Diversity is beautiful. RIP iPhone

I am proud to say that throughout our entire lecture series, I have not fallen asleep once! It’s very common to see the Korean students sleeping during the lectures as they are learning nothing new, but now the international students and the staffs are sleeping during some of these lectures too! I’d like to make it clear that I find the majority of things that I am learning through the lecture series most enjoyable. They are! The lack of sleep doesn’t always help though… so I’m not on anyone’s back. Plus, sleepy people are just so cute!!

ImageImageImageImageJieun, Seohee, Vincent and Staff Chris

And….

Image Chris photo bombing my roommate Eunji’s naptime!!

All these photo’s are located in the BIP album titled – Sleeping Beauties! So cute!

My only sleep time took place during an elective movie. It was a documentary about North Korean refugees making their way across the border. My little siesta only took 10 minutes and I don’t count it since it wasn’t mandatory.

Day 16

This morning was spent in a bliss of Korean music. Earlier on in the program we learned to play some traditional Korean instruments. Today we got to watch some Korean individuals play traditional instruments. These included a possibility of the following: samhyeon samjuk, gayageum, geomungo, bipa, daegeum, junggeum, sogeum. ImageThere are only four instruments besides the drum being played, and I’ll admit.. from the instrument descriptions that I have, I don’t know what is which. So out of the list of instruments I’ve listen above, pick four and hope that those are right. Otherwise it would have been me doing the same thing and I really wanted to make this blog a real 3D experience! The flute the woman is playing is a daegeum, I am pretty sure. It’s a large cross bamboo flute, but it could be a medium.. which would make it a junggeum. So you are better off guessing because that’s all I’m doing!Image

ImageIt’s a really invigorating feeling when you watch musicians play instruments you have never heard before in your entire life, or at least have no recollection of the matter. When you watch, when you listen, you don’t think. You really can only absorb. It’s such a magic flowing through your veins that you can’t possibly think ‘am I wearing clean underwear?’ ‘did I water my cactus?’ ‘are my shoes in alphabetical order?’ You just go into a zone. And then if you are like me, you question your own non-existing musical talent. To which I have none. Not that I don’t have the capability of being musical or that I don’t have the desire. Truth be told, I’ve never had the opportunity. This past spring semester, I took my first series of piano lessons. I’ve never learned how to read notes and couldn’t tell you what the names of the keys on the piano were. I know them now. I can understand music to some extent when I read it. I think knowing how to play a musical instrument is important. It challenges your brain and opens up your world. As I hear people play music that you can’t find so easily, let alone a teacher for these kinds of instruments, it really lets me know how much I take for granted. I mean I passed my piano class with an A, how I don’t know, but I had been out of school for almost two months before I came to South Korea and hadn’t once gone back to IPFW to practice at all. So when I get back, the two weeks I have in Fort Wayne, they will be used wisely. I have already added piano practice to my list of things to do. The pianos are free to use at my university and we have somewhere around 20! I don’t ever see myself being a professional pianist or anything, but I’d like to be able to know how to play that piano. I did invest a semester and even through the frustrations I ran into, I actually enjoyed when I could actually play a sheet of music with confidence.

ImageLater in the afternoon we were scheduled to take a trip to the National Museum of Korea. Just moments before we left the school, a fellow student at BIP karate chopped my arm with such excessive force and my phone, my poor phone which was chilling out in my hand went flying straight into the marble floor at approximately 80 miles per hour. Not only did the screen shatter, but the touch screen became incompetent and wouldn’t recognize my fingers. It turns on, but it does nothing. The whole incident was an accident as he didn’t purposefully karate chop my arm, but why his arm was flying around in the first place… I’ll never know. He offered to fix my screen, but I turned down his offer. My phone plan was cancelled right before I left for South Korea, so I just use my iPhone as an iPod touch. I guess I could still get the screen replaced, but I really hated this phone anyhow. I didn’t realize how much I used it for things other than Facebook until hours later. I no longer have an alarm clock, all of my music is inaccessible, I can’t take anymore photos and I won’t know if I can access the photos I have already taken until I get home. It was a sad moment. Not so much because the phone broke, but the phone really signified communication. Being able to share things on Facebook when they were happening was really nice. Seoul really has wireless internet almost everywhere and now only being able to access Facebook to share updates in the early morning or the late, late night really sucks. I have great friends that have let me use their computers or their iPods/iPhones when they aren’t using them, but it’s just not the same. With over a week to go until I leave for home, things will be interesting.

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We made our way to the museum via subway and took a huge group photo! We are a pretty neat blob of people and if you squint your eyes, you can see that my eyes are closed…

We split off into our group of people and wandered the museum. It’s hard to spend time at a museum with a large group of people especially if you are the type who likes to read everything… Earlier this year I made my way to Chicago’s Art Institute and spent almost 5 hours wandering through the exhibits and never finishing the entire museum. I really enjoy how I take my time and dawdle. We did however spend and ample amount of time in the gift shop (gifts and postcards!) and they had a wish board so you could write down your wish. I could have wished for world peace or to end world hunger, but let’s get real, I’m not running for Miss America.

Due to the insane amount of rain Seoul acquires throughout the summer thanks to their monsoon season… our Han River Cruise had been cancelled with slim hopes of getting rescheduled.

