Friday, September 9, 2011


Ms Yun, one of my co-teachers, is one of the sweetest people I've ever met! She's always the one who looks out for me, gives me snacks and drinks between classes when she thinks I'm getting tired or thirsty, hunts down medicine for me if I'm sick and being obstinate about going to the doctor, bullies me into actually going to the doctor, and actually tells me about changes to my schedhule. Sure, she says some weird stuff sometimes, but it's always because she's trying to give me good advice, despite the age difference and generation gap - for example, warning me that if I go out at night to Chungdae (one of the university areas and the main drinking area in Cheongju), I should catch a taxi home rather than a bus because there can be dangerous people on buses and I might get mugged. I didn't have the heart to tell her that the buses have usually stopped running a good few hours before. She's also the one who has been trying to reassure me (unsuccessfully) over the past few weeks that tanning is actually popular in Korea these days amongst the very rich (not because I said anything, I must just have started getting darker over summer). Anyway, the sudden declaration of this affection has good cause - she just brought me a huge box of songpyeon, sweet rice cakes filled with either red beans or (my favourites!) honey and ground sesame seeds or chestnuts etc. This was probably because a) when discussing Chuseok plans, I had told her that I was keen to try actually making some myself, but that I'd heard it was a little difficult and b) just because! Perhaps because she isn't married and doesn't have any children of her own, she's very gentle to the students most of the time (sometimes too gentle! But she can really bring the rain if needed) and looks out for me like a close aunt would. She got a bit upset last year when I gave her a Christmas present because I hadn't told her that I was going to and so she hadn't prepared anything for me, despite me trying to tell her that it was fine, and I just wanted to give her a present to say thankyou.

Anyway, so thanks to this very generous present, as well as some wonderful care packages that I received on Tuesday, just exactly when I was feeling down and really needed the love, I'm sure to have a brilliant Chuseok. For those of you wondering, Chuseok is the Autumn lunar harvest festival - Koreans keep telling me that it's 'Korean Thanksgiving' but it's really much better, as we get three days off (hooray for a five day weekend!) and of course there are lots and lots of jeon (lightly battered fried foods and savoury pancakes), songpyeon and ricecakes around! Which is lovely if you like ricecakes like I do ^_^ It's traditionally a time to spend with your family where you commemorate your ancestors, so most Koreans return to their hometowns at this time and the women of course spend a lot of time cooking the food for this and for their families, although apparently these days many are increasingly using it as an excuse for a short overseas holiday. So a big thanks to Ms Yun, Lara (aka KBFF) and Nat (aka City Pug)! You guys rock! ^_^

To everyone else:

Happy Chuseok!

"Have a happy and warm Chuseok!"

"Have a good [merry] Chuseok!"

(I couldn't decide which Chuseok picture I liked best so here they both are)


I must have mentioned wanting to make songpyeon more than I realised - that or my co-teachers know how hard it is and are trying to spare me the agony - because another co-teacher, Ms Kwon, just gave me another huge box of songpyeon. Serious songpyeon overload! I distributed them to my co-workers in my office and asked them to keep it a secret :) Michelle and Edithe, if you read this, you are both expected to help me eat the other box! If you haven't, hehe... surprise! ^_^

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