Monday, February 17, 2003

Sorry for the lateness of this last update. Life seems to steamroller along here, as days turn into weeks, which turn into months.

As the weather slowly turns warmer, and winter fades into spring in Korea we're spending more and more time outdoors. I've begun to recruit some bodies for Ulsan's first Ultimate Frisbee team and we held our inaugural practice down by the Taehwa river recently. I use the term 'practice' loosely - it consisted mostly of tossing a disc around and slipping and sliding on the muddy fields.

Valentine's Day just passed, and Korea celebrates it kind of uniquely. On V-Day, it is only the women who are supposed to give their boyfriends/husbands gifts. One month later (on March 14th) is White Day, where the men reciprocate. I loaded up on chocolates from many of the girls that I teach, and Amy also gave me a big stash of sweets. The chocolates themselves come in strange little packages, with miniature coffee cups, chip/cracker boxes and cigarette packs all concealing little candies.

This past weekend, Amy and I had our first Hapkido test. We showed up to our Hapkido school in the afternoon on Saturday, to discover a field of shoes outside the front door. There must have been close to 100 kids packed into the gym! So much for remaining anonymous. The test kicked off with a display by the black belts who would run up walls and leap and tumble headfirst over a row of 8 kids crouched in a line - it was quite impressive! Next came the introductions of the Hapkido Federation officials who were on hand to witness the test. Then, one by one, each group came up to demonstrate the routines they had learned. We went up as the first group of white belts, and there was much made of the fact that we were foreigners and we were learning this Korean martial art. Or, at least that what I think was going on, as there was a lot of pointing, nodding and applause from the other students and parents who had gathered to watch. We ran through our routine of kicks, punches and rolls and then before we knew it, it was all done. We were now Yellow belts!

Sunday, Amy, Will and our friend Leigh headed out for yet another Hash run which this time departed from near the Ulsan airport and snaked it's way through the surrounding hills and valleys. Having completed his third run, Will received his hash name and 'Camel' now joined our ranks. The three of us, Amy, Will and I were pegged as the next Hash hares, so that means two weeks from now, we will have to go out and lay the course for the group. I'm sure that will present an interesting challenge!

Late Sunday night, our Director came over to our house and drove Amy and I to the airport to go and meet our new teacher. As some of you already know, Amy's good friend Megan is joining us as the third foreign teacher at our school. We were both quite excited to have her come and join us! Her plane arrived from Seoul at approximately 8:00pm and she was jetlagged, but generally quite excited to be in Korea. I can remember the very same feelings of apprehension, excitement and bewilderment when we first arrived. The next few weeks will be a crash course in Korean culture!

Next up, Seoul this weekend! More then...

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