Happy New Year!

Yes, since I am 14 hours ahead of most of you, I am already enjoying the New Year.  But before I begin my enthralling tale about that holiday, I should catch you up on my birthday, which was on the 29th.

I didn’t want to write about my birthday until now because I didn’t want to jinx my New Years Eve plans.  Well, most of my family knows that celebrating my birthday has always been hit or miss; people are busy, etc.  But this year was a lot of fun, and I have many people here to thank for that.  Last Friday was our work get-together at an instructor’s house.  We all felt pretty fly because there aren’t many houses in Seoul, really only apartment buildings and such.  So we were able to drink, eat good food, play video games, and exchange gifts.  We had a “White Elephant” gift exchange, which meant that everyone was supposed to bring a $10 gift, making it as silly as possible.  I ended up taking an umbrella… well, hey, it’s practical too!  In the end, I was able to pick a Batman notebook, arguably one of the tamer gift choices.  Anyways, there were grandiose plans for after the party, but everyone dispersed very quickly!  It was probably the Soju consumption that caused everyone to blackout, but I ended up going out with just a couple of friends to one of my favorite bars, Crazy W.C.  It was there that I got a pizza cake with candles and some free drinks (I was hurting the next day in class).  I had so much fun Friday night that I was almost too tired for my actual birthday, which was on Saturday.  I had two classes so I rolled out of bed, no hair product, hardly any make-up, and my glasses.  It just so happened that after work, some of my friends were planning to take me out AGAIN, but the thought of alcohol repulsed me and I felt like a bum for being so dressed-down.  So we went to dinner, where they surprised me with a strawberry cake and we went to Foxwood, my ideal place to go to.  I was given a free shot there, but my stomach was still doing somersaults from the night before.  In the end, I was very glad to get some sleep on Saturday night because I was also still sick and very tired.

I had very high expectations for New Years Eve.  I had heard of no plans near where I live, so I sought them out.  I contacted a guy named Tomasz who just started teaching at Chungdahm.  I met him a couple of weeks ago and he had been at the house party on Friday.  He had talked about the nightlife in Itaewon so I decided that Itaewon would be the best venue for New Years because the residents were almost all foreigners from the U.S. or Canada.  So alas, it was my day off yesterday, but I spent the afternoon prepping my classes for this week and taking a long nap so that I might actually party hard before 2008 began.  I stayed in contact with Tomasz most of the day through e-mail and text messaging because he had to teach and we planned on meeting in Itaewon around 11.  So when I was able to get on the subway around 10 or so, that is when the calls began: “What are you doing for New Years?” “Come over!”  I couldn’t believe that my co-workers and friends had waited until the last moment to make plans, but I was happy that I hadn’t waited around.  My night ended up being pretty fun: no cover charges, discounted drinks, good people, etc.  One place even gave everyone a free glass of champagne.  I was also relieved to be around people who just wanted to have a good time, instead of getting drunk and hitting on random strangers.

You know, I have been in Seoul for almost 5 months and I am still pretty much figuring out how to make the best out of this experience.  I really think that I needed a new year, so that I can start again in many ways.  There is a lot about 2007 that has bummed me out, but I am going to try to facilitate some positive changes for 2008.

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