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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Samsung tour, Kindergarten and Haeundae Beach

The 2nd week in Busan started off with our 4th language class. It is getting a little easier because the alphabet is finally becoming easier to read. But I still can’t remember phrases, but can read for the most part. It’s so crazy. After class was over with the 4 Lander girls got to go into the President’s office and have tea and visit with him. After discussing the KSS program with him we were treated to lunch at a really nice restaurant. We had the best bulgolgi that we’ve had so far. And the kimchi was great too because it wasn’t too spicy.

We had to hurry through our meal because we had to meet the bus to take us on the Samsung tour. At the Samsung plant we were shown a few cars and how it looks with out the full body on it. Then we got to go through the plant where they were making them. To be honest I didn’t even know Samsung made cars, I thought it was just electronics like TVs and phones. It was pretty cool watching a car be built from start to the process before it is painted and stocked with all of the gadgets. Unfortunately we could not take pictures in the plant. Today KangHoon, Daniel and I were wearing the same type clothes. Navy and white stripes.  It looked like we were ready for a family photo.

After the tour was finished we went back to the school to meet with our groups to finalize the plans for the kindergarten project. Thankfully we were surprised with dinner, everyone voted for Chinese, I wanted pizza. But the Chinese delivery was pretty good, and the method of delivery was mind blowing. It was brought on a moped in these metal containers. Our noddle dish was in it, all 30 something.  After dinner there was more rehearsing.

After a long day of class and rehearsing we all needed to have a little fun. A few turned in for the night and went to sleep, another group gathered at the soccer field. Myself and 6 of the UK kids went on a mission to find more food. We came up on a nice looking grill on your table type restaurant. Only a few were hungry but there is no way only a few can eat at this type place. Ziv and I didn’t eat while the other shared pork and beef. As always at these style restaurants soju and beer is served. There was a promotion team coming around to all of the tables to promote a new light soju, we did a cheer with them and got 2 free bottles of this.

After everyone decided they were finished eating we decided it was time to head back to campus. 2 people wanted to take the bus and 5 wanted to walk… I couldn’t make up my mind so I decided I’d feel better about myself if I walked. I knew our school is on the side of a mountain but had no clue how many steps and inclines it would take to reach my dorm. I was drenched in sweat by the time we got back.

Tuesday, the day finally came, that we could show off our project to the kindergarten class. My group was with the older group. I think they were around 5 or 6 years old. They were really cute and very smart. They knew so many of the things we taught to them in English. We all dressed up as characters. The did know who Snow White was but didn’t pick me when they got a chance to pick their favorite on to draw. We also taught ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ which they knew the words in English. And then we ended with go over the English alphabet.

The 2nd mission was finally complete. We were treated to Outback!! So excited, even though I cold get Alice Springs Chicken I had a great hamburger. I was just glad to have a napkin at a meal for once. The napkins are very tiny and thin here. I miss having a cloth napkin at a restaurant. After a great and huge meal we got to go to Haeundae beach. This is the most famous beach in Korea. There were skyscrapers all around the area behind the beach. The water was very cold but felt amazing after walking so far to get to it from the bus. On the walk to the beach we walked through the building that the 2005 APEC meeting was held at. The water was so cold at the beach that everyone would just dip in, or be pushed by the guys, and then stand around on the shore line. But it was nice to have a little fun for an afternoon with everyone.

After changing clothes we went separate ways for dinner. Rachel, Nareen, Tom, Robbie, Daniel and I along with our buddies went to a noodle restaurant. The noodle dish I had was way too hot for me. So I didn’t eat much. It was so hot I found a convenience store to get a pop sickle to cool my mouth off after finishing dinner.  Everyone finally returned from dinner and we loaded back up in the bus to go watch the water light show. This show was incredible. It had music with water and lights going to go along with the music. On the bus rides everyone either falls asleep or takes pictures of the ones that have fallen sleep. I’m very scared because I usually fall asleep on the rides. During part of the day on a bus ride We all were passed the microphone to sing a song. When it came to me I chose to sing non other that "Wagon Wheel", I figured everyone that knows we well would be pretty excited to hear that. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kyoungjoo... Temples... Shuttle Launch... Bus Rides..

Our wonderful weekend started at 9 am on Friday. We all met at the bottom of the steps at the main gate to board our bus. Everyone got situated in his or her normal seats. I, as always, had “Big Bertha (big black back pack duffle bag) with me so she got her own seat. JiHyun couldn’t go with us so I had the seat to myself, which was nice because I could lie down, and nap. KangHoon made a K-Pop CD for everyone to listen to on the ride. I’m beginning to really like K=Pop, thanks to Rachel I know the story behind every song it seems.

