Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reunion: Fall Conference 2012 (pt. 2)

You could also call this the Group Photo Post. Last weekend's conference was a fantastic time of reuniting with all of our friends after seven weeks of being apart. Of course, I've traveled to other cities and I've seen tons of other Fulbrighters; I may be the only one in my city, but I'm not as isolated as that. Nevertheless, for everyone to get back together was really something. When we were all gathered in the main conference room, I was taken aback at our numbers. In one large room were represented dozens of cities and over one hundred and twenty different schools, families, and experiences. This amounted to thousands of stories to share.
Contacting the night away! Left to right: Ashley, Sarah, Thomas, Kelly, Sara, and Erin.
On the first evening, a bunch of folks decided to walk around the Bomun Lake (보문호수), the large reservoir central to the tourist resort area where our conference was held. We got drinks and chocolate and, braving the nighttime autumn chill, sat on a pier by the lake and talked and played games. Contact -- my favorite game ever -- was the order of the evening. I love a good two hours of Contact. I mean, not even that, I love a good two hours of speaking quickly and fluently in English with my friends. A nice break from the Korean and intermediate-level English that surrounds me in the classroom every day. And on top of that, a word game that gives your language faculty a run for its money! Kelly perhaps described it best when she said that it felt like her brain was being massaged.
한우, Korean beef grilled over charcoal. The cuts were twice as thick as what I usually see at barbecue restaurants!
On Saturday evening, a group of us got adventurous and went out to get Korean barbecue. Fortunately -- or unfortunately, depending on how you view the situation -- we chanced across a nice-looking restaurant: 강산한우. I wasn't aware of this when we walked in, but 한우 (hanwoo) means Korean beef. Korean beef is really, really expensive. And sure enough, this restaurant turned out to be a wallet breaker. But was it worth it? The small cuts of meat that we got (10,000₩ per 100g) were delicious; juicy steak grilled over pure charcoal, along with tons of garlic, mushrooms (as much as we wanted), and a variety of 반찬. Mhm, there's no denying that it was an excellent meal, surpassing the quality of most of what I eat these days. On the other hand, I've also been stuffed to satisfaction at barbecue joints to the tune of 5,000₩, whereas this tourist trap restaurant, which charged extra for rice and even for setting up our table and grill (who does that?!), landed us with a bill of 20,000₩ per person. I'd pay $18 for that in the States, no sweat, but in Korea? Hmph. I'll say it was worth it, but I don't think I'll be treating myself to 한우 again soon...
The adventurous group that shelled out for some mad-expensive and supremely delicious Korean beef barbecue. Left to right: Kelly, Ashley, Jason, Katelyn, Ben, Tsu, Nina, Elaine, and me. (taken by Neal)
After the meal, everyone was stuffed -- almost uncomfortably so -- which called for a night-time stroll around the lake. I took photos and played with long exposure...
Katelyn, Ashley, Ben, Kelly, and Jason at Bomun Lake in Gyeongju. Jason likes his ice cream.
And that evening ended in a great Bananagrams and Pirate Scrabble marathon, during which I continued to fend off Ashley's attacks on my claim as Bananagrams Boss and Pirate Scrabble Captain and generally had a blast.

What I liked the most about this reunion was that all of us Fulbrighters could basically pick up exactly where we left off at the end of Orientation, which strangely seems like it was simultaneously very long ago and just yesterday. Only now in addition to our crazy antics and long chats about our lives back home, we have stories to tell of our students' crazy antics and long chats about our lives right now. Over all the meals, throughout all those long hours just chilling, between games of Bananagrams, the conversation continued unbroken, and, well, I guess it was telling of just how wonderful it was to be together again.
The wonderful 인터미디엇 (촣아, 촣아, 촣아!) class reunion photo. Left to right: me, Lizzie, Tracy, Jaeyeon, Susie, Amber, Soon, Monica, and Kyla. Missing: Kelly, Megan, and Ashley, who wandered off early :(

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