Thursday, February 27, 2014


It's been a good week. Tracey came back to SF to visit her family since she hasn't been back to America since July 2012 so I've been kicking it with her and her family, as well as her homestay sister (who came to visit America with Tracey). We've literally just been playing and having a grand old time since she arrived on Friday. I won't lie--a lot of activities revolved around food, which works for us. Otherwise, we do a few touristy and random other things to show her host sister around SF, like visit the Golden Gate Park, go to Napa Valley, go shopping at the outlets, etc.

That aside, I think I'm starting to have a weird internal work crisis of sorts. I feel as if a good number of my co-worker friends based in the SF office are leaving the firm or the like. Sue just got engaged and her fiance lives in Chicago so there's a high possibility that she'll move to Chicago. Adithi is starting to think about exit opportunities. Mike just announced he's leaving the firm next Wednesday. It's only a few listed but these are people I hang out with outside of the office so it'll be sad not having them around on Fridays anymore. While I have really enjoyed being on the beach--working in my PJs and doing whatever I want to do, when I want, as long as I get my work done, I also feel as if I've lost so much momentum when it comes to work. I think I need to get staffed soon and get back in the game. I'm starting to feel loss of purpose when it comes to work and starting to feel like I could totally be a housewife for life. This is not least not the me that I know. That said, I know I am blessed.

I think God has shown me a lot about His love and His grace these past few months. My head knowledge has increased and in turn, I believe my life has been transformed. God is good.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Times Past

I think my last post coincided with my last few days in Korea... which was at least 7 months ago HAHA. WHOOPS. I think I was a lot more incentivized to write pretty regularly in Korea because I knew it was a year that would fly by and one that I would want to remember in great detail. I've fallen behind and while there have been many times I've wanted to blog, I felt it was a bit of a hassle and burdensome. I figured it's finally time.

Highlights since then:
1. Went to North Korea immediately following my grant year. It was pretty crazy being in a place that felt so fake and scripted. I describe it best as walking through a time machine and seeing 1960 Soviet Union, but with a bunch of Asians. If interested, read the book "Nothing to Envy" by Barbara Demick. It's a pretty gripping view of North Korea. We were only allowed to see certain parts of certain cities and you could tell that everything we saw, we were meant to see and the purpose was to convince us that the situation was not that bad. I'd recommend going for anyone.
2. Traveled quite a bit in the U.S. before I started my job in September: I went to Michigan for Erin and Adam's wedding, visited Stanley at PT school in St. Augustine in northern Florida, headed up to see Payal for her father's 50th birthday celebration, went to Chicago for Lollapalooza, saw my mom and family in New York, hung out with my dad and brother in Florida, and partied it up with Las Vegas with Serena. It was kind of my big hurrah before starting life in the "real world", aka starting a "real" job.
3. Started my consulting job in September, which is a whole different lifestyle than Korea. What a wake up call. I've grown to like it, or at least parts of it. My first project was local and that was a blessing in disguise. I think God really blessed me with allowing me to adjust to a new city and figuring out my life here in SF. I also learned a lot on the job and have grown to really appreciate and be thankful for all my blessings.
4. Church hopped for a bit in SF before settling at my current church, SF Bible Church. It's such a blessing to have a church home after not really having one in Korea. It's a bit bigger than the churches I've been to--the young adult/career fellowship is about 60 people, which is bigger than CS CBC back home and seems to be bigger than AIV. It's taking a while to get to know people but I think they're a group that really seeks after Christ and I'm learning so much at the church so I really like it.
5. Adapted to San Francisco and welcomed it as my new home. I love this city. That said, I'm not sure if I'd live here forever but for now, it's amazing to be in such a vibrant place with so much to do.
6. Moved out of Tracey's home into my new place with Courtney as my roommate. I was so fortunate to have been welcomed by Tracey's parents in SF; they offered to let me stay in her room until I found an apartment. Since then, Courtney moved out here from Boston so we decided to live together and we now live in the upstairs unit of a house in the Richmond district. I love our place.
7. Saw Infinite, Taeyang, and U-Kiss in concert in San Jose/San Francisco and U.S. Kpop concerts have surprisingly given me SO much better exposure to the idols. Case in point: I actually touched Hoya. I have so much respect for U-Kiss now too. It's been a good time and my K-Pop love hasn't fallen that much. Also, I made a sign for 수현 that said "수현아 벗어라" (translation: "Take it off" LOL). 수현 actually saw it and started to take off his jacket. I was dying laughing. After looking for some evidence on Youtube... a crazy fan girl got a small glimpse of him seeing my sign: Go to 1:24 and ignore her screaming and shakiness. 수현 is on the left and he takes his jacket off his shoulders when he sees my sign and then 훈 (farthest left) points at me. My assumption is he has lost his abs (otherwise he would've flashed them since he's notorious for that) because it seems like he's checking to see whether or not he should show them (go to 1:44) ROFL. It was pretty much awesome.
8. Went on vacation to Myanmar (with long layovers in which I left the airport in Singapore and Korea) with Tracey (this was the most recent as I just got back this past Sunday). That was an adventure. Myanmar had a lot of political unrest, and it still isn't super stable yet. I think now is a great time to visit cause they opened up their borders about two years ago to tourists so since then, tourism has flourished. The country itself was a lot more developed than I anticipated (e.g., roads were paved). The people were super kind and so generous--since Buddhism is so integrated within the culture, I think there's a huge underlying value of giving, even if you have nothing to give. The food was delicious. The pagodas and temples and architecture were stunning. It's quite the trip. I'd recommend it.

