CIEE hosts many events throughout the semester, and I am grateful to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed each one I have attended — from cooking classes to archery cafes, from museums to excursions outside of Seoul, each activity was something I had always wanted to do, but perhaps wouldn’t think of during my time here. And to make the experiences all the more enriching, we are often accompanied by Seoulmates, who are local students that guide our small groups during the CIEE events.
One of the activities that they hosted was at the Lotte World Folk Museum in Jamsil, which had a large collection of mini figures that replicated what Korea looked like throughout history (Paleolithic, The 3 Kingdoms, Joseon, Japanese Invasion, etc). As I have been taking a Korean history course at Yonsei, it was incredibly interesting to see what I had been learning about. I truly hope to visit the museum again soon, due to the limited time we had to look around.
Although that was fascinating on its own, CIEE had rented out a separate section of the museum for the students, and had set up an area where we were to compete in playing traditional Korean games (some you might have seen in Squid Game). It felt very much like Field Day from school, and the competitive and fun energy was a well-needed break from classes.
Afterwards, my group decided to continue the fun by getting dinner together, and since not everyone was able to make it, it ended up being just me and three other Seoulmates. Our dinner served as the best time to have the cultural and language exchange that we all had been looking for when we joined the Seoulmates program — the Seoulmates had never visited the US but each had plans to either visit or study there, so they eagerly asked questions about English and life in the States, and I also had a fair share of things I wanted to learn from locals my age.
We all exchanged stories about our academics and career aspirations, hopes and reasons for travel, and discussed culture shocks, along with explaining different slang terms and travel recommendations. Thanks to CIEE’s Baskin Robbins gift card prizes, we were able to continue our conversations by getting ice cream and trying out the new Pikachu flavor. We shared our social media handles and phone numbers, asking to keep in touch and meet again soon, which I was grateful to hear - through our Konglish conversations and despite language barriers, I had made some new friends, gained new experiences, and learned about new aspects of Korean culture. Even though we have just a bit over a month left of the semester, I can’t wait to make the most of the time we have left!