Happy New Year!

Wow, the holidays flew by!  I can’t believe it’s 2017 already! We figured we’d catch some family and friends up on how we’ve been recently. With Ultimate (Frisbee) over, things have really slowed down for us, which I’m beyond thankful for! I love spending time with the Ultimate family but man, it makes for some busy (and expensive) weekends. Since then, we’ve celebrated four years since our first date, did a couples photoshoot, celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years!

It’s hard to believe it was over four years ago now that Kyle pulled up in his green Grand Am, with a shocker sticker on his upper left windshield, for brunch at Fayzee’s and for what would turn into a wild first date. Who would have thought we’d be nearing two years of marriage at the end of this month! It’s been such roller coaster of a ride and these two years abroad have been some of the best – we couldn’t be stronger, happier, and healthier in our relationship. We even decided to get those cheesy, but necessary, couples photos. We met Winston through our good friend of ours, Kal.  The pictures were taken in Gumi, the nearest and biggish city to us, and our hometown of Buksam. We couldn’t be happier with the quality of them, and will be able to have them as a memory of our time in Korea. Here are some of our favorites below!

Thanksgiving was rather uneventful for us, considering it’s an American holiday. Just another Thursday for everyone else. We did have Katie come over on Friday (still technically Thursday in America!) for our own little Thanksgiving dinner, though. We ate mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, and chicken and washed it down with a little wine. After dinner we stayed up playing card games – shout out to Jan and Jim for getting us addicted to Golf/Baseball!

The week before Christmas we spent some time at the orphanage, KKOOM, in Gumi volunteering at their annual Christmas party. They had activity stations that the kids went to and, upon completing an activity, could receive a stamp on their “passports” to redeem for prizes later. Kyle, Katie and I ran the “Pin the Nose on Rudolph” station and gave out candy canes. Here are some pictures we took at our station while waiting for the kids to show up! We opted out of sharing photos with the kids out of respect, but enjoy looking at us being silly! FYI: If you’re interested in donating to help out the orphanage and give the students necessary and basic supplies they need, feel free to head on over here to make a difference!

We weren’t able to stay the whole day at the orphanage because the same evening happened to be the annual holiday show for the students at Kyle’s Montessori preschool. They sang a variety of Christmas songs in Korean and English. They were unbelievably adorable and it was the perfect ending to the night! Kyle even got on stage at the end with the other teachers for the farewell song! We have mostly videos but here are a few photos from the show!

The Friday before Christmas, we went to our friend Will’s house for his annual holiday party with the whole Hurricane team. We all brought food to share and participated in a “white elephant” gift game. We stayed up drinking and spending quality time with friends.

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Will’s Holiday Party with the Hurricane Team!

The following morning, we lazily got up and slowly made our way to the train station to head back to Buksam, but not before heading to McDonald’s for some good ole’ hangover food! Nothing beats a BigMac on a hangover! That evening Kyle and I decided to open our gifts. Initially, we decided to open the gifts just from our family since we’d be Skyping them the following morning and wait to open our gifts to each other on Sunday. Well, if you know me, I am the most impatient person in the world and once we opened our families gifts, we couldn’t stop and ended up opening them all. 😛 Which, by the way, a HUGE thank you to all of our family for the gifts! We were so happy and appreciative of everything!!

And finally… New Years! Last year we spent it in Japan and it was rather quiet. New Year’s isn’t as big of a deal here as it is back in the states. The best way to explain it is that in the US, we go by the solar calendar, which is a measure of the earth’s rotation around the sun. In Korea, they use both the solar calendar and the lunar calendar. The latter of which is a measure of the moon’s rotation around the sun. While in the solar calendar, we celebrate New Year’s on December 31st every year, the lunar calendar celebrates New Year’s on the day of the second new moon after winter solstice. Because there are roughly 354 days in the lunar calendar, it falls on a different day each year. This year it’s on January 28th.  So, for most Koreans, the new year is really on January 28th and that’s when everyone will be celebrating – which means spending time with family, wearing traditional clothing called, hanbok, and eating the traditional sliced rice cake soup, tteokguk.

This year we headed up to Seoul with Katie, Neerali, and Dee! During the day we ate at a delicious vegan cafe, PLANT for lunch. As much as Kyle and I both LOVE meat, this place was actually really good! The perks of traveling with vegetarians: you get to try new things you wouldn’t have considered before. We did a little shopping and ate street food in one of the big shopping districts before checking into our hostel and getting ready for the evening.

Surprisingly, we had a pretty sober New Year’s, save for some beers at dinner!  After dinner, we made our way to Seoul Plaza where there was a huge protest being held against the President, Park Geun-Hye (that’s an entirely other long story – just google her name and you can read up on the latest with her). It’s really fascinating to see how the police and protesters work together to make it a rather “peaceful” protest. There were bus loads of cops but the atmosphere never once felt tense or unsafe.

We continued to walk up the road to the Bosingak Belfry where they hold a special New Year’s bell ringing ceremony every year. The bell ringing ceremony relates back to the Joseon Dynasty where it rang 33 times at 4AM and 28 times at 10PM, respectively, to signal the opening and closing of the four city gates in Seoul. For the New Year’s ceremony, they had a main stage with performances and speakers and finished by ringing the bell 33 times at midnight. It was expected that nearly 100,000 people would be attending the outdoor ceremony. We’re not sure what the final number ended up being, but there were TONS of people!

And now we’re in 2017, which also marks less than 8 weeks before we head back home to the states. So much to be thankful for in 2016 and so much to look forward to in 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

xoxo,

Sam & Kyle

 

 

 

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