Only 9 days left in Korea and 5 more at Inje.

2 Dec

I am only going to be in Korea for less than 9 days now and I am really starting to feel it. The last few weeks have really raced by. I have been busy writing papers, shopping, hanging out with friends and just enjoying Korea. Part of me wants to stay longer and other parts of me is ready to go back home.

I really had only one last field trip for tea class. It was probably one of the best field trips that I went on. First we took a bus, and have I mentioned how great Korean school buses are? Well they are pretty amazing as they are really coach buses. They are nice and comfy and there is even a big screen tv. We had to travel a few hours away, so we watched a movie or slept until we go to our first stop on the day trip.

The first stop was to do some hiking. We were told that it would be cold and we should bring some warm cloths. Now the cold weather was probably 50 degrees, so really not that cold. We started with a hike to go see a famous poet and tea master drinker. So we started to get hot and had to carry our jackets. When we made it to the top, we were able to see a replica of where this poet and tea master spent most of his life. It was very serene and a perfect day to do it. We then hiked some more and found a beautiful overlook with a place for meditation. Wish we could have been there longer and actually meditated. Then we hiked some more to go to a temple. Along the way, we saw a small tea field.

Once we were on the bus, it was time to have a Korean meal with some specialties of the area. Like fish and crabs and other sea food. Plus I got to have the raw beef, which wasn’t too bad at all but of course made me a little nervous. We got on the bus again and now it was time to go to the tea field. It was set on a nice big hill, with rows and rows of green tea. We did some hiking around the tea field and Korean’s don’t always like switch backs, they like to go straight to the top. So it was a very steep climb but of course the view was worth it. Then we tasted some of the green tea that they made there. Was of course very good.

Our last stop of the trip was to go visit a folk village. This village was quite different than the small museum like ones we went to at Jeju. It was a nice village with many areas but we didnt have too much time to wander. We were there to have some maggoli and pajeon. Maggoli is a rice wine that I love and pajeon is a green onion and sea food like pancake. I like the green onion part and not the sea food part of course. Then it was time to head back to Inje. On the way back we stopped at a rest stop and had our dinner.

I also received some not so great news from back home. My grandmother was in the hospital for pneumonia. This was not a good thing, especially me being so far away from home. Luckily there were many family members that were able to visit with her. This was one of my big fears when I came to Korea, since I have some grandparents that are starting to get quite older and much wiser. My grandmother is doing better now, on her way to a good but slow recovery.

On the day before Thanksgiving, we had a little pot luck at our coordinators home. I made some pasta and red sauce, others made, salad, samsgasal, veggies, mixed potatoes and even two small chickens. Of course we ate it all and became stuffed. It is always good to have some raw veggies, salad and pasta in Korea. It was a great time.

It was weird for me to not be home during Thanksgiving. So I called my family and even did some face timing and watched my brother and niece make some pies. It was even stranger for me to now have to work on the weekend, since I am usually working at the Tree Farm. Which of course I will jump back into when I get home.

One of my classmates has gone to another language program and had to leave early. Another classmate went home early to visit with family but he will be back after I leave for another language program. This is when I really started to realize that the end is near. It also singled some busy time. Like studying and writing a few papers.

Now, I have had a few classes end. Music class, Culture, cooking, tea class and my friday talk talk talk class. It has been sad but good meeting so many people. I have been busy now eating lots of food, hanging out with friends before I leave. So it has become a time that I have reflected on my time here in Korea. Some of the good food I have had and even the words that I have learned.

Now I am starting to do some more shopping, a little Christmas shopping and starting to prepare for home. On Thursday is my graduation night and then Friday I leave Inje and go back to Seoul until Monday when I leave for home. So I am going to make these last few days at Inje some of the best ones.

Tea class

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View from the mountain

Tea field

Going straight up

Yummy food

Eating some raw beef

Friday Talk talk talk class

Me in my Hanbok

IIIHR Fall 2012

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Whoops, it’s been a month since I last posted…and a month left in Korea!

12 Nov

I did it again, I said I was going to do more posting and blogging and here it is already a month has passed. I also only have a month left in Korea. So a lot of stuff has happened in the last month. 

