As I arrived at school today, I was surprised to see one of the English rooms’ lights were out. I was especially surprised because this is where I teach my first class on Wednesdays. While I may have been surprised, I was not worried. Being the foreign teacher, I am often the last to know about things. Later one of my co-teachers told me that today was career day.
Career day, of course! At my school we have a career day once a month. During this time, real professionals come to visit our school and teach about their career. These careers can be anything from police officers, to musicians, to flight attendants (flight attendants are incredibly professional in Korea). Career day is great for students! This is the time in their life when they are interested in many things; having various professionals explain their jobs is a great way to focus their goals. While I was in elementary school I don’t remember learning about too many different jobs (though I did discover that I wanted to be a paleontologist). It was in middle school that we truly began focusing on careers, though reading career almanacs was not very motivational.
In Korea, this early focus is especially important. Koreans are faced with many important tests throughout their younger years. Having a career in mind can help anchor the student when these stressful times are passing, and having a working professional teach the students about their job can help spark their interests.
Last week there was a terrible accident in South Korea. A ferry carrying mostly students capsized and sank with many of the passengers trapped inside. Since the accident, the whole country has been in mourning; school trips, parties, and even TV shows have been canceled in memory of the lives lost.
Here in Jochiwon, far from the coast, we have a memorial in front of the train station. It started with a few ribbons with words of prayer and condolence and quickly grew.
Most countries come together after a tragedy, an Korea is no exception. The whole country has been touched my this event.
My school likes to do group activities on Wednesdays. Usually we play volleyball, but last week we went to Magoksa. Actually, we went to the same temple almost exactly one year before.
Basically we just drove there, looked around, and ate dinner. The temple was decorated for the spring season; lots of people like to get out into nature when spring rolls around.
It was a fun day, and it is always nice to leave work early.
A group of girl students run up to me, point at me, and say “namja”. They then point at themselves and say “Yeoja”. The last piece of this puzzle was placed when they then begged “Satang!”. (namja: boy; yeoja: girl; satang: candy)
White Day (March 14) is a holiday in South Korea, Japan, China, and other Asian countries where boys give candy to girls. On Valentines Day the expected roles are switched and girls give candy to boys. Later, on April 14, there is a holiday called Black Day where single people go out together and have jajangmyeon (noodles with black soybean paste).
One of the most famous meals from Jeju Island is the grilled black pig. This meal was one of the best that I had on Jeju; it was greasy, smokey, and delicious!
It is cut a little different from korean samgyeobsal; on the outside pieces you can still see the pig hair in the skin. Though I did not try the skin, the rest of the pork was unbelievably good!
Udo is an island off the east end of Jeju. The name udo means cow island. I have heard that this is because locals think the profile of the island looks like a cow laying down. Udo is very well known for it’s peanuts; while I was on there I decided to try some ice cream with Udo peanuts on top. It was delicious!
Mount Hallasan is the tallest mountain in South Korea. It is a volcanic mountain centrally located on the island of Jeju. While I was in Jeju City, I stayed at a guest house that had a cat. One day the cat sat on a map of Jeju in the place of hallasan. Since “san” in korean means mountain, I decided to change the name of this scene to hallakoyangi; koyangi is korean for cat. Halla-cat!