Kyoungjoo is a very historical city in Korea. At one time it was a thriving area. We started the tour at a museum that held many treasures and some replicas. Us Lander girls were not thrilled with this museum visit because many of the things we were seeing were just like in the National Museum of Korea in Seoul or replicas of the things that were in Seoul. Thankfully the tour was only around 30 minutes. We then went to visit a tower that was use for start gazing to predict astrological things. In the same area we visited a tomb of a famous king. The tomb was like the grass hills that Native Americans are buried in in some places in Georgia. We got to go in one and see the basic structure of what the grave looked like when it was uncovered for the first time.

We were all getting very tired and irritable at this point (like a bunch of babies) we needed food and to take a rest.  We went to a local restaurant and had the normal traditional meal and rice wine. After lunch we stopped by a lotus flower field before heading on our long journey to the temple we were visiting.

The temple was a good 45 minutes away, just long enough for everyone to get a good nap in. it was way in the mountains so it was very pleasant and cool.  The most popular thing about this temple is the granite Buddha, that we couldn’t take pictures of. It was incredible just thinking of all of the hard work that went into making it so long ago. There was a great view from the temple too.  One thing I remember from the tour is the guide talking about Buddha wanting people to sweat the small stuff. We all found this hilarious.

We were finished for the day. As we checked into the hotel everyone was once again tired and hungry. Dinner was at the hotel, bulgolgi that we got to cook ourselves. This meal was delicious. After dinner we met with our groups to finish up the mission for the school project. My group is struggling to say the least. I made hair for Snow White. The other colored a background. It will be a complete miracle if we can pull it off.

At 10 pm we were kicked out of the meeting room we were using so we transferred to KangHoon and Daniel’s room. This time around instead of working on our projects we all decided it was time to treat ourselves to some beer. We had a good 25 people in one tiny hotel room playing games and singing songs we all knew.

It was then time for the Atlantis shuttle launch. It was so cool watching the last shuttle launch with kinds from the UK and Korea while in Korea. There are so many different types of cultures in the KSS group but we were all glued to the TV watching history although it was very late, around 1 in the morning we all wanted to stay up. Everyone went his or her separate ways after the launch.

Breakfast was served before we left for the day. We were informed we had to wear our shirts they gave us.  Girls were given yellow, and boys were given blue. However, I brought a pair of yellow sorts with me so I talked Daniel into trading shirts with me because he wanted yellow. Unfortunately, the yellow shorts were not in my bag for the weekend. When Ms. Kim told us we had to wear our shirts Daniel and I just looked at each other, because the night before Robbie decided he was hot and wanted to change clothes so he put on the yellow shirt that was originally mine that I was supposed to wear. But now it was sweaty and probably smelling really bad. Daniel told me he would wear it and for me to keep the blue one. Fortunately, Ms. Kim laughed when we told he the story. So hopefully I can keep blue and Daniel keep the yellow.  Saturday was spent at another temple. This one was really big it had so many different types of temples at this one sight. It was like a maze figuring out place to place. The weather decided to be very rainy, like monsoon rain. Everyone got drenched. My yellow rain shoes are not monsoon proof. Water ran down my legs into my shoes, and they are still wet. Lets hope it doesn’t rain soon.

On the way back to Busan everyone fell asleep from pure exhaustion. When we got back we all walked to a burger place, I was like a nice McDonald’s. KangHoon order 30+ combos so we would all have enough food. After we finished eating some of us caught a bus to the dorms to repack because it was pouring down rain so we all needed to downsize our bags and get dry clothes on.

We made it back to the burger joint to meet everyone. A big group of us walked to a bus stop, all of the guys were worried about me because I had to take part of my trip by myself. Allie’s buddy rode the bus with me to the big bus terminal. She got our tickets and lead me to my bus, she and Allie got on theirs. I rode the bus for 45 minutes by myself to Chonwon. I’ve never been so excited to see my buddy. When I got of we took a 20 bus ride to her neighborhood. Then walked to get to her apartment building. She lives in a really nice apartment complex with gardens and playgrounds. But of course it was raining so we could not walk around much.

