Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Until We Meet Again Busan.. and Yes We Will Meet Again!!

Friday night, our last night in Busan all together was so great. We met at the main gate at 5:30 to ride to the restaurant where the farewell dinner was held. I think everyone was impressed that I owned something other than Nike shorts and t-shirts.  Bought a really cute brown dress and heels the day before to wear. It was a hit needless to say. When we arrived at the restaurant we went into the dining hall. JiHyun and I sat with Lee, Young, Vinson, Jens, Min Yum and Kevin. The Vice President of International Affairs spoke and gave a toast. Karen, the U of H representative did also. After a nice meal it was picture time. Everyone got one last group picture. After we finished eating and drinking there we moved to another area of the restaurant that was a bar/karaoke room. It was rented just for us. Being one of the first ones in there I decided to get the party started. So I turned on “Brown Eyed Girl” and attempted to shag by myself.

The whole time the group told me I needed to sing “Sweet Home Alabama” so I finally broke down and did. I did change the lyrics to “Sweet Home Korea” though. We all danced and sang to Korean songs and old school songs like Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls. It was a great way to spend our last few hours all-together. We left the party at 10 to walk back to the bus station. Robbie and Tom decided they were going to the clubs at Haeundae. While the rest of us had one last hike together. At the bus stop the tears started. We all cried and hugged each other. It was very emotional. After spending 4 weeks together day and night, hours upon hours, at least 283 to exact according to our certificates, it is very hard to leave someone cold turkey. We all have such an amazing bond. But I know that is not the last time I will see my Korean friends. After missing one bus due to everyone crying and saying good-bye we got on the last bus of the night. Rachel, Allie, Lauren, Lane, Ziv, Daniel and I rode back to campus together. After climbing the steps to the dorm one last time we said our good-byes.

Since Melissa had already moved her stuff out Lauren slept in the room with Lane and I. it was fun to have a slumber party on the last night. After sleeping in on our last morning in Busan we decided to go to 24 to eat lunch. It was the first restaurant we ate at with the group, it was only proper to end it eating there as well. After zipping up our bags and weighing them in the gym we drug them down the 93 steps to wait on our buddies. Noreen and Daniel rode to the train subway station with us. It was nice to get to spend the last few minutes in Busan with them.

We were running late so we didn’t have time for a proper good-bye, which made it a little easier. I still cried like a baby though. My buddy, JiHyun, was the perfect match for me. We understood each other and got along so well. I am really going to miss her. The other girl buddies greeted us when we got to the Busan train station. They all got on the train with us to find our seats and tell us bye. I got a bracelet from Kang SuJin that she made for me, I love it. And JiHyun gave me a nice chopstick set. It was very sad watching the buddies as our train drove away.

And so this is where our long, and I mean long journey home began. A 2.5 hour train ride to Seoul train station. When we arrived to Seoul I looked for the buses to Incheon but after searching I could not find them. Lane and I then decided to check on a train to Incheon Airport. We decided that would be the best option. We all ate Lotteria one last time and then boarded the train for the airport. When we got to the airport we had to find our way to the check in area. When we finally found it we were informed we could not check in until 6:55 am. So this meant we had to sleep in the check in area.

Lets just say granite floors are not comfortable. After the long sleepless night we got checked in and made our way to the terminal. We met some army guys while waiting at the check in desk. One was from Savannah and had been stationed in Seoul for 26 months. It was kind of nice to hear a Southern guys voice. He said all he wanted was his mama’s sweet tea and Chickfilla. The flight to Tokyo was good and short. After landing we went thought immigration and customs. We then were once again faced with getting from one airport to another. Lane and I made the executive decision that we would take a bus this time. It only took a little over an hour. But we didn’t see much of Tokyo except the Disney park there.

When we got to Haneda we were informed that we could not check in until 3 hours before our flight. So that meant night 2 of sleeping in the check in area of an airport. We decided to make the best of it. We found a good restaurant and had a decent meal and then set up camp. My computer charger quit working so I had to borrow Lane’s computer or phone to get on wi-fi because my phone also quit working while in Busan. We all slept but only for around 2 hours. Luckily this airport had padded benches so sleeping was a little easier. It was finally 4 am and we could check in. after hours and hours of sitting and waiting around it finally felt as if we were really going home. I was asleep before we even got off the ground. I slept at least 8 hours of the flight. I was purely exhausted from lack of sleep and mentally drained from making sure we got to where we needed to be for everything.

