At the end of the semester before summer classes started my coteacher told me that we would all be heading out to an island for teacher training. I didn’t have a clue what this would be like and was extremely nervous. There is training for foreign teachers in South Korea but I got here too late to be counted for the last training.
The training we did was more like a teachers retreat with some discussion of work. It went well after a slight rocky start where I spent a half hour thinking I’d been left behind due to a miscommunication. Everyone packed into cars and drove the three hours to Ganghwa, an island near Incheon. It was a fun car ride and we even made a couple stops along the way where we were treated to coffee and ice cream (my coteacher went and got me tea since I don’t like coffee)
Ganghwa island is really cool, it’s a treasure trove of history. We went to a couple museums and saw some historical monuments while we were there.
It was a lot like a vacation but with my coworkers. We stayed at a nice pension, went out for meals together and I even had my first Korean breakfast which was a soup with egg and fish in it. It was good but had too much black pepper in it for me to consume to much of it.
Our dinner was within view of the ocean and we sat outside on their porch and ate lots and lots of fish, raw and cooked as well as spicy soups and delicious side dishes, like a corn dish that tasted a like cornbread without the bread and potato salad. There was also a ton of soju. Lots and lots of it. We sat, ate, and talked for hours. We even tried the yuzu flavored soju which wasn’t bad at first, it has a lower alcohol count then the regular soju and tasted ( to me after awhile) like how soap smells.
We were within walking distance of the mudflats which was really cool and kinda creepy at night. After dinner we walked out to the beach. I stood in the sand as everyone went into the mud which went out for miles until it met the ocean. One of my coworkers just kept walking and walking. Another found tiny muddy crabs that went on a little adventure with us in a coffee cup.
After walking around on the beach we and checking out the mudflats we went to a norebang. Which means music room, it’s really really popular here, essentially karaoke. Singing in front of people makes me nervous a bit like public speaking unless I’m with friends and we’re all singing together, so it definably wasn’t my favorite thing we did. Especially because I’m pretty sure I was one of the only ones sober. Eventually I did find some songs in English and had to sing (I wasn’t given a choice).
When we got back to our pension that night we spent more time sitting outside. More drinks were brought out, to add to the soju from dinner and the beer from the norebang. I think what they had sake and makgeolli which is a sweet milky rice alchohol. It’s usually drunk from bowls. We ate a ton of snacks while they drank, dried hot fish, candies and chips. I was exhausted and soon went to bed while they continued to enjoy the cool night.
We spent part of the next day at the pension relaxing, playing soccer and baseball and eating watermelon and amazing orange cherry tomatoes that were surprisingly addicting.