Thursday, October 28, 2010

soft milk

Shohei, Darae, myself, Hwayeon, Viruck, and Candice at the fireworks festival. The fireworks were nothing to write home about, but it was on the island in the middle of the Seoul river which was cool. And spending time with friends is always fun. It was so crowded that cell phones stopped functioning because of too many signals in one area, so a lot of my friends couldn't meet up with me.

This is at a free concert last weekend in Seoul, hosted by the G20 Summit Committee. There were a ton of big name performers there from Korea and other Asian countries. There were at least 15 performers, each doing 1-3 songs. I was there with Viruck, Candice, and Zou Ying. We went out and had some interesting Japanese food afterwards before calling it a night.

Wouldn't be a Korean Thanksgiving without a night of bowling with Rob & the boys.

Got a math problem? Solve it with some quick-acting "Anti-calculus" toothpaste!

I didn't pass the audition for the play, but Zou Ying did so I'm happy for her. I'm happy for me too. I feel like I don't have enough time and energy to do everything I want to do sometimes, so I can't imagine what it would be like if I had 30+ hours of rehearsal a week on top of everything else. She's a trooper.

I have an interview tomorrow for a part time job teaching 4 hours per week. What I really want to do is find a full time job (or close to full time) teaching at a private school in afternoons/evenings/weekends. Not only would it help my financial situation, but if I have a stable job where I'm not working mornings, I could continue studying Korean beyond this semester (which I really want to do, but I don't have the money/income right now). I've been looking at a couple jobs but haven't found one that fit me, as it would need to be in Seoul and be able to provide a work visa. I am thinking it might be best to just go through a recruiter like I did last time, but I heard its gotten a lot harder in the last two years. I guess being Caucasian and having some experience under my belt helps a bit though.

Next week is the midterm already. I just am getting caught up on homework now (i got behind because i spent alot of time memorizing a speech and planning a halloween party) so I don't really want to think about a midterm. This week is only the 3rd week of class, but when the semester is 9 weeks midterms come fast. My classmates are okay, but I think I enjoyed level 2 and level 3 more. A number of my classmates are hard to connect with because they are a bit older or they live in their own bubble or something, but some of them are cool. Japyeon and Wonbyeo have been playing b-ball with me when we have time and Dusang is just like what I imagined having a little sister would be like. And Dusang and Unseong both speak surprisingly good English. Taking the whole class out for a drink tomorrow night, hopefully will help them loosen up and feel more comfortable.

Yesterday was a field trip to the countryside. We made pear jam, made some traditional rice cookies using flower petals as the designs on top and pan-fried them, picked our own pears off the tree, and dug up some sweet potatoes. We got to take home the potatoes, jam, and pears. I used the time at lunch to teach drinking games to all of my classmates, so we don't need to waste any time explaining the rules tomorrow ^-^

I really enjoy my student life here. Hopefully I can find a job soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

keeping busy

I didn't have much time last time so I just posted a picture. Our school took the field trip to the biggest amusement park in Korea, Everland. It rained alot, but it was cool to hang out with my friends from 5 different countries. We were all pretty tired after walking around all day.

We finished the final exams on Thursday. Our school and grades are a bit different that a typical school, in the sense that the goal is not to get an A or to graduate, but rather the goal for every student is just to learn as much as they can and pass the test to advance to the next level. As such, instead of aiming for a 95% to get an A, we just aim for a 70% to advance. Since I know I did all my homework and I did well on my speech during the semester, I wasn't too worried going into the exam. We got our Reading/Listening scores back on Friday, and i got a 79 in both. Haven't got the speaking or writing scores yet, but I know i'll be able to go to level 4. Alot of friends and acquintances are on pins and needles waiting for those last scores. We have classes on Monday and Tuesday next week still, so they won't tell us our final grade until then (they are still calculating attendance and class participation, and telling us our grade now would basically kill any motivation to come in to school next week).

