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.
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!
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.
A week ago, I found out I was selected to receive a full scholarship to study 10 days in South Korea through CIEE. I applied during high school and failed, and finally this year I was selected. I’ll be missing a week of classes, but hell it’s worth it. I am going to blog this both on my tumblr and here on WordPress. This journey will be my first trip abroad (aside from when I was 3 and living in Japan) and I hope to gain a lot from it!
I am excited beyond words!! :DD Korea, new sites, new knowledge, food…awesome..awesome food!
"You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price we pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place."