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Published: March 3rd 2007
Near Downtown Seoul
So, three weeks have passed since I first came to Seoul to study Korean, and there is much to say. I'll try to do it in a fairly concise manner. Korean Class
For starters, my Korean class, which ended today: I took a three-week intensive Korean class at Ewha Women's University. It was really great, I learned a lot, there were great materials, a great professor, and really fun and energetic classmates. And, as a side note, I passed, for any of you who doubted me ;-) It was really rigorous, but I feel I've gained a lot in terms of grammar and especially in vocabulary. Plus, my classmates were really entertaining and diverse-- 7 Japanese students, 1 French, 1 Malaysian (born of Chinese parents and living in America for 10 years), and 2 Aussies. Hopefully we can keep in touch!
So, most of my time was spent in class-- 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. Quite intense, sometimes tiring, but undoubtedly rewarding. Usually, after class, I'd go to lunch with my classmates and then study in a coffeeshop or tea house for a few hours. And then, I'd explore Seoul, hang out with Fulbright friends, work
She was so nice!
out, or find some other way to amuse myself. Currently, there are about 10 other Fulbright ETA's living/studying in Seoul for the winter, so it's really been nice to catch up with them and have some social time with native English speakers. New Things I've Seen in Seoul
Well, the first one is actually an old one, but I'll talk about it again. As a class field trip, we went to the Korean-wide-famous performance called Nanta
, which means "crazy drumming" in Korean. I went with my friend Christina before, but basically it's a bunch of people making drums out of ordinary kitchen utensils and materials and going crazy on stage. It's pretty fun.
As another class field trip, we took part in a traditional drumming performance (we watched first and then were taught how to do it). I forgot how much I love to make rhythm and music. It was really enjoyable and a part of Korean culture I hadn't been able to take part in before.
Also, I went with my Fulbright friend Susie to a Rene Magritte exhibit at one of Seoul's art museums. There were some really fascinating paintings and we even got an
One of my new friends (via the class), Mo-ay (from Japan).
English tour! I'd also missed seeing art now and again, so this was great for me!
Other than that, I meant to do some more sightseeing but never really got around to it. However, I was able to go to Myeong-dong (Seoul's downtown) quite a few times, where I'd never really spent time in before. I also went to Namdaemun, a huge outdoor market near Myeongdong, and did some shopping. Both new for me! But, man, is it crowded in those areas! I really felt like I'd be trampled or squished or something. I'm just glad I don't live right in that area. Or work. I just would become too claustrophobic. Daily Life in Seoul
My daily life in Seoul consisted of not enough sleep, too much studying, and a fair amount of socializing (which I realize might not be available to me on a regular basis this semester in the far reaches of Seoul). I took full advantage of browsing English bookstores, drinking Starbucks coffee, and speaking English with my Fulbright friends as much as possible.
So, I stayed at a place called Kim's Guesthouse
, and I definitely recommend it for anyone who'll be staying in Seoul
for a time. It was just a few subway stops from my university, and also a walk away from all kinds of nice coffeeshops, restaurants, bars, etc. Fortunately, a bunch of my Fulbright friends incidentally lived in a set of apartments just a few blocks away. Most importantly, though, the guesthouse was run by really nice people, I got free breakfast, and I met a lot of internationals while I was there (reminded me of some hostels in Europe). So, I usually woke up early for class, had my free coffee and breakfast at the guesthouse, tried to make intelligible conversation with anyone else eating breakfast (oddly, there were a lot of early risers), and then headed to the subway. Then, I took the subway to class, studied hard for four hours, and then usually ate lunch with my classmates (or met with Fulbrighters) before studying on my own for a few more hours (usually at a coffeeshop). Thus, I now know like every coffeeshop in the Ewha/Sinchon/Hapjeong area. If you want recommendations, let me know ;-) I also know the subway pretty well, too!
Oh, also, I found an English church in Seoul that I went to for
each Sunday I was there. It was really great to have an English service again after going to Korean church all of last semester in Yeosu (I love my Korean church, of course, but it was nice to be able to understand the sermon for once). So, that was a nice bonus! Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year, as it's more popularly known in the US) is possibly the biggest holiday in all of Korea. This year, it was Feb. 18, so I went back to Yeosu to celebrate with my host family (it is a family celebration). We cooked a lot of food, ate a lot, and I did a deep bow (as did my host sister) to my host family in and got money in return (a Lunar New Year tradition). I think I like this holiday! It was possibly one of my favorite parts of February because I got to learn how to cook some traditional Korean foods, and I really felt like I was part of my Korean family!
Okay, so three weeks of studying and playing, and now back to Yeosu! My parents were supposed to come visit at
the end of this month, but by some unfortunate series of events (the domestic flight was cancelled, there were no other flights to get them to their international flight on time, the only other option left was traveling 50 hours via Europe and several different airports...etc.), they had to cancel their trip and will reschedule for spring. Perhaps that's the only disappointment I've had while in Seoul, but at least in spring it will be warmer and prettier!
I feel there's more to say, but maybe I just studied so much, my brain no longer functions properly!
My classes start again on March 2, as do most everyone's in Korea. Time to lesson plan!
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