Originally published for Reach the World, October 2, 2015
How far did I travel this week?:This week, my host family and I traveled to Miryang, a small town in the countryside outside of the city of Gimhae. We visited my host dad’s parents for Chuseok. To get to Miryang, we drove down a highway outside of Gimhae and then through the mountains. It took about an hour to get there.
How far have I traveled on this journey so far?:Since arriving in Korea in July, the farthest I have traveled is Sokcho, a beach town in the northeast. Sokcho is known for its beautiful beaches, Buddhist temples, and some of the tallest mountains in Korea. I went hiking and walked along the beach. Now that I am settled into my school routine, I will do a lot more traveling this month.
How did I get around this week?: On warm and sunny days, I love walking through the city and finding new places. But when it rained on Wednesday and Thursday, I took a bus or a taxi to get home or to school.
What was the most interesting place I visited this week?:Miryang was the most interesting place I visited this week because it was my first time in such a rural area. Though I had been to rural towns before, I had never been to a place that was just farmland. I enjoyed seeing the beauty and peace of the countryside.
Other Travel News from this week:Since arriving in Korea, I have seen the capital city of Seoul, a rural town called Goesan, the country town of Miryang, a bustling city called Busan, a beach town called Sokcho, and my new home of Gimhae. Next month, I will go to two cities called Jinju and Gyeongju. Stay tuned for more adventures and pictures!
How was the weather this week?:Most of the weather this week was sunny and warm, but it was colder and rainy on Wednesday and Thursday. Even though I wore shorts and dresses all week, I also bought a new coat to prepare for the fall weather.
What animals did I see this week? :This weekend was a holiday, so I went to the countryside with my host family. As we walked along the country roads in Miryang, we saw dogs and cows on the farms. At night, we could hear the dogs’ barks echoing throughout the mountains.
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week?:The country town of Miryang is nestled in the mountains and surrounded by rice fields. The coolest thing I saw in nature this week was watching the full moon rise over the mountains, lighting up the sky and the fields.
Other Nature News from this week:This week marked the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Summers in Korea are very hot and humid, with lots of rain and thunder. Korean autumns are more mild and tend to have less rain. Korean autumn will last from September to November before the cold, dry winter begins.
What main languages are spoken here?:The main language spoken in South Korea is Korean. Koreans call their language “Han-gu-go.” Koreans also learn English in school, so some Koreans will speak English with foreigners like me.
What type of money is used here?:Korean money is called “won,” which is pronounced like the “won” in “wonton soup.” The smallest bill is 1000 won, which is about $1, and the largest bill is 50,000 won, which is about $50. Unlike American dollars, which are only green, Korean won are different colors. The 1000 won bill is blue, the 10,000 won bill is green, and the 50,000 won bill is yellow.
How much does a bottle of water cost?:A bottle of water costs 1000 won, which is about $1.
What was the best meal this week?:The best meal this week was our Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, meal. In America, we eat turkey, stuffing, and potatoes for Thanksgiving. But for Chuseok, I ate galbi, which is Korean beef, and soup with tofu and shrimp. It was delicious!
What music did I listen to this week?:To celebrate Chuseok, I listened to Korean traditional music. Korean traditional instruments include the gayageum, which is a large instrument with 12 strings, and the daegeum, which is a bamboo flute. My favorite Korean traditional song is called “Arirang.”
What activity was the most fun this week?:One of the Chuseok traditions is to make a wish upon a lantern. After Chuseok dinner, my host family went to the middle of a country road and lit a large lantern. We all made our wishes, and then watched the lantern float into the sky.
What did I read this week?:I spent most of this week reading poetry. I taught my students about English poets like Dr. Seuss and Robert Frost, and then we wrote poems about kimchi, a traditional Korean dish. My students are so creative!
What games or sports did I play this week?:My host sisters and their cousins taught me a traditional Korean game called “gonggi.” Gonggi is similar to jacks, but without a bouncing ball. Gonggi has five pebbles that the player tosses onto the ground. The player picks up one pebble, throws it in the air, and picks up another pebble on the ground before catching the pebble in the air. Players repeat this until they have all the pebbles in their hands. I will need to practice a lot more if I want to win!
Other news from this week:Gift-giving is an important part of Korean culture, and Korean gifts are usually practical and usable, like food or clothing. For Chuseok, I gave coffee to my host family and the teachers at my school, and I gave socks and homemade cookies to the grandparents who invited us into their home for Chuseok.