Spring springs!

Trip Start Jun 29, 2006
Trip End Jun 26, 2007

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Spring readers!
I am happy to report that Spring in South Korea is lovely! But let's back up a little, because it was still Winter when I last updated...

I celebrated my 23rd birthday in style this year - even though a number of my friends could not come out and celebrate (mostly caused by living in Seoul or having to take a TOEIC the next day). It was essentially a three-day celebration! On Friday my co-workers bought a cake and sang happy birthday at lunch. After work, Stephen, Melissa, Brandon, and I headed to Mugeodong for a night at Yes! with Byoungsoo, John, and Hwany. Byoungsoo brought me a cake and because the new Yes! didn't have it's sound/light system set up, the staff came over and sang happy birthday in Korean. It was probably cooler than the typical way (the lights go off and music plays while they announce to the restaurant that it's somebody's birthday). Jaeyoung and most of the regular staff were there, so it was such a special night!

On Saturday (my actual birthday) I had to wake up early. At 10:00, half an hour early, students showed up. Stephen was sleeping but I ended up hosting a small party for four students! They brought food and birthday gifts - it was really cute. Except for the fact that they would beat on Stephen's door and yell at him. It wasn't just him I was concerned about, it was the poor neighbors! It was actually an interesting group of girls- they're in 5th/6th grade and one wasn't even my student! The other three had only been my students for a week or so! After a few hours they went home and I was able to take a nap and relax while trying to plan the night. I ended up meeting Yoonsoo in Samsandong for a sashimi dinner. Melissa and Stephen came, then Youngwoo showed up for a bit, Brandon arrived, and even Youngin stopped by! We found out that Youngwoo and his wife are pregnant, too!! They're expecting this October. After dinner we left the Koreans and headed back towards the university. I had word that Daejin was in town - and sure enough we met him in Mugeodong!! I hadn't seen Daejin since we went to the Mariner's game last May. Such a nice occasion. Good sports Byoungsoo and John showed up for a second night (how great!!!), Yuran showed up, and we hung out at Oeso for a while. Yuran brought a most delicious cake, too, so we had another cake and singing episode. Afterwards we went downstairs to this little park and lit our sparklers and small fireworks. The waeguks (foreigners) and Daejin headed to Purple Haze where we got free tequila shots for my birthday! However, Daejin and I drank most of them hahaha. We played foosball, danced, and played pool (Daejin even broke the pool stick and Brandon crawled under the table). Then it was off to noraebang at a creepy place called Demolition - it's decorated like Alien/Predator and was so strange. But it was fun and after that we called it a night.
The next day I got to meet up with Youngin and JP for sashimi lunch. I hadn't seen JP since I was helping Youngin study back in September. Youngin and I played some arcade games and did a little shopping before I headed home to meet the waeguks and Daejin (a surprise since he was supposedly leaving early in the afternoon) for some homemade cake by Stephen! In case you haven't been keeping track, that's four birthday cakes!!

The next week was split up by a holiday on Thursday - but it wasn't a free day for my school. Our staff had  "Membership Training" which is a very Korean thing. All the teachers and our director drove a few hours away to Jiri Mountain. We did some walking, had some great breakfast in the Jirisan Shimwon Valley, then went up into the mountains to start some hiking. It was an interesting experience, since most of the girls aren't fans of hiking. There was still some ice/snow on the ground, but it wasn't too cold. It was however, very windy at the peaks! Jirisan is a huge range, but we just hiked for a few hours, going to Nogodan Platform. Later we were off to Seongsamjae and HwaGaeJangTeo, a traditional local country market. I didn't buy anything but it was nice to look around. We came back to Ulsan that night and we were glad to be back earlier than scheduled, since we did have to work the next day!