When her dad got hoe we talked a little with her translating, and same when her mom arrived. Her dad took us to the store to get a snack and soju. Dinner was ready when we got back. Bulgogi was on the menu at their apartment. It was very good, nice to have a home cooked meal. After dinner I talked with her family a little bit more and then showered and went to bed. I had had a very long day of traveling.

They woke me up Sunday around 9. We had breakfast, rice and tofu. And then got ready to go visit a temple. This was another famous temple to the area. I actually got to take pictures of it (it was raining to much the day before to have my camera out). After waking around and seeing the Monks and a lot of worshipers we went into a little town for a light lunch.

They then drove me to meet Allie and Rachel in Napogong to do a little shopping. I will tell you all more about that area when we go on a field trip next week. We shopped until 6. We all got some cute things. And we found a Smoothie King, which made Rachel and I very happy. After we had dinner we left Allie’s buddy and hopped on the subway and just hoped we knew where to get off. Luckily we did. We then got the bus back to the dorms.

Later Sunday night a few others wanted to go into town for ice cream, so we joined along, between doing laundry. It is now Monday morning here, we are getting ready for class and a tour of Samsung. But for lunch we get to dine with the President. I know this will be a very good meal. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Learning to Fall in Love with Busan

Korean class day 3 went a lot better than the previous days. The teacher finally realized we were all struggling with her teaching method. We started off the class by playing Bingo. That helped so much because we had to call out the words. I was one line away from winning sadly. After class was over we were dismissed for one hour. Rachel, Allie and I decided to go back to the dorm room and have a snack from the store in the basement.

The 2nd part of the day was spent recording the audio for the HangGilDong story. My one line was still very unentertaining. Due to technical difficulties the 10-minute recording took around 2 hours to finish. There was a representative from the Dong-A Taekwondo team there to listen to us and make sure everything was correct. So I enjoyed the view while he was there. After finally finishing the recording we were dismissed for the day.

It was only around 4 o’clock and all of our buddies wanted to so something with us. We all decided to go to the Nambodong area to look around all the different shops. Very few people bought anything because we are going on a field trip later on in our visit. We took the subway there. The area was very cool it had knockoff merchandise and street food vendors.
We all were getting hungry by this point so we all decided we wanted bulgogi. One of the Korean students knew of a good cheap place to go. We sat on the floor and got to cook our own food. My table had pork. This was the 4th time we had experienced this kind of meal so we were professionals at it. The meal cost only around $4, including a bottle of Soju per table.

After dinner we took the city bus back to the bus stop for the school bus and ended up waiting an eternity, as always, for a bus. Tomorrow we will go on a field trip to an old town. And tour around there. It has a lot of traditional type places.

The group of KSS students are all coming our of their shells. We all getting comfortable with one another and make friendships. I know after this trip I will have made some life long friends. I'm beginning to fall in love with this town named Busan!!

Highlights of the evening:
I ate a caterpillar at dinner and the hottest pepper that i ever ever put in my mouth.. I almost cried it was so bad. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Annyounghasehyo... Hello

The 2nd day of Korean class was a little bit better… I still need to make flash cards because I can’t remember all of the letters and sounds they make. But we learned how to introduce ourselves today basically. Daniel (the Korean-American) said I spoke with a Southern Korean accent when he was helping me. After class was dismissed the whole KSS group decided to go into town and have lunch. We all made the trek down the 108 steps from the main building to the street. We found a whole in the wall Korean restaurant. All 14 students piled into it. There were pictures on the walls of some food and prices. We all made our decisions form the pictures or by looking at what other people had. Thankfully Daniel ordered for our table. I’m not sure how the other table ordered but they managed. I had something to the effect of country fried pork (like country fried steak) and of course rice and some veggies. It was delicious. I cleaned my plate. The prices there were really cheap, my meal cost 3500 Won ($3.50).  After we finished lunch we all hiked back to the main building and went to class for a Korean Politics lecture. It was really interesting. I learned a lot, and will be very interested on the next South Korean Presidential election next year. The professor that did the lecture believes a lady will win. This would be the first time a female will be president.  

After the one-hour lecture we met our buddies and our group to work on our school mission. My groups project is slowly coming together. Today we made most of the artwork we will use at the school. We are all getting comfortable with one another and learning each other’s personalities and picking on one another. The group I am in is very diverse. I am the only American girl, and then the rest are from the UK. One guy is Chinese but born in London, another guy is Israeli, there is a girl that is from Bangladesh and then the lady who is 61 and going back to school. Our buddies are also in our groups with us. So with that combination there is a lot to be learned, but very entertaining.

