September 2007


GODDAMMIT I FELL AGAIN. FUCK CONVERSES AND THEIR HORRIBLE TRACTION AND ABILITY TO GRIP, AND FUCK. THE. RAIN. ASYGSHDYLFSDYGLASGDFGLIQUGHEIYQWGADSFGHJKLLLLLLLLLLLLL I wish it would turn cold and stop raininggggggggggggggggggggg my left hip hurts. πŸ˜₯

Ughhhhhhhh this is so embarrassing I will forever be known as the Girl That Fell On the Stairs On Her Butt In Front of the Cafe ughhhhhhhhhhh. When did I turn into such a klutz?!?!?!?! In America, I PRIDED myself on my near cat-like agility. Ok, maybe not that good, but still… I NEVER fell. What’s wrong with me. πŸ˜₯

Be warned, Converse-owners and soon-to-be-Converse-owners: THEY SLIP. A LOT. Especially in Fresno, which rains a lot in the fall and winter. 😦 But I still love my shoes so much… It’s a love/hate thing…

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I am about to go insane. The person above me has been bouncing something on the floor sporadically for the past hour and it is making me go insane. Oh. My. Goodness. My hypothalamus is overloaded beyond belief, especially since I went to bed at 4 AM. GAHHHHHH. I think this is the same person that I’ve heard having sex twice… I think. I mean, a consistently creaking bed for about 20 minutes?! Ughhhhhhhhhh. Oh, the joys of living in a city and having to live in an apartment…

Anyways, I’m hella tired after travelling for 5 hours on the bus yesterday. (It should’ve taken around 2.5 hours, but traffic was so insane because everyone was trying to drive back up to Seoul at once.) And then I went to a PC bang with some friends and played games for 2 hours (they played for 4). That completely sucked my brains out. Then I stayed up ’till 4 AM, God knows why. Well, ok, I did update this blog and edit the pictures. I really need to figure out how to change the time on this blog. It’s still on American time. It’s actually 11:33 AM and Thursday, September 27th right now; Korea is a day ahead of the States because of the International Date Line.

So! You must have some questions! Why did it take me 3 hours longer to get back to Seoul? What is a PC bang? Well, let me answer them for you!

So this week is the week of 좔석 (Chu-seok), the Korean Thanksgiving holiday. The actual holiday was on Tuesday, but, like in the states, we get the whole week off. What Koreans do during Chu-seok is all return to their hometowns, or the city where their family originally came from. The thing is, everyone (or 40-60% of the entire population) basically lives in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea that has about 10,400,000 people living in it. Most of these peoples’ hometowns is NOT Seoul, so everyone needs to leave to return to their hometowns. This translates into, of course, massive traffic jams and extended and delayed traveling times. I went with my cousins to λŒ€μ „ (Daejun), a city about 2 hours south of Seoul where they grew up, and we intentionally left Seoul at a weird time (midnight, haha) in order to avoid the traffic. This resulted in my cousin, who was driving, to become a little groggy, so we pulled into a rest stop and slept until dawn then drove to Daejun, but my cousin was still sleepy so we got into a car accident (just a simple rearending), which is another story in itself, but arrived after avoiding traffic. That was a bad run-on sentence. (The rest stops here in Korea – and Japan, my friend told me – are just simply amazing and so safe. Absolutely NOTHING like American rest stops. Wow. I mean, the ones here have freaking GARDENS, FOUNTAINS, and CAGES OF BIRDS inside the BATHROOMS. I’m not shitting you. I’ll take pictures next time.)

So, after arriving at your hometown, you just hang out and whatnot until the actual holiday. Then you have to get up at the crack of dawn and prepare food for the ceremony and prepare for the guests that will be coming. The family of the oldest male sibling will be hosting this holiday every year. My uncle (the cousins’ father) is the oldest male sibling in his family, so family came to his house. They hold the ceremony, eat breakfast, and then leave. We had a huge nap afterwards (preparation is huge so my cousins and uncle had stayed up late, but had to get up at 5 AM). Once I put up pictures, I will explain this in more depth.

