horizon--you're the light of new dawn.
So thank you, thank you, [Father...]
that after a long night You are sunrise!"
-N. Nordeman, "Sunrise"
Two songs have ministered to me in particular. The first, "Te Veo," which means "I See You," describes different places in which the speaker finds a glimpse of God: "en la noche," at night; "en la luz," in the light; "en la sonrisa y en el amor," in a smile and in love. "Veo tu mano guiandome," he says-- I see your hand guiding me. He speaks of feeling God's hand on his life and being able to hear God's word and voice. The crux of the song comes down to the chorus: "Eres tan fiel y no hay razon que me haga dudar de tu corazón... Siempre eres fiel." You are so faithful and thre is no reason to make me doubt your heart; you are always faithful.
If there were anything in the world that would make someone doubt God, surely moving to a foreign country ranks high on the list. If there were anything to make someone feel as if they cannot hear God, surely being a woman alone, a femme sole, without any familiar face or comfort or covering, would be one of them. Surely losing your luggage or your contact or being unable to read simple signs or communicate to the grocery clerk--surely those circumstances would cause a man to doubt! And yet...
I had a friend tell me before I left that he thought my desire to go wasn't a good idea. "It's not a wise decision," he said. "If none of the pieces are falling together like they should, then it's probably not from God." And yet, the moment he said it I was at best a month away from leaving! I had only to pack and obtain my visa! From the moment I heard about the opportunity, peices fell together: God released me from my living situation and allowed me to move back home; my then-employer could not have been more cooporative with my desire to go and asked only that I keep them informed; within a month from starting to gather my documents, a willing sponsor was found to interview me and offer employment; my visa was granted and issued with enough time for me to leave just three days after receiving it. From the start of the whole story, I could say like Romero, "Veo tu mano guiandome; siempre eres fiel." I can see your hand guiding me. The LORD has surely proved Himself to be faithful in this venture!
The second song, "Aquí Estoy" (Here I Am), speaks of God searching the world over for a faithful servant. "No tienes que buscar a nadie mas," reads the chorus. "Yo quiero ir. Aquí está mi tiempo; aquí están mis horas. Aqui estoy yo." You don't have to look for anyone else: Here is my time; here am I. The speaker confesses that he doesn't want to lose the talents and gifts given him, but give them back in a way that God could use. "Mi vida es para ti," he says. My life is for you. Away from the comforts of home, a confession like this grips my heart and makes me remember why I came: "Aquí estoy, Señor; here I am." It convicts me not to sit on my haunches and let time (and my talents) seep through the cracks in my building. It reminds me that even here--6,000 miles from home, as literally far away as you can get from American, Texan normal--selfishness and laziness still reside. My issues didn't dissolve when I jumped ship for Korea. They may not have magnified, but I still carried them with me. Here the flesh lives on just as much as in America. Here, it still requires a fight.
I used to think that if only I could get somewhere else--to another country!--my life would be all the easier. But sitting on the floor of that other country, I realize that's an illusion: You can't escape life. The best you can do is choose to live it differently from now on. Jesus Adrián reminds me how to do that. One shouldn't make a trip like mine impulsively, but deliberately--consciously choosing to say to God, "Here I am."
Friday, November 20, 2009
This is the shack that houses the ceramic kimchi fermenting pots
(the red lids on the ground).
This is a traditional Koreah kitchen. They usually boil water in the iron pots and use the lids as frying pans. The square openings in the concrete are for lighting the fire. If only I could take this set up on my next camping trip!
As part of the adventure, we were given a tour of the facilities. These ceramic pots are used to ferment the community's soybeans and red peppers into paste, staples of the Korean diet.
The friend that I made while I was chopping cabbage!
The odd hot chocolate-y, peanut-butter-y beverage that is reported to be good for your health. I hear it can sometimes stand in for meals.
Monday, November 16, 2009
The first church I visited, a mix of Presbytarian and Methodist, was encouraging and welcoming to me because I found it familiar. I took comfort in looking over the Korean hymnal for songs that I could recognize. When we sang one, my heart soared and my voice rose as my English mingled with their Korean, just as it will when we are gathered together around the Throne of Grace in eternity. The LORD spoke to me in my heart language through that hymn: "Here I raise mine Ebenezer"--here I remind myself of the LORD's faithfulness--"hither by Thy help I'm come"--by His hand I've arrived in Korea--"and I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home"--the LORD will keep me safe until He sends me back to the States. It reminded me of how transient my stay in Korea will be, but it was such a comfort knowing that He has brought me even here and will keep me until my time here is complete.
