Saturday, August 6, 2011

A farewell...

This will be my last post in Korea. =(( I'm really sad to leave but I still am excited to see everyone back home and share my experiences with them.

So quickly, I'll recap what I did today. I'll add pictures later, I promise. I just want to finish packing and go to bed. Yesterday was the beginning of the goodbyes and I'm really sad. I might end up crying tomorrow. I really think I might.

Anyways, the highlight of my day (after running around doing errands) was eating dinner with my aunt and her parents. So another set of granduncle/grandaunts... I finally got to meet my granduncle. I apparently met my grandaunt 9 years ago...but of course I barely remember. It was nice to see them. It really was. And apparently I look like my mom. =)

Since it was the last night, I really wanted to spend time with people and have the chance to properly say goodbye. I realized, I'm really going to miss everyone. My time here has been incredible and unforgettable and the friends I've made here are going to be with me for a long time.

I'm going to miss how everything is open late and how everything is open early...Lemme just make a list of this I'm going to miss:

  • Speaking Korean often
  • The Seoul Metro (for reals)
  • Using Konglish with my friends
  • GS 25
  • Playing Words With Friends during the breaks in Korean class
  • Walking to Sinchon
  • All the 고기집s around Yonsei
  • Ice cream waffles
  • The cheap shopping near 이대
  • All the mirrors around the city (I don't need to carry my own, haha)
  • My Korean cellphone (despite how slow I text and how short the messages have to be)
  • Seeing the sunrise after staying out so late
  • The Korean drinking games
  • Street food and in general, the food here
  • The amazing service here
  • Bargaining at markets
  • My aunts and all they did for me while I was here
  • My family friends and also all they did for me while here
  • Seeing fully grown men passed out on the streets
  • Late night "study" sessions
  • Having little responsibility and obligations (compared to home)
  • And of course, everyone I met here at YISS!
And to be fair...a list of things I won't miss:
  • Being shoved without apologies
  • The rain
  • The heat/humidity
  • Riding the elevator to/from the 7th floor of the dorm
  • The cigarette smoke that's so prevalent in the area
  • The lack of trash cans around in public
  • How expensive fruit here is
  • Mosquitoes
It seems my list of what I'm going to miss is much longer than what I'm not going to miss. I guess that means this was an excellent experience. I'm going to miss every single person (well almost - haha!) and all the memories I have formed here will be cherished. I'm so glad I decided to study here during the summer and the friends I made here...are just amazing. I've already said some goodbyes and it hurts. I'm actually treating them as "see you later"s. =(

Friday, August 5, 2011

Final finals! Go hard

Yesterday was a long day. In the morning, I prepared for my last final after having slept a less than desirable amount of hours. I grabbed lunch with Maggie and we went to the Cafe in the building to eat and study for Korean Studies. Cram cram cram!

I took my Korean Studies final and it was...okay. We'll just have to wait and see how my scored come out. I just realized I have a ton of errands to run right now. Bank. YISS office. Pack. Oh man. Okay, I'll make this quick, even though there was a lot yesterday, which blurred into this morning.

After the final, I went to Korean class where they showed us our grades. It was really sad realizing that it was the last class and that some of these people I'd probably never see again. My marks for Korean were amazing. Maybe I was in too easy of a class but in the other class I'm sure I would have failed. Two 100%s on two portions of the exam - how did that even happen??

Anyways, afterwards, Sara, Maggie, Eileen and I planned to go to Lotte World. So we went all the way to Jamsil to the gate (after passing tons of shops) and didn't go in. It was sort of pricey and we realized that it was mainly for kids, and couples. So, we decided to put our money towards something else - shopping!

 On the way to Lotte World, this was the view from the subway for part of the ride.

 This is how close we got to going in.

 And we pretended to have gone in! Haha.

We did a fair amount of shopping in lieu of going into Lotte World. It was funny once we realized that we took a 40min subway ride just to shop. Haha...

On our way back to the subway station, we got roped into all these stores. I didn't even know how many were there and what we were doing...It was so hectic!

