In America, the holiday season is fully underway. The end-of-year trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas means almost nonstop feasting, decorating, and spending time with family. In Korea, the two major holidays in the fall and winter are spread much further apart. The Korean harvest festival, Chuseok, takes place in September. The next major holiday is Christmas in December.
To give us some holiday spirit and a touch of home, Fulbright held its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the lodge on the U.S. Army base in Seoul.
“Guys, this is America!” one of my friends said as we walked through the parking lot to reach the lodge on Saturday night. “Look – the cars have real colors!”
We laughed as we passed a red Toyota and a blue Ford. It does seem that most Korean cars are white, black, or gray.
About 100 ETAs attended the dinner over the weekend, with many of us arriving the night before to spend more time together. We ate turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie. Looking at my plate of Thanksgiving goodness, I realized this was the first time I had ever thought of America having “traditional food.” I fall into this trap of dismissing American traditions because they aren’t as old or deeply rooted as many other cultures’ traditions (that and the fact that America is multicultural, so families celebrate traditions from other countries, too). Something to watch out for as the year comes to an end.
My friends and I also shared some of the things we were thankful for in Korea and at home–supportive families, new friends, good co-teachers, welcoming homestays. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year!
Though I won’t be going to the U.S. for the holidays, I have some international travel coming up in the next few months. Stay tuned for more updates from Asia!