Tag Archives: orientation

Sokcho weekend!

This past weekend our whole cohort went to Sokcho! It was really nice to have a break from lesson planning, observing, KLI class, and other programming. Sokcho is a pretty big tourist destination and is famous for its beaches and seafood!

Naturally, we were super excited to take a vacation and sit on the beach all weekend! Unfortunately, it rained the entire weekend because there was a typhoon. So a lot of us had to find other plans.

So when we got to Sokcho we realized that the bathroom in our hotel had a huge window. Here is Caroline modeling this for us. Luckily, there was a blind we were able to put down but it was still pretty funny. Aaaaand that’s how our weekend began!

That afternoon we went to the Naksana Buddhist Temple, which sits on the ocean. This was after we attended a lecture on Buddhism at the hotel. The professor who gave us the lecture accompanied us on our trip over! It was cool to apply everything that she said to us into a real life context. The architecture was beautifully well maintained. Before eating dinner at the temple, we were told that we had to be completely quiet while eating and only take the food that we can finish. Buddhists are very conscious about waste and preserving the environment. Fun fact, Buddhist cuisine is also vegetarian!

If I lived next to this place, I would probably take a walk through here every day if I could. It was pretty expansive and there were different places to sit. I could imagine just sitting there for hours in total serenity reading a book. We were also able to watch the ceremony that the monks perform at dusk each day, where they bang drums and ring a big bell!

The next day it was raining, so a few of us decided to get a taxi to a famous fish market in Sokcho rather than the beach. As soon as we stepped out of the taxi we were hit by a huge wall of fish smell. The market was partially outdoors and partially indoors, and there was more seafood there than I had ever seen in my life. Some fish were still alive in tanks, while other times there were just piles of different kinds of fish laid out. While I was there I ate this squid ink red bean pastry, which was super good. I also had rolled ice cream and dak gangjeong, which is a famous local kind of chicken!

Next, we headed over to the Cheoksan Hot Spring! It was about $8 per person, which was really nice. Before going in the hot springs, we hung out in some of the healing pools in the bathhouse. They ranged from being ice cold to scalding hot, so it was fun switching back and forth quickly. We weren’t allowed to actually take a picture of the hot spring, but this is from their website

It was raining out so it was actually super relaxing to sit in the hot spring and watch the rain fall down around us. I think we all agreed it was what we needed after a busy and stressful week. When you got out of the spring there were wooden recliners to sit on and just decompress.

Later on in the evening we had a fancy dinner with Director Shim! All 81 of us plus the KAEC people went out for samgyeopsal, or Korean BBQ. It was paid for by the Fulbright Commission, so that was nice!

The next day we were headed back to Incheon but made a few stops along the way at some different historical sites. We got to learn about the customs of traditional Korean living quarters and what life was like for high class men and women. We learned that men and women lived in different quarters, and once children turned 7 they had to live on the side with their assigned gender. We also learned about what each different building meant!

After getting totally soaked, we settled down for another Fulbright-provided traditional Korean lunch. It. Was. Incredible. The food was totally delicious, and there were more sides than we could count. Director Shim was there again too. We all wore nice socks since are shoes would be off and we’d be sitting on the floor.

KAEC treated us all to ice cream, and after that we were on our way on a bus back to Songdo! If it had been a bit more sunny on our weekend, I would have probably been writing this post about the beach instead honestly

First week of orientation

So so so so much to write. And yet no time to write it!

So I started writing this last week but have been completely packed! It’s been almost 2 weeks now but I’m going to try to focus on the first week for now. I think that many of us agree that we feel like we have been here for about a month. I probably won’t be able to cover everything but I’ll just run over the highlights!

Korean Class

Oh man. So I was actually placed in the Intermediate class, which was pretty surprising to me. I thought I would be in beginner so it was a bit of a shock. It’s been… an adjustment. Classes are about 5 hours each day. We have quizzes every single day on about 20-30 new vocabulary words and phrases. We also have a midterm and final and have to get at least an 85. This is a Korean Language Intensive course run by the Sejong Language Institute. All the professors introduced themselves to us and explained that they will be testing out a new VR language textbook that is still in development in correspondence with Cal State, so that sounds pretty cool! Each day I am getting more and more used to how our Korean class is structured, although I am still struggling with the rote memorization. Many of us are. Someone in my cohort brought up that this is a valuable experience because this is how the majority of our Korean students will study our class. Many of them may value memorization as success in our classes. When I think of it like that, it makes me kind of happy that I am able to gain perspective from their point of view. I still find it fascinating how the definition of “success” is such a subjective concept depending on where you are in the globe. It’s helped me realize that I had to do very little memorization in college, especially as a Literature major. I’m just used to writing papers upon papers of information. Little by little, I am getting a bit better at memorizing key phrases and skills.

Korean Culture Presentation

The Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project came all the way up from Busan to give us a huge presentation on Korean culture and history! Korea has a long history of war and being invaded, so they really tried to sidestep away from those topics and focus on positive aspects of Korean history. They provided us with a selection of free books on Korean culture to take from. I took a book titled Chung-Hyo-Ye, a collection of traditional folklore stemming from common Korean core beliefs and history. I’m super excited to read this because I plan on teaching American folk tales to my classroom this upcoming year!! It’d be nice to have some more background knowledge on Korean tales so that students can create connections in class. They also brought hanboks for us to try on!

