International Students at the Ewha Language Center got a refreshing break from their classroom routine when they took a trip the Oeam village in South Chungchong Province, Oeam Maul to experience traditional Korean culture. Organized by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Foresty and Fisheries, the trip brought together foreign exchange students from Ewha, Yonsei and Sogang universities on November 8 and 9. Oeam village has maintained its traditional buildings for over 400 years, and now serves as a living museum.
“Wow.” “It’s very traditional.” “I’m so excited.” “It’s amazing.” “It’s so beautiful.” These were the first words that came out of the students mouths when they got off the bus after the long journey.
Making kimchi was the first mission given to the students. They mixed the ingredients between the leaves of the cabbages. Under the direction of one of the village grandmothers.
“It was so hard to make kimchi,” said Tze Nie Choong, an exchange student from Yonsei University. “The halmuni (grandmother) was really scary; she said that if I want to find a good husband, I have to practice making kimchi. But it was really interesting and a good experience.”
Student’s second mission was in the fields – making thatch for the roofs of the villages chogajeeps (thatched roof houses). They rolled the straw and shook it up and down until it was neat and clean.
Finally after an exhausting day, a dinner of mouth watering Korean dishes was just what the students needed. Most exercised flashy chopstick skills while tasting traditional dishes such as Namul (Korean seasoned vegetable dish) and even Makgeolli ("Korean rice wine").
The next day, students were ready for another taste of Korean culture. They made hangwa (traditional cookies) played samul nori (a type of traditional percussion music) and made ice cream with milk they got from the milk cow.
“I really enjoyed making my favorite food, ice cream,” said Julie Selnekovic, an exchange student at Ewha who just arrived this August from the United States. “I always eat ice cream but I have never had the chance to make it. So it was really fun,” said Selnekovic.
“This program was intended to provide the students with an experience that they cannot have in the city. We hope they will remember their experiences when they go back to their home countries and spread Korean culture,” said Lim No-gyeu, a director at the Center of Rural Information & Culture.
“It was a new experience for me. I made new friends and experienced a new side of Korea. I’ll never forget the precious memories,” said Selnekovic.
The trip to Song-gye Village in Muan, South Jeolla Province from November 15 to 16 was hosted by Korea Fisheries Infrastructure Promotion Association.
On the day of arrival, the exchange students had a camp fire in front of the village and tasted sweet potatoes roasted by the fire. “I was surprised with the sweet taste, since there are no sweet potatoes in Kazakhstan,” said Aigerim Kanatbek, an Ewha exchange student from Kazakhstan.
On the second day in Song-gye Village, participants woke up early in the morning and dressed in their life vests and blue rubber boots. The group went to a tidal-flat located near the village and caught a basket of seashell, mostly comb pen shell.
After having a fun time of catching clams and watching huge seaweed plantations across the sea, the travel to Song-gye Village seemed to be almost over. But there was one last special lunch waiting for the students. “The organizers offered us seafood which I have never tasted before,” said Enkhchimeg Gankhuyag, a graduate student from Molgoria who has entered Ewha’s Interdisciplinary Program of Technology and Development. “This travel for me was special for me as it is my first time looking at sea since my home country has only lakes,” said Gankhuyag.
“It was great to see my friends enriching their experiences through this event,” said Lee dong-eun (Social Sciences, 1) who came with the students as a coordinator.