Thursday, July 26, 2007

Picture time!

Just wanted to let you know that I have posted a few of my pictures. Follow the link at the side of this page. Hope you enjoy them! Watch the slideshow for my captions (if you want to know what you're looking at)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mud, Luggage, Apartments, and a Lack of English

Mud: Just got back to Seoul after four days out of town. Sarah, Sarah, and I went to Boryeong for a mudfestival and it was SO much fun. What does a mudfestival involve you might ask? Well, my friends, mudfestivals include hundreds of people on a beach playing with mud-- mudslides, mudpools, mudpits, mudpainting, mud jails (where you stand while people fling mud at you), mud masks, mud obstacle courses, mud pottery... so amusing. We stayed in a tiny little room that was right on the beach. It was perfect... we spent our time divided between playing with mud and frantically reading Harry Potter (we got our reserved copies on our way out of Seoul). I finished Harry Potter Monday... if anyone wants to discuss, send me an email.

Luggage: The trip did not end in Boryeong for Sarah W. and I. One of the purposes of our trip was to continue on to Daejeon (where I am moving) and drop off two of my bags. Sounds simple, right? Well imagine Sarah and I dragging two 50 lb bags to the Seoul metro. Within 10 minutes of our departure one bag's handle snaps in half (effectively leaving nothing to pull it with) and the other bag's handle gets stuck up (so not so easy to store anymore). We manage to get the bags up and down a million stairs and onto a jam-packed subway. Change stops with it multiple times (stopping to get Harry Potter and eat lunch with Sarah's great-aunt) before riding a bus to Boryeong, dragging bags down a dirt road, taking another bus to Daejeon, dealing with multiple forms of transportation there, and finally taking it to my apartment (where it moved up 4 flights of stairs)... one other lovely image... as I tried to drag the one that lost its handle it hit me in the back of my leg with every step. I looked like some weird Frankenstein lurching down the blocks. We were very relieved to leave my stuff behind.

Apartment: When I arrived at TCIS to drop off my stuff they offered to let me into my apartment and Sarah and I were able to stay there for the night. I was very excited to find that my new home is much bigger than I anticipated! It is only about 5 minutes from my school (so convenient!). I have a moderate sized living room and a good sized kitchen. My bedroom has a wardrobe and dresser. I have another little vanity type room with another dresser and wardrobe. I have a bathroom with a very interesting Korean-style shower... you know those sprayers that are attached to most American sinks? Well I have a slightly bigger version attached to my bathroom sink... I shower in front of my sink and the whole room gets wet. There is a small laundry room in my apartment as well. I am very excited that I got to see it while I was in town-- I wasn't expecting to.

Lack of English: No one in Daejeon speaks English... at least not compared to Seoul. None of the signs (or very few) are in English. The transportation system lacks English altogether... I am definitely going to have to learn some more Korean.

That's all for now, friends. I am eager to get to Daejeon for good and set up Skype so we can talk. Miss all! Love the many emails I've been getting :)

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Yesterday Sarah and I went to the DMZ. It was a very interesting experience. First of all, my last week filled with museums and the like has made me realize how very grateful I am that I have not had to experience living in a war zone. Koreans have definitely not been that lucky. It was odd driving out to the DMZ (the area that separates north and south Korea)... while there is no war going on between the two sides presently, the divide is still a highly active military zone. For miles before reaching the border there are barbed wire fences and guard stands. When you actually reach the line there are guards from each side staring each other down and trying to psych each other out. It seemed to be such a contrast-- signs, museums, etc spoke of strides towards reunification. However the line itself did not reflect this "desire." Instead it was clear evidence to me that there is still a deep division between the two parts of this country. As I write this, I don't want to seem as if I saw no hope. There is a railroad that has been built between north and south. There is also a road that has been constructed. The signs and paintings in the northernmost station in South Korea alluded to a unified Korea; as did the soldiers who gave us our tour. Also, have to say-- I stood in North Korea! (monitored the entire time in an area that is designated for the purpose, but still!)

On a lighter note- we are off to get our copies of Harry Potter. Then Sarah Yu's great aunt (who is apparently famous for her cooking in the family) is making us lunch. Then-- get this-- we are off to a mudfestival! What does that mean? Not exactly sure... but I know there are mud slides, mud kayaking, mud baths, mud Tarzan pits, mud madness! Awesome! Finally, Sarah W and I are dropping some of my stuff at my school so I get to see Daejeon! I'm excited.

Stay in touch people!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Korean Firsts

Hello friends. Wanted to let you know that I am safe in Korea. After a long flight I was greeted in the airport by Sarah Yu's cousin (James) and Sarah W. We somehow managed to get all my stuff to Sarah's apartment. It is quite a tight fit, but so much fun. Right now Sarah doesn't have internet, so I will keep this brief.

So far Sarah and I have taken tours and tried to ignore our jetlag. Sarah Yu has been introducing me to the food that is Korean...I have tasted numerous dishes that you certainly would not find at home (like omelettes stuffed with rice with chili shrimp over them... suprisingly good!). I have had some delicious noodle dishes and have begun to enjoy Kimchee more (I am sure by the end of my time here I will love it).

One of the most interesting things about Korea is the random things they have thought of that we haven't-- my favorite find thus far is the "etiquette bell" (in bathrooms you can push a button and it makes toilet flushing sounds to mask any unseemly noises). Haha!

Another random tidbit before I go... I am going to have to get used to the staring. As one of the sole white people that the average Korean encounters daily, I am subject to a large amount of gawking. People will literally sit one foot away from me and just blatently stare. I really don't think I am that interesting. But to Koreans, I guess I'm a novelty!

Anyhow, leaving tomorrow to see some temples in southern Korea. Will post again when have access to the internet. Leave me happy notes!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Poised and Ready

I can't believe the time is here, but my bags are packed and my suitecases ready. It is crazy to think that I will be in Korea in almost exactly 25 hours! I managed to cram my life into just 4 suitecases (3 clothes and such and 1 bedding--I hear Korean beds are a record hardness). Then I just have the world's heaviest carry on bag (all my books are in it) and my computer. I am quite impressed with myself. AND, important to note, I restricted myself to about 12 pairs of shoes! Think of all the pretty pairs I left behind waiting in my closet. You should be very proud of me. I did well.

I may not have email access right away when I get to Korea... Sarah Yu doesn't have the internet in her apartment now so it may take a bit of work. BUT I will post again soon. Send me some love, my friends! Know I am thinking of you and missing America already!