We had a fun dinner at Oh!My Dak the next night, meeting more of Kang's friends. Both Byoungsoo's came, Jeon (who studied at BU), Miranda, Gyoungmin, Fred, and two others. Stephen, Brandon, and Kang were there of course. Afterwards, Kang and Jeon came to Yes! with us to play some poker. On Saturday, Stephen and I went to Samsandong to get a GRE book and met up with Melissa and Brandon. We ended up walking along the river to Shinae, where Melissa and Stephen got a picture with a promo crew for the Ulsan Hyundai Football Club. Later we went to Oeso and met John and his friend from military service, Hyounga. We went to Yes! for a bit and then played pool. Afterwards we went to another soju bar, where Ballack works!! John's friend didn't speak much English but he was fun.

Sunday was the season's first soccer game at Munsu. Melissa, Stephen, Brandon and I went, only to see our Hyundai Tigers tie with Gyoungnam. It was a fun game, despite the rain and cold! It was also one of the busiest games I've ever been to (and it wasn't that busy). Then it was some Italian food for dinner and some arcarde games before wrapping up our weekend.

I headed to the university on Monday for a couple of reasons. I wanted to see Kumari, the Sri Lankan girl that had been in my Korean class and was now in Stephen's. I also thought I'd say hello to Wonkyo, who never showed up for my birthday and didn't answer any calls. I also saw Hwany and had coffee with Youngin. I really went to support John and his English club. Since it was a new school year, it was recruiting week for all the clubs. So I stopped by the UECC table and visited with John and Tom.

I started meeting Melissa most weekdays for a morning walk -sometimes we would walk up part of Munsusan, but then we tried the resevoir one day and it became our favorite spot. It's a good walk - 45 minutes out to where we usually stop. It's more and more beautiful everytime, too because of the flowers and trees waking up.

The next weekend was Melissa's birthday! We celebrated Friday night at Yes! with Brandon, Stephen, Kang, both Byoungsoos, Miranda, and two more Koreans. They did the whole lights off thing and another birthday boy came over and gave Melissa a shot of bamboo soju. On Saturday I met Melissa for a kimbap lunch and later that day we met with Stephen and Brandon to head to Busan. We had some Mexican food for dinner, did some shopping, and went to Haeundae beach to play with sparklers and fireworks. Then we met Hugh (Melissa's Aussie friend) and started the party! We went to U2, a bar at the beach. Then it was across town in two taxis to a new "wine bar" called Moe's Lounge, which was full of foreigners but very cool. We had some red wine and I had a drink called "Monkey's Lunch" which was delicious. We met some Brits and Hugh's ex-coworker Katie (Korean) came. Then it was back across town in a taxi (we conned the driver into letting five of us ride) for some drinks and dancing at the Vinyl Underground, then later, drinks (including Irish Car Bombs) at Ol'55. We were in Busan all night - literally, because we had to wait for the subway to start running to go home! Around 4:30 or so I was getting fed up just sitting at Ol'55 since I had stopped drinking around 3. Melissa and I had gone for some kimbap with a Korean guy we met, but just sitting around was not cutting it for an all-night extravaganza. So despite our not so pleasant memories of the Vinyl (it was so smoky it was hard to breathe, esp if you wanted to dance), Melissa and I went back. People were asleep at the bar and it was pretty dead. But the DJ was still spinning and a couple Koreans were on the edge of the dancefloor. Stephen joined us and we started dancing. It got a few other people out onto the floor, but then Stephen left with Brandon to go noraebang. Melissa and I stayed, but before long she went over to a table and fell asleep, so I was dancing my butt off alone. However, a bit later a couple new Koreans showed up and the two guys decided that they wanted to dance. I danced with one of them for a bit but it was nearing 6 at this point and the boys showed up to take us home. It's funny, the Korean's name was Manho. We got on the subway and rode the long way across town, then grabbed a bus to Ulsan. We all fell asleep on the bus, but thankfully Stephen woke up in time to get off in Mugeodong. We all caught taxis home, arriving in Cheonsang at 8:30. That evening, one of my students came over (as planned) with another girl who was a former student and her little brother. It was a play date. We watched TV, played gonggi, played computer games, ate and drank, and then they finally went home almost three hours later.

