Friday, August 8, 2008


Wow! It's been a hectic few weeks between finals, closing ceremony, flying back home, and adjusting back to American time. Again, sorry for the extreme lack of posts!

To sum up the final weeks at Ewha, I'd say they were bitter-sweet. I was definitely ready to come back home to America, but at the same time, it was really hard to leave what I called "home" for 6 weeks. My dorm was my home and Seoul was beginning to feel more and more comfortable each day. Also, just as I started getting closer to friends, it was time to say goodbye. During the last couple weeks I started spending time with 3 girls from Hong Kong. My closest friend, Pat, was in my first 2 classes and was one of the nicest people I met while at Ewha. She introduced me to 2 of her friends, Hangie and Keyman, and invited me to shop with them a lot. We went to Myung-Dong, one of the many towns in Korea dedicated to shopping, and it was the first time I met Hangie and Keyman. One of the things I loved about them was that they were so friendly; It was not awkward at all getting to know them. Because of their personalities and outlooks on the world, they treated me as if we'd been friends for a year already. Pat told me that Hong Kong girls were crazy when it came to shopping, but I definitely underestimated her warning. I began to learn that they loved cosmetics and any store that sold cosmetics. Every cosmetics shop we passed, even if we'd already been in the same one in a different place that same night, they'd go right in and buy something. We'd been in these shops so many times that I began to memorize the prices for items! Shopping with Pat, Hangie, and Keyman was definitely one of the most memorable times I had while at Ewha. They're English was so good and they were all so funny; I never stopped laughing. I think the hardest thing about leaving Korea was that I had to say goodbye to my new friends.

The closing ceremony was sad, but exciting for me. It was the last time the whole program was to be all together. We all got black gowns and caps for "graduating," (as you can see in the pictures below), and Kasey and I joked that we at least got some kind of graduation. I took lots of pictures with friends and classmates and was the second person to "walk across the stage." (They went in alphabetical order by first names). It was kind of sad because the first time I graduated, my parents couldn't be there to see it. The music class practiced Arirang, (Korea's national song), by playing traditional instruments, and performed during the ceremony. They also wore traditional Korean clothing called Hanboks. We all took a program picture and as I said goodbye for the last time to many of the people I'd spent the last 6 weeks with, it began to hit me that I was going home soon.

The day before I left I spend the night at my friend, Hoi-Jung's house. Hoi-Jung was a foreign exchange student at my school this past school year, and I was so excited to switch roles with her and meet her family and share her culture. Her family was so hospitable and welcoming. I had home-cooked meals and they were delicious! I will definitely miss Korean food. Hoi-Jung and her father took me to the airport and I was starting my long "journey" back home. I was ecstatic because neither of my two bags were overweight and I was allowed to have 3 carry-ons, since they were all small. I didn't have to pay a cent extra for all my luggage that was coming home! My family and my best friend, Kim, met me at the airport with signs and ballons that said, "Welcome Home!" It was so nice to see them, and I really did feel like I was home.

My summer at Ewha was one of the best experiences in my life. The program itself was very good and educational, but the whole package of being in Korea and being there by myself was worthwhile. I learned a lot about people from all over the world, not to mention I learned alot from them, and I learned a lot about Korea. Most importantly, I learned more about myself and my identity. I feel a lot closer to my Korean identity, which is important to me. My language skills have gotten so much better, and I feel my connection with Korea is stronger now. My American identity is still strong and the same as before, and my adoptive identity is too.

