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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Language issues and hair

I'm getting worse at English, but I'm not getting that much better in Korean. So what is this? It's pretty bad, that's what it is...

Yesterday was quite the day. It rained like no other. I really thought that when we had the dry period that the rain would stop. Everyone keeps joking that the only thing we'll remember about our time here in Seoul is the rain. actually might be true. It has rained almost every single day I've been here. =( I don't like the rain anymore. Plus, it's probably radioactive.

Anyways, Korean studies was pretty straightforward as usual. Just discussion... And Korean class was nothing special. Except I realized that I legitimately have to study for the final for that class. I forgot almost every vocab word I had learned in that class. Oh my...

After class, because the rain was so intense, we decided to stay inside and eat at the cafeteria in the Korean Language Institute building (where we have our Korean class). The food wasn't bad - it was worth the 3000-4000 KRW I had to pay so it's all good. Really cheap, I just realized...the food won't be as cheap when I go back home, at it'll be sad. Reverse culture shock...

Despite the rain, Eunice, Mike and I decided to get our hair done. Because we all had time we decided to go. Everyone thought we were crazy, yes, but it was worth it. The rain was so crazy but by the time we got out, it wasn't raining so it wasn't bad at all. Unfortunately, it was windy, so all the styling became undone in about a minute. =( But at least I got pictures!

When we went to get our haircut, I guess there were communication issues, haha. We ended up waiting a while but with the three of us combining our language skills, I think we managed. My bangs came out a little shorter than I wanted but...oh well. Hair grows I guess.

The place was really nice. While we were waiting they gave us free tea! Woohoo!

 Mike getting his hair dyed. Eunice and I were already done with our hair. Mine's so short now!

 And my hair looks really brown/light.

Trying to get a good picture of my hair. My bangs look nothing like that now... =(

After getting our hair done, we went to get frozen yogurt! First time in Korea for me actually. It's always just ice cream or patbingsoo, haha. We played that "shove your money into other people's pockets" game after Mike paid for me and Eunice. In the end, Mike lost. Oh we're so Korean...

So cute!!

The rest of the day was filled with planning. We were planning on going to Busan, but with the rain, we're now not going. So we packed our weekend with things to do. We'll see how much actually happens but it looks like I'll have an exciting weekend...with little sleep. Oh well! This is my last full weekend here in Seoul and I'm actually really sad. I'd love to escape the rain though, seriously.

I guess I'm glad that I'll have some time to recover before school starts. I need to regain the English skills I lost, haha! It's just...sometimes the word to describe something is much better when said in Korean.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poor sleeping habits

Yesterday was a typical day. I always feel like I have much less to talk about when I'm describing the weekdays, but I suppose they're still worth mentioning.

It was hard for me to wake up in the morning. I think I've developed a really bad sleeping schedule while I'm here. I went to sleep the other day at 1:30am and thought I was sleeping really early! What has happened to me? Haha.

It's the last week of classes before finals and it's hit me (and everyone else) that this summer program is soon coming to a close. It's really depressing because as soon as you start to really get to know people, you realize you're just going to have to leave them. I hope I can keep touch with my friends that I made here! I'm going to especially miss being able to speak Korean to people my age...

Korean Studies has turned into a literature class. While literature is cool, it means there's more reading to do. And my mind, while in Korean mode, isn't really well suited for reading literature. Plus, the stories we read are translated from Korean so it's hard to focus on them since it wasn't the original language. I feel like translations sometimes lose the vividness that was once there with the original language.

In Korean, I nearly fell asleep. I realized that the grammar we learn is always something I've learned before. But now, I have rules to it. It sort of confuses me and still rely on what "sounds right." I see what it's like for native speakers to learn/improve the language they speak. The Korean-Americans are always relying on what "sounds right" and they're pretty much all terrible at spelling and writing. Everyone else in Korean language classes, while they don't have the ear for what "sounds right," they're amazing at writing, spelling, and have a surprisingly formal vocabulary. That's what I'm missing and I wish sometimes that we could just share our skills.


After class we went to the really good restaurant that has 갈비탕 and 냉면. I was reminded again that "Dokdo is territory of the Korea." And this time, I had 갈비탕, a beefy broth. It was amazing. I feel like I always resort to taking pictures of the foods I eat, especially during the weekdays when we don't go out and just eat.

