Damn blogger for not loading my pictures!!! I started this post about 2 weeks ago but internet was so sporadic in the Philippines and I was so busy my last week that I didn't update. So, I apologize for the massive delay, loyal readers!! Soooooooooo sorry...
It's my last post here in Korea. Can you believe the ride is over? Seems like I just got on. Emotional, saddening, exciting, gut-wrenching...that about sums it up. My week started with tears on Monday night. I cried at the gym saying goodbye to Justin. Well actually, I didn't cry in front of him but rather quietly in the elevator. He had the saddest puppy dog face in the world as he hugged me. I'm really gonna miss our chats...and looking at his niiiiiiiice body. I also said goodbye to my other gym rat buddy, Jin woo. So adorable that kid. I didn't think stumbling through words could be cute and endearing, but he makes it work! I'll miss them both so much...and a few other gym cuties that provided constant motivation for me to stay in shape.
On Tuesday, I said goodbye to my other kindergartners. I really, really loved my Tuesday kids. They knew me better because I saw them more. I started crying when some of the kids just jumped on me and started hugging me, telling me not to go. I mean, my God, I was so close to caving and saying, "Alright, alright! I'll do another year!" just so I wouldn't have to look into their eyes. Even the Director, Grace, got choked up. She said that they'd never had an English teacher who really cared and connected with the kids the way I did. The one before me was a great teacher but not very involved, rather standoffish towards them. They always looked forward to my classes. Truthfully, all I did was just play games with them. I wouldn't even call it teaching, but it was something...and they really appreciated it. So, that made me proud. I feel like if I can walk into a room full of hollering 6-year olds and keep it together, how hard can it be with adults?! And if a vice presidential candidate can get on international TV in front of the entire world and have no idea what she's talking about, surely I can handle anything that comes my way. :)
More gut-wrenching goodbyes came on Wednesday with my smallest ones at school. Even though it was written on the calendar a month ago that I was leaving, for some reason, they didn't know. So when I wrote down their homework, it said, "1) Homework Book p. 19-21 2) Write new words 5X each 3) I love you. Goodbye! :(" So, as they're dutifully copying down the assignment, I watched as it dawned on them that #3 wasn't a homework assignment but a secret message meant to torment them. Clare's face registered sheer horror.
"Joooooiiiiaaaaa!!" she whined.
"Yes, Clare?" I said, already feeling small pools forming around my lower lid.
"Why? What? You....leave???"
"Yup! Uh huh...today is my last day..." **biting the lip, avoiding eye contact at all costs**
"But...but...no.." By this point, she's in my face, demanding an answer and shaking her head angrily. Then she wrapped her little arms around my neck and boy, you shoulda seen how fast those tears flew down my cheeks. And I think, for a child, seeing an adult cry, especially an authority figure, is quite destabilizing. So naturally, I think she cried harder when seeing me cry. And that made me cry harder seeing her cry. It was a total mess. She was clinging to my leg and not wanting to get on the bus. Heartbreaking does not begin to describe my emotions. We pulled it together enough to snap a couple of pictures. But as you see, Clare is not smiling or happy at all. In fact, I think I succeeded in really pissing her off. I will miss her the most.
So, a few weeks ago, I had lunch with Bryan...and his new girlfriend! It was kinda out of the blue because we were supposed to hang out the night of the soul food dinner, but he had to cancel because his great-grandfather passed I think. But he also said, "I have a new girl and I want you to meet her..." I wasn't sure I heard him right so after we hung up, I texted him just to be sure. And he confirmed that yes, he had a new girlfriend. I agreed to meet her, conscience be damned, because we are friends. A little awkward? Sure. She's a really nice, pretty girl though. And quite frankly, it's not like we were going to be anything but friends. I didn't understand why he wanted me to meet her and I didn't ask. I just went along with it...
For my last big night, I went out with my friends for dinner, drinks, and dancing! It was amaaaaaaaazing! Definitely my best night in Seoul because all of my favorite people came out for me. We had dinner near Seoul Tower, in Namsan, at a really cool restaurant called Space. The atmosphere was perfect, reminded me of an NYC lounge. Even the menu had NYC prices! Except the $10 can (not including 12% VAT) of Dr. Pepper. YES, a can! Mind-boggling. I even asked the server how in the hell they could possibly charge that much for a can of Dr. Pepper and her answer was, "Well, that's just what it is..." I'll tell you what it is, lady...a crime!!
So after dinner, we went to Itaewon for drinks at a cool (crowded) spot called Brixx. Free drinks will always be okay with me! And that's when everyone else showed up! I was ecstatic!!! YAY!!!
We stayed there for about an hour or so before moving on to Gangnam. We piled into taxis and went to NB, which was really poppin' for a Thursday night. So, my friend had called ahead to see if we could get a VIP section because it would only be about $20 per person. We get to the door and get DE-NIED! Suddenly, the manager/bouncer/bartender/idiot was saying that we had to pay an entry fee in addition to the cost for the VIP. I was trying to talk to the guy to strike a bargain. Didn't budge. Then a bunch of others tried to talk to him and explain how foul it was that they changed the rules once 20 black folks showed up. But whatever. People buried all that anger for the sake of my last night, paid the money, and partied til the wee hours!! I really had fun and I appreciated every, single person who came out to send me off in style!
I had more pics but Blogger is acting up so I'll add them later. But my time in Korea was incredible...I'm really sad to be leaving here because it's like leaving a family. I can truly say I have real love for the people I've come to know here and I miss them already. So, if anyone has reservations about packing up and moving across the world, if there are any voices (be they real or imagined) telling you not to go...I'd say ignore them and just jump. At the very worst, you won't like it...but at the very best, you'll unearth new dimensions of yourself and forge new friendships.
One of my favorite quotes by Todd L. Bradbury says, "Life is like a circle, and if we travel in opposite directions on that circle, we will meet again..." I hope this is true... :)