Through the craziness of everything, I was also somehow able to meet up with Gabby this weekend at Triple Street! Triple Street is this huge modernized outdoor mall about 20 minutes walking distance away from where we’re staying in Incheon. It was my first time seeing her in a year!!

Once again, I won’t be able to make frequent posts on here during Orientation since my days are packed to the brim! I will try my hardest though. Knowing that people are reading gives me some sort of accountability to keep writing ❤ I’m going to Sokcho this weekend so I’ll be sure to take a lot of pictures!

Day 1 of korea

The Flight

I got to JFK super early before my flight. At around 12:25 they started boarding and that was it! Although the goodbye I shared with my parents was a bit emotional, they were more excited than anything. My flight was 14 hours straight to Incheon, so it was long. I became friends with some old Korean men (ahjussis) on the flight and by the end, it felt like we were all old pals. They were telling me that about 10 years ago you could go on a Korean Air flight and there would sometimes only be about 20 passengers on a flight meant for ~400 people. They also tried giving me tips on how to eat bibimbap, and I did not have the heart to tell them that I had already eaten it many, many times. They were shocked that I liked jokbal, or pig feet. I asked them if they had ever tried the ever popular live octopus dish and they said that men tend to like it but women do not. One of the men said he has a daughter that teaches English in NYC, which I thought was pretty awesome! I had a lot of trouble sleeping on the flight so I just watched a few episodes of Stranger Things season 3 on the plane.

It was odd. Somehow as we were flying over space that was neither American nor Korean, I felt my role from native slowly switch to foreigner while on the flight. Towards the latter half I felt myself refraining from saying the first English phrases that sprang from my mouth, and instead decided to listen.

I’m currently writing this on over 24 hours of no sleep, so sorry if this doesn’t make too much sense. Customs was a breeze and we soon all met up with our cohort! After that, we took a bus over to our orientation site. Coincidentally, this happened to be when the sun was rising

And so, this was my first image of my home for the next year.

First day of Orientation

Summer in Korea can be super unbearable. The humidity just hits you like a brick. Since it’s the weekend, most buildings don’t have the AC on. Luckily our room has it. I met my roommate, who is an absolute delight, and could not be happier that we were paired together. We got a very large packet of what to expect from orientation, including a large calendar that outlines all the events and Korean classes. We also did a Korean speaking placement test today, and I’m most likely going to be placed in the beginner classes. Which is honestly probably for the best! I rather get the basics down than bite off more than I can chew right now. Speaking of which, we will be having intensive Korean classes for 5 hours everyday, which does not include the extra hours built in our schedule for additional Korean help. We will have daily quizzes, a midterm, and a final. We also need to score above an 85% in the class so you know, no pressure.

There’s different kinds of events and activities you can sign up for! I signed up to do a Tae Kwon Do class twice weekly. I’m very excited because I’ve been wanting to get back into Tae Kwon Do for such a long time! I also signed up for the Korean cooking class which I’m sure will be super fun. All of our meals are paid for at the dining hall which is really nice too. If only there were AC in the dining hall… *sigh*. They also offer traditional Korean calligraphy classes and a Kpop dance class. I think I’m going to pass on those so I have more time to study Korean.

I’ve already met some very impressive, driven, like-minded individuals. There’s about 80 of us so it’s been pretty hard to remember everyone’s names! Tomorrow I’m thinking about going to Daiso with some people and picking up some toiletries and cute shower slippers. I almost forgot how criminally cheap everything is here. I got a four pack of Choco Shrooms for less than two dollars. I can definitely get used to this again.

I tried to take a quick video of my room. It looks strikingly similar to my dorm room at Ewha, except this one has it’s own shower (!!!).

I won’t be able to give updates super often while at Orientation because it seems like we’ll be swamped with a lot of studying. I did find out that I’ll know my placement next week, so that’s super exciting!! I’m not going to proofread this before posting because I am unbelievably exhausted, but I just wanted to get all my thoughts out before the next day comes!

Orientation site revealed!

A few days ago we got our 2019-2020 Korea ETA handbook! It’s like 60 pages long and it’s filled with all the answers I could’ve asked for!

When I saw it in my email, the first thing I did was scroll all the way down to where the orientation information was. It looks like I’ll be staying at Yonsei’s Incheon campus for my first six weeks! I’ve actually been to Incheon before and visited the boardwalks on the water there. Not to mention Incheon is where I’ll be flying into, so I’ll have a pretty short bus ride from the airport to our orientation site! If I remember correctly, Incheon is about an hour away from Seoul via subway so hopefully I’ll be able to sneak into Seoul one weekend!

I also found two other South Korea ETA Fulbrighters in my cohort that are going to be on the same flight as me! Hopefully I’ll get to know them a bit during the 14+ hour flight. Each day, leaving becomes more and more tangible.

If anyone’s interested, I’m attaching the 2019-2020 South Korea ETA handbook here. It has tons of information about teaching attire, homestay life, and way more.

(P.S.- The part where it says the South Korea ETA program was revered as the “gold standard” of all Fulbright ETA programs really made me smile)