Ok, next, the PC bang! Bwa ha ha ha. The infamous PC bang. Ok, first of all, the pronunciation isn’t “bang” as in, “Bang, bang! You’re dead!” but like the first “a” sound in “aria”. (Ah-ria, bahng.) It’s the Korean word for “room” (λ°©), so basically, it’s a room full of computers. It’s basically like an Internet cafe, where all of the computers have Internet access, but it’s mostly known for gaming. You go and play games or check your e-mail, whatever, and pay for how long you’ve been there when you leave. You can also get drinks, buy snacks, etc. I will also take a picture of this next time I go, haha. So we basically played online games against each other for what felt like a long time. I was so drained after I left, haha.

I now want Eggo waffles. Apple cinnamon flavor. Oh woe. *cries*

Haha, sounds like the title of a romance/wedding movie or something. But yes! September 8th was my cousin’s wedding here in Seoul, South Korea. He is 34 years old (I think) and a doctor. He married a fellow doctor. Go here to see the pictures. The wedding was held in this theater inside the Sheraton Hotel Walker Hill and so they got married on the stage. They stood on a glittering rising platform to reach the minister. There was also a runway to the stage. We also had a 4 course dinner. It was very nice. Comments will be with the pictures at the Flickr site above. Go go go! πŸ˜€

KOREAN CLASS:

So we had to write an essay for class. I am in the Advanced Korean 1 class. This is basically the fourth highest level out of six. Don’t let that semi-impressive sounding rank fool you. I’m very fluent in the Korean language (to the extent that people are constantly “amazed” at how well an American-born Korean can speak the language and comment on it constantly), but when it comes to writing and reading… *clears throat* You have to understand there are huge gaps and holes in my Korean language foundation. I never received any formal education in Korean. It’s always easier to speak a language than to learn its grammar, reading, and writing. Basically, I read and write like an elementary school kid, haha. One thing I hate is not knowing exactly if I’m saying something with the right connotation, formality, and politeness. (Ex. Correct: “She is very slim.” Incorrect and how I might say it: “She’s really darn skinny.” See the different?) I miss being able to know how to effortlessly say something without having doubts about the grammar, connotation, formality, and politeness. 😦 Because of the traditional Confucian ideals, Korea is very strict about formality and politeness.

My Korean reading speed is definitely going to be like this *snaps fingers* when I return! πŸ˜€

Speaking of returning… I really want to stay here one more semester. I just don’t want to go back. I really want to move here. I mean… who wants to return to Fresno after living for 6 months in one of the most amazing, busiest, dynamic, fun, stylish cities in the world? I know I definitely am going to request being transferred/dispatched to Seoul for a couple of years in my job.

Anyways, here’s the essay I wrote. People who can read Korean… don’t laugh at me. Ok, you can, but just know that I’m going to improve, haha. I talked to my mom over the phone yesterday, and she remarked, “Wow, Eunice, your Korean has improved SO much! You sound so educated!” HAHAHA. Oh, Mother.

여름 λ‚ μ”¨λŠ” λ‚ λ§ˆλ‹€ λ‹¬λ €μ§ˆ 수 μžˆλ‹€. ν•˜λ£¨λŠ” 햇빛이 λ‚˜κ³ , μ˜¨λ„λŠ” 26℃ 이상 μ•ˆ λ„˜κ³  λ°”λžŒμ΄ 살짝 λΆ€λŠ” 날도 있고; 또 ν•˜λ£¨λŠ” ν˜Έλž‘μ΄κ°€ μž₯κ°€κ°„λ‹€λŠ” 날씨도 μžˆλ‹€ (ν–‡λΉ› λ‚  λ•Œ λΉ„μ˜€λŠ” 것). 또 μ–΄λ–€ 날은 μŠ΅κΈ°λ„ μ—„μ²­ λ§Žμ•„μ„œ μ°μ°ν•˜λ‹€. 그런 날은 λ‚΄κ°€ 제일 μ‹«μ–΄ν•œλ‹€. ν•œκ΅­ μ—¬λ¦„μ—λŠ” μž₯λ§ˆκ°€ μ˜¨λ‹€. λ‚΄κ°€ μ‚¬λŠ” 곳은 여름 μž₯λ§ˆκ°€ μ—†λ‹€. ν•˜μ§€λ§Œ 여름에 λ„ˆλ¬΄ λ”μšΈ λ•Œ 에어컨을 많이 ν‹€λ©΄ 냉방병 걸릴 수 μžˆλ‹€. 이럴 λ•ŒλŠ” 쑰심해야 ν•œλ‹€.

