We’ll Meet Again: The Final Post in Korea

We’ll Meet Again: The Final Post in Korea.

Author’s Note: I realize that I have no more to say about Korea. I’ve blogged my heart out this past year, and this is how I want to end the blogging adventure: on a positive note. It’s been over a year that we’ve shared this ride together, and I’m glad you’ve been with me. Please enjoy this final offering.

It was Johnny Cash who said in a cover song, “We’ll meet again / don’t know where / don’t know when, / but I know we’ll meet again / some sunny day.”

Last night was the Fulbright Final Dinner at the Hotel President in Seoul. We had a great view from our dining room on the 31st floor and the food was pretty good, too.  We reminisced about the past year, got a little emotional, and then we went on our separate ways. Some of these good people I may never see again. Some people, I may see again, but it may be for a very long time. Most importantly, I realized it may be a long time before I see Korea again.

You see, from the writing of this post, I have exactly 14 days left in South Korea. That’s two weeks. Last night, among the food and the looking back, I wondered if I made the right decision to leave Fulbright Korea. I started looking over the Seoul skyline, with it’s modern buildings and ancient mountains looming in the background, and wondered how I could ever leave this place. Then I remembered that a job and good apartment back in the States practically slid into my lap. I have nothing to complain about and I’m more than grateful. Perhaps it really is time for me to leave Korea, though I sometimes wonder if it is really time. I wonder if I’ll ever be back.

All reminiscing aside, this year has been fantastic. There have been bumps along the way, sometimes disappointments in myself and others, but overall, this has been the year I’ll never forget. I imagine that I’ll tell my children and grandchildren about the time I lived in Korea. Maybe they’ll be really impressed. Maybe not. Regardless, it’s been the year of a lifetime and I’ll look back with no regrets.

geon bae for the final time,

Sarah

Seoul, Republic of Korea

Sunday, June 30, 2013 

Thanks, credits, and all around good feelings:

I’d like to take a moment to thank Fulbright Korea, the Fulbright staff, and the Office for their continued support throughout this year. I can only imagine the paperwork and endless hours it takes to manage 140 foreign teachers. I am eternally grateful.

Also, to my wonderful host family. Though you’ll probably never read this, thank you for everything these last 10-11 months. Your love and generosity made it feel as if I never left the United States. Thank you.

Stateside, I’d like to thank all of the support I’ve received at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. To Dr. Rosemary Allen, who suggested that I apply to Fulbright in July 2011 (and for filling out all of those recommendation forms for my job applications), I extend another special thanks. To Dr. John Sadlon, Dr. Todd Coke, and Dr. Yoli Carter (for completing the Fulbright reference forms two years ago), I extend a special thanks. Without your willingness to take a few minutes out of your time, I would not be sitting in Seoul, working on this blog post (or teaching 520 middle school girls).

I’d also like to thank my family: Sandy, Kathy, and Joshua Carey for hanging with me this year. I guess it’s been different for you all with me gone, and I’m not sure. However, thank you for your support and willingness to let me go for a year. I look forward to new adventures when I’m home.

Don’t forget to hang with me, starting July 14th, on www.runawaysister.wordpress.com

Monday Short: Weekend Tidbits

Tidbits. Because it’s Monday morning and my brain is still asleep.

This weekend, I went to the Jeju Mathematics Festival with my host brother. Almost everyone reading this knows that when it comes to math, I’m on the struggle bus, but I enjoyed the outing to the Jeju International Convention Center (ICC). When I wasn’t looking at math exhibits, I hit up the duty free shops and looked at the citrus fruit for sale. I also got on the right bus that took me straight to my house when I was finished. Thank the Lord for small miracles.

While at the Festival though, I felt my first sense of isolation since coming to Korea. It was almost lunch time, and I wasn’t hungry enough for a full-blown meal. Also, a meal at Craze Burger was around 10,000 won (about $10), so I decided I wasn’t that hungry. Instead I grabbed a smoothie from Dunkin’ Doughnuts and tried to find a place to sit in the food court area.

