Staff Trip to Jeonju

January 07, 2013

The regular semester has officially ended, and the laid-back winter semester has commenced.

At the end of the semester, most schools take an overnight trip together. Last year at Moontae H.S. it was mostly the older teachers who took this opportunity for bonding time but this year at Samho M.S. it was highly recommended (by the "request" of my principal) that I join all the teachers on a trip to Jeonju (a larger city about 2.5 hours north of Mokpo). Coming from Canada, these trips are something pretty foreign to me. Companies in Canada don't usually take trips like these or have regular dinners together, but these gatherings give colleagues great opportunities to bond over soju and the hangover of the next morning. While I don't always approach these events with such a positive outlook, I do think it's a great idea to have colleagues spend this out-of-office time together and I think Canada would do well to follow.

At first I was very weary about this trip; having to spend a full two days with teachers who, for the most part, can't/don't speak to me. For anyone who talked to me during the past two weeks, I threw around the word "dread" a lot. In the end, I was glad that I went on the trip. We visited some really beautiful areas in/around Jeonju and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the company of even my non-English-speaking coworkers. Having a book loaded up on my iPhone also helped heaps.

I headed to school on the last Friday of 2012, and we were due to depart for Jeonju  before noon. After a stop to have Jeonju's famous bibimbap, we arrived at a traditional hanok village.

The untouched snow made everything look flawless.

Two of my main coteachers, EunJu and MiYoung.

After arriving at our hotel, we checked in and headed for dinner at a raw fish restaurant. This was also the time/place they requested that I give a toast to staff (which I did) and sing a song (which I did not). It was announced that teachers would head to the 노래방/singing room later that night but, based on past experience, I have a strict no-노래방 policy when it comes to staff gatherings.

The next morning we headed for breakfast (nothing quite like a bowl of spicy soup to start a day) where I received my Christmas miracle: due to time constraints the morning hike was cancelled. Instead, we stayed at the base of a mountain to enjoy Geumsan Temple (금산사).

After the temple, we warmed up with some spicy/sour combination of chicken stewed with kimchi that I had never tried before. I'm told it's called "묵은지 닭볶음" (mukeunji dalkbokkeum) which is stewed chicken with kimchi that has been aged at least a year. Heavenly.

We soon headed back toward Mokpo and arrived in the late afternoon. I was pretty exhausted but, as I mentioned, was grateful to have gone on a trip to such a beautiful place with amazing food and kind people.

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