Monday morning I called in sick with “food poisoning” and the only thing to make me feel better is a day of touristing with Grandma! (For all those out there judging me for telling a little white lie, I feel my actions are totally justified! I mean, how many times does your grandma come to visit you in Korea?! And my co-teacher did just fine teaching by herself. No harm done.)
Our first stop was the pharmacy to get something for Grandma’s cough. We looked around and then she pointed to a silver bag and said…
“Will these work?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Because I’m not sure if condoms are very good for helping get rid of a cough…”
Bahaha!! Oh Gram, I love you! Luckily, the man behind the counter spoke English pretty well and was able to point us in the right direction.
Then we took the bus out to Seongsan on the east side of the island to go to the new aquarium! My co-teacher told me how to say ‘aquarium’ in Korean: 아구아리엄 (ah-koo-ah-ri-um). I soon began to wonder if there was a different word for aquarium because no one seemed to be understanding what I was saying. Sure enough! Good thing I had my little pocket dictionary with me!
Aqua Planet wasn’t as big as I expected, but it was still lovely! We saw some really cool fish, some really colorful fish, some really fat fish, and some really ugly fish!
One of my favorite parts of the aquarium was this little hallway that had a bunch of different little square fish tanks…
There were some little penguins! They had some little head holes you could crawl into to get closer the little guys.
I also ran into a little bit of trouble…
They also had a HUGE tank filled with fish, sharks, stingrays, and a couple baby whale sharks. I’ve never seen a huge whale shark. I was really looking forward to seeing one at the Osaka Aquarium, and that didn’t work out. I was really looking forward to seeing one at Aqua Planet, and that didn’t work out either. Maybe someday.
There were also some haenyos (women divers) performing a little show in the tank, followed by some swimmers doing some kind of synchronized swimming show. It was neat.
Then we went to the little ice cream shop for a cup of cold sweets and sat and watched fish while we ate. Nice relaxing time! We also saw some really cool jellyfish tanks!!
Then we headed over to Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). Too bad the only way to the top is walking up hundreds of stairs, because it would’ve been so cool to show Grandma the view from the top! Instead, we sat for a little lunch and a little souvenir shopping.
Look what Grandma found that made her feel right at home! 🙂
After that, we headed back towards Seogwipo and headed out to the Glass Museum! What a beautiful place!! Grandma loved it too! There were so many things made out of glass (surprise, surprise!) and it was stunning. It was kind of like being in some kind of fairy tale land. We watched a man make some little glass pumpkins. (Ugh! There are just way too many beautiful pictures from this place to choose from! Sorry if it’s too much for you to handle.)
Then we headed to Chunjiyeon Waterfall down by the harbor. It was nice, but our nice relaxing stroll was interrupted by a bunch of 6th graders on a field trip. We waited around for a while to get a decent picture without getting knocked over by the little wild things running around.
Grandma Goes to School
Tuesday was Gma’s first day of school in Korea! We missed the bus I normally take by about 30 seconds! No worries. We just grabbed the next one 20 minutes later. When we got to school, we relaxed in the English office for a few minutes before we headed to our first class. For classes today, we taught our regular lesson for 20 minutes, then the students gave a presentation about Jeju for about 10 minutes, then they gave Grandma a little gift, and then Grandma talked about her journey to Jeju!
My first two classes were with 5th grade. The first class gave a presentation about Korean Culture and It’s Environment. The first student spoke about kimchi (fermented cabbage that is usually really spicy!), taekwondo, and the hanbok (traditional Korean clothing). The second student talked about the four seasons in Korea. Then some students gave her a bouquet of flowers!
The second 5th grade class presented about the Specialties of Jeju. Daeun talked about sora (turban shell or conch), jeon-bok (abalone), some special fish that you can’t get on the mainland, horse cuisine, and black pork. Then the students gave her a 10 kg box of tangerines! Grandma whispered to me, “These are staying with you.” Gladly! 🙂
The 6th grade classes didn’t go as smoothly… Sunghee didn’t think the students could do the presentation. (Thanks for having confidence in your students.) Sunghee had me write scripts for the presentations she prepared and I wrote them using simple language so it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to read. All they would have to do is read from the script, but I guess she thought that was too difficult. I tried to convince her otherwise because I’ve worked with these students for 7 months now and I KNOW there are students in each class that are more than capable to give the presentation by reading from the script, but she just kept saying she thought it was too difficult for them. So I got the honor of presenting the PowerPoints to Gram. (I think it would’ve been way cooler to have had the students do it… A good way to put their skills to the test!)
