Clay Studies ‘Rich Ceramic History’ in South Korea

By Purnell T. Cropper | November 2, 2010

By Marykate Torley ’11

Jenny Clay ’12 is currently studying ceramics at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea. “I have been working with clay since elementary school, so the idea of living in a country with such a rich ceramic history excited me beyond words.”

Clay received a Gilman scholarship, which allowed her to spend the Fall 2010 semester in South Korea. The Gilman Scholarship required a statement of purpose and a detailed outline of a follow-up project to be completed once she returned home, and as Clay said, “It seems like I worked forever on my statement of purpose to make it the best piece of writing I could offer.”

Though her previous travel experiences includes going to Scotland on Spring Preview, Clay says nothing could have prepared her for three and half months in South Korea. “I’ve never been away from home, let alone halfway around the world, for more than three weeks, so three months is a big change. The first month has flown by, and I have a feeling the second two will do the same.”

At Ewha, Clay is enrolled in an intensive Korean language class from 8-11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. Though the class is fast-paced, and it is difficult to remember all the vocabulary words, she is trying to incorporate the Korean that she does know into her daily exchanges. Clay also is taking a Korean ceramics class and an Industrial ceramics class, which focuses on plaster mold making.

When asked about the best part of Korea so far, Clay is quick to discuss the city of Seoul itself. “I have never spent more then a day at a time in a city, so to spend an entire semester living in the second largest city in the world is definitely an experience. So much is within walking distance or is a quick ride on the subway, so I believe attuning myself to a different style of living has been the best part of my experience so far.”

What she misses most about America, though, is the food. “With rice or noodles served with every dish, I am starting to miss home cooking.  I would love some scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon, or even a Wawa hoagie and iced tea.  I return home on Dec. 17 and have already told my parents that we are stopping at Wawa for said food on the way back from the airport!”

Upon returning home, Clay’s follow-up project for the Gilman scholarship will be a presentation on the history of Korean ceramics as well as giving a demonstration on the techniques she is learning to ceramics classes in her high school.