The first semester has officially been finished for about a week and a half now. I’ve been teaching summer camp for a little over a week before I take my own vacation from August 3-15. Before school let out, we had a big teachers trip to Ulsan. One of the younger teachers organized it, so I was happy it was going to be a bit better than previous trips I’ve been on.
Some of the sixth grade teachers really like speaking English with me (such a change from last year when nobody ever talked to me!). They grabbed me after lunch and had me come sit with them on the bus. We chatted the whole time about so many things. We made plans to go hiking up a mountain near where I live after summer vacation!
Our first stop was a temple between Gyeongju and Ulsan. I can’t remember the name, but it was really beautiful! It was pretty small so it didn’t take long to walk around and see everything. Right outside the entrance there was a small stream where everyone gathered to wash and relax their feet it. The water felt great!
After that, we went to an amethyst cave which sounded a lot more exciting than it actually was. It ended up being really cheesy. It was basically a cave that had been turned in to a museum with a bunch of artifact replications. They had a auditorium set up, and we watched some Chinese style acrobats do a little show. It was pretty impressive actually. The best part was watching all the 90 year old ladies dancing like crazy before the performance started. They were blasting Korean music and these ladies were shaking their butts back and forth like I’ve never seen. I wish I had taken a picture or video!
After the cave was the best and most exciting part of the trip…DINNER! Usually when my school takes trips, we go eat very expensive raw fish…not my favorite food to eat. But this time, we went to a famous restaurant near Ulsan Station. They specialize in something I had never heard of or tried in Korea before: ddeokgalbi. To me, they just looked like hamburger patties, but when I mentioned that I was laughed at (of course!). We cooked the patties on a grill at the table and ate them Korean BBQ style with lettuce and side dishes. They also brought out a little tray of raw beef. We also got a free shot, noodles, and watermelon. I could barely stand up when we were finished. It was one of the best meals I’ve had here. It was also really nice sitting at a table without my usual coteachers. Even though they speak English, most of them can’t really speak enough to have a real conversation so they unintentionally ignore me. When you have to spend 2 hours at a dinner while everyone is speaking and you can’t understand, it gets really frustrating! I sat with the 6th grade teachers I rode on the bus with plus a few others. They did speak a lot of Korean, but they made sure to include me in the conversation by asking me questions and talking about how delicious the food was and our summer vacation plans. It was very refreshing to be included in the dinner time conversation for once. The sixth grade teachers are really great this year. Most of them are my age or a little older, and I really like that they make an effort to talk to me and get to know me!