There is a school play next semester, acted out entirely by foreign students. I have an audition tomorrow and will likely get in, but the more I think about it the more it seems like a bad idea. The first reason being that it doesn't really seem like a very interesting play to me. It's a well known korean play that seems like a historical comedy, but the lead role is a woman and the two main roles for guys are not very appealing to me. One is a blind old man that walks around with a cane, and one is an evil man who is always up to no good and cheating on his wife. There is definitely no "hero" role to be had. If I take a more minor role, such as the heroine's husband it might be more appealing, but since we will be practicing full time for 6 weeks, at 36 hours a week (while doing a full course load) I don't really want to spend that much time on it if I'm not going to be a main role. I would like the opportunity to perform, meet new friends, and practice my korean all at the same time, but I'd basically have to sacrifice a lot of things due to time constraints, which includes doing the dance club at school, playing basketball w/ friends, working out at the gym, hanging out (And studying with) friends during the afternoon. Also, it seems like it would be pretty difficult to have a part time job, social life, or a girlfriend during that time, as I have to practice until 6pm every day, even sundays. I'll go to the audition tomorrow, but that doesn't mean i'll take the job.

Also, the month i paid for at my current home ends in 8 days, so i was thinking of moving next week. I looked at one place today that seemed better than my current place. The window is really small, which sucks, and it doesn't have a refridgerator like my current place, but it does have an A/C. Also, at my current place the internet always goes down where the weather is bad, and even though the landlord only has to reset the internet to get it back up, he sometimes doesn't do it for a day or two, even if i ask him to. Still contemplating it. I'm asking some friends if they know any good places. I kinda want to get a change of scenery. Also, this place has rice prepared 24 hours a day. decisions, decisions...

Our graduation ceremony is on Wednesday. I will be doing 2 dances with our dance club. All in all it should only take an hour or two for the ceremony, and then we are officially on vacation. Not sure what i'll do on vacation, but I'll try to keep busy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

평소 생활

My Chinese friend Sung Bak, participating in the beauty pageant at our school. Take a second look... did you know its a guy? So is the person in the background.

This is a picture of when I went to Dongdaemun with Junya on Monday. As I get more accustomed to Korean life, I've been taking less and less pictures. Nothing in Korea really surprises me anymore.

The midterm exam went okay. I wanted to get all A's of course, but that's not possible. I don't know of anyone who did that. Overall, the test was much more difficult than the test at level 2. I guess I did better than my other American friends. Even Junya, who always got A's on reading and listening, did a bit worse this time. But the scoring isn't like a typical school. So even if you get a B or C, that's not something to be disappointed about.

We had the school festival and I was in the talent show dancing with some of my friends. It went okay, we got 4th place (since when do they have a 4th place anyhow?) I didn't have any illusions of grandeur and would have been quite fine not winning anything. But I was upset that my friend Zhu Xuan only got 3rd. She performed a traditional chinese dance that she has been learning for more than 10 years. I thought it was really good. The two groups that beat her out were not as good. They each had one person that could dance, but the others couldn't. I think I'll be getting access to the video next week so hopefully i can post it on here.

Other than that, I've decided to go to China during our school break next month (about 4 weeks away). But it might take me a couple weeks to get my Korean ID card (which i need to get the visa) and to get my tourist visa to China. But that gives me time to plan the details of my trip. A lot of my chinese friends in korea are going back to China during the vacation, and the ones that I've told my plan to have invited me to hang out with them in China. The problem is that China is as big as the continental USA and they all live in different cities. Zhu Xuan invited me to her hometown, which as far as I can estimate is about 300 miles south of Beijing. Hao Yue is going back to Beijing, and Fei Ya is going back to her hometown which is about 5 hours from Beijing. I think Min Rui might be going back too, but her hometown is right near Hong Kong, which would be quite far from everywhere else. I don't think Junya wants to go back this semester. Also, Zhangyan invited me to hang out in Shanghai and Suzhou. I don't have time to go everywhere, but I think Beijing and Shanghai are musts, right?

