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Journals from Yonsei University, Korea

2009-09-17 Lunch With Jenny and A Soccer Game

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Can you spot the foreigners who joined the cheering crowd?

Last spring I got to know three Yonsei students who came to Linfield. This Saturday I got to have lunch with one of them, Jenny. She was kind enough to help me with my ongoing cell phone saga and have lunch with my friend Katelynn and me. We went to one of the umpteen Show mobile shops where Katelynn was able to get her cell phone working, but where I was unable to set up an account because I did not yet have a bank account set up (this was due to the fact that the bank was closed by the time I got out of class on Friday). So thwarted yet again I gave an aggravated sigh and we headed to lunch at Mr. Pizza. Now you would think pizza would be something recognizable, a nice reminder of the American food Ive begun to miss just a bit. Not quite, as everything here is somewhat Koreanized. We had a grilled chicken pizza, but there was sweet potato of all things in the crust. It wasnt what I was expecting, but it was decent nonetheless. After lunch Jenny showed me a mall near campus so she could go shoe shopping. I ended up buying a new pair of flip-flops as well. I did come with two pairs but one I only use in the dorm and the other have taken quite the beating from all the walking Ive done so far. On the way home I ran into a group of people who were heading to the national soccer game between Korea and Australia. One of the guys grabbed the strap of the bag I was carrying, so around I turned and headed to my first-ever professional football game. The friendly match was held at the World Cup Stadium. What a huge place! There was a mall on the inner part of the Stadium and just a lot of people in a comparatively small place. Outside the stadium I bought a shirt for 19,800w ($17ish), but this was for a jersey style shirt. You cant even buy a t-shirt for that at an American sporting event! All of a sudden a large group of people shouting and waving huge flags walked by. We decided to go join in, and all of a sudden we were linking arms, jumping and cheering. After that we started up the steps to the stadium when we saw a group of police officers and a mascot dancing. We stopped to take pictures but were quickly asked to join them, so of course we all ran up there! I dont know if it is their intention, but what great PR! The game was rather crowded and what energy! Im not a soccer fan, but I was definitely converted for the game. There were constant chants of Dae Han Min Guk (sounds a bit like Hey A-migo!) which is the formal name of Korea, much flag waving and even torches lit. Korea ended up winning 3-1. Everyone was high energy on the way home, and we had fun calling out some of the weird blue blood laws to each other on the metro (like in Washington a group of 4 women living together constitutes a brothel, or something like that). All of a sudden this man comes over shouting You! You shut up! Shut your mouths NOW! I get it that we are loud, but the last time I have seen someone screaming that aggressively was in gridlock on the 405. A few people went up and pulled the man away, but it certainly put a damper on things. It was just weird to go from having a crazy afternoon where we felt like we were being accepted into a group of people to being reminded of some of the great cultural differences and distances that will remain. Ashley Price Yonsei University Fall '09

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