Tuesday, August 22, 2006

flashback to the good ol' days

This is a pic of all 63 ETAs on Yonsei Day (the day we met our co-teachers and principals and were flung out across Korea to start our jobs). Yes, I am wearing a suit and, yes, I look funny in it.

Before beginning my adventures in Gongju, I spent almost 6 weeks in a city called Chuncheon with this group of people in a back-to-freshman-year-of-college-like setting at Kangwon National University. We had language classes in the mornings, cultural workshops/practice classes at Camp Fulbright (an English immersion summer camp for Korean kids created solely to help us learn to teach) in the afternoons, and the rest of the time we were free to explore the restaurants, stationary stores, street food stands, bath houses, and nightlife of Chuncheon. I met some incredibly amazing people, ate some incredibly amazing food, and fell in love with some Korean institutions like the munbangu (stationary store) and E-matu (like Walmart, but Korean and awesome).

The pic on the right is my favorite food ever (American or Korean): cheesy pork rice. It comes in two rounds--first little thin pieces of pork that gets cooked on a piece of tinfoil on the little stove in the middle of the table. The pork is gloriously devoid of the giant pieces of fat and bits of bone that ruin almost every other meat dish I've had here, and it's cooked in the most delicious sauce imaginable. You then put pieces of the pork on a big piece of lettuce along with some really good salty paste, garlic, radish, soybean sprouts, and other random things and make it into a little wrap. So good. Round 2 is even better. The cheese man comes and adds rice, more sauce, and a few vegetables to the remains of pork and sauce in a complicated sort of dance, working it into a log shape. Then he opens his big bucket of cheese and sprinkles it all over the top. The tinfoil is folded up into a little envelope and the cheese melts all through the rice. It is so amazingly good. I get so clearly excited when the cheese comes out that the cheese man always laughs at me and gives me tons of extra cheese. I am definitely going back to Chuncheon just for this dish.

These are a few other Chuncheon faves: dakkalbi and patbingsu (spicy, spicy chicken, rice cake noodles, cabbage, and potato-y things, and ice cream, sugar, condensed milk, red bean, sweet rice cake, and fresh fruit. both sooo good).

This is a pic of me with one of my language teachers. We actually formed a really close bond over the 5 weeks we had language instruction, and saying goodbye at the end was really emotional. She (and our other teacher, pic below) was a really great teacher and we all learned an impressive amount of Korean in such a short time...although it doesn't seem like it now. I wish I could have another 5 months or so of language instruction and then come back and try this again.

This is a picture of our whole class. The teachers are the two cute Korean women in white and pink. The girl in the green skirt on the left is holding one of the "diplomas" we all earned at the end of the program. They took our "graduation" very seriously with speeches, presentations, and performances given by each class, and prizes awarded for outstanding achievement. We also each got a Korea University t-shirt. Mine is too big, so feel free to claim it. The girl standing to the left of me is Melissa Yasinow, my roommate for orientation. She is actually shorter than I am...pretty amazing.

These last few pics are just a random few of some of my friends and me. I can't believe I only had 6 weeks to spend with them. I would tell some stories, but this post is already very long and Kibeom says that we are going to look at some water--whatever that means.

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