Turning Korean


I had definitely heard this song before, but I didn’t really find out what song it was until that one night in Seoul. So whenever I listen to this song on my iTunes, I’m reminded of this night, and I smile. Good memories, haha.

I think it was a Saturday. I was interning at SK with Jerome M. We decided to meet Saturday night and go to a few bars and clubbing around Hongdae. Man, I remember how freaking bitterly cold it was that night. Wow. Seriously, never has an evening’s temperature stood out so vividly in my mind. It was seriously like the analogical knife. The streets were almost deserted because people were thinking twice about vernturing out into the cold streets, much less party. They were probably all sitting on their heated floors at home, watching Gag Concert or something. πŸ˜›

I even remember distinctly what I was wearing that night. My working/intelligent girl glasses that I bought for W8,000 (~$8), my short-sleeved black and charcoal-striped turtleneck shirt, my black Uniqlo skinny jeans, and my vintage Gucci mod-style black and white heels. Why the hell did I wear glasses to go clubbing?! I will never remember the logic behind it. xD

Anyways, we meet at Sangsu Station and decide to go to a Japanese bar first. Had some hot and cold sake and that one Japanese food that has what looks like brown tissue paper sprinkled on top (it’s so thin, it waves in the slightest wind, so it looks like this strange food that you think could be found at the bottom of the ocean, haha). Then we decide to go hit the clubs. He takes me to a couple of his favorite around Hongdae, like Tool and oh, that one place… can’t remember the name. Both are deserted when we go in, then people slowly start coming in little by little. I was not feeling it whatsoever, so we leave the second bar we’re in and go to Ska 2 because it was free entrance that night or something.

It’s pretty crowded, and the music is fun and dancey. Then the song comes on! It’s a song that normally you wouldn’t even think you would be able to dance to, but hey, whatever, it works. Then somehow, we end up meeting a group of old high school buddies who are having their annual reunion at Ska 2. They have a table reserved and everything. Jerome’s a pretty personable guy, which is probably why we got pulled over to sit with them, haha. We talk to them, everyone is either drunk or pretty far gone or in bubbly good spirits. There are two other girls there, both American girls. We talk to them, eat the guys’ refreshments, blah blah blah. Jerome suddenly says he has to go, but I decide to stay because I like these people. He leaves, and ends up taking my camera (which I didn’t realize until later).

After awhile, all of us leave the club into the freaking cold winter. Our cheeks are red within minutes, haha. By then, it was probably like 5:30 or 6:00 AM, so the subway has been running for about half an hour or so. We all split up and go home, taking the subway or walking, all calling out byes to each other, them meeting us for the first time, but still so friendly and concerned about our safety, them splitting up and escorting us girls to our respective modes of transporation, walking away into the bitterly cold pale pink-red glow of the sunrise, breaths billowing out in front of us, hands thrust deep into our pockets, shoulders hunched.

Man. I miss Korea. No danger at all. No obligations. Just good, friendly fun. That night is still so vivid in my mind; I don’t know why it stands out so much. Thinking about it, there were plenty of more memorable nights during my year-long stay in Korea, but this somehow stands out. Looking through the pictures makes me smile. I’m so simple-minded, haha.

It’s one month until my 21st birthday today.

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I was looking through pictures of Korea and my internship at SK Telecom because I’m giving a short presentation on it at an international dinner tonight. And…

It’s been about three and a half months since I got back to the US.

…Really? Can it be? Can it seriously be only three months? It feels like it’s been forever… Feels like a dream…

I’m still surprised by how much nostalgia I feel about Korea. I want to go back so much. Words can’t describe how much I want to go back.But I know it won’t be the same when I do go back. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I know I’m not the only exchange student that feels this way.

Sigh…

I miss all you people, you know? How will I see you guys again? How will I meet you guys all again in Korea? πŸ˜₯

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; )