Namsan (남산) Lets down its Hair

Most of the place-posts are going to be photo diaries because a picture is worth a 1000 words, right?

Before we get to the great pictures… Namsan is a mountain, a popular tourist spot in Korea.

A little fun Korean lesson for you: Nam=남 and San=산 (산 means mountain).  In total: it took around 2 hours to walk up and down the mountain.  It’s not too bad, but I do suggest going when it is a little cooler out.  I went when it was a little above 70 F and that was a bit too hot to be hiking up a mountain.  However, if it’s too hot for you- take the cable car up.  That option is very popular and there was a huge waiting line.

You may have seen this site in a Korean TV show or a few.  Not only is this place a tourist area but also a great place to shoot dramas.  As seen in the famous drama, Boys Over Flowers:

Namsan Park has several paths walking up the mountain and even a cable car that will take riders to the top and back down.  On top of the mountain, people are blessed with breathtaking views and a tower, known as the N Seoul Tower.  This tower is similar to the Empire State Building in New York, as it can be seen from almost any point in Seoul.  I could see the tower from my dorm room.  You know what direction you are facing by finding the N Seoul Tower.  This tower serves as an observation tower if you want even more breathtaking views (unfortunately, because my fear of heights, I didn’t go up in the tower).

However, there is plenty to see on top of the mountain.  They sell keys and locks by the mountain and couples are allowed to lock away their love and throw the key over the edge.  Most of the pictures I took look strangely messy but seeing them, in person, has the opposite effect.  Piles upon piles lock their love away, a promise meant to be kept forever.  With each one, I wondered what the story behind it was.  The whole thing is fascinating because these people, wherever they are from, are leaving behind a piece of themselves in South Korea.  It is like they are making history.

So, without further ado, instead of listening me talk about how gorgeous the site was- see for yourself:


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Truth or Dare Pt. 1

When I was deciding what to write for today’s post, I wasn’t quite sure.  I have a list of posts that I have to write eventually with thought-out notes and drawings from my time in South Korea.  It is because I knew I would be behind on writing posts because when in another country, why would I be sitting at a computer writing about my experiences—while I could still be outside and having more experiences?

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At 외대 (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies), right by the gate is a considerably large dirt field.  While it is warm, soccer players wake early to get practice in and play until dusk.  Next to the field (why can’t you be made of grass? But that is for another post) is a basketball court.  During the fall months, before it got terribly cold, there would always be a group of students playing basketball around 8 and 9PM.  After a long day of traveling around the city, a group of girls and I would purchase some soothing and delicious ice cream and watch these students run back and forth on the court.  Rarely were there other girls joining the games and the boys didn’t seem to mind us cheering them on.

Now if there is one game I dislike, it is TRUTH or DARE.  I don’t mind the truth part; if there are good questions, I usually have a good answer.  However I have noticed the older I become, the more elaborate and increasingly more embarrassing the dares become.  But “come on, this is Korea” was what my friends said when they started playing.  “You don’t know these people,” they told the shy me to calm down and suck it up.  Because, I guess, it will be fun.  It may not have been fun but it makes for a good story.

One night, we girls sat enjoying our cool ice cream and watching the boys play basketball.  The sun had gone down, the scarce basketball court lamps were on.  We sat, huddled together, discussing the basketball play and the overall excitement of everyone’s day.  Then the game TRUTH or DARE ensued.  The dares started out innocent with a small cheer for the boy that kept missing the hoop or an awkward dance while listening with headphones.  (As innocent as those are, I still wouldn’t have had the guts to accomplish them.)  Then my dare came and I closed my eyes and asked, “Why am I being punished?” Was I having fun?  A little.

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There were limited seating at the basketball court so we shared a stoop with the boys that were out during the basketball game.  They were so close that all one would have to do was scooch over and be a part of their group.  And that is exactly what I had to do.  *face palm*

I gave my friends the “Why are you making me do this? I think I might be sick” face and moved an inch by inch.  To my left was one of the basketball players, drinking Powerade and distracted by his teammates, in conversation.  When his head was turned, I moved an inch.  Frankly, this is the day that my friends found out I was part ninja, slyly inching over to their group.  It was something out of a weekend cartoon.