I had some deep conversations with some of my Korean-Adopted friends that made me look deeper into my feelings and identity. To keep confidentiality, I won't go into too much specifics, but I thought I'd share some interesting points of view and thoughts. For the most part, my friends and I think it can be difficult being adoptees. In America, we're not fully comfortable simply because we're not part of the majority race. Looking toward Korea, however, we're not completely comfortable either because we can't speak the language and we're looked at as foriegners. This, therefore, leads to our questioning of, "Where do we fit in?" My friend and I joke that we should inhabit our own island somewhere where only Korean-adoptees are allowed because only then would we feel completely comfortable. Even though we joke, there's some part of it that's serious. We would obviously never want to live this way forever, but sometimes it gets so hard finding our identites and where we "fit in" that these thoughts become present. This is why many of us love Camp MuJiGae so much. (MuJiGae is a camp in Albany once a year specifically for Korean adoptees. Many of us grew up going to this camp and still go every summer). For 4-5 days out of the whole year, we, Korean adoptees, are the majority. Back to the discussions I had with my friends, we all agreed we would never trade anything in the world for our adoptive families or our lives we've been given. We all know our parents are the ones who raised us for the majority of our lives, but reconnecting with our biological families does come up often. Two of my friends that I talked with reconnected with their biological families and shared their stories with me. Both stories were very different and have helped factor into my decision of whether I want to do "The Search" or not. Being honest, I don't really prefer to search right now. I'm still completely confused about if I even want to at all. It's a difficult thing to think about and definitely, in my opinion, risky. There are so many different scenarios that can occur, ones that I've thought about and also ones that I've heard about. These talks with my friends, however, definitely helped me feel more comfortable with my adoptive identity, knowing that other adoptees think the same thoughts as I do.

I've really matured since my time at Ewha, and I think my parents have definitely noticed. My mom said to me today that she believes learning comes from personal experiences and she used my Ewha experience as an example. She said it seemed that I learned more personal, life-long facts while at Ewha and in Korea than during my highschool years. I agree.

I've learned so much by meeting so many different people with different backgrounds and by experiencing my motherland first-hand. My first trip to Korea with my family was great and memorable, but this trip was also important. Being in Korea without my family helped me to be independent and to rely on myself for the first time in my life.

I had an amazing time at Ewha and in Korea and I would definitely encourage anyone to participate in the Ewha program! (They suggested to us numerous times to tell everyone at home about Ewha, haha). I would especially recommend the Ewha International Summer Co-Ed Program to Korean-adopted Americans. I had a fun summer full of memorable experiences, great classes, and life-long friends from all around the world.

Thank you to all those who have kept up with this blog. I hope you've enjoyed reading it! If you have any questions or comments in the future or want to know more about Ewha, Korea, and/or my experience, please e-mail me and I will do my best to give helpful replies!

Thanks again,

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Sorry I haven't been able to update...FINALS were the main thing occupying my brain for the last week. I am now worrying about getting all my new purchases into my suitcases and getting everything home! I have posted a few pics of graduation/closing ceremonies, and I will be sure to add more thoughts and reflections on my experiences after I am back home. Check out the photos below!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend #5

Friday was one of the last field trips of the program. We went to the Mud Festival aka MudFest in Boryeong. I had been anticipating this event throughout the week, however I wasn't sure what to expect from a festival that involved water and dirt. We got there and saw a beach and people the color of a sandy-gray. I tried to keep my camera and take pictures, but I didn't want to risk my camera getting broken or muddy. The Ewha cameraman was nice enough to hold onto it for me.

My PEACE buddy led me around for a while and we first got muddy going down this really fun mud slide. It was soooo slippery and dirty, but I surprisingly enjoyed it. What most people do is go down the slide and then run right to the beach into the salty ocean water. After that, I was somewhat covered, so I met up with some friends and we went on this one slide where you first climb up to the top and then slide down. It was a lot of fun also. Then we went into the water. It wasn't too cold, but still chilly.

There was also a huge stage that faced away from the beach and toward a wall of steps to sit on. There were random performances and even a few big TV screens near the "mud activities" so people could watch while they waited in line. It made the atmosphere more fun and comfortable.

Honestly, I didn't get too muddy. There were plenty of people who were covered from head to toe and therefore, way more muddy than me. Now that I think about it, it was fun to see everyone looking the same. In some sense, we all had the same skin color- the ugly, faded gray. I didn't do too much, or as much as I could have probably, but I still had fun. It was definitely a worth-while experience. MudFest is something that you can't go to in the States and it's a different cultural experience. Everyone in Korea knows about MudFest, and for me it's cool to be able to say I went to the 11th annual MudFest.

