Saturday, September 16, 2017

Day 25: Field trip, orientation, and taxiride

For once, I actually went to bed at a reasonable time last night because today was going to be super busy for me!

We woke up around 10 or so and slowly started getting ready.
For our Korean Popular Culture and Korean Wave class, our professor had arranged two 'field trips' from which we had to choose one to go on. They were today and next Saturday. I already knew that I had a meeting to attend in the afternoon today but I would rather have a tight schedule than miss out on 연고전 (yeonkojeon)~

So we went today and what we were supposed to see were performances of traditional Korean music and dance.
It took more than an hour to get there since we were going to the 국립국악원 (National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts), which is situated in Seocho-dong, on the other side of the Han River. During our first class with her, our professor told us that there would be a bus that we could take there. But since we weren't very familiar with the busses here, we decided to walk from Nambu Bus Terminal station.
A big group of foreigners? That can only be our classmates!
Our professor had told us that she would bring rice cakes for all of us and she kept her word!
As soon as we arrived, we were pointed in the direction of a big cardboard box filled with tightly wrapped rice cakes.

It felt very chewy and compact to eat and had a slight sweet taste to it but nothing too noteworthy. And then there were raisins in it!
Our professor had a few student go and pass these ball pens around. I got a cat-dog! It's the cutest pen ever!
Shortly after, tickets were given to those of us, who had paid in advance during class.

Before the concert, though, our professor took us around the museum there and told us about and showed us the different traditional musical instruments.
And then she brought us into a small room and had us sit down to listen to two girls demonstrating how some of the instruments we were going to be listening to worked.
These girls had been practicing since very early ages and had been accepted into very prestigious music programs. The instruments were out of tune though so we didn't get to hear much.
Our professor, being the expert that she is, sat down and tried to play it after tuning it but also had to stop because the sounds wouldn't come out right.
Then the tour continued!
We were a LOT of students and at this point we couldn't possibly fit more students into one room so I went out to snap some pictures of where we'd first been.

Then it was time for the concert.
But! Before we went into the hall, our professor wanted us to take a group picture outside.
In true Korean fashion she uttered:
"Make like a cute!"

Celine grabbed a program on what we were about to watch but it was also announced before every performance in both Korean and English on two big screens on each side of the room.

We were told that we weren't allowed to take pictures in there (nor bring food or flowers) but that we would be allowed to take pictures in the end. I don't know why they wouldn't let us take pictures of the first act..

The Daechwita sounded absolutely horrible.
Celine and I had gotten seats to the right side on the very front row and once they started drumming and blowing the horns, it was so incredibly loud! There was no change to the tones or rhythm and when they finally stopped, I felt like part of my hearing had crept into the very back of head as a self-defense tactic. Holy freak.

The next act was better. There was a group of both men and women sitting on the floor, playing different instruments. All 4 performances were pretty long but this one varied a bit in the sound at least. Celine and I both enjoyed how the others would sometimes make noises of approval whenever one of the others were having a solo moment of either singing or playing their instrument.

Third was a single woman dancing elegantly, dressed completely in white. To my right, there was a small scene where a group of 4-5 men sat down and accompanied her dance with music. I couldn't get a picture of them but there two people, performing during the last acts, were sitting in the same place. As you see, they were super close. But their loudness never even came close to that of the first Daechwita performance.

Now we were allowed to take pictures!
It started out with music and slowly, more and more people entered the scene. Their clothes were quite different from the previous numbers but that's because this was a Buddhist dance rather than just a traditional Korean dance.
It was chaos. But an interesting kind of chaos.

The concert ended at 16.20 and the meeting I was going to was supposed to start at 16.00 (I'd already told them I'd be late) but was luckily rescheduled to 17.00 instead. Phew.
This time we decided to take the shuttle bus back to the station with some of the other students and a bunch of older Koreans.

The bus stopped at Seocho station and from there, I took the subway to Gangnam where the meeting would be held.
I forgot to tell you why I was even going to the meeting, didn't I?
On the same night as I had gone for the interview with Junhaeng (준행) and his friend, Charles (진욱), they'd told us on Facebook who had become the first official members of Beyond the English Divide, which is what we will be called from now on - and I was one of them!

