Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quarter of a Century Never Felt so Good!

As many of you know, I turned 25 last Tuesday (November 1) and am now officially a quarter of a century young! I am now able to legally rent a car in the US! Woo hoo!

I spent the majority of my birthday at school with my lovely sophomore students. I had four classes that day and the first two of were having parties for good behavior. As my fourth period class (class 102) rolled into the room, I was showing Friends on the screen (as I always do during passing time). The bell rang and my co-teacher still hadn't shown up (which was very odd because he is always early and never late). He finally strolled into class about 5 minutes after the bell carrying a blue box. Immediately, one of the students leaped out of his seat and turned all of the lights off. My co-teacher, Mr. Go, came to the front of the room with the blue box and opened it. This is what was inside...

A delicious, chocolate birthday cake! Mr. Go proceeded to put candles in the cake and light them. The entire class than sang me "Happy Birthday" in both English and Korean and I blew out my candles. I was so taken aback and appreciative of this gesture! Plus the cake was absolutely delicious!

After class, some of my other co-teachers treated me out to lunch at a restaurant near our school. On Monday, one of the teachers approached me and told me that they were planning on taking me out to lunch. But she also said that she wasn't sure I was going to like the menu, which had me a little worried. We ended up eating at a restaurant that served fish, vegetables, sprouts, and a really tasty soup, along with the staple of every Korean meal - rice. I actually really enjoyed the meal, but apparently my teachers didn't think I ate enough as they bought me a sandwich on the way back to school.

When we arrived at school, I was surprised with the following...

With two of the other English teachers and my cake! 
Yes...another cake! This one had fruit on top and was as equally delicious as the first one. My co-teachers lit some candles and the entire office sang me Happy Birthday again. One of the vice-principals gave me some nice thick, wool socks for the winter, which was a welcomed gift. That night, I went out to eat with my friends Megan, Travis, and Steve. We went to a restaurant called Oktoberfest and had a great time celebrating.

Since my birthday was during the week, I wasn't able to actually celebrate with all of my friends until the weekend. I had been telling people that I didn't want to plan what we did and was open to suggestions. My friend Rich suggested that we go check out the horse races that happen pretty much every weekend at the race track in southern Seoul. Since I had never been to a live horse race before, I was all for it!

So Saturday, about 15 of us met at the horse track for an afternoon of racing and (hopefully) winning! The betting was surprisingly easy and while I didn't win any money, I had a great time and hope to head back there sometime soon!

The horse track from the outside

Posing with my first two bets...EVER!

...and their off!...

Koreans take this seriously!

View of the homestretch of the track

Once we had had our fulfillment of horse racing and losing money, we headed to Sinchon, an area of Seoul right next Hongdae, for some dinner and drinks. The restaurant/bar that we ended up at is called Yalebar and they have tables set up so people can place beer pong and flip cup, along with an assortment of board games. We have been here a couple of times before and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so we ventured back for another round of merriment. Yalebar once again did not let us down, as we once again had a great time.

Following our time at Yalebar, we headed over to Hongdae to support our friend Joel who was DJing at a Club Exit. Along the way, my friend Emma purchased a pair of bright pink Happy Birthday glasses that I was of course obligated to wear for the rest of the night. I also met a Korean who's English name is Owen and who's birthday is November 2nd! Needless to say, we became instant friends.

Sporting my new glasses

Cheersing with my new friend Owen

It was a great birthday celebration and I couldn't have done without everyone that came out! Here's to another great 25 years!