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.

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.)

Work Trip to Nami Island

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In South Korea they have a custom where you are expected to go out for meals and drinks with your coworkers, and occasionally take vacations together.

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You are supposed to spend a lot of time with your “work family” to build strong relationships.

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I didn’t really mind this most of the time, except for the pressure to get really drunk. Some nights my boss kept us out so late that she ended up buying us breakfast and cabs home.

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Don’t get me wrong, Jinah (above) was a wonderful boss and I adored her. I haven’t really had a bad boss yet, actually. It’s just that I am a bit old (in my opinion) to get home after sunrise.

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Anyway, for one of our work trips we went to Nami island. It seemed like an odd choice, because it’s sort of a love-themed island where people go for dates.

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However, at that time, Jinah was falling in love with her then-boyfriend (later husband), and I think she wanted us all to feel it too.

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The hearts everywhere were a little weird since we were all walking around as co-workers. But what can you do?

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It was a good adventure. I guess the most surprising part was how Koreans travel in groups. We had a two room hotel with one room for the boys, and one for the girls.

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We all laid out our mats on the floor and slept together. It’s not weird in Korea, but to an American it was a little unusual.

Overall, it was a fun trip and we saw a lot of cool things. We definitely bonded as co-workers, and I guess that is what it was all about.

If you do go to Korea, I recommend Nami island. It’s a fun little place to spend a weekend.

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