Day 17

Korean Dance

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So first we spent some time stretching after we spent 10 minutes running around the tiny gym in a bra that was NOT meant for running in… Then we learned to dance. I respect Korean traditions, but I will be honest, this was not something I enjoyed. I really do love to dance and have taken a few dance classes and I felt this to be so basic that it really made me sleepy. It felt very elementary to me in a way that I most likely will never be able to explain. I felt as if there was no challenge. I also felt as if it was like Korean line dancing and I hated line dancing. Don’t worry though, you will always have at least one individual in the class who will be your entertainment and take everything too seriously and be the mold of perfection. In this case, it was the ballerina. Image

I just included this photo because not only is it a clear shot of the ballerina taking traditional Korean dance to a whole new level, but you can clearly see Sodam and I in the back ground spinning around in the background not doing what the rest of the group is attempting to do!

I had some fun, but when you clearly show no talent of any sort, they put you on drum duty.

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I don’t really know exactly to call what we did at the end… but we ran around in a circle and that actually proved to be the most fun.

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Our afternoon wrapped up our series of lectures with the final lecture of ‘The Story of the Two Koreas’ Part 3. Image

Our speaker, Jane Kim, was just full of information that I could have absorbed for days. You really didn’t want her to stop speaking. She is Korean American and works in Seoul helping North Korean defectors establish their new lives in South Korea. I won’t even begin to try and imagine how an individual must feel coming practically to a new world after they have been basically brainwashed their entire life residing in North Korea. North Koreans are taught that South Korea’s economy is heavily damaged and far worse than their own. South Korea sends food to North Korea yearly to help with the fact that North Korea cannot even produce enough food to feed its own people. One thing that I got from this lecture that I didn’t expect was about Japan. Did you know Japan is not legally allowed to have an army? Who knew that!? We’ve learned a lot over the time span of this program about the relationship Japan and Korea has had over the past few centuries. A lot of things I’ve learned in high school history is starting to make sense. And that is sad. My education on history. So I’m going to stop talking about it.

Jane Kim had us split up into groups and discus reunification amongst the two Koreas.

ImageWe were actually getting pretty deep into our conversation but then we had to stop for a photo opt!

I hadn’t noticed this before when looking through the photos, but this photo is just beautiful in terms of diversity. It just has this appeal that clouds my mind when trying to understand the mind of a racist. I love diversity just for the fact that we are all different and unique in our own ways and naturally that shows. Earlier this month when we went to Gyeongju, I met up with my friend Ryan who is from South Korea but graduated from IPFW and came back to South Korea after he finished college to work. I asked him if he would ever move to America. He said no, and of course I asked why not? And he proceeded to tell me about the discrimination he endured just being in Fort Wayne. He’s a great guy and really smart. Even if he wasn’t great or smart it’s not an excuse. I don’t believe I have any friends who could discriminate against someone because of their race or even gender, but I know I have had them. Discrimination in any sense is a disgusting trait to own. I cannot feasibly understand how anyone in their right mind could even feel remotely good about themselves discriminating again someone in any shape or form. Maybe that’s why I get along so well with the international students at IPFW? I just find people so fascinating and fascinating people do not come from only one race. So if you are a discriminating racist reading this blog, get off your high horse. There are so many incredibly stunning people out there in the world and not only are you hurting yourself, but you are also hurting the only type of people that you love because people can discriminate against white people too. You better believe it.

So then…. BIP asked me to give a gift to our speaker!

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I was actually pretty stoked to be the gift giver when this lecture was over. I didn’t have anything prepared but when I went up, I thanked her on behalf of BIP students and staff for all of the information she bestowed upon us and how lucky we were to wrap up our lecture serious with such a charismatic, passionate,  and vibrant speaker.

Of course, I don’t really use mics in my everyday life, so I was listening to myself and added in some extra words here and there as I tried not to sound like an idiot which resulted in something sounding not really idiotic, but definitely weird.

That. I am.

Chopped a board in half with my feet.

I’m on week three of my month long educational excursion. Half way point of my journey with many things left to do according to the schedule, including a trip to the border of North and South Korea. I can actually admit I kind of miss Fort Wayne, but maybe I miss the freedom more. The broken record that I am will continue you to tell you that our days are so jammed packed that we really stick to this schedule of activities and don’t have much time to run around and do our own thing. It’s understandable, but I guess I’m used to some free time? Even last summer when I was in class for 9 hours a day, we got a good chunk of time cut out for lunch, 2 or 3 hours. We also got all of our weekends. Here, we don’t. I enjoy South Korea, and don’t get me wrong I am learning so much that I don’t regret this experience at all, but I’m spending a lot of time inside the classroom and not as much time in the city. The pessimist in me is going to tell you that I could have stayed home in America and done the exact same thing. There is no difference between the classroom walls in America and South Korea.

