Almost two years have passed since Kim Bruce and I took our first group of travel writing students to South Korea and Japan. We dubbed that study abroad effort #WTAsia2013.
Last Thursday, after a winter storm had forced class cancellations the week before, we finally launched #WTAsia2015. This year’s plan is to spend two weeks in South Korea. Here’s the crew!
As you might have already noticed on the front table, we started introducing them to some popular Asian snacks (“junk food” sounds a bit harsh): Choco Pies, which have actually been politicized on the Korean peninsula; boxes of Hello Panda, which are just pretty much awesome; Pocky sticks, because it’s not a party without Pocky; and the insanely-addictive family of Hi-Chew flavors. The snacks didn’t stand a chance.
Based on feedback from our previous study abroad group, we learned the students really enjoyed their time in Seoul. Also, visiting one country instead of two would cut the number of languages and currencies in half, so Kim and I decided to focus this year’s experience exclusively on South Korea.
Once we arrive, we plan to immediately travel south to Jeju Island. The island is rich with natural wonders and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Our students are already curious to try Jeju’s famous black pork and oranges. I’m thinking about taking them to see NANTA while we’re there, too.
Gwangju is next on our list. Last summer, I visited an old friend who lives there and decided that my students should spend some time in the birthplace of Korea’s movement toward democracy. We’re also looking forward to visiting with students at Chonnam National University and hopefully meeting some of the folks at the Gwangju Foreign Language Network.
We’ll conclude our study abroad experience in Seoul, where there seems to be an infinite number of things to do. Regular blog followers know that I lived there several years ago, and I really enjoy introducing others to one of the planet’s great cities.
Our class will be spending the next several months studying how to be better travel writers, learning to read Hangul and speak polite phrases in the Korean language, and reading up on issues of regional importance. And for the students who don’t already know how to use them, they’ll be practicing their chopsticks skills.
They got a complimentary set Thursday night.