Tandem Biking and Boston Testing
It's been about a month here without our friends Selestia and Liam as they have finished their contracts and are travelling all over the place before heading back to Canada. I'm not sure how we've been functioning without Selestia's organization and prep work and Liam's sometimes inappropriate but hilarious jokes (oh, and #LiamFacts). But nonetheless, we had a couple different farewell parties with them and ended each with some of our best noraebong performances ever...obviously. WE MISS YOU!
A few weekends ago, the rest of us went to Upo Wetlands about 15 minutes from Changnyeong. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for exploring the area. We got there and it was one of the most adorable places. There were a few paintings we saw on display on the sidewalk as we walked by, bands and musicians were performing throughout the day on the main lawn, there was a tent for arts and crafts and even an enclosure of rabbits. As we were taking pictures around the premise, Sam and Stephanie started talking to a man who was taking a bunch of plants and pots inside one of the buildings. He offered all of us a free class since some people who signed up were absent. Quickly, we all ran up to the classroom with no idea what we just walked into. Everyone stared at us and I'm pretty sure I saw a giggle or two as we awkwardly sat at two tables in the back. After a lengthy Korean explanation, each of the couples ended up planting our own flower in a cute little pot and we each got a Jeju rock added to it - placed precisely by the teacher. (Jeju is a Korean island just south of the mainland. Luke and I really want to visit at some point but are still unsure when that will be.)
Once we finished our flowers, we set them down in a safe area and went on a tandem bike ride!! I initially started in the front but as we attempted to get going, it seemed like I might have forgotten how to ride a bike, haha! Luke switched me and we took off with the group. We biked as much of the area as we could seeing the huge swampy wetlands, gorgeous (almost autumn colored) tree groves and of course the mountains in the distance. We stopped at a picnic table for a few minutes to eat lunch and continued on our way. It was so gorgeous and at this point, I was extremely thankful Luke took over steering because I literally had to do nothing but occasionally pedal and --- very carefully --- take pictures and videos. At the end we had quite the workout getting up hill and back to the main area but I'm so glad I was able to cross tandem bike riding off my bucket list!
The next week was mentally exhausting for all of us because even though we weren't teaching, we had Boston Testing! Let me explain. Every year, CEV takes a handful of students (approx. 16) to Boston, Massachusetts for two weeks during the teachers' long winter vacation! While there, they live with an American family and go to classes with American students. They visit Harvard and MIT and learn so much about American culture. With such an opportunity, you can imagine how competitive of a program it is. The students were extremely nervous as there is a lot of pressure on them to pass, but we try to make them as comfortable as possible. Grading their essays, although mentally exhausting, is my favorite part because they are either super cute in broken English, super unique or very smart. I think back to when I had to write paragraphs or papers in Spanish (very short papers, very infrequently) and how awful I'm sure they were. These kids are 11-15 years old and are way beyond the level of my many years of Spanish.
All in all, we finished the grading and relaxed before heading out for our Chuseok travels! Chuseok, is Korea's version of Thanksgiving and we had a long week break to travel or relax. More on that in the next post!