Looks impressive, right? Not so. Translated into English, it’s:

“Summer weather can change from day to day. One day it can be a nice sunny, breezy day with a temperature of 26℃ (80 degrees F), and another day it can be sunny but raining at the same time. Some other days it can be very humid, so you feel sticky. I dislike those kinds of days. During summer in Korea, there is a monsoon season. We do not have monsoons where I live. If you turn on the air conditioner too much during the summer, you can catch a cold. You must be careful of this.”

Totally could win the Korean Pulitzer Prize. Or something. Yes, I have far to go. Be quiet.

Will update again, this time with a description of the Korean Thanksgiving holiday, which we just finished~! \:D/ I miss all of you very much! πŸ˜₯

P.S. Sample pics just so you’re persuaded to go and see more (shameless plug):

Am going to get my hair cut and styled Korean-style very very soon. I’d like it to be done within this week… Hmmmm. I hope I look good, but not too different! *worries* Ever since that one butcher-cut on my hair in 9th grade, I’ve always been really paranoid about cutting hair unless it’s someone trustworthy, which is why my hair is so long, haw haw.

I think I’m turning into an actual Korean girl: I’m really considering wearing heels everywhere! OH NOOOOOOOOO~ What if I turn really high maintenance?!?!?!?!?!?!

(Um… well, I think I already had a high maintenance side to me… it’s just dormant… soon to be awoken. D; )

So, suddenly, I got this sudden craving to just grab a box of Cheez-Its, sprawl out on a bed or couch and read the trashy rich-girl book series Gossip Girl. Oh my God, I really need to find an English-language novel, magazine, SOMETHING. I’m just CRAVING reading something in English in paper form!

American foods I’m really craving:

1. Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich.

2. Actually, make that any kind of American soup. Especially broccoli cream soup (haha, a couple people know that I’m quite partial to this soup).

3. American-style veggie pizza. 😦

4. You know those really simple, cheap meals that you get at like a volunteering function or something? The ones that give you a hot dog, bag of chips, and a Pepsi? Yeah, I’m missing hot dogs, bags of chips, and Pepsi all together. I really am weird.

5. Spaghetti/Pasta with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. I used to make this all the time!

6. Those pink and white frosted animal crackers. OMG~ Taylor, Shaina, and I used to consume those by the bag, haha.

7. Trader Joe’s chimichangas

8. Fuck that, Trader Joe’s in GENERAL. *weeps*

9. SHIRLEY TEMPLES AUGHHHHHHH

10. And then, like last week… I craved CUPCAKES. Wth?! I NEVER crave sweets like that. Cookies, cupcakes, cake, cheesecake, chocolate… I never crave those things, because I’ve never really liked them. But that one day… I was missing Betty Crocker vanilla cupcakes. And then Funfetti cake. *cries*

11. Good Mac-n-Cheese

12. Hearty sandwiches like Subway or Quiznos (oh goodness me, Quizno’s). Yeah, yeah, there’s Subway in Korea but not one in my general vicinity (I think), so I’m kinda stuck. I wonder how different it’ll be.

