On July 4th, Fulbright Korea hosted our “final dinner.” This is the last time in the year that the whole group gets together, although since it isn’t required, we were missing a few faces. That weekend I went up to Seoul with Nadia, an ETA in Busan, and we stayed, shopped and ate delicious things together.
Friday, July 3rd was the last day of my students’ final exams. Unlike some ETAs, I proctor exams along with all the other teachers. Exams days are always half-days, ending between 12:00-1:00pm, so after cheering with students about finishing their exams, I rushed off to catch my KTX train at Gupo station.
Unfortunately, I’d felt queasy all day. My host mom told me to have some juk (rice porridge) while I was in Seoul…umm, but no way I was gonna go all the way to Seoul to have juk!
Once getting to Seoul I headed over to meet Nadia at Ultari House 3, a hostel we’ve stayed at before and where we had our own room and bathroom (50,000 won, or about $44, for 2 nights). After getting off and the wrong stop (it’s Sincheon, not Hongdae), I met Nadia the correct station, dropped off my bags and went out to find food that wasn’t juk.
We ended up at a burger place, did some street shopping, and hunted for the elusive Sailor Moon nano block puzzles. Almost all the small hobby/craft/accessory shops in Korea have these puzzles – you use tiny lego blocks to build little 3D figurines. They look really cool, but I still haven’t tried one. We went back to our hostel early that night, both exhausted from our trip up to Seoul, watched Mean Girls, and fell asleep.
On Saturday, Nadia and I parted ways, and I met Ashley, my former Jungwon roommate, for lunch at Vatos tacos. Apparently John Kerry’s been there. He made a good choice. Fortunately for us, the wait wasn’t too long that day, and we successfully did some souvenir shopping before heading to final dinner.
Final Dinner involved a lot of sitting and listening. There wasn’t nearly as much time to mingle as I’d expected, hence the after party. It almost felt like graduating college all over again. Our valedictorian- I mean, nominated speaker – was David Moore, who had us alternating between laughter and nostalgia. We had a line-up of great performances from fellow ETAs, but my absolute favorite was Hillary’s rap. (Someone out there must have a video.) I’ll be sad to see a lot of these great people leave, but this year there is actually an unprecedented 52 ETAs renewing, 15 of that number staying for a third year! I’m looking forward to meeting the incoming class of ETAs and spending another awesome year with these amazing and accomplished people.