The boy looked in my direction, avoiding eye contact, not really looking at me at all.  I averted my gaze and spoke to my friends who urged me to continue.  I could tell I was as red as a tomato and all the blood was rushing to my head, giving me an annoying headache.  The boy looked away.  I took my chance and inched ever closer.  He said something to a friend—not about me or the girls, just something about the game.  I took a bite of my ice cream.  He checked his phone.  I inched closer, invading my own personal space by completing the challenge.  The girls cheered: a completely rational response at a basketball course, though no one was cheering about what was happening in basketball but that I had succeeded in the dare.

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Not wanting to be there more than necessary, I bolted for the exit as quickly as possible.  My friends sent chiding remarks at me.  The boys on the bench, at this point, had noticed something was going on.  As they all turned their heads to follow my friends’ gazes, it was the moment when my foot decided to trip over the other—landing me into the high basketball court’s fence.  I know it is such a high school-thing to say but “I thought I would die from embarrassment.” My friends were laughing.  The boys were just staring.  I caught myself easily and walked a little faster toward the court’s exit.  Later I heard from my friends that the students on the bench gave my friends the most hateful glare, judging them with what-kind-of-friends-are-you look and it made me a feel a little bit better.  Because I knew at least someone was on my side. (gifs: Flower Boy Next Door, not a true representation of what happened)

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That Kind of Girl

Being from a different country when you’re in America: can anyone really tell?  America is such a diverse group of people that you can’t tell if you’re American or if you just got off the plane from Germany.  No one would know.

Obviously, people knew right away in Korea that I was not Korean. Staring at [insert any noun here] is very common; if [that noun] is rare, I would stare at it as well.  Nowadays, foreigners are becoming increasingly popular in South Korea.  If I traveled outside of my campus’ gates, I would find at least one foreigner besides myself looking uncomfortable under the gazes and sniffs of Koreans that walked by.  It was something to get used to, it was just how things were.

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Most of my peers were Korean students.  In most of my classes, there would be one or two foreigners besides myself, the rest were Korean.  I didn’t mind so much except when I was trying to make friends.

I never even thought about it being an issue.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term of being a trophy wife.  She is a wife that is there for the husband to show off and tell his friends, “I did well, didn’t I?” My roommate brought this up to me after I had met a considerable amount of Korean students.  It wasn’t a large group but after hanging out with a few of them a bunch of times, my Korean-German roommate voiced her concern.  She wanted to know if I was a trophy friend.  (Of course, she didn’t say it like that because that term is something I just came up with-)

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Seoul Fashion Week 2014- w/ band 고구마

I took her concern seriously.  A trophy friend? Ridiculous! (ahem, well not seriously at first) All my new friends are awesome and so nice to me.  I mean, I think I would have been able to tell if my newfound friends were showing me off, right?  (Disclaimer: my friends and all the people I met while in South Korea, they were awesome.  I think what I had with a lot of them was true friendship.  In this post, I’m not calling anyone out.)  I’m just saying my roommate put this thought into my head and now I can’t just shake it.

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awesome roomie and I

I made a considerable amount of guy friends, which is unlike the introverted country girl from America.  I don’t really have many guy friends in America and when I came to South Korea, I befriended at least five guys right away.  My roommate was worried.  I was not; we’re friends.  I mean I’m not that kind of girl.  You know, the kind of girl that will have boys walk all over her and whatnot.  After the talk with my roommate, I began to notice small things and a small seed of distrust was planted.  However, my doubt did not make us any less friends.  After all, I was only there for four months.

