Time doesnt seem to care what you are doing, or even where you are at. I still can't believe that I've been in South Korea about four months. I can still remember going through security and boarding the plane, wow, time sure does fly. I have enjoyed every moment of my journey and still am; I have had the opportunity to meet new people, eat great food, and see another part of the world that some might never get to see. The moments that I have gone through, I think have helped in some way shape my character. It will later reflect later in life, when I am in a job or interacting with other people in another country. I recently just returned from a small town on the outskirts of Seoul with a friend of mine. I loved it so much that I didnt want to leave but I knew that I had to :( While with my friend, we visited her family and there I got to see how the family interacted, plus I got to help with making kimchi, samgapsa (grilled pork) all of it was delicious. It was fun being surrounded by the family who loved having me.
My classes are fairly easy and are taught in English, though my one professor after lectures if there is time left over will give a Korean overview of the lecture for the Koreans in the class. I stay and listen which makes the material a little more interesting. I think all my classes are fairly interesting because each has something unqiue about them. The only downfall is the reading, I don't have homework just reading :-/ I have to say that this is way better than loads of homework but after awhile it becomes boring.
Weeks ago, I had an encounter with a mother and baby at the red light. We were waiting to cross the street together and I couldnt help but look over and there was a mom with a baby strapped to her in the front. The baby was all cheeks and just stared at me, well I couldnt help but smile and try to make the baby smile. No such luck, the baby kept staring and nothing else. The mom who noticed my attempt smiled at me and would occasionally look at her baby to see the reaction. The babies I noticed are in my opinion a little more cuter than some American babies; I'm not sure if it's because of the extra chubbiness or what but they are.
Only five more weeks and then vacation. I won't know what to do with myself but when it does come, I'll only think about eating, sleeping and relaxing!
Hyderabad University, India
An Excerpt from her blog post “Mumbai”
One of the most striking things about India, and Mumbai in particular, is how close in proximity the rich and poor live together. I've been in India for about 5months now, and I've never seen as many beggars as I did in Mumbai, particularly children. Mumbai is home to Dharavi Slum, Asia's largest slum, in population, not area, and its located between two major railways in the middle of the city. Strangely enough, the shape of the slum is actually quite similar to a heart, so the slum is also called "The Heart of Mumbai."
I know this is going to sound weird, but one of the best things we did was go on a slum tour. It was recommended to us by both Lonely Planet and another group of friends that went to Mumbai several weeks earlier. We went with a company called Reality Tours, and they put 80% of the money you pay for the tour back into the slum. They've built schools, a community center, and various art projects. A couple of the girls had reservations about taking a slum tour, for obvious reasons, but I actually didn't. I felt really good about going with Reality Tours, but part of me also knew that if we didn't take a slum tour I probably would've just taken it upon myself to walk through the slum, which definitely would not have been safe.
The Industrial District is definitely the most dangerous and poorest part of the slum. The working conditions are horrible and ridiculously unhealthy. I mean, these men are melting plastic bottles and aluminum cans all day and inhaling all of those toxic fumes. According to our guide, these workers come from small farming villages up North when its no longer harvest season. The factory owners let them sleep in the factory at night (which also provides the factory with free security) so the workers are always on time. Depending on the factory owner, some of the workers are compensated for on-the-job injuries, but not always. Most of the factories provide protective wear, but in the Mumbai heat wearing a thick suit and gloves while working around an incinerator all day is not ideal.
One of the most enlightening things I learned was that nearly everyone living in the slum has a stable job. Of course the Muslim women can't work, but people who live in Dharavi are taxi drivers, waiters, janitors, ect. I had always kind of assumed that the beggars we encountered wandered around the streets during the day, but then went back to their house in the slum at night. While the people living in Dharavi are poor, they aren't living on the streets, which means that the beggars who live on the street literally have nothing except what they can carry on their person, and considering all the street children there are in Mumbai, realizing that is very unsettling.
The Muslim area was very cramped, with tight winding passages and stacked, multi-story buildings. However, the Hindu area had more open-air and was noticeably cleaner (Our guide said this was because keeping a clean house was so important in Hinduism, but I think he was Hindu so I'm sure he's biased).
Near the Muslim-Hindu community divide there was an open space, covered in garbage, where a bunch of kids were playing cricket and running around. Unless a child is potty trained I think Indian parents find it pointless to even put pants on that child, so there was a whole bunch of naked toddlers running around Mumbai. Consequently, I don't think I've ever seen so many little toddler penises and I'll be quite fine if I never see so many again. However, while we were in the area where the kids were playing we kind of integrated ourselves with the kids and played with them for a bit. I put myself on official "pants-patrol," so if any little kid that actually had pants was showing a half-moon or a bit of crack I'd walk over and help to pull their pants back up.