Monday, September 24, 2012

Seoul Surprises

This past weekend I had plans to travel to Seoul with Sara so she could scope out the location of where she'll be taking the GRE next month.  I knew that I didn't have classes on Friday and found out Thursday night (from one of my students, 이장희) it was because my second graders were going to Seoul for the day to tour Seoul National University. As I approached school Friday morning it dawned on me that I should have asked to go with, scoring myself a free ride since I was already planning to be there for the weekend, oh well too late.  Or was it?

I sat down at my desk and seconds later my phone was ringing, it was the principal telling me I should come with "hurry, we're going to Seoul now".  I tried explaining that I needed my backpack since I wanted to stay for the weekend, but there was some info. lost in translation.  With the help of one of the English teachers it was arranged that I could run home, grab my stuff and they would wait for me to leave. Score! This is where my planning ahead totally pays off, I had thankfully laid out what I planned to pack for the weekend so I was able to throw it all together fairly quickly.  10 minutes later instead of sitting at my desk drinking coffee and catching up on emails I was on my way to Seoul.
Not only was I excited to get the day off work and score a free ride to Seoul, I was looking forward to spending some time with my second graders outside of the classroom setting.  There's a few of them that I can tell want to talk to me more but are just too shy at school.  When we arrived at the rest stop most of the students were surprised that I was along for the ride (all those except some of my favorites I had already messaged on Kakoa talk).  The "celebrity treatment" was back for a day as the students told me "Teacher beautiful, very good fashion today" one even went as far as to say "You look like a Hollywood actress" (it's no surprise he's my favorite).

We soon arrived in Seoul and immediately were ushered into one of the University cafeterias for lunch, which was umm not so great, honestly our school lunch at Buksam is usually better.  I guess that can only be expected when you're serving hundreds of people.  I had lunch with two of my girls and after we decided to walk around and explore a bit assuming we had some free time, however when we returned there was no one from our school in sight, oops.  Turns out they already made their way to the lecture hall, but after a quick phone call we joined them, no problem.

After sitting through a presentation on the university (which might have been interesting could I have understood it) we got a quick campus tour and that was it. Although it wasn't much and I couldn't understand what they were saying (except the parts my students translated) I had a lot of fun, I definitely made some closer bonds with a few of my students.  I can see myself staying in touch with 이장희 one of my more advanced students, I can't wait to see where he goes and what he becomes, maybe i'll even come back and visit one day.

이장희 "no teacher, copyright"
손영욱, 장민도 and 정진화 - some of the boys 

The girls I wandered with, 김가름 and 김주영 - such sweethearts 

노성령 so sweet but super shy 
After a few group pictures the students boarded the bus but I stayed behind, at the disappointment to a few of my students who said I should come back with them.  I then made my way to Hongdae to check into the hostel Sara had pre-booked for us and then wandered the area while waiting for her to arrive.  While wandering I stumbled upon a live band playing in the park - Hongdae is a college district which actually reminds me a lot of Madison/State Street, so I sat and watched them for a while and was thoroughly entertained.

Everyone except the crew of boys hiding on the bus...
The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxing. Friday night we went out with some of the workers from our hostel for ddalkgalbi and drinks but called it a fairly early night seeing as we had both been away since about 6:30.  Saturday we started with coffee (pretty standard when we're together) and then made our way towards the center of Seoul to see some sights, do some shopping and eventually meet up with our friend Daniel. That night we ate Jokbal (turns out to be pigs foot) which was actually really delicious and apparently good for your skin (lots of collagen), and then returned to Hongdae for drinks.

족발 aka "pigs trotter"
Sunday was another slow paced day with more coffee and shopping in Hongdae. I think if I were to live in Korea as a college student I would have definitely wanted to go to school here. Although my bank account and waistline probably would not have agreed. TONS of cute stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars.  By the end of Sunday we were again worn out but not ready to return to our grown up lives of teaching.  If nothing else this weekend just made me want to go back to college, hmm maybe I should look into a masters degree? Eh, but on second thought - that would include studying, money and hard work, no thanks.

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