Most of the NSLI-Y kids go to Seoul multiple times a week even if they don't live there because of Korean class. However, those of us in Iksan have Korean class at our high school, and until this weekend, we hadn't been back to Seoul since orientation. Going to the big city was pretty exciting and something we'd been looking forward to for weeks. Ami, Ashleigh, and I had to wake up super early Saturday morning (6:00 am for me...ㅜㅜ) to make it to the Iksan bus terminal in time to catch the 7:30 train to Seoul. It took us about three hours to get to Seoul, and after a relaxing ride watching mountains and greenery out the window, we arrived at the Central City bus terminal in Gangnam. We ended up getting to Seoul earlier than expected, so we had time to look around the bus terminal. It was really, really nice. The third floor was comprised entirely of stores like Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu, and the department store on the first floor was so classy we felt like we were underdressed for even browsing.
We took the subway (yay for good public transportation!) to... I don't actually remember what the area was called but I think it may have been Gyeongbok. We ate lunch there with all the other NSLI-Y kids, and after that we went to a cooking school where we learned to make kimchi! We didn't actually do much of the work ourselves, but it was fun to see how kimchi is made. We also got to take the kimchi we helped make home to our host families.
After kimchi-making, we went to a museum next to the Blue House (where Korea's president lives) and learned a little bit about modern Korean history. Then we went back to the YES office for our monthly evaluation, where we discussed the high and low points of our first six weeks in Korea. It was really interesting to compare experiences with the other students, especially because those of us in Iksan have been really curious about life in Incheon and Seoul.
We all ate dinner together in Hongdae, and then most of the Seoul and Incheon kids had to go home. However, since Ami, Ashleigh and I were three hours from home, we got to spend the night in Seoul. Before turning in for the night, we explored Hongdae for a couple of hours. It was a lot of fun-- there's nowhere similar in Iksan, and it was so energetic and lively. I definitely want to go back when I'm in Seoul during winter break.
I'm back in Iksan now, but I had a great first monthly evaluation weekend, and I can't wait for the next visit to Seoul. :)