One of the most interesting parts about being in another culture is seeing the holidays of that culture. In Korea, the biggest holiday is New Year's but Chuseok, which we celebrated this Wednesday, is next biggest. It has been likened to the American tradition of Thanksgiving, in that it is a fall celebration to mark the Harvest and, in particular, the full moon. Chuseok is spent with families (meaning the campus that we live on was deserted) being thankful for the bounty of the year. Luckily for us, the university hosted a Chuseok dinner for Americans.Here we are in a photo with the president of the University (in orange), the head chaplain (the farthest in the back), two of our classmates in language class, and other very important figures at the Chuseok dinner.
And this was my plate at the Chuseok dinner. Points of interest: noodle soup, dumpling, mussle, sushi, shrimp, one American frenchfry, a spam sandwich, ttoek and sausage, rice, and many many delicious desserts. The most famous Chuseok food is sampyeon, rice cakes with sweet fillings. The big white thing on the left of my dessert bowl is sampyeon.
We had class on Monday this week, and the university Chuseok dinner was also that night. Then, we didn't have class for the rest of the week. So, the Americans explored. First we went to the National Cemetery, which can be compared to Arlington Cemetery. It was very picturesque, set majestically in-between tree-covered mountains and filled with monuments and gardens. Below are several pictures. The cemetery was being used by many families because it is the tradition at Chuseok to pay respects to ancestors.
Becky, Katie and I in a bamboo garden on the cemetery grounds.
Beautifully kept graves.
The gateway and the memorial tower.
The red gate. (I did not make that name up)
Part of the beautiful grounds.
The next day, Wednesday, which was the actual holiday, Haejung and Simon had us over to their house for a Chuseok luncheon. Haejung taught us how to make chapchae, a delicious dish full of colorful veggies, marinated beef, and sweet potato starch noodles. Can't wait to prepare this dish for you when I come back to the States. In addition to the chapchae, we had a huge spread of food, and very delightful company.
That evening, Mike and Sue, also Americans, came over and we celebrated Chuseok in our own way. We heated up the leftovers from lunch, and Mike prepared some food that he had been given--some marinated beef and something that tasted kind of like a cheesy pancake. It was most pleasant.
Here are Mike and Sue at our American Chuseok dinner. The Japchae is the colorful dish in the tupperware.Notice the fancy China.
The next day, Mike, Sue, Katie, Becky and I set off for the Daejeon arboretum. We weren't exactly sure of the buses to take, but we didn't let a little detail like that stand in our way. An hour later, we got kicked off the bus as it reached the end of the line, and we were not at all at our intended destination. Oh well, it was a gorgeous day, and a rather lengthy walk was welcomed. We finally made it to the arboretum and toured around it briefly before promptly becoming lost again, asking directions from multiple people, and finally taking a taxi back to the university.
Here are some pictures from our walk:
Expo Park and Expo Tower (you'd better read up on what expo was held in Daejeon)
And once we finally found it, the arboretum really was nice! There were many families there enjoying the time off and the gorgeous weather.
Then Friday, Becky, Katie, and I once again had bus problems. We did a better job of equipping ourselves with route information, but after a lengthy walk (and run!) to the bus stop where we missed our bus, we got on the next one, got off at a stop that looked promising, then realized we had no idea where we were. Again, many people kindly pointed us in the "right" direction, but ultimately a lady who was going to the same place just walked us to our destination, which we would not have found on our own. But we did meet up with some great people to eat bulgogi, one of the best known Korean dishes consisting of beef and veggies. We walked around the Galleria which is an absolutely gigantic and super ritzy department store that has everything from a whole floor of restaurants (in addition to the food court) to a grocery store to a book store to a swimming pool.
Ok, so it was a very nice holiday and a welcomed break from classes, even if most of the time was spent wandering around lost or trying unsuccessfully to use the bus system. It really is a very comprehensive and useful bus system, we just need to figure it out.
Classes start up again on Monday, and Tuesday we start working at our community centers. This Sunday I led the youth group at University Church and gave a brief message "for young disciples" in church about overcoming communication problems. True to my passions, we played charades! Slated for this evening, McArdle makes her first appearance for the Hannam Church soccer team!