Next weekend our school takes a trip to Everland amusement park... all 600+ students at the Korean Language program going together. It will be cool, especially because we are going on a Friday I think, so it shouldn't be too busy. Also, we can stay later than the allotted time if we want, so long as we get our own transportation back.

Lastly, the finances are shoring up, especially with having just paid for enrollment for my next semester, and setting aside some money for the China trip. After I finish the next semester (mid December) I will need to start working. I'll be looking for a job in Korea or China. I have a couple months to ponder it still, but if I had to decide now, teaching at a Korean kindergarten sounds like a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I wish I could say...

... no animals were harmed during the taking of the midterm exam, but I'm afraid that might not be the case. See below.

It's midterms Monday and Tuesday this week.
I'm not worried about my Korean ability, but I am a little worried about the role-play speaking test tomorrow. The girl I got paired up with has the strangest accent ever. When she speaks Korean it sounds like she's trying to strangle a cat with her voice. I can't understand half the stuff that comes out of her mouth. My strategy is to try to confuse her by asking complicated questions before she can confuse me. Here's hoping that I do well tomorrow and that there aren't any cats in the immediate vicinity of our school !

Friday, July 30, 2010

the week in retrospect

This week has been tough because I've been so busy, but its full of highlights.

Dance club activity started on Monday. This semester only 15 students got accepted, so half or more of the students who applied can't do it, which sucks because 2 or 3 friends plus many of the people I met in the club last semester are not able to do it this semester. We are learning the dance for "bad girl good girl" by Miss A (a korean girl group of 4 members). I've been sore all week since doing that on Monday though, I think I kinda got out of shape during the school break. Also, today I played basketball for 2 hours with some various friends and random people. I think playing that 3rd game was a bad idea. My whole body hurts. I have a couple hours of free time to relax, and then i'm going out for dinner and drinks with 8 or 9 people from my class. I'm kinda worried that they're all just gonna speak Chinese though, as that is what generally happens when 2/3rds of them have the same native tongue.

As far as school, I feel like I'm doing good because I got a 100% on Monday's test and I know I did really good on my speech yesterday. It's tough to speak for 5 minutes in Korean and memorize everything. Most of the students couldn't even do that, and if they did, they were so worried about remembering the words that they made other mistakes, like having monotone intonation, mixing up the polite and casual speech forms, etc. Despite the fact that I was going on 3 hours of speech, I think I nailed it. Compared to the other 7 students that have done their speeches so far, I'd say mine was at the top for accuracy, fluency, delivery, and pretty much every other way of measuring it. Also, my sentences were much more complex. Some of the people were just like "and then _ _ _ happened. And then I did _ _ ." They describe it very accurately by using precise words, but as the topic was "My most ______ing experience" I think it doesn't really draw you into the story when they just speak like that. My sentences were like "While I playing computer on the first floor of our home, my twin brother kept hitting me, but regardless of how much I yelled, our parents wouldn't come downstairs." So, I'm not sure exactly what criteria the teacher is measuring it by, but I think I was best both for my Korean ability and for my delivery style. I'm really happy about that, as I enjoy giving speeches and whenever I have a test or project I want to do my best. Junya's speech was good (and funny too) and I could understand everything because I'm very familiar with her accent by now, but I think some of the other people had trouble with her pronunciation. Nonetheless, it by far wasn't the worst pronunciation in our class. We had to grade our classmates presentations, which I despise. I just gave everyone 90 or 100%, regardless of how bad it was. There were a couple speeches where we couldn't ask any questions during the question time, because there was so much we couldn't understand and we didn't want to embarrass ourselves by asking something that was mentioned in the speech.

There is a talent show next week and I passed the audition doing my Korean pop dance, but I don't want to do it by myself so i'll probably just withdraw.