We came back, dropped off our stuff, and met up with everyone. It was the day after finals so understandably, everyone was partying pretty hard. And that didn't exclude me. In summary, I spent close to 40,000 KRW (because I'm Korean and while the guys wanted to pay for all of it, I was insistent on paying my share), went around for four rounds of drinks, and didn't come back till 7am. I was adamant about coming back at 7am in order to say bye to Mike, who was leaving for Busan then. I came back and said bye to him... It was the first of many good-byes! I just came back from saying bye to Naomi too... I'm gonna miss everyone so much! Whether by fate or extremely good planning, I think I'll see everyone again.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finals, second day

Lately I've been doing these blog posts late at night. I've become such a night owl since I've been here, it's crazy. Now, I have a legitimate excuse for being up late - studying! But before I didn't have one. I was just...not tired, haha.

Anyways, yesterday was mild I guess. Except the weather...ugh. I don't think I can get over this weather, honestly. I can only hope for it to go away soon. I only have three days left here! Thursday. Friday. And I leave Saturday. This program has gone by way too quickly. I feel like a broken record, but it's true.

This post will be pretty short because I want to go back to studying. Korean Studies was a ridiculous class today. It was supposed to be a review day, except we really didn't review. I don't know what I'm going to do about this class. Everyone complains about it. Not the content or anything...but the professor. I don't even know what to think of him anymore. I guess I've learned that I have to watch for biases in professors now. I feel like I've been lied to the entire time. A lot of his information, turns out, is incorrect. After studying in a group today for the final, I realized how much we a) didn't learn about the most recent part of Korean history and b) were given false information. Oh well. The class has, though, encouraged me to learn more on my own.

Next two parts of my Korean final...읽기 (reading) was fine but 말하기 (speaking) was a little worse. I hope I did well enough. At least it wasn't as bad as my Korean language placement speaking exam. I felt like I did decently well on it. I guess we'll see when I get my scores back tomorrow. Nervous!

After class, I managed to lock myself out of the room. Twice. Ugh. I think I got too used to Nye where our door could stay unlocked if we left it to be like that. Oh man, that door was so convenient. Here though, not so much.

I went to dinner with my...I don't know what to call them. My grandpa's younger brother and wife. So in Korean I call them 작은 할머니 할아버지 (literally little grandma and grandpa - little as in younger in relation to my grandpa). Are they granduncle, grandaunt? I don't know English anymore... Anyways, I ate dinner with them - shabu shabu! I failed at taking a picture of the food, but I found one on the internet that is pretty similar to what it looked like. We had an individual pot for it and it was super delicious. This restaurant is also right next to the dorms...but I guess no one goes there because it's pretty expensive. But it was super delicious!

Picture makes me want to eat it again. You cook the meat in the pot of boiling broth.

After eating, I went back to study. Group study! This was actually I think the most productive group study session I've had while here, haha. It was great. But now I'm still studying. Ohhh well...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finals already

Yesterday was actually pretty boring. I think it was because of my Korean exam. We had 쓰기 and 듣기 today (writing and listening). Luckily, listening was a piece of cake. But writing There were parts that I'm pretty sure I got wrong, but we'll see how it turns out.

In Korean Studies, I felt like we wasted time, as usual. We talked about the story we were to have read by Thursday of last week. So, it wasn't fresh in my mind at all. Plus, he had assigned another story that was supposed to be due yesterday. But, we didn't even talk about that. How is this class so far behind? Anyways, I'm nervous for the final because I feel like our professor hasn't really gone over the material as well as he did for the first half... Huge study session tomorrow.

For Korean today, listening was really good. Except, one of the girls was late today so we wait about 15min for her to come. Everyone was actually pretty upset because we all ran to get to class on time so we could start testing on time. And if we were forced to take the writing portion first, I'm sure it would have been a mess. Luckily, the teacher was fine with starting without her.

The writing portion of the exam was okay...I guess I feel like I did decently well on it, but we'll see how my scores come back. For spelling something wrong, we get points taken off. So since I'm terrible at spelling...

