The Fourth of July really sneaked up on us expats. The Thursday before American Independence Day, we all started to realize that the day was about the pass us by, with the foreigners just going along with the flow. It is strange celebrating a national holiday in another country. You want everyone around you to care about it, and to ask you about it, but why should they? It isn't their country, and it's not the appropriate time for them to be interested or excited. So we had to come together as a group and have a Fourth of July extravaganza to remind us all where we come from.
Sara and I decided to host the event on our roof, which apparently caught our landlord's attention since he came up to see what the hoopla was. Luckily, he saw we were causing no harm and allowed the festivities to continue. He is a really nice guy.
We scoured the town for everything we could find to make the event truly American. We had hot dogs (in dinner rolls), hamburgers (in sliced bread), potato salad, pasta salad, chips, beer, watermelon, pop, and cheesecake. Our roof truly was American territory for one glorious night. Sara and I even bought a charcoal grill for 15,000 Won (about $11-12) so we could have a genuine cookout.
Peter and I found some quality time to entertain the pack with our newest hobby: jammin'.
Jin brought her puppy (pictured right), so Melody could experience her first bit of Americana.At the end of it all, Peter, Sara, Alice and I ended up on the roof (possibly inebriated) belting the Star Spangled Banner at the top of our lungs. For a brief second I pondered what it would be like to hear 4 foreigners at 2AM in America shouting some anthem I'd never heard. I guess it would be pretty strange, but I quickly returned to the overwhelming feeling of strange joy coming out of that moment. I doubt it would happen between me and my friends in America. There is just something about living abroad that gives you a newfound respect for what you've left behind.
And all in all, the night was a rousing success with good food and great friends. It felt very much like celebrating the Fourth in a small town in America, or on a rooftop in Chicago. Surrounded by my friends and living the way I'm used to, I realized just how great of a country I come from. Looking out onto the Andong skyline and sharing the Fourth with a few choice Korean friends helped me realize just how great of one I live in now.
Happy belated Fourth of July to all my friends and family back home.
Thanks to Alice, whose pictures I stole from Facebook to make this post. Soon, I won't have to do that when I get the new digital camera that Tim and Linda (Sara's parents) bought me for my birthday. Thanks guys! You're the best!!