Overnight Trip to Andong {안동} 11/17/18 {NSLI-Y Korea AY}

11/17/18 Saturday

I dreaded having to wake up at 6:15 am to get ready to report to the Better World Office at 8:30 am. But when I actually did wake up, my tiredness quickly turned into excitement and anticipation. I was ready to take our first ever weekend trip with my NSLI-Y cohort: this was going to be so much fun!

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I got to the subway station around 8 am to meet with Kaitlyn to buy snacks for the two-day adventure. We bought so many things: chips, cookies, bread, drinks—the works basically. When we got to Better World, we were the first ones there… we even beat our RD 민정쌤! We hung out there for a while until everyone finally arrived. Also, many of the other students brought lots of snacks to share… but it turns out that we didn’t need any of that! 민정쌤 and 소영쌤 brought out this HUGE box filled to the top with snacks! They even had this huge bag of bread to give us for breakfast. It was crazy! We knew we would be eating well during these two days!

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We set out on the bus a little after 9 am. We got to take a big party-like shuttle bus (similar to the one we used when coming from the airport to our guesthouse on the very first day in Korea). It will probably be the same type of bus we will be taking back to the airport on our last day in Korea… BUT LET’S NOT THINK ABOUT THAT!} I sat at the very back of the bus with Jenna and Katie. The ride to the village was three hours. For the first two hours or so, I worked on my blog posts—trying to catch up with all this extra time! I also played this really fun game with several other NSLI-Yians: Josh, Jack, Liam, Harmony, Katie, and Jenna. The game was called Contact and Katie introduced it to us. Basically, it was a mix of the game Taboo and simply trying to think of the same word as someone else? I don’t know… it’s complicated to explain the rules in person let alone through writing. While we were on our way to 안동, we stopped at a rest stop to use the facilities and such. I think I tried sleeping after we made this stop? I’m not sure. The bus was really comfortable, though. You could recline the seats all the way back which made it seem like you were sleeping in a bed.

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Katie & Me ❤

Eventually, we arrived and it was nearing lunch time so we ate at a restaurant right outside of the village. For lunch, we had fish {mackerel???} and a variety of side dishes. I ate a fish eyeball !!! Yes, I did. Honestly, there was no taste. The texture was very hard at first like I was biting into a marble but then it turned squishy like the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. That’s what it felt like I was eating… a weird small egg. But the actual fish itself was delicious! And there was no lack of 멸치 (Anchovy) as a side dish so I was very happy.

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The  진수성찬 (Feast)

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Do you see that eyeball?

After we finished up lunch together, we took a bus into 하회마을 {Hahoe Traditional Village} to watch a 탈춤 {Mask Dance Performance}. 민정쌤 gave us these handouts so that we could read up on the performance and the scenes of the story because it would all be in Korean— with some “old timey” language and accents at that. The performance had this huge screen which displayed subtitles in English, Chinese, and Japanese which was nice. Sometimes the translations were very wrong and confusing, but they did help me follow along with the story pretty well.

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The play was a bit strange in some aspects… kind of suggestive in a way at the time too… especially since kids were there… I felt awkward. But since it was a display of traditional history, it needs to be showcased in its true form. I’m glad there were no major alterations to the storyline because that’s what makes the story what it is! Though, watching the monk sniff a pee puddle was a bit much… I found the bull peeing on the audience really funny!!!

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Shada being handed the bulls…private part…

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Also, during one of the scenes, they picked a woman from the crowd and had her pick two guys? She ended up choosing westerners and the actor was like “don’t mess anything up for the westerners.” She picked our lovely friend Liam!!! It was so funny seeing her pull him up out of the crowd. If we were not already recording the performance then, we definitely were now. Everyone pulled out their phone to record this interaction. Another foreign guy was pulled out of the crowd and they were both asked where they were from. The other guy replied with “USA” while Liam said 미국. We all cheered! He’s repping NSLI-Y with those language skills!!! Then, music started playing and they all started dancing. Watching Liam’s lanky body trying to dance in a somewhat “traditional” way with flowy/breezy body movements made me laugh–I could not help it.

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Liam is the one in the yellow sweatshirt!

Once the performance was over, we took a group photo and left the area for our tour of the 한옥마을. We had a tour guide walk us around with some microphone audio set and he told us all about the most famous places. He described to us the architecture of the houses as well as the social classes that lived in each one. We got lucky because one house was recently moved out of so we were free to look inside! We took many photos in front of the beautiful scenery and the houses. Every time we took out our large banner, everyone’s eyes turned towards us as they stared and read what the banner said: it was quite embarrassing at times.

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Traditional Korean Snacks: 한과

There was also this large tree that we got to tie a white ribbon around. On the ribbon, we wrote a wish we wanted to come true~

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Our Resident Directors~ ❤

At the end of the tour, we found these three large rope swings and took turns swinging on them. At first, I was really afraid because it went really high up and my stomach already cannot handle normal swings… but I sucked it up for the experience. {and the cute pictures~}

We also found this cliff off of a river and took some photos there. Everyone kept pretending to fall off which made 민정쌤’s face red every single time. It was priceless.

