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What I've Learned From Traveling and Living Abroad: The Short List

April 19th marks the five year anniversary of my big move from Smalltown, USA to the bustling metropolis that is Seoul, South Korea. I've lived out a number of exciting and unique experiences over the past few years that include riding elephants through the jungles of Thailand, working in the slums of India, camping with nomads in the Sahara Desert and teaching English to some of the most adorable children throughout Asia. I've made memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

Teach

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I saw ants wandering the crevasses of the sidewalk on this warm afternoon and realized that my journey here has come full circle. The trees that had lost their leaves, shivered and bloomed have again regained their strength to grow. In the day’s heat, my memories skip around from my first steps into Homeplus through blurry midnight taxi rides. But what I remember most are the students that I teach – the quirky, cute, struggling, hard-working and spirited bunch that I brightly say “Hi!” to every day, between every class. They have made up a large part of my life here, and although Korea has given me so much, these kids have undoubtedly given me the most.


The 52nd annual Jinhae Gunhangje Festival

In early April, I went to the 52nd annual Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (진해군항제) also known as the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. I don’t mind crowds and always have a good time at festivals in Korea, but surprisingly, I’ve never been to this festival before. It was great!

The city boasts that they have the most cherry blossom trees in the world. There are apparently 360,000 trees blossoming at once, if you’re curious.

Friends were discouraging me from going to the festival. Before I went to Jinhae, people were telling me that it would be too crowded (“everyone will be in your pictures” and “it’ll be so difficult to get there and back”), that the flowers had blossomed too early, and that it would rain. I still went, and I’m happy I did.


How Koreans Celebrate Their 70th Birthday

Last Sunday, my husband’s third uncle celebrated his 70th birthday known as 고희 (gohui) or 칠순 (chilsun) in Korea. Korean seniors have three special birthdays to celebrate: 환갑 (hwanggap or the 60th birthday), 고희/칠순 (gohui/chilsun or the 70th birthday) and 팔순 (palsun or the 80th birthday). Traditionally, the 60th birthday was the one celebrated lavishly, since in the olden days, few people lived to be 60, but now that the average life expectancy in Korea has risen due to medical advancement and better quality of life, some Koreans don’t celebrate the 60th birthday anymore. Instead, the celebration is done on their 70th (or 80th) birthday.

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Dear Korea #119 - Under Where?

 

Erp, looks like I’m a day late. It’s sad how long it usually takes me to recover from a particularly weird week. Here’s hoping I can do better next week! I am the worst (or best?) procrastinator in the world.

Yes, this is another comic about miniskirts. Now that the weather’s getting warmer, it’s hard to walk a block without seeing them.

The conversation in the panel was one I actually had with a friend who enjoys wearing miniskirts. After talking to a number of other people, the general consensus seems to be that wearing short shorts automatically makes miniskirts safe, so to speak. I honestly can’t say anything, as I don’t own any skirts. I’m still trying to figure out dresses.

Dem legs..


Universal Salvation Pavilion – Boje-ru (보제루)

Donghwasa

The Boje-ru Pavilion in the background behind the Cheonwangmun at Donghwasa Temple in Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

The next entry in the series of postings on rarely seen things you might encounter at a Korean temple or hermitage is the Boje-ru Pavilion.



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