When I went to South Korea I expected to notice people staring more, since I had been told I might draw attention due to my hair, but I couldn’t tell if people were staring at me or not for the most part. Overall I had been told more or less what to expect since I have had friends living over there for a while, and I have had an interest in Korean pop culture for several years.
I feel like I’m now better prepared for inter-cultural communications, now that I have had a glimpse into a foreign culture, no matter how brief. Before this, I had only travelled to parts of Europe, and I was confident that either they would speak English, or that I would be able to understand the language well enough upon arrival. Making friends with the students that I had to work with was fun; I was surprised at how eager they were to talk to us, and learn. Wrongly, I had assumed that they would know quite a bit about British culture, since they would have seen more media from here than we as a nation have seen over here, but they had so many questions for us, it was very entertaining to try and answer them all with the language barrier in the way.
I particularly enjoyed the more artsy parts of the trip, such as the Korea Furniture Museum, which was easily my favourite part of the trip, as it was extremely immersive. Some of my best photographs are of this place (see above) and I feel that I learned a great deal while there, about ancient culture of Korean royalty, and the techniques that they used to build furniture, and other interesting facts about symbolism and the meanings behind using certain types of woods. I also enjoyed the more touristy activities too, such as visiting the palaces- I love immersing myself in historical areas, imagining what life would be like for those that lived there so long ago.
How my experiences have changed my practice: the trip has definitely influenced my recent projects, and I’m using inspiration of the mother of-pearl inlaid furniture for my stool project. I’m also drawing inspiration from what I learned in museums and palaces, about traditional culture, for my site and spaces project, for which I have designed furniture that could go in a space where the inhabitants sit on the floor.
I think one thing this module may have lacked, although it may not necessarily need it, is to have a creative outcome required. The presentation was a good way to allow us to show what kind of academic things we learned, and showcased our ability to analyse and research (which definitely helped me with constellation later on) but as we are part of an art and design college, I feel that I should have made more of an effort to keep a sketchbook of the two weeks I was there.