Thursday, January 29, 2009

School Field Trip

On January 22nd (see, I told you we were behind on our posts), our Korean school took a field trip to the Seoul National Museum. Besides the three of us from our beginners language class, there were 3 other students and three teachers who went on the trip.

We had to take a subway ride from the school and walk a short distance. Along the way, we walked by an area with a lot of Korean palaces. There were also people dressed up in traditional garments to get your picture with.

{In this picture from left to right are: a Chinese student in an advanced class, the school receptionist, our teacher, a Korean girl who grew up in Russia (also advanced), Mark, a girl from Florida who's teaching at a University who has lived in ROK for 5 years, Stephan, and yours truly.}
Here are some of the signs on the sidewalk on the walk to the museum. As you can see, a lot of the tourist attractions have information in English, making it pretty easy to sight-see.

This was a map outside the museum. As you can see, this museum is huge - the biggest in Korea. It contains artifacts from ancient to modern Korea, as well as other Asian relics.

This is the view on the walk up to the museum. I love the modern structure of the building.

There was a lake at the entrance. I bet it'll be really pretty when the weather gets nicer.

Here's another map outlining each of the floors of the building.

As a perk of the field trip, we had a tour guide to explain some of the cultural nuances of the artifacts. And the best part was our tour guide spoke exceptional English (she said she studied in New England for awhile) so we were able to learn a lot at the museum. The entire tour took about 2.5 hours and focused on Korean history, but it would be easy to spend a full day here, as we only saw a small fraction of the exhibits. It is just astounding to me the length of the history here in Asia. We saw things that dated back to the 5th and 6th century, which was just fascinating to me to imagine people from so long ago!

This was a burial structure used, basically like a casket.

This is an example of what a Korean warrior would've looked like.

We also learned the history of the Korean language and alphabet, which was fascinating to me as a Korean student myself. Hangul was actually invented by a King Sejong the Great to allow his subjects to write. Korean was a purely spoken language (mainly a borrowed and modified form of the Chinese language) until this King took matters into his own hands and created the alphabet.

Korean is a very scientific language, and is considered very logical. (Though there are definitely times when I'm studying that I see no logic at all!)

Below is the first book created using a printing press.

This tower was created by monks and is huge! It is an outdoor sculpture, but was created out of marble, which is a soft material, so they brought it inside to prevent any more damage.

Each of the little sections is hand carved and I find it particularly interesting that each little section is created one by one separately, then all of the pieces are connected almost like a puzzle to create the final tower. Talk about patience!

This is a replication of a traditional Korean living space. This one would have belonged to a wealthier person since it's pretty large. There are still some homes like this located in Seoul, but they are extremely, extremely expensive.

This was just a very pretty rug painting that was created by Buddhist monks to help with meditation.

Speaking of Buddhist monks, we toured a room filled with various Buddha's. Here are some of our favorites. Notice that each of their hands are positioned differently, these different positions indicate which Buddha you'd pray for what. For example one is for health, one is for peace, etc....

Overall, this was a very enjoyable way to spend to day and we felt like we learned a lot about Korean history. Here's a final shot of everyone who attended the field trip. 

1 comment:

Aunt Carol said...

Kim, I loved your museum tour! I was so impressed with the tower -- and never thought of marble as a soft material! The Buddhas were fascinating; while I've seen pictures of them before, I never noticed the different hand positions.

You and Mark are wonderful storytellers; you should consider writing a book! Recently I read about a book called River Town, by Peter Hessler, which is a memoir of his 2 years of teaching English in a small city on the Yangtze River. It might be fun to compare his story with yours over time.

Do they have libraries over there? And do they have books in English? If not, and you'd be interested in the above-named book, I will get it for you here and send it -- though I hope it wouldn't take as long as your Mom's album did! Love to you both!