A Shanghailander in Seoul VI: So Long Seoul (for now)

It has been a grueling six weeks.  Four hours of class per day, eight new lectures per week with only minor overlaps to previous subjects I've taught.  As for weather, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of sunny days I've seen in Seoul since arriving in late June.  We've had drenching downpours and even a deluge that brought the city to a standstill.  But compared to what folks have been enduring in other parts of the world--namely shocking heat waves--I can't complain.

The classes ended last week, and last night I submitted my final grade report to Yonsei.  The summer program was a mixed bag of students, some seemed more intent on visiting their families and having fun, while others buckled down and did the work.  

Students in my Modern World History course taking their final quiz

Should I teach for this program again, I will certainly have a much better idea of what to expect in terms of the students and their commitment to learning.  Some worked very hard while others were nary to be seen, but I suppose that's par for the course in any big institution.  There was also the problem of language ability, and while some students definitely had the English background to rise to the challenge of the lectures, essays, and readings, others were not so blessed.  But overall I feel that the courses I set up, while challenging, were successful in terms of introducing the students to the big shape of history.  I would probably modify my approach to world history somewhat if I were to teach it regularly, but who knows when the next opportunity will arise?

The Dartmouth alums at the Yonsei Summer Program farewell dinner.  Next to me are David Steinberg ('51) and Michael Kim ('90).

 Last week our program organized a farewell dinner with the admin folk and deans in attendance.  One of the things I really enjoyed about the program was getting to know, if ever so briefly, the other teachers who came over here for the summer program.  Some of them have been coming here for four or five years now.  A few of them, like Steve, are already living in Seoul.  It's an eclectic group of scholars including scientists, economists, political scientists (I always feel funny putting those two oxymoronic words together), art historians, social researchers, lit specialists, and they brought a wide range of colors to the summer palate.  

Leslie Paik lecturing to her students in the faculty lounge at Paekyang Hall (where we teach), while Steven Capener preps for his class in the background

 That night after the farewell banquet I joined a few colleagues at their favorite watering hole, Beer O'Clock in Shinchon, the bustling area across from the Yonsei University main gate.  

The barkeep, a Canadian named Clark, is just about the friendliest proprietor you'll find in these parts.

On Friday night I joined Yonsei prof Paul Tonks and Steve Capener for a farewell drink at Beer O'Clock, an appropriate place to celebrate International Beer Day.  They were hanging out with another Korea-based academic, George Baca, who seems to be getting into some very interesting research on Korean labor politics.  His blog georgebaca.com, which we talked about, is just getting started but seems well worth following.

Left to right:  Steve Capener, George Baca, Andrew Field, and Paul Tonks celebrating International Beer Day

On Saturday I went to the airport only to find that the flights to Shanghai were all canceled owing to the typhoon that was supposed to hit Shanghai on Sunday but seems to have moved it's schedule forward a day.  Everyone's in a hurry these days, even typhoons.

So I have another day or two to rest, relax, and explore more of Seoul before I leave on Monday.  I may visit the Pentaport Rock Festival out near Incheon and if so, I'm sure I'll have something to say about it in tomorrow's entry.