The second church I visited, a larger, completely Presbytarian congregation, was comforting in other ways. This time, I had no hymn book; and I found no song or word that I recognized. The choir was beautiful and the message was apearantly well received, but I couldn't connect with any of it because I couldn't understand. Instead, I focused on the basic elements of the service that didn't require a knowledge of Korean but a knowledge of God. David had mentioned to me that it was a thanksgiving service. I was struck by how many times in the service they stopped and prayed as a congregation. Though I couldn't understand anything else, I picked out one word: "Ko-map-sam-nida," thank you. It felt so refreshing that they brought a sacrifice of thanksgiving as an offering to the LORD, as a ministry to Him, corporately.
As the service ended, the congregation was asked to greet those around them and thank them for coming (as far as I could gather). I was greeted by several ladies, one of them an old woman with a pink coat, who welcomed me emphatically with her gestures and facial expressions. She spoke in rapid Korean, none of which I understood, motioning with her hands for me to follow her "up." By this time, David, with whom I had come, needing to tend to an emergency, had disappeared; I was alone without a translator or an English-speaking counterpart. Spotting the pink coat in the crowd, I followed her out the sanctuary and down the stairs to my right. I was greeted by another woman in the process who said, "pan-gap-sam-nida," which is "Nice to meet you." I felt oddly welcomed in the teeming masses headed toward the Fellowship Hall for lunch. It felt like these women went out of their way to make me feel at home.
I later found David and we ate the meal prepared for us. I felt a bit like a celebrity because so many strangers came to me and welcomed me in Korean, one of them even giving me a hug. I was thankful for and receptive of their kindness and hospitality. Again, I felt like an Old Testament foreigner coming to worship YHWH at the Jewish Temple, accepted in the midst of the Levites and other tribes.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Brandon and Andy have joked for the last couple of weeks that I should teach their classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I never really considered it because I had my own classes to teach and I didn't want to be a glorified substitute. I guess the real reason why I hadn't considered it was laziness; I kind of enjoyed not having anything to do and just didn't want any more work. Andy asked me again today if I would take one of them, this time somewhat seriously. He said it might be an easy class and, for reasons that I can't quite identify, I decided to give it a try. I'm really glad I chose to; it ended up as the highlight of my day. It was really fun and energetic, though at times too loud and riotous. But, all in all, the kids responded well and I think I'd do it again.
The kids were studying a book called Sounds Fun!, which focuses on building vocabulary. The lesson seemed simple enough: review the words and have the students fill out pages in the book with crossword puzzles and matching sets. But I didn't just want to throw seatwork at them--and what would I do when they finished? As I had brought from the States a method book for teaching vocabulary, I consulted it to find a game or activity that would reenforce the words I wanted to teach. I wasn't interested in having the students learn "a list" of words; I wanted the words to sink deeply into their knowledge base. But the sheets and activities I found all centered around a deeper knowledge than these students had capacity for, due to the language barrier. I guess that meant I was back to square one in my planning.
An idea began to form in my head: What if I found pictures that more accurately illustrated the students' words than the simplistic drawings in the book? What if I came up with my own activity? Instead of just drawing lines to the pictures--because that, after all, was part of their seatwork--what if I had them figure out the word first and then match it to the pictures? I began to get very excited about this new "game" I came up with and hoped that I had enough time to do it. In my planning, I had put together a word search for the kids and had already decided to do that first.
The lesson for the day morphed into a lesson in spelling. To help the kids with this fundamental, I adapted a game that I had put together in my time at Believers Academy. Basically, it's a relay: students group into teams and individually run to the board to write down whatever it is that you have them practicing, whether a grammatical something, musical notation, or spelling words. To save time and increase a sense of urgency during the game, you can leave the answers up till the end and afterwards go over them for accuracy with the class. One point is given to the team who finishes first, but points are also given for correctness; the fastest team isn't neccessarily the winner. The kids at BA really enjoyed it, so I thought it would be a good extension activity for Andy's students.