Life is good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

no news is good news

I'm hoping that my lack of any updates lately would be evidence enough that I've been busy. My motto is
미치도록 공부하고 (study like crazy)
미치도록 일하고 (work like crazy)
미치도록 놀고 (play like crazy)
미치도록 사랑하자 (love like crazy)

It's a good creed to live by, but it doesn't leave me with too much time to wonder about my blog. After getting back from the states, I've been in Korea for 3 weeks. We have had 2 and a half weeks of class, and everyone in my class is pretty cool. Mostly Chinese students, but if I can isolate them by themselves or in small groups I can get them to speak Korean with me. But, like with my Korean friends, when the vast majority speak one language then they really just tend to speak their mother tongue rather than a language that everyone can understand. So during our break time between classes all I can hear is Chinese in our classroom, unless I'm talking to one of the few students who are not Chinese. As such, I seem to be talking to 유카 (Yuka) a lot. Don't misunderstand though, there are a lot of cool Chinese students too. 준아 (Junya) who was in my class last semester is with me once more. And 하정, 유이, and 화걸 (Ha-jeong, Yu-i, and Hwa-geol).

These days I'm hanging out with Min Rui a lot more. We met at the dance activity club last semester, and have a lot of common friends. Her, Yu-i, and Jun-ya have been teaching me Chinese when we have time.

Besides that, what else is there to say? I'm busy preparing my 5 minute Korean speech. The topic is about "Being born as a twin." I thought it was a good topic, because most of the students in my class are only children and don't understand the joys and hardships of having siblings. So I have a few days to memorize it all, as I'm speaking on Wednesday. I volunteered to be first; going first is best because otherwise the anxiety just builds over time. Other than that, the dance club starts up again tomorrow, and I have a one-day part time job at the school that pays $70 for an hour and a half.

I had dinner with some Chinese and Japanese friends that I met by chance at the library. I was trying to be cool and was eating some hot peppers really quickly. I guess that plan kinda backfired, as my face changed to an uncomfortably red color and I had a bit of a stomachache afterwards. I seem to be in the clear now. I can feel my face again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


My birthday is almost half over, but it hasn't even started yet in the States. It's my second birthday in Korea, and I'm glad that I have the chance to celebrate it with my university friends. Today I'm going to cook some chinese food for lunch with Junya and then tonight should be fun going out for dinner and drinks with my international friends.

We finished our last practice of the Hip Hop Dance Group at school. The performance was supposed to be tomorrow, but suddenly they changed it so that we are performing at the graduation ceremony on June 18th, which sucks because I'll already be back in the States. I guess I can do a solo performance when I get back .

Last week we took a field trip to 남이섬. (Nami Island.) The bus ride was an hour and a half. After getting there, we have to wait for the boat to ferry us across. And then we ate lunch together with our class. By the time that was done, we only had an hour and a half to explore on our own before we had to go back. My favorite part was when I went to the bathroom and there was a class of 20 kindergarten boys in there and they all point at me "외국인!" (Foreigner!). I said "아냐, 내가 한국 사람이야 !" (No, I'm Korean!) and they got into a big argument with me. Some of them were really confused, and ran outside to ask their teacher... who in turn was very confused as well as she had no idea what had transpired in the bathroom.

On the bus ride back, everyone was tired and Junya fell asleep on my shoulder. I forgot my iPod so I just studied korean with my cell phone dictionary.

On the weekend, I stayed close to home and studied Chinese with my Chinese friend, Haoyue. Also, Friday night was the school festival. There were alot of rumors about which famous singers were gonna come. Two of my friends told me that Lee Hyori was coming, so I stayed there until 10:30. But there weren't any good singers. I was glad to see After School perform though. They are a group of 5 girls that I missed out on a chance to see in Gimcheon last year. It's hard to imagine I'll be back stateside in two weeks... I should start buying some souvenirs to bring back.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Staying out of trouble

Since moving to Seoul, I haven't has as many opportunities (or as much motivation) to take weekend trips to other cities. But, with the 3-day weekend thanks to Buddha's birthday, I got that chance last weekend.