Day 14 – North Korean Defector speaker

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I hate the word defector. I mean the word itself is rooted from Defect. To label a human being a Defect is just disgusting. I can’t tell you if this is a word that comes from North Korea, and South Korea just uses the same terminology, but I hate it. Our speaker for our second lecture in the series, The Story of the Two Koreas, is a North Korean Defector. I feel more appropriate addressing him as a refugee. He’s not defected in any way whatsoever. He has self taught himself English, and even though it wasn’t perfect, he was very determined. Our program coordinator, Joey Yoo, stood up at the front with him as a translator. This man however kept turning down Joey’s help. It was rather inspirational. He told his story about escaping from North Korea and the struggles to make his ways to South Korea.  It’s rather surreal to live in the 21st century and from a country that literally does not have any clue as to the lives that people live in such fear. Being American makes us rather ignorant and clueless. To not be able to fully comprehend that there are people, today’s people in the world, who are suffering something so unimaginable and the majority of us turn a blind eye to their pain is just unbelievable. North Korean individuals who can successfully escape their country and make it to South Korea receive automatic citizenship as they state in their constitution states that individuals from both North and South Korea are both identified as South Korean citizens. South Korea is so nice and South Korean government actually has money set aside specifically for people who escape North Korea and make it to the South. They are educated about the culture here, they get money for housing, they get help with basic tasks from opening a bank account to riding the bus. South Korea has a pretty outstanding system that even as great as America is, we could learn something from this side of the world. Help a brother out. Or a sister!

Day – 15

Tuesday was just jammed pack full of fun classes. We did Taekwondo in the morning and Korean costumes in the afternoon. The night before, our RA brought in a Taekwondo outfit and said it was mine. Since I took a nap earlier in the day, I assumed everyone else already got theirs and just took it. Everything was fine until the morning when I realized nobody else had an outfit and that I was the demonstrator for our room! I didn’t really want the outfit anymore! But I wore it… and I had a lot of fun!ImageThese guys (and girls!) came and performed their Taekwondo skills for us!

ImageSome of them even broke a few boards with their heads! Others did cool flippy things and a few smashed some fruit with their feet! All in all it was really great! I still can’t tell the difference between martial arts. This to me could have been karate, but I wouldn’t have had a clue!

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This is Aman. She isn’t doing Taekwondo or Karate. That I’m sure of.

ImageI had the utmost pleasure of having my entire evil room cheer my name out when they asked for individuals to come up and break a board in front of everybody. We learned a jump kick thing that day and as you can tell, my foot is comfortably planted on the ground. I don’t know what the rest of my body was doing.. but I got up there and kicked the board and then ran away! I didn’t do the ‘aghhhh!!!’ screaming thing either. I don’t think I really wanted to do this. I was OK just sitting on the ground. Am I happy that I did it? Yes. I am. Would I have been happy not doing it? Yes! Some people took several attempts to kick the board and break it and I think I just channeled all of my resistance energy of not wanted to get up there and used it to chop that board in half with my feet.

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They asked a few of us to pose for the news people that were there and I just so happened of been one of those people. We had fun posing, but I think Lara, the girl in the middle, took it a little too seriously! I love her face!!

Hanbok!! Korean Costumes!!

After lunch we got to spend a few hours learning and wearing the traditional Korean costume, the Hanbok. Many layers. Two students here Imageat BIP were asked to wear the traditional Korean Wedding clothes. Very beautiful, but the girl on the right had to literally wear that dress for a few hours as they dressed her in this at the beginning of the class. Not long after I got to put on my Hanbok, I was already hot. I can only imagine how hot she was! And she had layer upon layer! As they were dressing these two, I proceeded to question my friend Seah about whether she would wear this to her wedding in the future. “No, no, no” she replied.

The only experience that I have ever encountered in terms of traditional Korean clothing has come from Gilmore Girls, when Lane Kim was getting married and her grandmother was coming to America for the wedding and Lane needed to wear traditional clothes for Korean traditions. Lane looked fine, but her white husband looked funny! And he wore something very similar to what the guy in this picture is wearing, except more of an electric blue! Now that I come to think of it, I wonder how legit the costume in Gilmore Girls was. For me, my Hanbok needed to be specific colors. Yellow top and red or pink skirt to signify that I was a single, unmarried woman. Other colors let individuals know of their marital statuses and if they are widowed and what class they are. For me, this concept is not exactly something I am too keen on. This is coming from an individual that doesn’t even believe women should be addressed as Miss, Mrs or Ms. It should just be one, just like it is for men. However, this was a culture thing and I wasn’t going to let my own personal views hold me back on enjoying the moment. It really was a neat experience to wear a traditional costume that you can’t exactly find easily in America. ImageThe Hanbok itself is really hot and can be quite uncomfortable. There is too much butt sweat going on to accurately describe the full feeling but if you walk around and spin, you’ll get a rather nice airflow going in your undercarriage.

Also remember, these are not what Korean people wear on an everyday basis. These costumes are worn on special occasions and there preserve a part of Korean history that even America doesn’t have.

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South Korea is life changing. The program is intense and I’m exhausted most days, but the educational experience is especially rewarding. The people that I am meeting everyday are worth the hours spent in the lecture hall. I can see myself coming back to South Korea again and I definitely hope to someday as well. There is a such a beauty in the land and culture. It’s very different than the culture that I come from and it can be rather difficult to fully comprehend, but maybe it’s not about comprehending why cultures do things the way that they do, maybe it’s about just experiencing them just so you can appreciate yours even better. I know when I get home to America, there are things that I’ll be happy to have back and will be able to appreciate more.

Air conditioning for one…

Homestay With Seohee!!