For the first class, we presented about wind, women, and stone. These are the three things most common on Jeju. During the second class, we talked about onggis, which is pottery for storing rice and water. In the third class, we talked about the Olles! This was a presentation Sunghee didn’t show me beforehand, and I wish she would have because I feel this is something I could have done a lot with. For our last class of the day, we discussed the New 7 Wonders of Nature, Jeju being one of them! (A little fyi: the Amazon is the biggest river in the world, volume-wise, and there isn’t a single bridge that crosses it!) There wasn’t a formal gift giving in the 6th grade classes, like there was in the 5th grade classes. It was more Sunghee handing it to her as the students were getting up to leave class. But she made a haul: some little onggis made by one of my co-teachers father-in-law, some books on Jeju, some soap made by Hosun’s husband, and a little scarf/bandana.
After lunch, we brought Grandma in to meet the principal before the last two 6th grade classes. We sat down for a little bit talking, Hosun translated. To my surprise, the principal made a PowerPoint about me with a bunch of pictures of things I’ve done here and with a little message at the end saying that they really love having me here! 🙂 Then he showed us a little video of the school through the years. He then gave her a CD with the school video on it and a little booklet with information about our school (all in Korean, of course.. Enjoy reading that Gram!).
The homeroom teacher for the 4-2 class has been saying for a while now that she wants to have me over for dinner sometime. When she found out my grandma was coming, she insisted that we finally make it happen! So after a long day at school, Hosun brought us to Jinsook’s house in Jeju-si. (I insisted that one of my co-teachers tag along because Jinsook can’t speak English and I can’t speak Korean. I felt it would be an extremely quiet dinner otherwise.) Jinsook left school early to prepare dinner, and she did an amazing job!! So many lovely delicious Korean foods! Grandma really liked the galbi and said it was similar to a roast in the States. Grandma didn’t have too much of an appetite, but I couldn’t help myself! Grandma made the comment “Good thing you hike all those Olles” after seeing how much food I ate. Haha I was stuffed!
After dinner, Jinsook gave us each a little gift (cute little dish scrubbers her sister-in-law made) and then performed a little tea ceremony. When we left, she sent me home with a bunch of leftovers… Don’t mind if I do!
Then Hosun took us on a detour back to the bus stop. She drove us along the coastal road and a little bit around the city.
It was a great day! And Grandma found out that teaching isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes some energy and can be a little exhausting. When we were still at school after classes, Hosun told Gma she could go rest on one of the beds in the nurses room. Grandma says, “No, I’m not a wimp.” Five minutes later she was snoozing in the chair next to me. 🙂
I took a half day off on Wednesday. I was hoping to go do something fun with Grandma, but I was just too exhausted. So we rested for a while watching Sons of Anarchy. (Grandma’s new favorite show… Haha kidding.) Then we headed up to Jeju-si to get some bulgogi pizza for dinner.
Grandma’s flight out of here was Thursday morning, so we got up at 5:00 am to get ready and hopped in a taxi to the bus terminal at 5:45 am. (This is wayyy too early! And there aren’t taxis running around by my house at this time. Luckily, I have an AMAZING co-teacher, Seunghee, who said she would wake up early and call a cab for us.) Then we took the bus up to the terminal in Jeju-si and took a taxi from there to the airport. Planes, buses, and automobiles! We made it to the airport at 7:20, one hour before her flight. After she checked in and we said our goodbyes, I had to head to school. It was sooo nice having you here, Grandma! I am so happy that I got to have a little piece of home while I was here! I hope you enjoyed your stay!
Now that Grandma’s gone, it’s time to start packing for the Philippines!
Friday night, Karima and I went to the jimjilbang down the road from our house. It was amazing!! It’s a Korean bath house where you can take a shower, scrub down, go in saunas, relax in hot tubs, and swim in a pool, while walking around with a bunch of naked Korean women. I was a little nervous at first and honestly felt like a little 12 year old back in middle school in the locker room again. I soon got more comfortable after I stripped down. There were women of all ages (little rugrats running around and the old ajummas) and all shapes and sizes there. I think it’s actually really great! First of all, it felt lovely to take a hot shower and scrub down, but it was also a really nice feeling walking around so exposed with all these naked women. (NOT in gross way!) It was like a safe haven. We’re all women. We have all the same parts, but all look a little different and that’s more than okay. There are no men and no one to sit there and judge us here! We are free. If you ever get a chance to experience something like this, do it!
Saturday, Karima’s friend Isaac flew in from L.A. So I met them in City Hall for a quick bite to eat for lunch right after he landed and right before I had to head to the airport myself.