On Thursday afternoon (after classes were finished) I had lunch with my Doumis (helper students that the school paired me with) and then took the bus to 청주 (Cheongju). I met up with Viruck and Candice, and we hit up the town for some barbeque, playstation arcade, karaoke, and beer. Slept the night in 청주, and then in the morning met up with my friend 민애 (Minae) and together with some of her friends (7 of us in total: me, 1 Italian guy, 1 Korean guy, and 4 Korean girls) took a road trip. Our first stop was 전주 (Jeonju). This city is very famous for its "Korean Traditional House Village." Its about 1 sq. mile and all of the buildings look like the traditional korean style. We had 비빔밥 (Bibimbap, rice mixed with various vegetables and a chili pepper sauce) which is the famous food there. It was good, but the only real difference from 비빔밥 made elsewhere is that they added a walnut and a few pieces of jejube. Because of the traditional appearance of this town, sometimes its used to film movies that have a lot of flashbacks or take place in the past. One of my favorite movies, 클래식 (The Classic) was filmed here.

After that, we got back in the car and continued driving south for about 2 and a half hours. We got to the home we rented for two nights (see picture above). It was in an area with alot of hills and forest, and was really beautiful, especially when the mist rose up over the forest. It had a barbeque outside, and inside there was a kitchen, bathroom, and two rooms. Friday night we grilled outside and enjoyed the nice weather.

Saturday it was raining non-stop all day. We went to the nearby mountain, 지리산 (Jiri mountain), which is one of the most famous in Korea. There is a temple not far up, which was cool. And then we hiked 2.5 km along the path which took us quite far up the mountain and to a beautiful waterfall. The constant rain was a bit bothersome, and made for a few slips on the way down. By the time we got down, it was time for a very late lunch and then we went to a tea museum. When the first person brought tea to Korea and gave it to the king, the king ordered that the tea be planted on this mountain. So this mountain is the origin of Korean tea culture, since about 700 CE. By the time we got to town, most of the shops were closed... but we managed to buy some sushi, chicken, and various other things to make a delicious meal. We went back to the house to eat and enjoy a few drinks.

Sunday morning we had a big breakfast of ramen and fried rice. I'm not a big fan of ramen to begin with, and it's not exactly how I like to start my day ㅋㅋ But it was good to get some food in our stomachs before we left. The trip back home took 8 and a half hours (from the time we left that lodge until I got back to my apartment). So, it was a bit difficult because I hate to sit still, but spending time with friends is always fun. Spending two days with the same people non-stop is a good way to make friends. And actually I found out that 병일 (Byeong-il, see picture above, and no... I have no idea what he's doing) graduated from the high school that I taught at last year. Its a big coincidence since that town is so small that nobody in Seoul even knows where it is, and there are about 7 or 8 high schools in that town. So it was fun to talk with him about the school, because we knew some of the same teachers and famous places nearby.

민영 and 민정 (Minyeong and Minjeong) who were in the same car as me for a good portion of the weekend.
보라 (Bora) and Luka. They've been a couple for 6 years, but can't speak each other's languages. They always speak in English and are a really good couple.

Monday, May 17, 2010

anything but static

Everything in America changed so slow. I've had the petal to the metal ever since I came to Korea. But perhaps that metaphor is a little erroneous, as it implies that I have some control. But everything in Korea changes faster than I can understand it. Really, the best way to live is just to follow your heart and do what feels right. If you have a good heart, and a good head, regardless of the speed that you are going at, regardless of how badly you screw up, it won't be so bad that someday in the future you won't be able to get back on your feet and exclaim "whew, that was fun!" and take the lift back up to the top of the hill. It's hard to imagine that all of these blog entries have been written by the same person, and its safe to say that these journals only scratch the surface of my daily life and daily thoughts in Korea. I think I really have changed alot, and I suppose that will be tested when I travel back to the states next month. What changed -- me, or my environment?

