Korea – Week 1

Hailey - Our amazing RA

Hailey – Our amazing RA

My first week in Korea through the Bahrom International Program (through Seoul Women’s University) … All I can say is WOW. I am going to try to do a brief recap of what happened this week (so I can remember down the road and so friends and family can read about it)

The first full day, Monday, was orientation and a welcoming ceremony. Everyone had to introduce themselves, most were pretty tired still! The RA for the faculty is Hailey. She is so helpful, you have to watch what you ask for!

Tuesday was the start of the lectures. I attended a fascinating lecture on “The Story of Two Koreas I”. There was so much that I didn’t know (a common theme). It was cool to be a student again. Of course we have to write questions and mark student papers, but still. I wrote a blog post about my amazement about how little South Koreans know about the human rights violations that are occurring in North Korea. This lecture opened the eyes of International and Local students.

First Subway ride - to the palace

First Subway – to the palace

We then had an ice breaking activity that had us going all over campus and playing games. Fun, but HOT and humid.

The start of Wednesday was a lecture on Korean History and Culture. We explored the Korean Peninsula from 1000 BCE to present. An amazing overview. I really realize how little I know about Korea. I just have not studied it at all. We then had the opportunity to go to Gyeongbokgung Palace. So different from the Palaces in Europe. These buildings are low, open and airy. Built mainly of stone and wood, people relied on geography to keep invaders out. Our tour guide was a wonderful woman who can trace her ancestry back 22 generations to the brother of a king. She was fabulous. Here are some of my favourite pictures:

Gyeongbok palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also wandered around Insa-dong – a fabulous market downtown. I will be heading back there soon as there was very little time this time.

At work

At work

The next day was a fascinating glimpse into Korea Language. The language is old, but the writing system is young! I mentioned it a bit in this post.

We then went to Icheon to a pottery workshop. Three potters patiently helped all students make one piece of pottery on a wheel which we could then decorate. Despite not being able to speak English (or most of us Korean), they were so patient while teaching. There display area, where things are put before being shipped out was sooo full. Clearly no earthquakes here (Korea is built on granite – granite is cheap and everywhere here). The Potters create such gorgeous works. They weren’t really selling, but if you were interested you could ask. I bought a small white vase with dragonflies on it.

My Favourite - It leads the band

My Favourite – It leads the band

Friday was a day of music. First was traditional instruments. We all had the opportunity to play traditional instruments. We were taught by a student band. I loved a small brass instrument. I have the name in Korean characters, but not English unfortunately. Here is a link to a small clip of the music. I took the video with my phone, so it is a bit choppy: Traditional Korean Band.

When all 80 (ish) of us played, there was a cheerful cacophony of sound.

Week 1 menu

Week 1 menu

If the day was traditional, the evening was modern. We were so very fortunate to go see a “Cookin’ Nanta” performance. If you ever have the opportunity GO! I laughed so hard I cried. It is set in a kitchen and the ‘chefs’ make music with kitchen items as they prepare for a wedding. Truly extraordinary. I want to go again!!!!!

Since I mentioned food, here is a picture of the menu for week 1. Yes there is spam, cold jellyfish salad and many other delicacies. But they tried hard to include western food like pancakes. No knives though – chopsticks, forks, spoons and that is it.

Saturday brought a day of relaxation. I walked too far from the University and relied on the kindness of strangers to help me catch the bus home. In the evening was the International Entertainment night where students performed in groups. Too fun

About Lisa Lewis

Chair of Adult Basic Education in Nanaimo and Parksville at Vancouver Island University. Currently teaching a continuous intake online math course
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