Skip to content

By desansky0826

IMG_6959안녕하세요 (Hello)! Week 6 in Korea was full of surprises. First of all, my boyfriend, Jacob, decided to use the money he has been saving to come and visit me in Seoul! Secondly, Sabrina, Jesse, and I had our first exam at Korea University. Thirdly, membership training round 2!

Jacob came on Tuesday, March 24, and is visiting for two weeks! I am so happy because we are essentially reliving all the touristy fun of Seoul for the second time around! He is staying at Crimson House, where Mike and John live, and the price is about 25,000W a night. This turned out to be a better deal than the hostel in Anam, Anam Hostel, which was 24,000W a night. The room in the hostel was the size of a closet and the room in Crimson, also the size of a closet, but definitely more suitable for living. The first thing we did when he came to Korea was take him to have Korean BBQ. Watching Jacob use chopsticks without struggle reminded me of my initial struggle. The rule with chopsticks here in Korea is that you cannot cross them because then they just don’t pick up food efficiently. The second rule with chopsticks is that you do not stick them into the rice and leave them there. This second rule reminds Korean people of the incense sticks that people use at funerals. Instead you place the chopsticks neatly across your bowl when done. Another custom, on the topic of Korean customs, is that when referring to an older Korean boy from a younger girl standpoint you call them “Opa,” and from the standpoint of a younger boy to an older girl you say “Nuna.” Older boys like to be called “Opa” and older girls like to be called “Nuna.” My language exchange buddy told me this and thus, since I am 5 months older than Jacob, he must now call me “Nuna.”image2 (3)

On Jake’s second day in Korea, after my exam, we went to Insadong and tried squid on a pan with Mike and John. Afterwards, we got street food, Hotteok. Jake really took a liking to the food, and he and I have been going to various street markets from there on out trying weird, new foods. We went to Dwangjang market, Insadong, and Myeondong. Throughout our trek through Korean food markets, we tried dumplings, fried fish, dried fish, Soju, Makkoli, fruit juice mystery meat on a stick, squid on a stick, waffles, crepes, and honey ice cream. A Korean man next to us smiled and approved when he saw that we were enjoying Soju with our meal. Within that three day period with Jacob, I probably tried all of the street food in Korea and I am proud of it. If my sister Yanina was here with me I know that she would appreciate doing this as well. Those three days in Korea reminded me of my trips to New York to visit her, when we would just try new foods. Since I go to school Monday to Thursday, Jake does a lot of his own exploring and homework during the day.

Let me turn now to the topic of school. Sabrina, Jesse, and I had our first exam at Korea University. The exam was for Electronic Circuits and the class average was a 67.5%. My goal for school was to do better than at least half of the Korean students, and so far, I can say mission accomplished. My most boring class is Signals and Systems. The homework load here has been big for the biomedical engineers, but we finally have a week off. This is already too much about school, so I shall switch my topic to something more fun: Membership Training round 2!

image1 (3)I made up my mind and decided to take Jacob to experience membership training with Mike and Alissa’s KUBA group. John, Mike, Jesse, Alissa, Jake, Jesper our friend from Denmark, and I had planned to go to at least one membership training together. This membership training took place close to the university and was only a thirty-minute, bumpy bus ride away. The house was a one-story house, near a small creek. The floors were not heated like my Group 5 membership training. The night consisted of Korean BBQ, Soju and Karaoke. Alissa, Jesse, Jake, and I came later than Jesper, John, and Mike, yet we did not miss any of the festivities. We ate BBQ then went right into teaching the Koreans beer pong. At first it was easy to make a mistake, but eventually they became better players than I am. The night got even better from there. We played many games of Charades and Karaoked until we could not sing another word.

Other fun things, I did this week included making a mug with Alissa and Michael’s KUBA buddies, Jay and HwiiHwa. My name (Sasha) is spelled like this in Korean 사샤. Apparently, I spelled my name wrong on my mug and wrote what sounds like SaSa, but a week later, Michael, who has been taking Korean here in Korea, corrected me. Now I know. Anyways.. 안녕 (Goodbye)!!!

By zamorse

Even though this is my blog, I want to use this post to talk about the dual society of people studying abroad in Haifa. Before I came to Israel I assumed that everybody studying here would be studying Hebrew and want to be in Israel because it's Israel. At Haifa, especially, that's not the case. A lot of people came to the university to study Arabic and Arab culture, and Israel is as close to that as they could get.

This weekend is Memorial Day and Independence Day and because we don't have class on Monday or Tuesday my friends and I decided to get out of Haifa and go explore Tel Aviv. Which is where I am, sitting in the common room of the hostel. We came with a big group, 9 people to celebrate my friend's birthday on Friday night. On Saturday, our group split up. Half stayed in Tel Aviv and half went on to Ramallah in the West Bank. Now, it's important to note that these friends of mine purposefully went to the West Bank on Israeli Independence Day because they wanted to go see Palestinian protests in the West Bank.

For me, this idea is crazy. I came to Israel to experience Israel and it's hard for me to comprehend wanting to leave Israel on Independence Day to go to the West Bank. But that was exactly their point. Much of the Middle East is unsafe for Study Abroad right now (Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, etc) and maybe their school didn't have a study abroad program in Jordan. And because they couldn't study abroad in the West Bank, Israel was the closest they could get.

My friend group is pretty split on the political spectrum of the conflict, but we're actually able to have civil conversations on the conflict all the time. We don't avoid talking about it, and we've mastered the idea of criticizing somebody's idea, not the person themselves.

This weekend is just a perfect microcosm of who comes to study abroad at the University of Haifa. Some people come to Haifa to experience Palestinian culture, and some people come to study Israeli culture. And we're able to talk about our differences and share experiences.

That's a way more valuable experience about conflict resolution than anything I could read in a textbook.