Well, before I actually talk about JWs and hitchhiking, I want to say something about the food. I like most Korean food a lot. It's quite tasty. But I don't really like it for breakfast. Think about eating garlic, chili sauce, fish soup, tofu, and fried zuccini at seven in the morning. I don't eat very much for breakfast anyway; generally a granola bar or a small bowl of cereal is enough. The other day Mrs. Kim was making me breakfast and Sarah wasn't around. First she gave me cereal, which was good, except that the milk had somehow gotten a garlicky taste to it. Then she kept making me more and more food! I kept hoping that the stuff she was making wasn't for me, but then another dish would appear. On top of my cereal, I ate fried fake crab meat, kim-chi, tofu soup, some kind of green stuff, and rice cakes in chili sauce. I was so full! And everywhere you go here, people give you food. Sarah and I went down to the church office to tell them something, and she breaks out chips, fruit, and yogurt cups. There's so much food! I guess I just don't eat enough.
Anyway, yesterday was interesting. Since Sarah and I are both interested in education, we wanted to visit an international school and learn about its system and how it runs. We were going to go to one school, but it was four hours away, which is a little far. Instead, her dad recommended that we visit a Jehovah Witness school that was only two hours away. I called, hoping that my Westernness would soften them to us, and asked them if we could come by sometime that day and visit the school. The lady I talked to said yes, come. So Sarah and I took a train to one city in order to hop a bus to the city where the school was. We missed the bus we were trying to catch because it wasn't marked correctly. Then an old man told us we needed to get on a bus that was leaving. We ran after it and got on, but then Sarah found out that it wasn't the right bus after all. She asked the driver to let us out, but he wouldn't stop until she started yelling at him. She went back inside to ask at the counter. The lady there said she'd look for it and then began making phone calls. Finally we saw the right bus which was also pulling away. We ran after it and made it. The school site said that the bus would stop right in front of the school, so we kept waiting until then. Sarah also asked the driver, and he said that we should wait until the very last stop. The last stop turned out to be a hospital at the top of a very tall hill. Sarah was pissed. One of the men on the bus told us that we should walk down the hill, which we started to do, but a man we ran across told us that the school was too far to walk to, but there was a shuttle we could take. When we looked at the sign, the shuttle didn't arrive for two hours. We finally broke and got a taxi.
When were driving down the hill, we saw a huge white building with a giant dome on top, sitting way up the mountain. We thought that must be the school, but the taxi driver told us no, it was the house of the founder of the JWs. It's crazy to think that that humongous house was for one man. The school ended up being just below the white house, and it was crazy as well.
When we were dropped off, we were a bit awed by the building. This was just a high school, but it had marble-like steps and huge pillars. It was four or five stories tall. Flowers were everywhere. There wasn't an office like most schools. We followed the directions that the lady had given me, climbing up to the fourth floor and going to an office at the end of the hall. The man there, Steve, was the director of study abroad trips. He told us that it was highly irregular to have visitors like us who hadn't gotten written permission from the principal, but since we'd come that far and the person told us wrong on the phone, he'd show us around.
That school is the scariest thing ever! The kids are like super robot kids. It has six hundred kids and is a 7-12. All of the kids have to speak at least conversational English, be musical (they have to take one kind of instrument while at school), take a third language, and achieve a black-belt in Tai-kwon-do before graduating. Between eight and three they have seven classes. From three until six they take electives like music, horse-riding, SAT prep, broadcasting, or research projects. From seven-thirty until nine they have a school-wide study hall (with a special study room with desks), but they can opt to take more night classes if they want to. Middle school students must be in bed by twelve, and high school students must be in bed by two. Oh, and they get up at six-fifteen to have (what we're guessing is) group devotion times. Besides all this, most students travel to conferences, debate tournaments, research councils, mock UNs or congresses, etc. And there are fifty clubs that they participate in.
I just don't understand how they can do it. How can they do all of that? How can they get the homework done for the million classes they take? How can they survive off of such little sleep? That can't be healthy for growing high schoolers. But oh well.
After the tour, Steve told Sarah and I that we could catch a shuttle back to the hospital where we could get another bus. Surprise, surprise, the shuttle didn't get there until five-thirty. It was three-fifteen. We started walking down the mountain, and then Sarah decided we should try hitch-hiking. A car did stop for us. It was one of the staff members at the school. He told Sarah that he was going through the town where we got off the train anyway, so he took us the whole way! My first real time hitch-hiking. Although Sarah's mom wasn't too thrilled when she found out about it later.
Well, tomorrow we go to Seoul. Should be tiring, but fun.