13. Fresno fruit. I swear people, I didn’t realize what a Godsend Fresno’s agriculture was until I came here. Fruit just cannot get sweeter than the variety they have in Fresno. Apples, peaches… just does not get sweeter and riper than Fresno’s. Thank the Lord for Fresno (I never thought I’d say that).

I’m sure I’ll have lots more to write about regarding American food in the future! Woo!

New York is the City That Never Sleeps? Pshh. SEOUL is the City That Never Sleeps.

Seriously. My room is right next to a major road, and even after 3 AM, you will not hear complete silence for longer than 30 seconds. I seriously timed it when I couldn’t sleep last night. Cars just whizzing by, and the rain just made the cars louder (you know how tires hiss when driving over rainy roads). That’s one of the things I keep being surprised by. People are still walking around outside at late hours. Seoul is a generally safe city, so people are always around. You guys know how it’s like in Fresno, it’s like… 9 or 10 PM and the entire pedestrian population vanishes and you’re scared to walk down the street for Taco Bell so you take the car like everyone else, haha. Kids here think nothing of going somewhere late at night. A group of us went to the ν•œκ°• (Han River, a big river that runs through the middle of Seoul) last Wednesday night at around 9 or 10 PM. There’s a kind of park area next to the river, and lots of people were still sitting on blankets and talking, eating snacks, and so forth, even after we were done taking our river boat ride (it was 11 PM by then). Haha, that reminds me of when some of us in Fresno would go to the Tower District late at night (AND COMMANDO NIGHT THERE WOOOOO~) and be perfectly safe, except that the area was completely deserted.

I’m so tired right now, haha. I really need to start going to sleep earlier than 1 or 2 AM, haha. But I have the entire next week off because of the Korean Thanksgiving holiday! πŸ˜€ I will explain more about that in the next post, which will be a real post, with pictures and everything. Oh, and my cousin’s wedding, too! Ta ta~

So I’ve FINALLY been able to knock this blog into a presentable form. Wow, so much has gone on in these past three weeks I’ve been here. This was my first week of school. I’m taking:

1. BUSS 205 – Marketing Management (MW – 3:30)

2. BUSS 311 – Organizational Behavior (TTh – 9:00)

3. BUSS 313 – International Business (MW – 9:00)

4. Korean Language Level 4 (MTWTh – 2:00)

As you can see, I have no Friday class. Bwa ha ha. But I also have this lame gap between classes (for example, my first class finishes at 10:15 AM, but my next class is at 2 PM), so I can’t really do anything and have to stick around campus. D;

Classes are interesting. I’m taking classes taught in English, not Korean (I would probably fail if I did, no matter how good my Korean is). One of my professors is Korean, another is German, and the last one is German-Korean. I don’t know why, but the lectures are somehow so much more interesting and engaging than the ones I took back home… (OOPS, SHOULD I HAVE SAID THAT? OMG) Why am I taking such a small amount of classes (4 classes = 12 units = the minimum credits required)? Back at home, I would normally take around 19-21 units (which is about 7-9 classes), but several people recommended that I take the smallest number of classes in order to have more time to go out and EXPERIENCE Korea, rather than just constantly be studying for classes. Good advice, no?

An interesting thing I noticed about my Korean language class is that there are a lot of Chinese and Japanese exchange students. They can speak Korean pretty well! There are 6 levels of Korean classes for exchange students (6 being the most advanced), so it’s very impressive that so many people can speak Korean.

So let’s talk about one of my most favorite subjects: fashion. Korean fashion is very stylish. When I first came here, I immediately vowed to myself to return to the States with a renewed sense of style (and you all know how fashion-obsessed I’ve become lately, even before I came here haha). All of the young people here have at least some sense and degree of fashion. There is no unattractive person here because they all know how to have their hair cut/styled, and how to dress. (If you want to see what Korean fashion generally looks like, go here and click on the links beside the “Women” and “Man” sections.) Koreans are pretty dressy (it is also Seoul, the capital city, so people are very fashion-forward). The school has so many steep hills, but you see almost 90% of the women wearing heels walking up and down those hills as if they’ve been doing it forever. I really don’t know how they don’t fall or twist an ankle or etc.