Let’s go to last month. 10/10/12 was my Coming to America birthday but this time I was in Korea on the date that I left Korea 26 years ago. What a weird feeling that was. Strange to be actually be in the country on days that I would have not been in the country for. It was a somewhat confusing and hard day for me. One of the good things was that Pia from Denmark visited. Pia did this program last semester and I also met her last time I was in Korea at Backpackers, so it was great to see another friend. 

The day started with me giving my presentation thingy in class. I chose to talk about my birth family search. So what an interesting day to do it on. The more and more I do talk about my search helps me to comprehend and to really accept some of the issues that I have been dealt with. 

Then it was basically another normal week. So busy doing a lot of learning having fun. Same with the following week. But on the weekend, I went to Busan with Mai and Stephanie, which was a lot of fun. We went to Haeundae beach and hung out there for a bit. Then we went to an Irish pub. We were the only Korean’s there and it felt like we were back home. We drank some really good real beer, cider and mized drinks. Then we met some random teachers from Seoul area and we went to a soccer game. It was a low league game as there were not many people there. But it was still a fun and random day.

 Then it was time for some fun midterms. So I spent the week somewhat studying a lot. So that kept me busy and a little stressed out. But I did my best. I also went to a pottery festival with Peggy. That was a lot of fun and we saw and bought a lot of pottery for local artists instead of from big shops where we don’t really know where the products were made. 

Afterwards I went to Seoul for the weekend with Mai, Anders, Leta and Bethany. We all went up to Seoul to do some shopping and to be in Seoul. Leta, Anders and Bethany went up to go run in We Run Nike Seoul event. They had a lot of fun but was very crowded. It was great to be in a big city again but also weird. I wasn’t used to so many people anymore. Or the fact that there were a lot of other nationalities there. Was strange but also fun again. Minus all of the busyness of Seoul and pushing people.

After we got back from Seoul, it was time to rest and do some laundry for a bit. I finally filled out my absentee ballot and sent it by express mail to MN. With the technology today, I was able to see where my ballot was when it was in transit and then could see if it got safely to the election office and to see if it got counted. Which it did. But no ” I voted” sticker for me this year.

Then it was time to go to Jeju Island. This was a class extended trip and a fun one. Everyone didn’t go, partly because a few of the group had been to Jeju before. It was a beautiful island and very windy at the same time. I can’t wait to go again but this time during the summer. 

We saw a lot of interesting museums. There was a drama museum, butterfly and some cultural ones to name a few. A lot of the displays were interactive and you could take many pictures. So very different than  back home or really most museums that I have been too. 

We ate a lot of good food. one of my favorites was eating the black pork. I also did some souvenir shopping that is unique to Jeju. Also did a lot of walking and sightseeing. 

After we go back from Jeju, it was back to the daily grind of learning Korean. Even though it seemed like a month since our last class. Korean’s get a week off for midterms, it is similar to what I had in college during finals week. 

Then no time for resting as we had a busy saturday of going to a green tea field. That was a lot of fun. We also did a lot of walking and seeing another temple and then going to a Korean folk village. After seeing a lot of museums in Jeju, I had more than enough time in that type of setting. This village was quite different than the museums that we went to in Jeju. The village was quite big and then we had some maggoli. Or I had a bottle or two.

Then we had another fun week of classes. This week we learned a lot about family names. There are different names for cousins, aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. It is quite confusing and difficult. 

After the week was over, I boarded a bus to go visit my friend Lianne in Gwangju. I met Lianne at the gathering a few years ago in Korea. So it was great to see her again in Korea. Lianne is teaching English and having a lot of fun. I successfully made it to her place by taking some buses. Then it was time to meet some of her friends and eat some BBQ. In Gwangju I could hear a little bit of the different dialect. They do have a harder gieut than in Gimhae. We went for drinks at a Japanese restaurant. 

Then it was sleepover time and sleeping on a comfy mat. The next day, she made some eggs and I had an apple. Hmmm so good. It is surprising at the little stuff that I miss from home. Then we did an event sponsored by the Gwangju International center. We went to the Kimchi Museum and then after a brief 30 min tour, we made some Kimchi. That was a lot of fun.

Then we spent the day at the GIC International day. So there were a lot of different nationalities there and not all teachers. I had some Mexican food and Philippine food. It was all yummy and there was a talent show, so I could see some different cultures. Then time for more BBQ and here the meat came with the egg soufflé thingy, which I haven’t had in Gimhae. Also the onions came with some wasabi, so different than I am used to. 