Homestay was the only thing out of this entire program that actually made me nervous. There was very little detail in our BIP brochure book that let us know exactly what the details were about the homestay. In my mind, BIP was just going to stick us individually with a family out in the community. That however was not the case. We were later informed that we would be doing our homestay with another BIP student, with the assumption that it was someone that was going to our school. 5 students from IPFW and the 5 students from Seoul Women’s University, that easy exchange would have been nice. Again… that was not the case. We actually were paired up with students that many of us actually didn’t know. There are approximately 120 students participating in BIP. 60 from colleges across the world, including IPFW, other American colleges, Canada, Russia and Hong Kong; and 60 from Seoul Women’s University. Pairing us up to do a homestay with the students who were coming to our school would have been ideal.

So, all of the other IPFW students got paired up with strangers pretty much! It’s not that the other IPFW students had not known their homestay buddy, but some of them had actually never met. I lucked out! My homestay buddy was Seohee Song! She is attending Wilson College and is actually in our dorm room. There are 10 people totally in our dorm room, 5 Seoul Women’s University girls going to IPFW, 3 IPFW students, and 2 other girls- one from Wilson College and one going to Wilson College from Seoul. That one going to Wilson College from Seoul is none other than Seohee Song! ImageSeohee Song!

We spent most of Saturday shopping around and hanging out with some of our other roommates and their homestay buddies. Then we made the journey home after buying a new pair of shoes, since flip flops don’t really make nice in the rain and all you do is slip every which way. We got on the subway and soon realized after several stops that we were going in the wrong direction! So then we had to get off and turn around and make the transfers to get to her town.

Her father picked us up from the subway station and all I can say in Korean with confidence is Hello, Thank you, and Pretty! Seohee tried to teach me to say ‘Nice to meet you’ but it was not happening. I’m quite disappointed in my Korean language skills. Her father didn’t know much English, but he still said ‘Nice to meet you!’ Very sweet!

I arrived at her apartment and was overwhelmed in a sense. Korean apartments are not like American apartments, and especially in Seoul they are very different. Most of the population lives in apartments since the size of Seoul is rather small compared to its population. The apartmentsImage themselves are rather large in the inside. The square footage is much greater than American apartments because there really isn’t a house to move to in a few years. The bedrooms are large, the kitchen is large and so is the living room. There is just a lot of space. You could have like a dance party or something! The photo I included is not of Seohee’s apartment, but of apartments found off Google that looks similar to her apartment as well as all of the high rise apartments that you see all over Seoul.

After we got to her home and met her family, her two sisters and her mother (her dad I met in the car), we had dinner. Her mother made and entire vegetarian dinner and I was just over the top happy! So nice of them to do so! I could actually eat food and food I did eat! I felt like a Queen! Seohee’s sisters knew some English and were very shy at first but would ask me questions about what I studied at school and how old I was. I learned about them as well, their studies and age. They were just so lovable towards each other and very silly and full of life! After dinner Seohee’s mother brought out a fruit plate with grapes, cherries and tomatoes. Again, I was in heaven! I love fruit! It’s so hard to get fruit ever. I’ve been fruit lacking since I’ve come to South Korea. There are so many people and fruit tends to be really expensive. I saw a watermelon last night for 17,000 WON – 17 USD…

While eating fruit we decided to go to a movie. We spent quite a long time trying to decide on a movie to watch. After we decided to watch White House Down, it turned out it wasn’t even playing in theaters anymore. So we decided on World War Z. In South Korea, you book seats at a movie theater online. I’ve only done this once in America in Los Angeles at an ArcLight movie theater (very nice), but it’s not a common thing in America. The seats we decided on got booked while we were trying to book them as there were only less than 10 to choose from. So we didn’t go to the theaters but instead Imagedownloaded it at her house and watched it in her living room. As you have already figured out, the movie was obviously recorded by someone filming the film. The quality was really not too great and you could hear people talking.  I’m not sure if this was the reason the movie was so hard to follow, or if it was just me. I’m not sure how I actually liked this movie, but I’m not going to ruin it for anybody. I’ll just let you know Brad Pitt may or may not become a zombie in the end.

Sunday morning we were going to go to Seohee’s church and do some stuff with the children she teaches and hasn’t seen for a few weeks because BIP. We both slept in though. I however slept in really really late. We went to bed at about 12 am and I woke up at 11 am. I blame BIP’s lack of sleep hours we receive in the program as they jam pack so much stuff into our days. It was apparent that I needed sleep. Even with the skipping meals to get more sleep and the added nap times I have never needed before this trip. Seohee did wake me up letting me know she thought I was dead. We got dressed and headed to a cafe to meet Seohee’s friend DaSol Shim from her town whom she went to school with prior to starting university life. We had tea and took MANY photos! None of which I have any of because nobody uploads any photos!! DaSol plays guitar and is in a band and was headed out for band practice after we hung out. She spoke an adequate amount of English so we could have a conversation. I honestly think that being here in South Korea and speaking to people who aren’t exactly fluent in English but are either have a grasp on the language or who even are trying, are individuals that give me confidence. Learning French and speaking French and attempting to keep a conversation going is really difficult for me. Reason being that I feel as if I am going to say something really stupid and not make any sense, so I don’t say very much at all or I just don’t say anything. I think even the basic questions that I get from individuals whose native language isn’t English lift my spirits in the fact that trying anything is better than trying nothing at all. That’s the kind of mindset I feel I need to have and that I am coming to understand everyday! Even Seohee’s mother was speaking some English she knew when I met her and I really enjoyed that as I kept repeating Hello and Thank you to her! Even the Korean students in BIP who are extremely fluent don’t know all the words or correct phrases but aren’t afraid to ask for help or even try when they aren’t sure on the pronunciation.