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The last thing on the agenda was visiting a mask museum that was also on the site of the traditional village. The mask museum not only featured Korean made masks but traditional masks from all over the world! I’m serious; every continent was covered and there were a lot of countries represented: Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, The Congo, etc. They had American masks too. This included both Native American masks and … Halloween masks. I’m not kidding. They had werewolves, goblins, zombies, etc.

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After the mask museum, we were all hungry and ready for a delicious dinner of an 안동 specialty: 찜닭! Ooooo boy was it delicious. While eating I sat with 민정쌤, Liam, Harmony, and Katie, and we talked about our thoughts on the trip so far but to be honest because we were so hungry, we were pretty quiet while scarfing down the food. At the end of our meal, we started talking about the differences between Korean and American education systems which was interesting because we got to hear from 민정쌤 about her experience. {Especially seeing that she has studied in both Korea and America.} She talked a bit about low-income students at the school she attended and how they are treated in Korea which made me feel quite sad… understanding what it’s like to be in their position. On a lighter note, we found out that Harmony is the best at (fake) reading palms. She can’t actually do it but wow is it believable when she tries!

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Me full beyond belief!

Dinner made us all so very sleepy. Our bus ride to our accommodation felt so short as we all fell asleep. 민정쌤 screaming “얘들아! Wake up!” was the lovely way in which we all awoke from our slumber. The walk from our bus to the traditional house was quite sketchy. It was already 7 pm so everything was dark and because we were also in the countryside, there were no street lamps to be seen.

The traditional house was just what I expected. When you walked through the main gate or front door, you were still outside. There was a little courtyard in the middle of the house and all the rooms surrounding it. There were a lot of sliding doors and windows to keep the house cool in the summer; however, they definitely keep the house colder in the winter. How did the Koreans combat this? With floor heating known as Ondol (온돌). Underneath the house, there were places for coal which would burn and keep the floors nice and toasty. At first, I doubted how warm this would keep us but it got so hot! Even before we were sleeping, the room was pretty warm. If I stayed on an uncovered part of the floor for too long, I would literally get hot and feel slight burning sensations. Besides my makeshift pillow {a combination of my NSLI-Y jacket and my winter hat}, I slept like a baby.

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When we first got to the house, we split everyone up into their rooms. I would be staying with Jacquelyn, Jenna, Katie, June, and Shada in the biggest room {with a connected bathroom}. Then we all piled into our room to have a discussion on today’s occurrences. We had slips of paper with discussion questions and we just answered them one by one hearing from the individuals in the group that had things to share.

Eventually, it was 8:30 and they let us go. But before we did our own things {like stay up all night}, the 아줌마 of the 한옥 wanted our help in preparing food for tomorrow’s breakfast. We all came out to this room on the edge of the courtyard. Those that were participating sat on these little mats and we were given the job of ripping the flesh off of dry fish skin. {that’s the best way I can possibly describe it} It was quite cold outside too so we drank some tea while doing the peeling. {I’m not sure what type of tea… but to me, it tasted like uncooked popcorn kernels.} The 아줌마 told us that she would use what we prepared just then for breakfast the next morning. She finely shredded the fish with a food processor and that was somehow going to end up in our breakfast? I was excited to see what would come out of it!

The rest of the night was just a bunch of shenanigans {and a lot of shushing because the walls are PAPER thin}. We played a couple rounds of Uno, Spot it, and this game called SpyFall online. We also just talked and chilled and got to hang out with each other because for many of us, our daily routine limits who we get to see on a daily or frequent basis. At one point in the night, Kaitlyn, Josh, and I got bored so we decided to literally leave the house and walk around. I’m not sure if we were told not to do that… but we only walked down to where the bus dropped us off and back. We found out that there were chickens on the property too! We tried walking up a bit behind the house but there was this dog that started going crazy which freaked everyone out. When we were walking by this stream, we saw an animal get startled and run away. We were shocked because it wasn’t obvious what the animal was right away. I thought it was the size of a cat but pranced like a deer, so for the rest of the night, we called that mysterious creature a deer cat.

It was like a giant sleepover for the rest of the night. I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. Although I was trying to live in the moment, it was so easy for my mind to wander and think about the end of the program. How am I going to survive without my fellow NSLI-Yians? My literal soul mate Katie? Kaitlyn who literally never fails to make me laugh? The fearless Shada? Harmony who gives the best hugs? Liam whom, although I can practically never understand him, is such a good person to be around? Josh who if it were not for him in my Korean class I would die!!?? Jenna the little savage? And Jacquelyn who’s laugh makes my day? This isn’t everyone but they are the ones that really stick out in my brain when I think of this particular trip. I’m so thankful for them!! Maybe since it’s so close to Thanksgiving… that I feel like I need to share all my emotions!!! 

I drifted off to sleep a bit after 12:30. It was easier than I expected. Don’t knock using an 온돌 instead of normal heating until you try it! Seriously!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the first day of our first overnight trip together~ I hope there’s more where that came from~ Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마
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