As the mid-term week at Korea University ends, my study abroad program had our Donghae excursion ready for us. As each of us boards onto the train to Donghae, we are filled with excitement despite the early morning departure. As we arrive at the Gangneung Station, we board our reserved bus to leave for the Gangmun Beach.
To our surprise, our first experience of a beach in Korea was the onset of the cold, chilly wind blowing towards us. The beach was for sure beautiful and a great place for pictures, but it was no beach for swimming. Nobody was in the water, but many stayed on the beach to take in the beautiful scenery. Although I did not step into the water at this beach, the memory and experience of my first Korean beach will always remain in my heart.
Following the beach, we visited the Heo Gyun & Heo Nanseolheon Memorial Park. We got the chance to see traditional Korean houses and the inner decorations that defined Korean culture. The housing may seem wore out, but that added authenticity and served as evidence of Korean history.
In addition, the flowers and trees growing on the outside of the Korean houses gave me a refreshing feeling. We all watched as our tour guide introduced to us the tree that shakes its leaves when we rub the tree trunk. Being able to visit Donghae was a fun experience that took me out of the city life of Seoul into a place where I could slow down and appreciate my surroundings.
As the weekend ended and we got on the train to return to the dormitory, the train ride back was much quieter. It was an eventful weekend outside of Seoul, but we were all drained from the day-to-night excursions every day. It was my first time outside of Seoul, but I was already starting to look forward to our next excursion in two weeks.
As the train comes to a stop, we all stumble out the subway and return to rest in our dorm beds. Tomorrow was the start of another week at KU, but I already know that each here was going to be as eventful as the next. I know that there is so much more to see and so much more to do. By the time the weekend rolls around again, I knew there would be a new excitement around the corner.
It was a bright and early Friday morning when my friends and I woke up at 7am to…go to a taekwondo class. We were the first people there that morning and seeing the staff bring in the uniform made us even more excited despite we came in on an empty stomach. By the time all the students put on their taekwondo uniforms, it was time to sit down and enjoy the introduction performance by the KU taekwondo club. Each and every one of us was amazed as they jumped in the air and kicked the plywood in half with their feet.
The other trick that really stuck with me was when a guy threw up two tennis balls and jumped off the ground with both legs and kicked the tennis balls in midair. By the time it was our turn to practice kicking, all we heard in the gym was everyone going “HA”. We learned different types of kicks and lined up one after the other to try with the staff in the club. Towards the end of the lesson, we all punched a plywood with our fist one after the other as the instructor recorded us. I really enjoyed the lesson and the memory will always stick with me because it was my first time learning taekwondo. Being able to wear the uniform and move in sync with everyone else just made the experience even more authentic as the instructor was directing us.