School Life and Ceramics Festival

It’s has again been a while since I posted anything. I’m sensing that this is going to be a trend. Sorry to all the people who are keeping up with my life through this blog- but it’s more thrilling this way, no? No… probably not. Sorry. 

My life has been pretty basic. I’ve now had two weeks of school, and I’ve basically got the routine down. School is actually a lot of fun- on certain days. Other days I feel like my brain is leaking out of my ears and I can barely keep my eyes open. I always apologize to my friends after those days, since they so patiently sit next to me and repeat a question three times until understanding finally lights up in my eyes. I’ve only had about two such days though, and the rest have been pretty good.

As I said earlier, my school is kind of hippy-ish. It’s a ceramics school, and because of that some of the kids who attend are a little less inclined to pay attention to some of the more dull courses. Obviously there are kids who work hard whether they’re interested or not, and I think classes are more interesting with the mix of students that we have. 

The way school in Korea works is that you have one class, and one classroom. Instead of switching between periods, the teachers come into your class and teach their subject and then leave, which is pretty awesome because it gives us students the opportunity to make school feel a bit more like home (especially since most kids live in the dormitories, therefore not going home except on weekends, and also because over 13 hour school days are not uncommon here. I’ve already pulled one myself). Some kids have pillows, some just keep all their stuff in their desk so they don’t have to carry it, and a few of my classmates keep their guitars in the back corner of the room and like to play during the breaks in between classes. Which is really nice. 

Classes themselves are okay. The only classes I really can’t stand are history (because the teacher asks me questions that I don’t understand, and he says my name every time he mentions the US and it confuses me) and Korean (which is an equivalent to our English classes). Science is actually nice- I haven’t had any problems understanding the lessons. There’s a class about Excel which is also pretty boring, but other than that everything’s fine. The majority of our classes are art- some days out of 7 periods 6 are art, which is pretty awesome really. Some art classes are harder than others- my wheel throwing teachers were both really surprised to find that I knew how to throw, but I still have a lot of improvements to make, which is why I wanted to go to this school in the first place, really. 

After school most days I help out the Korean teacher with her English for about 40 minutes. Some days it’s less because I have to clean the school (instead of having a ton of janitors the students just take turns doing the cleaning, which isn’t that bad). Let’s see… other school things. We’re doing this weird balance rope thing is gym. And we’re also doing golf, which I am proving to suck at. I am also awful at the korean version of dodgeball, which is really weird and complicated. The food at school is so/so. It’s actually better than most, apparently so that’s nice. Some days all the food is spicy so I’m just learning to deal with it.

Uniforms are interesting at my school. It doesn’t really have a summer term, so there’s no official uniform really. I started out just wearing polo shirts and nice shorts, but this past week some people came to the school and we had the opportunity to buy some new stuff, so there was a nicer shirt (more formal than the polo shirts we had) and some really nice shorts. I also got the uniform for gym class, so that’s nice too, I guess. Today I went out with my host mom and got a bunch of my winter uniform stuff, which was basically a white button down shirt, some navy slacks, a navy sweater vest, and a grey tie with red stripes. I think we’re going to get the skirt later probably? We have to go back to pick up my pants that are being tailored anyway. I think I may buy one more shirt too- only having one seems kinda gross. Uniforms are pretty expensive though, so that’s no fun.

This Saturday I finally met all the other exchange students in my district. There was a girl from Mexico, one from Spain, a girl and two guys from Brazil, a girl from Belgium, a guy from Finland, and the two guys from Taiwan who also go to my school. In all, there are 10 of us. It’s a pretty fun mix. Neither of the guys from Taiwan really speak English or Korean (none of the other kids really speak any Korean) so it’s kind of difficult communicating with them but at the same time it’s really fun. We all met and took pictures, and there was a really boring orientation session that we had to sit through, then we all headed to the Annual Ceramics Festival in Icheon, which is going on for a month I think? I’m not 100% sure (my host dad mentioned something about the festival and a month so that’s what I pulled out of it). We all walked around a talked for a while. There was someone in the main square throwing something on the wheel, but what he was really doing was taking huge coils of clay and making a pot then turning the wheel on and throwing it (it was like 20 feet tall at least, so he had to make it one small section at a time) It was pretty amazing to watch. 

We all ended up going into a little crafts section and painting some small sculptures of animals in a traditional Korean style. it was pretty cool. After that we all kind of parted ways, but we’re all going to take classes together in Korean (which will probably be too easy for me but still fun) and ceramics. This means I probably am going to have to drop all the after school stuff I was planning on doing at school, but I’m happy if it means I get to hang out with the other students. 

My host mom and I walked around the festival for a while after we all parted ways. I found a small cat statue and a necklace, which were both pretty awesome finds, and would probably have been like $30 each in the states, but were only around $10 here. My host mom knows I miss my cat a lot so she keeps pointing out cat things for me. I’m slowly surrounding myself with cats- I’ll probably wind up sending a box full of random cat things home at the end of the year. After walking around for a bit we walked back to our apartment building, which is really close to the festival. Probably not so close that I’ll be walking alone anytime soon through. (It’s one part fear of getting lost and one part feeling uncomfortable because of the staring). I got home and basically passed out for a few hours. I don’t know why I was so tired, but I didn’t wake up until around 8pm- a solid 3 hour nap. 

Today we went out to get my uniform for the winter then headed back to the festival to check out a museum of art there, which was really pretty. We also stopped at a cafe for coffee, and my host parents bought these pastries that were super bizarre. One was called a “baguette ball” that was the size of a volleyball, (a bit smaller) drizzled in chocolate with whipped cream. What was weird though was that it had a huge ball of butter on the inside. I kid you not. And at one point my host mom reached her fork out, grabbed some butter, and just ate it. Strange. The other one was literally like 1/4 of a loaf of bread, drizzled with chocolate, with whipped cream, some almond slivers, and that was it. Just wonder bread with a bit of chocolate. And some cinnamon sugar. It was really sweet and kinda gross. I ordered an iced peppermint mocha, but I’m pretty sure the baristas forgot the espresso because it was chocolate milk. So that was an interesting experience. 

After that we walked around a bit, stopped in gift store (I was really tempted to buy a pretty little jewelry box, but I held myself back because I’ve been kinda awesome about not spending much money and I want to keep being awesome). Then we went home and I relaxed for a while. Pretty nice day. 

 

Oh yeah… EXO (a kpop group) is like… the face of school uniforms here. It’s really bizarre. Every shop I’ve been into has had EXO everywhere. And when I bought my uniform the ladies there gave me a poster. I have no idea what I’m going to do with that… it’s really common here for store attendants to give stuff away if you buy a certain amount. It’s kinda nice, though sometimes it’s just a bit strange. Like I have this headpiece that girls wear with traditional korean clothing (hanbok), but I don’t have a hanbok, so it’s kinda pointless I guess? Though I do want to buy one… and it’s really pretty so it may come in use down the line. 

Anyway, that’s been my life for the last week or so!

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