I am all about experiencing the 'new' in Korea. I lived like a monk during a temple stay, introduced pork into my diet and learned to love Korean bbq, was poked and prodded by an oriental doctor at acupuncture sessions and mastered the confusing subway etiquette. But it is comforting at times to try something not so foreign, maybe something you loved as a child but have neglected for years.
I went skating in the City Hall area of Seoul a few short weeks ago. A friend and I hopped on the subway and arrived at the large public rink just as it was being cleaned and cleared of snow. We admired the holiday decorations and blasting Christmas music and were ushered into line to purchase tickets and rental skates. Although the rink was a popular evening destination, the line was not very long and we quickly were skated-up and ready to go.
I was a bit nervous to join the mass of talented and fast skaters who effortlessly raced around the rink. But as soon as my skates met the ice it was as if I had never left the pond near my old childhood home. Although shaky and much more aware of the risk of bodily injury, I remembered how to skate and my confidence grew a little more each time I rounded the rink and passed the entrance where new skaters continued to ease onto the ice.
After a successful hour of cautious skating and continuous laughter, my friend and I left the rink and I congratulated us on not falling for an entire sixty minutes. Although there are much more cultural activities to partake in in Seoul, skating was one of my favorite winter pastimes thus far. It was fantastic to be outside in the fresh air with all different Seoul citizens and English teachers, young and old, enjoying a silly act of trying not to fall while balancing on ice in shoes adorned with blades of sharp metal. I haven't mastered Korean, but I am sure the facial expressions of communication used during skating are part of some universal language. No words are necessary when you're barreling around a corner and all of a sudden you realize you're about to crash into a surprised skater. Your face, Korean or foreign, says it all: "Get out of the way, please...I don't know how to stop!"
Devan Meserve, a New Hampshire native and St. Lawrence University alum, decided that after two successful post college years living and working in Boston she was primed for exploration beyond the East Coast. With encouragement from friends and family and Aclipse’s expert advice she landed an instructor position with Chungdahm April English. Devan is loving life in Uijeongbu: she is continuously impressed and entertained by her young students and spends her free time following Anthony Bourdain’s advice, “I’m a big believer in improvising and getting lost.”
Check out her blog!