Mercifully, Andy had warned me that the kids get a little uncontrollable during games. He suggested I limit mine to ten minutes. I was never so thankful for his advice than when I stood in front of his class this afternoon trying to get them to calm down! Just before we quit the game, I began to feel a sense of futile frustration at the constant rise in volume. We literally were able to play the game for no more than ten minutes, which was just enough time to have everyone go once. After the activity, I decided to pass out my fun worksheet instead of the word search, since it reenforced spelling and better complimented the class' structure. I was quite surprised at how fast the kids worked; some of them were even able to start the other worksheet before the end of class.
Today's class was surprisingly enjoyable to teach. I'm not sure what I liked more: preparing or being up in front of the classroom. The kids seemed to enjoy me being there and once I established certain rules, like when to be quiet, they were largely obedient. Even though the game was a bit chaotic, it was kid-friendly. It felt really good to teach them something and better still to have shared with them a little part of myself.
Another great thing about teaching adults is that they have a measure of freedom to engage in activities that interest them. Andy and Brandon have told me a story or two about about the adult class inviting them to several activities. My student, Jenny, asked me a couple of weeks ago if she, Brandon, Andy, and I could go out for dinner one night; this, of course, morphed into the whole gang coming along. We had it planned for last Wednesday, but things didn't pan out. We ended up going out as a group last night (11-11) to a place called Cherry Blossom, a buffet-style "family restaurant" (so they advertize). It was so elegant--and, by far, the best dining experience I've had this side of the Pacific! It wasn't the kind of southern "family style" I'm used to, like Bill Miller's or Luby's, but it was beautiful and the food was delicious! I tried sushi, some sort of veggie summer roll, rice with caviar, and even found some good ol' fashioned p'tata salad! (And don't forget two slices of Korean watermelon) It wasn't "southern," but I s'pose it was good enough!
After dinner, we sat around talking for a little while. It was all very pleasant, the conversation centering mostly around me and what Texas was like (if all the houses are so spread out). Andy and I bantered back and forth about which state was better, mine or his (California)--and I won the debate by "ki-bi-bo," Rock-Paper-Scissors. Things got a bit heated when the question was asked if I was comfortable "living with" the guys. I must have turned red-faced, for I quickly righted their mistake. "We live in the same apartment building," I said. "But we had different rooms." We later adjourned outside for a photo and a ride back to our apartments. It was a wonderful night, one I hope we can soon repeat.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I didn't have a chance to tell my grandparents goodbye before I left the States. I just wanted to to tell them how sorry I felt and apologize for not telling them when I was leaving. My brother had had a going away party when he left the States a couple of years ago, but I had no such plan. I mentioned to my grandma that "we'd have to have an impromptu send-off paty when I left." As I was unsure of the final departure date until a few days before, things were last-minute at best. My grandpa called me the Saturday that I left, as I was 30 minutes away from flying out of the country, to ask what I was up to.
"I'm in Los Angeles," I said, "getting ready to board the plane."
"Well, thanks for letting us know!"
I felt like a bit of a heel after that. Here were two people (not to mention the others in my family that I didn't get to see) that were so supportive of my decision--and I didn't even see before I left! I felt so bad about it that I thought about taking an early trip back home just to see them. My grandpa reassured me this morning. He said they could dwell on the regrets of those moments, "but the Lord knew the events of that week, too." My grandma was also understanding. "You were very busy those last few days," she told me.
After they said those things, I felt so released, like it was okay for me to enjoy myself here. I didn't feel the need to come back so soon, as if things were already set right. Being proud of me for going far outweighed any regrets that they had about me leaving.
My grandpa was so encouraging this morning! I've never heard him speak about Christ as passionately or as heavy with conviction as he did tday. He said that he tells people that he can see God's hand in me being over in Korea; he knows that the LORD will protect me and provide for me as I'm here. I started crying during the conversation from sheer surprise--I hadn't expected to be so encouraged. God surely brings His word and His encouragement from such amazing places!
Friday, November 6, 2009
An example comes from my second cousin, Mary (her uncle Bill is my grandfather). We were chatting on Facebook yesterday afternoon (Korean time) when she mentioned that she wanted to get to my blog updates before Uncle [Grandpa] Bill did. I told her that he seems proud of me for going all the way to Korea. She confessed that it was a very central part of his life. A vague something went off in my head when she said that; it wasn't surprising, as if the same conversation had taken place years earlier. I thought back to my grandfather's recent comment on his blog about my adventure: "Show your support, family." I remember going to the Yucatan for a week two years ago and something vaguely suggests that he might have said something like that then... But I don't know if he knew about it.
