Sunday, April 6, 2014

The week of the cherry blossoms

Spring announces its arrival in a bold and beautiful way in Korea.  In case the warm temperatures weren't enough to clue you in that spring was here, the cherry blossoms burst onto the scene in way that no one can miss.  Korea's cherry blossoms are famous--you don't have to look far on any tourist information page to see pictures of these flowering trees.  Since I had already seen so many pictures of the cherry blossoms, I had been anxiously awaiting their arrival since the day I stepped off the plane.

When we got back from our trip to Jindo last weekend the blossoms had at last opened.  After a grey, bland winter, the blossoms were a sight for sore eyes. Over the course of this week, I enjoyed picturesque views as I walked around town.  The river right behind my apartment building is lined with cherry blossoms, conveniently making it what is probably the best place in Jeomchon to see the blossoms.  Unfortunately, the river has been torn up for the past few months as the town is redesigning it before it hosts the Wold Military Games in 2015.  I was really hoping that they would finish before the cherry blossoms bloomed, but that wasn't the case.  Although the trees were still beautiful, I'm sure they would have been even better if instead of brown dirt we had green grass and flowing water as a backdrop.

The view from the roof of my apartment building.  The cherry blossoms line the river on both sides. 

The sad state of our river.  Imagine how beautiful it would have been without all that dirt!
My view as I walked to school.  It definitely made the killer hill more enjoyable.

Wednesday afternoon my school attended the small Cherry Blossom festival by the river.  I think I spent the entire two hours taking pictures--especially with students.  It was a fun afternoon, although it did cut into some of my planning time, which I actually desparately needed this week because  I had to write the midterm questions and submit the plan for my summer camp (yes, the summer camp that isn't until JULY!)  But I guess sometimes you just have to forget about work and seize the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful spring day.
Some of the third grade girls. They were my absolutely fantastic second graders last year.  I unfortunately don't get to see them much these days now that they're in third grade!
My second grade boys found my friend on her way home from school and insisted she be in our picture.

Two of my co-teachers!

One of the third grade girls.
My wonderful first grade girls!

Second grade boys
Thursday was the first night I had my night class....and man, I forgot how brutal it is to teach night classes.  As I was sitting at my desk, one of my friends kakaoed me and told me that it was raining, and that with rain and wind the cherry blossoms were going to pass.  I was immediately struck with panic.  They were going to pass already?!  I felt like they had just bloomed.  Although I knew they wouldn't last long, I thought they were going to last longer than that! I hadn't even taken any pictures with my nice camera yet!

I got home from my night class around 9:30 and immediately set out to capture some photos of the blossoms at night.  It actually was quite nice because although the rain had stopped, it was still chilly, and most people stayed in for the night, making it a lot easier to take pictures.

Not a bad view to have literally in your backyard.

I woke up early Friday morning to take some more pictures because I didn't want to worry about all the petals falling off during the day.  I'm actually glad I did because when I went back by the river in the afternoon the blossoms had lost a lot of their petals.
Just beautiful.

As I was walking around town today, I noticed that most of the trees now have green leaves poking out.  The cherry blossoms were really beautiful, but I am saddened by the fact that they didn't last longer.  Although, I suppose that it the way with many of the truly beautiful experiences in life--they never last long, and in many ways it's what makes us appreciate them more.

As I approach my 8 month mark in Korea, the short presence of the cherry blossoms reminded me that my time here is also fleeting.  Even if I stay another year, many of the people who have made this year what it is won't be here.  I'll have a different job, and so many aspects of this experience will be different.  I'm trying to stay present-minded, but I don't want to lose sight of the fact that my life here won't last forever.  This is truly a unique and limited period in my life, and although at times I wish it could last forever, time will eventually bring it to an end.

Until then, I sure have a lot to do. The best is yet to come.


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