Unfortunately, time is not always on my side. Although at the beginning of last semester, it seemed that we had an endless amount of time before heading back home to the states…but before I knew it… there were less than two weeks left in Korea. I wanted to spend the last few moments in the best way I knew how: spending the majority of my time connecting and reconnecting with people that made my time here all that I could have asked for.
I only got to meet up with my summer supporter 수진언니 once this entire year.. And that was all the way back in November and I do have regrets… I wish I got to spend more time with her but every time I meant to reach out, things got hectic or it was just not a major priority at the time. Although this is the case, I am happy to have a friend here that makes me feel loved and appreciated no matter how much time has passed since our last meeting. I can always count on her. We decided that for our last meeting, we would end off with a bang! We planned to eat some delicious food and then head to a slime café (which I shamefully found through 영국남자 (Korean Englishman) YouTube channel) to make our own slime!
The slime café was nearby Sungshin Women’s University (성신여대) which is on this really interesting subway line. I believe that it may be one of the newer ones since it is so short and there are only a couple ways to transfer onto it? This is just my assumption, I am not too sure. (I looked it up. There are only 13 stops on the line and it was added in 2017–the line is the 우이신설선) I ended up getting on at the station where it starts at but for some reason, the car kept on stopping randomly or just not opening its doors at its stop for several minutes. The only reason why this was strange to me was because the subway here in Seoul usually works without ANY error. I can seriously think of less than three times were I had trouble getting somewhere on time due to delays or construction issues. And I guess everyone else was not used to it either because there was a lot of commotion on the train.
Eventually I got to my stop and met up with 수진언니 but I had to apologize profusely because I had made her wait for so long. For dinner, we went and got Korean barbeque in which 언니 really spoiled me and made sure everything was perfect. She cooked the meat, prepared the noodles, and always got up to refill the vegetables and side dishes. I was the 동생 (younger) and yet I was failing at my responsibilities. I should be pouring her water and refilling her kimchi and lettuce leaves. We talked a lot and caught up with what was happening in each other’s lives. We were also like the only ones in the restaurant which was nice. We were like VIPs or something! The food was delicious and before we knew it, we were both extremely full.
We went to a 노래방 for a little bit and sang some duets together (언니 has such a good voice!! Why does it seem that everyone I take to go singing can sing well?? Why have I been cursed with loving karaoke and yet having no ounce of a good singing voice?) We then made our way to the slime café and we ended up being the only customers there the entire time. We ended up doing a couple of crafts at the café which included not only slime but drawings that shrunk in the microwave and a phone case as well.
The slime café was pretty elaborate–just like the ones I had walked into around 홍대 but this was just the tiniest bit cheaper overall. I picked the type of slime I wanted (yes, there were types ranging from clear to textured, etc.) and then we got a little cup that could be filled with little trinkets and doodads to put into the slime like beads and glitter and confetti type things.
We played around with our slime, dyed them different colors, added our add-ons and completed our other crafts all while joking around. 언니 was so surprised to see how much better I had gotten at Korean because although I had improved from the summer when we met in November, this jump was a bit more noticeable. We took a lot of photos!! She makes looking ridiculous so fun!
We stopped at a bubble tea shop to pick up some drinks and 수진언니 was really not impressed with hers. Her face changing with every sip from the straw was absolutely comical. I started getting teary-eyed as we said our goodbyes because I knew it would probably be a while until our next meeting. Maybe a couple years?
And that was the end of my Sunday night, I traveled back to my lovely city of 고양시 which took almost two hours… but I was able to get a seat practically right away and slept for the majority of the trip. Oh how I will miss riding the subway…
Monday marked the beginning of my final week at 하나고 which was characterized by major bittersweet feelings. On one hand I was looking forward to finally being able to go home to America. I missed my family. I missed my friends. I missed my dog. I missed my mom’s cooking. Oh my god did I miss empanadas and arroz con pollo and tostones AND pizza without corn!! I missed my hometown, surprisingly enough. I missed my room and my bed with the one extra squishy pillow on the right side. I missed feeling normal–not like a token foreigner. I missed the comfort of being able to communicate freely in my native language as well.