We were released at 5 to have dinner. Some caught the bus just in time while the rest of us had to wait at the bus stop for 15 minutes. After the bus finally came back around we went to the dorm and got our tickets and went to the cafeteria. Rice, kimchi and fish were tonight’s choices. I had rice. After dinner we had to go back and work on another mission. We are sound dubbing the Korean folktale “HongGildong”. I wanted a main character part but they were all male parts. So I got stuck with the secretary part… that is one line sadly.

Ps: I am currently making note cards to study with.. joy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Korean class begins

After being in Korea for over a week now we finally started our Korean class. Sadly I’m already lost. It is very difficult. The teacher speaks Korean the entire time, which I know is the right thing, but the class is already difficult. We learned the basic alphabet today and how to read basic words. I need them spelled out phonetically instead of listening to be able to grasp the concept. So hopefully JiHyun, my buddy, can help me.

The guy from California that is full Korean and speaks it fluently but reads on a very low level said the class was even hard for him. So that made me feel a lot better. Being able to read is the beginning of speaking the language so hopefully this will get better. Tomorrow’s unit looks to be on basic conversation.

Oh yeah, late last night around midnight the speakers in the dorm went off saying something, in Korean, so we didn’t know what they said. About 30 minutes later someone came knocking on all of our doors to check the rooms. So obviously the announcement said they were having a random room check to make sure everyone was in. we have a curfew of 12 or either 1 we are unsure. But if you are late they will not let you in so you have to find a comfy place outside. We learned random room checks are normal when asking around today.

Back to today’s events… after class we met our buddies and had lunch. Lunch consisted of a lot of different types of danishes and sweet bread. I had a danish with a hotdog in it. I’ve seen this a lot so I decided to try it. It was different, but I don’t believe I will be eating it again. After finishing up with lunch we took an hour bus ride to a small village area to make pottery.

But in order to get to the building we had to hike up a huge mountain in the heat. We were all beat by the time we made it there. The pottery experience was fun. I tried making a bowl, but the man who owned the place came and completely redid mine.  We finished off our pottery class with tea, green tea of course. We watched the man make traditional tea and we were served rice cake. Lane and Allie liked these cakes more while Rachel and I like the ones we got to make in Incheon better.

After a picture we waited for everyone to finish looking around and taking pictures of grass, like they had not ever been around grass before (UK kids), it was blistering hot. Rachel and I decided to lead the pack back down the mountain. The bus ride was very pretty we got to see the green mountainous area that we all hear about when we hear of Korea. But I decided I would take advantage of the quiet bus ride. I had a great nap on the way back into Busan.

It was dinnertime when we got back to campus so all of the Korean Summer Session students (KSS, all of the foreigners in this program) went to the cafeteria and had dinner. This was much better than the food was this weekend. We were all pleased. Rice and kimchi were on the menu as always and either chicken or pork I could not tell, but it was great. And to change it up instead of hot green tea with the meal they served what was a combination of tea and lemonade… little do they know that it is called an Arnold Palmer in the States.

After dinner we took the bus back to the academic building and met with our groups for the elementary school mission. My group is planning on doing something with fairytale characters and super hero’s. I’m really not sure of the direction we are going, but we will figure it out. I got assigned Snow White. I joked and said I had to have 7 men if I was going to be Snow White. Ms. Na surprised us all and got us pizza to snack on while we were working. We had traditional Korean pizza, from Dominos.  My group’s pizza had cheese, ham, sweet potatoes and kiwi. Surprisingly it was sweet and delicious. We were all starving because dinner is served at 5:30 every evening.

Tomorrow we have class again and then a short lecture on Korean politics. I know this will be fun for me to hear how this country’s political system works. I think tomorrow afternoon and evening is dedicated to working on the mission again. Everyone is starting to warm up to one another. The UK kids (as I call them) are starting to acknowledge us more, this weekend will be the test when we go on an over night trip together.

Maybe in my next post I will be able to say Hello and Good Night!!

PS:  Ms. Na informed me this evening that Monday the Lander students will get to have lunch with the President of Dong-A. This makes me very proud to know we are the only ones invited.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th... from Korea

Our first Monday at Dong-A started off with orientation. We met our buddies at the bottom of the steps and rode the bus to the education building. They took us to the classroom to meet the other international students. We went over rules and the schedule and then introduced ourselves. There are 10 students from the UK, 4 girls 6 guys. And then there is a guy from California who is actually full Korean and speaks fluent Korean, but doesn’t read it well.