That Monday our school started having Staff Meetings again. Before Stephen and I were told to come to them, but a few minutes into our first one they realized there wasn't much point and it was frustrating. However, these new meetings appear to be consistent, including the message - be stricter, have more control, make the children concentrate. I laugh inside as I nod and say ok. On Wednesday March 14th, it was "White Day" - a very Asian holiday. Koreans take Valentine's day as a day for girls to get their boyfriends something. White day, one month later, is when the boys return the favor. I got candy from students, which is always cute. When the weekend came, we spent another Friday night at Yes! with Kang, Fred, another Korean, and four foreigners (Vicki, Shanti, Matt, and Shaunna). Kang had worked with one before and the others were friends. We played poker and then I called it a night. The next day was St. Patrick's day, and I met Melissa for lunch. Then I headed into Mugeodong to meet Stephen, Gyoungmin, Brandon, and Jaeyoung (our favorite tall guy from Yes!) We went to the soccer game and met Stephen's Korean classmate, Antonio from Ecuador. We saw the Tigers win by one and Jaeyoung gave Brandon his old away jersey! Stephen, Brandon, Gyoungmin, and I headed to Oh!My Dak where we met Kang, Fred, Hwany and a friend, Melissa, Yoonsoo, and Hyunji (who I hadn't seen since AIP - even though I went to Alabama!). The Korean boys left, and the waeguks and Korean girls went to Yes! where we had one of the few nights where girls outnumber the boys (not to mention that there were no Korean boys at all!) I really was in a different situation than usual. Sunday afternoon was spent wandering around Shinae, eating Japenese food for lunch, and watching the Illusionist with Stephen and Melissa.

The next week started with another staff meeting and we had another split week with no school on Wednesday (I'm not sure why). Stephen was gone all day, so I spent the day cleaning the apartment (it was the first day of Spring afterall). I kept meeting Melissa for our walks, and that Friday we walked to the post office and then Beomseo. Friday night was super duper fun. The waeguks started out at Oeso with both Byoungsoos and their friend Aeri. Then later John and Alex (who I hadn't gotten to meet before) showed up. Both Byoungsoos and Aeri left and we were about to get ditched by John and Alex too. They were supposed to go meet their juniors from UECC, and they didn't want us coming because they were scared to speak English. I told John to pull rank as a senior and tell them too bad, esp since it is an English club!! He did, so we stocked up on some snacks and soju before heading to the unviersity to hang out at the UECC club room (in the club room they tend to drink maccholi, but we prefer soju). So we went and had a fabulous night with John, Alex, Tom, Johnny, Ryver, Moto, and Deokseo. After drinking and eating, many of the boys left, including Stephen, and the rest of us played poker until 5:30 in the morning. When we left it was pouring rain, and we got soaked. It was such a fun night though.

Saturday was laid back. I went over to Brandon's in the afternoon and we went in search of lunch. We ended up getting chicken and we sat at the place for about two hours, eating and talking. The lady even left us alone at one point to go make a delivery. We met up with Stephen later and went Essboarding down by the river. We ended up meeting some kids and playing soccer with them before going to Mugeodong to meet friends. We met Melissa, Kang, and new friend Yanghwa for some Japanese food and drinking. Kang had to leave a bit later, so the rest of us went to Yes. On Sunday, I met Brandon and Youngwoo in Samsandong for a lunch date. Afterwards, Brandon and I walked to Shinae, met Melissa and Stephen, walked to Daundong and went Essboarding. Melissa went home, while the boys and I went for some dinner, then walked to Mugeodong to meet Yuran. Unfortunately that meeting ended up being cancelled, so we just wandered and played some arcade games before heading home.

A fun-filled March. April's already started off well, but I'll post more about that later -- it's cherry blossom time and I've got a busy day today!
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