Orientation: Field Trip

Today we went on a field trip. We were assigned “bus 6” out of 8 (or more, maybe). We took about a 1.5 hour drive to Jeonju Folk Village. We ended up covering a substantial amount of the country if you think about it.

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There was only enough time for every class to do 2/3 activities available so we got to do drumming and making pencil boxes. We missed out on a mask performance.

The drumming was actually a little hard because we were all squeezed together (and sitting cross legged).


But it was really nice to be on the floor because of the ondol (under floor heating) your butt got warm and you got pretty toasty. The bad news was sitting cross legged on a hard wood floor for 1.5 makes you legs fall asleep. Also my ankles are superbly bony, so I had a winter hat/mittens under my legs (can’t wear shoes indoors so that was my protection). We were all squeezed in there so it was hard to hit the drum moving back and forth like directed. It was actually huge relief to be able to stand up and be done. We’ve done it, it was a unique thing, but we’ve had enough.

But look at the cool traditional house we were in:


The pencil case was pretty cool. The Hanok village we are at is well known for its paper – it sells handmade high-quality paper to Japan and within the country. We got to glue some nice paper to a box to decorate it. Only problem was the Ajummas who supervised the activity were insanely anal and meticulous (read: Asian, and I mean that as nicely as I can). So they kept taking people’s boxes to redo it.

the no-nonsense matron of box glueing. Look how concerned that person is behind her – can I have my box? No? Okay.

Ladies, it’s gluing paper to other paper. We’re all adults here, we got it. Since failing at Taekwondo and then drumming I really really needed to do some crafts – something I’m good at. Needless to say I was seething when my box was taken right out of my hand, she peeled my paper off and did it again then had a translator lecture me on how I didn’t push the air bubbles out good enough. That’s what I was doing before she took it. I tried to take it back even and basically got my hand slapped gently. Worst of all, she “glued” it back on very poorly, it wasn’t as sticky after she peeled it off so it looked like it was going to fall apart for a while. Fortunately at the end we covered it with a watery-glue as a sort of varnish so it’s all stuck down.

The good news is now we have some rocking pencil cases. If anything happened at orientation, at least we got a pencil case. Here are our beautiful cases:


Then we had lunch. We had to take our shoes off and sit cross legged (again, stuffing mittens under my ankles haha) and eat Bimimbap. Chris and I had “dolsot bimimbab” in Seoul – so it was in a hot pot. Now it was cold/not heated. It also had a raw egg on top. You have never heard a group of people bitch louder than when a raw egg is suddenly on top of their lunch.  You can tell which cultures grew up terrified of raw eggs (a few people just dug in, everyone else just freaked out).

bam! Day-ruiner.

Since we had bimimbap in Seoul  we were the resident  experts at the table so our table-mates were looking to us to see how to stir it up/add gochujang. We sat with a few South Africans which is always cool.


After lunch we got to explore the nearby village. We walked around a little aimlessly, following our class. Something was under construction??? Eventually we were let loose to explore on our own for a while. First, we found a vending machine for toys so we picked one out, figured out how to put money in it and got an obscure pokemon. We wanted another and **surprise** we got the same exact guy. So we were like “hells yes, couples (matching) pokemon” so we put them on our name tags. We have identical jackets because couples dress the same here (they really do, we saw a whole matching family today).

We wanted some peace and quiet so we were looking for a coffee shop or something (actually we were totally looking for Hotteok – that honey donut thing we talk about in every post in Seoul) but we stumbled upon Issac Toast. Its a pretty big chain in Korea and has spread to the US. It’s just really cheap grilled cheese sandwiches. The menu is all in Korean so we were turning around to leave when the nice lady stuck her head out “Inglusha maniew!” we stare. “Eenglish -uh mini-yew” ohhhhh. We go inside, she actually holds it up for us to read the whole time. We pick a Bulgogi Toast and Sweet Potato Ham Toast. We panicked a little trying to get drinks and just got “Cherryade” whatever that is.

She grilled our sandwiches right there. “Korea” she points at herself “Korea” then she points at us. Where are you from? “Miguk” Chris says (America). “ohhh, Amehrica.” I had a very strong desire to say “Chonun Miguk Saram Imnida” which is something we did actually learn from the Korean class we were previously complaining about. But I was afraid of unleashing a wave of Korean upon us. So I kept quiet.

Our toast was amazing. The Cherryade was the most American thing I’ve had since, well, America. Just pure grenadine syrup on ice. She gave them to us and basically teased us for being babies. I guess Cherryade is a little kids drink. Funny, I had just tried to try a kids ring on outside of the toast shop and got yelled at.

Outside of the toast restaurant was a dog. This is significant. We have hardly seen any dogs since we got here. Only one in Seoul – a purse dog (you know the kind). In Daejeon we’ve seen a lot more. In fact, on the bus ride in, Chris saw a dog carrying a basket in his mouth while on a walk. Adorable. Also there is the prettiest Afghan Hound (the flow-y dogs that always win dog shows) being used as a guard dog near the orientation campus. He’s got the biggest, brownest eyes you’ve ever seen.

The dog outside the toast shop was possibly a Jindo – the national dog of Korea. Jindos were bread to hunt rodents and small prey. They are insanely independent and possessive. So this guy was just barking at everyone who passed. Fine, right? Yeah, except many Koreans have never had dogs at home, have never even pet dogs. Many are scared. So gaggles of girls were getting barked at and were screaming (like, getting attacked by a shark screams) and running from the dog.

look at his little pagoda house!

Something else fun was how many people wanted pictures with us. We are always interesting because we’re white/different/”waeguken” (foreigners) but a few people just randomly took pictures of us (the whole group of us), another person had their baby pose in front of our class picture. One guy shook everyone’s hands. Chris and I now have our names written in Korean on our name tags and a few elderly Koreans got really into this, smiling (some elderly Koreans never seem to smile) at the Korean on the name tags.

We bussed home and were released from responsibility. We’re sick of cafeteria food and we wanted one last break before orientation ends (the next few days will be busy) so we went out for pizza. We didn’t particularly want pizza over anything else but the guy was so nice to us last time that we knew it would be easy to go there. And, yeah, Korean pizza is freaking delicious. We got “Steaku Bulgalbi Pizza” so steak pizza with some kind of bbq sauce drizzled over it.


The guy was as nice as last time, of course. We wrote “thank you” in Hangul on a napkin when we returned our plates- not sure if they saw it before they threw it away but we wanted to make an effort.





2 thoughts on “Orientation: Field Trip”

    1. Hey Zena! Thanks, I know we’re posting a lot more food than we did in our Germany blog (because food is far more interesting here). I’m not honestly sure if there are B&Bs, I do know that there are loads of love motels (where you pay by the hour if you know what I mean) – which could be an interesting experience. Although no food there. Also renting out rooms in your home via the internet is getting pretty popular – the modern reintroduction of B&B popularity? It’d be interesting to live with a Korean (for a night – then go back home).

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