As another example, yesterday I asked one of my co-workers, Lauren, to find out how much it costs to call the US on my cell phone, as I had already made two such calls. I relayed the good news to the guys I work with, that it was only 9,630 won (about $9) for an hour. Andy commented, "[$50-$60] is about how much it would be to call on a US cell phone, though." Thinking back on the incident, it feels like it was much, much earlier than yesterday, as if this were a duplicate of something that had happened years ago. I wasn't surprised by the numbers.
All of these events feel like deja-vu. I've heard a couple of theories about this phenomenon: One, that it's a sign that you're directly in the will of God. And two, that sometimes there's a glitch (of sorts) in your brain and the memory makes it to long-term storage before it makes it to the short-term. It kind of feels as if both may be happening in this case. Maybe I've jst been absorbing so much because of the newness of everything and my heightened senses. Maybe it's like being born: You're never more alert in your whole life than you are in the first few weeks of life because of the environment you were just thrust into. You have to learn, to adapt, in order to survive. Maybe I've just been learning so much these last couple of weeks. At any rate, if the frequency of these "glitchtes" is any indication, I must be quite in the will of God!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
While hospitals in the States tend to look clean, crisp, and bright, the one I visited in Chungju was very dim and dusty. American hospitals are usually supplied with bright, florescent bulbs spaced profusely throughout the ceilings to insure adequate lighting; here, no such accomodations were present. Lighting was intermitten, at best. Even the colors used to decorate showed the difference between the two places: Hospitals in the States tend to be white with blue or a muted maroon, but this one was brown, yellowish, and an off-white, almost gray. The colors could habe been due to the lighting, yes. The floor itself was unique: If memory serves, there was a pervasive red line to one side of the hall that, presumably, led to different offices or corridors. Also, I noticed a dingy, bumpy yellow strip down the center of the aisle (present also along sidewalks outside), which, I learned, was an aid to guide the blind.
The hospital itself gave the impression of going to a doctor's office, rather than a clinic or full hospital. There seemed to be no hierachy of space, no separation between the lobby and the sanitary hospital halls. The nurses' desk, which looked like the receptionist's station, was mostly wooden, adding to that same feel. Little offices seemed to be around every corner. When I went to have my eyes checked, I followed Lauren into a room that could have been a filing room, as full as it looked with papers and well-dressed office staff. I read a standard eyesight chart on a wall that looked like it was from another era. The room reminded me of what a 1950s library or secretary's office might have looked like. This contrasted with the weight machine that the staff had me step onto: it was completely digital. Whereas I am used to manual scales that balance with actual weights and a manual ruler, this device took my weight digitally and automatically brought down a stick to measure my height. I was so impressed!
Bodily fluids seemed to be handled more carelessly than in the States. For example, in the US nurses who take your blood usually wear special gloves, put you in a separate room, and quarantine any equipment which comes in contact with blood. Here, my blood was taken in a small room that looked like another office. I was asked to put my arm up on what looked like a secretary's desk! Lauren assured me that the needle was sanitary and that the procedure itself was safe. Though I have no doubts about that, I couldn't get over how vastly different the same procedure would have been in the US. Urine taken for drug tests also seems to be handled differently. In the States, the attending nurse usually gives you a sealed plastic jar with your name on it. I remember needing to sign affidavits the last time I had a drug test done. But here, all they give you (or at least all they gave me) is small Dixie cup, no name, no affidavit, nothing to prevent me from contaminating the sample.
Though I have to keep in mind Lauren's comment that this hospital was different than most in the country, I still find the contrast between the procedural habbits of medical staff in both countries to be immense. This may not be how it is everywhere in Korea, but I certainly find it shocking to note that it is still present somewhere.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
For lunch, I decided to make one of my favorite childhood dishes, Two-Bean Chili--which became No-bean chili when I couldn't find the beans. I added chips and salsa as an appetizer to make the whole meal have a more Tex-Mex kind of flair, just the way I like it. As this was my first attempt at salsa, it turned into pico de gallo instead. Because Korea hasn't discovered tortilla chips yet (or at least I haven't discovered them here), I settled for Sun chips--which I thought was an unexpected but tasty find. I tried my pico for the first time before the girls arrived and noticed it had quite a kick; I congratulated myself on my culinary prowess, until days later I discovered that I hadn't seen the chili pepper on the side of my chip package. I guess I made gringo pico, after all. Any pico at all is still impressive in Korea, I think.
