Payton, Daidreana

Name: Daidreana Payton
Location of Study: Seoul, South Korea 
Program of Study: Sogang Korean Studies Summer Program 2012
Sponsor(s): Bruce Broillet


A brief personal bio:

Hello! My name is Daidreana Payton and I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California (my address really says Los Angeles ^-^).  I am in the class of 2013 majoring in Information Technology Management and minoring in Korean. On campus, I work at Giovanini Commons in the basement of Mendoza, I am the Marketing Director for the club Shades of Ebony and the Co-Dance Commissioner for the Filipino American Student Association. I will be traveling to South Korea the summer of 2012 and I am very excited to learn more about its language, history and culture.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

IT Management as a major is a very global career path that could allow me to work in a number of places around the world. I have a keen interest in South Korea and would love to work with a business based in South Korea. With this grant I would not only be able to strengthen my Korean language skills but also learn more about the culture and formalities in Korea. I want to interact with more native speakers in their own setting, learning from them and possibly teaching them something about myself. I am interested in teaching English in South Korea and the program I will attend using this grant could help me to understand everyday life in Korea and whether this is something I want to continue in the future. I am invested in learning as much as I can and using what I know to help others to better their future whether that‰Ûªs through teaching English as a second language abroad or in the U.S. I hope to make the most out of my experiences abroad and I will continue to take courses in Korean for my Korean minor.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

The Sogang Immersion Program is well suited for my goals for language learning because it offers courses in the Korean language while being emerged in the country of its origin. This program will provide many opportunities to speak and learn from native speakers, while sharing my own history and background in exchange. I want to improve my Korean by interacting with more native speakers so that I may understand the structure of Korean vs. English to better understand common mistakes my friends often make. Being able to take courses in Korea, while visiting historical sites, is a bonus because not all programs allow for such sponsored field trips. Attending this program will be the first time I have traveled outside of America and I think it will be a very enlightening experience to visit a country very different from America on a number of terms such as diversity, culture, formalities, food, and history.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

  1. I will be able to communicate with local people, shop, and navigate the area with ease of conversation.
  2. I will be able to ask and answer questions quickly without the need to translate word by word but through an internalization of words and structures for quick comprehension.
  3. I will be able to teach basic English grammar structures taught primarily through the Korean language, as a comparison of the two languages.
  4. I will be able to speak, read, write and listen at a level of proficiency equal to at least one semester beyond my current Korean coursework at Notre Dame.

My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:

To maximize my experience I would like to become great friends with my roommate if she is Korean and possibly visit her home, learning about her family, traditions, and typical life. I would also like to meet her friends and visit popular areas. I am a member of an organization called the International Youth Fellowship which began in Korea but has branches in the US. I have made friends with many Korean student missionaries while attending Korean language sessions at the church as part of IYF. In Korea, I would like to speak more with them in Korean (they have returned to Korea). We still keep in contact to improve each others language skills and I would like to put them to use in a real world setting. I will meet with my friends on weekends, doing much traveling since they do not all live in the same region. I think they will be able to introduce me to many interesting local aspects of Korea. My friend Aeryeon‰Ûªs mother owns a Korean restaurant that I would like to visit to taste more of the local cuisine. If internships are available I would love to join during my time spent abroad.

Reflective Journal Entry 1:

?????? (Annyeonghaseyo – Hello/Are you in Peace?)

This is my first journal entry and essentially a recap of my first week here in South Korea. ^-^ In order to arrive at the dormitory I will be staying in at Sogang University, I first had to board a shuttle bus and campus was a ten minute walk from the bus station. Before arriving in Korea I learned some useful phrases from a native Korean studying abroad in the U.S. that I was happily able to put to use. I learned how to ask the bus driver if it was the correct bus to take me to the university, the fare, and the amount of time it would take me to arrive. Once I did arrive I was then able to ask some local students how to get to the dormitory and a couple kindly escorted me and my luggage up a very large hill. I have come to realize that South Korea has many large hills everywhere and I’m starting to understand a trend for wearing walking shoes with dresses and skirts which is a common sight I’m not used to seeing in the states. ??? (laughter in Korean – kkk) Once I made it to the dorm I was able to get my room card (electronic doors with a pass-code in case you forget your card) and meet my roommate who is a grad student from China working on earning her Ph.D. in chemistry. Her name is Liyan and I think she will be a wonderful roommate.