I took the midterm test last week. My listening and reading results were 91% and 95%. They are respectable scores, but fell short of my idealism. I am really proud of my class, as we all did quite well. Lets just say if this were softball, and it was my class against the other level 2 classes, this game would've been called early due to the 10-run rule. I suspected that we were much better at Korean than the other classes, and i'm glad to have this confirmation. Especially Junya, 100 and 99?! I'm proud of you!! But I guess I chose the wrong person to make a bet with. Let's just say breakfast is on me this week. Tomorrow we get the writing and speaking results back. I think I am pretty good at both of those, especially writing, so I'm eagerly awaiting those results.

Today I was informed by my teacher that they want to take a few photos for some school-related purposes. He was pretty vague... which I now know was due to the fact that he really didn't know anything about it. If he were right, it only would have taken a minute. But instead, I spent a good 2 and a half hours there with about 10 other students. The korean classes are 95% asians. So I think it was a little odd that the 3 young, handsome white guys and the 1 black guy among the 200 students all got selected to this group of 11 students. But when they chose the girls, they didn't pick girls that were young or pretty. What are these pictures for, and who are they marketing them to? I knew it was serious stuff when I saw that I had to get my hair and makeup done before we started shooting. They really went a little overboard and made me look like 구중표 but its okay. I think they didn't really have the right makeup tones for white people, but that would be implying that i have some knowledge in the field of cosmetics, which is definitely not true. It was hot and dragged on forever, but I got to be the lead role and I got to spend some time with old and new friends such as 소신.

This weekend is going to be great, as I'm taking a road trip with 민애 and her friends (1 italian and 4 koreans). I don't know much more beyond that. It's a three day weekend thanks to Buddha Day. Looking forward to another great week, one day at a time ^^

Monday, May 10, 2010

삼천 단어

A picture I took in my new apartment... I haven't changed that much since I came to Korea!

The beautiful cherry blossoms on Well-being Road between the two campuses of our school.

Junya, when we went to the amazing coffee shop near our school.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Lately it feels like some things, such as school, are moving at light speed while other things are standing still. Some time ago this rate of progress would have irked me, but actually I think that everything in my life is where I want it to be now, so standing still is great, so long as it doesn't become monotonous.

Next week is the Mid-term exam. I haven't had a midterm at this school so i dont know what to expect exactly. But there will be a 2-minute improvised roleplay with a partner, an interview with a teacher, and a written exam. I guess that pretty much covers everything, speaking/listening/writing/reading/pronunciation/vocabulary.

Last weekend, two of my good friends came up to Seoul and we had some fun. Their procrastination and indecisiveness are really bothersome, but once we finally get to doing something its nice. We ended up going to the Buddhist temple together on Saturday and we went to Seoul Forest Park on Sunday. We were six in all, and Me and Junya opted to go rollerblading while the other 4 elected to bike.

Life is good. I'm busy. I'm ready to go back to the States next month to be a best man, spend time with family, and catch up with friends. But.... how will I fare for two weeks without Korean food?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

winds of change

Lately, it seems like everything is changing so quickly. Even my daily life changes so drastically from week to week, day to day, especially since I moved to Seoul. I traveled to Singapore and Malaysia, started a part time job teaching one evening a week, broke up with 세정, and have been hanging out with my friends from around the world.

With 4 hours of class every day, studying, homework, I would be quite busy even if I didn't have a social life. But that would be neglecting to mention all of the new friends I've made. I have Korean friends that I do language exchange with 3 or 4 times a week (I teach them English, and they teach me Korean). And through the buddy system at school I have two Korean buddies that I will be meeting up with weekly starting this week. And for the last week or more, me and Junya have been hanging out every day. Also, I joined a club activity at school and am learning a little hip-hop dance. It's tough, but at least I'm not the worst one. Played ping-pong with some of my Chinese friends. I can learn alot by playing with them, as I still maintain that ping-pong is the national sport of China (If you're curious, the national sport of Korea has to be Starcraft).

Being single again is refreshing, but presents its own unique challenges. Another challenge I've undertaken is learning Chinese. I'm not very good yet. The pronunciation is surprisingly easy, but the writing is hard... I only remember about 20 words from university and learned a few more from Junya. She is a good teacher. I think at first its difficult because I have to remember phrases. In the future, it should become easier, as I will have some vocabulary to work with to form sentences.

