Sunday, March 2, 2014

개학 - School's beginning!

Winter break is finally over. It's been a long two months, and I'm restless to get back to teaching! I wouldn't say I'm ready for 개학 (gaehak, the start of classes), though, since I've left a lot of my curriculum planning undone. Yeah, I really tried to make the most of my vacation this year, and that meant that I traveled and hung out with friends a ton but left all my work for the last minute. But as a last hurrah before I buckle down and hit the road running tomorrow morning, let us recap!

December 2013: I stayed at school during the week of Christmas, even though I'm contractually allowed to take off earlier, because I wanted to watch my students perform at their school festival. I baked a ton and then went to Seoul to visit friends, which always means eating a ton of food. Year-end festivities were put on hold so that I could finish my grad school apps.

January 2014: I reconnected with my homestay family, began a linguistics research project that took me to Jeju Island, then passed through Busan on my way to Japan for a five-day trip around Kyushu with my friend Erik! I took the hydrofoil ferry from Busan to Fukuoka, visited the Atomic Bomb Museum in Nagasaki, saw a volcano, dipped in a natural hot spring, and ate a lot of amazing food. After ten days at home, I was off again to backpack through Thailand and Laos for two weeks.

February 2014: After visiting the protest sites in Bangkok and riding elephants in Chiang Mai, I crossed the northern border of Thailand into Laos and cruised down the Mekong while enjoying the amazing views of a virtually untouched landscape. I spent one night in a rural Lao village, then traipsed around Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, exploring waterfalls and caves. In two weeks, I made a dozen new friends and decided that backpacking is the best way to travel when you're young. Lastly, I came back full circle to Bangkok via Vientiane and flew back to Korea, just in time for my school's second graduation ceremony. One week of writing for Changwonderful, biking with Changwon Bike Party, and blogging as much as I could passed by too quickly, and then I found myself on a plane bound for Pyongyang. North Korea was weird and unforgettable, and you'll hear all about it soon.

I've been back in South Korea for a little over a week. I got a new haircut, went to a pizza party with friends in Seoul, baked banana bread and Nutella muffins, tried out a ton of cafes and restaurants in Changwon, visited Tongyeong on a whim, volunteered with North Korean defectors, and went to my first ever K-pop concert: K.Will in Busan!

Okay, it's too late. I can't write anymore. Here are photos of my winter break!
Graduation day; new haircut; Tongyeong mural village; Cafe Olympic in Nagasaki; brunch in Changwon; hanging out in Seoul; hanging out in Bangkok; Changwon Bike Party; hanging out in Pyongyang; elephant ride in Chiang Mai; canoe ride in Laos; K.Will concert; chilling in Vang Vieng; chilling in Luang Prabang; and 친구들~
Some of the things I've made and/or eaten: Nutella banana walnut muffins, honey toast at Ogada, Japanese hambagu steak in Changwon, homemade pancakes, citron tea at Cafe Hau, orange French toast at Flying Pan Blue, Sulbing, more Sulbing, raw horsemeat (basashi) in Nagasaki, and peanut butter jalapeno burger at Sharky's in Busan!
Happy March! I saw cherry blossoms in bloom today in Tongyeong. Spring is coming! And goodnight.

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