Nothing really interesting was worth taking a picture of so I've included pictures of my notes from Korean to show a) what I'm studying and b) how terrible my Korean handwriting is. And also, you can see my wonderful drawings! I get bored in class...

 This is my attempt at studying grammar.

 My camera had problems focusing. It's a guy sleeping and it says, "푹 자고 싶은데~"

냔 고양이 aka Nyan Cat

After class, which I did get out early from, I went to Sinchon to eat some meat. We went to the all you can eat meat buffet. was actually pretty bad. I don't think I want to go back there. I'm not wasting a meal there. It's just so cheap. That's why we keep going back. But it's definitely time for something new and delicious.

Right now, I should be studying. I should finish reading for Korean so I can do decently on the 읽기 portion of my exam (reading) and I can't really practice for 말하기 (speaking). So...yeah. I'm done with Korean tomorrow! It's crazy! I'm inspired to keep learning though, on my own. We'll see how well that goes. I guess it's just an excuse for me to watch more Korean dramas, haha.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Limited vocabulary (studying)

It didn't rain yesterday. And after all the trouble of finding an umbrella, just watch...I won't have to use it. Well, I miiiight prefer that actually. The rain is just so annoying. And it's all I seem to talk about while being here.

Anyways, yesterday felt like a long day. I'm not sure if I should say it's despite the fact that there was not much to do or because of the fact that there wasn't much to do... My adventures yesterday involved going to the bank, doing homework, and eating, haha.

At the bank, I felt dumb. I went to the counter to ask for money and originally asked for 35,000 KRW. But then I realized I actually wanted 350,000 KRW. Oops, forgot a zero. I guess I'm just not used to saying large numbers like that in Korean. In the process of getting my money, the teller kept using English here and there because he thought I couldn't speak Korean. Fair assumption, seeing that I kept asking him to repeat things and already started off by me screwing up the numbers. Oh's a learning experience.

I finally had cash! So I went and got somethings at the stationary store (which I learned yesterday is 문방구 - literally...door fart? I'll explain below) and at the gift shop. I went to class afterwards, where nothing interesting happened despite finishing a movie. I feel like in that class, we waste so much time. I don't even know how the professor manages to do it, but he just gets off topic so easily. Or actually, goes into too much depth through anecdotes...

In Korean class, I guess I was tired because I slept during one of our breaks. Like really slept - deep sleep. And I woke up and had a red mark on my face, haha! Our class was simply review but it really highlighted how much I need to study. Why are our vocabulary words so obscure?

I ate very quickly and almost lightly today. I actually sort of wish I went out. Instead, I had two sandwiches that weren't really that filling at all. So I ended up snacking throughout the night. It's really bad. I should eat a more filling dinner and ignore my "hunger." I always get hungry when I study. Always.

The adventure of the day was venturing onto one of the guys' floors of SK Global! It was for studying purposes. Legitimately. Mike and I were studying Korean and we needed internet, so we went to his floor's lounge. We actually got a lot done and made a nice little sheet of vocabulary and grammar we need to know for today. For today. I have two parts of my four part Korean final today. Today is listening and writing. Listening - yay! Writing - uh oh.

All the native speakers in class are nearly flawless when it comes to listening, but struggle when it comes to writing (we basically spell everything wrong). But for the other people in the class, who aren't native speakers, struggle with listening but are really good at writing. If only we could have a group exam...

The basement, aka computer lab, of International House. We're all studying so hard.^^

I studied more in the computer lab down in I-House, like I always do. That place is wonderful for studying. I made flashcards, looked over grammar, etc. Eileen asked me what "문방구" was and I didn't know. So I asked Esther, who was right next to me, and she didn't know either. But literally it means "door fart." 문 = door; 방구 = fart. So that was her guess. Turns out it's actually a stationary store. Anyways, I hope I do well on my Korean exam. Clearly my vocabulary is limited...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Quite the weather we have here -__-

I believe, out of the whole month of July, it's only been rainless for about 5 days. That's what the taxi driver this morning told me. I totally believe it. This rain is ridiculous. I hate the rain now. Thanks, Seoul. =(

Yesterday, I went to church in the morning, but got lost. I always get lost. I even get lost in Reno so it was only a matter of time I get lost in Seoul, right? Haha. Everything started looking not so familiar, so I eventually took a taxi. The taxi driver was super nice, especially since he noticed I didn't have an umbrella (because mine was stolen coughcough).

