Sunday, November 4, 2012

Those Crisp Autumn Nights

Over the past few weeks the weather has been taking a turn for colder temps, and the leaves are changing once again, heralding the arrival of my favorite time of year:  fall!

The joy (and sometimes frustration) of not teaching from a set curriculum is making up your own lessons.  That being said, my favorite time of year has played heavily into the lessons for the past few weeks.  We kicked off with an introduction into what fall meant (changing weather, leaves, different clothes) and are now exploring traditions and holidays of fall, along with food!

Something that got a lot of students' attention was the NC State Fair.  Korea is rife with festivals; they seem to have one or another going on every week.  But even with all the different festivals that I have been to in Korea, nothing holds quite the same feeling and excitement that the State Fair does.  For the most part, amusement rides are separate from festivals here, instead residing at one of the actual amusement parks like Lotte World or Everland.  My students were impressed to see that at the State Fair we combine our rides, food, music, displays, and animals all into one big package.

They were equally impressed (and some disgusted) with the array of food consumed at the State Fair.  Showing pictures of deep-fried Oreo cookies, turkey legs, chocolate-covered bacon, and funnel cake elicited reactions ranging from professions of love to groans of hunger to confusion.  Some students commented that Americans eat strange foods.  Of course, that sparked another discussion on what is considered weird food.  Koreans have been known to eat some foods that many Americans would consider strange, too!

I also introduced them to fall sports in the US, including my favorites:  college football and basketball.  For that, I pulled down some great moments of Carolina sports history from YouTube to show them.  As a an example of showing how much fans can love a team, I showed them the end of the Miami-UNC game where Connor Barth kicked that awesome field goal to give UNC the win.  The students were surprised to see the fans storming the field and taking down the goalposts, as they had never witnessed Koreans doing anything like that.  (Of course in their defense, there isn't much to tear down and carry off in soccer, baseball, or taekwondo like a football goalpost.)

While going over these activities with my students, I couldn't help but feel this overwhelming sense of homesickness.   I've been pretty good about trying to keep it in check before I go home, but occasionally it hits me.  I think about all these moments that make up a small part of American culture (the part that I grew up with) and how I haven't really gotten to experience them in person for a long time.  Then I think about how next year I will be fortunate enough to get to see my friends and family and have these moments again for real instead of reading about them on Facebook, and I am happy once more.

What am I looking forward to next fall, living back in the States?

  • Football games in Kenan Stadium
  • Late Night with Roy and the basketball team at the Smith Center
  • Basketball season
  • Walking in the quad under a canopy of autumn leaves and Carolina blue skies
  • Heading to Franklin Street for a Carolina reunion with friends
  • North Carolina State Fair
  • Fair food!
  • Crisp nights with the smell of wood fires burning
  • Starbucks Pumpkin Lattes
  • Daily Grind coffee
  • Halloween
  • Halloween candy
  • First Thanksgiving at home in 5 years!
  • Thanksgiving dinner
  • My mom's pumpkin pie
  • Getting ready for Christmas with my family and friends
  • Celebrating friends' birthdays in person
  • Traveling the US to visit wayward friends

There's so many other things I'm looking forward to, but that's a list for another post.

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