Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas in Korea

It has taken a lot to get me into the spirit of Christmas this year. It just doesn't seem like Christmas to me without snow. This time of year seems to naturally lead to reflection and I amazed to realize that this will be my third Christmas in Korea. Wow! It seems like so long ago I first arrived here in South Korea and yet time has gone fast.

To get into the spirit of the season I have consciously made an effort to try to feel more seasonal. My journey went something like this:

I noticed a lady selling roasted sweet potatoes in the market area behind my apartment building and I could actually smell them [amazing with my bronchitis] and they smelled so good. I stopped and got some for my dinner. They were delicious! Since then every Friday night I stop and chat to the vendor and buy some more sweet potatoes for my dinner. The wood fire is so pretty sometimes I just stand and watch it for a few moments and think... it does seem a little more like Christmas.

Last week when I made my weekly visit to Dunkin' Donuts [its my mid week treat] I saw a poster and was able to read that they were offering a new "Holiday Coffee". It looked good so I ordered one and sat drinking it and looking at the decorations and started to get into the Christmas spirit.

Across from my apartment building is a Korean Beef Restaurant [a Galbi Restaurant as I would call it] and they have some nice lights out for Christmas. But, I have to admit is still looks strange to me to see outdoor tables and Christmas lights at the same time. It's too cold to even consider eating outside in my hometown in Canada anytime around Christmas.

Mega Mart the large supermarket [small department store] near my house has some lovely Christmas lights. I went for a walk last night to look at the Christmas lights around here and took this picture.

Another shot of the Christmas lights outside Mega Mart.

We put up a few decorations in the teachers' room at school. And, that made it feel a little cozier and a little more seasonal.

This Santa Claus is on display at one of my schools. I love that his banner is on him in Korean. I wish I could read it. Just when I think my Korean is improving I can't read a simple Christmas banner. Ba hum bug!

Even the subway stations are decorated for Christmas. This is the Nampo-dong Subway Station Christmas tree.

Last night in the Nampo-dong Subway station there was a band wearing Santa hats and preforming. They were pretty good and a number of people stopped to listen and enjoy the music.

This is "Julie Teacher". She is the Elementary School Korean-English teacher at one of my schools. She gave me a lovely red scarf for Christmas.

Yesterday, at my Yong-do school we had a Christmas party and of course there was pizza. Here's "Harry" enjoying some pizza and posing for a picture for me.

I snapped this picture of my students digging into the pizza. I guess pizza really is an international favorite food. Notice that it's still so hot that the cheese is stringy. YUMMY!

My Grade 6 student "Rocky" surprised me with a Christmas present of a set of 4 Cappuccino Mugs. They are so pretty and huge. Lately, I been making a mug of hot chocolate at night and curling up on my bed with it. There I've been watching Christmas shows which I download using bit torrents and watch on TV via my Xbox and the FTP program [that sends them to the Xbox without me evening having to burn them to a DVD]. Who knew I'd even become so technologically sauvy? Not me.

This week I had a class on how to make a Christmas card in English for my students. I expected them to take the cards for their families. However, some of my students surprised me and gave me the card they had made at the end of the class. They wrote really nice messages like "I love you" and "Annabelle Teacher, Pretty". I am so flattered.

More Christmas cards and postcards.

Another Christmas card from a student.

This Grade 5 student wrote in English and smaller on the left in Korean. I am embarrassed to say I had to get a Korean-English teacher to help me read the Korean message. I speak Korean much better than I can read or write it and I think in that way I have fooled the children into thinking I'm much better at Korean than I actually am.

Still more Christmas cards.

More Christmas cards and postcards. I feel so loved.

Last but not least I finally broke down and bought myself a new digital camera. I've been wanting one for a long time. I love my old digital camera but it's only 2.0 mega pixels and it doesn't do on well close ups. I have been wanting to take clear, crisp pictures of some of the Konglish I see daily but haven't been able to with my old camera. This is a Sony Cybershot camera with 7.2 mega pixels and a macro feature that lets me do close ups of printed material.
I am considering this to be my Christmas present to myself for surviving my ill health and getting into the Christmas spirit in spite of being far away from the people I love most int he whole world. Merry Christmas to me.
Well, I'm off to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" on my Xbox and TV and drink some hot chocolate.
Merry Christmas everyone.


  1. Merry X-mas Ann, teacher.

  2. Thank you. Happy Holidays to you, too.

    I just want to thank you and ALL my blog readers. Most of you have been so very kind and encouraging. It really helps to have that positive feedback when you are an ex-pat.


  3. Thanks Ann teacher...........I follow the blogs.

  4. Ann........Please update. I read each and every you post......You are my link to South Korea.


  5. just wondering if you're still out there? ... been waiting since xmas for an update... perhaps you've had the winter vacation off??? and went away somewhere??? but i thought you worked in a hakwon... missing your posts... :(

  6. Hi Everyone:
    I am still out here and I promise to update soon. I was working crazy hours during the winter "vacation" time [in fact until Thursday, February 8th]. The time when public schools were closed and the kids therefore were sent to the hogwans 24/7 or at least it seemed that way to me.

    I spent the weekend just resting and trying to re-group. Hopefully, I'll get rested up and post soon.

    It's nice to know I'm missed.

  7. The banner says 'winter break special'.

  8. Thank you. A mystery solved. Santa is trying to recruit kids for the "Winter Break Special". I love it!

  9. Dear Ann,
    I just found this blog and appreciate all of your info on life in Korea. Bynow you have been home for nearly 2 years and may gained a new perspctive about life in Asia. i lived in Japan as a teacher and pan to go to korea soon. Your blog on life in Korea has been very helpful and brings back so many similarities to life in Japan. you are right about isolation and lonliness,but this time I know what to expect. i hope you read this and you also sooooo right about the bakeries being not quite right,sooo funny !!!! I was surprised that you liked Dunkin Donuts,not quite right was how I would describe them. Have a great life and good luck with your book.

  10. Thanks Ann..
    I was looking for information I can share with other members of my church about how Koreans celebrate Christmas now...your site was my first read.
    It Brings back very vivid memories as I spent 3 Christmas Seasons (63,64 & 65) in Korea as a missionary, Great experience, Beautiful people. A very diverse clebration then...thanks for the update.....Great to see the kids eating Pizza....not so then.
    Thanks again for sharing....even though it's several years old.

  11. Hi, i just run into your blog, you are very lucky girl to have such lovely students. Plus, you got a Paris Hiton card

  12. Hi, Anni,
    do you are still in South Korea? I will return tomorrow to Germany. I am very interested in hear something more about your experience... My website: -
    Merry Christmas in August:)