I'm not quite sure where to begin but I guess I'll just start rambling, which is normal enough for me. I'll stay away from the highlights mentioned above since I don't have much to say about them, other than what I put.

During the time between coming back from Korea and starting my job, I starting getting super introspective for the first time in a really long time. An extrovert by nature, I come to conclusions through conversations with people. Yet somehow, during this period in particular, I started to sit in thought for much longer. Is this just something that happens as you mature and get older?

My first project as a consultant was super challenging. The hours were rough and the partner leading the project is kind of notorious in our firm for understaffing his projects and overworking those on his projects. He's also known to have a "mafia" because he has a core group of people he staffs over and over again on his projects. He always handpicks the people on his project as well; he goes through our staffing reports and requests only certain people to be put on the project. My workstream in particular had a lot of content to learn and the hours were rough. A few nights, I left the client site at 1:30am. It was a bit ridiculous. That said, all in all, I learned a lot and believe I earned the respect of my manager and the partner and have proven myself to be a tough analyst. I also got really close to some of the people on the project, two of them based in the SF office, which is great because I get to see them on Fridays in the office. I never really thought I'd have co-worker friends but I guess it makes sense because you spend so much time with these people.

On the flip side, being on the beach is super relaxing and chill. "On the beach" is a term consultants use to describe the time spent inbetween projects. It's like downtime and we spend it working on proposals or Intellectual Capital (IC) work or anything else internally that needs to get done. I think it was a mixture of luck and timing that I was on the beach for all of January and am still on the beach now. Since my vacation was smack dab in the middle of February, I think I was hard to staff because no manager wants to put someone on a project for a month and then have to find someone to replace them for two weeks while they go on vacation. That said, I think I'll be staffed fairly soon. We'll see though.

I think I used to be a quantity over quality friends kind of person. I don't think it's the best model but I think my personality just happened to cause that to happen. I had a lot of "friends" in college but if I think about it, it's a lot more of acquaintances. Now, I think I've flipped. I don't have a whole lot of friends in SF but I really cherish and value those I do have. I think it also coincides with the fact that I am a working adult now and don't have time to spend time with people I don't care to get to know. The only person I really see Monday-Thursdays is Courtney because I live with her and work consumes the rest of the time. Weekends consist of running errands, church, and seeing other friends I care to make plans with. Thus, it has caused me to be close to few yet not have many friends. I kind of don't mind it. Also, I think I'm okay with being kind of a homebody at times now; I used to thrive on being super busy and running from place to place, especially in college. I think I've slowed down a lot more now and come to realize that I don't need to do everything and be involved in all that's happening. It's relaxing, I like it.