Then that night we went out to a German bar that makes their own beer. It is run by a Korean but the clientele  are mainly foreign English teachers. So that again was interesting to see so many other American’s and Westerners. I guess that is something that will shock me again when I get back to America. But until then, I still somewhat blend in. 

Now time for some more laundry and just doing more studying. I have three more weeks left in Korea. So I am going to spend them wisely and who knows what I will end up doing for the last few weeks. So I will enjoy my weeks to the fullest! Hopefully I will be a better blogger again…Then again I do always say that.

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Hangul day and art projects.

9 Oct

Here I am blogging again already. Aren’t you proud of me? Maybe this time I will be more up to date. Then again, I always say that. Well here we go again.

Part of me is doing this so that I can procrastinate some homework that I have been telling myself that I will do for the past few hours. Another part is writing this so I can take my mind off of missing home, friends, family and of course American culture. Oh ya, I really miss my car. Sad to say that sometimes but walking up hills and finding buses or taxis are not a fun thing. 

Today was a fun day, we started out by having some fun time writing hangul using calligraphy. Oh ya, I should start out with today is Hangul day. The day when Hangul was first created and given to the nobility or all of Korea, I can’t really remember and my notes are too far away. This day is important because Korean’s could finally have their own written language instead of writing in Chinese. So go Korea!

Anyways, we did some practice writing using a paint brush or typical old Korean calligraphy, which was a lot of fun. Apparently one can tell how a person’s character is by the brush strokes. Mine says that I am shy and not shy. So yes, that does make sense for me. Or at least that is the way I interpreted it. We did some brush strokes, wrote a few things and then got judged on it. All while wearing a Hanbok and having some video and photos taken for news or publications for the University. 

Thankfully during this the Swedish exchange students, not part of my group, where there. AKA the white people. Ah, how Korean’s love to show off that white people enjoy and actually do stuff in Korea. So they were paraded around again like Zoo animals…Having their pictures taken and having some interviews, while the non-korean koreans were pushed to the back and used more like background props. Gotta love this feeling of again being part of being a foreigner in Korea but not really being treated like a foreigner. Sometimes it is actually nice but then other times it feels like we are being ignored again. Like foreign adoptees coming back to learn about Korea isn’t as important as white people learning about Korea. 

Later we had our language class, where again we jumped backwards and then jumped ahead. It seems at times that we are learning too much and way to fast but then jump back into some basics that we don’t know yet but still somehow know a bit about. It is really confusing and frustrating. Or this could be the best way to learn Korean. I am not sure yet.

Later I saw Pia from Denmark, who is visiting and a person that I saw and met at the Hostel in Seoul two years ago. Tomorrow we will have a dinner together with the group and drinks. So it will be a fun Wednesday. 

Then for ET, we did some bowling. Bowling at this bowling alley was a bit different than I am used to. There is no fancy computer thingy to make funny names or even your own name. So we were AAA, BBB, CCC and so forth. When we got a strike or spare, it was just an X or /. No fancy animation, now figure that one out. The floor for the bowling alley was really slippery and easy to slide around and the bowling balls finger holes were tiny. I had a hard time finding the right ball and the right finger size. But oh well I bowled decent still and of course in the 10th frame, I got two strikes.

Now I am procrastinating still and talking to some friends on facebook, reading the news from back home, and of course writing this blog. I might have a quiz tomorrow and then I also get to lead our disccussion group. My disccussion is going to be about birth family search and foster family search. So part of me doesn’t want to do it anymore. I also have to think about what to say and what type of questions to have. So I am thinking about having a script to read from.

Well, I have been putting stuff off for to long now, since it is 12:30 and I need some sleep and to actually do my homework. But I am sure that I will do some facebooking before. 

 

A rundown of some of the stuff I have done and experienced.

