The end of one adventure...

Trip Start Jun 29, 2006
Trip End Jun 26, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

As I sit here enjoying the morning breeze on this lovely Northwest-style summer day, I feel many things.
I am happy to be close to family and friends. Spending time with the few I've managed to so far has been a delight. I am loving the weather - it's been perfect summer weather for most of the time I've been back. Even when it was raining though, it still felt great.
On the other side, I miss Ulsan. I long to see my friends (really, so many of them became my adopted family). I wish I could be there to see the kids' daily antics. I wish I could just go hop on a bus and go downtown. I would like to go walking along the Taehwa or around Munsu.
That being said... I certainly had a good final week in Korea. Melissa and I took our coins to the bank on Wednesday - we both had $70 or so! We met up again a little later to have lunch with Brandon, Stephen, Kwan, Jeon, and Kang (who had the day off of work and was in Ulsan to take a final exam). On Thursday I had lunch with Sam and Brandon (Melissa couldn't make it) and that night I went out for a farewell dinner with my workmates. We just went to a samgyupsal restaurant in Cheonsang that is owned by the parents of some students. In addition to the usual meats, we had raw whale meat as well! It was pretty good, but tasted just like the raw beef I had in Eonyang with Sangjae. My co-workers gave me a going-away present, too. A big box loaded with ramen, soju, and dried seaweed! Shoved inside were also some spoon/chopstick sets and some small stoneware pots. Excellent, but a big box right before I leave?! I repacked the box with some other things and my roommate promised to send it to me. Thursday was also an interesting day because I was introduced to my replacement! That's a bit misleading - since the school couldn't get a native teacher in time, they hired a Korean woman to help out until they do get a new teacher. A very nice young woman, "Yolanda" teacher, who's been studying English while going to university over in New Jersey. She followed me around on Thursday for a few hours -- I think it was a bit overwhelming, but meeting a huge group of kids like that is daunting for anyone! She followed Stephen around on Friday and seemed to be handling it well. Better than the two teachers we had before that couldn't even last a full week!
On Friday I took my camera to work and tried to get pictures of all the kids. Of course, after school it took a long time to get out because everybody that was hanging around wanted pictures. It was fun though. Once Stephen and I finally left, it wasn't long before we went to Mugeodong. We met up with Brandon, Kang, Yuran, Sunjoong, Daeun, Yonghwa, Kwan, and Inshik/Sebastian (Kwan's friend). Yassin and Melissa joined us later,but missed the ice cream cake and announcement that they did at Yes! While I'm not sure exactly what was said, it was about me leaving and everybody missing me. I had to stand up like they do for birthdays, but I got out of dancing (with a lot of effort). After we stayed there for a few hours it was time to move, so we went over to XieXie. We hung around for a bit before Melissa and I headed home. It was so sad to say goodbye to those people that we're coming out Saturday.
Saturday was a big day. I met Melissa about 10:30 and we walked down to the post office - only to find that it wasn't open. As I was trudging back up to my apartment I ran into students. Students that had been to my apartment and we're waiting for me. I had told them on Friday that I couldn't meet them, I was too busy (besides the fact that they wanted to come over at 10). They paid me no attention, typical, and went anyway. Since they had seen me, and they had food, I didn't have much choice but to let them come over. Really though, as soon as I had unlocked the door, I was shoved back outside and locked out. They took 20 some minutes preparing, but it was cute. When I was finally led inside (eyes closed) I was surprised to see a spread of food, balloons all over the floor, and five bright-eyed students. Carla, Anna, Angela, Julie, and Hunter were so cute. So we had rice cakes, watermelon (that Hunter smashed open with his fist), roll cake, and soda. About an hour later I informed them that they had to go -- I had to take a shower and go meet Yuran and Sunjoong for lunch! I was late, but it worked out fine. We had a nice little lunch and then I headed back home to finish packing.