My relationship with Christ has developed a lot since leaving Korea. As much as I loved my Fulbright year, I think it was spiritually very dry and draining. With the exception of my accountability with Tracey, the English churches outside of Seoul were mediocre at best. I had no real fellowship and I was not learning or growing. Since moving to SF and joining SFBC, I think I've grown a lot. The church seems to be a bit more training and teaching focused, which I think is something I need in this phase of my life. That said, no church is perfect and there's so much room for growth and for God to move but I think it's a good fit at the moment. Something I really respect too is that there is acknowledgement over the weaknesses and failures of the church--mercy ministries as one example. There is however a Mercy Ministries group that meets every month and I've been going the past two months since I've been local and on the beach. That is definitely one area of growth though. Also, I joined a small group that meets on Tuesday and while I'm nervous I won't be able to attend once I get on a project, I will cross that bridge when it comes to it. It's a solid group of ladies and I'm excited to grow with them. All in all, God's blessed me significantly and I have so much to be thankful for.

It seems like everyone is getting married. I've been told from my older co-workers that this is a common theme at my age (around 23-24) and it will plateau out soon and then there will be another spike in marriages when I'm around 28-29 years old. For 2014, there are already 3 wedding invites I've received and 2 engagements for weddings next year. I guess 'tis is the season? I'm enjoying my singleness and am acutely aware that I am very career driven and ambitious but the weddings still hit me pretty hard because I still think I'm young but when others around me, who are the same age or younger than me, are getting married, it causes a bit of a reality check.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The End

A lot to say, and not a lot of time to say it. I started this blog entry two weeks ago but it never quite finished. That said, I'll try my best to piece it all together quickly...

I had one of my best weekends of the year on the weekend of the 22nd. A bunch of people came down to Mokpo and we went to Jeungdo Island together. The Daejeon crew (Jonathan, Amber, and Sarah J), Stephanie, and Maggie joined some of the Mokpo crew (me, Liam, Annie, Lizzie, Robyn) in Mokpo on Friday night. We decided we shouldn't go to an island that's only accessible by ferry since it would most likely rain on Sunday and the ferries stop running even when there's fog out. With our luck, we would probably get stuck on the island and have to call our schools to let them know we wouldn't be making it in on Monday. We kicked it around Mokpo late into Friday night but met up with them again on Saturday morning. On Saturday, Tracey, Maggie, Jonathan, Stephanie and I went to my students' basketball competition. It was a pretty awful game (both teams played horribly), but I cheered on my kids regardless. The final score was something like 12-11. FINAL SCORE. YEAH. That's how bad of a game it was. No wonder my kids think I play well. We then headed to Liam's soccer game since he coaches his students. After that finished, we headed to the bus terminal to go to Jeungdo, which is famous for the salt farms and mud lakes. So there happened to be a festival going on which seemed to be a big deal for the locals but almost laughable for how small it was in my eyes since I've been to a fair share of festivals now. We found a 할아버지 집 which is like a pension but not really. A grandpa rents out a room of his house essentially. It was awesome. We checked out the (sad) festival and saw a street next to it so walked down it. Behold, it led to a beach. There was a sad looking beach umbrella on its side on the beach so we decided to play on it. Suddenly, I had a realization. We could make ourselves into a K Pop group. Long story short, it happened and it was hilarious. We pretty much had a photo shoot. Some people went to get alcohol when it wasn't their turn and we made a day (what was left of the day) of it.

We even made names/nicknames and personas for each of us. It was legit. I had a lot of fun doing it. So essentially we created the first Fulbright K Pop group. Here are the group details:
Name: DM (Dream Makers)
Ammy: Leader, Main Rapper, known for being a bro.
Amber: Vocalist, known for having the best aegyo in the group.
Annie (stage name: Anniepang): Vocalist, Lyricist, known for being 4D and unique.
Liam (stage name: Loveliam): Vocalist, Visual (for females), known for being the poster boy who likes to show off his body.
Maggie (stage name: MC): Vocalist, singer-turned-variety-show-host, known for being fun.
Sarah: Vocalist, Visual (for males), known for being sexy.
Steph: Vocalist, Main Dancer, known for being sporty.
Jonathan (stage name: Prince): Vocalist, singer-turned-actor, known for being mysterious and pensive.
Robyn: Main Vocalist, known for being mature and wise.
Lizzie: Maknae, Vocalist, known for being shy, girly, and feminine.
Debut song: Let's Get Weird
Second song release: Slow City (ballad)
First Mini-album release includes: "Let's Get Weird", "Slow City", "MSK (Mudskipper)", "Sex is Fun, but Party is Better", and "Never Have You Lived".
It was such a great weekend. At night we just hung out and played drinking games (Kings primarily). It was also a good group to just hang out with and a nice weekend to close up the year.

