Our trip is finished!
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Leaving Korea after two years was bittersweet. While I didn’t always love my life there, I can say I was much happier after I quit teaching! Ha ha. What I will miss most is my friends. I feel like I really made some genuine, lifelong pals there. I am kind of sad about going home where my network is much smaller. In Korea you can bond quickly with other English teachers as you have so much in common. Also, it is easier to get lots of people to do fun stuff together… No one has kids, no one works on the weekends, and everyone has enough money to have fun. For example, I would never be able to get such a big group to go camping together back home in NC. Also my Korean friends are so thoughtful and sweet. They all got me awesome farewell gifts and wrote the sweetest/saddest letters and cards.
My official farewell dinner was last Sunday night at my favorite Indian restaurant. 19 people total!
During my last week I met up with as many people as possible! Then on my last night ten of us went to my favorite Korean restaurant.
Ohee couldn’t make it to either dinner so she went to the airport with me yesterday morning. And cried!! I don’t like goodbyes so I laughed instead. I’m so awkward. But I will see her again when I am the Maid of Honor in her wedding in August!
Here are the awesome presents I received…
I will always remember my time in Korea fondly. But I am also eagerly anticipating my future, which right now entails traveling for five weeks and then returning home!
Last week I went to collect my pension. The process was pretty painless but I thought I’d detail it here for those who need the information.
If you live in Bundang, the pension office is in Yatap. Take exit 4 from the subway station, cross the street, and turn left at the Home Plus/CGV building.
You’ll see signs like this along the way:
Walk a few blocks down to the Korea Design Building.
Once in the building, go to the 4th floor to the office that says NPS. Go to the desk that says “lump sum payment”. You need to bring your passport, ARC, American bank account information (including branch address and routing number), and plane ticket out of Korea. (I don’t have an ARC anymore since I canceled my teaching visa in January and unfortunately I didn’t have my ARC number on me either. They informed me that without it I wouldn’t be able to get my money! Luckily I called Daniel who searched my email and found the number. Yay!) The money is deposited in your bank account approximately one month later.
The Lotus Lantern Parade is an annual event in Seoul held in honor of Buddha’s birthday. From the Visit Korea website: According to Buddhist beliefs, the lighting of a lotus-shaped lantern symbolizes a devotion to performing good deeds and brings light to the dark parts of the world that are filled with agony. The parade features more than 100,000 massive, illuminated lanterns in the shape of lotus flowers, stupas, elephants, dragons, and more. There is also a post-parade celebration, which includes the time-honored ganggangsullae dance (a traditional circle dance in which everyone holds hands to dance and sing among flower petals), the burning of written seowon (wishes and resolutions), and the release of lanterns of hope (a ceremony in which 100,000 wish lanterns are let loose into the sky).
Directions: It’s best to be near the end of the parade, so you can get some lanterns afterwards when they pass them out for free! From Jonggak subway station on line 1, take exit 2. You can walk a few blocks from there to Jogyesa Temple as well.
Jukjeon Cafe Street is such a cute area! I really wish I’d visited more restaurants there during my time in Korea. (The only other one I’ve been to there is Las Margaritas.)
Jinhee and I met there on Thursday and had a hard time choosing a restaurant. There were so many! We finally settled on Osteria Borboni. Jinhee refused to eat anywhere where there weren’t at least a few tables of people and Osteria Borboni seemed pretty popular.
We both selected pasta dishes (they were around ₩15,000). Jinhee had fettuccine in a tomato meat sauce and I had mine with chicken and a tomato cream sauce. Both were delish! You also get a complimentary bread basket.
I would highly recommend Osteria Borboni if you’re looking for a slightly fancy Italian restaurant.
If you know how to get to Jukjeon Cafe Street it should be easy to find. If not… From E-Mart in Jukjeon (to the right of the main entrance/exit of the station), exit near Outback on the second floor. Cross the bridge, turn left after the bridge, then turn right at the first street. Walk until Kraze Burger and then turn right. Osteria Borboni will be on the corner when you get to the middle of Cafe Street.
This is something I’ve wanted to do since before I came to Korea! Camping on Muui Island is a very popular weekend excursion for foreigners living near Seoul. And it was such a fun time!! The not so fun part: Getting there. Once you get to Incheon Airport, go out exit 7 from the departures floor. Then take bus 222 or 2-1 to the ferry terminal. Pay ₩3,000 for a round-trip ferry ticket. Once on Muuido, take the bus to Hanagae Beach. (All buses take T-Money.) Pay a ₩2,000 beach fee and then you’re set! You can bring a tent and camp for free or rent a hut that sleeps four for ₩30,000 (plus a ₩10,000 key deposit).
We had a good group of about 20 people. We spent most of the day chilling on the beach. Talking, drinking, snacking, sunbathing, napping, tossing a football…
One super cool thing we witnessed was a hovercraft! It drove on sand, mud, and water! We were mesmerized.
Walking on the mud flats was also pretty cool. It was super squishy! We saw lots of sea creatures and Koreans collecting seafood for their dinner that night. We collected seashells instead.
After awhile we were hungry, so we fired up the grill for an early dinner of kebabs and sausages!
As the sun started to go down, we played a few games of cards and Uno.
Next it was time for some music. Daniel was on the mandolin and Nate played the guitar. Shalita was the lead singer with Matt and Sairah as backup vocalists. Kyle also wowed us with his dance moves. The band played original songs such as Lady Gaga, Katie, Leslie, and Buffalo Badass.
We ended the night roasting s’mores around the bonfire. And there was also skinny dipping… But I’ll spare you those photos!