After the long flight we landed in Detroit. Going through customs there was not fun because we had so many people on our flight. But once we got our passport checked it was easy. I then found the gate we needed to be at. The hour and a half flight to Atlanta was good because I got to watch the Today Show. When we landed in Atlanta I had my game face on, which I had on the entire time, but Atlanta airport is very scary to those who have never been in there. I guided the other girls through the airport on the train and to our concourse. Our flight from Atlanta to Greenville was very short, we were only in the air for around 30 minutes. After landing Lane’s mom greeted us and we went to collect our luggage. The amazing journey that was 60 hours long was finally over with.

I miss everyone in Busan so much. I hope to return one day very soon. Ms. Na told me that Dr. Ball and the Governor may be visiting this school year and that I was invited. I really hope this goes through. I want to do what ever I can to make relations with Lander and Dong-A the best they can be. I would love to work in Busan someday, but I will need to work on my Korean. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I will never forget my summer in Korea!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Last Week in Busan

The last week in Busan has been very relaxing. Tuesday we had class and then we took a field trip to the fish market at Nampodong. After a quick tour through it most of us wanted to do more shopping at Seomyeon. All of us went and split off. I split off with my normal group; Daniel, Robbie and other people in and out at times. After we were finished shopping we took the subway back and some of us went for porridge. Ziv had wanted to try it so we finally broke down and agreed to with him. It wasn’t as I thought it would be. It was very filling.

Wednesday we woke u to a terrible rainstorm. It was pouring. Seoul got the worst of the storm though. Around 40 people died because of landslides there. Luckily we all were safe other than getting soaked. After class was finished we all came back to the dorms for a nap. That night I went out with a few of the Koreans and boys to eat raw beef and have a few drinks in Nampo. Raw beef is a specialty here. It is delicious, it is actually raw beef with an egg yoke on the top. We also had raw beef bibimbap (rice and raw beef mixed together).

Thursday was out final day of class. We had our final test. It was all oral. We had to introduce ourselves and order at a restaurant. Also with buying clothes and counting money. I was very worried about this test. But luckily I made a 93/100. I was super excited to learn that. After the test we watched a Korean movie about the Korean War. It was very good although it had English subtitles it was still a good film. After the movie a few of the girls and I went back to Nampo to do some last minute shopping. I found a cute dress and shoes for this evenings going away dinner. I got a great deal on shoes, 2 pair for 10,000 Won, the dress was normal price but still I’m happy I got a cute dress here.

Our final morning in Busan was spent doing our final presentations. My groups project was about Korean food. After everyone did their presentations we got certificates of completion and watched a video of pictures of our 4 weeks. Afterwards we passed around sheets to write down memories for everyone.

Tonight at 5:30 we have our farewell dinner. I am nowhere near ready to say good-bye to this country. The memories and friendships I have made are very special. I can’t imagine myself not visiting this country again. The friends I have made will be life log friends. I never thought when I boarded the plane in Greenville that I would come back a whole new person. This trip has changed me forever. It has opened my mind to a whole new world. I am now more accepting of people that are not like me. Different cultures have amazing things to offer if you meet the right people. I could not have asked for a better group of Korean students or international students to spend the past month with. Tonight is going to be very hard but I know this is not a good-bye it is a see you later, or as I would say “see yall later”.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Best Weekend of My Life!!!

This weekend was one of the best weekends I have ever had. Friday we left at 9 am to go to Geoje Island. It is the 2nd largest island in Korea. After an hour and a half bus ride that took us on very curvy roads through mountains and valleys we made it to our first stop. It was a sight-seeing spot that many visit to take picture over looking the ocean. We then went to Lotteria for lunch. After not having hamburgers or the option of hamburgers for so many weeks when I do have one it is not good to me. But still we were all starving so we were thankful for a meal.

After lunch we went to the POW camp. To me it was not a somber place. the times I have visited somewhere that is rich in war history I leave wit a heavy heart. Hiroshima, Pearl Harbor and Normandy all had the same feeling. This place did not. I don’t know if Korea just didn’t preserve it or didn’t want the pain to be relived by the visitors. Some of us were upset that we felt like this but still it was a good place to say that I have visited. After this we went to the DSME to over look the shipbuilding yard. Due to it being the largest in the world we could not tour because of such secretive stuff that goes on there for the Navy. After the small view we had of the yard we left and went to the house that was rented for us for the night.