Later that week, Tracey's parents came into Korea to visit her. It was also Teachers Sports Day on Thursday so they watched Tracey play volleyball in the middle school versus high school game. I played field hockey and tug-of-war for the middle school. I wasn't that good at field hockey though...

On Friday the 28th, I headed up to Seoul for the ETA Final Dinner on the 29th. I had some shopping to do on Saturday morning for my host family and school teachers so I decided it would be better to go in earlier. Final dinner was kind of... anticlimatic, I felt. Others may disagree but for me, it didn't feel like goodbye for a lot of people. Truthfully, I probably won't see a lot of these people for a while (if ever again), but it didn't seem that sad to me. I think I'll stay in touch with those I would talk to anyway so it doesn't matter. I didn't even take that many pictures. Here is one of the Mokpo crew and one with Tracey.

After the dinner, all the ETAs (or most of them) went out. I ended up staying out until 6am. When we left the club, the sun was literally up and the sky was bright. It's been a while since I've done that.
The last day I saw Tracey was on Sunday morning. She got a haircut so I went to see her to say goodbye. It's easy for me to say that I got closest to Tracey this year. I saw her so often and we got along well. I opened up to her a lot this year and relied on her for many things. She's been my rock and I honestly have no idea how I would have gotten through this year without her. I honestly believe God purposefully placed us together at our placements. Awesome.

After Final Dinner, time slowly trickled away as the year started to wrap up. My school had final exams from July 2-4 so I had no classes. I had lunch with the English coteachers on the 3rd but otherwise, I relaxed at my homestay. I realized I hadn't stayed home in Mokpo for a while so I decided it was best to use the remaining time with my homestay family. My host mom told me that they decided to buy me a hanbok as a goodbye present and souvenir. What an awesome and epic gift. Hanboks are legit and super expensive (the really nice ones). I wasn't doing anything special other than spending the last weekend with my homestay so on Sunday the 7th, I went to get my shoulders fitted. That's how I knew the hanbok was legit. They made it after taking my measurements so it was going to be a really nice hanbok. The last weekend chilling with my homestay was really chill and relaxed. On Saturday, the entire family went to get lunch at this restaurant that was in the middle of the forest. It was a restaurant specializing in chicken so I ate all different types of chicken, including raw chicken. It was actually really delicious. I wasn't sure what it was since it was mixed in the Korean red sauce with pears (looked like kimchi) so I ate it and realized it was some type of raw meat. After eating it a few more times, I realized it was raw chicken.
There also happened to be a river nearby the restaurant so my host family and I played in it for a little bit. My host sisters and I caught small river fish for fun.
The next week my hanbok arrived. It is really beautiful. My host family is such ballers. I can really tell they made an effort to make me a part of the family and take care of me. I really do love them.

The last week teaching was bittersweet for sure. I had a lot of old student visitors. I really miss my old third years. I was surprisingly close to them even though I taught them for a short period of time. They were such sweet kids. A lot of them brought gifts, letters, and love. It was touching to have so many of them come to say goodbye.
The last week the teachers were really sweet to me too. I've gotten really close to the teachers at my school and I honestly think I am one of the few ETAs (if not the first ETA) to have done so. I went out to dinner with a few of the young temporary teachers one day.
The saddest day came my last day. A lot of my current students come to say goodbye, leave letters and gifts, and take pictures.
I actually cried the last hour of the day. I thought I would make it and honestly I wasn't even that sad the entire day. I didn't think I would try and I was never on the verge of tears. However, one of my favorite students and the daughter of my piano teacher, Juna made me a scrapbook album.
The minute I started flipping through it, I realized how much I was going to miss my students (the good ones). I started to tear up and then the tears started falling. My crying in turn led to Juna and Seri's tears. 어떻게! It was a really heartfelt and bittersweet Friday. I had so much to do, I didn't finish everything I wanted to do like write the letter to the next ETA. Instead, I'm going to email it to Tracey to give to the next ETA since she's part of the Orientation Coordinator Team and will see the person who is picked for my school next. All I know is I love my kids. I gave them all my email address and Kakao IDs and since then, I've gotten quite a few messages and emails. I'll miss them. I hope I'll meet them again someday.
Saying goodbye to my host family was really hard too. I was leaving Friday night for Incheon airport because my flight to North Korea was Saturday 8am. My host mom and host sister 요진 took me to the bus terminal to see me off. I started to cry and I think they were starting to tear up. I'll miss them a lot.