Moving along because I have many days I want to cover, we took a placement test on Monday (I arrived Sunday), and I was placed into level 2A which was the level I thought was most appropriate so I was very happy for this outcome. I actually met some alumni from Notre Dame who were here studying through this program and one of them is in my class. It will be great to talk about experiences and their life after ND (they are a couple who met at ND!). My class is not very large which means that it will be easier to get to know everyone and receive adequate attention from our teachers. We have three teachers, one for vocabulary, another for listening and speaking, and a third for culture class. My classmates all attend the same teachers so that also helps with keeping a tight knit group. So far the class has not been overly difficult in terms of learning vocabulary but listening and speaking has proven to be a challenge but this is an area I have wanted to improve. I think there will be some difficulty but I am excited to take on this challenge and learn something new.

Culture class keeps us very busy with a number of events and exercises to attend. We first did a sort of campus tour/search in order to become more familiar with the building and what lay inside. It was great to get a little lost then find your way because then at least you know the ends and out of an area. We next toured the surrounding city of Sincheon by subway which was my first time riding on a subway. You have to first buy a card that you put money on and scan when you go into and come out of the subway station. I think the subway is the best method of transportation here in Korea aside from the occasional taxi ride my friends and I have taken. It’s very convenient, clean, and generally isn’t as cramped as I would have expected. On Thursday we went to Kwanghwamoon and near the Blue House (similar to the American White House). I was able to take pictures in the American chair from a conference of nations that Korea hosted. I was also able to take pictures with the president and his wife via green-screen imaging that was quite funny. We toured the palace and visited the statue/museum of King Sejong who invented the Korean written language called Hangul (previously they used Chinese characters). This is one of the sites I wanted to see before coming to Korea so I was surprised but delighted that it was a part of our class lesson. On Friday we attended a b-boy performance called Marionette the mostly featured the b-boy style of dance with interesting story pieces for each dance. The main dance focusing on a male marionette doll that fell in love with a girl with a red hat and was sad when she died of old age, but was able to see her granddaughter and become happy again. Other stories included a 70’s disco club dance and a glow in the dark monster/transformers routine. All of the dances were well choreographed and had the crowd ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ in delight. We were able to take a picture with some of the performers and wear the red hat that the little girl wore.

It was a wonderful start to my first week here in Korea and I cannot wait for what may come next!

Reflective Journal Entry 2: ?????? (Hello/Are you in Peace?)
Ok, so week two! This week started off with a quiz (yay!) which I did very well on I am happy to say. The class was in a slight panic on the format and difficulty of the quiz but we did a lot of review beforehand and were all well prepared. Now that the first one is over and done with our minds are settled and ready for the next ones. Class has gone well, I am learning new grammar points that I can put to use outside of class such as with my roommate or language exchange partner. I’ve agreed to say at least one full sentence to my roommate in the best Korean I can manage aside from the phrases I often throw out (some thoughts are a little too complex to explain to her in Korean so I have used some English ~Konglish – Korean+English) Surprisingly my language exchange partner is close friends with a fellow Notre Dame student’s language exchange partner so we have joined together as one group (plus another close ND friend of mine) to exchange language and culture. We went out to eat at a local chicken restaurant that was very delicious and went to noraebang (karaoke) afterwards which was my favorite for this week. We sang songs in both Korean and English but I realized how slow of a reader I am in Korean. I’m hoping that more noraebang sessions such as these will occur and I can improve how quickly I read while also having fun with friends.
This week in culture class we heard a lecture on Korean politics (in English) with a guest lecturer who studied abroad in the U.S. We also learned the traditional Korean martial art called Taekkyeon at a theater and taught by real martial artists. It was almost like a yoga type exercise when done alone so it was sort of relaxing but when one on one it proved to be a useful art of defense. Surprisingly, a girl was able to flip over the instructor although he clearly was not expecting her to even move him. It was a shocking but funny sight to see. We next learned a traditional dance by an instructor that included the use of arm sleeves that flared out almost like a fish kite. When put together it was a very beautiful dance involving the arms and legs in all sorts of jumps and flaps. We were filmed by class so this will be a great memory to share with friends and family back home. On Thursday we did calligraphy which is called Seoe. We each were able to cut out papers and glue them to a paper fan that we then wrote anything we wanted using calligraphy brushes and ink. I made a heart out of my paper and wrote Sarang (love). We practiced many types of strokes beforehand on scratch paper before beginning our works of art so that he final product would be to our taste. This will be a keepsake for years to come that I am hoping to get framed when I return home.
Next, I will be going on a field trip for the weekend and it is also my birthday so I hope this will be the best one ever. ^-^