The girls arrived promptly at 12:30. They had brought with them Korean snacks, tea, and ramen noodles as gifts. The gesture made me feel accepted into their lives and culture. Apparently Koreans waste no time, because in the first moments of entering the apartment, Liz grabbed her throat and confessed, "Teacher, teacher, I thirsty." I laughed a little, gave her a drink, and we all sat down to eat. They seemed to really enjoy the meal; I don't know how different it is from their regular fare. I greatly enjoyed it because it reminded me of home and my family. It was a little sweet, but just spicy enough for me to appreciate. I asked if it was too spicy for them and they said no. What I made was probably extremely mild in comparisson to what they're used to.
After lunch, they asked me if I wanted to go shopping. I had been secretly hoping that they would go with me, anticipating the day just so I could ask. Since I had nothing else to do until 8 p.m. that day, it was set. They wanted to go see a movie first and then go shopping, but it turned out that the action thriller they had picked out (one of only two English movies availible) was rated R and they were only 17. I wouldn't have enjoyed the movie even if we had gone. It was the first time I had been to a theater, though, so it was good for me to look around. Because of a shortage of space, Korean theaters are considerably smaller than San Antonio theaters and have shops inside them, which I found surprising. This one reminded me of the one at the Quarry Market because we had to go up an escalat0r to get to it, but it was much less decorated.
As seeing the movie was a bust, our second stop was to find stationery. We went into a very girly store called Comma, which reminds me a lot of a bigger version of Claire's. They sell things from notebooks to watches, even to little tea sets. I hadn't been in it yet because each time I had passed it, I was with Andy and Brandon and I figured they wouldn't have enjoyed it very much. After Comma, I told them that I wanted to find some knee-high boots, so we stepped into a shoe store.
I have to confess: shoes in Korea are outlandish at best, though there are some occasional muted styles. As we browsed the iasles of the store, I found shoes that were a cross between lace-ups and high-heeled pumps. I didn't think I could pull off a style like that, so I kept looking. I've noticed a lot of people wearing them on the streets, though. They seem to be functional--keeping your shoe attached to your foot when normal pumps tend to slip off--so they could be worth a try. But I was there for boots, not more tennis shoes. I found some brown leather high-heeled boots. They're not cowboy boots, mind you, but they go up almost to my knee and seem to be very warm. The girls helped me find my size--a 250 in Korean sizes-- and I bought them for 39,000 won, which I thought was a steal considering the cost amounted to less than $37 USD. You can't really find a good, fashionable shoe like that, especially boots, in the States for that little.
After the shoe store, we decided to browse a clothing store to do some window shopping. Come to find out, my fashion leaves a lot to be desired in the eyes of a Korean teenager. According to my young guides, I need to wear baggy shorts with stockings and a one-size-too-large plaid button-down shirt in order to be fashionable. If I didn't like that, I could always wear an oversized sweater with leggings. They picked out outfits for me that I probably would never wear and Liz tried to find me a nice hoodie. I actually found a cropped blazer that I thought would be nice, but couldn't find it in my size.
I needn't have worried about the spice, because during our outing, they took me to a street vendor to have "a snack" called dok-bo-ke (which can also be eaten as a meal), thick rice noodles lathered in a sauce made from Korean red peppers. It was way too much for me to handle! I may have eaten 2 two-inch noodles from the whole plate and I still thought it was hot! Th girls just snacked away, as if there were nothing wrong. If I couldn't have handled intense Mexican food back home, I'm not sure why I decided to come to Korea. Thankfully, they also ordered some fried rice noodles wrapped in seaweed for me to try, which was almost bland in comparisson.
The outing was wonderful, all in all. I learned a bit of Korean consumer-culture and introduced my young friends to a bit of southern pride. It would be wonderful to do it all over again.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Over the last month, as I have prepared documents and slimmed down my possessions, the LORD has opened a job for me in South Korea. At the beginning of September, my recruiting agency informed me of an opening in a public school which needed to be filled by the end of the month. I was so excited--could I be leaving in less than 30 days? I filled out the application, wrote a cute essay, and sent it in. After a week, I hadn't heard anything and really began to doubt if I were ever going to get a job overseas--because apparently, I wasn't getting that one.
