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.

No comments:

Post a Comment