When we got there the boys unloaded all of the groceries that were bought for us, mainly meat to grille. After everyone got situated in rooms the feast started. Kanghoon, Bond and Phil did the grilling. It was delicious. Korean bar-b-que is so good. The way you get to roll it up in a piece of lettuce with kimchi sauce. I’m going to miss Korean food so much when I got home. Bulgolgi, cold noodles and even kimchi.

After we finished eating the party got started. Robbie brought his computer so we could have music. Luckily we had wireless internet so we could play what ever songs we wanted. We all played games, danced and hung out until the early hours of the morning. I had many heart to heart talks with everyone. I think I was about the last girl to go to sleep. The boys said I gave up around 5:30 AM. I woke up around 9 to an alarm going off. We all struggled to make it Saturday. After stuffing ourselves with rice to feel better we went to get on a ferry to take us to another small island to walk around gardens. The ferry ride was beautiful though; we got some great views of cliffs. After touring around the gardens we got back on the ferry and made it to the bus. Everyone was so exhausted but starving. We had lunch at a squid place. I didn’t care for it at all. Cow intestines were served in the meal too. It grossed me out.

When we got back to the dorms everyone showered and decided they had recovered so it was time for round 2 of our amazing weekend. Noreen, Melissa, Lane, Jens, Ziv Robbie, Daniel and I met Kanghoon, Sujin and HeeJong at the Seomyeon station to go to a club. It is the most popular club in the area. We got there around midnight and stayed until 5:30 AM. Robbie, Mel and I danced the night away while other took break and watched. There was a good mix of rap, hip-hop and Korean music. It was one of the best nights out I’ve ever had. I felt like it was a scene out of a movie because there is nothing like this in Greenwood. At times it was like we were part of the movie Step-Up or Stomp the Yard. After we left the club (it was day light) we got to the dorms around 6:30 AM and all crashed until noon.

As exhausted, as we all were the same group minus 2 went back to the same area to do some under ground shopping. I didn’t find much but I did get some Korean face cleanser, thanks to Daniel talking me into with all of his clear skin Korean knowledge. This has been by far the coolest experience of my life. At this point I do not want to even think about having to leave all of my new friends. I am spending every waking moment with these people this week so if my blog is short please forgive me. I hope one day in the near future we will all be able to meet back up (in Korean or even London) and make more memories.

Monday--- Today we had class and then were dismissed for lunch. I went with my same group from the weekend for Japanese food. After lunch we met out buddies and went to Taejongdae for a tour. It was basically a cliff looking over the ocean. When we returned back to campus we all had dinner in the cafeteria. As normal we went for coffee/ice cream. Today was very calm and relaxing. The next few days will be spent working on our final project and free time with the group. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

class. kimchi. karaoke.

Tuesday night most of us went out for pork and drinks. Not having meat for 24 hours seemed to make us all crazy. The meal was delicious; 6 plates of pork to grille, 3 beers and 3 soju all for only 48 Won. Made a cheap meal for everyone. And it was so worth it.


Due to all of us be drained physically and mentally class didn’t start until 10:30 Wednesday. It was so nice to sleep in a little. After class Ziv, Lane, Rachel, Allie, Lauren and I went to have dinner at a pork house. We were still trying to get our meat craving fixed. After lunch we all had to meet back up and go across campus to learn how to make kimchi. It seemed pretty easy but time consuming but I think I will try to make some when I get home. It takes about 3 days at least to make sure the flavor is soaked in. we also made battered egg plant and zucchini. And then were served a great watermelon punch that I will make for sure and rice cakes.

After our cooking time we all got the subway across town to the movie theatre. We saw Happy Potter 7 part 2. I took a good nap because I never really liked Harry Potter. But everyone else loved it. On the way back the boys asked if I wanted to join them and go out, I was exhausted so I turned them down.


