Getting ready for school Monday morning, I noticed a dark bruise under my chin from my fall the day before. Wonderful! It doesn’t look like a bruise. It looks more like a pencil smudge… You know when you make a big drawing with a pencil and then put your hand on it and it’s covered in graphite… Yea, that! Well, I only saw my co-teacher for about a minute before we had to run to class, which was not enough time to tell her what happened. While I was teaching, I noticed some of the 4th graders were talking to my co-teacher and looking at me. As this has always been a normal thing, I thought nothing of it. After 1st period, I told my co-teacher about my fall and I saw the light-bulb expression wash over her face. I guess the students had been asking her the whole class period what happened to my face! She said she would’ve felt rude asking me, so she just told them she didn’t know. Haha.
On Tuesday, we had our last teacher dinner!! We ate at a fancy little Italian restaurant and shared some delicious pasta and pizza! Eunmi, Hosun, Seunghee, Suim, Kyoungnam, and Jinyoung were all so wonderful and helpful throughout my stay in Korea! I’m going to miss these woman so much!!
By Wednesday, I still had my bruise and it was still a bit difficult to bite down and eat. My co-teacher Seunghee (a.k.a. my Korean mom) was really worried! She kept insisting that I should have a doctor look at it. I told her it would be fine and that my jaw was just swollen and will just take time to go down. She didn’t care, so she called the dentist and brought me in. This was the weirdest trip to the dentist… First of all, I was sitting in the chair 2 minutes after I walked in the door, so absolutely no waiting time! Then the assistants needed to take my Xray. They didn’t speak any English and Seunghee didn’t come over by the Xray machine to translate.. Haha this was an ordeal. After they put me back in the chair, the dentist comes out to look at my Xray. After talking to my co-teacher for a few minutes, I was waiting for her to say something to tell me what’s going on. There was an awkward pause and then the dentist started telling me in English what he saw! Very, very slow English, but very clear! Just like I had thought, it was swollen and just needed time to heal and he gave me a prescription for 3 packs of mystery pills for the pain and whatever else.
While talking to one of my co-teachers, I found out that the students’ last day would be this Friday… What?! Good thing I talked to her, otherwise I would’ve been stuck with about 4 bags of Sweethearts for Valentine’s Day. So the next day my co-teachers took me to all the classes so I could hand out Valentine’s Day candy my mama had sent for them. They were ecstatic!! And they LOVED reading the little phrases on the candy hearts! The best times were when boys would get something about a kiss… They’d ask me what it meant and I’d make a kissy face, and of course, their immediate reaction was total disgust! Haha.
I also wanted to take pictures with all of them! My co-teachers helped conduct this after I handed out candy. A 4th grader in the first class asked why we were taking pictures. Hosun told them that I wanted a picture with all of them before I left… They had confused looks on their faces. Then Hosun said something else. All the happiness and joy on their faces from the candy was instantly washed away. I asked Hosun what she said and she had just told them that I’ll be going back to America. Apparently, they had no idea. So I got lots of hugs before I left their classes. I’m going to miss these little fruitcakes! 🙂
And my 1st and 2nd grade after school class… Haha this was fun.
Thursday after school, I met up with Jen and Derek for dinner. We went to a shabu shabu restaurant… YUM! You cook up some meat and veggies in a boiling pot and then you take these plastic-like circle things, get them wet, and then put the meat, veggies, and sauces inside. When you have all you want, roll it up and eat it.
Friday on my way to school, I was waiting at a bus stop when I heard a really strange noise… I turn around and there’s a car coming down the road with chains on the tires. Huh?!? There isn’t even enough snow on the ground to consider it a dusting and people have chains on their tires!! Oh Korea…
Friday, February 8th, 2013, Daejeong Elementary School held its 101st graduation ceremony… Congratulations 6th Graders!!!! So proud of all of you and so happy I got to be your teacher!! I made a good-bye video for them and had their homeroom teachers show them earlier this week! Here it is!!
It was so great to see them walk across the stage! Their kindergarten pictures were put up on the screen right before their 6th grade picture was shown… How cute!! Haha. There were lots of pictures and a video made by all the teachers, staff, and younger students in the school made for them. I think the principal also talked about the highlights of the year, as far as news and culture, because he brought up Gangnam Style… Really?? After the ceremony was done, the parents swooped in taking millions of pictures. A few students came up to me to get a picture and some even gave me gifts! So sweet. 🙂
Friday night, I had Stitch ‘n’ Bitch with Becca and Tarryn joined us. I FINALLY finished my first project!! It turned out to be a neck warmer. (I didn’t have enough yarn to make a scarf. Haha) I’m giving it to Seunghee (my Korean mom and co-teacher) as a gift for being so kind and helpful this entire year! 🙂
Saturday morning I headed out to the East side to meet Leo and hike Olle 20! It was a bit windy and a little chilly, but overall it was a nice hike. There were a lot of wind turbines on this trail, so I’m guessing that area is known for having lots of wind… Well, this entire is known for that! We started this 16.5 km Olle at about 11 am and finished at 3 pm. The trail ended at the Haenyo (women divers) Museum, which I’ve wanted to visit for a while, so we went to take a look at that.
The women of Jeju are known for being very dominant. They are very hard working with very strong personalities. (Don’t cross them.) Back in the day (and it’s probably still true for some today) when men couldn’t find work, they would sulk and go to the bar. So it was often up to the women to take care of the family and provide for them. One very common career/lifestyle these women picked up was diving. They would dive down incredible depths and hold their breath so long (I forgot how long, but it was pretty impressive!) and collect sea creatures and plants to sell. I do believe that haenyos can be found on Jeju Island more so than the mainland of South Korea, but the only other place in the world where you will find women divers is some places in Japan. It was so amazing to read about the haenyo lifestyle and to see their tools, gear, and structures.
Olle 21- My Last Olle!
Sunday morning I headed out to Olle 21 by myself… My last Olle! It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be outside!! A little chilly but not bad. Only 10.7 km kept me from the end! Towards the end, I had to climb Jimibong, which was a really big oreum (small mountain/parasite volcano/giant hill), and it was pretty difficult! I basically had to walk straight up! The view from the top was stunning!
After that, I knew the end was near. I kept telling myself how excited I was and how great this would be to finish my Olle adventure… But I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to feel all the excitement, but it didn’t hit me… Until I turned a corner and saw the wooden horse about 100 yards ahead of me. There was a sudden feeling of happiness/accomplishment/pure joy that washed over me and I was from ear to ear, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much!
I DID IT!! It took me 106 hours & 45 minutes to hike 422.1 km/262.3 miles on 26 Olle trails on 4 different islands!!! My Olle journey has come to an end, right as the Year of the Dragon is coming to an end! I was born in the Year of the Dragon in 1988, so this past year also being the Year of the Dragon was a bit special for me!!
That evening, to celebrate, I made queso for Karima and I with the ingredients my mama sent me… Oh sweet and CHEESY victory!!!