From the 26th of July to the 21st of August 2017, Virginia Chege attended summer school at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul. She narrates her thrilling encounter.
South Korea, Seoul in particular, proved to be all and more than I thought it would be. I can honestly say it was the best time of my life. I attended a summer school program at Sookmyung Women’s University courtesy of Korea Foundation. It was a program aimed at teaching students from all over the world Korean language and Korean culture. Of all the twenty eight students who attended the program, two were from Africa; a lady from Senegal and I. This in a way caused me to stand out. Korean people were fascinated by my hair, which technically was not mine given that I had plaited my head with braids. It was funny, a tad ironic, how excited they were when touching my hair.
I took two classes; Korean language and Korean Arts/Crafts. Since almost all the students were knew to the language, the lecturer resorted to teaching us by way of song and games. It was lots of fun but felt a bit like kindergarten. The Korean Arts/Crafts class stirred the creativity in me. I got round to making several jewelry pieces; from bracelets, rings, pendants to more others. I also learnt various threading techniques and metal cutting.
Throughout my stay, I enjoyed authentic Korean cuisine; samgyeopsal, bulgogi, tteokboki, kimchi, japchae, kimbab, bibimpap and mandu just to name but a few. Korean food was very spicy but I made do. I also tried many coffee drinks inspired by the serious coffee drinking culture in that country. The level of technology in Korea made life so convenient. All the systems ran very efficiently, from the transport system to the internet speeds. Using the subway to move from one place to another proved easy.
Korean people were kind and willing to offer help, more so to foreigners. There is no limit to the number of fascinating places one can visit in Seoul. For a start, visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace was a great experience. The sense of history and cultural heritage it hoisted was wonderful. It is amazing how well all the buildings within the palace have been kept all over the years. At the DMZ zone I viewed North Korea from a distance. It was really nice to relive history going down the tunnel dug by the North Korean soldiers in an invasion strategy to South Korea. Later, we experienced performing arts at the Nanta Performance at Myeongdong . Nanta is a theater performance where performers use food as their props. Viewing various beautiful art pieces was a good way to unwind after class. We did this at the MMCA Art Gallery and the Seoul National Museum.
Chilling along the banks of Han River enjoying chicken (and beer for those who drank), known as ‘Chimaek’ was very relaxing. Of all the places, Lotte World Adventures was the best I visited. All the roller coaster rides, speed trains, air balloons and candy did the trick. If I could relive all those moments with all the amazing friends I made, I definitely would.