We were headed to Jinju for its annual lantern festival. Koreans flock to any sort of festival, (as I guess so do we), so the place was packed, but also better than I was expecting. The lanterns that you could release onto the river were pretty and the countless lit up things were fun, if a bit tacky. Jinju’s main touristy highlight is its medieval fortress and wall along the river. Within it they had recreated ancient battles all lit up and guards posted along the walls.

My general feeling of Korean festivals – cherry blossom festival, mud festival, lantern festival – is that they’re good fun and something worth seeing. But probably just the once. Next year I’ll have no plans on returning. I’d much rather go out and hike in a national park that has trees blossoming, than squeeze through the crowds at the festival again. I’m pretty biased as I live here, but Daegu’s chi-mek festival, is still the best I’ve been too. Cheap beer and chicken, live music and dancing, and way less crowded – what’s not to love?!

We were up fairly early on the Monday morning, our body clocks slightly shifted due to the race, and went for a lazy stroll from Hodel’s apartment to a coffee shop. If I ever thought my apartment was small, I now feel bad, hers is probably half the size. We still managed to squeeze four into it though!

Monday again gave us nice weather, so we took advantage of Jinju’s free bicycle rental and jaunted along the river towards the large reservoir. Turned out to be quite a hill up to the viewpoint, which we sweated our way up, pushing our bikes. The view out was worth it though and the trundle down the hill a little hair raising with out dodgy brakes.

The journey back turned out to be a little hectic with two attempts at getting busses to Daegu failing as they were full or sold out. It felt like we toured Jinju multiple times trying to get out of the place! Eventually the KTX saved us and we got back to Daegu not too late into the evening.

This week at work has been a very easy one. I’ve had lots of classes cancelled and the first graders are away until Tuesday so not a lot of teaching for me to do. I did have a big success yesterday in getting the speaking test format changed. Last term the students selected three chopsticks out of nine and those were the three questions that they answered. I felt this didn’t give an accurate reflection of many of our weaker/middling students’ ability. The weaker ones would just memorise the first few and pray that they pulled those sticks. Some would and then score very high marks, whereas others wouldn’t and just not attempt to answer anything.

I changed it into three sections, each one slightly harder than the next. The students pull one stick for each section and answer that. It means for our weaker students, they just have to try and learn three questions and they know they will get one of those questions which will move them up an entire grade boundary. I re-wrote the exam paper and submitted it to the English department yesterday. I’d expected it to be a bit of a hassle and long persuasion, as the system seems pretty rigid, (we’ve used the same textbooks since 2009), but luckily it came back approved in the afternoon. My first major change to our system and one I’m very happy with 🙂

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