Today's meeting was actually an orientation day where we could be meeting each other for the first time. Junhaeng had asked us to send him pictures of ourselves the night before and then used these pictures in a powerpoint presentation so we all could take turns introducing ourselves.

They'd brought donuts from Dunkin' Donuts but I was too flustered when I came in to eat anything.
After introducing ourselves, we got to chit-chat a bit with each other and the guys unveiled our new logo.
 I also got to talk to Junhaeng a bit so that was cool! It's always interesting to hear people's intentions when they start up a project like this.
We were a good mix of people; 3 Koreans (Junhaeng, Charles, and their friend), a Dutch woman, a British woman, a Nepalese man, an Uzbekistani girl, and three Americans (a guy and 2 girls). From what I could see, I was the one of the youngest.

In true Korean style we took pictures and some of us walked back to the station together afterwards.

After the meeting I hurried to Isu where I'd be meeting Jake. Since he cancelled yesterday, we'd changed our plans to today.
Since I walked with the others, I was a bit late and was nervous that he'd been waiting for a long time when I finally showed up. It didn't help that it was hard for me to connect to the wifi the first 20 minutes I waited there, making it impossible for me to contact anyone. So I stood there, eating the rest of the rice cake I had left, and tried not to notice the stares too much.
When I finally connected and messaged him, it turned out he'd been sleeping and was only on his way now.
I'd sat down at a bench facing the road and didn't wait long before Jake showed up.
He was feeling pretty sick so instead of doing anything in te neighborhood, we hung out at his place.
On our way, we met a cute little dog that Jake squeaked at the sight of.
He tried petting it but it's wasn't too interested at first. Then I sat down and it totally came over to me hahahhaa.
Earlier today, or was it yesterday(?), I'd told Isabella and Celine about having seen stores in Isu where older ladies were sitting on the floor on mats and pretty much had the things they were selling stabled on the floor as well. Although this wasn't the place I saw the ajummas (elder ladies), I finally have a great example of it on picture!

Jake told me the night before that he felt like eating chicken tomorrow. And so we did.

Suddenly it was time for us to leave so I could catch the last subway home. When we were on our way out the door, Jake couldn't find his apartment card and was totally stressing out. We were already pretty tight on time so we probably wouldn't have made it anyways.

Taxi it was! We spent a while trying to catch one because a car had parked right behind the taxi spot. The taxi drivers didn't want to deal with it and just drove past us and another girl waiting.
We walked further down the road and with Jake's help, I finally got one!
Korean taxis are sort of a joke in my friend group. Not a funny joke but more like something we warn each other of because we feel like they're pretty reckless. They slalom their way around other vehicles and go pretty fast while doing so - that's what we think - and that's pretty much what my driver did. He accelerated quickly and stopped in the same fashion, all while playing soulful music from the car radio.
When we crossed the river, I was busy looking out the window to enjoy the lights. As my eyes returned to the speedometer, I saw that we were going more than 100km/h! Holy freak.
The most 'exciting' part was when we came to a tunnel. I was busy looking out the window again and suddenly we just descended down this tunnel that I had not seen coming! My stomach was convinced I was in a roller coaster in that moment.
We came to Yonsei's Severance Hospital where Jake had asked him to let me off. He went aaaaaaaall the way up to the front of the building in such high speed, yet somehow managed to stop the car almost at once. Korean taxi drives are like emotional roller coasters, I'm telling you.

While I'd been out, Celine, too, had been busy!
She and Johanne had gone for drinks and it sounded like they had a lot of fun. I want to join them next time!

1 comment:

  1. I was only 9 years old.
    I loved jajangmyeon so much, I had all the merchandise and movies.
    I pray to jajangmyeon every night, thanking it for the life I’ve been given. “jajangmyeon is love” I say, “jajangmyeon is life."
    My dad hears me and calls me a Dongmu. I knew he was just jealous of my devotion to jajangmyeon.
    I called him a babo.
    He hits me and sends me to sleep.
    I'm crying now and my face hurts.
    I lay in bed, really cold. I feel something warm...
    It's jajangmyeon! I was so happy.
    I want to eat jajangmyeon.
    My dad walks in.
    Jajangmyeon is love. Jajangmyeon is life.


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