It was a friend of a friend commenting on pictures on Facebook, asking how he could join our group.  It was a friend introducing me to his other friends and everyone patting him on the back and going, “대박!”- something that reminded me strangely of “You the man!” in cliche movies. It was a friend who held my hand in a crowd of people and then refused to let go.  It was a friend asking me endless questions about America and how does it feel being a foreigner.  It was these types of interactions that planted my distrust.  It was these types of interactions that I knew my roommate was right about some of my friends.

Every time something like this happened, questions would race through my head.  I wished I hadn’t thought about it.  I wished I could blissfully return to the relationship we had before my roommate voiced her opinion. But I knew she was partly right.  Are we friends only because I’m foreign, because I’m American?  Is it because I speak English? Why does she want English help- is that the only reason we are hanging out?  Is it because I’m blonde? Because of my accent?distrust

Truly, I will never find out.  Neither do I necessarily blame them for wanting a friend who is different.  In that way, I was special.  Not sure if that was a good thing or not.

But still I didn’t want to be that kind of girl.

Riding Solo Not Allowed

It’s midterm week here at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and I have absolutely nothing to occupy my time.  I barely have any midterms which surprises me immensely since I am taking regular courses.  However, that is a post for another day.  Today I want to discuss the sense of community that all of South Korea has.

If you know Korean culture at all, you should know that it is a sharing community.  I don’t mean sharing as in: “Please pass the corn.” “Thank you.” No, not like that.  I mean, using the same spoon, eating out of the same bowl—basically the equivalent of French kissing everyone at the table, swapping spit with everyone.  I know that sounds gross and everyone is definitely sharing germs.  However, it grows on you and I sort of love it.  Plus, I haven’t gotten sick since I got here and we are already at midterms. (Photo: the big bowl was shared amongst the whole table)

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Sharing everything, mainly food, has opened my eyes at this Korean sense of community.  Sharing food so intimately with everyone, whoever it may be (friends, strangers, coworkers, ect.), really builds your relationship.  The act of sharing food is so intimate to me since in America the only thing we share are appetizers.  Though even sometimes people want those all to themselves.  “Those nachos are mine. Not yours.”

In Korea, it’s another story and even though it may take some getting used to, it is really awesome.  Not only do you get to try more variety of food this way but you become closer with the person you are eating with.  Now the question here is: what if you’re alone?  What if you have no one?

That’s the problem.  It is quite difficult to eat anywhere if you are alone.  Forget about eating alone, if you are in public.  Unless you find a coffee shop, where you can arm yourself with a cellphone or a book, eating alone in public is not going to work.  Most of the dishes in Korea are meant for two or more people, so even getting fried chicken to go is basically stating that you have a friend back home who will eat with you.  They are going to give you at least ten pieces of chicken.

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It’s hard being alone in South Korea.  There are tons of other reasons but I’ll once again make this post have multiple parts so stay tuned of being alone in Korea.

The next post will focus on couples and the relationships but I wanted to touch upon the cuteness now because I can.  You can’t walk down the street and not see at least one couple doing something couple-like (holding hands, ect.).  They are everywhere.  And sometimes they are even easier to spot because they have some sort of couple wear on.  Everyone should be aware of the idea of promise rings, even though the idea is very old-fashioned and not really practiced much in America anymore.  Promise rings is basically the exchanging of rings, a statement that this couple is committed.  Well, Korea takes it to a whole different level.  You can walk down the street and see couples in matching shoes, matching bracelets, matching backpacks, literally matching anything and everything.  And when I say: takes it to a whole new level: couples will match everything.  I’ve seen couples, more than one, on numerous occasions, dressed exactly the same.  Whatever this is doing to their relationship, it is working.  Divorce rate in South Korea must have something to do with their couple culture.  Not only mentioning their outfits but just how couples act toward each other in general.  The divorce rate in America is around 50%, where any sort of couple wear would probably be made fun of or looked down upon.  In South Korea, the rate is at 36% (according to wikipedia, because I am currently pressed for time but will try to find a valid source later).  I think it would be fascinating to study couple culture and for my final project, in one of my classes, I’m examining a part of the relationship culture (so maybe I’ll even post my findings when I’m finished). (Photo: The Heirs… notice the matching shoes)

With all these couples, South Korea seems to discourage single people.  They even have a day devoted to sad single people.  It is called Black Day (April 14) and it’s a day, where single people have to eat black noodles alone.  It sounds utterly terrible and I’m sort of glad, I won’t be around to participate in the holiday.  It sounds like a holiday where the people who made it wanted all the single people to sit in a corner and think about what they’ve done.