So the shopping in America seems nice, right? Good quality clothes available for a wide range of cheap to overpriced prices, right? Well. The clothes in Korea are overpriced, but AMAZING IN CUT, QUALITY, AND DESIGN. Dear God. I was astounded. They’re just cut and sewn in a level of quality that I haven’t seen American clothes manufacturers capture yet. Like, it’s unbelievable. Korean clothes are soooo pretty.

But! Let’s move onto the real topics for today!

FOOD OF THE DAY:

A typical Korean meal, complete with rice (middle bottom), kimchi (pickled spicy cabbage, bottom left), pickled cucumbers (middle left), lettuce leaves to make wraps (top middle), and bulgogi (barbecued beef except this one is more like beef stew, far right).

IT (“Interesting Thing”) OF THE DAY

So many people think of South Korea as some quiet little Second World country with many undeveloped resources that just minds its own business. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Korea is one of the world’s technological powerhouses, and is currently ranked #11 or #12 in the world in standard of living/GDP. You probably noticed brands such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and KIA; these are all Korean companies, and they are gradually, but quietly, rising in the American market (they’ve already established their niches in other parts of the world). Korea is incredibly advanced in technology, and surpasses America in many technology-related categories, especially in electronics (read: cell phones). This gadget above is one of those advanced pieces of technology. It’s a key and alarm system for a car all in one. You can lock and unlock your car from an extremely wide range, start the ignition while you’re outside the car, and can set up an alarm. However, it’s a bit pricey to get the system installed (either $2,000 or $20,000). My uncle has it, and boy, is it convenient. Never worry about leaving your doors unlocked again.

KOREAN WORD OF THE DAY:

μ•ˆλ…•ν•˜μ„Έμš”!

Pronounced: “Ahn-young hah-seh-yoh”

Definition: The most basic phrase of the Korean language, this means “Hello!” in formal form. The Korean language has two forms, formal and informal. Formal is obviously used for people you have just met, strangers, and elders. Informal is used for your good friends and maybe your parents. The informal form is μ•ˆλ…•, and is pronounced “Ahn-young”. Arrested Development fans should immediately get this. >:D

MISCELLANEOUS PICTURES:

So all of the exchange students went on a tour of Seoul (the capital city of Korea, and ultimately the biggest city), and one of our stops was the National Museum of Art. There, we saw artifacts from Korea’s past, including this painting of a Korean magistrate in the ancient days. I really dig his hat. Actually, I dig his whole outfit. Sometimes, I imagine myself living in the ancient days as the daughter of a wealthy nobleman… *dreamy*

Capri Sun is also available in Korea (you can see the Korean name). The price is not $3, 950. The Korean currency is called the won (W), so the price for one box is W3,950. That’s about $3.95 in United States Dollars. Converting Korean won to US dollars is quite easy; you just drop a certain number of zeros. (Ex. W10 = $0.01, W100 = $0.10, W1000 = $1, W10,000 = $10)

A Korean Starbucks! This one is located inside my school; it’s practically the same! (Except for how the menu is written, of course.) Haha, Andrea, you would feel immediately at home. One different thing about coffee houses and cafes in Korea is that you have an option of “recycling” your cup when you’re done. What you do is pay about $0.10 extra when buying the drink, then if you finish your drink in the cafe, you can return it and receive the $0.10 back. ISN’T THIS EFFICIENT AND GREAT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?!?! Why can’t the US do this?! I bet the US is the number one nation for producing the most waste material.

Anyways. This is the end of my first post; hope you enjoyed it. MUCH more is to come! πŸ˜€ Have a great day, and I miss all my Fresno people! *kiss kiss*

P.S. For the first week I was here, I seriously contemplated moving here. I’m still thinking about it. D;