This is for everyone back home. I hope that you enjoy reading this and sharing in my experiences.
The weekend was packed full starting Friday morning but the weather was beautiful and i have many amazing memories! Friday was young han’s birthday and it happened to fall in the day that VIPs offered a special student discount for the last day of midterms. VIPs is a buffet that normally costs around 25000w each but we got in for 13000w plus tax equalled 14300w. We each paid 15000 to basically cover youngs meal, sarah paid the rest. We had a 15 person reservation for noon and The food was AMAZING! During lunch, Young received a homemade card that the GV people signed and Cassie created as well as a birthday cake, purchased from girlfriend Gabe.
After lunch, i took a taxi back to campus because my roommates had booked tickets on the student bus for seoul at 245pm. From campus the tickets are only 6000w compared to 7-10000w at the terminal. My roommates and I had a weekend planned together and we stayed at Lynda’s house! I had to hurry back to pack :) We arrived in seoul around 4pm and took our stuff to Lynda’s house. She lived on the 17th floor of an apartment complex. After dropping off our stuff and watching some korean variety shows, we walked to a local restaurant and got a large seafood dish with red sauce over bean sprouts.
There were shelled peanuts on the table but the were boiled, strange. Apparently we have them in the US but I have never seen them. Here in S. Korea, they are common in southern regions. Lynda’s mother came by and dropped off her credit card; she paid for our meal! On the way back to the apartment, we bought gelato at cafe ti-amo for her mother (and us lol) as a thank you. When we got back, were met by a nice surprise. Her mother bought us a ton of fruit which she cut up and we ate it with the gelato. We ate around a coffee table on the floor the whole weekend and this is pretty customary.
There was no “kitchen table”. This is probably also do to space restrictions? This is only a guess. Anyway, There is a lot of floor space and it is kept clean! All shoes are left at the landing area infringing of the door. Following desert we dolled up before clubbing in Hongdae. I curled julie’s hair and straitened mi seon’s (who ended up being our group project!!) But was both of their first times clubbing ever! We took the subway to hongdae and grabbed street dapoki and fried sweet potato before going to the NP1 club. We wandered forever trying to find it but asking for directions is not easy for Koreans, it’s loss of face. NP1 was lynda’s first and only past club experience so she wanted to take us there. It was a 15$ cover but you got 1 free drink and entrance into HP2 and ??? . We didn’t take advantage of the others. The club was not hoppin until 130am’ish and we got there at midnight. It is a hip hop bar but the mixes are really weird. also, the crowd was younger. I got briefly separated from my girls and so I met some freshman boys from the USA who are spending their undergrad in Seoul,Yonsei. I found Julie just in time to rock out to “if you like it then you should of put a ring on it” and we met up with lynda and mi seon. They decided to get a pop min sue from cafe bene across the street. It was the best pop min sue ever!
We took a taxi back, 19000w because of the distance and time if night. I woke up the next morning and Lynda’s mother made a large korean breakfast for us! This included fruit from the day before, brown rice, homemade kimchi (better and spicier) , kimchi’ed radishes, fried egg, fish (with the head still on, custom and common), and fried pork. She also ordered a pizza for herself because that is what she wanted. She was so hospitable!
WARNING WARNING short random tangent: Lynda said that hospitality is very important and her mother felt it very important to treat us well. I was overwhelmed. If parents treat their child’s friends well then it reflects well on the child and this is the concept. Also, Lynda’s mom seems to be very traditional and Lynda tells me that her dad has the same traditional ideals (whatever the man says goes). Her dad will always point out if someone is unattractive and he will point out if he thinks she has gained weight. Also, Lynda kept referring to her mother as “weak” (there is nothing actually wrong with her but she is not strong enough to go out and do a lot, muscle wise) and I think that this was a interesting view at how women are seen as and expected of here. They are dainty, they are expected/”pushed” to get surgery if they are not pretty, and they go to college to then marry for greater status/comfort. My roommates and I discussed/debated the cultural view on beauty and women quite a bit this weekend. We were riding the subway and I saw a the following picture and it sparked a lot of discussion. Each of my roommates feel insecure and they talk about changing things about themselves because image is so important here. Lets face it, photos must be included on a resume (point made by Mi Seon).
END OF TANGENT!
