Holidays, part 2. (And yes, those are cabbages. Or cabbage flowers. Something like that.)
Immediately after my school’s festival there was no time for relaxing. Because the next day I would be moving in with my aunt!
Although December 23rd was technically the last day of school before winter break, my coteacher and department chair agreed to let me have the day off! The school day would only consist of a closing ceremony that must have been extremely brief, as my host sister was home around 10am. Finally, after lunch, my aunt arrived, along with my cousin and her husband, and helped me move. There’s always a lot more junk that I expect…
My search for a new place has been in the works for quite some time. But in the end, my aunt provided the perfect solution. She would be moving into a new apartment mid-December, and they had an extra bedroom! I jumped at the opportunity; I’d be living with just my aunt and older cousin Ye Ji – her younger sister Ye Rim was the one who was now married and had helped me move.
So on the 23rd, I hauled my stuff around – with a great deal of help – and arrived ready for a fresh start.
I’d actually come by once already, the weekend before, when my aunt and cousin first moved in, and brought one bag. Together, we also had (Korean style) Chinese food, as this is a tradition for when you move into a new place.
This is the new view from my apartment complex!
I couldn’t be happier that this opportunity arose. I’m much more comfortable living here and my anxiety and stress-induced health problems have all disappeared. It’s fun to be able to come home and have conversations with people I care for, although now these conversations are in mostly Korean. That’s another bonus though, since I can practice Korean as much as I was last year with my host family in Gimhae.
I can’t always communicate 100 percent of what I want to say, but I think this’ll push my cousin and I to do some studying to meet each other halfway.
Location-wise, my new apartment is much farther from my school: 40 minutes by bus, as opposed to a 10 minute walk. However, I’m also only a 10 minute bus ride from Nampo-dong, Busan’s downtown! I’m already loving this.
By Christmas day I was as moved in as I could be, with no dressers in my room yet, so I had time to be concerned with other things. I picked up some gifts in Nampo, with the intent of bringing a little American-style Christmas to my aunt’s house.
Christmas in Korea is largely just a day off and a couple’s holiday, although some Christians celebrate Christmas more as a family holiday.
On Christmas morning, while my aunt was in the kitchen with her back turned, I snuck the small handful of presents I’d accumulated (count: 4) and placed them (hopefully) tastefully in the living room. My aunt was surprised, and then felt bad because she hadn’t gotten anything from me, but keeping up small traditions from home gives me a sense of comfort I can’t really explain to people who haven’t experienced. I tried to reassure that it just something fun for me to do.
I bought two of the gifts, saved one I’d received from church, and another from my English department chair. Her gift turned out to be a little metal Christmas tree, which added a little more festivity.
For the bulk of the day, I hung around at home watching movies and eating snacks with Ye Ji. The night before, we’d already watched Home Alone 1 and 2, both of which played repeatedly on TV on Christmas Day. She knew the movies just as well, if not better than I did!
Christmas evening, I went out to meet a couple of friends visiting from Pohang! We went to Nampo-dong, an extremely popular destination for EVERYONE, it seemed. It was the location of the Christmas tree festival, which really just referred to the lights and giant Christmas tree they’ve had up since early November. The lights are really beautiful…but just as beautiful on a not-as-crowded-as-death night. During one section, the road was completed clogged with people (and an unfortunate truck) for no visible reason. This was easily the worst crowd I’ve ever experienced in my life. I can now understand how people get trampled.
Once we made it out of the monster crowds, it was a good time. I’m glad you came down, Hannah and Dami!