Goodbye 2012!

January 

February

  • The Daejeon Science Museum is amazing!
  • Yujin and Minseok’s birthday – our bartender friends ^_^
  • The Love Collective gave us the iconic “Bear man!”
  • The Ice Room in Seoul was memorable!
  • One of the comfort women we met in the House of Sharing

March

  • Matt’s birthday!
  • Again…Chumpi is a beast~
  • Crazy downtown costume dancer lol

April

  • My friends in the Daegu 10k
  • Our Jinhae trip
  • Our Salsa performance
  • Trying sundae AGAIN before our trip to Nami island

May 

  • 2ne1 gave a free concert at the Yeongnam University Festival
  • Goejae island was a beautiful trip

June

  • Analie, Patty &  I went on a trip to Cheongseong
  • The Musical Revue show
  • Learning “Happy Birthday” in Korean class
  • My beautiful wonderful students
  • Yeonjung’s wedding
  • I graduated from my Korean class

July

  • Paragliding
  • Helping out at the International Children’s Games
  • Alice in Wonderland Camp
  • Date with a Teacher program
  • 2ne1 Concert!
  • The Beijing morning market

August

  • The Great Wall
  • Eating Scorpions outside our hostel
  • Our train ride in Taiwan
  • Whitewater rafting in Taiwan
  • Taepei
  • Oppa-ya Daegu Style” performing at the Bodypainting festival

September

October

  • Hanging out on a rooftop near downtown
  • The last few months of this year were me in a hospital for various reasons :/
  • Halloween was epic!

November

  • Patty left for America 
  • I got involved a lot more with a group at my church working with sex trafficking organizations
  • I voted for the first time ever!
  • The last Musical Revue show
  • Sillyness occurs
  • Alice in America-land was a hit
  • Thanksgiving was almost just like home
  • Donghyeon was born!

December

  • Filmed a trailer for a short film
  • Our Christmas party included nunchucks
  • and Jenga
  • It snowed a lot this month! 3 Fridays in a row!

And of course, as is the expat life, there were a few people to say goodbye to this year:

Friends from 2012
Friends 11

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Childbirth in Korea: Yeonjung’s Baby!

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My friend YeonJung had a baby this past November 19th ^_^. Giving birth here in Korea is interesting on various levels. Most importantly though, I felt so honored that my friend let me be part of the process – letting us visit while she was still in the hospital. Especially being a foreigner  I felt blessed to be allowed into this other world and she was patient enough to tell me about it lol. I hope you enjoy the video, it really surprised me how culturally different childbirth is in Korea and America. 

Traditions

Pre birth

  • Traditionally, the Korean culture is hierarchical, with the role of the Korean woman being submissive to the husband and the husband’s family, especially the mother-in-law. So like many Asian countries, it was very desirable to give birth to boys who were treated with special care; especially first born boys. In the old days, to only have girls was not only grounds for divorce, but a surrogate mom may have been sought out to provide the family with a male child. Women often prayed and made offerings to the samshin halmoni ( 삼신 할머니 grandmother spirit), the Big Dipper, mountain spirits, Buddha, and to certain rocks and trees considered to be sacred. According to the myth of Korea’s founding, such an offering was made by the mother of Tan-gun, the founder of Korea, under a large tree before his birth.

    삼신 할머니 Samshin Halmoni

  • The pregnant woman was expected to only look at ‘beautiful’ things. This practice is called taekyo 태교. Everything she ate, felt, thought or saw could influence the physical appearance of the baby. She could only eat foods that were unblemished and had to avoid broken or crooked pieces of fruit, cookies, vegetable, etc.Pregnant mothers are not to show pain during delivery as this is a sign of shame and weakness. All the women in this interview declined pain medication for these reasons.
  • Another aspect of taekyo is similar to our Western prenatal rituals, and focuses on the relationship between the baby and the mother. Usually this means focusing on reading to the baby, music, meditation, etc. 
  • Then there is the belief in taemong 태몽. “Tae” means womb and “Mong” means a dream. So if the baby’s parents or grandparent’s dream of flowers then it indicates the baby will be a boy. Dreams of fruit, and the baby will be a girl (Source2009 Selin). Here is a good video about it: Youtube taemong 태몽 Conception dreaming

Labor & Delivery

  • Pregnant mothers are not to show pain during delivery as this is a sign of shame and weakness. She was expected to be silent so as to focus all her body energy into ‘chi’ – natural energy. (source1source2

