Category Archives: South Korea

Bye Bye Korea :(

The last two days of the program have come to a rapid end, sadly. What I regret most, which seemed to be mostly out of my control, was the lack of connection I formed with the other scholars. I didn’t connect with anyone here, so I felt like I missed out on a small bit of the experience. Though I tried, I just felt like the odd ball wherever we went, no matter what. I was always paranoid no one wanted me around, so a few times I kinda locked myself away in my own bubble But, least it won’t hurt to say goodbye for the most part. Goodbyes to those you grew close to always suck, glad I won’t have to feel that this time. Regardless, I was still able to get along fairly well with everyone, and experience Korea to the best of my ability!

My host family stay was fantastic, she took us to an underground shopping mall in Gangnam, and alll around Seoul! In the morning, lunch, and night, we had home-cooked meals that we helped prepare! Even made sushi! She was so incredibly kind, and I’ll be posting her information on my blog soon for anyone interested in doing a KoreaStay with her! (by her request! Her house is welcome to all those interested in KoreaStay)

The last day was nice as well. I managed to find a small group to travel around with, where we went to a ton of different shopping places. Places that would be named “sketchy” in the U.S, but here it’s just pure culture. Crowded, cramped, random, yet amazing and special! We eventually sat down and ate these Korean Pancake things (forgot the name!) for a while, drinking Korean wine, munching on onions and kimchi and the pancakes – this place we ate at was a specialty place, meaning it only served what I mentioned above. We later traveled to a different area and had another pancake, but this one was sweet, like a desert! I loved walking by all the random food stands of people cooking various foods – even strange things I have never seen before. Including silk warms! I ate one – tasted meh. At the end of the night we did Karaoke for about two hours. Karaoke joints in Korea and way too cool to describe. Seriously, just go.

What amazes me most is the amount of Korean I managed to pick up. from “take me here” or “where’s the bathroom?” or “I need some cough candy” I feel very proud with what I learned, and I’d love to formally study Korean one day!

To wrap this up, it’s time for me to start packing up! 8am sharp we leave for the airport. 😦 great, another 13 hour flight! I hope I manage to get a better seat! ugh. I hope coming back will be nice. I decided to skip Wednesday to relax, heal up, and work on make-up assignments  I’ll return to classes on Thursday; this will be hell.

[read my entire adventure through South Korea at https://elusiveambitions.wordpress.com/category/south-korea/ ]

Warrior!

As I held my face clung to the window – as was the usual for me, starring out a window in a foreign country is amazing – I watched the bus pull into the DMZ of Korea. Peaking around at the beautiful wildlife and greenery that has made itself home since the Korea wars ended, I was again amazed. But more enthralled with the red signs and fences saying ” do not enter beyond this point; random land mine zone” Though the war has been over for 60 sum plus years, landmines still reside and remain hidden among the DMZ area – some of which impossible to be found unless triggered. I couldn’t help but imagine myself as a warrior rushing and dodging landmines – hurr, childish.

We had the fantastic opportunity to travel inside one of the tunnels that were secretly created by North Korea during the war – dunking down because the passage was so small, water dripping, cold, smelling of pure gravel..it was interesting to say the least, and at the end there again was another fence to prevent us from continuing. Passed that point on, apparently, there are more landmines that have not been deactivated or set off since the war. I find it hard to believe, because some maniac could easily hop the fence and blow up the whole DMZ that way. Then again, I don’t know, I’m sure if someone were to attempt that precautions would be taken. At the end, we were only 500 feet from crossing the border underground. Inside the tunnel I felt more like a warrior.

At the peak of the DMZ building were binoculars, I could clearly see North Korea and a small village area inside of it – it felt strange to see it all so clearly. Knowing what the North has done, what they might do, and the conditions of its people, i felt so useless starring into such a miserable country, who’s leader is clearly aware of it’s lack of everything and does nothing of it but instigate war…I just gawked..nothing more …I am no warrior.

Saw Gagnam today as well, shopped a little, ate food – came back. Everyone else is clubbing, partying…Not feeling that tonight, I’m going to get a good night’s rest.

I’m okay, in this foreign place – I could even call it a second home.(or close to)

Bowing has almost become second nature. And I think I have said “Kamsamnida” and “Nae” (thank you and yes) about 500 times since I have been here.  I actually fear when I return to the states, despite this trip being so terribly breif, I might bow to everyone. I don’t think I had culture shock here, but I might back home, as strange as that sounds. At times I worry I act a little ignorant. Saying “thank you” when I don’t need to, or bow at strange times. Koreans usually laugh at me, and though they speak little to no English (many of them) a smile is worth a thousand words in a universal language. I’d rather tham laugh at me, think I’m a silly American, rather than a rude American. So I take my chances with saying thank you too much. Because, there’s no sin in being silly 🙂

(^we dressed up in traditional Korean clothing, while bowing and saying “Kamsamnida!”)

I got lost the other day. I was with 4 other girls, looking at Korean manga in a book store, when all of a sudden they left – and so did the busses! I had no idea where to go, left behind in a foreign country. Na. Strange enough, I was so calm. That surprised me, how calm I seemed, despite being lost in a foreign country with a language barrier. Thing is, however, despite a language barrier, I could still get around. Korean’s are smart, or just good a Charades; as in, body language, a smile, and a little common sense is key in getting around in a country with a language barrier. I pulled out my handy dandy international phone, which refused to work, but eventually did, and two of the Korean mentors came rushing to me. I felt so bad that I worried them, but they were laughing and smiling telling me it was fine, and they were glad I was alright. Joke were made on the bus that I was kidnapped – ha ha, very funny CIEE Scholars.

