August 2009


Wednesday afternoon was the scheduled placement test at the university – my new roommate at the co-op, and her friend and I headed off to the university area to get a spot to eat before we sat for the test. I felt like an absolute pro, showing them the exact route to take on the subway, since Oppa had again made us do that practice run the night before.

IMG_1226Lunch – a delicious noodle dish with ham, scallions, and lotsa other goodies.

The test was at 2 PM, and was scheduled to last for one and a half hours. It consisted of a long written test, followed by a short “interview,” or spoken test with one of the instructors. I knew I was in trouble right from the get go, when I saw the written portion, and only understood the first line: ์ด๋ฆ„ = Name.

The rest I had no clue what the answers were, since the test automatically went into:

1) Please choose the correct particle for the sentence.

2) Please choose the correct ending for the sentence.

3) Please read this huge paragraph, and then summarize the story with a huge paragraph.

4) Please write a page-long mini-autobiography of yourself, using the high-formal language from 200 years ago.

I was the first to leave for my class, and my spoken part didn’t go so hot. Needless to say,ย  I was NOT feeling so hot about myself. In fact, I pretty much felt downright stupid.

Oppa decided I needed cheering up, with what else, a trip to the supermarket ~ he took me, my roommate Susan, and her friend Richard to this HUGE supermarket. I mean huge. Like, 7 stories huge. You could get ANYTHING there – clothes, food, appliances, electronics, etc. OR you could visit any of the McDonalds they had, on EACH level.

IMG_1227God I love when restaurant names are translated directly into Korean.

We also ate at the massive food court they had on one level:

IMG_1229MMMMmmmm, so yuummmmmmyyy…

IMG_1232This was awesome, and tasted just like a slightly frozen milkshake.

Then, we headed over to a Korean Karoake place, or a Noraebang as they call it here. It was only my second time, but I think I held my own, busting out such classic hits like “Build Me Up Buttercup” and “Living On A Prayer.”

IMG_1234Erm, sorry about the pic, the disco ball and strobe lights was slightly making everything out of whack.

The next day was the first official day of class – to my surprise (and delight) I was NOT in the lowest level! I was in the next level up, although still in the Beginning class. I was perfectly fine with that, and class went well. The teacher spoke entirely in Korean the entire time, so it was really essential to pay attention the entire time (damn).

IMG_1244Bokkum. Yummy.

Tomorrow = cooking class, family reunions, and the carnival~

Sorry for the delay, since I moved out of the hotel, and into my co-op, my internet access has been shoddy – I JUST got my internet hooked up in my room. Plus the weather has been nothing like I’ve experienced in my life – the closest I’ve gotten is spending summers in New York when it’s hot and sticky.

Anyways, the third day here in Seoul was busy as well – another trip to the hair salon (this time, just to get my hair styled. I felt very spoiled.), then a trip to this HUGE buffet restaurant. Seriously, it was probably one of the biggest restaurants I’ve ever been in my entire life.

IMG_1143They had both Korean and American style food, but I was most excited about all the different desserts they had.

IMG_1146Oppa and me at the restaurant.

We then left for the seaside city of Oido ~ every single storefront was a seafood restaurant, and each one had multiple fish tanks displayed at the front, filled with the fresh catch of the day.

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I also noticed that along the side of the roads, little food trucks were everywhere. You could stop every half mile and eat at one of these little impromptu places.

IMG_1191I don’t think the ahjumma wanted me to take this picture, so I took it anyways, then booked it out of there before she started yelling.

We did a little bit of shopping in Bucheon, which is just right outside of Seoul. It’s really beautiful at night because everything is lit up, there’s always lots of people walking around, and the shops are open ’til really late. Then we had dinner at this little place that not many foreigners go to – the proprietors of the restaurant were REALLY excited to see me, and when I took their picture, they got even more excited and happy. They treated us to free dessert and fruit at the end of our meal. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1210Isn’t she adorable??

IMG_1213Mmmm, lots of garlic and meat. Oh, and side dishes.

