Friday, October 5, 2012

Chuseok Adventures

Yes!  I remembered to blog today!  Okay so I was going to describe Chuseok.  Chuseok (pronounced chew-sock) is the Korean version of Thanksgiving.  I don't exactly know the whole history behind it, but I know it's supposed to be a day centered around your family and ancestors.  My Chuseok adventure started on Sunday morning when my host family and I went off into the car.  I had no idea where we were going.  I thought we were going to go to the grandmother's house, but I knew that she lived in the city and we were clearly going into the country.  We pulled off onto this precariously winding road that was just wide enough to fit the car.  I have to admit that it made me a bit nervous.

We finally reached our destination and I got out of the car to find a group of people walking down the hill shouting in Korean and saying "Benjamin! Hello!!" At closer glance, I saw the were the members of my host mother's family!  I did not understand why they were walking down the hill, but whatever I guess.  Then my host family started leading me up the hill.  I didn't anticipate a hike, but whatever I guess.  Then we reached this large mound and one of the twins pointed at it, thought carefully, and then told me "uhhh..dead person house!" Ohhhh.  It was the grandfather's grave.  I heard before that families would visit the graves to commemorate their ancestors so it totally made sense now.  After a nice moment of silence, we all turned around and headed back to the car and then we were on our way to the grandmother's house.

We arrived and pretty much everyone was there. They set up a table in front of us and filled it with all sorts of goodies.  Noodles, meat, vegetables, fruit, tons and tons of stuff.  It was great!  After our meal, I went outside witht the cousins (most are in upper elementary school) and we played some soccer and some baseball.  It was pretty fun.  Some of them were getting tired quickly though so we didn't stay out too long.  When we got back inside, I started to doze off on the floor and the family quickly assumed that meant I was bored.  I really wasn't, I was more just tired.  Nevertheless, they insisted and I was whisked off to another car.  I was told we are going to play screen golf.  I assumed it was like a driving range and we would shoot balls into a screen.  WRONG.  This place was legit.  It was indoors and we went to a small room where there were already two guys shooting golfballs.  On the screen was a beautiful projection of a golf course and the player shot a ball into the screen and I saw the images on the screen lurch forward with the direction of the ball, mimicking how the ball would have reacted in real life.  It was crazy!  The machine that we stood on to shoot the balls off leaned and tilted to imitate the different hills and angles of the course where the ball landed.  The machine even put the ball on the tee for you so you didn't have to bend down.  It was some of the most amazing technology I've ever seen. 

After our game, we went back to the grandma's house but most of my host family left to go back home.  My host mother and I left to go join them.  On the way up the elevator, my host mother warned me that there might be a lot of people in the house.  At least she gave a warning I guess.  I got there and there were probably 13 or so people there.  Oddly, I saw one of my co-teachers there from school.  I assumed she was a family friend since she and the host mother talked a lot and she used to live in this apartment building.  Wrong again!  Turns out she is the sister of my host father!  I had no idea!!  I actually thought she was lying at first to trick me or something.  Who knew?!  Again, we ate a ton of food then headed out to a batting cage to hit a few baseballs.  It was pretty fun. 

Some of the family spent the night and others left.  All of my host family left to go back to the grandma's house except for my host sister.  I don't really understand the whole spending the night thing and why she didn't and all of that, but it seems to work!  The next morning they were all back and just hung out at the house until the afternoon when all of them went to visit the grandfather's grave.  I stayed behind this time and enjoyed the house to myself.  And that was Chuseok.  Pretty interesting and a lot different than American holidays, but it was good to see that. 

Next adventure: Return to Gwangju.  After that is the Fall Fulbright Conference, then a weekend where I don't know what I'm going to do, and then I'm heading back to Seoul to meet up with our Korean teachers from Orientation! Then another free weekend and then the Suncheon Marathon (5k for me...the first official road race I will have done since high school...yikes).  Busy, fun times!

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