Reflective Journal Entry 3: Field Trip

?????? (Hello/Are you in Peace?)

Last journal entry I mentioned I was going on a field trip during my birthday and I have to say I had a fantastic weekend! So we did a lot on this field trip and I’m going to share the events a little out of order. Some highlights for me would first be that we went rafting on a river between some lovely hills and it was the first time I had ever been rafting. Students were able to play games in order to fall out of the raft or simply jump off if they chose but I decided not to after seeing the difficulty in getting back into the raft (students merrily floating beside the raft until they had assistance in getting back in). Along the way to rafting we also stopped by a traditional Korean village where we learned more Korean history and entered homes and buildings of traditional Korean styles. We viewed a masked dance and the masks were all made in different fashions and told the story about the type of person they were to resemble and the movement of that person in the dance. This was a fun activity because we were also able to join in the dance and try on the different masks after the performance. We stayed at a hotel that featured a miniature water park in its basement and I love swimming so this was a treat. There were many saunas and warm pools of water with jet sprays that were all very relaxing. Along the way to our destinations we ate at some popular places for the foods made in the area. In one city we ate many foods made of garlic but had been cooked in ways that you would not at first guess notice you were eating garlic. Many of the dishes ranged from a spicy or sweet taste to almost potato like in simplicity but equally delicious. Another city housed many jars of fermented foods such as kimchi or pastes for cooking in. The jars were a traditional way of holding the foods and leaving them out until just the right time to be eaten.

During the field trip we were able to try soju which is a clear Korean alcohol sort of similar to vodka. Soju is very popular in Korean as a drink to have with friends or during outside business engagements with clients of a company. Each student was able to have a shot to share with friends during dinner and since it was my birthday it made it extra special. On the last day after returning to campus, a group of us that had signed up were able to attend the Korean music variety show called Inkigayo. The show features musical artists with top songs in Korea but the audience is never entirely sure who may be on that week aside from getting a hint from the music charts. This event was especially exciting for me because it meant I might have the opportunity to see my favorite Kpop groups. Needless to say I was disappointed. There were many groups I was familiar with that performed but surprisingly my favorite girl group 2NE1 was promoting their newest song and performed it live during the show. It was my first time seeing them in real life and was the best present I could have gotten that weekend. We were unable to take pictures but luckily it’s a television show so I can watch reruns and remember that I was there and had a chance to enjoy the wonders of Kpop. Also performing that day was Psy with his hit song called Gangnam style which I expect may hit the U.S. with its viral popularity.

All in all I had a wonderful weekend filled with more activities than I could have ever expected. I would love to spend every birthday from here on in a place as adventurous as Korea.

Reflective Journal Entry 4: Week 3

?????? (Hello/Are you in Peace?)

Another week and another quiz over and done (phew!). The quizzes are not as difficult as I would have expected considering all of the studying and practice that I have been doing with my Korean. The schoolwork is still a challenge but something I am enjoying and useful for my everyday life whether it be while purchasing items, giving taxi drivers directions, asking questions, or engaging with native Korean friends. This week I met up with some native friends that had once studied abroad in America through a Korean church that I have attended. It was great catching up and showing off all the things I had learned. My friend Aeryeon who I really wanted to see is actually back in the U.S. right now studying abroad again so I was not able to visit her family restaurant that she had told me about before. However, my friends Victoria (Hyejin), Seyoung and Biran and I went to a Dongdaemun, a popular shopping district, where we talked, tried on many clothes, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. I really miss them now because they live far away from campus so I will not be able to see them again during my trip. I hope that someday I can come back to Korea though or they visit America again so that we can see one another. Luckily technology has greatly advanced so we can always send messages or video chat in our spare time.