7 Oct

1. Made my own mask for Chuseok.

2. Taken many buses to get to a small seaside village.

3. Slept on a hard floor multiple times.

4. Spent a holiday, Chuseok, with another family and friends.

5. Drank a lot of Soju and Korean beer.

6. Eaten many Korean foods and have finally gotten used to the spiciness level.

7. Went to the beach by myself.

8. Found my way from Busan to Inje by myself.

9. Gone shopping and getting the same jeans as last time.

10. Experienced two different roommates.

11. Played some drinking games.

12. Ate a home cooked meal by a few Korean mothers!

13. Made some awesome new friends.

14. Went to a Korean wedding and the buffet is a buffet. Not just a few things.

15. Ate Korean Pears…multiple times.

16. Learned some Korean.

17. Washed clothes and hung them on a line to dry.

18. Got my haircut.

19. Ate Korean western food.

20. Had to reformate my computer, so I lost some pictures.

21. Had a blood test to stay in the dorm.

22. Applied for a Korean Visa.

23. Helping others with some American slang.

Plus many more things that I am sure I am missing. And I can’t wait to experience more each day!

Being the foreign exchange student.

7 Oct

Here is my second attempt at this particular blog. The first one somehow got deleted, so here we go again.

I have been in Korea and at Inje University for over a month now. It seems like I have been here for six months. I have been busy learning Korean, how to cook and even some Korean music. I am on my second roommate and have had Korean BBQ multiple times and multiple times in the same week. I have had some great cultural experiences and have made many many new friends.

I have slowly learned how to write some words in Korean and even know a few expressions to say. I can say more than please and thank you, even though there is not too much more. I can at least read Korean and try and learn new vocab words. I have been busy studying, being in class, studying, hanging with friends, making friends, eating food and learning cultural things.

I have many classes, so I stay way way busy. I have movie class, where we watch some Korean movies and discuss them afterwards. I am waiting for some Korean War movies, as there are not really any hollywood movies about the Korean War. I have always seen why it is the “forgotten war” even though to me it is not forgotten at all, it is very much part of who I am.

We have a few English conversation classes where we break into groups and help Korean students learn some English conversation and cultural differences. It is very fun to teach others about some english phrases. We also do this for our dorm, but it also includes some drinking. Which is quite different than American schools. Especially a weekend devoted to drinking and playing drinking games and basically getting drunk. Who knew that I am great at drinking beer through a straw.

There is taekwondo, which is fun but very different than I thought. I do have my own taekwondo uniform with my name on it now.

There are three different language classes, each taught by a different instructor. Learning Korean has been very fun and then difficult and frustrating at times. I can at least read and write. What I am reading I am not entirely sure of. There is also a culture class, which is fun, we have played a few Korean games. One game Yut, I have played and have the game at home. I got the game when I went to one of the Childrens Home Society dinners at home.

I have learned the popular song Pusan galmaegi, or Pusan seagull that is sung at the Pusan baseball games. I have not had the chance to go to one of the games yet. I don’t think that it will happen on this trip. Korean baseball is quite different than American baseball. We also sung the song in front of the Chairman, the board and Dean’s of Inje University.

I have gotten the chance to learn how to cook some Korean foods. It is by far one of my favorite classes. Plus who doesn’t like eating food during class. I hope to make some more dishes that are not on any menu in the Korean restaurants in Minnesota. So I will have the chance to experience and then make some things that are different.

Another class that I like is Tea class and etiquette. It is crazy how different etiquette is here than in the West. We do get to taste some awesome green tea and our instructor is a tea master. He has his own book, which we each got and he signed each copy with our name in it. It is quite special and reminds me how generous Korean’s are.

We also have a discussion class to talk about some adoption issues and what not. So that is always fun and interesting and of course emotional.

I also have an amazing tutor and host brother. So my schedule is quite busy. Busier than I was in college and busier than our Korean classmates. I suppose this happens when one is here for such a short time and trying to experience as much Korean culture as they can.

Aside

 My Host famil…

4 Oct

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My Host family. Or part of the Host family

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Near Masan during Chuseok

 

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Mai and myself at the wedding all dressed upImage

 

 

Some yummy food in Cooking classImage

 

Mask danceImage

 

Me and my tutor Yea Rim at her families placeImage

 

A typical Korean wedding photo

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The mask I made

 

 

MSP -> LAX -> ICN -> Seoul -> Inje

3 Sep

I started off my trip by learning that my flight from LAX would be delayed three hours. So off to a good start. I was getting picked up from one of my best friends Mal, this made it a lot easier to say goodbye to the family. I did not want to be a mess at the airport. 