I really began to get discouraged. At the same time, the agency sent me four or five other referrals that I could look into at my liesure. If the public school didn't work, I could try those. Before I really had time to look into that, however, Footprints called me. "I have excellent news for you, Jennifer," they said. "Learning Well School in Chungju is interested in interviewing you for an immediate position." Footprints set up the interview for me for early the following week. It was a 45-minute phone call that went very well. The next day, my interviewer offered me the job and sent a contract via email.
Much ground was covered in the interview. The interviewer, the director of the school, told me a little about the school and the city where I would live. Learning Well is a private language institute, or hogwan. It's about 90 miles or so outside of Seuol. Chungju is a smaller city with 300,000 people (less than a third of San Antonio!) surrounded by the mountains. I would be provided a room and transportation to and from the school. The school itself has many English-speaking teachers, but I'm not sure how many are native speakers. It sounds as if the school and staff will be very supportive in my efforts. The director seemed very interested in my teaching background and wanted to know if I could incorporate music into my lessons. Another thing he was interested in is my relationship with Christ. "I hear you are a Christian," he said. "I'm a seeker myself." I'm not sure what that means, but I know I need to go prepared.
Since the intherview, I have sent my documents to Korea and have been waiting on a visa approval number. Once I have that, I can then contact the Consulate in Houston and send them documents for my visa. I got an email from the school yesterday that asked if I could be ready to go by the end of the week. Dad's response to that was, "If your bags were packed and the taxi was waiting out front, I still don't think you could make it by Friday." It's a bit of an unrealistic dream. I still have to wait a minimum of four days for my visa, which puts me at a departure date of no less than the middle of next week. And I don't have my approval number yet. It won't be very long, however, once I do get it. As I told my director, "All I really have to do [now] is pack."
Things are heating up as I spend my last days in the United States. Something may happen and I could, like a friend of mine, spend more "last days" here than I thought I would, but if everything pans out the way circumstances are going right now, I may be leaving in as little as two weeks from this day (October 7). It's an exciting time, indeed.
The first weekend I was here, Brandon and Andy (in the pink shirt pictured at right, singing a duet with Mary, an ex-pat from upstate New York) took me to meet their social circle, English-speaking ex-patriots from three different countries, New Zealand, Australia, and the good ol' US of A. We met at a nice outdoor cafe for coffee or tea and good conversation. Then we moved the party to a bar for a couple of round of darts. I played the guys in one game, with my partner Laura, and was promptly beaten in the second by Mary and Carly. They, of course, beat two more guys in the final round of the night. After the darts, we walked to something called a "nuray-bang," a karoake bar with private rooms for you and all your friends to sing together. I didn't sing much because I knew that 99% of the songs in the playbook, which has both Korean and English selections, would be unfamiliar to me. It was an interesting experience: It almost felt like we were in someone's house and were playing with their karoake machine on a big-screen TV.
Andy and Brandon have taken me to other things besides the nuray-bang as well. Almost every night for last two weeks, we've gone out to dinner and last Saturday, Brandon and I went to a lounge to hear another ex-pat from America play acustic guitar and original music. I greatly enjoy going to dinner because I feel like I'm engaging the culture. It gives me an opportunity to use what little Korean I know, learn more Korean, and observe how differently they do things. It also allows me a chance to practice my new-found chopstick skills! The lounge was also really beautiful because it was nestled at the foot of a mountain next to an apple orchard. It was small with a capacity for no more than 35-40 people, which gave it a very intimate atmosphere. The music was peaceful and intriguing and the view, even in the dark, was beautiful from the spacious balcony windows.
My Friday nights and weekends have definitely looked different than those in the States! But we don't just go out; sometimes we've stayed in. Friday night, for example, the same friends that I met the week before held a Halloween party, complete with costumes and a scary movie. We watched "The Thing," which left a lot to be desired as far as movies go. I don't do scary movies at all, so I really didn't care for the selection. But it felt good to be included. While I was there, Chungju's resident foreignor, Matt, invited us to a party at his apartment the following evening. The party at Matt's was really fun. We had Indian food that his wife made for us, played "Apples to Apples," and watched another movie, this time "Clue." I enjoyed that movie way better, only because Clue is one of my favorite games!
In the States, I would have only done these things as special occasions or if someone invited me, which was somewhat of a rarity. Though they are definitely treats for me, it feels good to experience the life of another thriving community.