One of the great things about my employer (Ulsan Metropolitian Office of Education) is that they really want us (native teachers) to EXPERIENCE Korea. They offer trips and outings of various kinds to bond with fellow teachers as well as learn more about the country, its history, its sites, and its culture. I applied for 4 different trips being offered, but due to limited space, I was only able to get into 1 trip and 1 cultural experience.
My cultural experience was to visit a fellow teacher's house and spend the evening there. Many teachers at my school make every effort to make me feel welcome. They try their best to interact with me, despite the language barrier (for both of us). Turned out that I to go to one of the 6th grade classes' teacher's house.
For the ride, my colleague asked me if I wanted "country road….eh… city road" to his home. I chose the "country road" as to take in the beautiful scenery. He actually lives near Mt. Ganwol, which is a mountain about 12 teachers and I hiked a week prior. BEAUTIFUL area. He lives on the 15th floor of an apartment building– thank God for the elevator!! 🙂 He, his wife and two children (a 6th grade boy and a 4th grade girl) live in a sizely 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment complete with a nice balcony. I was beginning to think I got the shaft when I saw that his daughter's room is larger than my whole apartment. lol [really, I love my apartment though and am very happy with it] She also had a full sized piano in her room, which I later learned she can play quite well.
We went out to eat- bbq- my favorite~ as he knows from observing my lunchroom habits, and commented to his wife "Kasham loves meat." We returned to the apartment after dinner, played some traditional Korean games [which was a hoot] ate fruit, drank tea, and chatted one another up as much as our gesturing and limited language compatibility would allow.
It was a wonderful time! I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to do that. Not only do I feel closer to my fellow teacher, but I know that learning took place. I learned about their culture, and some Korean words and customs. They practiced their English. I know my life was enriched and I hope theirs is too. They were making plans with me for "next time" so I think they enjoyed it as well.
Phrase I kept saying in my head all that night: I LOVE MY LIFE!!!