My friends and family know that I had been struggling for awhile there. My students were the most out of control and disrespectful that they had ever been, my coteacher informed me of everything I would have to do for Summer Camp (which was a lot more than for Winter Camp), and I was just generally irritated with my lack of ability to control many of the situations I was put in. I did a lot of complaining and even started to annoy myself. I was a bit sad when the last week of school came and everyone was posting on facebook all the sweet things their students were giving them as goodbye presents. My coteacher didn't tell me that I wouldn't have most of my students the last week of school and so I didn't get to say goodbye to the majority of my classes. I did tell my 3rd and 4th graders that I would be leaving. Most of the 4th graders said thank you and some of my favorite girls gave me hugs and told me they would miss me. When my 3rd/4th grade coteacher told the third graders I was leaving a few of the little devil boys actually cheered and went to the 2nd floor window and proceeded to throw their English papers out the window. You can probably imagine that this made me feel like the last 11 months have been so meaningful. Out of my 200 or so students i did get two gifts. The first, a Bulgogi Burger from the Korean wannabe McDonalds, Lotteria, which is probably one of the nastiest hamburgers I've ever eaten, if you can even call it a hamburger. The second gift was a really sweet hand-made book from one of my 6th grade girls who took my special class. I did get a little teary eyed when I read it and at least felt happy that one student appreciated me.
So I'm up to the last day of school and I was informed a whole week in advance (!) that we would be going on a staff "field trip" the last day of school. We would rent a bus and head out to a town called Yeongdeok where we would spend the afternoon and be back around 7pm. I wasn't really looking forward to it because my coteacher that speaks the best English and is good about translating for me wasn't going to be there. We head out to Yeongdeok around 12pm and it takes around 2 hours to get there. When we arrive the scenery reminds me a lot of the Oregon Coast. It's cloudy and a bit misty. On my right side is the ocean and on my left are green, forested hills. I suddenly got really excited.
We arrived at this restaurant that was right on the beach where we ate sashimi (raw fish) and drank a lot of soju. I think the women decided that since it was the last day of school they would go all out and actually drink. Usually they just take shots of "cider" (sprite like drink) instead of soju, but today they were going to town. In what seemed like 5 minutes (it actually could have been) they were all wasted. Finally they opened up a bit and were trying to talk with me. I felt like I made a connection with a lot of people that I really hadn't before this trip. I was reaffirmed of our principal's affection towards me when he wanted to take a shot with me. It wasn't just any ol' shot a principal takes with someone lower than him hierarchically. Take a look:
Needless to say, everyone thought this was hilarious. Here are pictures of the sashimi and fish soup, which was really spicy, we ate afterwards.
The view from the restaurant:
Me, my coteacher and two coworkers:
The ladies taking shots:
It was good to get reassurance from my principal that he still thought I was amazing despite my not re-signing to stay another year. He told me that he had told the office of education that I get an A+++++++++. I don't know how many pluses he used but it was a lot. I needed someone to tell me I was doing a good job after all the negativity I was feeling about my job.
We left the restaurant and visited a wind power plant and then got back on the bus and headed home. The bus ride home was probably my favorite part of the trip. I would say that most foreign English teachers here would tell you about hilarious bus rides they have had with their schools. Many of these rented buses come equipped to double as a norae bang. To refresh your memory, a norae bang is a karaoke room. The bus we were on had a big screen TV up front and a karaoke machine. The aisle was lined with colored lights and the speakers big enough to pump up the volume on the music and microphone which is always set to echo. The aisle functions as a very narrow, moving dance floor. I will tell you that when people drink a lot of soju and whisky and try dancing in an aisle of a moving bus, it can be a bit dangerous. I think the principal almost fell on top of a few women he was trying to dance with, including me and invented a new dance move called "Shake the champagne bottle". The only way I could do this justice was by taking a video of it:
The trip was a blast. Definitely the best time I've had on a school outing. I got to talk with coworkers I had never talked to before and give a little goodbye speech. I am now in my first week of camp which is more than half way over. I am teaching at a different elementary school because they needed help with camp. Next week I will teach the parents of my students again, like I did during Winter Camp. I only have one class each day for five days. The week after is camp at my own school. I will have three classes a day for five days. I am officially finished with my year of teaching on August 12th, then I have two weeks of "vacation" to get ready for my SE Asia trip! I think it will be smooth sailing from here on out.