Sunday, July 25, 2010

Warm Desks and Muddy Friends!

Sorry for not updating sooner.  My mom pointed out to me the fact that it is has been more than two weeks since my last entry.  I know that there are (at least a couple of you) besides my mom who read this, so sorry to keep you waiting!  Much of my time recently has been consumed by studying for the GRE...but I'll talk about that later.  Here's the update.

The truth of the matter is that all week, from July 11-16, I just deskwarmed and it was exceedingly boring.  Seriously all I did was sit at my desk from 8:40am-4:40pm every day.  I don't know how people with desk jobs do it...I find deskwarming a whole lot more exhausting than teaching.  The only plus to may hours at my computer was that I completed two more digital scrapbooks for Korea, bringing my total to three (which cover August 2009-May 2010).  If you are interested in seeing them, you can check them out online here.

Friday night (July 16), we went out to celebrate Boram's birthday.  We started the evening with some bowling in the Kongkuk University area (soooo much closer and more convenient for me than the usual areas we frequent) and then moved on to a restaurant where we gorged on samgyeopsal and galbi.  We ended up at a bar where we had a fantastic birthday cake and hung out until around 2:00am.  It was an excellent celebration.
Boram showing off his bowling form.  I haven't bowled in FOREVER...but it was a lot of fun and I still came in third.

Boram making a wish.

And blowing out the candles.

We didn't have any plates so we all just dug in like cannibals.  Cake cannibals.

The weekend of July 17-18 was one I had been waiting for...Boryeong Mud Festival!  Basically there is this coastal town about 2.5 hours outside of Seoul that had an overabundance of mud.  In a true "when you have lemons make lemonade" situation, they created this huge festival completed based around their mud.  They truck in in from fields to a local beach called Daecheon and have 10 days of crazy mud events.  It has more foreign visitors than any other festival in Korea.  To be honest, the few days before we left I was wondering if I was crazy.  I do my best not to be surrounded by drunk white people in Korea...why was I going to an event that was full of herds of waegooks who were not only annoying, but ALSO covered in mud?  However I had already paid so I talked myself into it and DRAGGED myself out of bed at 6:30am to get ready and go meet the bus.  (Yeah, please note that I didn't get home until like I was running on very little sleep.)  I was the first one to arrive so I snagged us some killer seats right in the front of the bus and waited for Ayzia, Laura, Julia, Dana and Erich to arrive.  One by one they all showed up...except Erich.  Turns out he overslept after our night out and he ended up missing the bus.  So that sucked.  We all settled in for the 3 hour trip and promptly fell asleep.

Fast forward to our arrival at Daecheon Beach.  We had come on the trip as part of the Seoulite Meet-up Group. As you may recall I went on another meet-up trip to Jeollanam-do with Carl and Monica, however that was through the Korea Travel and Tourism group.  Dana had made the executive decision that we should go with Seoulite because they were offering the tours the cheapest.  It is run by a NSET from Colorado who plans these trips in addition to her regular job (unlike William from Travel and Tourism who ONLY plans the trips...that IS his job).  I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the organization of this trip and the accommodations provided.  There was very little direction from the trip organizer so everyone was confused and just kind of going all over the place.  Dana and her friends Tina and Ava had run ahead and gotten a room, closing the door on everyone else trying to find a place to sleep.  We weren't told how many people were supposed to be in each room so no one knew what was going on.  It was kind of a mess.  The rooms themselves were fairly small (which isn't that big of a deal) and didn't come with enough floor pads or blankets (which is that big of a deal).  It ended up being Julia, Laura, Ayzia, and I in one room, with a teacher named Sunny and the event organizer.  Though we were all new to the show, Sunny had been at multiple Mud Fests before so she was able to give us some invaluable tips, such as the idea of buying one of the plastic pouches you can get at convenience stores by the beach to put your camera in so it didn't get ruined.  Good call!

Saturday was overcast and intermittently raining, but we got changed and headed towards the beach.  Along the way we bought some drinks and sat around for a while enjoying them as we waited for the rain to settle down.  Then it was time for the mud!  We started by walking all the way down the beach (maybe 20-25 minutes) to the regular mud.  Along the way we played in the ocean a little and just generally took in the sights.  There were tons of inflatables you could go in all muddy, including bouncy castles and mud slides.  There was also a major mud fight going on.  It was insanity!
Mud Festival madness.

