Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Swarthmore Fulbrights

Ten (10!) Swatties from the class of 2012 have been awarded Fulbright grants this year. That's a lot! And we're going to Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Colombia, France, Macau, Malaysia, Norway, Botswana, and... South Korea! About half of us are going to be ETAs, and the others will conduct research on everything from food production to cancer immunology to human empathy.

Yes, ten is a lot for one year; but from what I've heard, sixty Swarthmore graduates have been awarded Fulbrights in the past six years, which, in a way, makes the running average ten per year. (Not per class year, though, because alumni are allowed to apply for the Fulbright through the institution, too.)

Way to go, Swatties! (And many thanks to Melissa Mandos, our college's very helpful grants and prizes adviser, who made it all happen.) Best of luck to you all, all around the world. Y'all better keep some blogs or something; you know how I roll.

See all of our happy faces here.

T-minus seven (7?!) days!

P.S. "Swarthmore College" in Korean is a mouthful: 스와스모어 대학교. That is: seu-wa-seu-mo-eo ("Swassmohh"?!) dae-hak-kyo.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

비디오 - Video

That's "video" in Korean; transliterated from English as pi-di-o.

A fellow Fulbright fellow, Cody, posted this video she found on Vimeo that gives a sort of preview of what South Korea is going to be like. It's a pretty, nine-minute montage of footage taken around the peninsula, from hikers in the mountains to bars and restaurants in Seoul. It's well done (and it looks like the filmmakers are from SF -- cool!), so check it out!

Do you know South Korea? What cities, landmarks, or foods do you recognize in the video? What should I put on my Korea bucket list?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pre-departure To-do List

Whew... the wedding's over! My eldest brother Tim was married this past weekend, and the ceremony and reception were held at our house. So for the past two weeks -- ever since I got back from school, actually -- I have been doing almost nothing but preparing for the biggest party my family has ever hosted. Making the favors, cleaning the backyard, painting, planting, designing, running dozens of errands... it's been a crazy fortnight. And Saturday was one whirlwind of a day! But Tim and his new wife (my new sister-in-law!) are off on their honeymoon, things at home have calmed down considerably, and now I can turn my attention 100% to preparing for a year in Korea.

So here's my To-do List. Having already finished the very necessary things, like getting my visa, medical clearance, and plane tickets, most of what I think I have yet to do is going to be based off of what I hear the other Fulbright Fellows are doing. Thanks to a surprisingly active Facebook group that was created shortly after we were all selected, dozens of us have been sharing tips and even making some travel plans for our shared year abroad. (Well, the "shared" part is only six weeks during orientation and training, but that's beside the point.) I took some pointers and made my list:

  1. Go to San Francisco and grab some souvenirs, gifts for my host family and school, and prizes for students. I'll see if I can ransack the local tourism bureaus for freebies!
  2. Decide if I want to mail over some magazines, readers, or language activity books that might come in handy for teaching. I plan to do a lot of my teaching with computer technology, but a good book is always nice to have in a classroom, right? People have suggested Mad Libs, which is a great idea.
  3. Seriously crack down on studying Korean. I'd like to be placed in a non-beginner class, if possible, so by the time I take that placement test, I'd better have my verb conjugations down and a much larger vocabulary.
  4. Cut my hair...
  5. Figure out how I want to manage money while in Korea; this may involve closing one bank account and opening another. As long as I can use a Korean ATM from time to time, I think I'll be fine.
  6. Pack pack pack. I have sixteen days left to organize an entire year...! At least I won't be bringing my entire closet with me. I have a feeling I'll be buying a lot of clothes (especially winter clothes) while abroad... so expect me to be dressed head-to-toe in Uniqlo when you next see me! ;)
  7. See people and say goodbyes! I won't see my friends for at least six months, some for a year or longer. But I'll do my part to keep in touch by keeping up this blog. So you should subscribe to it (there's a hidden sidebar on the right; the button on the bottom is a subscribe button!), maybe, if you want to, no pressure or anything, really. Really.
Oh yes, and I must remember to hike Mission Peak a few times before I go. Am I missing anything else?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chae ileumen...

Here's a short explanation of the web address of this blog: anseong. What is that, and how do you pronounce it?

When I first became interested in studying Korean a few years ago, my Korean friends Hae-in and Jung-hyun decided to help me pick a Korean name. The fact that I already have a Chinese name made this pretty simple: they took my Chinese name, 安誠 (ānchéng) and transliterated it, as Korean hanja (the Korean reading of Chinese characters), into Korean hangeul (the Korean alphabet). Thus: 안성, pronounced AHN-song and written as you see up in the address bar of your browser.

So, this blog is named after myself. It's not that affected, is it? Besides, "andrewinkorea" was already taken!

Chae ileumen anseong imnida. My name is An-seong! What's yours?


Hello, everyone! Annyeonghaseyo (안녕하세요), or just annyeong for short, is how you say "hello" in Korean. An appropriate, if cliche, way to begin my new blog.

On July 3rd, I will leave the US and fly to South Korea, where I will spend one year teaching English to secondary school students. This opportunity is funded by the Fulbright Grant, which I, along with seventy-nine other Americans, was awarded this year for the purposes of ESL education in Korea. I will update frequently on this blog with photos and stories of my experiences!

So far, my experience has been limited to the preparations I've been making for departure. Packing will take some time: can I fit a year's worth of clothes and educational materials into two suitcases? I also need to start thinking of gifts for my host family and host school. (I will be staying with a Korean family for the duration of the year, which will be fun and challenging, I'm sure.)

I've also been studying a bit of Korean. Although I did take one semester of Korean language classes in college, it was a few years ago, and playing catch-up is not easy. To supplement flipping through vocabulary flashcards and drilling grammar, I've also tried watching a few Korean dramas. The few that I've tried watching so far are pretty horrendous. I don't know how people get addicted to this genre! :P But feel free to suggest some of your favorites, and I'll check them out!

T-minus 19 days!