Sooooooooooo…. It rains A LOT here. It Imagerains so much here that it’s rather impertinent that you carry an umbrella with you pretty much every day and everywhere. It can be sunny in the morning and rainy 20 minutes later. I have ”survived” for two weeks without an umbrella. Basically I’ve been hiding under someone else’s as we go here and there. However, this morning it was just a complete downpour. So Seohee and I went to the cafe under one umbrella and neither of us stayed dry… Sorry Seohee!! After the cafe we went to a department store in search of an umbrella. I found one that I adored! 50,000 WON – 50 USD… Soooo I did not buy it. I thought about it… but then I came to terms with myself that spending 50$ on an umbrella was crazy no matter how pretty it was. OH! I guess it’s important to address the amazing umbrellas here in South Korea to justify my love for this 50$ umbrella. Umbrella’s here in South Korea are just as fashionable as a wallet or a purse per say. They are just apart of your essence and it’s actually difficult to find two identical  umbrellas, but it is possible. So of course I wanted a fashionable essence of myself in this fancy umbrella that you were never going to find in America. But still, 50$ is just too much for uniqueness in terms of an umbrella. I am still American of course! So we searched the subway for unique umbrellas and I seriously just picked out a plain black one. I had seen a person days before using one with the Seoul subway map and thought that was something I could love for life, but they are out of season and if you are spending hours shopping for an umbrella… someone is going to punch you. So I decided to stop and kept it simple. …now I’m spending as much time writing about the umbrella as I spent shopping for an umbrella. I am ridiculous.

After umbrella shopping and getting distracted by baby chickens (sick baby chickens) that were being sold in the subway, we met up again for dinner with Seohee’s family. We went to a steakhouse that had a buffet and plenty of amazing food for vegetarians. I started drinking this pomegranate and vinegar drink and really became addicted to it. I really love vinegar and from my understandings, it’s a dietary thing in South Korea. I’ve never heard of it in America, but now I’ll have to figure out how to make something yummy just like it.

After dinner, we went back to Seohee’s home to get our stuff and her father took us on a scenic drive around the lakeside near her apartment. It was so gorgeous. The unbelievable views in South Korea are to die for. Just to have the mountains in every direction you look at is enough to want to move here, but then then the lack of your literacy will want to make you move back.

Seohee’s father drove us back to Seoul Women’s University on a 40 minute car ride. Very fun since it was very relaxing. We stopped at a fruit stand and her father bought us lots of grapes and tomatoes! It just ended up being a really great day. We did take some nice photos, but alas, they are all on my phone which is now inaccessible since being smashed last week and BIP didn’t follow us with a camera so there are no photos of homestay on their website. I did have a ton of fun and really appreciated the love and hospitality that her family bestowed upon me as I spent a day and night with them.

The next time I come back to Seoul, South Korea, I most definitely plan on spending some time with Seohee and her family! Seohee is just an unbelievably sweet individual who has a gifted amount of tolerance for an insane umbrella shopper who sleeps like she’s dead. I admire her sense of adventure and even though she choose to go to Wilson College instead of IPFW. I am very happy she is one of my roommates and I have gotten to know her as much as I have and do plan on taking a trip to Wilson College this spring to see her and the other Wilson girls as I couldn’t possibly live my life without seeing them ever again! Such a great experience and many memories that if I don’t get Alzheimer’s in my old age, I plan on keeping them forever in a special place in my heart.

ImageI <3 Seohee!!!!!

(the only picture I could find of us together and it’s not even a photo she loves! Sorry!!)

The Story of the Two Koreas

At BIP we have a theme for our overall program. Ours for 2013 is centered around The Story of the Two Koreas. This theme is printed on our program guide, of which I have two and have had them for months. When we got to our lecture on Wednesday, I had finally realized what it said. For months I thought it said ‘The Story of Two Koreans’ yeah… it is not. I went with it for months. For months I thought it had said Koreans. Nevertheless, the lecture was very enjoyable. The lecture series we have been attending are not bad, they are actually pretty good, but this lecture of the two Koreas was one of the best. I took an adequate amount of notes to which I ended up restoring to when writing our group paper.

ImageOur lecturer for part one of three installments of ‘The Story of Two Koreas’ has traveled to North Korea over 50 times.

The information that we receive in the media about North Korea, more than 90% of it is false. Most of the information we receive comes from many of the refugees that live on the outer most areas of North Korea. They mainly leave the country due to economic reasons rather than political and the political information they provide is not actually accurate since the countries politics lies solely within the more central area of the country. All of this information is coming from the best of my knowledge from the lecturer.

ImageThis is Pyongyang, the capitol of North Korea. The first sight of this photo does not shout out North Korea to me. Where are the camps and why is everything so structured? North Korea has an underground subway and electricity, but only an allotted amount of 4 hours a day.

