Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I typically don't write about anything other than food and cooking and language-related stuff on this blog, so this is a bit of a departure for me.

Since March, I've been teaching three classes of the first semester of academic reading and writing, 46 students in total. In addition, I was also taking Korean language classes in the evening until a couple weeks ago. It's been a really busy semester, full of ups and downs, but I'm definitely going to miss my students.

One of the best ways I've gotten to know them over the course of this semester is through reading their journals. Every week, they were required to freewrite for 30 minutes (though I don't think very many of them followed the time guideline...) about what was going on in their life, on any topic. Through this assignment I got tips on restaurants and places to hang out and got to know more about student life - like what really happens on an M.T. (membership training). Most importantly, it gave them a chance to practice freely expressing themselves in English. It's my first time trying this and I've been pleased with the results; plus the students have given me some positive feedback.

As the semester wound down and their assignments and exam preparation started piling up, I made the journals optional. The dwindling pile is a reminder of what I'm going to miss about teaching and living here.

Which brings me to the big change that's happening at the end of this summer for me (next month for M.) - after nearly two years here, we're moving back to the U.S. - and I'm going to start telling my students today.

Reflecting on this has got me thinking about how little of our life here has ended up on this blog. In particular, I was going through my blog posts this morning, trying to organize them, and was struck by the lack of restaurant reviews. Eating in restaurants has been one of the most enjoyable parts of living here. There's also much less about Korean food on here than I would like. So I guess this post is a bit of a public commitment to blogging more this summer, in a last-ditch effort to record all the things I've enjoyed about living here. Plus there's my 43 travel stories to catch up on...

On the subject of another transition, we put up some maesil ju (매실주) -plum wine- the other day. Big displays of bottles of soju, alcohol, sugar, and green plums are a ubiquitous presence at E-Mart and other grocery stores around this time of year, when spring is thickening into summer. A few days ago I saw the plums while shopping and decided on impulse to go for it, since it'll be our last chance to do it in Korea in the foreseeable future. It was pretty easy - just weigh, clean, de-stem, and dry the plums, then layer in a sterilized jar and first add the sugar and then the soju, basically how you would make an infusion, like limoncello. It should be ready to sample in about a month (right around the time M. will be leaving Korea), though you can leave it for a year or more.

As it turns out, we had a lot of plums leftover after that first batch, so we put up another smaller one a few days later and used the rest to make some tart plum jam, which turned out
really well: just plums, boiled with water and sugar and some ginger root sliced into small matchsticks until it reduced to the consistency of apple butter.

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