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If you are alone in South Korea, like I am, don’t be too upset.  The goal here is to make friends fast, or at least find another person to eat food with.  Otherwise, Seven 11 and other convenience stores may become your only friend.

That Hostel Horror Story

Every person in their life should have at least one Hotel Horror Story.  The worst story of staying in a hotel for me was when I went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida and we came in the room to find a take-out salad in the drawer with the Bible.  Now that’s disgusting and my horror story for South Korea is less so.

The story is less filled with horror, and more filled with annoyance and my need to complain.  For those of you who don’t know, a hostel is basically a backpackers paradise.  It is where mostly young people stay while traveling because it is a cheap form of a pillow under your head for the night.  Since this is my first time abroad, I thought I’d check out what the hype was.

download (1)We arrived in Seoul at 4AM, way too early for my time but since not used to the time change yet, relatively okay.  (I traveled with one of my friends from school, Raquel.) Both of us carried 4 months worth of suitcases, which is not ideal at a hostel.  (Like I said, backpackers paradise).  I knew this going in.  There have always been those rumors, or fictional books chiming how everyone should at least try a hostel once in their life time.  So I did. (Pic: me at the airport, just arrived at Seoul!)

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Since we arrived so early, I borrowed a phone from a nice woman and proceeded to call the hostel- after about the thousandth ring, she picked up.  I explained the situation and she was glad to keep our suitcases before check-in while we went and explored the area.  I’m not about to name the hostel because I did meet some cool people there but still, my experience with hostels are over.  I will not be staying in one ever again.

When we arrived, there didn’t seem to be anyone working there.  We dragged our suitcases up the stairs and after talking to some girls, found that the woman sleeping on the couch was, in fact, the one who I had talked on the phone.  She woke up enough to tell us where to put our suitcases and then swiftly went back to sleep.  Mind you, she didn’t check our paperwork, nor IDs which I thought was odd.  We had reservations but I thought it strange because we could be anyone in the world.  She did not know us by our faces.

After the day of exploring and getting lost, we were ready to sleep forever since we were both so jet lagged. We arrived during check in time- check in time was 3PM (why so late? Probably because she likes to sleep the day away).  And guess what? She decides then to tell us that we can’t stay there that night due to an overbooking.  She suggested another hostel close by that was almost the same price.  She paid the difference.

We dragged most of our luggage to the other place and slept the rest of the day.  In the morning, even though given the option to stay there the remaining two nights we had reserved, the woman in charge of this hostel promptly, yet quietly, kicked us out.

Thus we moved back to the original hostel and spent the rest of the nights getting eaten by mosquitoes.  Is it the worst place I’ve stayed at? No.  However, considering I’m sure most hostel stories don’t end up like this, I wanted to share.

Let me tell you: I’ve had the hostel experience.  I think I’ll stick with regular hotels from now on.  At least, Motel 6 will always leave the light on for me.

Plane Ride Playlist

With my departure from New York to South Korea looming, I was thinking about the many things I might occupy myself with while on the plane.  It is around a 14 hour flight which will be quite a long trip.

STATUS UPDATE: Before I get into my entertainment options, I wanted to update you on what will be happening.  I leave at the end of this week for Korea and arrive early next week.  School doesn’t officially start until September 1st so I’ll be traveling around Korea for a few days before that.  I have a rough sketch of where I’m going but I’m not going to ruin the surprise for those of you who want to see my awesome pictures.

There are loads of entertainments options that can truly keep you occupied during long trips like mine.