Many people asked me if I was scared about traveling to South Korea because of the recent news about North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The fact that North Korea has basically isolated itself and has such an immense lack of resources should prove on its own that there really isn’t anything to fear. One of the most interesting things that I took about nuclear weapons from this lecture was that in order to create such weapons you need power plant. North Korea is able to obtain these resources by hydroelectric power. This is due to the summer rainy seasons. This season does not last very long and results in the lack of resources that are required to create said weapons. The lecture was quite interesting and I took so much from it. This past month I have learned more about North Korea than I had ever desired. The history between North and South Korea have been unbelievably neglected in my life. I blame the public school systems…

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Check it! BIP took candid photo of me note taking in this lecture! And note taking I was!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10 – JSA – Joint Security Action

ImageThe only thing we did on Thursday was movie day. Joint Security Area was is a Korean film from 2000 that told the story of four soldiers, two from the north and two from the south becoming friends despite the borders. I won’t ruin the movie, but you should watch it. Actually, you should watch lots of Korean films! They are actually really good! While on our five our bus trip to Gyeongju, we watched plenty of films on the bus. I was actually surprised. Being the film fanatic that I am, I have watched my fair share of foreign films. South Korea has some amazing films. Not what I expected and they aren’t cheesy, which I find many foreign films to be. South Korea just nails it.

Day 11 – Korean Food

The three days after we got back from Gyeongju we spent the following days in the classroom. Friday was food day. I wish I could say that I was super excited to participate in food day, but I’m currently having a love hate relationship with Korean food, so I just watched and smelled.

ImageI honestly wish more exciting things happened in these last three days, but they didn’t. Educational things took place and learning about North Korea in South Korea is not something anybody can say that they have been able to experience, well except maybe 50 million Koreans who live here…

On July 20th, Saturday, we have a 5 page paper due for this program on a topic of our choice. I choose recycling. I could choose anything in the world, and I choose to write a 5 page paper on recycling.. South Korea’s recycling is very unique though. They not only separate their waste by garbage and recycling, they separate food wastes, glass & cans, plastics and papers. After doing some research, I’ve learned that South Korea recycles at a whopping 91%. America… 59%. See how I found recycling interesting to write a 5 page paper on!?

BIP has a photo link, so if you want to see many of the wonderful BIP photos check out their facebook page! A lot of my photos will be coming from BIP photos basically because my phone gosh smashed. Quite a few photos were being taken from my phone and now they are inaccessible. Besides the phone issue, all is good. Except now I have no alarm clock and Madeline has this desperate need to pull all of my blankets off of me in the morning while screaming “Lynn wake up!” I hate this girl…

https://www.facebook.com/Bip2013

3 Day Trip to Gyeongju

I am about a week late with my posts. Very bad of me. So what I am writing now, it has already happened an entire week ago! Bad me! But when trust me when I say my schedule goes like this: sleep, eat, learn, sleep. If I get any sort of free time, it means it’s time to pass out and catch up on my sleep, or scavenge for some sort of sustainable ‘American like’ food. I can honestly say that I can comprehend what culture shock is. I was so hyped up about the food before I got to South Korea, but now that I am here it’s changed a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that their food is bad. In fact it is very good, but it’s so different! My stomach is finding itself in knots most days, and other days it finds itself completely hungry. See Korean people don’t exactly have many vegetarian friendly dishes, so one day I literally found myself eating just rice and bean sprouts!! Luckily there is an adorable Parisian bakery about a block from the school, so they get a lot of my money. So when I’m not in class, devoting myself to my studies, my free time is dedicated towards food and sleep! I’m thankful I’m not a shopaholic or I’d probably lose all contact on Facebook and no one would ever here from me until I returned to the states!!

Day 5 – International EntertainmentImage

Featuring ‘Gary Gary Gary’

We created a spur of the moment dance as we attempted to grasp onto the hope of winning the grand prize of 150,000 won — Equivalent to 150 USD. We did not win. We were not even close. It was a fun adventure that pretty much was not able to be appreciated to the fullest by anyone on our team, especially since this was our only free day and we were forced to come up with a talent. Aman took the reigns and put together a sort of dance mix that was actually pretty cute, and Chris somehow convinced me to trust fall off the stage at the end right before we were supposed to present. I almost had a heart attack as I agreed to such nonsense and turned around and fell into abyss off into his arms. Eye contact is key right before the point of no return and I am glad to say there was plenty. His in confidence, mine in fear.

Day 6,7,8 – Gyeongju

We made our 5 hour long journey to the east coast of South Korea to Gyeongju. If you have never seen a map of South Korea, it’s basically this: Seoul is on the West Coast and we drove all the way to the other side of the country in 5 hours. South Korea is about the size of Indiana. It’s a small country, stuffed full of really amazing people! And if you don’t know the size of Indiana, well you are reading this online, so just Google it.

Korean Folk Village

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We stopped at a Korean Folk Village which was really full of people that were so alive. We saw an amazing group of Korean musicians/dancers.

And took a picture with a drummer. Don’t mind my 90′s style of dress…

ImageAnd we saw some guys break dancing on horses and shooting arrows off their backs.

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The trip itself was very short. It was also the only time on my entire trip that I have ever seen postcards! And any of you that do not know, I am a postcard fanatic. I even belong to a postcard exchange club with others around the world! South Korea however is so scare in postcards that I literally bought 80 of them. It wasn’t hard since postcards were sold in books. The books were wonderful, but I’m still a little disappointed that there aren’t many postcards to be found in such a beautiful country!

