I started off my last full week in South Korea desk warming… Woo-hoo! It really is amazing to me that I can sit at a desk for 8 hours and not really accomplish that much. I spent the day working on my blog, but mostly just looking through old pictures and reading old letters of recommendation, which were so heartwarming to read!
I spent my 3rd and final sick day doing laundry before I took a walk down to the water by Olle 6. I walked down Olle 6 a little ways until I came to the Olle Headquarters. I walked up the back stairwell and into an office where a bunch of Korean women just stared at me. There was a little talk before a women from the back of the office came to greet me. (An awkward minute of standing there while they decide who’s going to have to speak English with me…) When I told her that I had finished all the Olle trails, she was very excited and shocked, as were the rest of the women. I found out I was the first foreigner to come in and get my completion certificate!! (But I know I wasn’t the first to finish them all… A fellow Wisconsinite and former English teacher on Jeju Island, Kristin, finished back in November!!) While I filled out the forms, the woman and I chatted about my Olle experience and she was a bit surprised when I said that I had done many of the trails by myself.
After they gave me my completion stickers, certificate, and pins, I was on my way. While walking past the temple a little down from the Olle Headquarters, I got a text message saying “Congratulations!!” with this picture:
Later on when I got home, I saw this Facebook post:
제주올레 첫 번째 외국인 완주증 수령자, Brooke Von Ruden씨입니다~
다음주에 고향으로 돌아간다 하니 몹시 아쉽지만 제주올레를 걸으며 경험했던 소중한 기억들, 길 위에서 나눈 우정을 주변의 지인들과 함께 나누어 주기를 바랍니다~
축하합니다~!제주올레 완주 관련 정보 : http://www.jejuolle.org/index.html?mid=3&act=view&BOARD_NO=24852We pleasantly introduce Ms Brooke Von Ruden, the first foreigner recipient of Jeju Olle Trail Certificate of Completion!
She’s been walking Jeju Olle Trails from April 2012 to Feburary 2013 for 10 months to explore Jeju Island. She said, ‘It’s a great idea and gives people a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of Jeju-do. I visited lots of places that I probably would not see if it weren’t for the Olle courses.’
And I got an email saying I made it into their Hall of Fame!
On my way home, I stopped at the 이중섭 (Lee Joong Seop) Museum. He was an artist who spent time on Jeju Island, mostly in Seogwipo, during the Korean War. His unique artwork can be seen many places in Seogwipo, but especially on the street named after him, Lee Joong Seop Street (a.k.a Art Street).
I also had a gorgeous view from the top!
Later on, I met up with Karima and Becca to try out this pork restaurant called Soba that Karima has been raving about for a while. All the vegetables are fresh from the owners garden and everything was delicious!! The pork was a bit spicy, but what good Korean meal doesn’t come with something that’s a bit spicy? Nonetheless, it was GOOD! After that, we picked up some Baskin Robbins before heading up to Sarah’s place for Stitch ‘n’ Bitch! A lovely night with the girls and Cricket (Sarah’s cat)!
While in Korea, I totally embraced the phrase “When in Rome…” (I apologize in advance to anybody who is offended…) My fried Tyler and I went out one night to try dog stew. (And no, they don’t just go grab every Pomeranian and Labrador they can get their hands on.) Let it be known that I would NEVER try this in the States, but since I’m in Korea, it’s a different story. (Same goes for not eating beef in India or pork in Muslim cultures.) From what I’ve been told, they only use the Jindo dog, a Korean breed. Someone asked me if I thought of my dog while trying this, and the answer is “No.” Though there are many people in Korea that keep dogs, Jindos and other breeds, as pets, many Koreans don’t consider them an important part of the family like we do in America and other countries. The meat they serve comes from dogs that were raised for this purpose, just like cows, pigs, and chickens are raised on a farm. And just like beef, pork, and poultry, I found it to be quite delicious! It was served in a spicy stew and it was very filling.
While sitting down for dinner, I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. There was silence on the other end after I answered and then all of a sudden, I heard “Hello 브룩 (Brooke)! My name is 팍지해 (Pak Ji Hyae).” Haha one of my little 2nd graders called me to say hello and then we talked about what she had for dinner. I was very surprised and happy that she understood what I was asking when I asked her about dinner… Proud teacher moment!! Then she sent me a text after we hung up saying “브룩 i <3 you” Haha so cute!! ^^
At lunch with Eun-sook and Landon one day, our waiter was wearing a shirt that caught my attention. I was rather shocked because Koreans (to my knowledge) don’t do drugs and the punishment for doing any kind of drug is SEVERE!
Wednesday was my last after-school class with the little 1st and 2nd graders. No more using Brooke Teacher as a jungle gym. :( Friday was my last after-school class with my 3rd and 4th graders. SAD DAY! These were the kids that I had the entire year for my after-school classes. I will especially miss three little boys: Seungwon, the outspoken smartypants; Jiwoo, the one who at first wouldn’t say ANYTHING in class and was volunteering by the end of the year; and Yoonbin, the little mischievous (I think he was only mischievous to get my attention… it worked) tough guy who won my heart with his laugh and curly hair. These three little guys were in my very first after-school class and came to nearly every class until the end of the year.
I surprised my 3rd and 4th grade after-school class with a candy hunt for our last day! I wasn’t one of those teachers that brought in candy all the time, and they knew it, so this was suuuper exciting for them! Before class started I hid candy throughout the entire room. Some of the kids spotted little candy pieces here and there when they came in, but I said “No candy!” After they all sat down, I explained what to do and then yelled “Go!” Complete chaos!!
Saturday, I hung out at Tom ‘n’ Toms Coffee to catch up on my journals before meeting up with my co-teacher/Korean mom Seunghee. I was going with her and her family to watch her oldest daughter and nephew perform in a piano contest! Hyun-jeong was sooo nervous, so while we were sitting and watching the other kids in the age group before hers, I gave her a pep talk. I told her to keep telling herself “I practiced very hard! I am prepared! I am awesome! And I will do great!” (By the way, her English-speaking ability is phenomenal!) She was spectacular!! But she didn’t quite make it to the next round… Just about 10 points short, I think. She was so proud of herself!! (She’s the 2nd pianist.)
We celebrated afterwards with ice cream, waffles, and toast, all of which are considered treats/snacks in Korea!
Sunday was spent with my two favorite ladies on this island!! Hannah, Karima, and I spent the day on Marado, the southernmost island of South Korea! And this island is sooooo “big,” we were able to walk around the whole thing (taking our sweet time) in about an hour. We had to take the ferry over, which is always an adventure… People insist on feeding the flock of seagulls that follow the boat. I think they probably eat more of the snacks than the people who bought them. The weather was perfect, my company was perfect… A perfect last adventure here in Korea!