Friday, July 30, 2010

Goodbye, Madeline Teacher: Co-workers/Friends

What took me most aback about my last weekend in Korea was the lengths my co-workers and friends went to to make sure I had a spectacular send-off.

On Friday, my co-worker and good friend Ed gifted me with a colossal ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins. Baskin-Robbins is not close to Swaton--I'm sure it was an absolute pain in the ass to carry a huge, frozen cake, in the sweaty Korean humidity, all the way to Swaton. It was delicious and beautiful:

My other co-workers also showered me with gifts, including lots of traditional Korean souvenirs, which I've always secretly wanted but have never bought for myself:

My boss, Mrs. Lee--the owner of Swaton, unofficially known as "The Dragon Lady" because of her terrifying demeanor--came into the office and made a little speech in Korean at the end of the day, thanking me for working at Swaton for a year. She presented me with an ornamental hairclip. It is purple and has a little bobbly thing on it. I am never taking it off:

Mrs. Lee gave me a hug as a left the building for the last time. It was a little like being hugged by a robot/I was terrified the entire time the interaction was taking place. I said goodbye to all of the secretaries, who have always been super-nice to me. I almost cried as I exited the hallowed halls of Swaton for the last time, until I remembered I WAS FREE


I feel like, overall, I really lucked out, working at Swaton. My co-workers (especially my co-teacher, Jenny) were/are all incredible people. Swaton has paid my taxes and my medical insurance, and they have always been good about paying me on time. I have heard horror stories from my friends who have worked at other hagwons who have cheated them out of pensions/severance pay/medical insurance, and from what I can tell, Swaton is totally trustworthy and honest in that regard. Even though there has been a fair amount of bullshit (unpaid overtime, dubious curriculum, ect.), there have definitely been more good times than bad ones, and I will genuinely miss working at Swaton.


Jenny Teacher + Madeline Teacher + random fingers

Kate Teacher + Ed Teacher, who looks a little like he belongs on the Jersey Shore. BROFACE

Madeline Teacher + Ginny Teacher, two shots of soju in

Me and my "Not my manger anymore" Micheal (his quote)

Ed, Emma, and Ginny at Beer Ocean, where things started to get a little weird/silly

Just a little crunk is all

Eggs on cheeks


Pat (looking reasonably exasperated) and the women

The day after my Swaton party, my friend Anthony had me and a bunch of my neighborhood friends over to his swanky apartment. He cooked mountains of Korean food, and he and my friend/ex-coworker Brendan gave me a gorgeous traditional stamp with my name in English/Hanguel:

'Cause I'm a tigress

That's my name

A lot of my friends--Korean and foreign alike--complain about living in Minlak-dong. The neighborhood does have its downsides--it is dirty/poorer than most places in Korea, and it is a full twenty minute bus ride/five minute cab ride from Uijeongbu proper. It is not exactly a bustling cultural center, either--I found myself drinking away many of the nights I might have spent doing something more stimulating in Seoul. However, I once again got really lucky--I have met so many awesome/crazy (in the best way possible)/interesting people right in my neighborhood, and have very, very few regrets about my first year spent teaching in Korea.

Brendan, me, Charles

Whatever will happen to me next? Stayed tuned for updates on year two...


  1. i love this! congrats on being finished/free!
    (and, the pic modeling the purple bauble hair clip pretty much made my day.) xoxox

  2. congrats on an excellent, fun filled and completed year!! Are you going home for a while, or do you launch right into your next job?

  3. You survived!

    I need to skype you up soon, among other things I misplaced your address. :X