This week in class we learned to play some traditional Korean games which could sometimes get a little difficult with the ranging levels of spoken Korean for our class. The first game was similar to the game jacks because you had to pick up objects quickly but instead of bouncing a ball you threw one of the square bead-like objects into the air. So essentially it’s a quick throw, grab, catch and at the end you balance the beads on the back of your hand then quickly flip it over and catch the beads in your palm. Other games involved words or counting, one being similar to the game concentration. In this game everyone performs the same rhythm and you name similar objects on beat when it’s your turn. Our theme was fruits and at one point the game changes to calling out another person’s fruit and a number of times they must repeat their fruit before calling on someone else. An example would be if I told the person with mango to repeat 3 times then he or she would say mango three times (while staying on beat) then call on the next person to say their fruit name. These were all highly entertaining and at times slightly confusing if you do not know all of your fruits but it was a great activity and learning exercise. Next up our culture class took us out to noraebang which is the Korean name for karaoke. We were able to sing many popular songs both in Korean and a few in English. With each new time I do this activity I think I get better and better at following along with the reading and I would like to ask my Korean teacher at ND if we can have this as an activity someday. This week is filled with Kpop because we also learned a Kpop dance routine that we then performed and filmed for a video that will be edited and shown towards the end of the program. Our dance was to the song Fantastic Baby by Big Bang (my favorite male Kpop group!). I think we all did really well considering we had one day of learning and practice and the next day it was filmed. I’m excited to see the final video and those of the other groups who each had their own song. Last for this week was a baseball game between the Doosan Bears and the Lotte Giants. Our program rooted for the Doosan Bears and we won the game! I had never been to a baseball game before so this was a new experience also. We got some sort of inflatable tubes that you hit together to make noise and cheer on the players that made an excellent souvenir.

Only two weeks left in the program and I do not want it to be over so soon. TT^TT (crying face)

Reflective Journal Entry 5: Week 4

?????? (Hello/Are you in Peace?)

Last quiz is done with so now we just have to worry about the final exam which includes a writing portion and interview. We also have presentations about our time spent in Korea and partner presentations about a site we visited. This week my partner Emily and I went to the Namsan Seoul Tower. This tower is a huge landmark in Korea as it can be viewed from several areas. It sits on a mountain around 400 meters up I believe and you can buy a ticket and take a cable car up. You can also walk up which takes a while but we decided to walk down instead of waiting in line for the cable car when we left. This is a popular spot for couples to go on a date because there are restaurants at the top and the trip up itself is an experience. At the tower is an area where the gates are filled with locks for an event called Locks of Love where couples buy a lock, write their names or a message, then attach the lock so that their love will last forever (or until the lock falls off I’m assuming). Here we took pictures and created a presentation complete with voice over notations about the tower to present to the class later.
I’m not the best cook but I do enjoy trying especially foreign foods that I have never come across. This week we had a cooking class where we made japchae, kimbap, and bulgogi. We first learned all of the ingredients and instructions in class before going to the class which made it a lot easier to understand the cooking teacher and which step we should be on in the process. Japchae is clear potato noodles that is mixed with vegetables and was probably my favorite dish because it was simple, creative, and delicious. Kimbap is simply Korean sushi but the ones we made and that I have seen did not contain any raw meat. Bulgogi is marinated beef and it’s one of my favorite meat dishes here in Korea. In groups we made all of these foods and were able to taste everyone’s which varied in deliciousness. ^-^ The last event of the week was a film watch of The Host and lecture on Korean films. The host was essentially a sci-fi/thriller movie about a monster that invades the Han River and lives in the sewers. The monster is at first seen killing/eating people and comes across the daughter of them main character. He takes the daughter with him into the sewers and the girl is presumed dead until she finds a cell phone from one of the monsters victims in the sewer and calls her father for help. Her father is thought to be crazy by hospital officials when he tells them that his daughter is alive but with the help of his brother, sister, and father they go on a mission to save the girl. The movie has slight moments of comedy, tragedy, and suspense and was great to watch. By no means did it fall under horror or was highly graphic in gore or violence but it did sometimes make you squeamish. I would recommend it to anyone who likes movies of this sort or is looking to watch an international film.

