Don’t worry everyone (family + spambots), you haven’t been missing my blog updates, I just haven’t been writing them. It’s a combination of travel-filled vacation time, taking an intensive Korean course, and having either a sprained wrist or tendonitis (I’m not sure which). Also the things I find myself most wanting to write about are Korean culture or school, and up until just recently (with my Korean language courses) I haven’t been experiencing that as I’ve been traveling with American friends.
To give you a quick summary, I went to China for 20 days with my friends Felicia and Amy, then came back and taught a winter camp for a week. After that I went to Busan (the San Fransisco of Korea, an absolutely gorgeous south-western coastal city) for a little less than a week. After that I spent the weekend in Seoul, went back to Yesan for a few days, had a tea party with my friend Joelle in Hongseong, and then came back to Goesan for an intensive Korean language class named CLEA (Critical Language Enhancement Award) where I’ve had class for 6 days a week, 6 hours a day, and not really been sleeping. This language class ends in 8 days, and then I go back to Yesan for my 2nd semester teaching, which I’m excited about but also nervous.
China in a nutshell: Amazing, but really really cold. I went to Beijing, Shanghai, Luyoung, Kaifeng, Xi’an and Chengdu. In Beijing I saw the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Sun Temple as well as other things, in Shanghai I did some shopping and saw the Bund, in Luyoung I saw this amazing place called “Longmen Grotto” which is an area filled with miniature caves much like Cappadocia in Turkey, except the caves are cut into and there are 10,000 Buddha images of ranging sizes all over the
caves. In Chengdu we saw pandas! Xi’an we saw the terracotta warriors, and in Kaifeng there was a really amazing night market. Traveling in China was so different than traveling in Korea… Korea is so small that there isn’t a SINGLE night train with sleeper cars! China is so large that we only took night trains, or flew. Knowing the language while traveling makes a huge difference! It became very tiring to try to travel in China because we couldn’t speak, read or write, and we couldn’t even copy down things to show other people, because the script was so hard to duplicate. Basically, while I would highly recommend China for anyone to travel around, I would choose to live in South Korea over China in a heartbeat. Traveling really made me appreciate how much I’ve grown to love South Korea.
In the same vein, I did decide to apply to stay in South Korea for another year. I’m enjoying teaching but I’m also really invested in learning Korean language, and enjoying the culture. My biggest regret with Turkey is that I didn’t get involved enough with the culture and I didn’t stay for a full year… 6 months was just too short. F*bright is really an amazing opportunity, and I feel like a year’s too short of a time in Korea. I’m still dealing with some culture shock and I feel that it’d be a little bit of a letdown to finally adapt and then leave. I’m not sure if I’ll stay at my school or go somewhere else, but I’m excited for next year.
As this blog post was supposed to be a short study break and turned into a long one, I must go, but expect more entries the first week of March when I’m back at school.