Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 7 already?

While the days have felt long they've passed in a blur of activity. No doubt, if I were to mention this to one of the EPIK co-ordinators, this would be attributed to the "dynamic" qualities of Korea.

Sunday our entire massive EPIK mob went to Jeonju Historical Village, photos of which can be viewed in our photostream. JHV actually seems to consist of two villages, the really really old Buddhist temples filled with giant Buddha statues and chanting monks and the also fairly old but more active town where the people who sell stuff in the shops catering to tourists coming to JHV live.

The temples were pretty impressive. There were several set up around a big square and each had its own attendant monk in orange banging on a small drum and chanting. The chanting was actually very melodious and if I had not had a large crowd of other blue-shirted teachers-to-be at my back pressing to see inside I would have liked to stay and listen for awhile. Leading into the village were a series of gateways all with special significance explained exhaustively (in Korean, of course) by plaques. They were filled with large wooden statues of what I think are either gods or demons but feel free to decide for yourself.

There was also a HUGE Buddha statue that was, at the very least, 20 feet tall. It was hard to get a picture that truly conveyed it's size but if you look carefully at this photo you can kind of see the statue behind the pillar in the upper left-hand corner and compare it to the monk in the lower right. I'm not sure how old the statue is but according to a sign outside (in English for once) the temple built to house it was erected in 766 (a.d. or b.c. not specified).

Following the temple there was much meandering about the village and some Bibimbap consumption (a specialty of the city). Bibimbap is a concoction of various vegetables, token shreds of meat, rice, and copious quantities of chili pepper sauce. The whole mess is served pretty arranged in a bowl and then is mixed together by the consumer. It was really, really spicy. Really. I thought I liked spicy food but Korea has shown me that I am yet but a novice.

Two days of lectures later I went out for a night on the town with some fellow EPIKers. Koreans really like their neon. I mean, really. Bright lights everywhere. We went to a place called Boobi Boobi (oh yes) where we squeezed into a little booth and had some flavored soju. Afterwards we went to a almost deserted club (it was a Tuesday night) and I got to dance with a very brave Korean boy (brave because all his friends were too busy cowering in the corner to dance with us americans). I have been told (/threatened) there will be pictures of this on facebook.

I'm running out of steam (and time) so I'm going to wrap this up. I'll try to post a little more regularly since, as I see now, this is just way too much for one post. Also, family and friends, please leave comments! I miss you guys.

Edit: I just opened up the comments to all posters, so sorry for those of who who may have tried to comment and couldn't. It should work now!


  1. I love the hanging fish and the monks and the crazy colorful stuff for sale on the street. Your photos are SO GREAT!! Wish I was there to say "wow!" with you!

  2. Sophie -- I too just finished my first week of teaching and understand many of your frustrations. Believe me, American kids can stare blankly at you too. ANd, I've put more than one 7th grade boy "in a corner" for shouting out.

    I think bringing your aritistic/creative talent to your school day will both a terrific ice breaker AND a great way to connect with the kids. Also, they will get a sense of your humor.

    Simplifying your language must be hard when you have such an extensive vocabulary ... and do mean extensive. Consider it a challenge, kind of like the 1940s book cover I picked up recently at the Flea Market. "American History Told in One Syllable Words. I can't figure it out, but maybe you can.

    I'm glad you are sharing what you learn about teaching and living with others in your position. You can all learn from each other.

    I'm in NH. Tomorrow I take your Nana to her MD appointments, following up on on the wonderful care your mom gave her while she was here. She's got Nana on quite the homeopathic regimen ... have you ever heard of Antler Velvet?

    A hug and a kiss from here. Go forth and learn the little buggers something good. And, ultimately if what they learn is that Americans can be kind and that it is fun to think out of the box, than so be it. You've succeeded. (Rewatch The Sound of Music for inspiriation. You know, "Do, a deer ....)

    Love you lots,