What is a “Bbepero,” you ask?
It’s a Korean snack, basically saltless pretzel sticks either dipped in chocolate or with a chocolate center. Since November 11th is 11-11, which look like sticks, today is Bbepero Day!
I learned this on Sunday, actually. We went to pick up our weekend kids (elementary) and one of the girls gave me a box of them. At the time, I thought it was really random that a student would give such a gift to a teacher she’s never met before, but later on one of my colleagues explained Bbepero Day to me. I got 3 more boxes today from friends, but I’ll tell you about that later.
I believe that in my last post, I mentioned that I had a sore throat and wasn’t feeling well from being out late and singing a lot the night before. I felt a lot better on Saturday, though I still have scratchy voice from it and it’s still a little sore. It was a “normal” Saturday morning: we picked up the kids, took them to their hotels and then orientation, then classes in the afternoon after lunch. We had only 3 classes with about 12-13 students in each one, which sounds manageable, except that they were VERY badly behaved (apparently this particular group of students comes pretty often throughout the year and they are notorious for their poor behavior). The good news is that since there were so few of them and we had more than enough teachers, we only had to teach 2-3 classes each all weekend. I was scheduled for 2 classes Saturday afternoon, and the rest of the day was devo, in addition to having an entire day of devo today. My Korean friends, Andy and Lucy, actually came to GEV around 5:00pm on Saturday and toured the place until we got off work at 6:00pm. After we clocked out and met up with them, we went to a traditional Korean restaurant in Paju (Lucy had found it by searching online, since none of us are too familiar with Paju yet). By “we” I mean me, Andy, Lucy, Shanti, Chris, and Tim (Rene and Zaaid work the 1:00-9:00pm shift on Saturdays and thus they couldn’t join us for dinner). By “traditional” I mean that when you enter the restaurant, you take off your shoes and the tables are very low so you sit on a pillow on the floor.
I don’t know the name of what we ordered, but it was another spread for the whole table with seemingly hundreds of little dishes containing different things, from dried fish, to pickled radish, to 5 different kinds of salads/vegetables, to barbecued pork, to tofu soup, and more. Everything I tried was delicious! (Which means everything besides the fish!) Shanti took a bunch of pictures and I will try to get them from her so that I can post them on my “Photos” page, because describing it with words just doesn’t do it justice; literally the whole table was covered in dishes of food! There was so much that even with 6 people, we only finished about 2/3 of it. The tofu soup was my favorite (though I didn’t care too much for the chunks of tofu in it) – the flavor was similar to Japanese miso soup, and had onions and bean sprouts in it, in addition to the tofu.
After dinner, we went back to GEV and Andy and Lucy parked their car, and then we headed to a pub in Paju that Tim knew of. On our way there, we ran into Kathy, another GEV teacher who I don’t actually know too well. She was on her way to find some dinner but ended up joining us after we insisted she do so. The pub turned out to be a pretty nice place and in true Korean style, we were served small dishes of food with the drinks that everyone ordered. Zaaid came and joined us after he finished work, and then there were 8 of us. We stayed there for a few hours before realizing it was getting late (we all had to work the next day, except Andy and Lucy). When we got back to GEV, it took a lot of arguing to convince Andy and Lucy to stay at my apartment instead of finding a hotel for the night. Like true Koreans, they made a fuss about saying they didn’t want to impose, and it took 6 foreigners to wear them down and finally give in. However, there was more arguing when we got to my apartment because they insisted on sleeping on the floor with no blanket or pillows. That truly would have been ridiculous, considering it’s a cold tiled floor, and it really took a lot of energy to wear them down again until they agreed to sleep on my bed. In Korean culture, it’s customary to make this kind of a fuss towards one’s host, but it’s also customary that the host wins – though it may take a lot of polite arguing. Phew – I did it! And I’m glad because I would not have slept easy knowing they were shivering on the cold, hard, tiled floor. Instead, I slept just fine on my super comfortable couch!
Since I had only gotten to bed around 2:00am, waking up at 8:00am wasn’t easy, especially since it was raining outside – I just wanted to stay in my warm bed and sleep a few more hours. But I got up and went to work, where I didn’t accomplish very much because I honestly didn’t have a lot to work on. I was so tired, though, and my throat was hurting and so I didn’t mind just sitting inside all day. It was pretty boring, but I do like when all of us are together in the one computer room and we can joke around and goof off. It’s the one time of the week that we’re all together. Since we all arrived on the same day and started work together, we don’t like that we’re on separate schedules now during the week!
Andy had texted me around 10:30 this morning to let me know that he and Lucy were leaving GEV and going back home to Seoul. I figured they had managed to sleep in, which made me happy knowing they had been comfortable at my place and got a good night’s sleep. Since I ate lunch at the cafeteria today (for the first time in over a week, by the way), I didn’t know until I went home after work that they had left me some gifts! First of all, they had put my sheets back on my bed and made it, and folded the sheets and blankets that Shanti and Chris had lent me to put on the bed for them. Secondly, they must have gotten up earlier than I thought and gone out to shop for what they got me: a tray of apples, a tray of mandarin oranges, and boxes of bbepero for all of us (and 3 boxes for me)! It seemed like an overly generous gesture considering all they did was stay at my place for one night – I didn’t make them dinner or anything, but it was very sweet and I really appreciated their gratitude. I wrote to them on Facebook and they thanked me again and have invited us to their place sometime soon so that they can reciprocate the favor. 🙂
After being home for the first time today, I had to go back out an hour later for the first meeting of the Korean-Spanish Club. It was cool because it was just 3 of us and the one guy, Micah, has an app on his iPad where he can make flashcards. During the week he had made flashcards of Korean words with the translation in Spanish on the back. We went through them all and I practiced reading Korean (Caleb had taught me the alphabet last week), and we were also able to practice Spanish that way. It was really cool! After we went through the flashcards, we went over the Spanish alphabet because Caleb wanted to know the sound of each letter and Micah had never learned the alphabet in the first place (he speaks at an intermediate level and is completely self-taught using Rosetta Stone). Micah left a little early and then Caleb and I went through Spanish conjugations for the final 10 minutes of our meeting. I really enjoyed the meeting and it definitely re-energized me after such a boring day.
And now, here I am, finally warm and dry. It’s a little after 10:00pm and I’m going to call it a night – I’m pooped! It was a good work weekend and I’ve only got 2 days left before my weekend! I think I’m going to check out the Lantern Festival in Seoul on Wednesday…. 🙂