After the introduction of the program we walked to the cafeteria that is used for staff and had a good meal, much better than the cafeteria used for the students. After lunch we all got on the bus with our buddies and headed to the other two campuses of Dong-A, both about 15 minutes apart.  The first one we visited is the original campus and is very old looking, but is home to the medical school and art school. But on this site they have the Dong-A Medical Center. Dong-A has a pretty well known medical school. After walking through the nature trail area we got back on the bus and went to the other campus, which is the newest, and in the center of town more so. There we went on a bridge that connected two of the buildings. It was a pretty awesome view from there.

At the newest campus they also have the Dong-A University Museum. That has artifacts from the ancient days. The Lander group didn’t have much interest because we saw many of the same types of things in Seoul at the National Museum of Korea. Our buddies and the lady in charge understood us, thankfully.

Once everyone decided they had enough of the museum we went to Lotte Mart, this is similar to E-Mart that I mentioned we went to in Incheon. We got more snacks. And I got some flip flops to wear in the horrid shower. After everyone finished their tour of the 5 story store we dined at a buffet style restaurant. The food was delicious. We all went around once again and introduced ourselves. And got our “missions” for the rest of the month.

1.     We are going to a kindergarten class and have to tell a story and act it out or play a game with the kids.

2.     We have a final presentation with 2 others on something that we have learned. The topic list was given to us.

3.     We must act out a Korean folk tale… the recording will be sent back to our school.

Today was the 4th of July. I spent is with a bunch of English kids that didn’t seem to want to get to know any Americans. Maybe they are just mad that on this days years ago we decided to leave them and run things the way we wanted to. Just a thought. Hopefully the next 4 weeks will get better with them, some seem pretty cool. If not the buddies that we were placed with are perfect matches for us. Mine is just like me, we looked at each other so many times today and could tell what each other w thinking. I am supposed to go stay with her family this weekend, hopefully it will all work out because I know we will have a lot of fun!!

Tomorrow morning we start Korean language class. It will be a challenge but I am looking forward to learning a new language. Hopefully I will be able to grasp it well so I can at least learn how to order a pizza next time we want one. Hope everyone back hope is having a Happy 4th of July. I can see the ocean from my window… but no fireworks…                                                                 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kimchi Rice... Pizza Hut... New World...

Our first full day at Dong-A started off with us sleeping really late. It felt really nice to not have to wake up at a certain time. After we got ready we went down to the basement to eat lunch. Today we had kimchi rice basically. And some other things that we didn’t have because we couldn’t tell when kind of vegetable it was. We were also served seaweed soup and strawberry yogurt. After this meal we decided we would have to figure out a different plan for dinner.

Throughout the rest of the day we played on the internet and napped. We were told the buses didn’t run on Sundays so we didn’t think we could go into town to look around. But we did see the buses running so we were unsure. I took a nap because there wasn’t much else to do.

It is very humid in our rooms. Air drying our clothes that we washed last night is a little difficult because of the dampness in the air. Along with straightening my hair, it goes right back to being wavy. So it is pointless. It is still very quiet around here. The students from the UK arrived late last night and this afternoon. I have not met them yet but the other girls met 2 girls that are on our hall.

I didn’t mention this yesterday but the bathrooms in the dorm are bit of a challenge to use. The shower is all in the same room as the toilet and sink. The showerhead is connected to the sink faucet. In order to shower you have to hold the showerhead. This is going to be a crazy 4 weeks when it comes to showering.

We all came to the conclusion that we did not want to eat in the cafeteria for dinner tonight so we went on a mission to figure out how to order pizza. This was hard. The Pizza Hut website was in full Korean so we couldn’t order online. The group of us went downstairs to the internet café to try to make a new friend to help us order pizza. Rachel and I got very frustrated and took a walk around the basement. Luckily Lane and Allie have patience and looked very needy and got some help. A really sweet girl figured out what they wanted and called pizza hut for us. We got a large cheese pizza but no breadsticks. We were unsure of the time it would come but understood that we need to go to the bottom of the steps and wait on the guy on the moped.

It came within 15 minutes. And it was the best pizza I had ever put in my mouth. We were all in need of a little bit of American food. The 4 of us devoured the pizza and decided we would make it a tradition, probably more than once a week. It was only around $17 delivery included, so it was definitely worth it. I’m so happy we now have the number and a receipt that we can just show someone to know what to order for us.

