Well June is my final full month here in Korea and as I sit and write this I am only a week away from finishing at the Academy and heading back to England.
Because of this (and the increasing temperature and humidity) June has been a fairly quiet month as I have had a few bits to get organised for coming back home - but as always over here it has had it's moments!
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF KOREA:
The first weekend of June I decided to go to the National Museum of Korea, which is a huge and impressive looking building. The area surrounding the museum was stunning with some amazing views out the back to Namsan Park and N'Seoul tower. In front of the museum was a huge 'reflecting pond' which had a small pagoda overhanging which made for some rather nice photographs. The museum was also turned out to be free, which was an unexpected bonus!
Inside the museum was just as impressive and, as always seems to be the case over here, very well organised with a central hallway with exhibits on each side. The map I was given had a suggested route (which I followed) which took me through all the exhibits in the recommended order. The only downside was the slight lack of English information. At the beginning I was quite impressed with the amount of English information, but as I moved through the exhibits, and higher up the museum (which is on 3 floors) the information in English gradually disappeared! Obviously the English speakers are not expected to progress past the ground floor!
The outside of the museum also had some exhibits which I went to look around as it was a beautiful summer day. First there was a pagoda garden, which was basically what it sounds like - a garden with lots of pagoda's. Next, I walked to see the Bell Pavilion which was one of the Korean National Treasures - this was a big pagoda with a large bell inside. Then I went to Dragon Falls which was a small pond in the middle of a wooded area with a mini waterfall and amazing landscaping. It was quite well hidden too, so you wouldn't find it by accident, which meant it was very quiet and peaceful.
LET IT BE................
There was a rather random moment in my New WeWiz class last week. Will, one of my students, decided to start playing music on his phone, so I took his phone away (bad Gemma teacher!). On trying to turn it off I discovered his list of songs on his phone and was surprised to find The Beatles 'Let It Be', so I decided to play it (yes, I know that makes me just as bad as them!). I was even more surprised when they all (with the exception of Anna) started singing along beautifully. It was such a bizarre moment which made me smile - you just never know what's going to happen when you walk into class!
Also this month I got an unexpected surprise one day when I came into school and Sunny came running into my office with her violin saying she wanted to play for me. She played me a nice piece and she has really improved this last year - and thankfully it wasn't a Christmas song (Jong Sool only seems to play Christmas songs on his flute which I find highly amusing!).
I had to include a weather update as it's so awful! The temperature is rising and the humidity too (which is the worst bit), so it's back to feeling like I am living in a permanent sauna! Thankfully the air conditioning is on at school, otherwise I don't think I would make it through the day. June also saw the official start to monsoon season and it has rained a lot already, but the worse thing I think is the return of the terrible thunderstorms, which always seem to coincide with bed time - as a result, my slightly unusual sleeping patterns have got worse the last few weeks!
As my departure is getting closer and closer, I thought it about time to get photos of/with my students. The prospect of having their picture taken got some of my students jumping up and down in excitement and others hiding under the tables! I did however get pictures of the majority of them which will be great to look back on and remember. The picture taking also helped the kids understand that I would soon be leaving, which was good as they have time to adjust to the idea of a new teacher.
USA AND BASEBALL:
This month I also paid for my trip to the USA which is exciting. I also bought baseball tickets to go and see both the Yankees play in New York and the Giants in San Fran, which I am very excited about. When I get back home next week I will need to start planning more for my trip, but for now I am happy with having paid for it and having baseball and Broadway tickets!
I am assuming I don't need to tell anyone that the World Cup is on!?!?
Well over here the atmosphere and attitude has been very different to the usual attitude in England. Everyone is so supportive of the Korean team and everyone (maybe not actually everyone, but it seems like it) watches the soccer to support the team and is excited about the matches. The Korean supporters have the nickname 'The Red Devils' and veryone has red shirts with one of the 2 catchphrases 'fighting Korea' or 'Shouting Korea' on them.
Jong Sool suggested to me the other week that I should go to the park near my apartment to watch the Korea game. Now, I am not a soccer fan, but I decided I should go for a while and I was quite shocked by what I found. In the park they had put up a huge screen to watch the match on and the park was full of people (all wearing these red shirts). There were more people there than I knew lived in Deokjeong!! It really was amazing to see and the atmosphere was great, it was a lot of fun!
People also go to watch the soccer at all hours! One of the matches was on at 3:30am local time and I could hear the cheers from the park in my apartment at 4am when Korea scored!
ONE LAST DINNER AT GECKO'S:
Last weekend (the last in June) Jill came to visit one last time and we had coffee at Starbucks before heading to Gecko's for one last dinner. Of course, we had the same as always and just enjoyed chatting and eating some good Western food! It was nice that Jill came up to Seoul one last time as it gave me an excuse to head into Seoul one last time before I leave.
Well that's it! This is the last time I will post anything in Korea! Next time will be from the comfort of my own home in England (well, technically my parents home, not mine!). When I get back I will write one final Korean entry covering my last few days, the hand over to the new teacher and saying goodbye to the place I have called home for the last year, then things will be pretty quiet until I go to the USA!