Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The trip is at an end

Well...unfortunately our time in Seoul is ending. Reflecting back on the past week of food, tours and cultural experiences, please post two to three paragraphs sharing your thoughts on the trip: What did you learn about Korean culture? What surprised you? What did you learn about yourself? What had the most impact? etc.

Thanks for being such a great group! It was a pleasure sharing this experience with you all.


  1. This was definitely one of the best trips I have ever experienced! I feel so blessed to have been able to explore South Korea with you all! I have always wanted to come here and see where my mom came from and meet my family for the first time. I am so glad I was abe to do this! As all of you know I was somewhat knowledgeable about the Korean culture, but experiencing it was a different story, it was awesome! I learned that age has value in Korea, the older you are the more you are respected. In my home my mom is usually one of the last people to eat because she always makes sure everyone has everything they need and are eating plenty. It was nice to see that the oldest person eats first and they are always served first. I also learned when pouring someone's drink you should make sure not to pour too much because it might infer that you like them (hahahaha). I was surprised with the smaller spaces here. They definitely don't waste their space like we do. A lot of us in the United States have houses that are too big for the people living in them. The bathrooms are also very interesting. It makes me feel very fortunate for everything that I have. After doing the DMZ tour I felt so many emotions. I was very sad for the people, especially the children in North Korea. No one should ever have to live the way they do. I feel so blessed to have freedom. The DMZ tour probably had the most emotional impact on me.
    I am so glad I was able to stay an extra week and spend time with my family. I'm still trying to get used the beds on the floor and sitting on the floor when eating meals, but it's a nice change! Even though none of them speak English, they have been so hospitable and incredibly nice. I am so glad I was able to meet and spend time with them all. I guess it's time for me to start learning how to speak Korean fluently. I would love to visit again in the near future and explore some more of South Korea.

    Thanks Dotty and Eric for planning such an awesome trip! I definitely learned a lot about the Korean culture and myself! I really appreciaite it! :-D

    -Erin Adair

    1. Erin
      I am so excited for you. It was such a pleasure to meet your mother and uncle. Please send our thanks for the help your mother gave to us during the trip. I'm here in Busan - still learning as much as I can about Korean food and practicing my language skills. See you on the return trip home.

  2. What a interesting experience. This was my first time traveling with a class and a good learning experience for me down the road in mental health and counseling. I was thrilled to be able to attend the class and get to mark off South Korea as one of the my many to visit countries. I am beyond happy with all the food selections! The food was wonderful and always filling no matter what it was on the plate. I was a bit shocked like Erin was at the space in the bathroom, mainly. I have to admit I enjoy the large Americanized bathrooms back home. I enjoyed going out with everyone and getting to see the silly sides of people while singing. One thing that is always hard in a group is to be so open to each other, sometimes it is nice to get a little silly once in a while and just have some fun. Learned some shocking talents like Kelsey and her kicking ability to rap like Eminem!
    As we got to walk about Seoul I realized how much I love my Keens and J-14 shoes, it made me grateful for also owning a car and being able to use public trans. I thought I had gained ten pounds from all the amazing food we ate! Culturally I needed this trip to help me grow in my selected profession. I plan on traveling to many Asian countries in the future to attend Art Therapy seminars and think this was a great stepping stone to heading to a new career path. I was a bit shocked that Mental health was so shunned in such a highly developed country. As Art Therapy derives a lot of its teaching and methods from Asian traditions I guess I was taken back that South Korea was not as progressive in this area. There is always time for growth, development and learning so I am excited to see where mental health goes in the next ten years in South Korea. From what Dotty's son's friend was explaining to me, marriage counseling is a new concept that is becoming socially exceptionable and is beginning to gain popularity publicly.
    I learned a lot about myself. A lot of mindfulness came into play for myself and just being aware of the moment was important to do. It was difficult at times to deal with particular aspect of the trip but I kept a up beat attitude about the trip and it was a real learning tool about cultural awareness, social norms, life span, and knowing my own self. I think like all travels it is difficult to travel with a new group of people, so it is always important to get to know those people and try to be as respectful to each other. I hope that everybody and a enjoyable experience and learned a lot.

  3. I really enjoyed going on this trip to Seoul. I got to learn a lot about the Korean culture, from food traditions and customs to its history. The first thing that stood out to me when I arrived was all of the tall buildings. I was expecting to see a lot of houses, I did not know many people live in lofts. I don't think I would ever be able to live in such a tight space after having lived in the U.S. I learned that appearance is very important in the Korean culture as well. I seen some guys as well as females wearing make-up and always well dressed. I was surprised that I did not see anyone there wearing sweats or yoga pants like in the U.S.
    What surprised me the most about the trip was seeing that there are a lot of people living in Seoul. I had never been to a big city so this was really new for me. Seeing a lot of cars on the streets yet there are also many people who use the subway also. I did get overwhelmed when we went to the Namdaemun Market just because I'm not used to being in such a crowded place. What surprised me most about myself was being able to walk so much and still being able to get up the next morning. The DMZ tour had the greatest impact on me. I never knew how horrible it is in North Korea. It made me sick to my stomach after seeing the video but I am glad I had the chance to learn more about North and South Korea. I'm thankful for everything I have.

