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A Year in South Korea/P.J. Sproule

Changes and challenges

January 10, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

This month was one of my most difficult months of my year abroad so far. I think that it was mostly due to the difficult language. Even with my difficulties on the language, I still got to do some interesting things this past month.

The first Friday of the month, my school had an English Day. For this, the school asked for us exchange students to give our presentations on our own countries. We were given the option of doing the presentation in either Korean or English. Josh, the Taiwanese student, was the only one to give his in all Korean, while the rest of us used varying amounts of Korean and English. They also asked for us to participate in a competition called the Speed Quiz. Only Josh and I participated in this competition, where we had to make the school body guess what Korean words we were trying to explain. I got nine out of the 10 words, which I was very happy about.

The week after, I switched to my second host family. It has been much more difficult, as my new host family is not able to communicate with me as easily as my last host family. I think that this is a good thing for me, though, because it will probably help a lot with my Korean.

On the second weekend, I went with my new host family to the boarding school that my host sister will be attending in the spring. While in the area, we also went to the Independence Hall of Korea, which was an interesting museum. Afterward, we went camping, and I got to meet some of my extended family.

The following weekend, it was announced Kim Jong Il, the leader of North Korea, had died. When I first heard the news, I was expecting some changes in the environment here. Instead, there have not really been any changes in what is happening here, besides the news coverage on television and the Internet about North Korea.

The next week, our school went on a trip to Seoul to see the National Museum of Korea. It was very interesting, and I hope to go back to Seoul soon.

On the third weekend of the month, my host family invited more of their extended family in order to celebrate Christmas. Although it was very unlike Christmas celebrations I have experienced in the United States, I enjoyed the weekend very much. On the Saturday, it even snowed, giving us a white Christmas.

The week after Christmas (I had to go to school during the week following Christmas), we exchange students had our Korean language test for our school to see how well we were learning Korean. It was not exceedingly difficult, but I had been studying a lot beforehand. I haven't received my scores back yet, but I feel that I did very well.

On Thursday, we finished school after our hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) class for the exchange students, and we began our two-month-long winter break. During the break, we have trips to Seoul, Daejeon, and Jeju-Do. I am really looking forward to seeing more of Korea over my break.

Editor's note: P.J.?Sproule is a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the Houghton Rotary Club living near Seocheon, South Korea, for a year.



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