Tomorrow our buddies will pick us up and go to orientation and on a campus tour will pick us up. Tomorrow evening we will have a welcome dinner. So at least tomorrow we will be busy and around other people, today my dorm room got smaller and smaller. But Rachel, Allie, Lane and I are getting along great and are becoming really good friends. After pizza we all just laid around and talked like we had known each other for years. We all understand this is a great learning experience being placed in an environment that we are not used to. We are learning how to adapt while learning a lot about ourselves. I can’t wait for the next 4 weeks and what they will bring. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Good Bye Incheon... We will meet again.. Hello HOT Busan

Leaving Incheon was very sad this morning. EunJi, Wansai and Mr. Choi picked us up at the hotel at 9:30 and took us to the train station. Before boarding we got a sandwich at a café in the station to take on the train. Saying good-bye to the group was hard. The past week in Incheon was a great experience. We were treated like royalty. Mr. Choi was always looking out for us and doing what ever he could to help us and make us happy. Wansai always tried to make us laugh and pick on me. And EunJi was so sweet to us. I can’t wait to see her when she gets to Greenwood!!

Boarding the train was done in a rush because the train only stops for 2 minutes at each stop. Once again the luggage was a chore to get situated. Next time I go somewhere I am only packing 3 outfits. And not taking my big duffle back pack that I have named “Big Bertha”. Everyone has laughed because it is so heavy. Thankful this always helps because my luggage is always carried for me.

When we arrived in Busan after the 2 and  half hour ride our buddies greeted us at the doors. JiHyan is my buddy here. We are a perfect match to be paired up. She was dressed so cute and speaks great English. She is an English and French major.  After a 20 minute taxi ride we were finally at Dong-A. After getting our luggage in our room and learning to work the air we took the bus to town to buy some food and things for the room.

The town of Busan is so cute but large. It is very different from Incheon or Seoul. We went into a market that had the necessary items; even the cute little bananas that I saw for the first time in Incheon. We all got a few drinks and snacks to keep us happy. We learned that the Dong-A bus goes into town all the time so we can catch it whenever we need to go. On the way to the market we saw a Baskin Robbins, Pizza Hut and Starbucks. I think once we learn our way around we will explore more.

After the ride back to school we counted the steps it is up to the door of our dorm … 93 steps.. so this will be a 4 week diet and work out plan for sure! When we got back to our rooms we said bye to our buddies. We will be back with them on Monday. We all unpacked and washed clothes. Dinner was served in the basement of the dorm at 5:30… on the menu.. kimchi and rice. Needless to say I feel like we stood out like a sour thumb in the cafeteria. We had no clue what to do. But the security guard motioned for us to come sit as his table and he showed us the green tea and napkins. This s a whole new learning experience being in a dorm on our own in Korea.

The view from our room is amazing. I will take more pictures tomorrow because we have all of tomorrow to relax. The other foreign students form the UK will be here late tonight. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lotte World.. Last Day in Incheon

We began at 9:30 this morning. The group met us and we rode to Seoul to go to Lotte World. This is an amusement park that is part indoor part outdoor. It was like 6 Flags just a little smaller. The mascots for Lotte world are Lotty and Lorry. The rides were really fast to be at a park that size. While waiting in line for the last we got Smoothie Kind, which is amazing! There was a parade through the indoor park with the mascots and other dancers, which was pretty cool.  We had a lot of fun today with the group of buddy students. We came back to Incheon and changed clothes to go to dinner. We dined at a traditional restaurant that you can cook you on food at. EunJi and Wansai each gave us a gift. And we had a few toast to our great time in Incheon.

I have enjoyed my time in Incheon so much. Tomorrow is going to be very tough leaving the great friends we have made here. I know after one week I have made great friendships. I can’t wait to have EunJi in Greenwood come August 23rd. but hate that Wansai and the other can’t join here.

We will leave Inchoen tomorrow and head to Busan for 4 weeks. Our buddy students will pick us at the train station. I am very excited to meet a new group of people and start a new journey in another part of Korea. This trip has been amazing so far. The group that Lander chose to represent them here is amazing. We all are so different form one another, but yet have things in common. If it were not for this trip I don’t believe some of our paths would have ever crossed but I am thankful that they did. We are all learning a lot about Korean Pop Culture thanks to Rachel. Or as she became at dinner Rachel Ray because she took charging of cooking our meal.

I love Incheon and everyone that we met!! See you in Busan!! 

