Monday, June 20, 2011

South Korea: 2011 Summer Fellows: It's good to be back!

I am thankful to have given this opportunity to study Korean at Sogang University for the next 2 months. The reason why I chose this University is that their classes focuses more on conversational skills compared to other Korean Language Programs at other Universities. This school is also conveniently located near 3 other big Universities, so the area is filled with restaurants, shopping, and of course street food. My class has about 14 other students with ages ranging from 18 to 40. Some of the students are from the US, Japan, France, Indonesia and China. Classes are 4 hours M-F in the morning. The first hour focuses on writing, the next two hours is speaking, and the last hour is reading/listening.

As our first field trip, we watched a show called "Marionette". It was a breakdancing show about a puppeteer and his puppets. There is alot of shows here that involve breakdancing. Since South Korea has one of the best bboy groups in the world, it isn't so surprising. In a couple of weeks, Korea is hosting International Breakdancing Competition called R-16.

Every Korean experience involves eating Korean barbeque, so our class went and had lunch at a popular place that was featured in a lot of TV shows and dramas here. We had meat marinated in all kinds of sauces such as curry, herb, soybean paste and ginseng. There is a pan in the middle of the table that you fry the meat on and then you dip the meat into a couple of sauces, add some vegetables to it, and then wrap it in lettuce.

Even though it has been a year since I've been here, I noticed that Seoul has made it easier to travel. At bus and metro stops, there are electronic signs telling you when the next train or bus is coming. New lines also had popped up on the metro map.

Some things haven't changed such as finding clothes and shoes that fit. Because my feet is bigger than the typical Korean women, I made sure to pack extra shoes in my suitcase. You can find bigger shoe sizes at department stores here but it can be expensive. If you don't mind wearing men's shoes, which I sometimes did, then you will be fine. If not, leave some room in your suitcase for them.

In terms of street shopping for clothes, alot of places won’t let you try on things. Some places will make you put a skirt on so that you can try on the shorts or pants. If you are nice enough to them and actually remember where you bought the clothes, you can return them. The one issue that I always had about living here was remembering where I bought things at because you will see the same stores on every corner such as a 7-11 or a similar looking karaoke place. The streets here also go in every direction. The best places to go for street shopping is usually near Universities such as Ewha University and Hongik University. Another good place to go shopping is in Dongdaemun. You can usually bargain your way into getting a cheaper price.

The one thing that I love about this city is that you can see both the new and old city of Seoul. There are alot of lego looking high rise apartments usually owned by companies Hyundai, Samsung, or LG surrounding small hanok villages, which is the old style Korean houses. Another thing that you will notice is that most of the cars here are white with tinted windows owned by Hyundai. It is nice to see that there is still some of the old city left. Korea is trying really hard to preserve alot of the traditional villages and making the city a greener place.

I'm glad to be able to share my experience this summer in Korea through these blogs. I hope this will help give you a better insight into the Korean culture. I look forward to writing my next one.

Susie Greenbaum
MA Speech and Language Pathology 2013
Sigur Center 2011 Korean Language Fellow
Sogang Unviersity, South Korea

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