I'm busy, but I'm with great friends and I'm happy. See you tomorrow, Junya ^^

Friday, February 26, 2010

천사처럼 이다

Me and my girlfriend, Sejoung. ^^
We took the picture in Masan. This is out in the wilderness on some mountain. We explored the area and took some photos before going for lunch. If it looks like I'm hungover, unshaven, or didn't shower, well... =)

Monday, February 22, 2010


Over a year ago I made this blog in anticipation of my impending arrival and ensuing adventures in Korea. Finally it has lived up to it's name. I've moved to Seoul. My school contract finishes in 2 or 3 days, but I'm using my vacation days now so I came to Seoul two days ago on Saturday. My friend 세정 (Sejoung) came to 김천 (Gimcheon) with her car to help me. Together we made 김밥 (Kimbap). It's a common korean food, you can find it at restaurants, street food stalls, and convenience stores. The flavor can vary depending on the special ingredient u choose to add. Common varieties are Kimchi, Tuna and mayo, or Cheese. No matter which type you're making, you'll probably be using the 김 seaweed wrap, 밥 rice (mixed with sesame oil and salt), 단무지 pickled radish, 우엉 the root of lettuce that is soaked in some sauce that turns it to a dark brown color, 햄 ham, 게 crab, and 단근 carrot.

Sejoung and I made tuna kimbap, so we also added tuna and a dark green leaf. It tastes so great when its fresh and the rice is still hot!

After that we started the trip to Seoul. It is only about 130 miles and we took the highway the entire way but it still took about 5 hours because of traffic. Korea has alot of traffic, especially on highways and in and near Seoul. We arrived at my new apartment saturday night, but it took me 48 hours to get everything situated. I had pretty much everything i needed... but I had to go to Home Plus with 나윤 (Na-yun) yesterday to get a blanket and pillow. My first 48 hours in Seoul have been great, but I have the feeling that they are much more meaningful to me than to anyone else reading this. To sum it up, I have spent time with friends, set up my new apartment, and explored my school campus and the areas near to my apartment and school. And I already have a few more plans this week. I think Seoul will be great, especially once I start my school and get some private lessons to make money. I like to be busy !

In conclusion, my new room is a bit smaller than my apartment in Gimcheon, and the price is about exactly the same. The Gimcheon apartment was a little bigger in the main room, plus it also had a kitchen, bathroom, and laundry closet. In my new place I share those things with other people on my floor, so its kind of like college dormitory all over again... but I don't mind it (yet). I wish there was more space so that I could invite friends over more often, but other than that I don't need more space for anything. And since I don't have family in Korea, I can feel a little bit of community here. I'm on the 4th floor, so there are only 3 other people sharing the kitchen and bathroom with me, and Korean people usually shower at night so I haven't had any problems with waiting to shower.

I've come to realize in the last year that so long as you have enough money, space, and things to survive, they really are not important. The one thing that is truly important is people.

I guess I'm not quite Buddhist yet. Buddhism says we should detach ourselves from everything in this world (including other people), because everything is only temporary. It seems noble, but it also seems very apathetic.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy New Years !

Happy New Years!! That's right, the lunar new year is a much bigger holiday in Korea than the New Year of the solar calendar. This year, the lunar new year is this weekend. It's a three day holiday from Saturday to Monday (Feb 13 ~ 15 this year). Today is the main day of the holiday, and coincidentally is Valentine's Day also. Of course, Valentine's Day here is quite different than in the USA! It's not quite so romantic. Men don't have to buy anything or make any special plans. This day is just for women to give a gift to her boyfriend/husband/special guy.

I think this must be the most important holiday in Korea. It's called 설날 (Seul-nal). This and Korean Thanksgiving, 추석 (Chu-seok) are both given three days. I guess its hard to imagine because we don't have any 3 day holidays in the USA. The first day is spent preparing the food. The second day you are with family and extended family eating a big meal and just spending time together. I guess the third day is flexible... some people might spend it with family and some people just go about life as usual.