It's been an awesome year. There were definitely some ups and downs but at the end of the day, I will always look positively back on this grant year and my experience. I would not ask for anything different because it was the best experience. With that, I'll leave it at that. I'm horribly with goodbyes and I hate doing them because I like to believe it's not goodbye, but rather, I'll see you when I see you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

YOLO to the Fullest

Since I didn't have any real plans this past Saturday, I decided to throw some caution in the wind. I also realized that I haven't spent any weekends with Tracey in a LONG time. Last semester we traveled a lot of weekends together but since coming back from Nepal, she's been busy with OCT stuff, GRE studying, etc. so we've done our own thing on the weekends. The last time we spent a weekend together was Psy's concert back in April and this past weekend was the last opportunity we'd have to spend some time together before she leaves for Orientation and I leave for America. A few months ago, we also walked by the Ritz Carlton and said we should spend one night there as part of a YOLO experience. So...putting those together, Tracey and I decided we should spend one night in the Ritz Carlton Seoul and make it the point of our weekend. Using Agoda to find a decent deal, we got a room and got Amy T, Hemma, and Maggie to join us in our YOLO weekend adventure. Tracey and I headed up to Seoul late Saturday afternoon and met up with Maggie in Insadong so the two of them could shop for end-of-the-year gifts from their homestays. Afterwards, around 9pm, we went to The Ritz to check in. IT WAS SO NICE. It is a 5 star hotel and it lives up to it. Amy and Hemma were going to join us around 10pm because they were at a concert. We decided to class it up further by grabbing two bottles of wine and some desert before settling in for the night. Tracey and I called dibs on the bathrobes and it was worth it.
It was a nice girls night the most classiest way possible. We chatted, watched movies, drank wine, etc. The good life. Hemma, Amy, and I chatted a little longer until 3am. Unfortunately, Hemma had to leave really early, around 8am but I got up a little later, before the other girls to check out the gym. I mean, it's the Ritz Carlton gym; it's got to be nice. I was right. It was huge and each cardio machine had this touch screen tv/machine control panel. It controlled everything. It set the speed, timing, etc of the machine and it also controlled the tv. You could also surf YouTube and wikipedia on it. RIDICULOUS. The girls slept in and then we did a late check out (to make the most of it) and watched Star Trek on tv while we kicked it. Sarah J and Payal came to the hotel and hung out with us in our room; they were in Seoul for Ultra and had a rager of a time. After lunch with the girls, I headed to the Fulbright building for a North Korea information session since that's where I'll be headed in less than a month! Arthur gave us some logistics and answered questions we had. I'm pretty stoked about going.

Such a good weekend probably explains why Monday was so hard. I have about 4 weeks left (including exams) but about 2-4 classes left with each class. When I told my third year classes, they seem pretty bummed about it. When I told my first year and second year girls classes, they also seemed a bit bummed, but not as torn as my third years, who I've taught two semesters now. When I mentioned it to one second year boys class, they cheered and clapped. Yep, there's a reason they're my worst classes. THESE DANG KIDS.

Monday, June 10, 2013

One Month Left

I believe it's been a month since my last blog but since this seems to be more of a running of my happenings, I guess that's not that bad...

Let's do a quick rundown of what's been going on:

