A Letter From Myself

I walked back to the teacher’s office after sixth period today, and I found an envelope on my desk. A quick glance at the return address, and I saw that it was from the Fulbright Korea Program Coordinator, Amelea. Tearing open the envelope, I saw another smaller envelope, this one with my own handwriting. Nearly eleven months ago, back during Orientation, we had written letters to our future selves. As the grant year comes to a close, I can see what my past self had written, what my goals were, and how close I came to achieving them. Here are the contents of the letter:

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Christmas in Korea

This week, I celebrated my first Christmas away from home. While several of my ETA friends had booked their flights back to the states for the holidays, I chose to stay in Korea and save my vacation days for a trip to southeast Asia in January. So I knew that a holiday season without my family would be very different than what I was used to–and I prepared myself for the bouts of homesickness I had been warned about at orientation.

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Thanksgiving Weekend

In America, the holiday season is fully underway. The end-of-year trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas means almost nonstop feasting, decorating, and spending time with family. In Korea, the two major holidays in the fall and winter are spread much further apart. The Korean harvest festival, Chuseok, takes place in September. The next major holiday is Christmas in December.

To give us some holiday spirit and a touch of home, Fulbright held its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the lodge on the U.S. Army base in Seoul.

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Jungwon University

As previously mentioned, our orientation is held at Jungwon University in Goesan, a rural town about two hours south of Seoul. Although we spend most of our time in the dormitories, the Korean classrooms, an auditorium called “the Fishbowl,” and the cafeteria, today I explored some of the grounds outside of the university. Here are a few pictures to show the strange combination of traditional architecture, modernity,  rural roots, and dinosaur art that characterize this place we will call home for the first six weeks of the year.

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