Class was pretty calm; only about half the people showed up, some took person days. So we got out early.  After lunch at Lotteria (hamburgers, that are not good at all) we met with out groups to work on our last mission. My group (Allie, Lauren and Jens) is doing Korean food. After discussing who would do what we all got released for the day. When we got back to the dorm Noreena and Melissa were headed out to Napodong with the boy and some buddies so Lauren and I joined. We walked around the Lotte mall, but didn’t shop because we are going back next week. We met up with Lee, Young and Vinson for a Vietnamese dinner. It was good but bland compared to the spicy Korean food I have earned to love.

After dinner we went to a park at the top of the Napo area. The other group called and asked if we want to join them for drinks at a restaurant so we couldn’t turn them down. After a finishing up we all decided it was time to do some karaoke. We got a room for an hour and belted out crazy songs and danced to Korean songs. Kanghoon danced the entire time and so did Robbie. It was so much fun getting to bond with that group of people outside of structured time. Today we are leaving for one night to go to Geoje Island. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Surviving the PyoChoongSa Temple Stay ...

Spending time at a Buddhist temple is nothing like we had all expected. We were told stories from our buddies but nothing could compare to what we experienced. We got to the temple around 1 o’clock. After finishing up our kimbap lunch we played in the river before entering the temple gates. Once we entered the temple grounds we were given the clothes we had to wear for the 24 hours. The boys had a bluish color vest and pants. The girls were an orange tan color three quarter length shirt and pants. Thankfully the fabric was very lightweight and surprisingly pretty cool. Or so we thought at this point.

After touring the temple we rested, I napped, and then went to learn how to bow. After another rest break we had dinner and then went to the temple to bow even more.  T dinner we had to eat everything that we served ourselves. We had 4 bowls, water, soup, veggies and rice. It was an experience to say the least. We spotted a cute little white bunny outside after bowing. A lot of the group feed it. We were served rice cakes, watermelon and tea before our 9pm bedtime.

My room, Lauren, Lane, Allie and I, didn’t know there was some padding so we only had a blanket to sleep on and a pillow. But it didn’t matter all that much considering we had to wake up at 3am to go bow and meditate. After a break we were served breakfast, rice and veggies, naturally.

After breakfast we started our long journey. Of course we were not informed to take tennis shoes so I just wore my rainbows. So I had to wear the terrible rubber ballerina type shoes with socks to hike. It was terrible I could feel every little rock I stepped on. The hike didn’t seem so bad to begin with. 30 minutes into the hike we started complaining because of the rocky path we had to go up. Little did we know this was basically a pre-game warm up. The path was very hard, full of rocks and roots and not traveled much you could tell. I now know why the path is not traveled much. Two-thirds of the way George fell about 6 feet of a cliff, he can’t see well as it is, he got to close to the edge and loss his footing and fell. The rest of the way the boys took turns carrying him because he kept blacking out from pain and dehydration.

I sweat a lot, but never have I ever sweated like I did on this hike. Thank goodness it was in the woods and we had a nice breeze. My clothes, that we were given the day before and still wearing, were soaked. We got split up into two groups because some stayed back to help George while the other went ahead to get the help in to get George. Lauren and myself got caught up in the middle and were alone for about 15 minutes. I got very frustrated. Robbie finally came through running to get help because George was in more pain. Once we found our way to the rest of the group I let everyone know how I felt about getting split up and then had a good little cry. But then felt bad for saying everything I did, so I apologized because I could have Daniel (one of my closest friends here) and the rest of the guys being mad at me. George and the ones helping him finally made it to the rest of the group about 30 minutes later.
The monks were taking turns at the pint carrying him on their backs. All the boys were exhausted and took time to play in the waterfall. Robbie looked like Molgi out of the Jungle Book. It was then time for the vans to come pick us up because we were all too tired to hike back down. We packed 11 people into one van, Daniel sitting on my feet the whole time. The road was rocky and narrow, but we knew it was well worth it because we were one step closer to getting back.

After lunch, which was the same as all of the other meals, we packed up and headed home. We picked up Ms. Kim and George on the way. He had a bright green cast on his leg. The doctors said he sprained his ankle. He may go to the hospital here though for a 2nd opinion. After the 5-6 mile hike for 3 hours all up hill the 93 steps into the dorm was easy as pie.

Tonight we are all rewarding ourselves and going out for a nice bugolgi meal and everything it includes. We are all craving meat. Oh yeah, monks don’t eat meat, they are missing out on so much!

