Korea, Part Hana (1)

In Transit:
1. on an airplane. (Seattle to Incheon) sort of. Sleep isn't as good as it used to be in-flight. I used to literally be able to fall asleep anywhere. I'm disappointed that it's not as easy for me now. I wonder why.
S. Korea:
2. On a bus. I always fall into a light sleep on public transportation. I was traveling with a group of 36 people I think. Americans coming to teach at an English camp in S. Korea. Traveling as a group with independence put on hold. We had been traveling for a while and were quite tired. It was traveling about 6 hours starting from 7pm or so, so almost all of us were sleeping, or trying to.
3. In Muan-gun, Mokpo area, in a 'Women's plaza' with three other women who were new acquaintances. We were selected by the higher-ups as far as room mates and which room. That was fine by us. We just wanted to sleep. There were two western beds and two futon style mattresses. I prefer to sleep on the floor. And it was damn good sleep - for almost four hours! 2:30-6am. Then another hour. Good to sleep on a flat surface finally. My ankles got quite swollen for the first time. This is where I slept for around a week while we had training in the Women's plaza.
4. At the university where we taught, in the dormitory. The Americans were offered rooms to themselves on the first floor. The Korean co-teachers were offered shared rooms on the 4th floor. There were no elevators in the building. The rooms had 2 bunk beds to fit 4 people. So why? We suggested the co-teachers share rooms with us. My co-teacher was male, and so was Kim Woo Lim's. So we roomed together. She is much younger than me, but studied Japanese for a year in High school, so that was fun for us. We were in this room for a ten day camp. We both chose the bottom bunk.
5. We had a field trip day during the camp, and I definitely had a nap on the bus.
6. We went back to the women's plaza for one night. a different room, but we talked them into giving us the same room mates as before, because they wanted to put just three of us in a room for some reason. There was room for all four. Just futons on the floor this time. Instead of going out with the room mates I chose to sleep early and got in 12 hours. I was so wiped out after the camp - working at least 12 hour days then drinking with teachers until late... Then we went to our 'cultural experience' at the Sanamsa Buddist temple... and I slept on the bus ride there.
7. This was an interesting sleeping arrangement...there were at least 20 of us (all women) in one big room, quite tight. There was some over spill into the porch area, where it was actually cooler. We woke up at 3:30 both mornings to do meditation, including bowing from kneeling to standing 108 times before breakfast. It was brutal. We got to go to sleep at 9pm, but I can't handle waking up that early for long. Again sleeping on the bus on the way back.
8. We went back to the camp/university dorm for ten more days. We stayed in the same room with the same room mate.
9. We had another field trip and more naps on the bus. We were tired.
As you may have noticed, the way this was written was using "we" and talking about what the whole group did. this trip was very much a collaborative effort. the groups all worked and did everything together - from the group of Portland state students, the group of students from all three universities, or the group of 13 american teachers and 12 Korean co-teachers. this was my first time to experience something like family with total strangers. I've been to camp lots of times, and it's similar, but without the individualism. I had heard about how East Asians tend to all like the same thing and try to fit in, but I got to see that in action. it was bizarre to the point that I compared the big group with a school of fish. and we were all Americans. just adapting to that cultural difference was a neat experience. one thing that really upset me is that some American teachers complained about the amazing food and insisted on ordering pizza during training. I was really tempted to say something like, "if you don't like kimchi, why did you come to Korea?" (dumbass) but I restrained myself. I strongly feel that the food is a huge part of the culture. if you travel without trying new food, you're missing so much of the experience. most participants were much younger than me and therefore more likely to just want to party during the "study abroad" time we had. their loss.
next will be Part Dul (2) of Korea. I have the potential to get some photos included at some point, but I might have to wrestle with the hostel computers here first. 

1 comment:

  1. Alissa!! I love this so much. Thanks for sharing it all! Can you email me your physical address? Love you!! Lindsay


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