안녕하세요 (hello)! Some of you have been wondering: What are my college counterparts like here in Korea? I shall start off by saying that a typical Korean student is all about doing well in school. They regularly study all day long and into the night. They are study machines who are no nonsense about being quiet in the library. I sat in the Science Library for 2 hours one day and the most noise was made by me, coughing. To me, what seems to be the key to their academic success is the amount of small naps they take during the course of the day and their competitive nature in the academic environment. Korea University students wear letterman jackets, except instead of the sports they play on the back of the jacket, it’s what school they belong to within Korea University. One difference that I am not pleased with is how much more advanced the Korean students are in their education because they have been learning at a higher level from the start of middle school. Some of the concepts that I am learning for the first time in my Digital Systems Class, the Koreans have been doing since high school. With that kind of rigor, I could have an easier time now. However, a lot of the Korean students are about work and no play. A Korean professor told Jesse and me that a lot of the students forget that they are meant to do other things then just study (and drink?).
With that said, most Korean students drink alcohol at least once a day on top of their studies. The only day I haven’t seen a group of Korean students drinking Soju in Hana Square or the main campus, was when the pollution level was 350 µg/m3(Air = poison level). Alissa told me that a Korean boy in her class went up for a presentation and apologized to the class because he was still a little drunk, and then carried on with his presentation. Even with drinking, they still manage to rock their classes. On another note, most of the Korean students here have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. The way they get together is by asking each other out and then getting to know each other, which is reversed in the US. The couples here match each other in their clothes and try to be really cute, holding hands and giggle like children. According to John, Korea can sometimes feel like it is a giant cartoon and, honestly, these couples really go to prove that statement.
Anyways, some week 8 highlights include: Mrs. Esposito, Cards Against Humanity, Syndrome, and Jimjilbang! Jacob went home on Monday morning and Mike’s mom is visiting for the week! As an avid blog reader, she was kind enough to bring me cheese because she read how much I missed cheese! Now I finally have real cheese! Additionally, she brought us some much needed goodie bags for Easter that reminded me of my own mom and how much I miss her. So this is a special thank you to Mrs. Esposito! The day after she landed, I went out with Michael, Mrs. Esposito, John, Alissa, Jesse, Sabrina, Jesper, and Elvira to Korean BBQ. This has become the go-to tactic for welcoming our friends and family to Korea. Mrs. Esposito took a couple Soju shots and experienced the glory of making a Korean BBQ lettuce wrap. The fact that we have been in Korea enough to actually welcome others here is mind-boggling to me. Anyways, we laughed over dinner about Mike’s childhood stories and it was great to have her there with us. She also brought Cards Against Humanity, which I enjoyed playing with our GWU crew and the international students we have grown to love.
School is getting slightly more intense because midterms are approaching in about a week and a half. Flights are booked for Thailand, Japan, and China so prepare for some cool blogging in May! Syndrome was the Thursday night club of choice, and this time there were silk rope dancers there. These were interesting experiences, but the best happened on Friday, another only in Korea experience. I went to a jimjilbang with Elvira and Sabrina. A jimjilbang is a Korean bathhouse where the Korean women get naked and bath their bodies in hot, cold, flavor-infused, spa pools and saunas. The one we went to was called Dragon Hill Spa and provided other spa services such as massages, nails, rooms to sleep, karaoke, and all these other great health treatments. Koreans go to these places with their families to relax and get clean. The entrance fee was 11000W and you get bath clothes and two towel upon entrance. Other services cost extra fees but the pools and saunas are free. The floors are divided by men and women. Elvira, Sabrina, and I got butt naked and joined about 30 other Korean women washing themselves in the pools. We took a shower first, then walked into a warm pool, then an extremely hot pool, then a freezing pool, then a sauna, then a hotter Himalayan salt sauna, then a ginseng pool, and then, after two hours, we got the body scrub treatment.
If anything in this entire experience screams “Korea,” it is the body scrub treatment. We went to a special area on the floor where there were 5 empty spa tables. As I laid down, a middle aged Korean woman in Lingerie poured hot water on and vigorously scrubbed my naked body. She scrubbed in such a way that I shed dead skin like a snake. She scrubbed everywhere. It was not a painful processes, and in fact, the amount of dead skin that I shed was quite satisfying. She finally finished with moisturizing my body and washing my hair. I came out of the process with baby fresh skin. Elvira, Sabrina, and I were amazed and definitely bonded over this fantastic, only in Korea experience. 안녕(goodbye)!