Category: rose garden

And so it begins….

I love to travel.  It’s exciting, invigorating, enriching, and rewarding.  But there’s an aspect of traveling that I always hate, always dread with every fiber of my being.  And that is the “lasts.”  When you’ve been somewhere for a long time, when you’ve made friends and gotten a new family and created a life for yourself…the “lasts” that come as you prepare to leave – last class, last church service, last dance – are always difficult.

My “lasts” in Korea started this weekend.  I went to Seoul for the Fulbright final dinner shindig.  It was an afternoon spent looking back over our last year with all of the other Fulbright staff and ETAs.  It was nice to see everyone again, but definitely bittersweet, as we were all acutely aware that it was the last time that we would ever see the majority of the people in that room.  But it was a great afternoon, albeit rather long.  There were speeches, and videos, and presentations, and reminiscing, and catching  up, and overall just a general air of celebrating our successes and the relationships made over the past year.  Although bittersweet, I really enjoyed it.  I always love being around the large Fulbright group.  They’re such a brilliant, dynamic group; I always feel more inspired and energized just by being around them.

A speech from Mrs. Shim, the head of Fulbright

A few of my favorite Fulbrighters….alliteration intended 😉
Me, Christalyn, and Sam

Meghan and me

Jessica, Jake, and me

The Gyeongju-ites – me and Elizabeth 😉

Me, Caitlin, Marlea, and Gina

Fulbright wasn’t the only “last” I had, though.  I didn’t have class on Friday, so I went up a day early and spent the day with friends.  Friday afternoon, I met my friend Max for lunch and fun-ness.  Max is actually Korean, but I met him while I was living in Atlanta a few years ago.  He’s back in Korea visiting family, so we got together and caught up.  We went to the Seoul Grand Park and saw the flowers – there was a rose exhibition there at the time.  It was lovely.  The smell was heavenly, the blossoms gorgeous, and for some reason there were gobs of adorable little Korean babies all over the place that I got to creep on with my camera all afternoon.  A perfect day ;).

Outside of Seoul Grand Park with Max

The rose garden!!

Babies and flowers…what could be better??

Some performances at the Park

Strange, strange dance performances….

We took a sky lift back down to the entrance to the park….so cool!

The view of the rose garden from above

After Max left, I met with a couple of my dancing friends for dinner and dancing.  We went to Johnny Rockets – for some reason I was reallyyyyy craving a western hamburger, and thankfully I was not disappointed – and then went dancing afterwards.  It was nice to see them, but also sad, because again, it was my last swing dance in Korea.  Oh, the nostalgia…..

Ki-ryong and Jae

Sarah, Leora, and Adam stayed in the hostel with me on Saturday night, for one last hurrah.  We “walked ourselves numb,” as Sarah put it, and then had a light dinner in a little cafe.  The next morning, bright and early, we said goodbye (more goodbyes!!), and I caught an early KTX back to Gyeongju, so that I could make it to church by 10:30.  I got back just in time – walked into the service at 10:32.  I was pretty pleased :).

After church, I went home with Mario, my pastor.  He and his wife had offered their kitchen to satisfy my craving to cook, and so I gladly took them up on their offer.  It was kind of funny.  I was there, in their kitchen, cooking up a storm and loving every second of it, and they were sitting in the living room just watching me bemusedly.  But I don’t care if that makes me domesticated; I had a blast.  I made taco salad and a pineapple upside-down cake.  The cake came out a little strange – I had to make a lot of substitutes for things you can’t buy in Korea, and the lack of an electric mixer made the batter a little grittier than it should have been, but it was still good.  By the end of the afternoon, they were trying to get me to move in with them for the remainder of my time here, just so that I would cook for them, lol.

Enjoying the yummy tacos… 🙂

So anyway, I finally made it bake home around 10:00 pm on Sunday night.  ‘Twas a long and emotional weekend, indeed.  I’m glad I went, but I was equally glad to be back.  With only 19 days left, the end has begun, and I’m determined to make the most of every second that I can!!