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First off, BOOKS!  As an English major, I’m sort of required to say these first but I also can’t wait to devour the books I’m bringing for the plane ride.  Obviously, if you’re going on a long trip, your taste in books will be different than mine but make sure that you pack some awesome reads that you know will hold your interest (like a favorite author or genre).  I’m bringing Rain by Amanda Sun and I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin.  I’ve read both these authors previously and know that they are fantastic at what they do.

I can throw movies onto this list but for this trip, I’m not bringing any movies since my laptop doesn’t have a CD-ROM (I’d have to bring my external CD-ROM to play movies but I’m saving luggage space and not bringing it.).  A great movie to get you in the mode to travel is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (directed by Ben Stiller).

MUSIC is also going to be a huge thing when traveling.  One, it’s a little slice of home that I’ll be able to listen to while on the move.  Two, listening to music while around others (say: on a plane, for example)  or with others (like the gif from Heartstrings below) makes me feel like I’m in a music video or something as equally cool.  Even though I’ll have my IPod on shuffle, I created a small 15-song playlist for the purpose of this post.  Here’s an example of some of the awesome songs, I might listen to on my way to South Korea:

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Paradise by T-Max

Best I Ever Had by Gavin DeGraw

Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Can’t Stop by CNBlue

Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia

The Great Escape by Nell

It’s Time by Imagine Dragons

Madly by FT Island

Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey

Torpedo by Jillette Johnson

Troublemaker by Olly Murs

Wake Me Up by Avicii

Welcome to the World by Kevin Rudolf

200% by AKMU

1004 by B.A.P.

The Little Things

UPDATE: I, officially, have dates! I got flight tickets this week and everything is starting to fit into place. This is happening!
 With that, I wanted to talk about little things because a lot of BIG things have been happening of late and I am so overwhelmed that all I want to do is focus on the small stuff.
I went to the movies the other day. I travel about an hour to go to my nearest movie theater; it’s a pretty big outing for the whole family. It’s always been that way, since I can remember. Since I went off to college, the family doesn’t really get the chance to take me out to the theater, unless I’m home and free of any previous engagement. And usually if I’m not free, I’ll make time because I am sort of a movie-buff. Before aspirations of becoming a book publisher seeped into my brain, I had wanted to be a screenwriter and researched and watched tons of movies. Even after I dropped that dream, I still can’t stop watching and falling in love with the art of movies.
That trait is actually how I met this boy. As much as I always love going to see movies with my family, there is a little thing that I love about the movie theater. We met one night a few years ago and, quite truthfully, I don’t even think we ever exchanged names. Before you get the wrong idea, he works part time at the theater, you see. He approached me before going to clean a theater room and asked me about the movie I had just seen. I guess movie buffs attract because ever since that one time, we still discuss every movie after I walk out of the theater.
Our discussion wasn’t anything special opposed to the other times before, however, it got me thinking about little things. Like the little things I love about the movie theater is the self-serve butter machine for popcorn, this boy, and the rocking theater-seats.
In the movie, Zombieland, they said to enjoy the little things. And that is exactly what I am doing.
 In anticipation of traveling to South Korea, I got thinking about the little things I might enjoy there. I came up with a subject-to-change top 5 list of the little things I will love in Korea:
1. Food: Now, I know it is a bit crazy but I haven’t tried a lot of Korean food. But what I have tried was fantastic. All the food: delicious.
 2. So Much History: I’m aware that everywhere is going to have history but coming from America, which is still a baby country compared to most, I’m saying Korea has lots of history. Also, it has held onto that history, whereas a lot of places have torn buildings down and upgraded the once historical sites. South Korea has palaces among skyscrapers. It is like two different worlds: the past and the present living together under the same roof.
 3. Traditional Markets: To me, traditional markets in South Korea will be a little slice of home. I grew up on the countryside, running a dairy farm with my family. Farmer markets have always been a thing and I love to go and see everything they are selling. I can’t tell you what differs from a Korean traditional market and a New York-style farmers’ market but I will tell you that no matter the difference, I’ll find home there.