I ate lunch with Eugene, Maggie, and Sara quickly and we went shopping at Ewha. While we were waiting for Eileen in the lobby, I fell asleep. I'm sure Sara has pictures. I heard her take at least 5 of them. On the way there, we felt quite adventurous and took a different route. A very sketchy I would never ever take at night.

Creepy, huh? And it smelled like sewage in there...

Despite the rain, we were determined to go shopping. I ended up buying things more for other people than for myself. I found myself a really "fobby" shirt, but it was really cute so I couldn't resist. Everyone can make fun of the nonsensical English on the shirt when I come back, haha.

I came back to the dorms to study Korean with Mike. Except, he read for Korean Studies and I skyped Andrew back in Reno, haha. So...we started studying more than an hour after we had originally planned to start studying. And we gave up really easily. Both of us became frustrated at our slow Korean typing speed and we were tired. We left more than half to cover for tomorrow. It'll be, not really.

I finished up studying and was actually quite productive, surprisingly. Tomorrow I have to go to the bank early so that I can get some cash. I tried withdrawing some today but the ATM (현금 자동 인출기 aka longest vocabulary word ever) but it wouldn't let me because I didn't open up my account at that branch. Weird...but whatever. I survived (so far). I'm hoping it doesn't rain tomorrow. The weather forecast says...

Rain for the rest of my time here. Great. =(

Also, I thought I'd add this. I went to go throw away some trash and found this. It always happens during the weekend but it's never been this bad. Wow. Just wow...C'mon ladies!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Knockoffs are expensive too

I met up with Jung-soo and her family yesterday and had a great time. It was great to see everyone again! They live so far away and our schedules never seem to match up~ But it worked out today!

I took the subway down to the station where they're nearest and the subway ride itself (with one transfer) took close to an hour. I slept on the subway too knowing that the stop near their house was 15+ away when I fell asleep, haha. Halfway through my nap, I was holding a bag, and I dropped one of the handles and it made a noise. So I freaked out and woke up. Probably looked like an idiot...haha.

It was around lunch time when I met up with Jung-soo. We went and got burgers at a place called...I don't remember the name. But it had "saloon" in it. Anyways, the burgers were huge and really delicious. Reminded me of America...haha. First time I was reminiscent about the US. It was weird.

Lol, this is Jung-soo's younger brother. The whole family is hilarious, it's great.

Afterwards, we went to Itaewon to do some 짝뚱 (knockoff) shopping! This is where you go if you want to get the better knockoffs. These places are hard to find in Itaewon though. You have to basically find a really shady guy on the street and follow him down to a basement where they have stockpiles of shoes, wallets, bags, belts, watches, clothes, etc. It's really crazy.

As he lays out all the belts, we can look through a catalog of all the fakes they have. Wow... I took this picture very discreetly too because I'm sure they'd be upset.

Even though the 물건 (I can't think of the English word right now...I'm losing my English it seems) is/are fake, it's/they're still expensive. Meh. Not nearly as crazy as the real ones are though. And I'm not completely sure about how I feel about buying knockoffs... There's always more than one side to things...

While driving, Jung-soo's parents realized that the Samsung Leeum Museum was close by so we stopped by there too. I have some pictures. But the museum had a nice collection of old traditional stuff (mostly vases, pottery, etc.) and contemporary art. I can't really explain the museum, so if you're interested, you can look at their website.

 Outside the museum: memories of the future (huh...)

 Spider statues outside.

 The exposure was turned up on my camera and I forgot to change it. So that's why I look so white... And my hair looks awful. It was so hot outside that I was about to die.

