Category: workshops

Finals Week Highlights

I’m done!  I have officially finished my first year of graduate school!  Let me tell you what, it was quite a ride!  But the last week or so or classes I didn’t really actually have much schoolwork to do – I’m happy to report that the mind-numbing amount of work I did before finals week finally paid off, and my finals week was quite relaxing.  So I made up for some lost time, doing all of the things that I had neglected to do throughout the course of the semester.  Here are some of the highlights:
I went camping with my dad the weekend before finals.  I think the two of us had two very different experiences.  For me, I had a blast – I really enjoy camping, but hadn’t been in years, so it was a nice change, and great spending some quality time with my dad.  But my dad’s perspective, however, was that there was a hole in the tent over his head.  Poor man.  It poured most of the night, and add to that the fact that he didn’t have a water-repellant sleeping bag, but rather one that absorbed all of that excess moisture in the air, and he had quite a rough night that evening.  We ended up waking up really early in the morning and just heading back – at least then he was dry, even if he wasn’t well-rested!
I also got to see a musical performance of The Mask of Zorro with my friend Amy.  To psych myself up for it, I watched the movie the night before, which was excellent.  But the musical just blew me away.  It had beautiful singing, and energetic dancing, and pithy humor, and sonorous Spanish, incredible costumes…it really had everything.  I was left breathless on more than one occasion.  I’m definitely getting the Georgia Tech student art pass next year!
My friends Jonathan and Jessica invited me to see a double feature at one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country.  We brought food and chairs and got there early to just talk and hang out – Jess and I did our nails, lol.  I had never been to a drive-in theater before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even despite the threat of rain that drove us into our cars for a while.  But even then, they play the sound through a radio station, so we could still enjoy the movie just fine :).
Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do some dancing, too.  I caught the last bit of the Thursday night dance after Zorro ended, and that was a lot of fun.  I almost didn’t go, but in the end I’m very glad that I did.  But even better than the dance on Thursday, was the workshop on Saturday.  Now, I had been to dance workshops before – they’re always good and I learn a lot, but there’s nothing really that unique about them.  This one, however, was different.  It was called “The Art of the Steal,” and was specifically tailored to teach people how to steal someone else’s partner in the middle of a dance without disrupting the flow of the music or the dancers.  So there was a lot of group partnering instead of pairs, and weird rotations, and all in all everyone just had a grand time.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a heck of a lot.  
My last night in Atlanta, I went out to dinner with Jonathan and Jessica and some friends of theirs to celebrate his graduation from Tech.  The place we went to was called Buca di Beppo, and their trademark thing is that they take all of their guests through the kitchen before seating them – way cool!! Anyway, I got back to Albany just in time on Sunday to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration with the family.  I was glad I made it back for that.  And now I’m in Albany for the summer!  For now, at least.  Who knows where I’ll be in a couple of weeks! 🙂

Jeju Island

I went to Jeju last weekend.  Everyone whom I happened to tell about my trip beforehand, was so excited (and in a few cases, possibly even a little jealous :]).  Jeju island is renowned as one of the most beautiful islands in the entire world.  An incredibly popular destination for honeymooners, both Korean and foreign, it’s commonly called the “Korean Hawaii.”  Needless to say, it’s a really lovely place.  And once I got there, I would have to agree with this consensus; although I must say, the getting there was a little rough.  There were huge amounts of wind when I flew in; the turbulence was so bad, in fact, that the first few landing attempts were unsuccessful, and we had to regain altitude and circle around for another try.  It was really scary, and not the welcome to the island that I had hoped for.  But we finally landed, safe and sound, and I made my way out of the airport.

Most of my time in Jeju, however, was spent inside a hotel.  The purpose of my trip was for the annual Spring Fulbright conference, which is always held on Jeju island.  So, over the course of a 4-day weekend, I spent a little over 3 days inside, listening to announcements, teaching workshops, and presentations from the Fulbright researchers, who were filling us in on the progress of their research in Korea.  It sounds boring, but I rather enjoyed it.  The research presentation topics were really varied – everything from traditional Korean architecture, to poetry, to astronomy, to economics, to human rights – and I also picked up a lot of teaching techniques that will be helpful to me in the class this year.

The one day that we did leave the hotel, however, was really lovely.  We went on a tour of the island, checking out all (or at least many) of the major sights that Jeju has to offer.  The first stop was Sunrise Peak, aptly named for the beautiful sunrises that can be seen uninhibited from the top of the peak.  It was quite a hike to the top, but the view from the summit made it all worth it.  Next stop was Ilchul Land and the Micheon Lava Caves.  Not knowing what to expect from Ilchul Land, I was more excited about the lava caves.  The caves actually turned out to be quite disappointing, but the lush beauty and fascinating attractions set up throughout Ilchul Land more than made up for the disappointment of the caves.  After the caves, we went to the Jeju Folk Village, a huge reconstruction of a traditional Jeju island village.  We were there for over an hour and didn’t get to see even half of it, but the parts that I did see were really interesting.  Our last stop was to Pyoseon Beach, one of the few sand beaches on the island – most of the shoreline is rocky.  We weren’t there for very long, but we were there long enough for me to curl up on the sand like a cat in the sun and take a short nap.  It was divine.

And then…poof!  The tour was over, and we were back at the hotel, ready for more lectures and workshops.  In the evening, some of the Christians got together for a little impromptu Bible study, which was really great.  And then Monday, I went to a few more lectures and then headed home.  I realized that this weekend will be one of the last times that I see the vast majority of these Fulbrighters, so please excuse me if I go a bit overboard on the pictures in this one.  I was getting a bit sentimental :).

Felicia and Sam, second-year ETAs

We got kicked out of the lobby for gambling.  We were playing Spoons, lol.  

Beautiful Jeju….the view from our hotel

Daniel and Crystalyn

Crystalyn, Daniel, Chris, and Frank

Meghan, Erin, and Sarah at dinner

Lisa, Elizabeth, myself, and Sarah at the base of Sunrise Peak

Sarah, myself, and Meghan, halfway up to the top of the peak

Me ‘n Adam 🙂

I think Meghan’s scared of whatever might be inside the cave 🙂

More friends!  Adam, Jake, Dan, Sarah, Ryan, and Elizabeth

Andddd….the view from the top of Sunrise Peak.  Isn’t it lovely??
Welcome to Ilchul Land!!

Sarah inside the lava cave – not really a very impressive cave, is it? =/

The best part of the cave – they had some sort of good luck dragon painted on one of the pillars.

Jeju’s famous statues

Sarah’s the beauty…I volunteered to be the beast 🙂

Now Jake’s the beast and I get to be the beauty! 🙂

Do you see Charlie in the background making some sort of goofy pose? 🙂
Jake pensively pondering at the Jeju folk village

A heart made out of rocks, seashells, and water…isn’t that just precious? <3
Pyoseon beach
Windsurfing at Pyoseon beach!  No, neither I nor anyone that I know went windsurfing.  I just snapped a creeper picture 🙂