Traveler Thursday, Week 4: Samantha’s Journey to South Korea

This is the first article of a series of 5 interviews, called “Reach the World Kids Field Notes”, of kids from around the world.  We are excited to hear their perspectives and compare them to one another!

Traveler Bio: Samantha is a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipient studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea.

Teaser: Have you ever wondered how a kid your own age was living on the other side of the world? Today we find out! I want to give you a glimpse at the daily life of a kid in South Korea. Meet local kid Ji Hyun!

Title: What is Daily Life Like for a Kid In Seoul?

I was introduced to Ji Hyun (지현) through my Korean friend, Youjung. Ji Hyun is my friend’s younger cousin. She is 14 years old and she is from a nearby township. The name of her middle school is Kim

Poh Yoja Chong Hak Gyo (김포여자중학교). Ji Hyun’s school is an all-girls middle school. She explained to me that all of the middle schools in South Korea have school uniforms. The uniforms are different in the summer and winter. The girls uniform has shirts and sweaters.

Ji Hyun is interested in college life, so she wanted to meet me at the Yonsei University campus. The pictures found throughout this Field Note are from our afternoon together. Ji Hyun traveled from her home to meet me in Sinchon. When I first met Ji Hyun, I was surprised at how tall she was! At only 14 years, she’s as tall as me. Ji Hyun really wanted to practice her English with me, and she understood our conversation very well. She has a bright future ahead of her.

After a quick walk around the Yonsei campus, we walked into nearby Sinchon and shared a delicious dessert of pat bingsu while she spoke to me about her daily life. I have a few pictures from our afternoon together. I hope you enjoy reading about some of Ji Hyun’s daily activities.



Meeting at the college.  Photo by Samantha.

What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

On weekdays, I eat rice and kimchi (fermented, spicy cabbage) for breakfast. On the weekends, I like to sleep in late so I do not wake up in time for breakfast. During the weekdays, the school gives us lunch with rice. During lunchtime, I am at school. So school gives me lunch. School meal is rice and every day the food is changing. The food is delicious. For dinner, sometimes our family goes out. Usually at home my mom cooks. The food is similar to breakfast, because there is usually rice and kimchi.

What is your house like?

I live in an apartment building on the 15th floor. I have my own room.

What chores do you have at home?

I do not have specific chores. I just clean the house.

What jobs do your parents have?

My mom is a part-time worker at a clothing store. My dad is a salary man. He works on the phone.

What time does school start, and what time do you go home?

My school starts at 8:30 a.m. Students should get there by 8:20 a.m. It takes 15 minutes to walk to school. I usually get home around 4:00 p.m. after school. I have many classes on Thursdays, so I get home later, usually by 5:30 p.m.

How do you get to school? Are you allowed to go to school by yourself?

I get to school on foot. I walk by myself. It takes 15 minutes to walk to school.

(To watch Samantha’s short video, called, “Traveling Around Seoul, South Korea”, click here!)

Where do you eat lunch? What is your favorite food?

I eat lunch at school. My favorite food is pork.

What language do you speak at school? How do you say “Hello” in your language?

We speak Korean at school. “Hello” is annyong haseyo (안녕하세요). “Good bye” or “see you later” is chal ga (잘가). Chal means “good,” and ka means “go.”

What are some common kids’ names at your school?

My name, Ji Hyun (지현) is a common name for girls. Minsu (민수) is a common name for boys.

What subjects do you study in school, and which one is your favorite?

I take music, physical education, Korean, English, math, science, history, art, and ethics. English is my favorite subject. I started learning English when I was 10.

What is your homework like?

I don’t get a lot of homework. For example, I might bring my art project home if I didn’t finish my work at school. We also solve some math problems in our textbook at home.

What do you like to do after school? Do you have a favorite sport or game?

I like to sleep, surf the web, watch television, read books, and hang out with friends. My favorite sports are badminton and ping pong.

Who is your favorite famous person?

My favorite famous person is Son Yeon Jae. She is a gymnast.

What kinds of music do you listen to?

I always listen to K-Pop, which is Korean pop music.

What would you like to be when you grow up?

I want to be a teacher. I want to teach English.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I want to travel to all of Europe. I want to travel by train.

What do you know or think about the United States?

The United States is a wealthy country. They have lots of junk food. I want to go there at least once.

What questions do you have for kids in the United States?

When does school start for you? Does the United States have academies, like cram school with private teachers and cram courses? Who is the most famous person you would like to meet? Which part of America is the best? Why is New York called the “Big Apple”?

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