Monday, August 8, 2011

Out-of-Class Cultural Experiences via the Ewha Language Center

In this post I'd like to catch up on a couple of "cultural experiences" I've participated in through the ELC. The first was the program-wide field trip to Lotte World; the second was an optional trip to the National Museum of Korea.

The Lotte World trip happened just a couple of weeks after classes started. We first spent the morning at the Folk Museum that's next to the amusement park. There, we got to decorate dolls with traditional Korean outfits. It was pretty simple, but still fun, and the dolls looked cute.

The doll I decorated.
After the dolls, we toured the museum exhibitions, which mainly consist of miniature reproductions of various aspects of traditional Korean villages, plus one huge room that contained a pretty comprehensive diorama of an entire village region. I actually found it quite interesting, and the extent of the reproductions was impressive. If you're planning on going to Lotte World, definitely stop by the museum as well if you have any interest in what Korea used to be like.

One of the village dioramas.
In the afternoon, we had a few hours of free time in the amusement park, which is half indoors and half outdoors. I especially liked the "French Revolution" roller coaster (although it can give you a bit of a headache). Lotte World is no Six Flags or Disney World, but it was a nice getaway for the day (even though rain prevented us from enjoying the outdoor portion very much). As long as you don't go expecting someplace really amazing, it's a fun outing if you're into rides and such. (Just don't waste your time on the "haunted house" - most boring thing ever!)

Walking down the bridge to the outside portion of Lotte World.
The trip to the National Museum took place after class on a recent Friday. Once we arrived at the museum, we were divided into small groups to follow tour guides around the exhibitions. Our tour guide spoke only in Korean, of course, and even though he was aware that our language level wasn't terribly high, it was still hard to follow much of what he said (I mean, there's only so far that you can only simplify information about historical artifacts). Fortunately for me, I had visited the museum before with my mom and we'd had an English-speaking guide then, so I already knew a lot of the basic information about the artifacts we were shown. The tour was way too short to cover much of the (huge) museum, though, as we had an appointment afterwards for a make-your-own-Korean-paper-fan at the museum's cultural education center.

The fan I painted.
At the cultural center, we got to learn a bit about the traditional subjects, categories, and techniques of Korean ink paintings, and we watched an example video of someone painting on a paper fan (it looks deceptively easy, but it demands a lot of skill!). We then each got a blank paper fan and had an hour to experiment with the watercolors and paint our fan. Mine turned out okay-ish, but I never quite got the hang of balancing between having not enough water in the paint and having too much...

In the end, both "cultural experiences" were worth attending, and I got nice souvenirs out of them. Unfortunately, the doll I made at Lotte World ended up turning moldy because I forgot to take it out of its container to dry fully... but that's another story. At least I still have my fan ^_^.

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