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Sunday, May 23, 2010

YFU Pre-Departure Orientation

Anneyeong!

So today was the Lincoln/Omaha area pre-departure orientation meeting in Lincoln Nebraska at Lincoln's area reps' house, Jeff.
There was, not suprisingly, only seven, yes SEVEN outbound (USA students LEAVING the country) students at this session: three Germany year students, two Japan summer students, one France year student and me, that Korean girl.

I thought it was going to be very awkward and uncomfortable but I was pleasantly suprised. Almost immediately upon arriving at Jeff's house, I was wrapped in the conversation about countries and cultures that I didn't know it was already time to start!

We started off with the usual get-to-know-each-other warmup activity that brought on a bunch of awkward glacnces and giggles.

Then we got down to business.

One of the rep's told this amazing story about sunglasses and culture. Basically she talked about how you leave your home country wearing yellow sunglasses and arrive in a country wearing blue sunglasses and what happened was, when the girl came back, she told her friends she saw in green. The problem was, however, that she carried some of her own beliefs and cultural bias so she couldn't fully experience the other culture. The moral of the story was that you must first remove your own yellow sunglasses before wearing the foreign, blue sunglasses to fully experience the culture.

After that intense session, we took a ten minute break where Lida, Summer Japan, won a YFU hat. Then we had lunch- Eating Subway! Oh! I have found a new love: Italian Dressing and Cheese Croutons! :D

Then we talked about what to expect, culture shock, as well as "facing the critics" in your host country about America. My partner, Samuel and I totally kicked butt with our reasoning! :D I found this stuff enlightening but I already had a general idea as to what to expect.

I honestly do not feel, at least at this point, that I will receive much culture shock primarily because I already know so much about the culture. I have researched it and I know the social norms. I have yet to live it, however. But I am not going into South Korea cold turkey- I specifically chose this country for a reason. And I also keep in regular contact with my host brothers- Tony called me yesterday and we had a very fun conversation for over an hour!

Then we had another raffle after "facing those darned critics" and I won! I received a nifty little YFU computer bag- it was black and blue! :D

Overall, spending those six hours, yes six! With those seven students- no, friends, has made me even more excited for my trip. I learned a lot with spending the day from them. It is not just me who is confused and maybe a little intimidated, and we all learned something new today.

And as we each part for our own different journey we are each connected in a way that we weren't before- We share a bond- We are each about to embark on a journey of a lifetime.

Nicole, Cassey, Erin, Lida, Charla, & Samuel

Saranghae,
Me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Host Family Information

"...And then you realize just how small the world really is."

So in case you don't know me, I'm a very impatient person. Waiting one month to find out who my family is, is extraordinarily painful; I can't do it.
My mother shares my pain.
We got an offer with YFU for a year subscription of Rosetta Stone: Korea for only $75!! That is an EXTREMELY low price, considering each language is 400-500 dollars each. So my mom placed a phonecall to the head office asking about specifics and just randomly asked about my host family, not really expecting a response. To my mother's utter shock, I DID have a family! And the lady was putting in my information but was very reluntant to tell my mother, mainly becuase I think she wanted it to be a suprise. The only thing we got out of her was my host father's name, his email address, the province, and how many siblings I have.
Turns out I will be living in the Gyeonggi-do province and I would have 3 siblings: 1 girl (12) and 2 boys (17 and 18)!
Well, ya'll know me, the first thing I did was try to find everything I can about them! I had absolutely no luck until I went to Facebook and unthinkingly looked up my host father. Turns out he has a Facebook! And he had 3 children: 1 girl, 2 boys- 1 of which was currently on exchange!
A couple days earlier I asked a question on YFU-Korea about what to expect, and befriended a guy who had spent a year in South Korea and really explained a lot to me. Turns out, this guy KNOWS my host brother before I even knew it was my host brother!! So I added my host brother thinking he probably didn't know who I was and he didn't. Until my friend who stayed in South Korea talked to him and explained that I was 90% sure that he was my host brother..... Guess who was right!?!?!? :D
I am now more excited than ever to go to South Korea to see everything- Tony (my oppa [meaning older brother]) promised to take me to Seoul! Seoul is about 40 minutes away from my host city- Paju!

Saranghaeyo!
Heather

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Annyeonghaseyo (안녕하세요)~

Anneyonghaseyo~ (Hello!)

When I was born, my parents got this crazy idea in their head to name me Heather.... Weirdos. Just kidding! Anywho, most people at school call me neatner, neats, ginger (EW!) or just the crazy girl. So call me whatever you feel like. :)

This summer I am going to South Korea as part of Youth For Understanding (YFU) Short term program to Korea for 6 and a half weeks.

I leave June 22nd and return August 6th.

I didn't want to do a full year because it's my senior year. I just, I CAN'T miss senior year. Not when I have so much left to do here. And YFU doesn't offer any semester programs for Korea so it was summer for me! But I am a firm believer in fate, and destiny and I figure, if it is meant to be, it will happen.

So how did all this come about?
It actually started during prom season. My dad & I went out driving around, trying to find some botiques that sold amazing dresses that weren't carbon copies of each other, when the subject of my love for Korea came up. We discussed maybe going on vacation there this summer- for 3 weeks or so. But the more we talked about it, the more we realized that going there, I would only be seeing things from a tourist's standpoint, rather than as if I were LIVING there. And the whole point is for me to see if I want to live there one day.

My dad suggested maybe student exchange for the summer. He told me to do some research and we'll talk. I researched and narrowed it down to YFU- one of the most respected and well-known foreign exchange programs and one of the few offering Korea. We talked about it with my mom, and by late March, I convinced my parents into going- not by begging, but by giving them logical reasoning as to why I wanted to go. Deadline was April 1st 2010. I found out of my acceptance April 18th.

Now, I play the waiting game for being matched with a host family. Host family info is being sent at the end of this week. :D