Thursday, August 23, 2012

Party at the Embassy (Seoul Weekend pt. 3)

"Big Korea Gate": 大漢門 or 대한문. Below it were these guards. I don't know if they were actually guards, or just tourist photo fodder. I felt sorry for them, though, because they looked like they were hot under those heavy costumes.
When the tour of the DMZ was finished, we headed back into the city proper and visited the American Embassy. There, the ambassador threw us a pool party and backyard barbecue! It was a nice way to relax after an intense morning. Plus, there was regular American picnic fare: burgers and cheese (!!!) and potato salad and freshly baked cookies (!!!). It was great! I almost forgot that I was in Korea.
Making a face at the embassy. (taken by Katelyn)

I didn't expect to swim at the party, as the forecast had called for thunderstorms, but it ended up being a fairly nice afternoon. People hung out poolside, napped, and ate. Others went for the water sports and played chicken, sharks and minnows, and the always-expected underwater-breath-holding contest. I do remember there being swarms of bugs that got more and more intense as the evening wore on. I'm glad, and kind of surprised, that I didn't get bitten.

For the better part of three hours, I just ate lots of good food and played Contact with my friends for the better part of an hour. Somehow I managed to hold them off for forever on "extremist". They were ready to hurt themselves when they finally gave up... I love a good game of Contact!

Anything else interesting happen? Not really. Did I mention that I ate tons of cheese? Haha.

In retrospect, I think I should have taken the opportunity to actually talk to the ambassador and the other important political people present at the party, but I didn't get around it. I couldn't even hear any of the speech he gave in the beginning because I was too far away. Well... maybe next time?
You can't have a pool party without a game of chicken! Katelyn on Ammy (left) beat Nina on Elaine (right), but only barely!
Amber and Kelly during Contact; they're smiling, but are also secretly frustrated, because very few words begin with E-X-T-R-E.
The Fulbiright Office in Seoul

After the party, our whole group took a trip via the Seoul metro system to the Fulbright Building in Mapo-gu. It's a fairly large and pretty building with a charcoal-gray exterior. It's pretty hard to miss.

At the Fulbright office, we went over our Fulbright contracts, line by line. It was a long and tiring meeting after a long and tiring day, but I'm glad we did it. It's important to know what's in your contract! And now that I do know all of the stipulations et cetera, I feel more confident in what I'm about to pursue: teaching (an actual job!) for one year -- and maybe more.

By the time that was over, it was late evening. My first impression of Seoul was... Big, busy, and lots of foreigners. And giant billboard advertisements and video-board ads, too (I'm not sure what they're actually called, but it's like having giant outdoor TV screens everywhere, and it's pretty striking). So after being in Goesan for six weeks, I had the same minor city-shock that I got whenever I'd take the train to Philly from Swarthmore. And, similar to when I'd travel to Philly, I was definitely looking forward to a fun-filled weekend!
A Seoul sunset.

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