This morning I met my home-stay sister. Her name is Ye Jin Lee. We had a lecture on Korea through the eyes of an American and then we had a discussion on the free trade agreement (FTA) and whether it is beneficial to both Korea and the United States and we talked about the differences and similarities between Korean and American high schools.
My group concluded that the FTA, when taken into full account, is more beneficial than not to both countries
. There was more, but I don't feel like writing about our reasons right now. Although, the differences between high schools is so outrageous! All of our home-stay siblings go to selective high schools, which you must test into. These schools are known for preparing students to attend the best universities. First and foremost, our siblings go to school from 8 am to 10 pm. Their actual school lasts until 4 pm, but then they have mandatory study period until 10 pm. After they take the subway home, which takes about an hour, they usually still have more homework. Some nights they end up staying awake until 4 am. Their summers are only a month long, but in the winter they have two months for break. They also have a kind-of-school in the summer, because their school told them they need to continue to study, so it is for four hours each day. They even have school until noon on Saturdays (not during the summer, though). They wear uniforms to school each day, and are not allowed to wear earrings or any type of jewelry, except watches. Even though all the girls wish they had them, they do not have dances. They do not have any parties on the weekends, instead they spend their time studying. Opposed to many schools in the United States that are geared towards a more hands-on learning environment, these schools teach materials in books, so the students are what I would call "book smart". At the school that all of our siblings go to, it is known for the foreign languages. Each student, of course, knows Korean, but they are also very good at English and take another language in addition, such as Chinese, Spanish, French, German, etc
. In order to study all the time, a gadget was created that you could download videos on, and a program was made that displays a teacher instructing students how to beat the college entrance exams. This way students can take the device with they on the subway and study en-route. Most of the students also drink these oriental medicinal drinks that give you more energy when you are studying soo much- they are prescribed by a doctor. My sister drinks one in the morning with breakfast and one in the evening with dinner. They have deer antlers in them and various kinds of leaves. They are very expensive. My little home-stay sister is short and so she takes a medicine to make her taller. I am not sure what is in it, though, she wouldn't tell me. I asked about having a high depression rate at the school since they study so hard, and my home-stay sister said they do. The funny thing I noticed with all of the Koreans and Americans in the same room, was that the Americans always seemed much more confident than the Koreans.
After our discussions we learned how to make kimchi and kimbop. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish that can be prepared in over 200 ways. Koreans have it with every meal as a side dish. It is an acquired taste, that I have not yet had the chance to gain. There have been tests that show how it helps deter cancer, lose weight, and weaken effects of aging. You make it my first soaking cabbage in salt water for 5 hours
. Then in a mixing bowl you combine: (lets see if I can remember) rice paste, fish juice, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic, and something else but I forget what it was. You then add green onions, and 2 other vegetables (I don't know what) and then you spread this paste on the pickled cabbage leaves. After this, you should refrigerate for at least 2 days and then it will be good- or at least, to Koreans. I will demonstrate how to make when I get home! Hopefully by then I will like it!!! Next, we made kimbop, which is like sushi, but with cooked meat. It is very very healthy! I really like kimbop, because I don't like raw meat. I think that I am going to start bringing this to school some days instead of sandwiches- it is a very healthy and balanced meal! You lay out your dried seaweed and then mush rice on top of it in a thin layer. Slop in whatever veggies and meat you have in your fridge (I want to experiment with some fruit and salsa when I get home) and roll it with your rolling thing. Eat up! We will make this when I get home too!
My sister and I finished up everything for the day at Yonsei U and walked about 10 minutes through the crowded streets of downtown to the subway station. I was pulling my rolling suit case behind me, which was kind of frustrating since we were downtown.. I had never been on an underground subway system before, except at the Sea Tac airport, and it was nerve-racking. I didn't feel very well
. It was veryy hot and sooo many people- you can see in the pictures. I was soo happy to get off the subway. My home-stay mom came and picked us up from another subway station, so that we wouldn't have to take the subway all the way home. The apartment my sis lives in is directly across the street from where the olympic games were in 1988. These apartments were the apartments used by the athletes during the games. There are 5,500 units. Some of them are 24 floors high, but the one we are staying in is 12 and we are on the 6th floor. It is a 3 bedroom apartment, and I am sleeping in my sis' room. Tonight I met the family and was shown around. Everyone is really really nice! The little sister is hilarious- she just laughs all the time! My home-stay mom is always trying to feed me. I got fruit and rice cakes. And she brought me this really yummy water they boiled and then put barley tea bags and then refrigerate to drink if I get thirsty during the night. I have to get some of it when i get home- it is soo good!! My home-stay mom does not work, but my dad works for an electronic company- he used to work for Samsung, but he didn't like working so much and so hard all the time. He spends most of the year in China, but he visits every month. Right now, in the summer, I think he stays in Korea the whole time. The whole family speaks pretty good English, but they have never been to the US before. They want to come- I told them they can come stay with us any time!
After talking with some of the girls here, they seem really sad. They want to be able to drive, but can't until they are 21 and even then, they don't really drive. No dances. It is very uncommon for a girl to hug a guy, unless they are dating. They said they have not hugged any of the boys in their school. No parties. And most of all- they have to study all the time. I asked my family and they said that plane tickets from Seoul to Seattle roundtrip are about $500, so I am going to offer my sis to come stay with us during her winter break for a little while.
Wow! It is sooo different over here. Tomorrow morning I am going to go running in the Olympic Park- my sis says it is really big and a good spot for running. I am excited, and she has the whole day planned for tomorrow. My home-stay mom is making a special Korean dinner for me tomorrow. I am really excited!
Love you all!!!
Last night we went to a theater performance called Nanta Cookin'. They did not talk, but they beat kitchen utensils to make music. It was really funny too, it had a plot. They also actually cooked- it smelled so good. And they got the audience involved. I really wish Chandler could have been there, because he would have LOVED it!! They travel to the US sometimes, so we should look online and see if they willl ever be near Seattle. Otherwise, Chandler will just have to come to Korea.