We stayed at the 5 star Hyundai Hotel, were they served American food and charged 8,000 Won to use the pool. So we didn’t swim, but we had a great view!

ImageThe next day we made our way to Bulguksa. Say that 10 times really fast!! This is one of South Korea’s most famous historic sites.

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At the temple there is a golden pig which you are supposed to rub for good luck. If you can tell by the wrinkles on my super white forehead, thanks to SPF 70, I am rubbing this pig like there is no tomorrow!! You know… just in case this rubbing for luck thing is real. Didn’t want to risk it. You never know… Rub! Rub! Rub!

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Also there were these stacks of rocks. Again, like the Folk Village our trip was cut very short. The tour seemed to go by really fast, and you couldn’t take pictures inside of the temple because it was rude! People were in there praying to Buddha and I still felt weird just watching them. It also said -No photos-  But with each field trip I learn a little more and more about this country and its history. Buddhism is a fascinating religion. Very peaceful. 

Pretty sure I qualify.

ImageOur group in front of Bulguksa Temple.

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Hyundai Industries

Our last day in Gyeongju was spent at Hyundai Industries. This to me was probably the most fascinating leg of our journey. I can’t even explain why, but watch me try! Hyundai is a very well known industry known to America. When you hear Hyundai what do you think? Cars right? Hyundai industries is the world’s largest leading manufactures in shipbuilding. Approximately 50,000 individuals are employed by Hyundai industries. They live on the premises and their families do too. There is a school and a hospital and this year they will build roughly 62 ships. To me this number sounds incredibly small, but when we went on a bus tour of the premises, sorry no photos allowed, I completely understood that 62 was a number that seemed impossible. These massive ships take sometimes up to 18 months to build, depending on the type. I feel as if the community aspect of this company really makes me think of America’s lack of togetherness. We are a much larger country that to my knowledge does not have anything like this. The closest thing I can think of is the 1950′s coal mining time era, but not in today’s day in age. I don’t see a massive industry like Apple Inc. providing schools and hospitals and homes to its employees. Would that be weird if something like that existed in America? Would it be an odd phenomenon if Apple suddenly provided education to its employees children and hospitals on site the same place they work? I’m getting to deep and complex now… Maybe the military counts? But I’d personally not like to think of our military as company. 

Image Image of Hyundai Industries from Google search.

Hyundai is also a car manufacturer. The Hyundai cars we get imported are from South Korea and let me tell you, they are everywhere! The only cars I see are Hyundai, Kia and sometimes a random Audi here and there. Samsung and LG are also apart of the South Korean products imported to The United States just in case you wanted to know! I have seemingly fell in love with Samsung products. Apple will be the death of me… after my hatred for my iPhone, Apple products will never have a future in my life again…

This 3 day trip to Gyeongju really played in my favor as I had a 5 hour bus ride both ways with a few rest stops here and there. I have already stated in a previous blog that I was going to concur ‘My Life’ by Bill Clinton. His 1000 page autobiography. I am sad to report that I had only read the one page prologue on the plane and talked the entire 14 hour flight… this nice quiet drive let me a nice allowance to catch up on all that I missed. I made it 140 pages in as this man has pulled my focus completely. I do have much to read and I don’t want to spoil anything.. but he gets elected President of The United States of America… sorry.

Oh yeah… and we saw this… driving down the streets.

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Only in South Korea…

I LOVE SOUTH KOREA!! Much love, Lynn.

Look! A White Kid!

My new favorite saying, but just to Madeline, another IPFW student. “Hey look Madeline! A white kid!!” It’s different being a minority. It’s an experience I can really say I have never had the opportunity to have. It’s not bad, but when I see another white person that isn’t from our program it’s just so rare that I do get excited. Sure, there are a lot of white kids that are participating in the BIP program, but it’s only in public that I do this, and I’m not quiet about it either. I did it yesterday, but the guy wasn’t white, he was Middle Eastern. Close enough? Right? I’m embarrassing… I don’t know how I have friends.

Day 3 – Icheon Pottery Village

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY AMERICA!!!! JULY 4TH!!!

We made an hour long journey to a Village of Pottery and Art. We were partnered up with our Bus Buddies.

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Mine was Inyoung, a Korean student from Seoul Women’s University that will be studying in The United States this year starting in August. Very sweet girl. We actually spent the whole day together and Gary came with us! First we walked around the shop, and took some pictures, then we made some art!

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I spent most of the time NOT touching the piece that I was making. It was mostly the instructor doing the work. This was very strange to me. I’m not a professional or anything, but I did pottery in high school. Wheel and all! When your hands get dry, they stick to the piece you are spinning and your hands can no longer glide over the piece you are working. This was happening to me. I didn’t have any water. He wet my hands once and that water ran out fast. So I just sat there and watched with my dry hands as he made my piece, which was fine because the cups I was whipping out 6 years ago were pretty bad anyhow and this guy made me a vase!Image

My vase and me!

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My Bus Buddy Inyoung making her bowl!

After we finished decorating and such, Inyoung, Gary and I went for a hike. Gary ditched his Bus Buddy and we decided to go on an adventure.

