Yesterday was a national holiday in Korea and in some other Asian countries, the celebration of the birth of Buddha. It’s actually a week-long celebration in the temples here, with brightly colored paper lanterns decorating the various temple grounds and other areas around the city. I haven’t seen or heard of any large-scale festivities taking place, but I’m sure there must be some events occurring in conjunction with the holiday.
Yes, we had the day off, but some institutions just can’t wrap their collective heads around the concept of a holiday. When we had holidays at the University of Montana, teachers and students never had to make up classes; here, we do. That’s what a holiday is–you don’t have to work, it’s a free day, so to speak. We have 4 holidays this semester and we have to come in and add extra time to our already-busy schedules to make up for the time lost. Ridiculous. If businesses in the U.S., at least, told their workers they had to come in at another time to make up for having July 4th off, for example, they’d have to pay time-and-a-half or double time. No such thing here. I don’t know about other educational institutions in Korea, but in this university, holidays are certainly not free time. Oh, well, grin and bear it, I guess.(My memory just got jogged–at Andong National University, there were 10 or so days set aside at the end of the semester to make up for holiday classes, but to my knowledge, no one ever actually made them up. Here, the powers-that-be would probably find out if we skipped out on make ups.)
At least yesterday was gorgeous, with lots of sun and warm temperatures. Today, however, is a different story, with rain forecast for the entire weekend. I walked down to the local market to buy some groceries and got caught in some fairly heavy rain. Luckily, I’d taken my umbrella, what’s left of it. The wind here at the campus on the side of a hill, whirls around, hitting you from all directions at once, it seems. I’ve had to buy 3 or 4 umbrellas since I got here, because they get turned inside out and the stretchers that support the ribs (check out this website for the parts of an umbrella) snap off, eventually making the whole thing about as effective as using a newspaper for cover.