30.08.2006 - 30.08.2007 2 °C
So a New Year begins here in Jeonju. Though technically, of course, we have another New Year to go, because the Koreans celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Things were starting to settle down again at work, after the stress of beginning a new term and changing all the elementary materials we use. I still have loads of paperwork to do but I'm getting used to it. The new term began at the beginning of December, so I got a new, lighter, timetable and, finally, my own classroom. I'm also really lucky because all of my new classes are good ones, that i enjoy. However, things have got busier again in January because all the kids have a one month vacation. Back home that would mean that we have less to do, but in work and study-obsessed Korea, it means more work, because lots of the kids come in for extra classes during the day. So I am doing an extra 4 classes a week for 6 weeks.
I am having a great time here. I've been here for about 5 months now (nearly halfway!) and everything has settled down to feeling quite normal. I'm glad I got to go to Vietnam and do something really exciting again. I'm very lucky that it was so easy to make friends here and we go out all of the time. Last weekend was our first weekend with all of us back in Jeonju after the xmas holiday, so I said everyone could come round to mine for drinks. It then turned into a bit of a house party (albeit in a tiny studio apartment), followed by a trip out at 2am to a local bar. Unfortunately, a big friday night always means I can't do anything all saturday because of my hangover, and this particular Saturday I also missed a korean lesson. I've only been going for about 4 lessons, so i didn't really want to miss it, but since I didn't get in til 6am, and my lesson was at half ten, i knew it wasn't going to happen.
Korea itself can start to look a bit dull when you're just in the city all of the time - most of the cities look the same, they're all quite new, with quite boring architecture, after so much was destroyed during the war. But when you get out of the city and out into the countryside, it looks really pretty. The mountains aren't very big, but there's a lot of them, Jeonju is almost surrounded by mountains, which look beautiful when it has snowed. I went for a hike on Sunday up one called Martyr's Mountain, which is a Christian pilgrimage site. At the top there is a church and a martyr's tomb, and then you walk a few 100 yards across the mountain, and you are at a Buddhist temple. Stood at the top of the mountain, in the snow, looking down on the city, the view was both exhilarating and peaceful.