4. Bubble Tea: Need I say more? I have an obsession with this flavored-milk tea drink for the past two semesters. And that’s awful, considering I’m lactose intolerant. But I can’t get enough of the stuff. In Korea, I’m hoping they’ll have more than the five flavors they have in my college town (and I’m pretty sure they do).
 5. Views: In the countryside, where I live, it is gorgeous. All seasons, I look out the window and see beautiful fields and animals. It is something out of a storybook. However, since I live here, I notice how beautiful it is but I’ve desensitized myself from the effect long ago. Seeing new things, new places, new people for the first time will make me realize how wonderful and pretty the world is again. When I take pictures, I see my surroundings with news eyes. But now I want my eyes to be new again. I want to take everything in for the first time.
 Just enjoy the little things. Whether it’s that boy at your movie theater or the view outside your kitchen window, take it in and smile.

Waiting

Waiting is hard for everyone.  People may be far better at hiding it then others.  They may have a better level of patience than most but usually when a person says that they are patient, they are usually lying.


There are many cases where a person must wait.  I’m sure you are waiting on something right now, whether it be until your dinner is finished or until your next important meeting (or maybe just waiting on me to get to my point already).  Whatever it is, I’m waiting too.  Waiting to hear back from the study abroad office to see if I got accepted into the program or not.

Why South Korea?

Everyone has asked me the question, and I mean everyone: why South Korea?  They ask for a number of reasons but the top two are because (1) they genuinely want to know why I personally choose the country or (2) they are concerned for my safety and have decided to tell me not to go but they want to hear my excuse first.

Since you, people of the Internet, don’t know me that well yet: I hope you ask why for the first reason.

My first, noticeable piece of South Korea was something that I stumbled upon on Youtube.  I watched this video that started this curiosity:

Mind you, at the time I was going through the worst semester ever and coping by trying to pick a study abroad program that was right for me.  Maybe this was more subliminal messaging but I am glad that I fell for it.

With the video, I was interested in the one show that I wasn’t at all familiar with and it shocked me because I was definitely familiar with Tumblr.  It was a show called You’re Beautiful.  When I read what the show was about, I was sold.  I didn’t realize it was Korean until I started watching it.

You're Beautiful-Korean Drama

During the worst semester ever, there were some highlights.  Watching the cheesy but terribly hilarious You’re Beautiful was one of them because discussing the drama was actually how I met one of my best friends.  She is an exchange student from South Korea and throughout the semester, she pushed me into putting more effort into researching the study abroad program for South Korea.  And I delved into everything I could about the country, culture, pop culture, and study abroad program.  And found out some awesome things that I just couldn’t say no to.

Jeanna’s Top 5 Reasons Why South Korea Is The Place To Go

1. Book Publishing

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I didn’t mention before but I am studying English and Communication Arts to become a book publisher—hopefully, right after graduation.  South Korea’s book publishing industry (as it seems from the research I did) is developing but at a fast pace.  The country is being showcased in this year’s (2014) London Book Fair.  Also, there is a huge book convention in South Korea: Paju Booksori (파주북소리) every year, which is said to be the largest book publishing convention in all of Asia.  Since 2012, I have participated in Book Expo of America (BEA) but to be able to attend another convention would be amazing.  Plus, there is a place nicknamed Book City (Paju).

2. the Korean Wave

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I actually wasn’t even aware of the Korean Wave until I read about it, during my research.  South Korea is taking the world by storm with its pop culture.  Right now, South Korean musicians and bands are touring the world, sharing their music with a wider audience than ever before.  I’m curious to what or maybe why this all started (and I think it must have started way before Psy’s Gangnam Style).  I think it’s awesome and definitely amazing how this pop culture can become such a huge hit with an international audience.  It astounds me that audiences who may not even know the Korean language are still caught in this wave of pop culture.