ImageWe climbed these stairs! We followed a path and then GARY finds another path… He wants to go on it and there are two older Korean women that are heading in that direction and Inyoung is the only who can ask where it goes and they tell us, it goes into town. And GARY wants to go into town. So we basically hiked a random path into town. Somehow it got us back to the Pottery place, and even Inyoung was telling us that we should just turn around and not follow the old women heading into town, but nope, not GARY. So we went into town. We know how to have an adventure!

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 Our hike! View and art along the way!

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Day 4 – Music

Chung Chun Beok Ruk came to Seoul Women’s University and performed to Korean Instruments. It really brought back some deep memories from within. I know I spoke about my interests in Korean culture in my first blog in terms of music.

DSCN0445K-pop specifically. I got into K-pop in 2010 and I can honestly say that I completely forgot about my first encounter with Korean culture that sparked my interests almost immediately. In the music video by Shakira, Did it Again, traditional Korean drums are being played. They were so different than anything I had ever seen or heard and just learning to play these instruments brought back some serious memories from almost 5 years ago. They weren’t the same drums, but they made an impact from within the heart and soul.

Chung Chun Beok Ruk Performance

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Here I am getting my drum on with Sodam, who is in the peachy shorts.

After a day of shopping and eating a potato on a stick, we made our way somewhere in Seoul to see Nanta, a musical performance group that uses all sorts of interesting kitchen objects to make music. They let down the forth wall and invited our friend Sodam and another Korean man who was not apart of BIP on stage to eat some soup and to their surprise and ours, get married by the end of the show! The entire show was based around making a feast for a wedding, our friend Sodam’s wedding!! Very cute for her! The show was definitely a blast, inviting many people up on stage and getting the audience very involved. And the whole knives making music and throwing watermelons and ballroom dancing montage was just apart of all of the things mushed into one that you will most likely never see in America!
Nanta musical show, Seoul, South Korea

Oh yeah… one more thing before I wrap it all up for the day!

PYH2013070504000001300_P2_59_20130705131702http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&oid=001&aid=0006354905&sid1=001

Madeline made the news!!

We had our Korean friends translate: South Korea accepts disabled American student as she comes alive to the beat of the Korean drums!

I kid!!

But just check out those dance moves! That girl has got skill!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KRISTA!!!

Komapsumnida

Komapsumnida, the only Korean word I know how to say (most of the time). Sometimes I get nervous when I get excited and I forget what I am saying. It means thank you. Nothing is better than a polite tourist. I still haven’t mastered Hello, but I just run around Seoul saying “Thank you! Thank you!” I think it’s adorable, but what do I know! It’s all I can say!

Day 1-Korean Language

Best lecture I have so far been to. I learned so much. The Korean language only has 24 symbols compared to the American alphabet which has 26. Instead of reading words by shape like we do, Koreans read words by sound. That I did not know. I am studying French right now, but I think I can personally see myself studying Korean. It seems the easiest not lettered language. Japanese has 51 characters and Chinese has over a thousand. So Korean is simplest for me! Again, all I know is how to say ‘Thank you’ … I’m getting good!

Day 2 – Gyeongbokg Palace

ImageGyeongbokg Palace

We spent a good few hours within the Palace. So much history and beauty and not enough time. I also got pretty sunburned. I decided to put sunblock on my face and arms and completely forgot about my back! My sunblock is now my new best friend and is being packed in my bag from now on! No matter what!ImageAll of the 120+ BIP 2013 students, staff, and faculties!

After our fun school related excursions, our new amazing Korean friends took us to some pretty great shopping places. I didn’t eat any food, I just wasn’t hungry but I did try some new drinks. Image Chris and Gary living it up at the Hello Kitty Cafe!

We also passed a Hello Kitty Cafe and I just couldn’t resist!! Even though Hello Kitty is Japanese, we just don’t have things like this in America!!

ImageHello Kitty Bathroom!

This was just a great day!! We also went to a Korean Starbucks which is actually pretty unique Imagebecause it’s actually in Korean! Which to my understanding, most of the other Starbucks Coffee Shops are written in regular English. So I again couldn’t resist taking a photo! How cool is this!?

I am very much enjoying my time in Seoul. I am learning so much and even though this study abroad program is very short, you can really only judge it by what you learn. Maybe I was naive coming into this country with very little knowledge about South Korea itself, except K-pop, but I don’t regret it. My mind is open and I am flourishing. If I stayed in Fort Wayne for the third summer, I wouldn’t have met all of the amazing people I am meeting now and I would have never bumped into a Hello Kitty Cafe!! Just saying! But it’s really more about the people. Cultures are so different and I must say, it’s really neat being a Women’s Studies major in a different country where I can really learn about different cultures and even genders themselves. When I learned that South Korea’s current president is a woman, it gave me warm fuzzies inside. Why shouldn’t they have a female president? But in retrospect, I’m questioning where is America’s female presidents?? Maybe that’s why I had a dream with Hillary Clinton in it last night! (Sarah Palin was in it too, but I wanted to acknowledge my dream as a dream and not a nightmare!! Haha! I kid… No I don’t!)  So before I say my goodbyes, I’ll leave you with one more photo! (Yay! Photos!)

ImageThe Blue House

The equivalence to the American White House. It sure is difference, and a lot less security, but nevertheless still inspirational! The home of Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s female president.

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