Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Vacation

Where did July go? It's hard for me to look at the calendar and see August 7th coming up in just one week. That's when I fly home. But for the past few days, I've been just chilling, meeting up with old friends, and generally not thinking about endings. This has been my summer vacation! Two weeks spent bumming around Seoul and northern parts of the country (followed soon by two weeks of lazing around California). Okay, get ready for a lot of selfies!
Lauren and me after reaching the "peak" of a local mountain in Sanbon!
After I left Cheonan last Thursday, I went to Sanbon (산본), one of Seoul's many suburbs in Gyeonggi-do, to stay with a friend from college, Lauren. I literally hadn't seen her since I graduated two years ago, so it was wonderful to spend so much time with her and her family. We went hiking, jammed together, and caught up on each other's lives. Lauren, who like me studied linguistics at Swat, also helped with translations for the Jeju dictionary.
With friends new and old in Seoul!
On Saturday, I went up to Seoul and spent the next few days meeting up with old friends, many of whom are soon leaving Korea (or have by now already left). It was bittersweet; I've grown so close to them over the past two years, and even though we're all headed back to the US, they'll be going to different parts of the country, and meeting up won't be as simple as a two- or three-hour bus ride anymore. Before Jake left, we got chicken and beer. Before Andrew M. left, we played tons of Settlers of Catan and mahjong. Before Hana left, we ate the best of food in the restaurants and cafes around Seoul's Garosugil.
Mahjong with Andrew and Monica, and also Monica's mom!
Despite goodbyes, I was also saying a lot of hellos by reconnecting with old friends who are in Seoul for the summer, like Terrance and Rachel, whom I met at church and haven't seen for two years, or Hae-in, a close college friend who first introduced me to the Korean language and who also visited my school in Changwon once! When I hung out with Terrance and Rachel in Hongdae, we had a haircut date, and all three of us went to Punk Shalom. The only problem was that it was closed, so we went to another salon down the street. I wanted to do something a little bit crazy (don't freak out, Mom and Dad!) so I decided to dye my hair silver! Well, gray. Well, first, yellow. In order for black hair to become "ash" color, it has to be bleached three times. And then dyed. Boy, my scalp was burning by the end! And this is what my head looks like now!
Newly silver-coiffed me in the middle, with Terrance and Rachel!
Other Seoul adventures included a trip to the French village and the War Memorial of Korea. I'll make separate posts about those shortly.

Right now I'm writing this from Jungwon University in Goesan, where Fulbright Orientation is held every year. Today, I gave a few workshops for the new BETAs ("Baby" English Teaching Assistants!) and also sat in to watch their Placement Ceremony. My own Placement Ceremony was two whole years ago... Good memories! This time around, it was fun to see the new ETAs find out where they are going to teach for one year. Some were stony-faced; others couldn't hide their happiness.

And, well, placement... you know what that means! I met the ETA who is going to my old school, Changwon Science High School. Her name is Courtney, and she's great! With a background in engineering and a ton of enthusiasm for the ways she can connect with her students, I'm already really confident that she'll be successful. Tomorrow we'll meet up again, and I'm looking forward to giving her the letters our students wrote for their new teacher!

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