Koreans are busy celebrating with their families, visiting ancestral graves, and taking part in everything else related to their thanksgiving or Chuseok as it’s known here. Before any holiday, I poll most of my students to see what they’ll be up to and the answer is always the same during this one.
Why would they say anything else? For some reason, my crazy mind assumes that at least one person will go rogue during the holiday but no, I’ve yet to find them. That is, if they exist. Of course there are people without families during this time of year and hopefully they aren’t spending Chuseok alone.
There’s an understandable look of confusion on their faces after I explain that we will be spending this huge family holiday… alone. It’s not that bad, either. We only get homesick during the American holidays for starters. And probably the biggest bonus is that while everyone is busy at whatever relative’s house, we get the run of the land on the outside.
And run, we will. Not having family around does tug at the old heartstrings on occasion and probably will during this holiday but we’ve found ways to recreate family in our friends and surroundings. Some of my longtime students feel like family, always passing on sage wisdom and even helping me prepare for this trip. Thanks for the discounted GPS and various hotspot recommendations for our ride up Korea’s famed East Coast!
Just like Koreans attempting to honor their ancestors during Chuseok, we’re hoping to make ours proud through the experiences and places we’ve learned from and seen. Finding new places in this tiny country, believe it or not, is pretty easy and our weekend journey up the coastal highway will add a few marks on the wall map.
Happy Chuseok, Korea! I hope this time brings happiness upon you.
And for those out and about, Happy Chuseok Travels.
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