I was really tired so while I was reading for Korean Studies, I fell asleep twice. I even tried to wake up by eating food but that made me awake for a bit. I was even studying with Maggie and Sara and all three of us ended up sleeping at different times. Oh man...we were all so tired it seems.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The last of the three

Yesterday, I fulfilled the hole in my heart shaped like SBS. Haha, I was glad to be able to go to SBS so now I can say that I've been to the three major broadcasting stations in Korea! I'll start from the beginning.

I had lunch with Sara before going to SBS. We always go to "strawberry place" but it's good so it's not too bad. And their menu is large enough so that I don't get sick of the food. Anyways, we went to sign in for the field trip, but turns out Sara can't go because she's not on the list! =( So Eileen and I went on our own. I met Stephanie from Korean class (whose English name I didn't know because the teacher calls her by her Korean name) and we had fun watching Inkigayo together.

The whole thing was really strict. The security guards were crazy. Only certain people could sit in certain seats. And no cameras AT ALL. If you took a picture, they asked you to delete and waited and watched until you did. But I managed to get one picture... The security was so intense there, really. It was almost to the point of just flat out rude. But venue was small, so maybe that's why they were intense. I'm actually not quite sure...

 Outside SBS.

Inside SBS. The group on stage...I don't know who it is. GP Basic, I guess, looking at the signs in the back.

I felt so not Korean at the show. As groups came on stage and left, I'd turn to Stephanie and say, "Who's that?" And she wouldn't know either. So we just eavesdropped on the little kids behind us who were critiquing the show and its performers, haha. It was really cute.

After SBS, I went back and finished my homework. Or at least tried to. I was really tired so my reading went really slowly and I'm not sure I understood the story I read for class. I guess we'll find out today in discussion...

I went to dinner and then church with my aunt. Dinner was pretty amazing. It was this little Italian place right next to the dorms, but it was super fancy. The pasta took a while to make, it seemed, but I guess in the end it was worth it. Too filling...

Yesterday, while eventful, seems a little empty in retrospect. This is the last full week of classes before finals. Eek! We'll see how it all goes. I can't believe this program is moving so quickly! Before I know it, I'll be back in Reno. Oh my...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A noodle day (Insadong)

Yesterday was surprisingly productive despite the amount of sleep I got. Sara and I really wanted to go to Insadong, and spend a decent amount of time there, so we got up at 11am to get there.

We first ate nearby and I got 떡라면 (ramen with rice cakes). I think I'll start making my ramen like that! Haha. Anyways, we caught the bus and went to Insadong. Yes, we actually rode the bus! I kept staring at the sign that told us what stop was next as the bus threw all the passengers around. These buses are brutal...

Anyways, we got to Insadong safely. =) Insadong is a neighborhood that is now tourist-ridden. However, they have really cool shops and everything seems to be handmade (except probably some of the souvenirs). The items they sell are definitely geared towards foreigners, but that was fine. I'm a foreigner.
 The street. I probably should have taken a picture of all the street vendors. Oops.

 A tea house/museum we walked into.

 The tea house.

Insadong also has really good tea. We stopped to get some. Despite the heat, I got some 매실 tea (Asian apricot tea) because I just had a craving for it. And it was delicious. I'm not sure why, but the picture is rotated and I can't figure out how to turn it back...

After Insadong, Sara and I headed back to Ewha to do some shopping - and so I could recharge my phone! When I went to recharge my phone, they asked who the owner's name was...and I knew it wasn't mine. Since I'm using my friend's old phone, I tried that. But that wasn't it either. It was someone who I don't know...luckily I still got money on it so I could call/text people.

Anyways, Sara and I did some more shopping before we decided to go back. When we came back the first place we wanted to eat at was closed so we headed down and tried the 삼게탕 (chicken broth soup made with insam) place nearby. When we walked in, we saw how expensive it was so we both opted for a cheaper option - 콩국수 (white bean noodles - more noodles)!

The day was tiring so we decided to just take it easy and study. Except, I fell asleep. I always fall asleep when I have reading to do. It's a bad habit? I'm not sure it really is a habit but I think it may become one.

I'm going to SBS today, so that should be super fun. Yay! It'll be a trifecta of some sort, except I'm not winning anything. After today, I will have visited the three largest broadcasting stations in Korea. =)