What does one get up to during her first Chuseok in South Korea?
If you asked me a year ago ‘what Chuseok meant to me?’ I would probably say that it was something I brought up during my Scholarship interview in the hope that it would get me some extra points to indicate that I had a deeper understanding of the Korean culture. Did I really know what it was though? Not quite.
Firstly those of you who aren’t aware of what Chuseok is, it is a three-day harvest festival that celebrates the eve of autumn and harvest. Families get together in their hometowns and eat together. Some of the main foods eaten during Chuseok are half-moon shaped rice cake called Songpyeon and rice wine. I also noticed that a lot of families gift each other with boxes of fruit. In Korea, fruit is considered a suitable gift for when you visit a house. These boxes of fruit can range from 30,000-70,000 won (FJD 60-140) which is ridiculous; in my opinion for some apples and pears. Anyway, this three day holiday meant that we were on break from Wednesday all through to Sunday and I was looking forward to taking a break after starting the semester with a bang.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. Since our TOPIK exams are in two weeks our class decided that it would be better to spend the three days having classes in preparation for these exams. At first, it was hard seeing my friends enjoy their free time but I got used to it and just focused on the classes. Our classes consisted of 4 hours each morning focusing on Korean grammar and reading comprehension. We also had a culture class where each student talked about a cultural holiday in their country (I talked about Diwali). The language Centre and dormitory also gifted each student with some traditional Korean snacks to snack on during the class which consisted of a rice drink and some rice related snacks. I told my friend Tani that this was the ideal holiday for him as a joke… he took it seriously and was genuinely interested. I guess you never get over some old habits.
When Friday came I was so excited to just rest or hang out with my friends. I was surprised on Friday morning when my friend called me saying that he and the other Fiji gang had just arrived in Busan and were wondering if I was free. I of course had classes in the morning but told them I would go see them straight after class. I was excited as its always fun to hang out with the Fiji gang here in Korea. Tt was also exciting to finally have something interesting to do after a week of classes during a national holiday.
As expected, I didn’t quite know where I was going but managed to follow the directions on my phone. I was surprised to see a grand piano and a beautiful view of the ocean as I walked out of the elevator. Seeing the grand piano brought back a lot of memories from Fiji. In Fiji, near the end of high school I was practising 5-6 times a week, learning theory every other day and writing musical analysis’ when I wasn’t practising. So seeing this piano after such a long time made me feel like I was meeting an old friend.
One of my friends in Korea is a professional opera singer so he was doing a short live performance on Social media which is why there was a piano. After he had finished I met Rosie, Rita and Jeli and the five of us made our way back to their hotel room as we were going to have some cake to celebrate Soko’s birthday. I was touched that they called me to celebrate with them and had a great time with them. After cake, we went to a seafood restaurant and had a seafood soup dish which was really good. I feel that each time I have something seafood-related with my friends I’m getting less and less scared of seafood and starting to enjoy it a bit more. I’m still unsure of mussels and will have to overcome that at some point….
Although my first Chuseok in Korea was not your ideal traditional Chuseok with expensive fruit and a lot of rice cake, I did get to spend a part of my weekend with my Fiji friends. I had a great time and am glad to be part of the Fijian community here in Korea.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on fun places around Busan that I need to visit during my one year of language study. I’ve made a list of cool places to go and visit which include cafes, lookout spots and tourist attractions. Stay tuned to any updates by subscribing to my blog so you don’t miss out on any new posts! forget to like and subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on any new posts.