Thursday, February 28, 2013

Goodbye Seoul

Beneath Mapo Bridge (마포교) on the Han River. Taken by Ashley.
Today could have been a typical day, not unlike any other of the past month: language class, shopping, hanging out with friends at a bar. But it was special because it was the last typical day.

This morning, I went to my last Korean class at Ganada; I think normally the class period runs a full four weeks, so the last class should have been Friday, but tomorrow is Korean Independence Day, also known as Samil Day (삼일절), so everyone is on holiday. Between Samil Day, Seollal, and every Wednesday off, I feel like I haven't actually attended much class at all this month. But the final three hours were today. We went over 제30과 and also got our final exams (학기말시험, which we took on Tuesday) back. I suppose I scored all right... if you take into account my having studied for only a few hours and also coming down with a cold the day before the test. Eh, who am I kidding, I got an Asian F. Regardless, I know that I've learned a lot, and I'm ready to go back to Changwon and to my host family and use everything I've added to my Korean language arsenal.

In the afternoon, I went to 광장시장 (Gwangjang Market), which has fast become one of my favorite places in Seoul. It has tons of great Korean street food on the ground floor and a labyrinth of vintage clothes shops on the second and third floors. I promise I'll write more substantially about it in the near future, but suffice it to say that even though I primarily intended to wander around Dongdaemun and purposefully get lost in a different part of the city than I normally frequent, my feet somehow led me back to Gwangjang Market and I spent hours there browsing through racks of clothes and chatting with the shopkeepers in Korean.

And to top it all off, my friends and I all went to AcousticHolic again in the evening. It was partially a celebration of Jason's birthday (we surprised him with an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins) and partially a celebration of our last night in Seoul. Most of us will be leaving to go back to our respective placement cities tomorrow morning or afternoon, so this was the last chance for us to hear the amazing guitarists (and Guitar Jedi) and hang out. Toward the end of the evening, well past midnight, one of the co-owners of the bar was playing through a set mostly consisting of American pop songs, and everyone sang along to Marley's No Woman No Cry, Coldplay's Viva La Vida, Jason Mraz's I'm Yours, and many more. I even joined in on the djembe when he needed a beat for some song that kept getting faster and faster. It was tons of fun, reminding me why I love this place so much. I did promise everyone that I'd be back soon, maybe in April...

(As an aside, I bumped into two Swatties at AcousticHolic! They are my 동문, or fellow alumni of a different graduating year. I recognized Aejin vaguely; I believe we worked together on The Phoenix at some point. Her friend Austin was with her - another Swattie, but one I didn't recognize. They're both class of '10 and are working in Seoul at the moment. I was so surprised to see Swatties at this tiny bar. The world isn't small; it's tiny. This brings my total of Swatties I've met in Korea since last July to... eighteen! And that's not counting all the Swatties with whom I'm not acquainted that I met at President Chopp's event in Seoul. The actual count must be over four dozen... We're everywhere, folks.)

So that's that: my last full day in Seoul. Winter vacation is over! I've had an amazing time. This has without a doubt been one of the best winter vacations I've ever had, and that's mostly thanks to it being two months long and paid, to boot. But as soon as I get back to Changwon tomorrow evening, I have my work cut out for me. Classes begin on Monday and I haven't prepared a single lesson. (I mean, I technically only need to prepare two, but that's a lame justification.) 자... Spring semester, 시작!

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