 The really cool audio tour guide - it was touch screen!

This was the view of the stairwell. Cool, huh?

I was pretty exhausted after the museum. I forgot how much walking you really have to do when you're in a museum. Anyways, I wish I could have taken pictures of the art. Here's one I found online of one I really liked:

The blue thing on the wall is the work. The lights are part of it as well. The blue thing is actually a map and it had a bunch of "obscure" cities posted on it and the Korean names of them awkwardly written out. It was supposed to illustrate that despite how connected we are through the internet, we aren't truly connected. The piece was called "Wide World Wide." (The artist used Winnemucca, NV as one of the cities! I felt so proud to have known it, haha)

We went to 삼청동 afterwards and ate 수재비 (수제비? I always confuse ㅐ and ㅔ) It was delicious. Stephan, if you're reading this, you'd be jealous! =P I went back to the dorms after a delicious meal and just chilled for the rest of the night (i.e. filled people in on what they missed when they blacked out the other night - haha!). With all this stuff to enjoy in Korea, I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get back to the US. Street food doesn't exist (really) and I can't simply walk anywhere or take a bus when I'm bored. The food is more expensive in the US and I'll be sad that there won't be BBQ places everywhere. Though the good thing about the US is that I'll never complain about the rain again. I'm sure I'll never see anything as bad as I have here... Anyways, I'll have a longer post about the things I'll miss and the things I've grown to appreciate in the US when I return.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oh the heat

Yesterday, it didn't rain. I was glad it didn't considering I didn't (and still don't) have an umbrella. However, the weather was ridiculous and it was really really hot. And we also happened to pick yesterday as the day to go see Gyeongbukgoong (a palace).

I had already seen the palace, but because my friends wanted to see it, I decided to tag along. If it weren't for my friends, I (and I guess you) wouldn't have been able to see all these places. Even though it was my second time going, I went with a different perspective I suppose? I guess that's what happens when you get older. I'll just have the pictures speak for themselves. Inside the palace, we got a little overwhelmed and the heat was intense, so we only saw a portion of what we could.

 The entrance.

 Once inside.

 It looked like a moat.

 Basically, the throne.

 The ceiling is crazy.

 Modernity and tradition intersecting...!

 This was actually really cool. The light was shining down like this!

After the palace, we went to the Kyobo in the subway station. It's basically a giant bookstore with more than just books. It's amazing, I must say. I got super lost in it because there were just so many things to see. And I also didn't have that much time because I had dinner plans. But I did get some good shopping in.

Dinner was then with my USAC friends! It was great to finally formally meet most of them even though the program is about to end. We all wished that USAC were bigger so that we could do cool stuff like what the UC kids get to do (the UC kids got a separate orientation, random things like folders and umbrellas, a field trip to Busan, and a banquet!). But it was nice to finally sit down together. We talked about life over Korean BBQ. It was wonderful.

I was really tired so when I came back to the room I fell asleep~ Aah... I can't believe that this program is almost over and I spent a Friday night sleeping! Haha.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Incorrect Korean (자장면)

Yesterday, the biggest theme of the day seemed to be "everything we learned in Korean was a lie." Just kidding. That's a little much (너무 심해) but it was more like a debunking session.

The rain has been really bad here. It's been flooding, raining like crazy, etc. And this sucks because my umbrella got stolen yesterday. =( I put it down (a lot of places have something at the front where everyone puts their umbrellas) and go back to it later and it's gone! I'm not too bummed about it, but it is inconvenient to have to buy a new one...

Because of the bad weather, our professor told us that the summer program was not to take attendance. So, in Korean Studies, we did basically nothing. There were quite a few people missing in class and he made a valid argument that if the summer program is allowing people to be excused, then it wouldn't be fair to cover material in class that would be on the final. Makes sense... So we got out nearly an hour early from class.

