Wow, I’m already on the last legs of my South Korea experience…. It’s a little surreal to imagine. Two months is a small segment of life, but it truly feels like I’ve been here for an incredible amount of time. Goodbye always comes too soon.
Thank You Wooridul
We finished up our time at Wooridul, saying goodbye over two rounds of bowling and a Burger King burger. As expected, it’s really different teaching older students. They’re more wary of you, as a teacher, and you must make sure you don’t overstep boundaries as well. Because of this, the bond that I had with these students much more resembled a typical teacher-student relationship than that with the Jiguchon children, who treated me somewhat like an older sister.
What I really admired about the school was the tie between the students. It was clear that they were a family, always playing around and joking with each other. Since the school was so small overall, everyone knew each other very well and were able to communicate freely. I also think that cultural customs played a part as well. Because many of the students came from China, it was easier to let go of barriers caused by age.
I really hope that I imparted at least a little relevant information to my students. For them, English has a much more practical application. If they can learn it well, it’d honestly be quite helpful in their future prospects. I really loved teaching them. I loved getting to learn about them and their personalities. It’s clear that their cognizant of the pain that their North Korean parents endured. When we were watching a movie about the Korean Civil War, a scene of soldiers rock-climbing a treacherous mountain appeared. One of the soldiers lost his grip and fell onto the hard ground below, and a girl beside me said quietly, “That’s what our mothers had to go through as well.”
It’s really difficult for them. They’re already at an age where learning a new language presents a significant challenge, and they have to learn two simultaneously. On the last day, we enjoyed a day of bowling and burgers It was nice to spend time with them outside the classroom as not teachers, but friends. As they filed out the Burger King, saying their goodbyes, one boy from my last class came up to me and said, “It’s a shame that you have to go.”
I think so too. If only I had more time….
Thank you for a beautiful time, Wooridul.
Exploring Busan as Students
I was really pumped for this trip! We took the train to Busan (hehehe, no zombies unfortunately), and I love train rides because of the view that they show. When we arrived and walked outside, the first thing I thought was, “Wow it’s hot.”
Because of our luck, we came to Busan when it was the hottest it had been in decades. I’m glad it wasn’t raining, but I’m more sure I enjoyed the heat more…. With Professor Kim, we visited many museums that detailed Busan’s history as a entry point for Japanese invasion. The city has suffered a long history of subjugation and exploitation.
We made a stop at the Busan Museum of Movies, which was a really fun, interactive space that was very well-designed. I expected a museum like the history ones we just visited, but this one had things like voice acting and VR. I recommend it, 10/10 👍.
Exploring Busan as Tourists
We also had a chance to explore some of Busan’s landmarks, though we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked. Gwangali Beach presented a beautiful view of Gwangan Bridge and the surrounding cityscape. We did NOT go into the water, per DukeEngage instructions, but the sights filled me up enough. The sun set while we were there, painting the sky orange. Good for photos!
Busan Tower gave a brilliant perspective of the entire city. It would’ve been gorgeous at night, but the day version was exciting too. I already saw Seoul at night from Namsan too, so this was something new! I love touristy things whoops.
I’ve gotten used to the convenience of the subways, the streams of people on the streets and sidewalks, the ready availability of food. Residing in Seoul gave me a taste of an urban life that I had never lived before, and I absolutely loved it. There’s always something to do, always somewhere to explore. There are festivals just a bus ride away and plentiful parks and hidden streets to stroll down. I liked to just walk aimlessly, discovering cute shops or paths and stopping at a small cafe to sip a cup of lemonade.
Perhaps later on, I’ll be able to revisit the city and relearn it all over again. Thank you, South Korea, for an extraordinary experience.
Back on Melody TV…
-We finally went to Lotte World, a large indoor theme park in Seoul. It would definitely take at least a full day or two to do everything there, mostly because the lines were ridiculous. The nice thing is that the food is not overpriced like it is at other amusement parks.
-I also visited Gwangjang Market. It really reminds me of what an old traditional market would have been like: busy, not too clean, and lots of food.
-Val and I took a stroll along the Han River, this time starting from under Yangwha Bridge. It’s such a peaceful place at night, I really love how Seoul designs these Hangang parks.
-We took a bus tour around Busan so we could see as much as we could in as little time as possible. I sat up on top under the sizzling sun. The only bad part was when the bus would get stuck in traffic and sit in the sun for the solid 15 minutes. No breeze, only a melting Melody. I liked the fresh air and unobstructed view too much to go back in though. Afterwards, my skin legitimately looked a shade darker.
-I took a subway down to Banpo Bridge, the last touristy thing that I forgot I wanted to do. The sun was falling below the skyline, and I managed to catch it at such an opportune moment. I rented a bike and fulfilled my dream of biking along the Han (it was as great as I imagined it to be, though the bike could’ve been sturdier). Hangang parks really are the best. At night, I watched the Banpo Bridge fountain light show while EXO’s Artificial Love played in the background 🤣. It was a nice end to the night.
Bowling with the Students! (I’m number 2!!)
Busan Ocean Views
Museum Display of a Historic Dessert Shop during Japanese Occupation