Our exchange student, Michael, goes home this week. We spent this weekend in Yosemite. For an 11 year-old I was surprised at how impressed he was with the sights. The typical response we have gotten from children and adults alike has been something along the lines of, “that is nice and all but we have rocks and trees in Korea too…”
We asked him what he enjoyed or found different about his time in the United States and here are some of his thoughts:
He was surprised that younger children needed a babysitter, that they couldn’t stay at home alone for extended amounts of time. In Korea this is no big deal.
He was also surprised that we don’t have any 학원 here to speak of whereas in Korea everyone takes some kind of after school class. The schools here are broken up into separate, single story buildings, whereas in Korea, his school is one multi-story building. He liked his teacher here and made some good friends.
While he was here he enjoyed several holidays: President’s day, Valentine’s day, St. Patrick’s day, Mother’s day, Easter. Easter was his favorite. He also liked “pajama day” at school (but I don’t think he wore his pajamas to school).
Generally, he liked American food but there were some things that he didn’t like. He didn’t like artichokes or pears. He said that we (as a society) eat too much meat. He doesn’t like tri-tip; it’s too rich. He really liked clam chowder and stew.
My daughter got a guinea pig for Christmas. At first Michael was scared of it but now he really likes it. He says that he wants one when he goes home. We have noticed, especially with the Korean orchestra last summer, that Korean children are very apprehensive around pets. Most of them warmed up to them though. Michael was no different in that regard.
On Friday there was a rattle snake (방울뱀) sitting next to my back door when I got home from work. I readily dispatched it with a shovel. Michael thought that was really cool. I just reinforced the spring-time rule of not going outside without shoes on…
Unfortunately, you can’t see the tail. It had two ‘buttons’.
So, that is Michael’s impression of his time in the United States. I think he had a fairly well rounded experience. For only being here for four months his English speaking ability has improved a lot, mostly because he was forced to interact in English. Now let’s interact in Korean!