Saturday night, I went to a soccer game at World Cup Stadium with some of my friends. We saw FC Seoul play. The stadium was beautiful and it was definitely cool to be at the stadium where the World Cup was played back in 2002. I love international soccer, so to be at a game was fun. The fans, like at the baseball game, were crazy with support. There were so many people in red jerseys and even though the stadium was not even half full, the place echoed with screams. Soccer is Korea's favorite sport and it wasn't hard to tell from the fandom. At one point, the FC Seoul fans had some sort of red sparklers in their section and they were so bright. It was so cool.

The visiting team scored first, but Seoul retaliated with a goal of their own. After the first half, it was tie 1-1. The second half was exciting because Seoul scored within about 5 minutes after it started. However, the away team quickly got the goal back and the game was again tied. That's how it ended, but the fans were loud until the very end. It was a fun game and I'm glad I got the chance to go to a Korean soccer game. (Along with the baseball game).

That's all for now, the fifth week of classes is coming up. I can't believe it's almost over. Time flies!
My flights were recently changed, so I am able to stay for the remander of the program, including the closing ceremony. I'm very glad I get to stay for that.

More updates will come later! Some pictures from MudFest and the soccer game are posted below!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Just an update from last weekend/beginning of this week.

Last Sunday I went to Hyun-Joo's house and we went to an photography exhibit. The exhibit was from one of her friends, Choi Byung-Kwan, who is a famous photographer not only in Korea, but she told me he travels to Japan also. I had never been to an art gallery for a photography exhibit before, not to mention in Korea. The exhibit was titled: 생명, 환힉 그리고 DMZ. I'm not sure what the translated title is, but it was focused on the De-Militarized Zone separating North and South Korea. There were tons of photos, and they were all beautiful. When we were leaving, Mr. Choi signed and presented us each with one of his photobooks that orginally cost $20 each. I was very surprised and thankful. We even got to take pictures with him in front of some of his work. (look below)

We went to lunch and then to the House of Sharing again. Hyun-Joo did an exhibit on the Halmonis at the Sharing House a few years ago and she knows them all quite well. I got to see and even meet most of the Halmonis. One of them was singing 노래방, (Norebang) and Hyun-Joo told me that she hasn't seen her smiling since she first visited the Sharing House. I also got to take a picture with Lee Oak-Sun Halmoni, (the Halmoni who spoke to our group last Friday).

I had an eventful weekend and this week has also been interesting, in terms of discussions in class. My Hallyu class focused on the aspect of technology this week, so we discussed the use of cell phones, cyworlds (Korean version of myspace/facebook), and videogames in Korea. One of my friends from Hong Kong, Pat, and I did a presentation together on videogames today. It went pretty well.

This weekend should be another interesting one. Friday, our field trip is to participate in the "MudFest" at the beach. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but it sounds fun. Saturday, Kasey, Katie, and I are going to see a soccer game at World Cup Stadium with some friends.

That's all for now! Look for the next update sometime next week!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Unique and Great Opportunity

Today was Friday in Korea, which meant field trip day for many of the Ewha International Co-Ed Summer School students. This week's field trip was a very specail one, at least to me. Today we went to the House of Sharing, a home for the many "comfort women" who served as sex slaves to Japanese Soldiers during World War II.

There were many students who went to the field trip, which made me happy because it showed how interested everyone was and that we were all going to experience something for the first time all together. It took us about an hour and a half to get there from Seoul; it's located in a more country-type area, and the land was beautiful and peaceful. When we first got to the House of Sharing, we watched a 15-minute video that gave some background on the time during WWII for many young, Korean girls. The video focused on a woman who was one of the first "comfort women" to come out and confess what had happened to her. She was a strong fighter and only wanted the Japanese government to apologize for what they'd done. She passed away, however her strong will and cause still lives on through her friends and those who supported her.