3. the language

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This reason didn’t become a prominent reason until I actually started learning the language this semester.  My first glimpse into the language was listening to the Korean dramas/ TV shows last semester but I didn’t fall in love with the language until I started speaking it.  Even now, I am hesitant to say that I speak the language, because I don’t—I’m still a beginner learner with a growing vocabulary.  Languages are difficult to learn but the reason, in high school, why I wanted to learn French was because it sounded gorgeous.  To this day, after six years of learning French, I still think it is a gorgeous language.  The Korean language is different.  When I speak Korean, the language makes me feel gorgeous (can I say that, does that make sense?).  I don’t know what it is.  It could be the way the words flow with one another, the way the lips and tongue move, or even the way there is no expression but so much expression at the same time.  Learning the language is one thing (which is what I am trying to tackle now) but experiencing the language would be amazing.

4. Advertising

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This list is winding down but I could go on for quite a while.  South Korean advertising made it to my top 5 list because I am so intrigued by it.  What Americans call celebrities, Koreans call idols.  We can discuss idols a different day, but a lot of the advertising is done with an idol’s sponsorship.  It is persuasion at its best.  I mean, sure we have lots of celebrity sponsorships: Taylor Swift is promoting Diet Coke, Emma Stone is promoting Revlon.  But South Korea does their advertising with a different angle, a different style.  I’d love to figure it all out. (pic: Lee Min Ho with 바나나맛 우유)

5. Dramas/ TV shows

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I have to put this on the list because it is what started it all.  Indirectly, my watching of You’re Beautiful began my research in looking into South Korea as a place to study abroad.  From there, I opened endless possibilities.  The more shows I watch, the more I find myself curious about what happened in this scene and why that character did that.  It ties back to Korean culture and tradition.  Obviously, everything one watches in the media is not true, but one has to filter some truth out of it.  The TV shows are filled with endless locations that people visiting the country can go to.  It is giving me several ideas of where to go when I have free time there. (pic: just finished Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점) last week)

Introduction to Travel

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It has been quite a long time since I put my thoughts to paper.  I mean, I write essays all the time but I got thinking: when was the last time I really sat down and wrote out a thought.  It was probably the incident of 8th grade, the year that I decided that diaries or journals were meant for someone with a life and writing about what I was eating for dinner 

Can I say I’ve changed since then?  Sure, definitely.  I am now a woman of 20 years, a junior in college.  But my age doesn’t answer my question.  It doesn’t answer anything really because you can’t measure a person’s experiences by how old they are.  I’ve changed in the sense that having journals are not such a bad idea after all.  Well, the thought of having a journal is not a bad idea.  Actually keeping one is a whole other story.was just called a calorie journal.

One of my friends mentioned that she kept a travel journal which I thought was pretty neat.  I wished that I kept one too but I don’t really travel so I didn’t know why I wanted one so bad.  The only places I travel are to places that I escape to via the books I read.  It’s exciting in my head but not enough excitement to actually put down that I traveled to Hogwarts today, it was awesome in said travel journal.

Over last summer, I started reading a lot of books about travel—not like information on traveling—but books where the protagonist travels somewhere and experiences something amazing.  Maybe it was subliminal messaging but I started looking into study abroad programs that my college offered.  I went to several meetings about the programs, trying to find the one that stood out to me.

The first semester of this academic year was tough for me.  There were lots of issues or incidents in several files of my life and I thought the semester would never be over.  I must say, it was the most difficult semester of my college career so far.  However, one thing that became perfectly clear to me in that semester was my need to study abroad, to get it together so I could go somewhere, experience something.  It wasn’t so much about my want to go somewhere and travel somewhere worth writing about.  It was my need now; I think I took looking into studying abroad to a whole new level.  It was like my coping method into all that was happening.  However, even after all my issues were semi-resolved, the desire to go was still as strong as when I first started.

That’s when I found it.  The program that called to me, or more like the country that called to me.  South Korea. 460_Map-South-Korea