In all honesty. the hardest part about the differences between Korean and American holidays is the fact that Thanksgiving takes place in September. I am far too used to my birthday being extremely close to Thanksgiving Day, so the knowledge that Thanksgiving has passed and I am still 18 is hard to wrap my head around.
So, my boss gave me an extra day off of work, and I used it to try to recover from feeling a bit under the weather. In the US, this would consist of reading something, sleeping for a long time, and eating an entire box of pasta by myself while doing a spot on mime rendition of the Phantom of the Opera. In Korea, this consisted of sleeping a lot, running to the grocery store, and skyping with my parents, the combination of which amounted to more of a parallel to Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, when the main character goes to the store multiple times for different items just to have something to do. Anyway, I came home with the noodles I had bought and immediately attempted to cook them. The first problem was that I could not get the stove to turn on (I have since learned to turn on the stove-- YAY). So, with the knowledge that I still needed to boil water, I turned to my trusty friend; the microwave. I successfully heated the water to a high enough temperature that when some sloshed onto my foot I thought it would need to be amputated. Taking this as a good sign, I pressed on. After pouring the not quite boiling water onto the noodles, I realized that something was wrong. The noodles cooked far too quickly (even with the absence of boiling water), the water itself turned milky, and I was left with nothing to do but eat it. The noodles were disgusting. I ate all of them, though, because there is no way to dispose of them (other than having them sit in the drain of the sink... My host Mom makes them disappear, but I do not know where they go, it seems that food scraps never go into the garbage here, but they do not get fed to the dog either, so I am at a loss). The other reason being that I paid for the noodles so I was going to eat them, even if the taste was awful. Essentially, I was hit with the realization that I needed to find a place where I could buy actual spaghetti.
The day before yesterday, I went back to work. The morning dawned with rain and I was jubilant. That is, until I realized that the subway is a sweat fest if you are wearing a coat, and people in Seoul give you very strange looks if you are walking along without an umbrella and it is raining. There were only four people in my office that day, where usually there are closer to twelve. The silence was deafening (Just kidding, nobody ever talks in a voice louder than a murmur anyway). I ate lunch alone because everyone else was still working and did not seem to be stopping, so I sat with a bunch of old people, since it would have been odd and probably rude to sit down at a table all by myself. Then, I quickly ran to the nearest subway entrance mall, bought a beautiful bright green umbrella, and hurried back to work. That evening, I met up with Switzerland, Germany, and Finland so that we could all go to the phone shop and recharge our prepaid phones together. Then, we went to Subway for sandwiches before parting ways and going into the subway (heheheh).
Yesterday at work, almost everyone had returned, and the woman who got married was back from her honeymoon. She looked happy to be back on Korean soil after traveling through Europe with her new husband. After lunch, I went to help out with one of the clubs, and my coworker told me that she is six weeks pregnant. I am so excited for her, and she is ridiculously happy about it. Together, we went to a private school that has been open for 100+ years, longer than the YMCA has been in Korea. It was an all boys school, encompassing both middle and high school age students. My coworker warned me that it would smell bad and be dirty because they were all boys, but not to think that all Koreans are like that just because the boys school smelled a bit off. This was reinforced when I looked into one of the classrooms and one of the boys was casually standing by his desk with no trousers on. The purpose of the club that we went to help with is to raise awareness about social issues and to make a fake campaign to raise awareness about an issue of their choosing. Yesterday was the day that they went and yelled their slogans and waved their signs in public places. the experience was fun, even if my skirt kept blowing up as I walked in front of a bunch of 15 year old boys, and two of the boys ended up breaking their signs in half before we had even reached our first demonstration location.
Also: A very happy birthday to my mother!
Everyday Acts of Activism