First of all, I would like to say that I discovered that adaptation to a new location varies between others, and it can take up to a month. My month was filled with a diversity of emotions, most of them being either monotonous and/or melancholy. I am currently working on another post about my experience with adapting to living in South Korea for a year, so I won’t leave the explanation to two measly adjectives. Anyway, here is my past month in a nutshell (kind of).
Currently, I am studying at 서강대학교 (Sogang University) for just Korean language courses, and as of so far, the experience has been fairly interesting. (Image of my placement test below) Let me elaborate, I have been studying Korean in the US for 2 years now, and my previous class focused on use and creativity with the language. With that being my last experience in a Korean language classroom, switching over to almost purely memorization tactics was difficult. Creativity with language has always been my strength, and rote memorization has been my pitfall all of my life. Well, moving to a country that uses rote memorization as their principal tactic of education, was a huge slap in the face for me. I fell behind in class and completely botched my tests. My tests required me to regurgitate the conversations and readings we had studied for the past month, hence my botching of my tests. However, as time passed and I put more emphasis on memorizing the conversations and readings we have gone over, I started to see the reward of rote memorization. I found myself regurgitating phrases from more than one of the memorized conversations. Although, I do stand by my educational philosophy in which one must understand and hold creativity when learning a language, I will agree that throwing in some rote memorization in with one’s lesson planning is beneficial.
I was lucky enough to have a large handful of my Korean friends that I met back at my home University (University of Minnesota) be back in their hometowns for the summer. Down below is a small little collage of when I visited the city of 군포 (Gunpo), which is about an hour or so from where I live to stay a night at my friend’s home. It was the first suburb I visited in Seoul, and I would have to admit, it was quite nice. The area was quaint, surrounded by mountains and reminded me a lot of where I grew up (a suburb of Minneapolis). My friend’s mother actually was a government employee and gave us a private tour of the 군포시의회 (Gunpo city council), which was, lack of a better word, pretty cool. I will admit that I am lacking on knowing how the government runs, especially in Korea, but it was fascinating to see a small Seoul suburban government building. Also, there, I had my first experience hiking one of Korea’s mountains, which was beautiful, and along the way was a buddhist temple (bottom left photo). A kind women taught both of us the correct way to bow to the statue of buddha, which was almost refreshing. Sitting in the temple for a good 10 or so minutes allowed for some magnificent meditation. I hope to make it an effort to visit more buddhist temples while I stay here in Korea.
The following image is popular location for selfies, as you see, I joined in the crowd and took my own selfie. The area this strange straw/tube (?) sculpture is in 신촌 (Shinchon), which is the location of my current guest how I am staying and nearby are both the Universities I am studying at. Over the almost 2 months of living in this little college town, I wandered around quite a bit, and it is one exceptional location. The only cons I would have to point out is that no matter the hour, there are people out, even in the dawn of the night, people are out. Night culture in this country is no joke, night-partiers will be out until 5/6 in the morning here, and its just another aspect of college culture here to get used to. I will admit this now, yes, I have been one of those people who was out until 6 in the morning after being at a club for the night. It was worth though, however, that is also for another post.
Another one of my weekend excursions in the sublime city that is Seoul is my visit to the Coex mall aquarium. Below are some raw images I took while walking through the exhibits.
It was really adorable how they used a lot of repurposed items for aquariums. I have some video of more handmade aquariums, hopefully I can scraped together a vlog soon that also includes all of that.
Has anyone ever played the GameCube/Wii game Animal Crossing? If not, disregard what I am about to say. Well, growing up, I played Animal Crossing religiously and I scarcely remember catching a rare fish that was very old and bizarre looking. While walking through the aquarium, I spot that fish that I used to catch in virtual reality, which produced an oddly nostalgic tingle in my body. haha. Now that I think about it, maybe this in an issue being a millennial, and witnessing those that were introduced virtually to me produces a puzzling emotion inside.
There is obviously a lot more for me to say, however, I will spare everyone and not make this entry too long and cut it off here. Until the next entry!