On the other hand, I kept tearing up just thinking about all the ‘lasts’ I was experiencing this week. I would make a joke like “Oh, this is my last English class with Andrew쌤 and then once those words left my tongue, I felt my eyes fighting back tears. I have always been a sentimental person so I knew these goodbyes were going to be hard and hit me like a truck…but I did not think they would be this difficult.
Anyways, like the example given, I had my last advanced English class with Andrew쌤 today. We spent one part of class reading this essay by an American student who had been studying in France. The essay was written about his French class and because it was a comedy piece, he had each individual sound like they truly did when speaking the French language–grammatical errors and all, including himself. In the essay, he discussed the day his class shared their Easter traditions from their respective cultures. The author talked about the Easter Bunny which his French teacher found utterly unreasonable. In France, apparently, they have an Easter Bell that flies in from Rome? Yeah… and a rabbit is illogical?! I feel like a bunny hopping around the entire country of America makes more sense than a huge bell?? Bells are not even alive. As a joke, 서연 showed me a little doodle she did on her paper that looked like the Liberty Bell with arms holding a basket of eggs and chocolate which was hilarious.
The story was fun and it was exactly what was needed to make the class end on a high note. This class has always been one of my favorites since I was able to have the time to chat with 서연. On this final day, she shared some chocolates with me. I am really going to miss her. I had English with her both semesters so it felt like we went through this year together and when I was really overwhelmed and just needed an hour break to speak English, I knew I could do that with her during class ❤ (Of course… not when Andrew쌤 was teaching…)
I do not remember where Katie and I ended up eating lunch, either at school or convenience store 김밥 again probably, but we made our way to 홍대 and bought some things in preparation for a surprise party tomorrow. Katie and I stopped at McDonald’s for chicken tenders and then our beloved $10 cake shop for, of course, cake. We rock paper scissor’ed it and I won so I was able to take the chicken home–stuffed in my backpack–while Katie had to take the cake home and bring it back to school the following day. We also stopped to get our favorite chewy lychee drinks for Katie and me (grape and apple flavored, respectively) and sat on this bench in the middle of the main square of 홍대 which is usually teeming with buskers and jewelry stands in the evening time.
Today was stipend day so Katie and I decided to walk together to Better World’s office so that I could collect my money now instead of after class. Halfway there, Katie suddenly started panicking and realizing that she must have put her wallet down and left it on the bench. Her wallet filled with her money, her identification, everything. We ran back there as fast as we could. I was breathing so hard that the air coming into my lungs burned–wow, was I out of shape. Ask me to walk 15+ miles a day around the city and I can do that but RUN? HAH
We got back to the bench and it was gone… Katie slumped her shoulders immediately and looked defeated, tears trying to escape her bleary eyes. I looked around and I saw a group of boys–maybe around our age? And they were talking and I do not know I just felt pulled to head over to them but I grabbed Katie’s hand and we walked toward them until I noticed that one of them was indeed holding her wallet. We could overhear them asking each other what to do and one of the boys suggested to bring it to the subway station as soon as we walked up to them. I was all like “Did you find a wallet?” and we both almost shrieked as they handed it to us and repeated Katie’s name which they must have read off of her American ID. It was such a relief to find her wallet because losing it would have been so stressful. I mean, in America I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been taken. I mean in New York? Come on. Not saying in Korea you cannot lose things or people do not steal but… it seems to be less of a ‘trend’ if you will.
For Korean class, we are wrapping up on our Korean lessons now since our final test is this week Thursday. I waited too long to write this post so I do not have any memory of Korean class unfortunately but afterwards, Katie and I took a quick trip to the international snacks market nearby to go shopping for ingredients for s’mores. (I am making little s’mores kits for my friends at 하나고. I could not find graham crackers and Hershey’s was a little expensive so I ended up buying the Digestive wheat crackers, Ghana chocolate, and a bag of rather small marshmallows–a size in between the mini ones and the jumbo ones). While we were there, we also found out that our favorite drink (Mogu Mogu: a drink from Thailand with coconut jelly) has more than the flavors that we usually see at convenience stores.
I went home after that and ended the night studying for my upcoming Korean test and making lots and lots of s’mores kits. My older host sister works at an English academy so she was gifted this really pretty cake from the parents of one of her students for Teacher’s Day. We all sat at the table enjoying the cake while chatting about this and that.
And that is all for this blog post. I hope you enjoyed! Thanks for reading!
- Emma 엠마