Spring Outing

10 Mar

I am hearing and seeing new things at English Village.  Birds are flying in v-shapes overhead.  There are more people wandering the streets on weekends.  I notice voices of other teachers outside in the evenings.  The birds are even starting to sing.  It seems the Christmas trees in front of our “City Hall” have even been taken down.  Plus the collection of snow on the English Village campus has shrunk to a minimum. Could it be… is it possible… that Spring is coming?

Talking about Spring in Paju, South Korea automatically strikes up conversation of local weather.  It seems that Paju is in some sort of bad weather vortex on the peninsula of South Korea.  It has long, particularly harsh Winters (we are colder and get more snow than our neighboring Seoul, just an hour away).  Hot, humid Summers (I am told, yes, for some reason Paju is hotter than Seoul too).  And then there is monsoon season.  I don’t know that much about it except for stories of water flooding through the hallways of buildings and being encouraged to buy rain boots. I hear that Spring and Fall here are fabulous… for as long as they last… which is rumored to be comparatively short to Summer and Winter.

As the freezing cold weather appears to finally be breaking away, I can feel myself and the world around me starting to come out of hibernation.  I am beginning to have a desire to do something other than bundle up and stay warm for dear life.

On that note, I took a little outing this week on one of my days off.  As I am working weekends this month, my “weekend” currently is on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  This past Wednesday was such a fresh day I actually felt inspired to go out, take a little walk and explore the area.   I learned recently that the outlet mall that I knew was “somewhere around here” is in fact in walking distance just a straight shot down the road.  So I took a little walk and made my way to the post-office first (so long Flat Stanley!) and then the neighboring “Paju Premium Outlet Mall”.

Now, my first observation is that “Paju Premium Outlet Mall” sounds suspiciously like “… Philadelphia Premium Outlets”.  Before coming to South Korea I stayed in Philadelphia for a few months acquiring my Korean work Visa and preparing for my trip.  How surprising it was to leave the States, travel to the other side of the world, arrive  in the foreign lands of Asia only to find… another Premium Outlet Mall.  Hmmm…  That said, I enjoyed my walk down the street, a beautiful day, and the splendor of just spending some time away from work and “off campus”.

Walking around in Paju is no easy feat – especially for this woman who lived in the flatlands of New Orleans for 13 years.  Paju is what you might call… hilly.  You cannot go any direction outside of English Village without surmounting at least one if not two hills.  This is not a complaint mind you.  But for me and my hamstrings it is… an adjustment.

I arrived at the outlet mall to find a seemingly endless array of shops and restaurants, piled up three stories high.  I ran into some colleagues from work in the food court and joined them for lunch.  Afterwards I continued to peruse the daunting supply of high-end shops including DKNY, Coach, Nike and Calvin Klein.  I bought myself a smoothie at Smoothie King (yes the Premium outlet mall comes complete with Smoothie King and Aunt Annie’s pretzels… sound familiar?).  Despite my periodic moments of deja vu, the outing was a treat and I was glad for the diversion.

I returned home the same way I arrived…on foot. The two hills I easily surmounted on the way there looked a bit more oppressive on the way back.  I considered taking the bus, but my pride got the best of me and I trudged my way back over the hills and made my way home.

I have enjoyed swimming lately as well.  We are lucky to have a gym here on the English Village (EV) campus that is open to the teachers and staff at EV as well as the community.  As I am now off on Wednesdays and Thursdays it gives me a little time to sneak in for a swim when it’s not as busy.  Usually Korean moms and kids start to arrive in the afternoon just about the time that I am leaving.  It’s funny to watch the little girls staring at me – in a friendly way.  I am usually the only foreigner in the locker room and I am sure quite a surprise and literally a “foreign” sight to the young Korean girls.

Our last quiet week of work has nearly come to an end as we will have students again this coming week. I am grateful for the promise of Spring arriving and all that brings.

I am wondering, has Spring sprung wherever you are in the world?  If so, what will you be doing as the lovely Spring days fold in?  Any suggestions for how to spend a spring day in South Korea?  It’s always great to hear from you!

Featured image at top from the second floor of the Paju Premium Outlet Mall.  Clearly a close cousin of the Premium Outlet Malls in the United States.

2 Responses to “Spring Outing”

  1. Mary Anne 03/11/2013 at 05:04 #

    Nanci, I always enjoy reading your posts. I know what you are saying about spring approaching. We are in FL now with the azaelas blooming and camelias almost finished. We’ll see the redbuds and dogwoods of the south on the drive home. So, we feel like we have experienced a bit of spring here. Then, in a couple weeks we will enjoy springtime again in Illinois. My neighbors tell me that our daffodils are up 3-4 inches already. Yes, I love springtime. It revives the soul. I remember one year being in CA to visit Lisa, at the time. I loved the palm trees and the vegetation there. Then, when we arrived back home in the midwest, spring was in full blossom. The pear trees and fruit trees were gorgeous. Sometimes, you have to leave your own area to appreciate it. Enjoy your springtime in South Korea. You deserve it after the snow and cold of winter. We plan to enjoy ours in the Midwest, too.

    • nancieteresa 03/17/2013 at 05:03 #

      Hi Mary Anne! So nice to hear from you. I find that cold winter REALLY helps me to appreciate Spring! Call spring is finding your way to your home too!

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