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

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ABCs of Travel

I found a fun survey: the ABCs of travel!

A: Age you went on your first international trip. I was 14 years old and I went to Canada. However, I was 16 when I traveled to Egypt, Israel, and France. I would love to go back! I’ve also been to all 50 States.

B: Best (foreign) beer and where: I don’t drink beer, but I did take a few sips of Soju here in Korea. Tastes like it looks: rubbing alcohol.

C: Cuisine (favorite!): Mexican, but I’ve never been to Mexico. So, I’ll say that Korea makes a mean, mean, mean pizza. Every pizza I’ve had here has a magic quality. It might be the corn.

D: Destinations: Favorite? Least Favorite? Why? My favorite city is Seoul. I love Seoul, as it has a magical quality about it. I can’t say there’s a least favorite destination on my list. However, when I was an ungrateful 13-year-old, my parents took me to the Polynesian Culture Center in Hawaii and I thought it was the worst thing ever. Looking back, it was quite informative.

E: Event abroad that made you say “Wow!”: Visiting the places Jesus walked in Israel. Seeing the pyramids. Drinking Coke by the Eiffel Tower. Living with a host family in Korea. The list goes on and on and on…

F: Favorite mode of transportation: Plane. It’s fast and I love the feel of airports! However, on the ground, I love taking the bus. There’s a certain nomadic feel about waiting for the bus to arrive.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: Definitely the moment I see a new country coming closer to me while in an airplane. It’s unbelievable.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled: I was in Arizona once when it was 114 degrees. It was HAWT.

I: Incredible service you’ve received: When staying in both Egypt and Israel, the staff bent over backwards to make sure we were taken care of. Now that I’m in Korea, my host family is providing over-the-top hospitality!

J: Journey that took the longest: 12 hour flight from LAX to Seoul. It was grueling. Overall, I was in-transit for 24 hours. Goodness, it was awful.

K: Keepsakes from your travels: I have found that pictures do the best job of keeping memories.

L: Let-down sight and where: I swear I’d never let this see the light of day, but I was a wee bit disappointed when I saw the Spinx in Egypt. I thought it would be huge, but it was just big. However, I wouldn’t trade  the experience for the world.

M: Moment when you fell in love with travel: My first cross-country trip with my parents. I’m not for sure what they were thinking driving to California with two kids under 10, but we did it in record time. I’ll never forget family roadtrips.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: This is a tough one. I’ve stayed in some swank hotel. I remember once when my family went out west and we stayed in a lodge-esque hotel. I thought it was the nicest place ever. I’ve also stayed at the Best Western Seoul Garden Hotel, which was extremely nice.

O: Obsession while traveling: Eating. Scale don’t lie. I love to eat local foods abroad!

P: Passport stamps. How many? 8.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited? The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota and the “Comprehensive Museum” in South Korea. The museum was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. There was a exhibit about Jesus next to a glowing Eiffel Tower.

R: Recommended sight and experience:  The DMZ in Korea. Sober, yet breathtaking. Also, Sequoia National Park is a sight too.

S: Splurge, something you’ll fork over money for abroad: A smoothie or ice cream. Smoothies are my favorite treat and I’ll pay almost anything for one abroad.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: “Panned” for gold in Alaska, luau in Hawaii, taking pictures next to a Republic of Korea soldier.

U: Unforgettable travel memory: My family and I ate an early breakfast on our first trip out to California. We drove for HOURS before we found a place to eat lunch. Finally, in Wyoming, we found a Golden Corral and demolished the place of it’s food. By the time we arrived, the place was empty of the lunch crowd, and the waitress made the cooks make extra pizza for us. That’s how ravenous my brother and I were.

V: Visas. How many and where? One, Republic of Korea (ROK), or AKA South Korea.

W: Wine? Best? Wouldn’t know. You tell me!

X: eXcellent view? Denali National Park in Alaska has great views. You should go sometime! Also, any mountain in the Northeast US has a killer view.

Y: Years spent travelling? 21 and counting…

Z: Zealous sports fans? I’d say my home of Kentucky has some crazy sports fans, but if you get Koreans at a soccer game, you’ll probably die from all of the excitement.

 

 

 

 

 

Seogwipo Girls.

Seogwipo Girls.

It sounds like the name of a dramatic movie. Or the name of a book of poetry. Regardless, I’ve received my teaching placement for the

Find Jeju Island. I’ll give you a hint. It’s an island.

Fulbright ETA Program. Beginning August 22nd (or a few days after), I’ll be teaching in the city of Seogwipo, located on Jeju Island  (South Korea). I don’t think I could have asked for a better placement than the Seogwipo Girls’ Middle School.

At this point of Orientation, I am now focused on becoming the best teacher for my Seogwipo girls. I wanted to teach at an all-girls school since one of our visits to an all-girls high school in a nearby province. I instantly felt a connection to the idea of single-sex education. Call me cliched, dreamy, or even stupid, but I truly want to change lives during my time on Jeju Island. Anybody who wants to be a teacher says that. All teachers want to touch all the lives all the time and make all the differences. I guess I’m in that boat, too. I want my students to remember me as the foreign teacher from America that came to school, taught English, and carved out time for her students. Even if my students don’t remember my name, if they can remember something I did for them, I think that’s all that matters.

Pray for my students. It all seems so real now.

In other news:

  • Seogwipo is the southern most placement for ETAs. It’s like I’m in a different kind of south in a different kind of south. I was also told that my American accent is the equivalent to the way citizens on Jeju Island speak Korean. We can speak our wonk languages equally and maybe I’ll pick up Jeju-style Korean phrases.
  • Cheesecake here in Korea is more like real cake with cream cheese flavor. You should come and try some. For serious.
  • I had fried chicken  at a local eatery today. It wasn’t like mama makes it, but it was chicken. With a golden skin.

Good afternoon America and geon bae from a different kind of south,

Sarah