Are you in the mood for Christmas?

Dezember 3rd, 2016

A week full of work and a workshop together with my colleagues in Germany is over and I started the second half of my trip back home: vacation.

I will spend a week at my parents home to relax, meet friends and the entire family. Besides I have trips to several places on my mind but this depends on the weather and what others might have on their mind.

 

In Seoul, several departments stores, shops and offices have put up some Christmas decoration during the last weeks and you can see lots of advertisement for Christmas sale activities. However, my feeling is that Christmas is mainly an event from commercial point of view. Other festivals like Spring Festival or Chuseok have a much higher importance and people mostly focus on them.

Here in Germany, Christmas is definitely one of the most important periods during the year. People prepare their homes with lots of lights, animals or snowmen as decoration. Trees with candles or chains of lights can be spotted nearly everywhere.

 

In cafes and restaurants you will find menus with special dishes traditionally eaten during Christmas season and coffee is enriched with the flavors of cinnamon, honey or cardamom. Supermarkets updated their range of products especially by ingredients for baking and there is nothing that you can think of you will not find.

 

At my home, my parents also decorated each room. Especially the living room has the most intense atmosphere. In the evening you can see the enlighten trees through the windows and next to a book shelf you will the Christmas crib right next to it.

When having a coffee on Sunday afternoon, there will be a plate with home made cookies and stollen. When being a child and still going to school, I was waiting for the end of November when she usually started making the cookies. The older I got, there more I enjoyed doing it together and from her I learned a lot. Without her hints and tricks, I would not have been able to prepare some traditional Christmas cookies for my colleagues in Seoul last year.

 

During the next days, I will try to enjoy and absorb as much of the atmosphere as possible and hopefully this will last when being back in South Korea.

Ready for take-off

November 27th, 2016

Today was the last day at the office before going on a combined business trip and vacation for the next two weeks.

As usual, many things needed to be finished and therefore leaving the office early was not an option.

Close to 8 pm in the evening, all reports had been written, manuals and instructions for my colleagues, who back me up during my absence, had been created and all emails answered. My trolley for the laptop had been prepared and I was good to go.

 

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What to do?

November 20th, 2016

On Friday night, I decided to go for a walk around midnight as I was more awake rather than feeling sleepy. It has been a tough week and I had spent most of the Friday in the car on a long distance drive around Seoul.

However, when sitting on the sofa in the evening I felt quite restless.

 

Frankly speaking, I like going outside late at night and walk around. The atmosphere is so much different from day time: with less people and cars outside, you have the chance to see signs or other things that are otherwise covered by traffic or pedestrians. Also the city itself seems to be taking a breath and relax before another busy day will be starting.

Last but not least the sound and noises you can hear differ a lot from motorcycles, buses, cars and horns. Sometimes you can even hear birds singing from the trees, especially in the early morning.

 

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Change in plans

November 12th, 2016

The year is slowly coming to an end and you can feel that Christmas is not far away. Even though it is not a major or very traditional holiday here in Korea, people celebrate it anyway. Many shops put up massive Christmas decoration or are preparing to do so. For them any kind of holiday is more than welcome to have special sales events, discounts or offer specific products for that season.

One of the very well-known department stores is covered by thousands of lights in the evening with changing colors, imitating being wrapped in different colors or having other kind of animation. Indeed it looks very beautiful and is a good place for taking nice pictures when it is dark.

 

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Adding another year

November 4th, 2016

Being an expat for quite a ling time now I have gone through that situation a couple of times in the past: the current contract is coming to an end within the next six months and therefore I should make a decision about my future.

Every expat is given a guarantee that she or he will be offered a job at the same salary at their home location when the contract ends. However, as the company can not hold a vacancy for several years, the jobs you are offered are more likely tasks no one else likes to do.

Therefore it is highly recommended to start searching for new options on your own.

 

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Gifts, gifts, gifts

Oktober 30th, 2016

The second half of the year is a special period for our family. Except the birthdays of my niece and my father all other take place in autumn.

Within a period of two weeks there are four birthdays and one anniversary. Another month later we celebrate the birthday of my nephew and additional four weeks on top, it is time to celebrate Christmas.

 

As a consequence the second half of the year is the more expensive one and you need to make up your mind quite often about what could be a suitable and nice gift. Fortunately I usually have some ideas of what to send a s gift and do not have to buy vouchers or give an envelope with money.

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Local food

Oktober 22nd, 2016

During the hot and summer period one of my favorite dishes for lunch was cold noodles. Before I came to Korea, I tried a type of cold noodles only once in China but was not really flashed by its taste.

Also in Germany I can not remember having eaten cold noodles except as a kind of a salad.

 

When trying it for the first time here in Korea, I immediately fell in love with it. Especially when it is hot outside, a bowl of cold noodles is very refreshing as they are usually served with vegetables and less meat. This makes it a lighter option and you do not feel stuffed with food afterwards. Either going for a more watery version or the ones with less water and just a paste of seasoning, either choosing a more sour and salty or the chewy ones with hot pepper paste – my favorite I have to admit – there are several options. Most of the time the noodles are mixed with vegetables, sometimes a few thin slices of boiled beef or seasoned, dried fish.

 

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Plus one

Oktober 16th, 2016

365 days had passed and it was time again for my birthday. Since last Wednesday I have to add one more year to my age and don’t know whether I should feel old in the meantime or not.

On the one hand when seeing the numbers for my age, I do feel old. Also when listening to songs on the radio I heard more than ten, fifteen or even twenty years ago for the very first time. Read the rest of this entry »

Change of seasons

Oktober 9th, 2016

Several weeks ago it the heat of the summer had come to an end quite abruptly. From one day to the other, there was a remarkable difference in the temperature and ever since it stayed the same.

Though still being around thirty degrees in the afternoon, the daily maximum never reached 35 degrees any more. Also it became slightly more windy during the following days. The hot and sticky air became more enjoyable and the summer just got even better.

 

It was the same on this weekend. From Monday to Friday it was still quite warm in the afternoon with a maximum in the high twenties so that you could think of wearing shorts and short sleeve shirts in the evenings. However, the temperature dropped quite rapidly as soon as it turned dark and shorts were definitely no option.

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Starting again

Oktober 1st, 2016

The heat of the summer has come to an end and as autumn is right around the corner it seems as if one of my hobbies becomes more attractive again: baking.

During summer time when the apartment was quite warm and you had to rush home when buying things that are usually stored in the fridge like milk or eggs, I did not feel like making cookies or a cake. Also I was a little bit worried about keeping things fresh especially when it came to dairy products.

 

As the temperatures are dropping I more and more felt like doing some baking again. Thinking of autumn, I could almost smell some maple tree syrup, cinnamon and the flavor of nuts in my nose. Fresh cinnamon rolls for example would be a nice option with a cup of coffee. What might have been an iced latte in summer could be a hot cappuccino as pairing for the pastry.

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