There was not a single chair or open table to be found. So I stood in the back of the food court, alone. I realized that I was the only non-Korean in the convention center and that only a few people spoke fluent English. Even though I knew where I was, I felt lost. Nobody but me and my Dunkin’ Doughnuts.

That night, my host family took me to a restaurant located on Seogwipo’s “Food Street.” All streets should be food streets.

I soon got over myself and the isolation (after about ten minutes) and went on with my weekend. On Sunday, I went to church as usual. Since I ride the church bus, I arrive early for children’s church and then stay for “adult” church. (I’m usually there for about four hours on Sundays). Before the children’s service started, the youth pastor asked if I could “teach the Word of God” in English for three to four minutes.

A Fulbrighter never backs down from a challenge, so I said yes. I taught for about two minutes on Matthew 13:23, the parable of the seeds. The adults and one of the senior pastors thanked me for teaching in English and I hope that somebody, somewhere understood something.

Here’s to a new week, here’s to Monday.

Geon bae from a different kind of south,

Sarah

 

the life and occasional death of american sarah (aka- the food post)

When people come to Korea, they want the Korean “experience,” food and all. Sometimes, I just want junk food and the Korean experience.

Don’t know if sexist or good marketing.
‘Photo courtesy of Alison Lowe.

I got both.

Today, my good friend Alison and I were on the prowl for good eats. Long story short, we ended up at Lotteria, the Korean version of McDonald’s. As the only two foreigners in the restaurant, we stood for a long time, thinking about how we would order. I’ve been in this establishment before, only to order soft-serve ice cream, but never a full blown meal. We approached the counter, and thankfully, there were visual cards. We were able to point at what we wanted, however, this was not a plan that went off fully without any hitches. The patient cashier kept asking “Set?,” which is is also the Korean counting prefix for the number “3.” I couldn’t possibly understand why the young man would think that I would want three meals, but as it turns out, “set” means “combo.” I think I even threw in the word hada, meaning “one.” It was a cultural exchange for the books.

I’m excited for this.
Photo courtesy of Allison Lowe.

But what makes this trip to Lotteria so impressive, gentlemen and dames, is the fact that I ordered the Hanwoo Lady Burger. I have no idea why this is called the Hanwoo Lady Burger. It comes in a pink wrapper with crowns and jewels printed on the paper. Being the hoarder I am (I once saved shiny Easter candy wrappers), I wanted to save the wrapper so bad. It was burger fit for a queen, the Queen of Junk Food Cravings. Honestly, I don’t know if the branding is really sexist or just good marketing. Don’t care. It was delicious. With mayonnaise, a pepper slice, tomato slice, thin beef patty, and a thick Korean soy sauce, I’ll remember my first Korean fast food meal as long as I live.

Also, what also strikes me about Korean culture as a whole is the sense of conservatism. Not necessarily in the political sort, but in the material sort. Even in a fast food place such as Lotteria, there are separate bins for plastics, food waste, and paper waste. I spent a good two minutes sorting my trash, trying to get it in the appropriate bin. Even on the Jungwon University campus, there are numerous recycling centers. You may be thinking “Woah Sarah, are you saying Americans are wasteful?” Yes, I’m sort of saying that. Not all, but mostly. We throw lots of things away. It’s hard to even find a trashcan on one floor of a building here at Jungwon University. Things simply don’t get thrown away as easily in Korea.

With that being said, I’m adapting to Koran culture. My mother said that it would take about a month, and she was right (one point for Mama). I’m happy, content, and I’m glad to be in Korea representing the United States. Until I return, I’m happy to celebrate the life and occasional death of the American-style Sarah, as she discovers new things. Like pink burger wrappers and recycling.

Good morning America (how are you?) and geon bae from a different kind of south,

Sarah.

In other news:

FRIDAY: I find out where I will be teaching for the next year. I’m really exciting.

On Sunday, I’ll be taking a K-pop dance class in a city outside of Seoul with other ETAs and Orientation Coordinators. This is probably going to be dangerously hilarious.