students may (and do) complain about this, but it's just as much work for the teachers - at least it was for me because all of my tests were speaking tests, so not only did i have to write the test, but i couldn't even sit back while the students took it; i had to really pay attention to each student's fluency, accuracy, participation, grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, etc. as they took my test in small groups. one of the shocking (but not really that surprising once you think about it) secrets about teaching is that teachers actually have an idea about what grades to give the students before the test. ive discovered grading here to be quite a bit more arbitrary than i expected.
anyway, it was a busy week, so i've got a lot of catching up to do on blogging. and i've been DOING a lot too. lots of pics and experiences to share.
the weekend before midterms, i went to 부산 - pusan (southeast corner of korea) - to visit and hang out with my friend 용훈 - younghoon (a.k.a. brian). he's working as a personnel manager for a construction company there which builds energy generating or harnessing plants, such as power plants, windmills, dams, etc. i think he's enjoying his job a lot, but it's sometimes lonely i guess, since his hometown is in 대구 - daegu - and his only acquaintances in pusan are his coworkers. i was really glad to head down there and give him some company. he's also a really good host.
on friday night, after class, i rushed to 강변 (gangbyeon) station to get to the 동서울버스터미널 (dong-seoul bus terminal) which has express buses to just about anywhere. i hopped on a night bus at around 11:50pm and slept as best i could until my arrival in pusan at 4-something. i suppose it is pretty exciting to ride by yourself on a night bus to somewhere far away, but i was also really exhausted. it would have been sadly anticlimactic to go to sleep when i got there though.
brian met me at the station (he had actually slept in his car waiting for me) and we drove out of the city toward his home which lies near the border between pusan and another city called 울산 - ulsan. as there were no restaurants open at that hour, we had some instant ramen and microwave dumplings at a local family mart. i was starving.
afterwards, we drove a little ways more to the eastern point of korea to catch the sunrise over the ocean. we just made it, and although the sky was a little hazy, the lighting was lovely. the ocean didnt shine like it does reflecting direct sunlight - it glowed from within, as if the sun were rising through it.
after visiting 장안사 we went looking for a much needed brunch. the place brian took me too was a wonderful feast of korean side-dishes. it was like the korean equivalent of a sunday morning brunch. i gleefully stuffed myself.
we then wandered around a crowded, nearby flea market. it was choked with people digging through piles of clothes and eating street food. the streets were really narrow and hot, but full of excitement too. afterwards, we went back to the apartment were brian parked his car, bought a couple of beers, and enjoyed them at a small park in the late afternoon sun.
the marathon also had the added effect of making it virtually impossible to drive anywhere, as many of the roads were made inaccessible to cars. eventually brian got me to the subway station and i hopped on board to meet hyejeong in 성서 (seongseo). we got some 냉면 ('naengmyeon' - cold, rice noodles and beef with vegetables - perfect for a hot day) and then headed to hyejeong's church. it felt good to sing church songs again (even if in a different language - singing in korean was one of the ways i learned how to read korean more quickly) and i made many faces at the numerous cute children running around during the service and staring at me. after church, hyejeong and i got some coffee before she had to go to meet a student for a private lesson.
after parting ways, i wandered around keimyung university while i waited to meet up with brian again. the place was huge, and aparently modeled after havard, according to hyejeong. i remember visiting this place at night with her brother 3 years ago during my first visit to daegu. at one point, i became desperate for a bathroom and ran all over the place looking for one that was actually stocked with toilet paper. the details to the end of this story are quite grim and possibly unsuitable for most faint-hearted people, so i will omit them here. rest assured, i survived. barely. and not without sacrifice. there. that is all.