We then went to Dongdaemun – it’s a district in Seoul that has HUGE shopping to be doneย  – oh, and it’s open 24 hours. We went around Midnight, and stayed until 2 AM.

Shopping in Korea is a little different – the sales clerks REALLY try to get you to buy something, and in larger department stores for example, each brand will have it’s own space, with it’s own salespeople, and own cash register, so the competition is high, trying to get customers to come to their specific “store.” I kept having to tell people, “Hangukmal mot haeyo” (I don’t speak Korean), but even that didn’t work 100% of the time – they’d still try to talk me into buying stuff. I tried to play dumb. I don’t think they bought it.

The next day, we headed over to Insadong – it’s another shopping district, but it caters more to tourists and foreigners. I was really excited when I saw this storefront:

IMG_1217Every other Starbucks I saw had their storefront in English; Insadong is the only district in Seoul to show the sign in Korean.

IMG_1216Can’t forget about breakfast: A special Bibimbap, minus the egg, plus LOTS of hot sauce.

It started raining halfway through our shopping trip (while still managing to stay really hot and sticky), but stopped after an hour or so. I think that’s the norm around this time of year though, since I guess it’s technically considered typhoon season…

We finally made it over to the co-op, the place I’m calling home for the next 3 weeks. It was cute, and clean, and it made me feel like I was back in the dorms, my very first year of college.

IMG_1221Home Sweet (away from) Home.

Oppa insisted on doing a practice run, from the co-op all the way to the university, on the subway system. It’s amazing how clean, efficient, relatively easy, and English-friendly the Seoul Subway System is. It’s also really cheap – a one-way ticket that’s less than 5 KM is less than 1USD.

IMG_1220This was some kind of meat with noodles – I don’t remember the name, but of course it was delicious.

Tomorrow: Placement testing for school, and Korean Karaoke!

FULL day, already – Oppa insisted on taking me to the hair salon, where they did both my nails and hair. We were there for over three hours. We would have been there for longer, but I talked them out of giving me a perm – horrible memories of when I was younger with a literal fro-mop on top of my head from getting a Korean perm immediately came to mind, and I had to opt out as quickly as possible.

Then we headed over to the National Museum of Korea, a relatively new creation, so admission was free, but alas, it was filled with families and kids running around, so we didn’t stay long.

IMG_1080The Monkey, my sign on the Chinese Zodiac Calendar

IMG_1120Tiny little dining tables from back in the day

IMG_1102Fancy-schmancy silk-screen painting

We then tried to make our way over to the Korean War Memorial Museum, but all the roads leading that way were closed due to the ex-president’s passing, and the planned funeral that was to take place later that day. As we walked towards the subway line, the entire funeral procession drove right past us – it consisted of several motorcade cops, a open convertible carrying a huge picture of the deceased, the large black hearst with the casket, several “Happy Day” sightseeing buses (which I couldn’t decide/tell if they were filled with officials, or actual sight-seeing tourists), and about fifty cars with reporters. It was a little weird. We opted for dinner instead.

IMG_1129Oh sushi, how I love you.

I noticed in every elevator we rode in, each had one thing in common…

IMG_1133BEST sign ever: if you lean, YOU DIE!!!!

I was/still am on California time, so by the time 8 PM rolled around (6 AM California time), I felt like I was dying. So we called it a night, and I headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

See y’all tomorrow! ~ to the sea!!!

Successfully lasted through the 12 hour flight ~ Singapore Airlines = the way to go!

We went directly from the airport to a mom ‘n pop restaurant to eat – I asked that we not get alot, since the airline fed us ample amounts of food. Here’s what I got:

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Trust me, I couldn’t fit the rest of the table/side dishes in the shot. It was really yummy. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s “Sanng -gyup – sal” cooking in the middle, it’s basically like bacon, but fattier, thicker, and oh so delish.

Will post more later, am absolutely exhausted at the moment.

This is what my fridge will (hopefully) look like. Oh soju, how I heart you.

soju

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