So I went to Wolchulsan with two of my ahjusshi teacher friends and another random ahjusshi on Buddha's birthday (May 17th). So, long story short, I was pretty much bushwacking the entire time up the mountain. I should have thought something was strange when we pulled up into this small village with farms around us and parked. Wolchulsan is a national park so I expected a lot of people and whatnot. We got out and started walking uphill through a nonexistent path. I thought that maybe we were taking a shortcut to the path...but that wasn't the case. There were moments where we were literally scaling rocks and a step in the wrong place would have caused me to slip and fall off the mountain. I'm not even exaggerating. We stopped about halfway up and I asked if there were usually a lot of people because at this time, I still didn't really we weren't on a real path. They laughed and one of the ahjusshis said that it was a secret path and no one takes the path we take. This is when I realized we went off-roading for real. I actually felt my quads cramping up as I was walking up since the slope was so steep. I felt like my pride was on the line so I kept going even though I knew I was pushing it (I would spend the next few days stretching my quad and regretting this decision). Those ahjusshis CAN hike. They weren't even going at a super comfortable pace. In the end, I kept up and they were impressed. They actually said I was awesome and stronger than them (not true). About three hours of uphill and pain, I finally saw a wooden gate. We walked past it and behold, there were tons of people nearby at a rock clearing. When I looked back at the gate, there was a sign posting that it was a restricted area beyond that point and those found would be subjected to a 500,000won fine. That's when I realized these ahjusshis are BAs and I was kicking it with the right crowd. Afterwards, we took the touristy and paved path down towards a temple. We waited in line for free bibimbap (since it was Buddha's birthday, there were tons of people at the temple and there were events and shows and stuff). They had planned to get this free bibimbap all day and it only further confirmed to me that these ahjusshis don't care what nobody says; they do what they want. They're pretty awesome. When I finally got back to my homestay, I was so dirty and in pain (due to my pulled quads). Since we were bushwacking, I got a bunch of scratches on my arms and legs (through my clothing); that's how intense the hiking was. I even grabbed a map of Wolchulsan from the temple and asked them what path we hiked. They pointed to an area of the map that has NO paths nearby. The closest path to the one we took must've been like miles away. Ridiculous but fun. Now I know they mean business.

The day after, I went to Seoul for my second round root canal. They were going to put in the permanent filling and give me a temporary crown. Afterwards, I took the train to Daejeon to meet up with Jonathan to go to a baseball game. Funny thing was that tickets were sold out so I was really sketch and talked to a guy who was smoking through the gate and worked out a deal with him. He gave us two of his tickets he had already used to get in; yep, super sketch but it worked. When we got in, we saw him again and he told us to actually use the seats since his crew was gonna stand around on the floor below to watch the game. So Korean baseball games are extremely different from American baseball games. It felt like a family all-day event. I saw families having picnics on the grass areas right next to the field (they even had picnic blankets). They were eating fried chicken, ramen, etc. Apparently baseball games sell out usually because it's a family day kind of thing. It was cool to watch.

After the game, Jonathan and I went to get some dinner and stopped by a fried chicken place. We chatted and before I realized it, it was 10:30pm and there was no way I was going back to Mokpo that night. I ended up going to Amber's homestay and staying the night. The next morning, I headed to Boseong for the Green Tea Festival. Robyn was also planning on going so I ended up meeting her there. The fields are really long and pretty much look like the pictures online. I got there towards the end of the festival but it was nice to walk around and buy some green tea for my parents back in America. Boseong is a super rural place though; I think it's actually more rural than Goesan...

On May 21-22, my school had Sports Day. So far in my grant year, those have been my favorite days at school. It was so much fun. All my kids participated in different events and it was so great to see them involved in something more than academics. There were running events, team events, soccer, basketball, soccer-volleyball, tug-of-war, jump roping, etc. The third year boys had a soccer competition, the second year boys had a basketball competition, the first year boys and all the girls in all the years played a soccer-volleyball competition. I took a TON of pictures. Different classes had different class shirts or outfits so they looked great. There was one class that straight up had the playboy bunny as a huge logo on the front of the shirt. It was a first year girls class and it's frustrating because they have no idea about the meaning behind the logo. For them, they picked a bunny because they thought it was cute. >.< Regardless, it was a great two days. On the second day, there was a soccer match between the teachers and students. I played in that and was the only female on the field. I'm horrible at soccer but I had a good time and some of my kids actually thought I wasn't half bad. Some kids even thought I was good.

