Day 1158 (Goodbye 2014!)

December 26, 2014

Autumn came swiftly but departed in a hurry with Mokpo's first snow on the first day of December. Suddenly it was winter. #KoreanSeasons.

For Halloween, my friends and I did the usual (and dare I say now "traditional") night at the local foreigner drinking spot. It's one of the two events which are prime in Mokpo (the other being St. Patrick's Day). Because Halloween generally isn't celebrated in Korea, it forces people to get creative with costumes. As for me, I became Louise Belcher. If you don't know who that is, how dare you. I already owned a green dress, so all I needed was the hat which I made with help from this tutorial.

Motorsports Festival
Nearby my school, in rural Korea, is the Korea International Circuit which was built to host the Grand Prix in 2010. When the F1 isn't going on, there are random other events being held, such as the Motorsports Festival in November. It was fun to go see the expensive cars and, as an international venue, it's exciting just visiting the track (which I had done previously while my sisters visited).

Shotguns in Naju
Way back in 2012 I took a trip to Naju for my 25th birthday where I shot a gun for the first time. I revisited Naju recently to have another try at it. I sucked at it, as I did last time, which is totally fine by me. I was there to have fun. However, I made the mistake of telling the dude that I had done it previously which generated some big expectations which I definitely didn't fulfill. After the early morning shoot-off, we visited the pear museum (which is about as exciting as it sounds) and had a bowl of 곰탕 (meaty bone soup). With that, we had exhausted all the tourist attractions of Naju.

Naju Pottery

Apparently I hadn't had enough of Naju afterall. I headed there again the following weekend with my coworker. One of her friends lives in Naju and operates a pottery shop there. It was a great afternoon of relaxing and creating.

I had heard so many great things about the city of Namhae, and finally had the chance to visit in early December. Namhae seems to be most famous for its German Village. In the 1960s, the Korean government implemented an economic strategy which sent Korean workers to Germany in order to work and generate revenue for their country. Read a bit more about that here.

To delve more into the Christmas spirit, a few of us took a trip to the city of Yongin which has one of the most popular amusement parks in Korea. Everland was having its Christmas festival which provided some great photo ops between attempts to stay warm.

White Christmas
This year I've already seen more snow than ever in Korea. While my students were amidst their final exam period in mid-December, record levels of snow fell on Mokpo overnight. The city seemed pretty unprepared for it, but so many people still made their way to work diligently. My car physically could not get out of the snow bank that morning so I found other means. Some schools (unlike mine) were closed for the day, while others delayed their start or operated normally. Since then, Mokpo has gotten even more snow. And winter is only beginning. It's safe to say that Korea's Christmas might be whiter than Canada's.

On Christmas Day, I was lucky enough (as always) to spend time with my aunt. Video chats with family, turkey dinner, the works.

Goodbye, 2014... Hello, 2015...
This year has been a bit of a trying one and was, quite honestly, a bit of a blur. I attended my fair share of concerts, tried snowboarding for the first time, took (and passed) a Korean proficiency test, completed another course toward my teaching degree, got my TESOL certificate, turned 27, and bought my first car. I also travelled to all corners of Korea in addition to Hong Kong, Macau, Guam, and Japan.

As for 2015, I already have so many things to look forward to. I will begin the year with an early morning flight to Canada on January 1st. I will spend the entire month of January in Canada during which I will board another plane to Cuba for a solid week of good,sunny quality time with my mom and sisters. Once I come back to Korea in February (hopefully rested) I will have my week and a half of vacation class closely followed by the new semester in March.

My hopes for the new year are quite simple and involve a deeper appreciation for people/things and a conscious presence in all that I do. These are, of course, easier said than done but now that I've put it in writing I'm that much more obligated.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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