Halloween in Korea

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Holidays are a funny thing. We think of them as being universal, but they really aren’t. Most of our holidays are unique to our country and our culture.

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Halloween is a wonderful holiday and I have always loved it, but telling Korean kids (and even my co-workers from England and Australia about it) absolutely made me sound nuts.

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My students completely refused to believe that you could knock on a strangers door and get candy. They flat out called me a liar. To them, you would never talk to a stranger. You would never go to a strangers house. And even your parents are not likely to give you candy because they are a very health-conscious culture.

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So there I was, trying to defend grown adults wearing costumes, taking candy from strangers, and putting up skulls all over your house.

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It made me realize that yes, Halloween does sound crazy from the outside. We’re just so used to some things that we consider normal, and so to us, those things don’t seem bizarre at all. And yet, when you take those things out of context, they can actually seem really strange to others.

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I found myself defending my culture a lot. Not in a bad way, exactly, but just in the way that you would expect. Children are curious and they ask a lot of hard questions because they don’t really have social boundaries like adults.

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Their questions, however difficult, demanded answers. I did my best to be a good ambassador for my country and my culture, and I hope I proved equal to the task.

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A tip for teachers: Going as a witch is fine. But if you teach small children, do not go for a scary costume. My zombie costume wasn’t even that good, and I still made a few little girls cry.

My First Fall

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As someone from Arizona, I didn’t really grow up with seasons.

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The desert has the hot season, and the not so hot season.

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But, we don’t really get big changes in temperature or environment.

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I just want to say that I think Fall is my favorite season.

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It’s impossible to predict the weather and so you never know what to wear. But still, it’s stunning as far as seasons go.

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I guess spring is nice for blossoms, and winter is nice for everything being frosted with snow. I never did warm up to summer (pun intended.)

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However, Fall offers the best pictures, in my humble opinion.

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Besides, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I like holidays that everyone can enjoy, no matter what religion or if they have family.

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Everland Resort and Amusement Park

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Everland is basically the Disneyland of South Korea. In my opinion, the best times to go are spring or fall.

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In spring, you can enjoy their beautiful rose garden, as well as huge planters full of every flower you can imagine all over the park.

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In fall, they decorate for Halloween and that is a sight to see!

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It’s located in the city of Suwon, where I loved from 2010 to 2013.

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I went several times because it’s a fantastic way to spend a day. Yes, there are roller coasters and other rides! There are games and prizes.

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However, there is also a zoo where you can see anything from bears and moneys to an actual Liger (the world’s largest cat.)

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For children, there is a fairy tale land with really wonderful buildings.

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There are both Korean and American fairy tales included.

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And in October, they really do a great job decorating the place as if it’s a Halloween theme park. South Korea may not celebrate Halloween like we do, but they certainly enjoy the decorations.

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Admission is around $50 US (you can get coupons from the tourism agency for 10% or 20% off) and it’s a short shuttle ride from Suwon Station.

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Make sure that is you go, you stay for the light parade at night.

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If you’re looking for a fun adventure for a day, I highly recommend it!

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Teaching in South Korea

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

 

I moved to South Korea is 2010, in January. Being from Arizona, I really didn’t know how to handle winter. It was a challenge beyond what I had expected and required all new clothes. I had to learn about waterproof boots, long underwear, and insulated parkas.

The bigger challenge was learning to teach. I did get my International Teaching Certification through TEFL, but I didn’t have any classroom time under my belt except for some volunteer experience at The Thomas J Pappas School for the Homeless when I was in college.

I had to develop incentive programs to ensure maximum participation in class, and I had to figure out how to get the textbook material to come alive for the kids.

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

 

Later on,  I even got the freedom to develop my own classes. The class I am most proud of was the D&D class. The kids love to play games where they acquire items. So, I was able to use Dungeon and Dragons to teach them new vocabulary while feeling like they were playing a game.

It was hard to adjust to the culture and the job, but I think that I was able to do this very well. That’s why I ended up being offered additional contracts after I completed the first one.

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

I stayed for three years, and it was a really wonderful three years!

Here is a picture of our little Avalon family (above.)

Seoraksan National Park

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There is a place on the northeast coast of South Korea called Seoraksan National Park. It is one of the most beautiful and challenging places that I have ever hiked, and I hope you get the chance to go there some day.

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There are easier activities, like taking the cable car up to the top of one of the peaks, or enjoying tea in one of the temples.

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There are even restaurants, and there are vendors along the trails.

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If you are really ambitious though, there are some very difficult hikes that are completely and totally worth the effort.

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The hardest of these hikes is a mountain called Ullsanbawi (above). It’s a long trail to start, and then so many stairs that you will loose count (I know I did!)

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Sure, there is a temple to stop at along the way. There are places to get water. It’s a great trail that is well, worn.

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However, the air is thin and it’s a long hike.

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However, if you get to the top, it’s an amazing feeling.

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Don’t go for just one day. The mountains make it very hard to predict what the weather will be like, and there is way too much to see in a day.

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Instead, go for a weekend, or even an entire week. It’s a huge park with far more trails than I was able to do, and you can easily spend a week just hiking around.

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Camping is permitted, but I stayed in the nearby village of Sokcho and took the bus in each day. I didn’t have a tent and all the gear needed to camp since I moved to Korea in suitcases.

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No matter how long you go for, try to do one of the hard hikes. I didn’t have time for Dragon Ridge, but I am told it’s amazing as well. It’s really worth it for the views, which on a clear day extend all the way to the East Sea (or outside of Korea; the sea of Japan.)

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