Meeting up with old friends

On Friday evening two of my fellow classmates from the University of Washington MBA program met up with me and a few of my colleagues for dinner.  We met in Itaewon at Santorini, a great Greek restaurant in Seoul.  I haven’t seen my classmates since we all graduated in a big auditorium on campus back in June 2003.  Time has been kind to us.  We all look a little older and a lot less like the students that we were.  I guess we’re professionals now.  We celebrated our program’s rise to the top 20 in the MBA rankings (#18), happy to know that we all got in when it was a hidden gem and are now reaping the benefits of being alumni at a program on the rise in the MBA pantheon.  One of my classmates met today with 12 Korean students newly admitted to the UW MBA program.  Would I have been admitted now that the program is a lot more competitive?  I’ll never know, but I’m glad I was a student there and made the most of my experience.  They were happy too they attended the program.  We reminisced about the good ol’ days when we all studying in infamous “Balmer High,” a masterpiece of Stalinist architecture, when the building was too hot and the wireless Internet connections were too spotty.  It was great to see them and catch up with them.  Both now have good jobs working for two of Korea’s largest chaebol, or Korean conglomerates.  Of the five who went to school with me, three work for chaebol here in Korea, one works for a chaebol in San Diego, and one teaches English at a hagwon, or private language institute.  I want to catch up with all of them while I am here.

My classmates had never eaten Greek food before, and I have not had Greek since I left Washington, D.C.  One would assume that I would eat with Korean friends at a Korean restaurant, but they were glad to try something different than the usual Korean bulgogi or bibimbop.  We enjoyed the souvlaki and a couple bottles of delicately dry but overprice Australian wine.  The restaurant did not have my favorite Greek appetizer, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), nor did I see avgolemono soup on the menu.  I enjoyed it nonetheless and will return often.  I absolutely love Greek food.  Greek food is the one type of ethnic food I think I could eat every day.  I haven’t tested that theory, but if I were to eat just one food every day for two years, Greek would be it.

On Friday a few celebrities stopped by the office en route to the states.  I met Comedian Cheong Byeong Don, who often performs on MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Company) television.  He was on television tonight, in fact.  I heard that "Bi," one of Korea’s most famous pop singers, also passed through on Friday.  Meeting famous people is one of the fun aspects of my job.  Bae Yong Jun, Korea’s most famous movie star, visited a couple years ago before I arrived.  I often do not know the person because they’re famous Korean personalities, but I love to watch the faces and reactions of my Korean coworkers when they come for a visit.

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