    -Cecilia Nunez

  4. I loved this trip. I wish I could’ve stayed for longer! I learned a lot about Korean culture during this outing. For example, I learned how important age is in Korean culture. During meals, the youngest was always supposed to serve everyone at the table. On the subway, the young were not just expected but were required to give up their seats to the elderly. After talking to some of Ryan’s friends, I learned a lot about how students in higher grades had a lot of control over the younger students but rarely took advantage of it. The whole system is all about respect in Korean society, and even though we believe that we should respect our elders here in the US, it’s not as strictly believed as in Korea. I also learned that they don’t say excuse me or sorry when navigating through a crowd (in Seoul, at least). I was kind of annoyed with it at first, but I got used to it really quickly and it actually makes sense to me now that it’s pretty unnecessary to say those things if you’re used to not. People know you’re trying to get through when they see or feel you coming.

    I was surprised that there were so few trash cans in Seoul but it was still a much cleaner city than NYC. I think it shows a lot about Korean culture/respect that they have to carry around their trash and they don’t just drop it because they get sick of carrying it. There are trash cans everywhere in NY and people still litter. I was also surprised about how available everything was. There was food and shopping everywhere, even really late at night. The thing that had the biggest impact on me was the DMZ tour. It was completely heartbreaking to not only hear about how much the south wants to reunite with the north, but also to be able to physically see the North Korean people so close to the boarder and not be able to do anything about it. Hearing from the North Korean defector made everything so real.

    I learned that I really like city life and trying new things. My favorite thing to do on the trip was to venture off with a smaller group and experience new things. I loved trying all the food, even the partially live squid, and I just really wish I had had more time to try more things. I definitely could’ve used a couple more weeks there at least! I learned that living abroad would be a very good experience for me. Most importantly, I learned to be grateful for the space and peace I have in my life. I can't imagine having my country split in half and losing some of my friends and family. South Korea is really a very impressive country.

  5. For my first international trip, I am happy that I chose to go to South Korea. The history (although much of it was rushed through -cough- Seoul walking tour -cough-) was fascinating, and the traditional culture was impressive. Many people in Korea bow whenever they say hello or thank you, and I have become so accustomed to this in the week that we were there that I am still accidentally bowing to people here in Kansas. I learned to eat with chopsticks quicker than I had expected, too, and had a hard time reverting back to a fork when we reached the states again -- especially when it came to the noodle dish that we had on the plane trip home. I actually asked the flight attendant for a pair of chopsticks, haha! The history was so enticing, too, and I am still researching more about the different dynasties. My favorite so far is the story of King Gongmin and Queen No Guk, who had issued in a new political framework after they tried to separate themselves from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty. Their continual dynasty, Goryeo, is where Korea gets its original name.
    Overall, I have to say that the history and culture of the trip was a success. Although I did not enjoy Dongdaemun or the Hongdae area very much, it was fascinating to see the other lifestyles that are lived. When we went out to eat early that night in Hongdae, I think I inadvertently made a Korean friend -- the woman that kept handing me chopsticks and showing me how to eat. She was such a sweet woman, and it was pleasant to experience that hospitality. Even Ryan (Dr. Hamilton's son) informed us that Koreans loved to show people how to eat the food.
    My favorite area, and the most eye-opening, was definitely the cat cafe. I think they are a wonderful idea, to have an area to freely play with animals (because I'm sure that pet shops would eventually hate us, lol) without having to adopt one; especially if adopting one is out of your budget and capabilities. The cats were well taken care of, too; and the cafe woman, as all the other people we met, were so kind to us foreigners.

    -- Addison Rhea

  6. Overall the trip was a success! It was my first time traveling with the school to a different country and I didn't know what to expect at first, but throughout the trip we all got to know each other individually and become good friends. I went on the trip because I wanted to explore a different culture, atmosphere where I was the outcast. I wanted to see what it felt for people who come to United States not knowing the language, culture and being so far from home. I really enjoyed the trip but one of the most eye opening events was the DMZ tour. Maybe I just didn't know a lot of the Karean War but learning how North Koreas struggle to survive and how the government doesn't care and instead of helping out he's selfish and wants everything for himself. As we went around on the tour and the lady, which I apologize I forgot her name, who escaped from North Korea leaving her husband was a big decision to make. She said it took her three years to plan the escape and that she will probably never see her husban again is heartbreaking. Like our tourist said they are greatful for the things we take for granted. Having the freedom we do is to acknowledge it and to be greatful we do not have it as rough as other countries.

    One of the things about South Koreas that was most surprising to me was the story behind every cultural building, memorials, etc. Everywhere we walked we saw something that had a historical significance. I thought the significance of the entrenches and how there was not a straight road from the gate to the palace was interesting to learn. The uses of the colors of the palace and their significance behind it was interesting as well. Seems as if all their architecture was very planed out and really thought through. Leaning all the history of South Korea was definitely an experience.

    South Korea is so full of interesting things to see and do, there is not a dull moment and I believe that if one were to live in South Korea there Would be something to do each night, the food was delicious! I am so glad I took this trip, thank you for a well thought out and detailed trip.