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Thursday morning start off at 9:30. Wansai. EunJi, JiAhn and Tae Eun pick us up. Mr. Choi did not join us today. The van driver drove us to Seoul which was about an hour and a half. When we got there we went to the National Museum of Korea. It has really old artifacts dating back to the beginning of time basically. The things reminded me a lot of Native Americans, like the tools they used. This museum is the 9th most visited in the world.

After having spaghetti to eat at the museum restaurant we went to a street in downtown that had a statue of King Sejong. He is on all of the money in Korea. From this street we could see the house of the president. You could enter a big gate to get a closer look. But it started to rain so we didn’t go explore in there. The president’s house had a bright blue roof. The US Embassy is also located on the street.

We then rode to Insa-Dong. It has many different types of culture type stores. At this point we were all getting very hot and the rain made it very humid. We didn’t stay in this area long. After deciding that we were very hot and worn out they took us to an artificial river that was in the middle of the business district and let us sit by river and out our feet in. this felt amazingly cold and refreshing.

The last stop of the day was to the shopping district. The main street had upper end stores, way out of our range…. So we settled for looking on the side streets. This area reminded me of Little Italy in New York. We were treated to Smoothie King for a snack to cool us off and refresh us. The ride back seemed very long because we were so worn out. But today was a great day because we got to bond with the buddy students and ask them all kinds of questions. We are going to miss them greatly next wek when we have to go to Dong-A University in Busan.

Our final day here in Incheon is Friday; we are getting to go to an amusement park. They showed us pictures and it reminded me of Disney World. We are all super excited!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday and Wednesday

On Tuesday morning Mr. Choi and the other students picked us up at the hotel. We went to E-Mart to buy groceries for our over night stay at the cottage we rented for the night. E-Mart is something to compare to Wal-Mart. It is 3 stories. The basement is the sporting goods and other outdoor activities department. The main floor is groceries and some clothes. The 3rd floor has stuff like office supplies and other home ware type things. The quality of everything looked very nice. It reminded me of Belks. The home ware department reminded me of Target or Pier 1 because of the colors and style of things.
We bought a lot of groceries. Beef, lettuce, peppers, zucchini, potatoes, watermelon, rice, noodles and mushrooms were all on the list. We got to pick out snacks and candy on the candy isle too. Along with the food and snacks we got coke, sprite and water, that was labeled DMZ Water… I questioned the safety. But it was good. 

There was a food court in the E-Mart. It had McDonalds, Pop-Eyes and other names that were Korean style. We dined at a Chinese place. It was not my favorite, but still a very nice meal. After finishing lunch we went to the parking deck, which was on the top floor. Escalators carried us to different floors in the store. With all the food be got and our bags for the overnight trip it was very crowded in the van. I got lucky and had to ride in the very back with all of the bags and food. The ride to the island was a little over an hour and very bumpy roads but we did get to see some more rural areas. On the drive I asked where they get oil from here. They said the Middle East. We also asked how much gas is here after calculating it we think it is around $7 per gallon. So we cannot complain in the US.

We finally arrived at the house. It was a cute 2 bedroom cottage. It reminded me of the house I stayed in in Mure-Cho, Japan. After getting all of the food in we changed clothes and took a 5 minute drive to a beach area. I can now say I have been to the Yellow Sea. It was very cold water so we just put our feet in and sat on the sand and socialized. The group stayed there for a little while and then we drove about 10 minutes to another beach area. This water seemed even colder. There were people on this beach taking naps and fishing. I saw a few strange looking trees so I asked Mr. Choi what kind they were, he responded with “green trees” and laughed. Earlier in the week at the seafood meal he asked me what kind of shells were on the table (4 different kinds) I told him seashell for all. So this has been a joke for the week.

After time on the beach we went back to our cottage to the pool. Once again this water was too cold for my liking so I just sat on the edge. Lane was the only one of us to get in. Wansai, EunJi and JiAhn all got in. Mr. Choi joined along too. The group finally decided the water was too cold and we went back to the cottage. Dinner was grilled on charcoal type grills. We sat outside on the screened in porch area while the men cooked for the ladies. We had traditional Korean barbeque. They grilled the beef and veggies. To eat the meal you take a piece of lettuce and put a small piece off beef on it and then add kimchi and kimchi sauce and roll it up and put the whole thing in your mouth. It can be a bit messy but it was delicious.

Through out the meal we all went around the table talked about our life and what we want to do with it. And why we wanted to come to Korea. Mr. Choi asked some deep questions like what was the hardest time in our life. I felt like I was either at an interview or on stage at a pageant. I also explained what a sorority was and went through the history of ZTA.