Look at that mud fly!

Along the way we found that some fishermen had left their waders sitting out.  Ayzia couldn't resist modelling them.

Daecheon Beach.

Hahah, Julia is either selling tampons or deodorant...either way, I'm buying.

I miss being near water.

Don't fight the frolic.

At the far end of the beach, in front of a bouncy castle, there was a man pouring mud on people so we got in line to get dirty.  What a bizarre situation.  Standing in calf deep muddy water, tons of dirty Korean children laughing and splashing around you, getting buckets of warm, gooey mud poured all over you.  Only in Korea.  After getting covered, Laura, Ayzia and Julia took advantage of the mud slide and we did a mini photo shoot before going down into the water and getting washed off.
Muddy girls.

Muddy boys.  (For real, how adorable are these?)

Muddy inflatables.
(Can you spot which one of these things is not like the others?)

Laura was the first one to get muddy.

Then Ayzia and Julia took the plunge.

They are special.

Muddy to the maxx.

Whoa! Somebody stop that foreigner...she's stealing a kid!

Gaaah! Why is the mud so unexpectedly warm?

Eye love the Mud Festival!

I look like a swamp thing! With elephant skin.

Sploosh down the mud slide, haha.

Love my muddy buddies!

After rinsing off in the ocean we found a nice little place on the boardwalk to grab dinner.  Laura and I got pizza which took about 8 years longer to make than Ayzia and Julia's meals, so they were basically done eating before we even got ours.  And they were asleep before we finished, haha.  Playing in the mud and ocean all day can really tucker you out!  That night we turned in early, in fact I fell asleep and missed the big fireworks display.  Oops.

The next morning we woke up and...could it be?  gasp! was actually sunny.  Beautiful weather, with a cool breeze and little puffy clouds in the bright blue sky greeted us and we were PUMPED.  We grabbed some food, stashed our stuff in a locker, and got in line to get painted.  Basically at the Mud Fest there are two main ways to get covered in mud.  First, you can have the regular mud poured on you, as we did in day one.  Also in this category is jumping into one of the mud pits and getting tackled into the mud.  Second, you can have colored mud painted on you by a little old man or woman in a tent especially for mud painting.  Since we had already done it one way, we figured we'd get decked out in colored mud for our second day at the festival.  Sunny joined us, and in line we met Min, a guy who lives in Seoul.  We spent forever inching our way up to the front of the line until it was finally our turn.  They had all different colors - grey, blue, green, yellow, red - and the painters would just go town and decorate you however they felt inclined.  It was pretty sweet.  One thing that was really hilarious was that there was a HUUUUGE group of paparazzi waiting to take pictures of the foreigners as soon as they were painted.  Apparently there is a big photo contest so they were all snapping away, trying to get a good shot.  No photo permission required, I guess, haha.  Ayzia was a STAR.  I would so not be surprised to see her on some Boryeong Mud Festival flyer next year.

Day 2: Before.
Julia, me, Ayzia, Laura, Min

Mud "paints"

Ayzia is halfway to a masterpiece.

Looking forward to the next mud festival!

Julia and I as I was being painted.

Ayzia and her adoring fans.

Day 2: After
Me, Ayzia, Julia, Min, Sunny, Laura

We enlisted the help of a passerby to try and take a jumping in the air picture.  We failed miserably and repeatedly, but ended up with some absolutely hilarious shots.  In this one, Julia decided that we all needed to run and jump...clearly it was unsuccessful.  

"Now let's take a tribal shot."
Would we call this tribal?  Hahah, we (and by "we" I mean "Julia and Ayzia") are so menacing.  ANTM watch out.

The rest of the day was spent sitting in the sun, drinking beers on the beach, going in the ocean, and grabbing a quick bite to eat before we got back on the bus and made the journey back into Seoul.  Overall it was a HILARIOUS, awesome, bizarre, and entertaining experience.  I had so much fun with the girls and I really couldn't have asked for a better time.