Okay, last week coming up which means I will have to go home soon. I will admit I miss my family but I really like it here in Korea and can’t wait for the next chance to visit.

Reflective Journal Entry 6: Week 5

?????? (Hello/Are you in Peace?)

My final week is over and I am going to be leaving soon to go back to California. I met many wonderful people while here in Korea and I hope to come back someday. During this last week we took our final exams and interview along with presentations on our favorite events or what we learned through the program. I did my presentation on Kpop including experiences such as noraebang and Inkigayo. We also did group presentations and my group visited the Namsan Seoul Towers that I mentioned in my previous post. Everyone gave wonderful and sometimes very entertaining presentations about their time spent in Korea. Classes 2A and 2B participated in a quiz show and unfortunately my group (2A) lost by a point but at least we can say we learned many new things that I hope we remember for a lifetime. We had a graduation ceremony recapping some memorable events throughout the program and we also viewed our Kpop videos that were filmed in week three. The final cuts made us all look like true Kpop dancers so I was very proud to see how it all came together after only a day of practice. During the graduation we received our certificates of completion of the program along with some free trinkets and a dinner with our teachers. My final moments in Korea and I didn’t really want to leave so I stayed until the last few students trickled out and I said my final goodbyes to my teachers. Luckily we are all Facebook friends if I ever want to contact them and tell them how I am doing so I look forward to our conversations. At Notre Dame I will be continuing to study Korean so I hope that I can show my teachers in Korea how much I have improved in a few months.

I am grateful for the time that I have been allowed to study abroad for the first time and hope that someday I can give back to a student that wishes to study abroad as has been done for me.

??! (Bye!)

Postcard(s) from Abroad:

Reflection on my language learning and intercultural gains:

My language learning while abroad has increased significantly since before I left. After living in Korea for five weeks I have noticed improvement in my ability to hear each word that a person speaks in Korean versus catching a few words here and there. This has helped me to understand full sentences better such that even if I don’t know every word, I am able to hear the ones I do not understand and repeat them to ask questions about their meaning. My speaking has improved in terms of reciting useful phrases and creating new sentences from the grammar points I have learned. Many of the grammar points were useful in everyday life so that I could speak with native Koreans while shopping or traveling to a cultural site.

Intercultural gains include understanding the Korean dress and music style, respect for elders (especially in speech), relationship dynamics between age groups and sex, differences between American and Korean perceptions, and the history and culture that shapes the Korean mentality. I have come to understand some of the differences in beauty perceptions between Koreans and Americans which is a very prominent topic for Korean people. I think this topic was one of the harder ones to understand because the two can be very different, almost opposite, in some areas. I enjoyed learning about relationship dynamics across age groups and sex because Korea has high respect for older people even if just a difference in school year. Female and male dynamics have many differences than in America which were sometimes baffling but interesting all the same. I really enjoyed the different clothing styles in Korea and was surprised that I had not seen anything similar hit markets in America, but I can only guess there is a slight lag in these areas.

Reflection on my summer language abroad experience overall:

Overall, my summer language abroad experience is one of the best moments of my life. I was able to travel overseas for the first time and experience a culture that is very different from my own. I have a new appreciation for a variety of cultural foods and pastimes that I never would have tried living in America, which is an eye opening experience. My grasp of the Korean language is still in the works but it has jumped from where I started before I arrived which is better than nothing. If given the opportunity I would definitely study abroad again in Korea or another country (I have also studied Spanish) to gain more insights into the history and culture and to fully engage myself in language learning.

How I plan to use my language and intercultural competences in the future:

In the future I would like to use my language and intercultural competences in a business setting. As a student majoring in IT Management and Korean I would like to find a way to combine these skills into a suitable career that I will be happy going to work to everyday. I have considered working for a Korean company or a company with a location in Korea if possible. There are also opportunities to work with a domestic company that does some business with Korean people but I do not have to stay in Korea. This would be opportune but even if I could not find such a situation, I would continue to study Korean and use my cultural knowledge when dealing with clients and analytical skills that come from studying foreign languages. Outside of the business aspect, I would like to help teach English to Korean study abroad students and in turn learn more about Korean and the culture from multiple perspectives.