The Land of the Morning Calm

Friday, February 2, 2024

As I walked through the less-than-crowded Incheon Airport, I can't describe the feeling that overcame me on that day, January 6, 2024. I had a rough start to my trip to Korea, spending the night, just hours away from departing my house to the Philadelphia International Airport, figuring out why my connecting flight was not showing up on my reservation.

I had spent the night bouncing my calls back and forth between Delta, Korean Air, and Expedia. What I thought was resolved became an issue again at the airport. I made it out of Philadelphia to Boston where I was supposed to then head to Korea. To my disappointment, I would be spending the entire day at Boston Logan International Airport. 

After being there for roughly 6-7 hours, I was sent to Atlanta where I spent several more hours before flying out to my final destination. I spent about 18 hours of the day on the East Coast of the States in 3 different airports. What a nightmare, right?

When I finally touched Korean land with my own two feet, I teared up. The time when I left Korea about 8 years ago, I cried. Now I was back in Korea with tears in my eyes again. It was a joy to be back in a country where I felt more at home than my so-called native country.

Why was I in Korea?

The purpose of my trip to Korea was hardly for pleasure. I spent most of my days there at a conference center in Seoul to receive educational training. The Office of Overseas Koreans was funding training for Korean School teachers across the globe so of course, I jumped on the opportunity and went to Korea.  

As a second-generation Korean, it was quite difficult to follow and I found myself lost in a lot of the lectures. I was relieved to find out that those fluent in Korean were also having a hard time understanding different parts of the lectures. 

If there was anything that I took away from the training, it's that I really need to take knowing the language more seriously. πŸ˜… The amount of mental stress I had during those 7 days was not pleasant and I was itching to socialize, but because of my lack of vocabulary, it put a damper on my experience there, at least at the personal level.

Professionally, I learned a lot. Though I couldn't understand parts of the lectures, I understood the main idea for most. 

The most interesting and entertaining lecture was the history lesson. The professor was a great storyteller who made the past come alive and I personally wished this lecturer was given a longer time slot so that he could have taught further in-depth. 

The most disappointing lecture was the Korean culture lesson. There was a lot of BTS involved but the lecturer had no idea how to make this entertaining for the educators in the room. The material was dry and for the most part, the lecturer just showed us music videos of BTS that I've already seen. πŸ˜‚

Overall, my time learning was valuable. Outside of this conference, I was able to visit some historical places and, had it not been for the cold weather, I think I would've been able to see much more. 

I leave you with some pictures and descriptions of my training and the two tourist spots the Office of Overseas Koreans took us. 

A welcome sign at the hotel/conference hall where I stayed/attended the lectures. I was lucky enough to only have to stay for the first 2 nights. The beds were much too squishy for me so I decided it was best that I commute from my dad's house. 

The first night of the conference consisted of live music, a short orientation with several guest speakers including the commissioner of the organization, as well as a fancy dinner. 

This is the Blue House where the president used to reside. The current president promised in his campaign that he would remove himself from the Blue House and operate elsewhere. When he was sworn into office, he did exactly as he promised. Because the Blue House is not being occupied, it has become an attraction site. 

Past the doors here, an indoor pool was built for recreational purposes. 

You may be wondering why I added this picture of my feet. I took this picture because the track where we were standing on was actually a track specifically made for President Bill Clinton at the time. President Bill Clinton was planning a visit to Korea, and he had asked where he could take his morning jogs. When this track was first laid down, it didn't look like what it looks like here in this image. It has since been paved over for tourists.

What I love about Korea is that they have a lot of free museums that you can venture into whenever you want. As we walked into this museum (and all the other ones I happened to visit during my trip), I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to bring my kids here as they are interested in Korean history as much as I love and am interested in it too. 

This was me on my last day of training. I was happy yet sad for it to be the last day. I learned a lot and walked away thinking that I still have a long way to go to be an outstanding educator. Hoping and praying that one day, I can be a well-seasoned teacher that can inspire and spark a sense of joy when learning this beautiful language. 

Though I took quite a bit of pictures, it's hard to decide what pictures I should post here. A lot of them are boring artifact pictures and honestly, I don't know how excited you would be to see them. πŸ˜†

Coming up next on the blog is something historical. Hope to have you here!



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