Thanksgiving Day Korean Style

It’s hard to believe that it’s my 2nd Thanksgiving in Seoul.  Where has the time gone?  It’s definitely not easy being far away from family and having to work during this holiday, but I made the best of it by bringing Thanksgiving to my school today.  Today I brought in a pumpkin pie from Costco to share with my school.  Their first reaction was “Wow, thank you!” and then after I explained it was for Thanksgiving, they asked, “Where’s the turkey?”  The one thing Koreans know about Thanksgiving is that turkey is involved.  There are no wild turkeys in Korea.  The only turkeys here can be seen at a zoo.  To Koreans, eating turkey is as exotic as it is for us to imagine eating live octopus.  I wish I could have brought in a turkey for my school, but it would have cost well over $100.

Pumpkin Pie (courtesy of Costco)


Principal and Vice Principal at lunch with a slice of Pumpkin Pie

I was sure to make Turkey Day come alive for my students and what better way to do that than by making “hand turkeys”!  I think every child in America knows how to make the infamous “hand turkey” and I couldn’t stop myself from passing on the tradition to my Korean students.  They had a lot of fun tracing the shape of their hands and making it into a colorful turkey.  I also had them write words of things they were thankful for.  The boys went a little overboard, as usual, and added some extra elements to the drawings as you will see below.  Some students could not comprehend that a turkey wasn’t a chicken. And others had some trouble understanding how their hand could turn into a turkey.  But, nonetheless, the students had fun learning about the history of Thanksgiving, looking at pictures of the delicious food, and making the fun turkey craft.  I will continue my Thanksgiving tonight by meeting my friends for a nice, authentic Thanksgiving meal.  I am counting down the hours.  Miss all my family back home.  I’m thankful to have family and friends all over the world that love and support me in everything that I do.

4th grade girls



The girls made pretty "Hand Turkeys"


While the boys decided to add another element....



And one took this activity much too literally...


Giving Thanks in a New Place with New Friends

This year Thanksgiving strayed a a bit from the norm, but I did my best to keep the tradition alive miles and miles away from home.  I missed having the short work week and it wasn’t the greatest thing to have work on Thanksgiving Day.  So I decided to bring Thanksgiving to school.  I went to a few bakeries near my house and snatched up a few treats that were somewhat reminiscent of Thanksgiving.  I bought a “sweet potato cake” and a walnut pie for the faculty and some pumpkin bread, apple pies, and sweet potato pies for my co-teacher, principal, and vice principal.  It was nice to share some traditional flavors of the harvest day with my co-workers. After all, working at my school and having such caring colleagues is the main thing I am thankful for this year. When eating lunch and watching the faculty enjoy my treats I was pleasantly surprised by the DHL delivery man with a package from home! My mom sent me some Christmas decorations and some wrapped presents 🙂 It was so exciting to open a package from thousands of miles away! It definitely lifted my spirits since I wasn’t going to be home for the holidays.

As the day went by I couldn’t wait for 5:00 to roll around because I had made reservations with my friends for an authentic Thanksgiving meal in Itaewon. I was a little nervous since I was the one who made the reservations and got everyone together.  Many popular places I had tried to make reservations at were booked and the place I chose, Gecko’s Terrace, wasn’t highly advertised, but supposedly puts on a nice Thanksgiving and Christmas buffet every year.  I met 6 of my girlfriends after school at around 6 and we were ready to indulge in some non-Korean cuisine.  Gecko’s Terrace ended up to be a perfect choice.  The atmosphere was really nice and cozy and the food was amazing.  Before eating we went around and said what we were thankful for and it got a little emotional.  We are all from many parts of America and come from many different backgrounds, but we have made such a strong bond in a short amount of time.  We were all thankful for having the opportunity to teach and travel and make such wonderful friends. We ate all the traditional foods and more! There was  turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and even stuffing along with chicken, steak, vegetables, salmon, shrimp, salads, and bread.  Since it was buffet style we didn’t hesitate to go for seconds and thirds. 😉 And don’t forget dessert! No pumpkin pie, but they had the best apple pie, cheesecake, fruit, and more. Overall I was really happy that everything worked out and we left more than full.

The dessert table


Feelings of homesickness came over me throughout the day.  Without my family, the aromas of food cooking in the kitchen, Thanksgiving decorations, and televised football games, I wished that I could click my heels and go home for just a few hours. I am thankful that God has given me so many great opportunities in my life and I know that I am in Korea for a reason.  I am thankful to have such a supportive family at home and such great friends near and far.