In addition to all this excitement, I went to a puppy cafe!! You order drinks and pet puppies! I want to do a cat cafe one day as well!! ❤

 
I’m jealous of my roommate – she studied Korean and gets to put her skills to the test. I can’t wait to do the same in Morocco this summer! With this trip bore confidence, and awareness. I think I will succeed with my future travel endeavors – at least I hope, knock on wood!

Two ways of life: bowing and bright lights.

Buddhism in South Korea is beautiful, for lack of a better word. And it’s no joke the discipline it takes to be one of this way of life. With today’s adventure to a Buddhist temple, I was able to pick up on a whole new level of Korea and the beautify it has to offer with it’s diversity of religion, in this case Buddhism. I bowed and did postures 108 times to repentance, ate a traditional organic Buddhist meal, met a Monk, and meditated – although I wasn’t very good at any of it (they made us clean our own dishes at the end of the meal! ahh. I’m horrible at cleaning) i still enjoyed it a lot, and found out people like me go away for days or weeks at a time to temples to connect with their inner selves and nature; given the chance, I would happily do such.

In the evening I took a nap from 7pm to 10pm, and then left with my rommate and two other scholars to explore South Korea. We got in a cab, used what little Korean we knew to get around, and ended up in a shopping district. We poked our heads inside shops, street food stands, bars and night clubs. The night club ended up having a promotion, where we were allowed to enter under two conditions: of age(19), and you must stay for 30 minutes! They had just opened, and the place was amazing, nothing like U.S night clubs. Lights, Music and Korean dance style! The girls danced and made faces and expressions and gestures of cute animals – they were so darn adorable!

So far I am having a great time. I’m beyond tired, and it all feels surreal. I If you have any questions about the CIEE South Korea Scholarship do not be afraid to ask! 🙂 I encourage any high school student or university student (in the U.S) to apply! The high school application should be out very soon, so you have ample time!!! The university one will be out in December.

Hello Hello, South Korea! :)

It hit me I was actually in Korea when I first got off the plane and made it into the front of the airport; a friend and I walked into a small store to buy something to drink. Almost surprised, I saw an Aloe Vera drink! In the states, I can only find these at Asian exclusive stores, and they cost an arm and a leg…but god, they are so good. It was 1,000 won

My next major experience was the welcomeing dinner – kegs of beer for everyone! …wait, what? They mentioned for us not to “over drink” and being “drunk” is prohibited. When they first said this I was confused “so..we’re allowed to drink?” Not that it mattered to me, I’ve always been weird when it came to this subject – I just don’t like it. But apparently, it’s the Korean experience, with the drinking age being only 19. (or for some Americans 18, because Koreans calculate birth a lot different) It didn’t feel like it was about being wasted, or getting drunk, but having a great drink to wash the meal down with! I peaked over an at all-guys table and their toast of beer made me smile – something seemed so cheerful, and brotherly about it.

The food at the welcome dinner was amazing as well! I tried things I’d never tried before, and ate some of my favorite food! (Random tid bit: instant Bimpmbap on the plane was absolutely lavishing..and stuffed sweet roles. GO GO GO KOREAN AIR!) The only thing I didn’t like was the raw shrimp. Now now, meow, I usually love raw seafood, but I’m not so sure about shrimp. I squeezed it and the guts poured out…no thanks. Even for me.

My rommate triggered some strange alarm in our hotel room, I died laughing at that. We managed to turn it off. The room is lovely, with a great view of Seoul on the 8th floor, a kitchen, washing machine, nice bathroom – no complaints.


^the pic does no justice, but believe me the view was spectacular. I would stare out into the soul of Seoul every night while I slept, with my bed stuck next to the window. ❤

Also, some of the public potties here heat your bum. YES. You heard me right. You know, like what they have in some cars? They have that in public potties here. Excuse me if this is TMI, but when I sat my bum on the seat I jumped up. Good god….it was so hot. Before that though, I utilized the sanitize wipes they actually provide, so you can clean the seat first. There were also buttons on the potties, like a bade would have, water and what-not. …..Why can’t the U.S be this sanitary? In the U.S, when in a public bathroom, for me, it’s like building a nest. I carry around my own sanitary wipes, or have to build the seat with paper. It’s ridiculous.

(for now all I’ll be posting is text. Later when I return I’ll add corresponding photos with it. 🙂 so remember to check back even after the 27th!)

What!? I’ll be staying with a host family?

In only 4 short days, I will begin my adventure to Seoul, South Korea! I can’t believe how fast the time went by! I started my application in December, applied in January,  found out at the end of January, and now, creeping closer is March 17th! THE DAY I DEPART. Preparing has been hectic. I’m going to have 6 days of makeup work, and go figure my classes all decided to have projects, tests, and quizzes during this time!! In the end, it will be worth it. In addition to this, there has been some worry floating among some of the scholars and I: new restrictions. Apparently in past years many scholars were caught doing drugs and drinking, and even if we are “adults” it does not look good for the program when you’re going to the DMZ with a hang over or acting like a fool. Because of this, the manual we got said for us to expect strict rules. What does this mean? I don’t know. Earlier curfew, can’t wonder around on your own anymore, who knows – but I am thinking it will work out in the end either way! And last, but certainly not least, just tonight we got word that for the first time university participants will now stay with host famines during the trip!!!! THIS is a HUGE surprise, and I am so dang happy to find this out! : ) I am really excited for this amazing opportunity to finally go abroad and see Korea firsthand! It’s going to be amazing and I absolutely can’t wait to share my experience with you guys! Once again, any questions at all about this program, do not hesitate to ask!