I took this hour to go to the student union to go find a Yonsei sweatshirt. And I was successful! Alex, Maggie and I all got sweatshirts and pens and were happy. Well, I can speak for myself being happy. I just assumed the other two were as well. We walked out of the student union to find it raining. Hard. =(

Like dorks, we pulled our backpacks around to the front of us and walked to class. My books were definitely less wet. If only I had done this earlier to prevent my Korean book from being ruined. I need to study from that book!

Anyways, the theme of Korean class was "here's what you learned wrong in conversation." So many things, but mainly today was an issue of pronunciation/spelling. It's 닦어 not 딲어. 자장면 not 짜짱면. 아기 not 애기. 베게 not 비게. 단무지 not 다꽝. The list goes on. Some are pronunciation issues (first two) and some are slang issues (next two) and some are original language issues (in the case of the last example, the proper word is Korean while the other common version of the word is Japanese).

After class we went to a 자장면 place and I was so hungry that I just devoured it, haha. And forgot to take a picture. But for those of you that don't know what it looks it is. It's a black bean noodle dish. Yay!

The rain was really intense. We were going to go clubbing in Hongdae because on Thursdays, before 11 (I think) it's free to get in. But the rain was so bad that we weren't up for it. The rain seriously ruins everything: plans, books, and lives. Ugh. I don't think I'll ever complain about rain in my life because I'm sure it'll never be as bad as this. Time for me to get a new umbrella...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

4D rain?

I've been doing posts late at night and referring to what had happened as yesterday. It's a little weird, but it really is technically yesterday. I feel more awake at night so I think my posts may be meatier if I post now.

It rained. A lot. Too much actually. The rain cancelled classes, flooded subway stations, and even killed people. It's scary and I'm actually glad that I live in Reno where it doesn't rain that much. The rain in Seattle would probably be waaayy better than the rain here. Check this article out from NPR. This rain is killer (no pun intended). And I thought the monsoon season was supposed to be over. Ugh.

Anyways, in Korean Studies we watched a movie about Park Chung Hee's assassination. It's a pretty crazy film and I still had problems with reading the subtitles. Maybe I shouldn't sit in the, oh well. The worst part was that after we had watched almost all of the movie, our professor assigns reading for tomorrow (today)! So I'm in the middle of reading the story...

In Korean, I guess the biggest event was that we had a listening practice test and I basically aced it. Woot! So that means most of my grade will rely on that portion of the exam, haha. My entire Korean class is graded based on the final. Oh dear...that means I have to study. At least I'm relieved that I don't have to study for the listening portion. I was surprised at how well I did. But I guess listening truly is my strong point in Korean.

After class, a group of us decided to go to a 4D movie! There are few theaters in the world that offer popular movies in 4D and Korea offers it! Super fun. We headed over the Times Square, to the Shinsegae Mall. This time I took some pictures, unlike last time...

 The theater with the 4D!



At dinner, our group got split up because half of us walked and the other half took a cab to the mall. I ate with Hunjae (who was amazing and reserved tickets for us - you have to be a Korean citizen to do so), Alex, and Mike. The topic of the conversation turned to dating and what kind of girls they like, etc. Thanks for leaving me out guys... =P Alex said, "Every Korean guy is sad if they don't have a girlfriend." Haha! But it's pretty true...

The movie was an awesome experience. The chairs moved, there was a wind (and "spit"), and the seats were like massage chairs and poked you in the back and the butt when certain things happened (like if someone fell). It was a little frightening at first (especially when the seat poked you in the butt) but I got used to it. The 4D was the only real redeeming part of the movie. Transformers 3 was way too long, had awkward one liners, and a very weak plot. I even fell asleep for part of it despite the chair moving around and poking me, haha.

On the way back we failed at finding a place to eat so everyone eventually just got food back at the GS 25 (the convenience store - 편의점). I did laundry afterwards and realized how bad I am at it. First time I did it here I nearly forgot to add the detergent and this time, I didn't add the dryer sheet. Boo... And, some of my clothes aren't dry. I don't like the dryers here. Or the rain.

Look what the rain did to my Korean book! It was even in my backpack... The rain is sneaky. And my book is ruined.