This past weekend the foreign teachers in town went on a Cultural Excursion.
FIRST STOP… Hanok Village! This village houses traditional Korean Style Houses. The houses are on stilts, and the “village” also houses a copy of a portrait of one of their beloved Kings. BUT while the village hosts the copy of the portrait, the ORIGINAL was also on display while we were there (it’s only on display for 15 days!).
Inside the portrait museum in the village we were able to see some of the history of South Korea, and sit in a “King’s Chair”. We learned interesting facts such as the background that can ONLY be painted in the King’s portraits, and how you can look at the armor of the higher class members and determine if they are a Prince, King, etc. (Spoiler – its all about the dragon claws!)
After Hanok Village we had lunch and then it was ARTS & CRAFTS!! We made jewelry boxes out of Rice Paper and Seaweed glue.
While we waited for our crafts to dry, we headed off to learn how to make traditional Bibimbap – MY FAVORITE!!! We watched the teachers make it, and then they let us loose to do it ourselves. We split into 2 groups and got to it! Afterwards, we all scarfed it down and it was DE-LISH-OUS!!!
Then we were off to get some more culture…WEDDING TIME!!! We learned about a traditional Korean wedding, and even got to act it out!
Here’s are some traditional wedding traditions:
1) Before the wedding, the Groom gives the Bride a wild goose. If a wild goose can’t be found, a duck will do.
2) During the wedding, a chicken is placed in the North and South areas of the ceremony. The heads of the chickens look like they are wearing a hat like a person of power would wear.
3) When the Bride and Groom see each other at the beginning of the ceremony, the Groom faces the West, and the Bride faces the East (they are facing each other).
4) The wedding has 3 parts…
Part 1 – The bridesmaid and groomsmen fill a cup of alcohol and the Bride/Groom raises it to the heavens, and the earth, and then dumps it on the floor.
Part 2 – The bridesmaids/groomsmen fill a cup of alcohol and the Bride/Groom take a sip and then they switch and finish it. This shows that they CAN finish the drink, but choose to share it instead.
Part 3 – The bridesmaids/groomsmen pour alcohol into a cup that is split in two with a red/blue ribbon attached. The red/blue ribbon is tied at the end to the other color to connect the cup. Red – women, Blue – men. The Bride/Groom take a sip and then switch it again. Then they join the cup back into one cup. This shows that men and women started as one, then were divided, and are now whole again.
Then the wedding is completed!!!
Since we had an actual couple in the group, we had them “get married” in the Traditional Korean way.
After the wedding, we all were given different Korean clothing to wear to see what it was like. Of course, I LOVED this!
Once the modeling was over…the day was done. It was time to head back to Jinan…but what a great day!
Q&A with April:
Please introduce yourself!
– I am a Virginia native with a love of traveling. I am in Korea teaching English on a year contract. I have already spent a year and a half away from America, teaching English in South East Asia (a year in Thailand, and 2 months in Myanmar).
Who should read your blog?
– Anyone who is interested in going abroad should read my blog. There are not a lot of sites about what SPECIFICALLY life is like in each country. There are many “teaching English is xxx country” sites which tell you the broad basics, living arrangements, food, etc. There are not too many sites that tell you (for example) bring lots of socks to Korea, and make sure to bring WARM slippers to teach in, you don’t teach in shoes…
What made you decide on going to Korea? How long are you planning on staying?
– When I was younger I took Korean Martial Arts. That was my first exposure to anything Korean. Once I started looking into traveling I looking into South Korea due to my connection through Martial Arts. I actually wanted to go to Korea as my first teaching assignment, but a fellow “travel teacher” advised me to try Thailand first, as the contracts are short 4-5 months at a time. Once I completed my first contract there I knew I would be ok with being away from my home for an extended period of time…so then it was off to Korea for my next chapter of life!
Any interesting facts / discoveries about Korean people / culture / life there?
– I am most surprised at the “normalcy” of Korean life. The food isn’t weird, the availability of western products is huge, the ease of travel is great, and the living conditions are westernized. It may be biased since I was in SE Asia first and everything there was so different (hot weather year round, Buddhist temples and holidays around every corner, etc).
Any tips / advice for people wishing to go to Korea to teach English?
– Make sure to get all your paperwork done on time. It is a LOT of work, but it is worth it. Come here with an open mind, it will be different from the western world.
– Try to learn some key phrases before you come, and make friends with your co-teachers, they can be GREAT resources for everyday life.
– As much as having Korean friends is great, make sure to also spend some time with other foreigners. Sometimes you just want to vent/gossip/exchange ideas with someone who speaks your native tongue.
– Keep an open mind, enjoy life in whichever area you live, but don’t forget there is a whole country to experience while you’re here!
Read April’s blog at apes-adventures.blogspot.com
Special thanks to Mike Avila for connecting us to April!
Love this! Lots of interesting information about living in Korea. hope to read more soon. Great post April!
Great interview. I love hearing first hand accounts of living abroad. Hopefully one day my family and I could make the plunge to go experience the world. Keep up all the great work, we look forward to hearing more from you!