By: Jennifer, NSLI-Y Korea, Summer 2013
Many Koreans seem to enjoy participating in camping and hiking. These activities proliferate more campsites, more outdoor camping equipment stores, online camping clubs, celebrity endorsements, and media recognition. Whenever I would watch a drama or variety show with my Korean host mother, there would be a scene or an episode surrounding camping, or set at a campground. Camping and hiking are activities that many Korean families enjoy on the weekends and holidays.
Koreans enjoying camping in different forms; the non-traditional way is where people set up tents and mats by the river during hot, humid days, while the traditional outdoor camping experience is also available in South Korea. I remember going to Han River Park (한강공원) with my host family, where I saw Korean couples and families laying down their mats and setting up tents. In this non-traditional camping experience, people enjoy the breeze from the Han River, leisurely rest in their tents and have barbecue meat on the grill.
I had the opportunity to experience a more traditional outdoor experience with my host family and another NSLI-Yan, Patricia, at Jangbongdo (장봉도), a little island near Incheon (인천). Patricia and I met more Korean people who were in the same mountain hiking club as my family. During this weekend trip, I had many new experiences: I set up my first tent, cooked Korean food on a camping-style grill, and hiked my first mountain.
Though this experience was out of my comfort zone (having lived in a metropolitan city my whole life), I enjoyed it dearly because I gained new experience and created many memories with my Korean family and friends. Although the mountain hiking club members did not know English, as NSLI-Y participants, we used our Korean vocabulary to communicate with them, which enhanced our language skills. I still remember dancing and singing by the campfire and picking up miniature crabs to cook on the grill. These lasting memories not only made me closer with my host family, but also taught me to take part in activities that I wouldn’t normally participate in.