After the Birth

  • Upon the birth of a child, a straw rope, or geumchul 금줄, is hung across the gate to the house. These talismans are used to frighten away evil spirits as well as to warn people not to enter the premises, as a child has recently been born. If more children are desired, the placenta and afterbirth are burned under the eaves of the house. If no more children are desired, these are burned some distance from the house, usually in a clean, sunny place on the side of a mountain. The ashes are often scattered to the winds or in a river. (source)
  • geumchul 금줄
  • The mother eats seaweed soup ( miyeok guk 미역국, the same one that students cannot eat during exam time ) since it was to clean out the toxins from childbirth and was to be eaten by the mother for four weeks after giving birth. And because of its healthful properties, might have it three times a day over the next 2-3 months. It contains a high content of calcium and iodine, nutrients that are important for nursing mothers. Many women consume it during the pregnancy phase as well. It is also traditionally eaten on birthdays for this reason, a reminder of the first food that the mother has eaten and passed on to her newborn through her milk, thus bringing good fortune for the rest of the year. 미역국 Miyeok guk childbirth seaweed soup in korea
  • According to Korean practice, a new mother is supposed to cover up with blankets and keep warm to protect her loose bones; if a mother fails to do so, she may suffer from bone pain or rheumatism in her old age. Childbirth in Korea - staying warm
  • A mother is really taken care of after childbirth, she doesn’t get kicked out of the hospital after 2 or 3 days (natural birth) or a week (cesarean birth). Though the price in America may just be the reason to get out! In Korea, giving birth is a few thousand dollars cheaper. After birth, the mother stays usually for about 2 weeks. The mother is pampered. It’s very different from America. I found this interesting article from a Korean woman who married an America and gave birth in America, and how she dealt with the culture shock
  • A baby is not named for a while! Parents try to give their child a good name so that their child can live a healthy, happy, and successful life, but naming a child is not an easy task! Korean parents who believe that their child’s fortune is determined by its name often defer to naming specialists, believing that there are many factors to consider such as saju (사주 the “Four Pillars” – the year, month, day and hour of one´s birth) and eumyangohaeng (음양오행 the theory of yin and yang, and the five elements that constitute the universe). Naming specialists usually decide on a name one of two ways: by finding good Chinese characters for names proposed by the parents or by suggesting two or three names for the parents to choose from. A visit to the naming specialist can cost anywhere from 100,000 won to a million won ($100 – $1,000). (source)

YeonJung’s Baby!

 

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From Korea With Love by Alex A-che is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The Spain Culture Function! 스페인문화원 송년행사

On December 19th, Jiseon invited me to the the Spanish Cultural Center at the Inter-burgo Hotel. Various universities came with their Spanish departments to celebrate the Spanish culture. It was fun seeing the food – especially the paella (a dish from Spain). We sipped wine, spoke Spanish and had a blast watching Marcos introduce the piñata culture to the Koreans. 

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Jiseon (right) along with my new friend Lim. We get together on Mondays in downtown Daegu and chat in Spanish! It’s nice speaking my native tongue over tea and scones ^_^ 

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Marcos (who use to teach Spanish at Keimyung University) and Liliana (who teaches Spanish at Yeongnam University) 

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The Spanish professor from Daegu Catholic University.

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Marcos explaining the history of the piñata. Piñatas are most commonly associated with Mexico, but their origins are considered to be in China. The idea of breaking a container filled with treats came to Europe in the 14th century, where the name, from the Italian “pignatta” was introduced. Marcos said originally they had 7 points -representing the 7 deadly sins. The candy inside represents goodness so thus you would break through the “sin” to get to the good. 

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Liliana made some Aztecan style food, it was great! Buñuelos are first known to have been consumed among Spain’s Morisco population. It typically consist of a simple, wheat-based yeast dough, often flavored with anise, that is thinly rolled, cut or shaped into individual pieces, then fried and finished off with a sweet topping. Buñuelos may be filled with a variety of things, sweet or savoury. They can be round in ball shapes or disc shaped. They taste like Funnel Cake! 

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With Dave and Jiseon. Hehe, Dave was saying all night “No hablo español” and then there would be confused faces as he would begin to speak Korean and the Koreans had to revert back to Korean. 

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I got to dance salsa! Haha, I’m sure I embarrassed Dave and begged him to even though no one was dancing. I was determined to get one song out of the night. Can’t go to a spanish party and NOT dance! 

A Week in Photos #9

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Since Masan, I ate burritos for like 4 days straight…so like a total of 12? ^__^ Yeah, I know I know…but I needed to savor the awesomeness that is cilantro. Jiseon came over and we made guacamole. Sadly the avocado was not ripe so it had no strong flavor and was hard as a rock. We got creative and steamed it until soft. Adding lemon solved it all. It was amaaazing. 

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I’ve been rocking these awesome new slippers that Chris sent me from back home. Oh he knows me too well lol. I could probably almost outdo Cookie Monster in a Cookie Eating Race. 

Patient in a Korean hospital

As per usual, I had to make a run to the hospital for another checkup for my school. Thankfully I made a case for myself and made sure I didn’t have to get ANOTHER x-ray done. Woo hoo …no radiation! And then I saw this woman, and she made the stressful visit a bit more humorous. Hehee shopping with an IV still in her arm. Epic. 


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I went skiing this past weekend to Phoenix Park, located in the same city that the 2018 Olympic Games will take place in. It was epic! Mostly because I thought I was going to die (since I always get pretty hurt every time I go skiing). But the weather was perfect! no wind at ALL and so it wasn’t even cold! And it was natural snow. PLUS, it was really foggy but only at the top of the mountain. It was surreal skiing through it, quiet beautiful! Most of all, I did pretty well actually~! I was shocked! 

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My students finished their exams so really I’ve become a babysitter this week. I hate when exams are at the beginning of the week. Throws my whole schedule off. So here is one of my favorite students watching a Korean drama, because it’s filled with “handsome boys” according to them. I let them watch and explain to me in English, but I had to laugh as I looked up and saw Lisa knitting. I laughed and told her that she looked like an ajumma (technically a married woman, but we use it to just mean old) knitting away while watching soap operas. 

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Dory left this past week so it was another goodbye. I went to her house to hang out and here she is showing off her awesome 90’s folder she actually had brought from the States. 
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The cold here has become unbearable! (>_<) I’ve lost two pairs of boots to the wet cold weather. Oh well, at least that means shopping is a must! lol  
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My students are picking up their new textbooks for next year. In Korea, the school term starts in March (Not in September). I was a little sad because these 2nd graders are picking up their 3rd grade books (aka their 9th grade books) and I won’t be teaching them since I only teach the first two grades in middle school. Sad! 

Transformer Santa in Korea

And of course it’s Christmas tomorrow! So cannot wait to spend time with awesome wonderful people here ^_^