Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Far from what I once was, but not yet what I'm going to be."

Last month, I went to a really awesome and totally cool mud festival. I couldn't stop smiling for hours, and felt like a little kid getting to play in and be completely covered in mud.

There were several slides, an obstacle course, a couple of mud pools, stations to paint yourself, a mud prison where you are soaked with mud being
thrown at you from all directions, and a spot to get painted with colored mud, etc.

Also, this festival was held right next to the beach! The water was the perfect temperature as well as the perfect spot to rinse off all the mud and enjoy some time in the ocean!

This is one of the biggest festivals in Korea. It goes on for 2 weeks. I went the first weekend and there were so many people there; it was ridiculous! This festival is known to attract the highest number of international visitors. Not only is it wonderful to be covered in mud, but it has many beneficial properties for your skin and is used to make cosmetics here.
Following the mud activities, that evening there was an opening ceremony with several performances by K-pop artists and other Korean singers/dancers. A spectacular firework show over the ocean concluded the night.

So I have now been in Korea for a little over 6 months! The longest time I've ever lived abroad!

I have learned an incredible amount in such a small amount of time, about myself, the world and this new culture.

Throughout my time here, I have certainly experienced both emotional and mental changes as well as growth in different areas of my life. Living on my own in this foreign place has allowed for invaluable experiences to discover so much about myself. It's provided countless opportunities for me to explore, reflect, venture out of my comfort zone, figure out things I like and don't, and enabled me the freedom to really get to know both this country and myself better.

In terms of food, I have tried a magnitude of new things. Often times, eating and drinking things when I have no idea what they are. It's exciting to experience all the new tastes and flavors! Also, I have definitely increased my spicy food tolerance! I've never been one for spicy food, but I'm really handling it a lot better.  I've also started eating/drinking things I never actually liked before. I think being exposed to certain things more I just get kind of get used to them, and end up liking them over time. Now about chopsticks. I came here with little to no experience using them at all besides my feeble attempts a couple times while eating Chinese food at home. Here, they use metal chopsticks which are definitely harder to use than the wooden ones, but I've become pretty good.  I'm not a pro, but am certainly better, having been complimented by Koreans on more than one occasion! So that's something!

I'm so grateful for this experience here! Getting to teach the students and teachers, gaining knowledge Koreans' way of life, all the food, and interesting cultural aspects as well. Living out in the country in a tiny town is so completely different from people I've talked to that live in cities. I really feel like I am having the opportunity of seeing and experiencing the "real" Korea.

The new semester is starting and I know there'll be lots of good times with the students; but I hope it brings some changes at school along with it.  I look forward to the upcoming months and all travel and the adventures yet to come! There are many places I still want to explore, more festivals, and crazy times ahead!

Map on my wall of everywhere I've been so far!!

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