Demonstrating the public "exercise equipment" around the city...
I love this guy.
Lots of children at the palace were dressed in their hanboks, traditional Korean clothing
Last meal in Korea: cheesy ramen. Literally, a bowl of ramen with a piece of processed cheese on top. Salty, spicy, and delicious....Sue is STILL talking about it, one week later...
Water break, hiking the mountain in Suji
Like mother, like daughter...
New friend, my elementary student Christina
Jasmin loved Sue...and the special treats Sue gave my kinder students!
Asia. In a single picture.
Thirteen months after a tearful airport goodbye, a happy mother was reunited with her little bunny in Seoul!
Ten days in Korea...not nearly enough time to catch up from a years' worth of missed hugs and morning conversations over coffee and crossword puzzles...but nevertheless, perfect.
Couldn't have asked for anything better, celebrating the Chuseok holiday of giving thanks with one of the people I am most thankful for in life. What a surreal experience, walking my usual paths through the city with my mom beside me...how many times have I embarked down those paths before with the wish that someone from home could share them with me?
I could never have dreamed up such a bizarre scenario for myself at this point in life...drinking coffee at a Starbucks in the heart of Seoul on rainy fall days...hiking mountains far above the high-rise apartments that stretch like endless rows of dominoes across the land below...deciphering Korean menus and signs and subway maps as a second nature...spending my weekdays in a classroom, not as the student that I've been for 18 years but as a teacher.
Having my mom experience all of these with me last week have now made them so much more real...I haven't just been dreaming them up, living a fantasy life over here on the other side of the world! I guess in a strange sort if way, my mom's presence here has been a validation of these experiences...it is no longer just unfamiliar words and faces and places told in stories over skype and in email...it is all real, and familiar, and wonderful, because my mom has seen it for herself.
I wish I could better describe these feelings...I've realized that every day is still about processing and reflecting and trying, without much success, to verbalize the sights and sensations of this life in Korea. But I'm so incredibly happy to have at least been able to introduce my mom to it...when my dad visited last year, I was still in the process of adjusting to a daily routine, having been in Korea for less than two months, let alone being able to introduce him to my favorite foods and places and people. It's unbelievable to me how life has progressed in the course of time between my dad's visit last fall and my mom's visit this fall...
As I said earlier, my mom's visit was absolutely perfect. Just enjoying the time we had together exactly as we would have at home...idling over coffee in the morning, seeking out new streets and restaurants for lunch in the city...spending the most time possible outdoors, taking advantage of some beautiful fall weather by hiking and running and walking just about everywhere. And of course, indulging in the most excellent Korean ever...and maybe an iced coffee or two from McDonald's (truly, a rare indulgence, but one of the best a mother and daughter can share). One of the best experiences of the week: introducing her to all my students at school. For weeks and weeks, my students had been excitedly awaiting the arrival of "Britney Teacher's Mommy." Their interactions with her were absolutely priceless! Sue gained many new friends and received lots of special hugs that day at school! Again, how surreal to go about my daily routine in class with my mom sitting at the table alongside my tiny Korean kindergartners!!
Miss you so much, Mom...and happier than you'll ever know that I got to share a week with you here.