Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let the Countdown Begin

Actually, I meant to start my countdown a while ago, but I never got around to it. Today, however, is special. From today, I have only thirty days left in Korea! In just one month, on August 7th, I will board a plane at Incheon Airport and fly home to California.

Here's an even smaller and scarier number: I have eight days left with my students, and on two of those days, they will be taking exams! I was surprised by quirks in the schedule (although after two years of this nonsense, you'd think I'd stop getting blindsided) that left me with just one more meeting with some of my favorite classes.

So today, I had to rush my goodbyes. I passed back tests, gave out class awards, and then played one last game with the second-years. This game was an elaborate puzzle that I put together from bits and pieces of things they've learned (or should have learned) over the past year, like Greek and Latin roots, high school cliques, and US geography. There were eight parts to the puzzle, and each part, when unscrambled and put together, spelled out the answer to the Big Question: Where is Andrew going?

The answer: "University of California at Berkeley."

My nerdy students had a lot of fun with the riddles, but I underestimated the difficulty of some parts, unfortunately. The classes thus took so long to figure out the puzzle that by the time I actually gave my announcement, breaking the news -- just a week before the end of the semester -- that I would not be returning in the fall, the bell was already ringing. So there actually wasn't much time at all for goodbyes.

I think it would have been more difficult to prolong it, anyway.

Fortunately, I've already had some students promise to visit me!

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Unrelated: tonight, I went to 한글학당 (hangeul hakdang), the weekly Korean tutoring sessions offered for free at a local community center, for the first time in months. I felt bad because I have only two more opportunities to go, and I made a promise to the Korean teachers there that I'd be more diligent about going this year. Well, I totally broke that promise (약속을 지키지 못했다). Actually, it turns out they'd all assumed that I'd gone home to the US already. Nope! I just went to chat with the teachers and learn a thing or two. A lot of my time was unexpectedly taken up by a local reporter who was doing a news story on the Korean class. So, instead of studying Korean, I got to practice Korean by being interviewed for a newspaper! That's pretty exciting. If I get ahold of the article (기사/kisa) when it comes out, I will certainly share it here.

Also unrelated: there was a crazy thunder-and-lightning storm (뇌우/nwe-u) today! A lot of people assumed that it was Typhoon Racoon*, which has sliced through Okinawa and is about to travel up Korea's east coast, but it was actually just a typical monsoon season (장마/jangma) storm. The typhoon is supposed to arrive tomorrow, which will mean high winds and heavy rain, but there's no real danger, at least where I'm living.

*Neoguri (pronounced nuh-goo-ree), means "racoon" in Korean. I don't know why they named a typhoon thus.

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Lastly, watch this. It is, in fact, thematically appropriate.

You're welcome.


  1. Hi Andrew! I recently came to Seoul and I found your blog. I'm actually from California too and I found your posts really interesting, especially the ones about why you love your job. I used to tutor kids in middle school so I get what you mean. If you ever have free time, mind if we meet up and hang out?

    1. Hello! Welcome to Korea! I will have lots of free time in a few weeks, once I move out. I plan to spend at least one week hanging out in Seoul. I'd be happy to meet up with you! You can contact me via email... it's somewhere on this blog, I think. Or maybe KakaoTalk?

    2. Hmm I can't seem to find your email...

  2. That sounds great! I'm actually pretty excited to meet you, your posts had many good points that not many other people notice. Can we use KakaoTalk? It's much more convenient to use cause I always have my phone with me. I'll email you my ID. Thanks Andrew!

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