After watching the movie, we had the chance to meet and talk with a former "comfort woman." I was so grateful that this woman took the time to speak to us and share some of her experiences with us because we had heard that many of the women were sick and probably would not be able to speak with us. This woman was so cute and although quiet, we could all tell she was very strong. She spoke to us through a translator and gave inspirational words. She told us to be appreciative of our educations because she was not able to go to school, which was something she cried about when she was little. She was kidnapped at the age of 7 and taken to China. There, she worked as a housekeeper for a family she would later call her own. At 16, she was then put into sex slavery. It wasn't until 2000 when she returned to Korea. She did not have any identification stating she was Korean, though, and her return was very difficult. Although born in Korea, she lived in China for 50 plus years. It was a really great opportunity to be able to see and meet with her. We took a picture at the end of the session and I was right near her. She even pulled another girl and I closer to her so we would be closer to her in the picture. After the picture, I shook her hand and said, "Halmoni, kamsahamnida." (Grandmother, thank you). Everyone loved listening to her and I'm sure everyone was thankful for the experience as much as I was. (If you'd like to read a little about her, click this link: On the right, it has the women's names and pictures, click: Lee, Oak-Sun)

After the session, we went through the museum that is located at the House of Sharing. There were so many artifacts and pictures and my favorite, paintings. Many of the "Halmonis" painted when they were living at the House of Sharing so they could get their emotions and feelings out. There was even a replica of a room that was supposed to be like a "comfort room."

In case you're wondering why I'm using quotes when using the term, "comfort women," it's because our tour guide told us this fact: The "comfort women" were comfort to the Japanese soldiers, but paradoxically and obviously not comfortable with their forcement of living. The Japanese government has denied that all of this ever happened, which has caused many of the comfort women to go to the Japanese office located in Seoul every Wednesday to protest. They have continually been going there since 1992.

Many of these women were kidnapped at such young ages. They were forced into sex slavery and were abused every single day. There are few survivors and even fewer who will come out and admit what happened. The only thing these survivors want is to be believed and apologized to. They don't want people saying they were prostitutes; they don't want to be forgotten.

This experience was one that I am very glad to have had the opportunity. It was definitely something different and something that I could only experience in Korea, and maybe only through this program.

I hope this has allowed some of you to learn as much as I did today.
Some pictures will be posted later on.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Korea's Way of Baseball

Last night a few new friends and I went to see a Korean baseball game. I was very, very excited because although I have been to many American baseball games, I had never been to a Korean one.

The game was at 6 at 목 동 (Mok-Dong) Stadium and we took the subway to get there. Thank goodness our friend from the CNY Korean school, Katie, was there to help us transfer on the subway. The ride wasn't bad at all and it only took about 20-30 minutes to get there. (And all for about $1 for a one-way ticket!)When we arrived, the game had already started and the crowd was already roaring! We sat in upper seats, but the entire field was in view. I remember when I first looked at the field, I saw something that was unfamiliar to me: the majority of the players were Korean. Even though I knew before we went that we were going to a Korean baseball game, I never actually thought about all the players being Korean. By the end of the game, though, the initial "shock" had worn off.

If I had to come up with one word that related to my Korean baseball game experience, it would probably be: passion. The Korean fans attending the game were incredibly loud and supportive of their teams. The two teams we saw were the 우 리 (Woori) Tigers v. the 롯 데 (Lotte) Giants. The Lotte Giants are currently the best team in the league, and they had a bigger fan base at the game than the home team, the Woori Tigers. One of my friends told me that the Giants have so much fandom because for the past 15 years they've been one of the worst teams, and this year, they've pulled it together.

I honestly have to say that I had more fun watching the fans and the commotion than the actual game. We sat on the Giants' side and there were a ton of people with the Giants' jersies on (a lot of them were girls), and they all had pom-pom like things in their hands and were shaking them constantly. They also had a certain song they sang for each player and a catchy chant too. There was not a time when there was any sort of silence. Baseball players in America have unbelievable amounts of pressure, but so do Korean baseball players. The crowd didn't really "boo" the opposing pitcher, but instead cheered for the player at bat like it was the seventh game of the World Series. The support of the fans was incredible.

