Last weekend, Fulbright and KAEC hosted all of the ETAs for a final dinner in Seoul. Many of us headed to Seoul on Friday to maximize our time together for one last hurrah.
I joined a group of friends to stay at the Seoul Basecamp Hostel which is set up tents and bunk beds inside. We began the weekend with some Korean bbq in Hongdae and some really fantastic conversations. We reflected on the year that had gone by, what is to come, and various differences throughout our grant years. After dinner, we went to one of our favorite places, the Hawaiian Maekkolli bar to meet up with a few more people. The night wrapped up with one final noraebang session and we belted our hearts out.
Saturday morning, Kristen, Liam, and I made a trip to Myeongdong to do some final shopping. Both of them will be staying here for another year, while I head home to the states. I was having flashbacks all day because my first weekend in Seoul included a trip to Myeongdong with the two of them and Julia. It’s crazy to think it’s been almost a year since that first Seoul weekend.
After a very successful outing, we went back to get ready with the rest of the crew. I stopped to pick up some mousse for my hair and as I was getting ready, I lent some to a friend. Little did we know that I had actually picked up hair dye and not mousse. (I can’t wait until I can read labels again!) Lucky for me, it dyed my hands more than my hair because it was a dark brown. Unfortunately for Connor, it may have made his hair a bit darker. He’s never going to let me live that down.
We still managed to make it to the dinner on time somehow. This final gathering of ETAs was held at The Hotel President across from City Hall on the 31st floor. Fulbright and KAEC like to do it up big. We were dazzled by some performances from talented ETAs and some words of thanks and wisdom from Mrs. Shim and Samantha Morrow, a 3rd year ETA. I think my favorite performance of the evening (everyone was wonderful!) was Case. He wrote and sang a song about Jeju-do, where he spent his grant year. His voice is incredible and the song brought tears to many eyes in the room.
The first of many goodbyes began at the conclusion of dinner. It didn’t take long for everyone to realize that I was a ticking time bomb with the tears. The speeches, the performances, and just looking around at this room of amazing people brought them on. After dinner, my friend Amber came up with the idea for everyone to meet in one place before dispersing for the evening. We all felt like it was a flashback to the ridiculousness of orientation and it was a great time.
The last of my goodbyes came on Sunday when I grabbed lunch with a bunch of friends then went to see Case’s performance for a talent competition. My shades stayed on for a good majority of the day. Luckily, my friend Christina accompanied back to my homestay for a visit which did soften the blow a bit.
Thank you to all of my fellow ETAs for a fabulous last weekend together. I’m happy to say I will be leaving on a very high note as I had hoped.