I expressed my feeling about how sad it is that America is considered the melting pot of the world because it has many different types of cultures. But yet many Americans never leave our borders to explore another part of the world. And learn what other cultures are really like. Traveling only makes you smarter, but it seems that Americans are closed minded when it comes to accepting people that are not like them. It was then time for me to ask my famous question. “Is the granite in Korea?” The Lander students started laughing. I told them I was talking business. I learned there is granite on an island off the southern coast. It is very red in color. My Dad may want to look into buying Korean granite now, especially if I take well to the Korean language.

I learned that Mr. Choi used to write the news for TV stations. I was fascinated during this conversation. The hard hours were getting to him and being away from family so he then got into the international program at the university because his English was so well. After listening to music and talking more we turned in for the night. Our beds were mats on the floor like I had in Japan. I slept rather well.

We woke up to pouring down rain. We were sadly informed the DMZ tour was cancelled because of the heavy rain. For breakfast we had bacon, eggs, and fruit, all very good. After we all helped in cleaning up the kitchen we packed our bags and left. The ride back was not fun, I was very sleepy, still sitting with all of the bags and the road was bumpy.

Because the tour was cancelled we decided to go see a movie. We saw Transformers 3 in 3-D. I’m not an action movie person but the movie was fun to watch because of the 3-D and other features. At least I can say I saw he movie in Korea. After catching a taxi back to the hotel, which only cost about $5.50, we checked back into the hotel and had dinner in the hotel restaurant.

As I right this I am watching Korea’s Got Talent and enjoying the view from our room. We are across from the tallest building in Korea. I counted 75 floors, but that may be slightly off. Because of the economy the building is not complete, but will hold different business offices when it is finished. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday in Incheon

 We started the day off by waking up to pouring down rain.  We knew that we were meeting the President of University of Incheon, the weather put a damper on our wardrobe, and so we all were casual but very nice looking still. The drive to UI was not that long. When we arrived we met the other “buddy students” and they took us to the UI tower to show us the nice view since we could not walk around campus due to the heavy rain. The weather here is very cool, probably 60 or 65 degrees. It is a nice change from the hot South Carolina summer.

After the view from the tower we went back to the Administration Building and met President Ahn Kyung Soo.  He gave us a letter opener and pen as a gift. We talked with him with Mr. Choi translating while we had traditional hot green tea to drink.

Lunch was served on campus. Mr. Soo told us everything we were eating. We had pork, duck, squid (that was not the calamari we see in America, very scary looking) it was all very chewy. As the other meals we had many different types of vegetables mainly in a salad type dish. In Korea for many business meetings alcohol is served with the meal. We all had a glass of Korean famous Chungha, rice wine. To me it was sweet, similar to Moscato wine.

At this point we were all starting to get tired so we were treated to some coffee at the coffee house on campus. This was very nice because it was still raining and the wind was blowing. While we drank our coffee we talked with the UI buddy students. Korean dramas, American dramas, music and differences in Korean and American government and politics were discussed.

At 2:30 we “removed” ourselves from UI and went to Korean Culture House. There we learned how to make rice cakes and decorate them. It was a lot of fun sifting the rice powder and making it into the cake form and then rolling out the decoration dough and making flowers with them to place on the rice cakes when they were finished cooking.

To go along with the rice cakes we went to another room where we learned how to conduct a tea ceremony. We got to make the green tea. I believe I made pretty decent tea. For it to be green tea it tasted pretty good. After making the tea we got to eat the rice cakes we made. They did not have much of a taste but were still good.

Hanbok are the traditional Korean wear for formal events. We all were dressed in these. They are very colorful. Certain colors and symbols have different meanings.  They are two pieces. The skirt part has straps for your arms to go through and the top part fits on like a jacket would.

For dinner we had “Kraze Burger.” It is a burger diner that has scenes from NYC on the walls. It is located in a very modern section that reminded me of SoHo. It was a very cute street. The burgers were delicious. Mr. Choi asked if we would like to have a beer with our dinner, so I wasn’t going to turn him down. I chose to have a Korean beer over Budweiser or Corona. I was served draft Cass Beer. It was a very light tasting beer and very good. I doubt I can find it in Greenwood when I return.

 Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will go to Yeongheung Island. We will spend all day there and also stay in a house UI has rented for the night for us. On Wednesday we will pack up from the island and go to the DMZ. On the itinerary it says that will be a 6 hour tour.