Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Hello! This is Andi posting. 

I cannot believe that it's already December. Pretty soon we'll be switching host families and although I'm looking forward to winter break, I'm not too excited about having to come back to school with a new school year and new homeroom. I feel like my class has fully accepted me as their classmate now and even the ones who shied away and avoided me at first now comfortably talk to me. I finally have everyone's names memorized and know what makes them tick, what they like, what they dislike, and their hopes for the future. I only have a couple of more weeks with them, but it would be really nice if I could spend the next semester with them so that our relationship could continue to grow. But because of how the Korean school year goes from March-December, 어쩔  없어 (it can't be helped).
At school the teachers now enforce all of the school rules to me, and apply the same consequences to me as they do to the other students. For example, I had to sweep the floors when my host sister and I came to school late; I have to pay 1,000won for every minute I'm late for school; I got called out by a teacher for wearing makeup (in my defense, it was only left over mascara that I couldn't completely remove…not sure how he was even able to tell); and during after school study hall a teacher said he'd only give me one warning before smacking me with a ruler the next time he sees me talking with another student.
However, obviously since my life as a student here is pretty different from that of my classmates, they don't exactly see me as one of them. Something that's getting annoying is how often they'll say "ohh 부럽다! {I'm jealous} I wish I could have it easy like you." like whenever I leave school early three days a week or when I don't have to come to school on major exam days. I leave school early to go to Korean class! And how am I supposed to take the same tests when they're in Korean and when I haven't studied for them? Being a foreign exchange student here isn't exactly all fun and games. 
Emma and I don't have school tomorrow because of final exams so we'll be going to Namsan Tower!

Happy December!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Hey everyone, it's Emma. Sorry this post is a bit late...

So one thing I've been noticing over the last month is how rapid the rate of change is in Seoul. For example, we were walking around the Hongdae neighborhood last night and the Starbucks that had definitely been there a week or two ago was completely gone - no "We're moving" sign or anything like that, just a sign for the incoming Mr. Pizza - so now I have to figure out where the Starbucks went! And this happens quite often - it seems like no stores are ever guaranteed to stay for a long time. My friend gave me her punchcard for a cafe that we went to all the time last summer, and I went back and the cafe was gone - it was a big cafe too, not some tiny little hole in the wall. When Andi and I walk down the street to go to our Korean class we frequently find ourselves asking each other "Was that there before?"

So anyway, what does this all mean? I feel like since Seoul is such a newly prosperous and thriving city, everything's moving at a much faster rate than longer established cities. Old businesses get pushed out, new people move in to try their luck, businesses move to better locations. I've heard this rapid motion is a phenomenon with apartments too. My host family has moved at least 3 times since my sisters were born, and my classmates talk about moving a lot, certainly more than my friends ever moved in America. I heard that it's common for families to move to Gangnam and other more expensive areas while their kids are in school because the schools are better, and then move to a less expensive area when their kids graduate.

Most things about Korean life, at least in Seoul, seem very fast paced. This gives an exciting feeling to life here, and I wonder if and at what point all the change will start to slow down.

The Family Unit

DiMitri again.

So, it's December and I'm hitting that W-curve hard. This will be my first Christmas away from home, and sometimes it doesn't feel like a big deal...other times I wonder why I decided to come on the program in the first place. BUT it's all a part of the experience...and growing up, because this is the first of many Christmases that I will be away from home.

The hardest thing I've ever had to do...

Hey everyone,

It's DiMitri again. I hope all is well with you guys. Before I start my post I'd like to give a little update on my life here in Korea: School isn't getting any easier, French is still hard, and Korean classes have gotten significantly more fun in the past month or so. There you go. That's pretty much all that's happened since I last posted...