You may wonder, "How do all the fans stay together and in sync with each other?" It's very simple. There was a man who stood on the dugout facing the crowd with a whistle and a microphone. He blew his whistle to the beat of the chants and lead the crowd in uproar. For one player, 가 르 시 아, (Garcia), the man on the dugout conducted the crowd like a choir, while the crowd sang a scale of notes. Katie mentioned to me that the player looked like former Yankee, Karim Garcia, and she was right! It's funny how we went to a Korean baseball game, yet somehow still saw a Yankee. :)

Another funny thing about the game was that each team had cheerleaders. They were more like dancers, but they were cute and high spirited. Also, whenever a person in the crowd caught a foul ball, we noticed, they gave it to a little child. I thought this was interesting because normally in the States, the people, (usually men), who catch foul balls keep it for themselves. I remember seeing at least 2 guys near us catch balls and then give it to young children near them. I noticed it was expected of them to give the ball to a child. One woman ran across a row of seats with her baby in her arms to try to persuade a man to give her the ball, but she was too late.

The players in Korea seem very widely known. My friend told me one of the players on the Giants is so talented and therefore, popular, that he is also an entertainer and an MC.

I had a lot of fun attending a foreign baseball game. It was another culture change I experienced and I'm glad I'm getting these opportunities.

For some pictures of the game, look below!

Monday, July 7, 2008


I've received much interest in the stereotypes discussed in my Asian/American Representation in US Media class, so I've decided to post the basic information of the lesson on the blog.

The stereotypes we talked about were the 4 most common ones in US Media:
1. Model Minority- has good values and everyone should strive to be like them--the predictable "nerdy" and "dorky" Asian, for example.
2. Yellow Peril- the threat that Asians have in movies, for example, Fu Manchu. When there is an Asian in a movie, he/she is always looking to take over the world and gain power to lead third world countries. There is always the stereotypes of Asians as being bad and a huge threat. For example, the inevitable Chinese gangs in movies. Another thing that goes along with this stereotype is the role of the White, male hero. He always has to save the day, fighting/defeating the "bad" Asian.
3. Forever Foreign- the typical and obvious reasons for seeing that the Asian is different and does not know American ways of life. For example, the way Asians dress- in old movies, again in Fu Manchu, the Asian dresses in huge robes, with makeup, and long finger nails. Another thing that is heavily relied on for an Asian role is the thick accent.
4. Mysteriousness/Inscrutable- Asian ways of mysterious "magic" and voodoo to gain power/do certain things. Like a "master" teaching his "student" by catching the fly nearby with his bare hand. Very mysterious and sort of creepy ways of doing things.

These stereotypes are the basis of Asian representation in basically all of US movies. There were other observations we noted like:

1. The Asian male seen as "asexual." The Asian male almost never gets the white women in the film. This is why Asians are seen as very feminine. This goes back to the history: When the Chinese came to America to work, they were not allowed to talk or even look at white women or they would be beaten up/killed. There weren't many Chinese women immigrating to America, either, so they could not be with them. They were also given the "feminine" jobs, and not the masculine jobs. However, then they were seen as a rape threat if they looked at a white woman.
2. The "geisha girl" Asian woman. This was seen as an Asian girl who immigrated to America because she was forced into sexual slavery or prostitution. This was then formed into the "dragon lady" stereotype. This was formed and Asian women were looked on as dirty, filthy, and when sleeping with white men, accused of ripping families apart.

These are many of the stereotypes that we discussed, and today we watched some clips that prove them. Clips from "Fu Manchu," "Lost," "Heroes," and other movies/programs. We also looked at pictures/advertisements and the upcoming trailer of "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor." One picture was of a man selling a t-shirt near Wrigley Field in Chicago opposing the team's acquirement of new player, Fukadome. The shirt said, "Horry Kow!" with a picture of a panda, I think?? And another picture we saw was a promotional poster of the new "Dragonball" movie. Based off the Anime TV show, mostly all of the characters are assumed to be Asian. The main character, included. However, on the promotional poster, there is a white male, again, relating to the idea that all the "good guys" and heroes in US movies are white, never Asian.

I hope this was helpful in getting an idea of what the class is like.
We received our first exam grades today and I was very relieved at my results. I got a 93, however there was somewhat of a curve and generous grading was given. I'm still proud that I didn't do horribly on the test and I will definitely study harder next time.

More later this week!