And the special dish that Koreans eat on New Years is 떡국 (Ddeok-gook). 떡 (Ddeok) is the korean word for rice cakes. 국 (gook) means "soup". And thats what it is, a soup made with rice cakes (and other things). This seemed like the perfect time for me to try my hand at cooking Korean food, as this dish is relatively simple and an important dish. So yesterday I bought the ingredients that i didn't have at home and here you can see my photo of all the ingredients that I prepared before I started cooking !!

This photo has pretty much everything I'd be using, except the dumplings which were still in the freezer! I could probably make this in the states too, if I could find the rice cakes at an asian market.

Pretty much everything has made its way into the pot at the point and the rice cakes and dumplings are cooking nicely in the water and broth!

This is the finished product !! Garnished with some lightly cooked egg yolk and crumbled seaweed!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the whole

where to begin? I haven't had a serious entry in more than a month.... as such, i doubt anyone reads it these days.

This is my last month in Gimcheon. Rural, country, quiet Gimcheon. As such, I've been doing things a little differently. The last two weekends i went down south to Masan, Changwon, and Busan to meet old and new friends. Before I went down there I only knew Viruck and Miji. Now I know Viruck, Miji, Hyunok, Hyuna, Jaegyoung, Changhee, Yuhee, Jingu, Jenny, Hyebin, Sejeong, Sunhwa, Myeongsa, and Mina. Feels like i'm forgetting someone though? I wish I could live there... its almost as good as Seoul! There are two downtowns in Masan, one or two in Changwon, and a few in Busan! All the cities are so close u can get anywhere by bus and there are many cool people.

Jenny is one of the coolest foreigners I've met, and the only one besides me who has more korean friends than foreigner friends. Saturday she wanted me to blind date with one of her friends, so we went to a coffee shop. It didn't really seem like a blind date though, more like just meeting each other. Anyhow, it was kinda boring til we went out for dinner and drinks afterwards. Suddenly it's me, Jenny, and 4 korean girls! They were all good at drinking too! Soju, beer, or some combination thereof. They were all really cool to talk to. Two of them were english teachers, one was a radiologist, and one some sort of office worker.

This weekend I'm going to Seoul. I hope I can hang out with 현민 for a while. But i'll be busy. I'm gonna spend a day (probably saturday) looking at places to stay... most likely one room apartments and maybe a boarding house or a multi-room apartment, if i can find a potential roommate. Saturday night is temple, and I'm planning to meet Sejeong on Sunday. When I travel on the weekends i always book every minute of my time. I hate having nothing to do when i'm not at home. When I went to Japan it was the same way !

Also, I knew I was in a bad neighborhood but i never really knew how bad until recently. My korean is good enough that I can understand the names of places like 꿈의 파크 (Park of Dreams) and 항상좋은그날 (Always a Good Time). Since its my last month here, I was taking a walk down some of the side streets that I've never been down before (really theres not much reason to ever leave the main street). I saw alot of shady places. 다방 is a special word for a coffee house... but at this type of coffee house there are women and other activities involved. Some other shady places that i dont need to mention also, and then the motels and places that are shady but at least they don't pretend to not be shady !!

Monday, January 11, 2010


OK I know its not your fault Fitzgerald and ur an amazing player but...

Why did the referees not call pass interference penalties on you when you pushed Woodson over on TWO DIFFERENT PLAYS? Both plays resulted in a TD by you, as the CB defending you was sprawled out on the ground. Not only that, but they called a "roughing the passer" on one of those plays when the guy got blocked into Kurt Warner. If the lineman pushes you into the QB, its not a penalty, even if your hand touches the QB in the head briefly. How can you call that and furthermore miss penalty on Fitz? In the Ravens/Patriots game the referees didnt waste any time calling that same penalty when the defender was holding his ground and Randy Moss ran him over. This was exactly the same. I guess we got the wrong referees.