Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Short Summary of my Last Week in Jeju

So I had planned to keep my blog completely up to date while I was in Jeju. I had the intention of writing in depth blog posts about my experiences in Jeju on pretty much a day to day basis while I was actually there.  This obviously proved to be completely futile seeing as right now I am writing the last post about Jeju a full month after I left Jeju.  I am going to give a significantly less detailed post about the last week in Jeju.

On Monday Professor McCuan informed us that we would be meeting with the mayor on Wednesday. It was finally time to rock the suit.  Tuesday would be our last free day to wander around Jeju City without concrete plans so we took advantage of that by going to various air conditioned electronic stores and watching 3D K-Pop music videos. The humidity was the worst of the trip that Tuesday, every breath I took felt like it was pure moisture.

Wednesday the weather was about the same. Wearing a suit in humidity is hellish. Wearing a piece of fabric tightly around my neck didn’t particularly help the feeling that I was not getting enough oxygen.  The meeting with the mayor went very well. Ko translated for us and Mayor Kim Sang Oh spoke to Professor McCuan directly.  He jumped right into politics asking Professor McCuan if President Obama was going to win the upcoming election. Professor McCuan said “Oh that is what we are studying in class right now, why don’t I have my students explain the factors of the upcoming election.” So we went around the table and we each said a little blurb about a concept that we had learned in class. I was pretty nervous I felt out of my element and I was scared someone would choose the concept I had in mind before me. I said my blub about getting voters to the voting booth and the diplomatic meeting continued on. There were lots of photos taken and lots of gifts exchanged.  The topic of conversation was mostly about the future relationships between Sonoma State University and Jeju University and how to increase sister city relations between Jeju City and Santa Rosa. I followed along but mostly I focused on not constantly fidgeting and tried to look cool calm and collective.

The mayor invited us to dinner and we gladly accepted. We went to a western style restaurant called “The White House” it had a beachfront view and was very fine dining. The cab driver to the White House drove incredibly aggressively speeding and cutting people off and almost killing a dog that was walking in the street.  Turns out Ko had told him that we were late for a meeting with the mayor and that kicked him into crazy taxi mode. The dinner went fine; there were three booths with four people in each booth. They spread out the visting Americans so that each boot had a sampling of students. After steak and deep fried crab the head of tourism for Jeju City Yong Woo Kim invited us to go on a quick tour of Dragonhead Rock, insisting that we must see it before we left. Of course we agreed and walked around the beautiful rocky beach.

On Thursday morning we had our final and in the afternoon all of members of the 2012 Jeju International Summer School went to an early dinner where we feasted on stir-fried chicken.  It was the first time that the whole group had been together at the same time and it a fun affair.  Friday we all went to the beach and swam in the ocean and played on the sand underneath grey skies.  In the evening we packed up our clothes and headed to FamilyMart to start an evening of karaoke and nightlife. I intended to stay up the whole night in order to be able to sleep on the plane ride back. I was completely successful on both counts.

Going to Jeju was an amazing experience. I loved the food, I loved the scenery, I loved the sounds, I loved exploring the culture but most of all I loved the people. Everyone in Jeju treated us with incredible kindness and hospitality.  The street signs were not lying when they said “Jeju loves having you here”.  It was an amazing trip filled with amazing people. 

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