This month has been one of my busiest months in Korea. At the start of the month, I also made the move into my final host family. Now I am living in an apartment much closer to the school and my hosting town, which has been very convenient.
In this host family, I have two younger brothers, the oldest of which is planning on going for an exchange year in the fall. He hasn't found out where he will be going yet, but he hopes to go to the United States.
I also started back up with school at the beginning of March. The school year here runs differently from the school years in the U.S. In the U.S., we would start in September and finish in early June, while here they start in March and finish in late December. The school had the exchange students stay in the same grade while our classmates changed.
One of the biggest changes at the school, though, was the opening of the new dormitory. The students that stay in it are mostly the incoming students, but we get to see the building a bit too, as it is where the school's new cafeteria is. Also, with the new dormitory, we exchange students are also getting dinner at the school before our Korean culture classes.
Another major change in this part of the school year is our school's goals for the exchange students. While in the first half of the year, we were spending most of our school day in classes to learn Korean, this half of the year we have only the normal classes with the Korean students. Although exchange students are not required to do the day-to-day work in class, our school is requiring one major assignment per class, assigned by the teacher of that class. So far, I have received three of these assignments: for our English class, we are required to give a 3-minute memorized Korean speech; for our Korean class, we have to write a two-page paper in Korean about what we learned during exchange; and in our engineering class, we are writing a two-page paper in Korean about hanok, the Korean traditional house.
My time recently has not been all about school, though. I also did some things outside of school. One major event in March was that Arne, the German exchange student, had his brother, Jannes, came to visit. It was interesting to see someone starting out freshly with new experiences in the culture. Another interesting event was that I went to the nearby city of Buyeo with my new host family, where we saw the ancient capital of the Baekje Kingdom. It was an interesting visit that sparked an interest for me in exploring Korean history. I am very glad that my host family was able to bring me there and I look forward to some of the future trips that we will be taking together.
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.