The plane ride from MSP was a good trip, not too long and was a smooth flight. Since I knew that my flight to Seoul would be later, I took my time getting from the terminal where I landed and the Bradley International    terminal where I flew out of. When I checked in with Korean Air, they gave me some money for the inconvenience of being late. Though that doesn’t really get you much at any airport, let alone in LA. The reason why the plane was delayed was because of the typhoon that was headed to Korea from Japan. So they wanted a better window for the weather.

The plane ride was a lot of fun…not rough and I flew on the new A380, so there was a computer plug. But I didn’t use it. There are way too many distractions on planes now. And I actually somewhat did some sleeping. 

Got into Seoul and had to wait a bit for a gate to open up. When we landed it was a bit rainy and windy, so it was a bumpy landing. But I didn’t throw up, so that was a good sign. But I found out that Mai and Anders were going to be a few hours late, instead of me being late and them waiting for me, I was waiting for them. Which was fine by me. We then took a taxi ride to Backpackers Inside. This is the hostel where I stayed last time and met so many other adoptees and Mai. So it is a great place for me.

I didn’t sleep too much when I got to Seoul, since I was still jet legged. Hence I am not updating this blog until now, almost a week later. But woke up and Mai and I went to Dunkin Donuts for some breakfast. Then we did some shopping and exploring around town. 

Then on Thursday Anders came with me to ESWS to go meet my foster mother and my bio mother. He hasn’t started his search, so this was a good experience for him. Talked for a bit with the foster mom and my foster father who wasn’t there gave me a necklace, so that was pretty cool. THen it was time with my birth mom. 

This time it was a lot less awkward and a lot less emotional. I think it is because we have both had a chance to have everything sink in. But it still was a bit awkward of course. We did some talking and I learned that all of my half sisters are a little bit like me. One hates cooked carrots like me and another is left handed but only writes with her left hand and does everything else with her right. I write with my right hand and do a lot of other stuff with my left hand. So very similar. I found out that my birth mom has carried my pictures from our meeting in her purse and some letters that I have written to her in the last few years. So it was very comforting to know that I wasn’t writing to no one. We will hopefully be able to start e-mailing each other.

On Friday, we did some shopping, so I could get my jeans and then get them fitted. Somehow I chose the same brand of pants from different stalls and they are the same brand that I got last time. Go figure. We also went to Seoul tower, which is always fun. Then I took Anders to a palace that I thought I didn’t go to. But it was the same one that I went to last time. On my way back from finishing the tour of the palace, I ran into one of my classmates, Peggy. What are those chances. 

Saturday we (Mai, Anders and myself) started off going to Seoul station to take the KTX which is the bullet train to Gupo station which is in Kimhae and just north of Busan. We were greeted by an Inje student and then waited for another classmate Yoo Mi. We got to Inje and found our rooms at English Town. Now it was time to do a little bit of unpacking and then we got some food. It was a spicy beef bone soup. It was good and not terrible spicy. I survived it. 

On Sunday we did some running errands to get some basic supplies. I bought conditioner instead of shampoo and paper towels instead of toilet paper. I am on such a roll. We got to meet our other classmates, and most of us are from the states and 4 are from Europe. 

Then I met my roommate Sun Gu, who is really nice. He is a business major and did an exchange with Uppsla University in Sweden. The dorm is nice, I have my own bathroom with my roommate, so don’t have to go far to get clean. We also have air con which we didn’t get going until today. 

So far Inje is a lot of fun. My classmates are very fun and cool. We all get along. Or at least right now. We haven’t had a real class yet. Just getting everything organized. But I did have a Korean breakfast today….so that was interesting with kimchee, rice, soup and meat. Reminds me of my dad eating Christmas sausage and sauerkraut for breakfast.

So basically I am all caught up with blogging now. SO it should hopefully get more detailed as the time goes by. Tomorrow we will have our first real class and have a medical exam…that will be interesting on both accounts. But I am all settled in now. Have a Korean cell phone and have Kakao on my phone from home. Now I am just talking with friends and family from home and being glad that I am doing this program. 

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Some of my classmates. Joe, Yoo Mi, Stephanie, Bethany, Me, Anders and Leta

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My dorm room with an extra long twin. Better than MSUM

 

 

 

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My dorm.