Trip Start Dec 11, 2008
Trip End Dec 13, 2009

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

In the past, the thought of having a lesson observed would have struck the fear of God into me, but thesedays I am more relaxed about it. I think it stems from experience, as I know now that I can handle a classroom full of kids and still create a good lesson. So I was perfectly at ease during my journalism class, and it went like a complete dream - probably my best performance so far. The head teacher approached me afterwards and was full of praise, and it felt nice to have finally laid that particular ghost to bed.

Unfortunately, I woke up the next morning with a really bad sore throat, and my symptoms got worse throughout the day. My cheeks were red raw, yet I had goose pimples on my arms, and was shivering uncontrollably on the way home! Anyway, I had a terrible night with headaches and deliriousness, so I decided to take a sick day on the Friday, which goes against the Korean mentality, but my contract states that I am entitled to five throughout the year.

I went to a nearby hospital in order to get a doctor's note, and a prescription to hopefully make me feel better. It was an experience as there wasn't much in the way of English, and I felt like death warmed up, but I managed to get through it ok. Juli brought me a bag of goodies including soup, water and herbal tea - she is very motherly and I will miss her when she is gone. She is quite indecisive, but it is now official that she'll leave when her contract expires in May...

I had a really quiet weekend watching movies I'd downloaded, as well as the entire second series of Auf Wiedersehen Pet! It was awful timing as my Taiwanese friend was in Seoul and I'd hoped to meet her and her friends, but I simply wasn't up to it. Thankfully I had recovered enough to meet Eun ju late on Sunday, and we enjoyed a nice Sam-gyeop-sal barbecue meal and a pleasant stroll along the river...

It was an uneventful week at work, with the only real incident coming on Wednesday. A co-worker's father had died and so we were expected to visit the funeral home after work. It was another last minute request, and Hew simply couldn't make it due to other plans, but I felt that this was a must-attend, and I'm glad that I made the effort. The place was an hour away by car, and once there we were required to bow in front of the shrine, express our condolences, and then enjoy some food and soju as a way of celebrating the man's life. Although obviously a sad occasion, it was interesting to see how a traditional Korean funeral unfolds, and I do feel that it created a stronger bond between my workmates and I.

With the cherry blossom on the verge of making an appearance in Seoul, coupled with my brother's visit at the end of April, I knew that my next weekend jaunt would be the last for a while. I'd decided to take a quick trip to Danyang, a mere two hour bus ride away, primarily to see Korea's most unique temple - Guinsa. As mentioned previously, the ambience of a temple always has a positive effect, and this one was no different as I strolled around the maze-like paths in relative solitude.

Danyang was a pretty quiet place, and I didn't see any other foreigners during my entire stay. Some children were quite surprised to see me, and proceeded to shout things like "Who are you?" and then "I love you!" It was pretty funny, and I was glad that I'd decided to stay overnight as I found a really impressive hotel that allowed me to relax on the huge double bed, and watch some of the football.

It was nice to get back to my apartment the next day and do some spring cleaning of all things - I really was in a good mood! It was understandable given that I have so much to look forward to in the near future, starting with the beautiful but all-too-brief cherry blossom season...
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