Regardless of the anxiety I had about these points, it was very very very nice to see Lynda interacting with her mom. It had been 4 weeks since they last saw each other.Being there this weekend felt like home for all of us and made us miss our parents a bit. After all of this niceness, I was able to go explore the surrounding area via run while the girls got their showers, I went last. No shower curtain on the tub but water shoes for the bathroom and a drain in the floor. We left the house again by 230pm because we had plans to enter Lotte World Amusement Park http://www.lotteworld.com after 4pm to get an entrance discount. A further discount is offered at 7pm. We all put money into a communal pot for the day’s food expenses. Lynda took charge of that and our cards so we didn’t have to carry bags. We took the subway, arrived, bought tickets (15500w with additional Worri Bank Card discount), and purchased novelty headbands for great picture opportunities. The outside ride area id the park is pretty small in comparison to the USA and they cannot expand since they are smack dab in the center of Seoul. It is cute but It ended up being super crowded. We only road the Gyro Drop, Comet Express, Waikiki Wave, Bungee Drop, and tea cups (inside). The longest wait was for the Comet Express, 2hrs t. It was a fun space and aliens indoor roller coaster but it was not intense. We didn’t ride the bigger roller coaster because of the lines. Dan, Mathild, and Cassie lucked out because they met up with us at the park as we were waiting in that line and they only had to wait like a half hour. Jacob and them went to a Lady Gaga concert in Seoul the night before. Anyway, we did those rides and got some snacks, had plenty of photo opportunities, and briefly learned to shuffle when we watched a dance crew perform on the indoor main stage. We parted from Dan, Mathild, and Cassie, and we took the subway back to her area. Cassie went to the Birds Nest Hostel
in Hongdae and Dan and Mathild stayed out all night parting. My roommates and I got 3 roasted mini chickens and brought them back for a late dinner. They did online shopping and we went to bed. Julie and I took Lynda’s bed and Mi Seon was on the floor, opposite of the night before but both comfy!
We all had to wake up early because Mi Seon had a TOIC test on the opposite side of Seoul at 930 and Lynda had something around that time as well. Mi Seon left for the subway at 8, Lynda Julie and I left at 830. Lynda took the bus and Julie caught the subway with me, thank god! She was heading towards City Hall to see an art museum for a report and I was going the same direction (5 stops farther) to Hongdae to meet with Cassie at Birds Nest, so I wouldn’t be alone in the city. We made plans to go to the zoo with a bunch of GV people who were also in the area. I knew to leave the subway at exit 2 but I could not remember from there. I ended up starting to cross in the complete opposite direction and, to my surprise and great luck, I ran into Jacob in the middle of the road. We walked to the hostel together and he told me that everyone was getting prepared to leave for the zoo. He decided to stay one more night and he was just coming from a Jim Jil bang. Our group was exiting the hostel as we were walking up, again a stroke of luck. Jillian and SoJung also stayed at the Birds Nest. All of us took a the transfer and million stops to the zoo terminal and met up with Yuri, dahae, Anna, and Lauren. We were all able to put our bags in Dahae’s car and they drove it back to Wonju for us, so sweet! Lauren spent the weekend at dahae’s home, also in seoul. They got in the city on Saturday evening. It only costs 800 per tram ticket (2) and 3000 for zoo entry, cheap and really nice. The had giraffe, gorillas, elephants, etc., and we saw a dolphins presentation. Then, we pet kangaroo! Lauren and Cassie put sweet potato sticks in their mouth to feed them so the pics look like they are kissing, ew. One of the kangaroos had a Joey in its pouch and you could see it moving! We left after that and went to the bus terminal. We had to wait an hour and fourth minutes for the bus so we grabbed dinner (first real food of the day - ice cream, banana, rice cake diet all day haha) and awesome fruit bing su. The long weekend finally came to a close as we reached the Wonju bus terminal at 915pm on Sunday night! My feet hurt :p …I wrote this from my iPod which is a nice productive way to spend the long bus ride.
…Back in my room all snug like a bug in a rug. While taking the taxi back to campus with Jillian and SoJung I learned that all Koreans are required to take a college entrance exam right out of high school. The score decides whether or not a person will go to college and what kind of college they go to. In addition, they take their drivers license exam around the same time. I guess this is a big time in their lives.