Monday, May 16, 2005

When in Rome...er...Korea

You haven't partied until you've partied with Koreans.

This past weekend I was outside of Seoul for a retreat slash workshop weekend with my branch of Plus Academy (Chang-Dong) and the main branch (Junggae). We all got together at a Korean "resort" (not like it seems in the pictures let me tell you). We arrived on Saturday after a 2 1/2 hour bus ride from the city.

The first day was a little boring. We sat in meetings, which first were separated by language (Korean and English obviously). The English meeting was pretty crappy. It was just a bunch of complaining about what people hate about teaching English and how Plus sucks at stuff. Anyway, Rob and I played a tic tac toe-esque game to pass the time.
After we were all in a Korean meeting, they didn't speak English but the foreign teachers were expected to stay and listen anyway. Well, "supposed to," but Rob and I politely gave our seats away in a crowded room and decided to run down to the corner store and get some snacks and watch a bit of Tomb Raider in Rob's room to kill the time. Let's be serious, we were going to learn anything from that meeting, I mean geez, I'm still working on basic greetings, I'm not going to be able to pick up on Korean business.

Anyway, after all that the Korean party started. Dinner was an outdoor Korean bbq combined with an outdoor Noribang (aka Karaoke). It was crazy. Koreans really love Karaoke and they get super into it. They all circle up dancing and singing along and pretending they're at a concert. It's hillarious, you can't help but join in.

From there the party was shut down around 10 (yeah, I know), but it continued inside in the rooms at the hotel we stayed at. Me and a few other foreign teachers decided to "room hop" to different bunches of Koreans. We went in rooms with random Koreans who didn't speak English but somehow still managed to have an awesome time. It was really fun to just kick back and chill a little...and get to know the people that I work with everyday a little better.

Sunday was an interesting event. There were games scheduled, Korean games. I woke up in the morning from a Korean man opening my bedroom door yelling "STAND UP!" Pretty sure that was the only English word he could think of. So, after my couple hours of sleep that night, and my dreadful awakening (not to mention Amy, a foreign teacher from Junggae who was so bloody chipper I could have killed her--love her though!), I went downstairs and tried to choke down a lovely Korean breakfast--rice...mmm.

We all went outside to begin the games. Basically they pin Junngae against Chang-Dong and the winner gets $200. Sweet deal eh? So I was the pitcher for 2 games of the Korean version of California Kickball. It was actually a lot of fun despite the fact that I was pretty reluctant to play. After that we watched the men play Joku, which is basically volleyball but with your feet instead of your hands. They can do some crazy moves, let me tell you!

After there was the hula hoop race. Rob comes into play here. You stick four people in a hula hoop and you race around a cone. Definitely a funny event to watch. I was supposed to be in that one but one of the Korean teachers convinced me to trade her so that I could run the relay race and she could do hula hoops cause apparently they clued into the fact that I've played a little soccer in my past. Needless to say I ran the first leg of the relay and won...woo hoo! The Korean girls were pretty tiny, so trust me it's not going to my head anytime soon. However, I was saddened to watch my commanding lead lost by the two other Korean teachers on my team who didn't keep it up (hehe...I didn't really care too much).

After the games (Junggae won...boo!), we all hopped on our respective busses, after the group photos, and slept the entire way home.

This afternoon at work everyone arrived completly exhausted and reminising on the good and very strange times we had this weekend. I'm greatful that I was able to be a part of this Korean experience, it was a lot of fun.

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