After the first day of Sports Day, that Tuesday, we had a teachers dinner. It was definitely less wild than the one the previous week, the one we had for Teachers Day after we got second place in the interschool volleyball competition. The place we went to was SWANKY. It was right near the water in Mokpo and we had a TON of seafood. There was everything to eat. There was so much food and it was all delicious. I was one of the first to arrive so I just looked out at the water near the window and looked around as more teachers trickled in. I got some validation that the third year homeroom ahjusshis love me since they called me over to sit with them. It was interesting to see how people were seated. It felt like high school again when people sit in their cliques. The first year homeroom teachers sat together, the second year homeroom teachers sat together, the third year homeroom teachers sat together, and the new temporary young teachers sat together. Granted, there were a few exceptions but it seemed to be the general rule they were following. I ate my fill. A few things happened during the night. The "one-shot" ahjusshi from the dinner from teachers day sat across from me. Since he realized I can drink, he insisted that we started the night with at least 10 one-shots... and I don't mean from shot glasses; he was talking legit normal glass sizes. I think I took about 7 shots in the first hour. This guy DOES NOT play around. Thankfully, the third year ahjusshis and young temp teachers had my back. The ahjusshi I went hiking with told me that the "one-shot" ahjusshi was dangerous and to slow down. That gave me an excuse to give the "one-shot" ahjusshi. The young temp teachers also called me over and told me to sit with them for a minute. When I sat down, they handed me a glass of water and told me they called me over so I could take a break from drinking. I was so pleasantly surprised with all the teachers looking out for me. I really love my school. Another strange thing happened--my host dad appeared. He apparently is the head parent of the parents at the school...I'm thinking it's like the President of the PTA in America. It was cool to see my hostdad. He peaced out earlish and I stayed a bit later. Teachers kept leaving so at the end of the dinner, there were a handful of us left. They started singing at the restaurant and a few of the ahjusshi teachers wanted to dance with me; I danced two songs with two different teachers but it was pretty hilarious. A bunch of the ahjusshi teachers at this point had a lot to drink. They suggested we go to the 노래방 so off we went to go sing. I was only there for about 20-30 minutes when I was told I should leave since I looked tired. I was so grateful that someone said this. One of the young temp teachers drove me home. Honestly, my school and the teachers all look out for me. They really care for me and I can't believe how close I've gotten to so many of them in different ways, even though communication isn't always the easiest.

On Friday, the 24th, I headed over to Cheonan for an NKD fundraiser. There was an open mic night at a bar so I went to support the Fulbrighters and the volunteer work they were doing with the North Koreans in Cheonan. There were a good number of us there so it was also nice to see a lot of people I haven't seen in a while. I spent the night at Korena's apartment with a few others. The next morning, I had to get to the bus station early with a bunch of other Fulbrighters to head to Hwacheon for the Hwacheon Peace Forum. Essentially a bunch of us signed up to be paired up to a high level Korean student in Hwacheon to spend two days with them making ddeok, visiting the Peace Dam, visiting the Peace Bell, visiting the DMZ, visiting the Chilseong Observatory, etc. The point is to give the students the opportunity to speak freely with a native English speaker and build a relationship. My kid, 중호 was pretty awesome. He was a sweet kid and had great English, but definitely was a bit on the shy side.

The weekend after that, on May 31st, I headed up to Seoul. Dante, Rocky, Corrigan, and Jenny Huang were all in Seoul for the weekend to play. Dante had been in Korea all week for work and asked to stay an extra weekend. Rocky was in China for summer vacation and decided to hop over to hang out. Corrigan works in Japan so he also wanted to come kick it with us, especially since he hasn't come to see me in Korea yet. Jenny Huang was also spending time in China so decided to hop over. It was a fun weekend. We went out and ate a lot. We also went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Dante brought me fake Girl Scout cookies too, which hit the spot. A few weeks ago, I was having urges to eat Girl Scout cookies so I messaged him since I knew I'd be seeing him. Unfortunately, Girl Scout cookies aren't in season right now but from an article sent to me by Bryan, I found cookies that taste surprisingly like the original. It's also the same company that makes both cookies, which makes sense. While they were in Seoul, I met a bunch of people. JH has a friend she went to her International high school with who's Korean and lives in Seoul. Unfortunately, JH bought a ticket back to Shanghai for Saturday instead of Sunday so I didn't spend a lot of time with her. Sonia also met the three boys on Saturday.