This trip taught me so much. I learned how not to complain. And if you do just get it all out, have a good cry and then make up. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wednesday, Thursday and Seoul weekend

Wednesday was a very relaxing day. We had Korean class and then a few of us went to lunch. Daniel did the ordering as always. We had a ton of food it was all very tasty. After lunch we headed back to campus for the economic lecture. It was educational learning about the chaebols that control the South Korean economy. Basically Kia, Samsung and Hyaudai keep Korea going. After we were dismissed from the lecture we got to meet 2 of the 3 students that will be coming to Lander in the fall. It was then time for a much needed nap. We all then had dinner in the cafeteria and went to town for donuts later on.

Thursday we went to a famous kings tomb and a folk village, there we made tie-died bandanas out of died from leaves and other natural things. But the highlight of the day was getting to go to the Lotte Giants Baseball game. It was many of the British student very first baseball game. I could not believe it. It was the first real American thing I have done in 3 weeks… baseball, fried chicken and beer. During the game a foul ball came towards our section. Ziv did not see the ball and it hit him in the head and bounced away. It was caught on camera and on tv. All of our buddies phones started ringing with people asking if he was ok. The Giants won. It was a really fun experience. During the 7th inning orange plastic bags were passed out to the stands and we wore them on our heads like a balloon it was really crazy. We had to ride the subway for 40 minutes to get back to our bus stop and then get a taxi because buses had stopped running. It was a definite adventure being packed in a tight subway with tons of baseball fans.

Friday morning started way too early for us. We had to meet the bus a 7:10 to get to the sub way to make it to the train station in time for our 8:30 train. It was a miracle that everyone got there on time, or close to it, and we got on the train in time. We were divided up on the train so we could have the good seats that face one another. Lane, Jens, Rachel, SuJin, JiHyun, KangHoon, Daniel and I were all in the same car. We mainly all slept on the 2.5 hour ride to Seoul. When we got to Seoul we had lunch in the train station. We then all got to go to Lotte World and go ice skating. We all got the hang of it really quickly surprisingly. After having a little fun and acting like kids we went to the hostel we were staying at. I got lucky and got the room with the beds. All of the other rooms had mats on the floor. A few people did there own things while most of us bonded over chicken wings and more Korean food. Eating together is a very big thing in Korea. It is a bonding experience that seems to be treasured.

Saturday morning we started the day off by eating breakfast in Ms. Kim’s room. After getting everyone together we made our way to the British Council. They invited the UK students and we were lucky and got to tag along. A few of the UK students were interviewed by the council while we got to mingle and chat with other students. After the visit we met up with the Korean students and we to the famous palace. It was pouring down rain so the tour was very hard to enjoy but it was very pretty. We all have learned to enjoy the rain because the other option is blistering heat. After the palace visit we went to the Seoul Tower. There we rode a cable car to the top of a mountain that had an incredible view. But of course it rained to we had to take cover a few times so we wouldn’t get soaked. At his tower they have the tradition that couple put a lock on a fence. The picture are very artsy from it, I plan on printing some for my apartment. After we rode the cable car back down we went to a traditional restaurant and had a big feast. Saturday evening we all just hung out at the hostel. Ms. Kim, Noreen, Melissa, the boys and I went to Time Square, a huge mall, and got groceries for Sunday breakfast. After we got back a few of us sat around and played fun Korean games until 2 AM.

Sunday we went to the Korean War memorial. I loved it, I wish we could have had more time but we had to catch the train. The memorial was very nice. The train ride back was with the same group as going, thankfully. But this time around we played cards games and the games we learned the night before. We are all getting so close and making great memories. It is going to be so hard to leave these people in 2 weeks. But I know we will all get back together one day!!

Monday… we will be doing a temple stay. I hear it is very hard and grueling. So my next post will be very emotional I predict. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quick Update

We have had a very busy couple of days.

Wednesday we had Korean class and a lecture. The rest of the day was devoted to doing laundry and napping.

Thursday (today) we went to a temple and then to see a famous king's tomb. This evening we went to the Lotte Giants baseball game.

I will write in more detail in a few days.

We leave bright an early in the morning (friday) for Seoul. WE will stay all weekend.

Sunday evening's blog will be extra long with all the details of the previous two day and the weekend.