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WEEK 3: SEOUL

Hello everyone! The trip is over now, and it's time for me to write the final in-country blog (T^T). As I write this, I am in the air flying home, but by the time you all read it I will be in my house (probably sleeping). This trip has been an amazing experience, and I have grown so much. I LOVED all the excursions we went on. Before I pick a favorite excursion from the trip, let me tell you about the things we did during our last week in Korea.

On Monday, we went to the MBC building, the home base of MBC, a broadcasting and music company in Korea. While there, we got to tour all the attractions, including a holographic kpop concert and a virtual reality tour of the grounds. We got to see the room where the news anchors broadcast live, but they weren't broadcasting anything at the time. We also got to see the room where idols come and do interviews, but unfortunately, there were no idols.

On Tuesday (the hottest day we were there), we went on hike along the Seoul City Wall, an ancient wall that ringed the border of Seoul in the Joseon Dynasty. Now Seoul is much larger, so the wall is located in the heart, marking where the city was before it expanded. As we walked (in full sun) we were supposed to pick up trash to “preserve the beauty of the wall” but in Korea, someone comes and picks up trash every morning so the hike was kind of pointless. It was very beautiful though, and there were lots of street cats in Daeharko (The neighborhood we walked through) so it wasn't all bad.  

The whole outing was definitely worth it though because, completely not on purpose, we walked straight through an area where a drama was being filmed. We actually got to see the actors during a scene which was really cool. It was even more special because the female lead that we got to see is actually a kpop star! She was a member T-ara which is an old-ish kpop group. That makes 3 idols we have seen!

The next day, we went to a traditional Korean art museum. There, we were given wooden blocks with the outline of classic images from Korean art, and were taught how to paint them by traditional painters. The block I painted was of a coy fish leaping out of the water, symbolizing success in life. The jumping coy represents this because of the myth that if a coy jumps over a waterfall, it will become a dragon. It symbolizes working hard and achieving your dreams. Kinda cheesy, but I like it.

After that, we went to Insadong, a long street made for tourists. We were there at night and it was a magical experience. There were glowing lights in the trees, and shops selling beautiful fans and souvenirs. There was really good food (including a stall selling cake on a stick in the shape of the poop emoji). We just walked around for a few hours, shopping and enjoying the scene. It was very beautiful, but the mood was slightly dampened by the knowledge that we were leaving soon.

On Thursday, we met up with the Korean high school students for the last tim,e and after a (not very good) musical we all went to the Han River for a goodbye picnic. The Han River is very beautiful at night and we had really good fried chicken for dinner. There was a little stage right on the edge of the river so me and GaYoung wanted to go take pictures on it to remember the moment. She decided to run there but the path was COVERED in mud so as soon as she stepped out, she fell (quite gracefully actually) and her whole right side was caked in mud. After we had gotten GaYoung cleaned up and taken our pictures we had to say goodbye for the last time. I was sad (but not crying) until we got on the bus after saying goodbye, but when I saw GaYoung waving at we through the window I lost it. Now, I'm not an emotional person, I cry very, very rarely but I cried the entire bus ride back to the dorms. I haven't cried like that in years (I'm serious about that) so it actually felt really good.

On the last day, we watched everyone's video projects from throughout the trip (which was really embarrassing) and had a little party with our language teacher, YuJeong. After classes, we hung out in Shinchon (the neighborhood closest to Yonsei) and got boba tea for the last time. Afterward we went to Korean pork barbeque for the farewell dinner. The restaurant that we went to was actually owned by YGE, one of the Big 3 kpop companies in Korea. After that we all said our goodbyes to each other and our amazing coordinators and teachers. Back at the dorms, me and my friends hung out for the last time until about 1 am and then we said goodbye (T-T) and I went back to my dorm and (started) packing.

If I had to choose just one excursion as my favorite I would probably pick our trip to Andong, especially the KBS historical drama set. It was a beautiful day out and we were the only ones in the set so it was very unreal. It was made for drama filming so it is very beautiful and clean and everything is in perfect condition but it is also historically accurate (I think) so it really feels like you at in a different time. Peeps, Lukas, and I spent the entire time walking around together and going into the buildings. I'm not sure we were allowed to go into them but if you pull hard enough, some doors will open. There wasn't really anything special inside the buildings, but it was really quiet and dark; it really felt like a Miyazaki movie (if you’ve never seen a Miyazaki movie I can't stress enough how good they are, you should definitely check them out). In one building, there was a kind of tea ceremony going on where you could go in and people would serve you tea.

I definitely wanted more time there, I could have spent the entire day exploring the village. I only really got to see a small portion, so I definitely want to go back. The drama filming set wasn’t like anything I have seen in the states because it has so much history. It itself might not have been very old, but it represents Korea’s ancient history. Nothing in America has much history except for the Native Americans; but we pretty much destroyed all of their culture. Korea has such an old history, culture, and traditions, that is one of favorite things about Korea. Sometimes I wish we had an older culture here but I also know that being young is in part what makes America different. I love both America and Korea, I guess I'll just have to visit them both!

Thank you all for reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. There will be more posts though, just not about Korea. If you're still interested, stayed tuned!

-Isabelle B.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

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