of tea and ceramic – the stuff of my spirit

my roommates always go home (Seoul) for the weekends, meaning that i am left at the dorms alone, unless i choose to do otherwise. i spent this weekend hanging out with JK, our program director. our friendship surprises me, given the age difference (18 years) and the fact that Korean culture is usually so bound to restrictions of age and standing – but our friendship crosses those boundaries and perseveres nontheless. maybe its because JK is not your typical Korean woman, and i’m not your typical American college student…. or maybe just that our communication levels fit eachother well.
on saturday she took us, myself and two other global village mates, to her friend’s pottery studio near Seoul. it was a really refreshing experience. it felt good just to break out of the bubble that is my university life here and get some clay on my hands and arms. i was craving dirt. we sat together, drinking tea and coffee and sculpting in her cramped studio. “Sunny”, the artist, studied ceramics in Korea and the UK, where she earned her masters. she gave me a lesson on the wheel and in the traditional style of Korean pottery. the main differences seem only to be that wheel spins in the opposite direction and that instead of throwing one single piece of clay to make one piece of pottery, they usually throw off of a much larger lump – centering only the part of the clay that they are using as opposed to the entire thing. anyhow, i was clearly mesmerized and totally in my element. unfortunately, we cut the experience short to visit a teashop in Insadong district of Seoul where Sunny’s friend had a display of her work. there was a fantastic display there of traditional and ancient korean pottery, particularily tea-ware. we drank some tasty (and be-sa-da, or expensive) teas there from modern glass pots, disapointingly enough. but it was still a completely wonderful time….

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