You know what I could have asked for?  Common sense.  For some reason, I thought that mud would have some sort of natural sun-blocking properties.  Not the case.  I ended up with a totally horrific sunburn...probably the worst I've ever had.  More than a week later I'm still getting rid of it and peeling all over the place like a creeper.

This past week was my first week of summer camp.  The location can't be beat (less than a ten minute walk from my apartment), the kids are funny and creative, and the people I work with are great.  So I really can't complain.  I get there around 8:30am, teach from 9:00-10:20, have a twenty minute break with a snack that the school provides, and then teach again from 10:40-12:00.  We send the kids on their merry way, eat take out they order us for lunch, and I'm home by 1:00pm.  It is a dream.

My co-teacher, JiWon, and I teach about animals and the rain forest.  It is pretty chill.

I have been filling up my afternoons studying for the aforementioned GRE.  Uuuuugh.  Let me tell you, if I had any tiny little inkling that I might want to go to law school it has been quashed by this.  I don't think I would survive studying for the bar.  What especially pains me about this whole thing is that I have always been very firm in my beliefs that you cannot study for standardized tests.  But that was back in the day when I still had ANY IDEA HOW TO DO MATH.  I'll tell you this: "skills" such as finding the area of a circle and solving for y when x equals blah blah blah have been purposely removed from my brain to accommodate more useful knowledge.  Such as random trivia. (Did you know that SWIMS, I, and NOON are the only words in the English language that are spelled the same way even when turned upside down and backwards?  Or that a pip is a seed?)  Anyway, my mom was helpful enough to go out and get me a GRE study book and send it over in a package that I received last Monday.  I cracked it open, got right down to a practice test and quickly grew horrified.  More than anything this book has shown me all that I do not know...and all that I do not hope to learn in the next four weeks.  And, I mean, math is one thing, but the vocabulary section is also ABSURD.  I consider myself to have a pretty strong vocabulary, I am a voracious reader and I have a pretty good grasp of the English language.  But man, there are words on this thing I've never, EVER, read or heard.  Grandiloquent?  Nope.  Quiescent?  Definitely not.  Vituperative?  Not even certain how to pronounce it.  Sections of the book are also condescending, which makes me want to punch the writers.

"Antonym Questions
Helpful Hint #8: In Eliminating Words, Test Words for Their Positive or Negative Connotations!

(A) bold
(B) bright
(C) unsteady
(D) unforgiving
(E) unhappy

You cannot define chary.  You would hesitate to use it in a sentence of your own.  And yet, you are sure the word has a negative feel to it.  A person is chary about something.  You have a sense of holding back."

Uhhh...DO I?  I read the word "chary" and I think of delicious little red fruits hanging from a delightful green stem.  I most certainly do NOT have a sense of holding back...but thanks GRE book, for making me worry about the fact that I don't.

I also love the completely ridiculous examples they give for some of the vocabulary words.
"antediluvian: adj.  antiquated, extremely ancient.  Looking at his great-aunt's antique furniture, which must have been cluttering up the attic since before Noah's flood, the young heir exclaimed, "Heavens! How positively antediluvian!"

For the record, I am pretty sure no young heir has ever uttered such a statement.

I guess the thing that drives me the most crazy is the fact that when you're in high school and taking the SAT, or in college thinking about the PRAXIS or whatever, you can try to convince yourself that out there, later, in the "real world" you might need to know how to apply the distributive property to a binomial or find the area of an equilateral triangle whose sides are 10. But at this point, after living in the "real world" I can state with out a shadow of doubt that I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT NEED TO KNOW THIS SHIT.  And it is a little frustrating that I'm being tested on it.  Each day I spend from 2-4 hours studying, working my way through insipid vocabulary lists and impenetrable math reviews (you like how I opened my vocabulary review to the "I" section there?).  Thankfully it is only going to go on for about another month and then I'll be out of my misery, hopefully earning a high enough score that I'll NEVER have to think about the GRE again!


  1. Hey! I actually stumbled onto this blog. Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm glad you're struggling on the GRE too, because now I know I'm not alone! Seriously. I think I have the same book as you because I remember that reaction, haha.

    Anyway, good luck with your studying, and your time in Seoul!

  2. where your purchace waders