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!!
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.
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. There 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!
It’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.
Later 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.