The rest of the afternoon was spent packing and cleaning. I had trouble getting everything into my bags, but I was determined. Stephen came back from running errands and we headed back into Mugeo to start the night. It was dinner at Oh!My Dak of course, but with lots of people! Brandon, Kang, Yoonsoo, Yuran, Insuk, Sam, Youngin, John, Alex, Jeon, Byoungsoo, and Urara. Melissa and Yassin showed up just before we moved to Panda, where we were joined by Wonkyo, Namgyu, Ross, and Mihyun. We spent a long time there - I know because I left for almost an hour to run home in the rain and get my photobook. The rainy season had definitely started in Korea. The Koreans had a special song played and they even sang with it (goodbye my friend) and we had another cake. Some of them also got together and gave gifts to me and Melissa. They had necklaces with our names written in Korean made. So cute and quite perfect. A few people had to go home, but most of us moved to Junco21 after a bit. Melissa and I ran by Yes! to pick up Jaeyong though. I couldn't have my last night in Ulsan without my husband! I finally called it a night around 3:30a. I had planned on trying to visit Jinu at the Gonguptop Yes, but nobody was willing to go with me and it was so late. I left everybody in Mugeo and headed home, alone. That was fine, except I was so sad by the time I got home. Melissa had to catch an early ferry out of Busan, so everybody was staying up with her and then coming to the airport.
I had big plans of waking up and cleaning before I had to leave. The reality was much more typical. I woke up to the phone ringing, 20 minutes before I was supposed to be downstairs. As I'm standing there half-naked, realizing how late I am, I suddenly hear what my director is saying on the other end of the phone. "I'm not going to take you to the airport." What?! He had arranged for his friend to take me (and three students came along) but his mother had passed away that morning. I was in a bit of a rush (thankfully I had packed pretty much everything already) but made it downstairs on time. It was really raining, and on the hour-long drive to Busan it only got harder. I was tired, hungry, and sad. I did have three students to keep me awake though! We got to the airport and I saw such a heart-warming sight. Not only were Brandon, Stephen, Yassin, Kang, and Yuran at the airport... but so was Youngin, Sam, John, Ross, and Alex. Needless to say it was a tough goodbye. I was very much against crying at this goodbye because I had a long day ahead of me and I couldn't start it with headache. I couldn't help a bit though. It was also strange because I couldn't get my students to leave, and then Astrid showed up with her father. What lovable children. I can't believe I left.
It was a pretty simple day after that. I waited around for an hour in Busan before boarding, then it was just a 90 minute flight to Tokyo. From there it was another hour wait (by the time I figured out where to go), then an 8 1/2 hour flight to Seattle. I actually managed to sleep for a bit on the plane even! I was greeted by Tim and Val at the airport and then it was the long drive home. Now, I had told my parents that I was coming home on Tuesday June 26th. That was a lie, but they believed it and I managed to surprise them by showing up with Tim and Val two days early!! It was fantastic.
It's been a week and a half since arriving back home. It feels completely normal. I've been over to the Eastside for an ortho appointment, I had a haircut (and cut my hair short), had a party, seen some friends and family, and relaxed. My parents had their own surprise - which they showed me the day I came in. I was tired and drifting off to sleep in the front seat of the motorhome after getting some dinner with Tim and Val and suddenly we're near the beach at a house. They claim we're just there to walk the dogs and the owners aren't home much. Well guess who the owners are. My folks! Haha. They've had this cute little beach house for eight months now and kept it a secret from me. We're spending our 4th of July there, where we'll get to see the fireworks over on Harstine Island. Mark, Bobbi, and Michael are coming as well, and hopefully tomorrow my dad and I will go kayaking tomorrow.
I guess this is pretty much the end of this particular blog. I'll put a finish date on it and that's that. It's been one heck of a year, and I met the best people I think I will ever meet in my life. I hope to see them again, before long, because they hold a special place in my heart. I'm glad you've been here to follow along with my journey - stay tuned because you know it won't take long for me to start another adventure.
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