The week after their visit (last week) was an off week. There was no school on Thursday because it was Memorial Day and my school had a Suncheon Garden Expo field trip the Friday following Memorial Day. My old student, 지수 had sent me a Kakao message earlier that week and asked if I had any free time on Wednesday night after school or on Thursday for Memorial Day. I told her I was indeed free so we ended up meeting for lunch and hanging out for a few hours afterwards on Rose Street. She's a sweet kid and I'm glad I'm still in touch with her. Other than that, I didn't do much for Memorial Day. On Friday, I traveled with Mr. Cho's first year homeroom class to go to Suncheon. Since the garden expo was HUGE, I didn't actually run into that many of my students. I saw a few of them but nothing compared to how many I teach. The expo was really pretty and well maintained. Ben Louis lives in that city and he told me they spent years on it, which is absolutely crazy to think about.
After I got back to school from the expo, I took a bus to Busan. This past Saturday, I went cageless shark diving at the Busan Aquarium. It just so happened that the sand festival was the same weekend so there were a lot of Fulbrighters in Busan at the same time. For the shark dive, I went with Kate and Rachel and it took up most of Saturday but it was super worth it. It's for foreigners and the guy who led it is a university professor in Daejeon. He took groups of 5 at a time (there were 10 total that can sign up) and we were a part of the first group to go. It was pretty awesome. It was less of a swim and more of a walk inside the tank. We were up close and personal with blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, sand tiger sharks, Queensland giant groupers, short-tail stingrays, spotted eagle rays, etc. A porpoise nibbled on my finger too! It was pretty awesome. It was also my last big "hurrah" in Korea. It's one of the last things on my Korean Bucket List so now I feel more or less fulfilled about my grant year.

Afterwards, I met up with the rest of the Fulbrighters that hadn't left yet and hung out on the beach. There was an outdoor concert/party going on for the Sand Festival so we hung out around Haeundae. On Sunday morning, I wandered around the beach in the morning looking at the Sand Festival sand sculptures and whatnot. Katelyn and I met up with Monica at Centum City to pick up some Infinite CDs at the Shinsegae. I'm not kidding about being a fangirl. The thing is, I have a pretty obsessive personality and if I'm into something, I get really into it until it fizzes out. I ended up buying three Infinite CDs at the Hot Tracks in the Kyobo and honestly, I think it's worth it. The CDs themselves aren't that expensive (ranging from 9,000won to 13,000won). Actually, speaking of Infinite, I found evidence of Hoya waving at me the second time. ^^ Yep, I'm obsessed. Honestly though, I wasn't looking for it; I was watching some Dream stuff online and came across it. At 1:07, you can see Hoya on the left. He turns to his left and looks at me and my sign (that's where my seat was). Then the camera shot changes but you still see him on stage and you see him wave to me. You can see me holding my white poster sign too.
YEP. That's wave #2. I'm pretty much set for life.
OH and I found that Tracey happened to capture a picture of the third wave he gave me when he was leaving the stage! The white sign right at the bottom of the picture is me and he's wearing the checkerboard black white jacket. He's waving to me! That's wave #3. Wow so I've got evidence for all three waves. Brilliant. :)

In other news, I feel very burnt out from teaching. I think it'd be different if I thought teaching was going to be my career. I would probably be better prepared and such but since I knew this was a one year teaching commitment coming in, I'm ready to move on. I think it also has a lot to do with the whole teaching Korean middle school students. There is something about them. All teachers I talk to and strangers even think that middle school teachers have it much worse than elementary and high school teachers. Kids at this age are just... rebellious and there's a lot of hormones going on.
Also, I'm in denial about leaving. Today is June 11th. My last day teaching is June 12th. WHAT. It's already been 11 months in Korea. I'm baffled at it. I've been thinking about how I'll (probably) never have an opportunity to live in Korea again and it makes me terribly sad. I've changed so much as a person and developed and it's crazy to think that this chapter in my life will soon come to a close. I guess I should reflect more on this but reflecting would remind me of how soon I'm leaving...
Last thing to leave on, my pastor from CBC passed away this past week. Pastor Linus Lau really had a heart for God. I became a Christian while attending CBC and he was my first pastor. When I was battling depression as a kid back in the day, he came to my house to share the Gospel with me and prayed for me. He was the one who baptized me. He was the one who warned me about straying away from God in college and gave me my first study bible before leaving for UM. Though his health was deteriorating this past year, I still wasn't really expecting it. Though he's gone, I know he's with Jesus in heaven and I know I'll meet him again.