This is for everyone back home. I hope that you enjoy reading this and sharing in my experiences.
Wednesday March 20th: Started the day slow because of being out all night before. I had to be at YP by 11:50AM to meet people from the Global Office for lunch. They were treating us one last time. Sarah, Cassie, Lauren, and I were the only GV internationals that came though :( and Young Han came as the GV assistant for the semester. Everyone else was either resting or doing their last minute shopping/fun time in the downtown area. We went to Jasmine, which is right across from campus, and it was really yummy! FREE food always tastes better. Our last cell phone bill was due today right afterwards so we did take a hit anyways ha but it was not so bad. The last bill is for June and July so my final bill was 22000W. I got the lowest cell phone bill for the last session, beating Jillian’s perfect record all semester long. Our cell phones were taken from us today too :( Busan and Japan might be a bit difficult without it but we will try to stay close to wifi hotspots. We ended the day going out for a GV dinner because it was Jillian, Bob, Dan, Mathilde, and Sara’s last day. Jillian made a reservation for our group at the Flower Pig, the 2nd/middle Som Gap Sal restaurant in Maejity. I won the Rock Paper Scissors game so I only had to pay 3000W in my group of 4 :P …Around 20 people were able to pull themselves away from exam studying which was exciting. Then Jacob bought a ice cream for many of us :) Ended the day at Pubstick.
Thursday March 21st, more move out activities! Jillian and Bob left at 9AM but not before Jacob prepared PB&J for everyone who came to see them off. Jung Hoon drove them to the bus terminal, that sweetheart! Then, craziness ensued. Thank goodness for air conditioning because it was a 90 degree day. I donated a lot of my stuff to future GV participants and I am going to leave clothes in the homeless donation box downstairs. Jacob worked in the lounge all morning and afternoon to organize all of the donations from the GV people. The people next semester are going to be set with bags, baskets, hair dryers, Ethernet cables, Korean books, etc. The team (AKA Baek, Lauren, Young, Jacob, and I) came together and, in one trip, we took everything to the 4th floor donation room of Yonsei Plaza. I also had to replace my lenses to my big cow glasses today. Can you believe I scratched them already. No more quick fixes in the USA so I have to be super careful now! Kokomoko and a night at a local Korean Bar for all those who are still here and done with exams. Before Kokomoko, Kyu took Cassie and I to buy our boat tickets for Japan! It was easy because we just had to go to the ATM and transfer funds into the account for the boating company. My one-way ticket was only 62000W and Cassie’s round trip was 110000W. We got a huge discount though Kyu’s father’s friend, oh connections! <3 love
Tomorrow by 1PM everyone must be moved out. There have been a lot of mixed emotions as I seen people go and to said my last goodbyes to Korean friends. 변 gave me a little notepad with a little message on the inside cover :) I was touched! Also, Joanne sneaked a little cell phone charm into my suitcase. I didn’t even see it until right before I got in the taxi to leave the next day.
Friday, June 22nd: The final day in GV! I took my final run around the area and then came back to say final goodbyes; Mi Seon, Chung Yun, Dahae, Jacob, and Gabe left by 9AM. Cassie and I left at 11AM so Jung Hoon called a bus taxi for us while 변, Kyu, and Kory were also there to see us off. Lauren was busy packing upstairs but I found her and she got a big hug as I was frantically making my way out of the dorm! Kory is coming to meet Cassie and I in Busan on Monday or Tuesday! Cassie and I got to the bus terminal by 1130 and we were able to catch the 12PM bus, seamless! We were so nervous that it was going to be full with move-out day and everything and a bus only came every 1hr10min. Chung Yun caught the 9:20AM bus for that reason. Chung Yun told me that there were no bus tickets left for the next buses following so we got super lucky I guess :) Anyways, so Cassie and I struggled to our platform with her 2 suitcases and 3 bags and my 2 suitcases and a book bag. OMG! On top of that, I had a hot coffee in my hand which was not the smartest idea! Anyways, 4 hours (2 episodes of House and Mirror Mirror) later, we were in Busan!
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.
Fun filled day! After I payed my phone bill (11520W) I met up with everyone in the lounge and we went to “The Avengers” in Downtown Wonju, near the terminal. Haha, it came out in Korea before the United States! It was 8000$ and 2hrs. 20min. well spent because it was an amazing movie. We also split a big thing of fresh caramel corn from the concession stand for only 4500W…We left on the 12:05 bus for Downtown because we wanted to grab lunch first (including Mi Seon! She actually came out today because she had her last midterm at 9AM); it takes a half hour to get downtown. When we got there, we bought our tickets and dispersed to different restaurants. I ended up in a little hole in the wall, cheap, traditional Korean place and I got 다슬기해장국 Daseulki Haejangguk, a spicy soup with little snails and seaweed in it. It was awesome and my first time trying it!
After lunch, we walked around the area and stumbled across a really cheap clothing store and another street front shop with one carnival ride inside; that was all it had and it took up half the place. It was 4000W per ride and you bought the ticket from a little machine off to the side. We went back after the movie! Young, Gabe, Lauren, Cassie, and I all decided to brave it. Lauren won a free ride from a sticker on a 1000W she got back from the machine but then accidentally spent in at Cold Stone. Haha she was freaked out by it anyways. I swear, someone could die on this thing but it was so fun!!! It spins around and bumps people up and down, and it lasts awhile. The guy behind the controls is kinda like someone controlling a bull riding thing! He was a trickster. I could not stop cracking up and my hair looked like it was from the exorcist. Cassie kept ending up on top of me and Lauren kept ending up under Cassie. I lost my shoes at some point. Also, this Korean girl from across the ride kept falling into the center and ending up on my side, and back again.
After this is when we went to Cold Stone and took a taxi back to Maeji. I had a nice surprise waiting for me because I found out that we got a double stipend today. We were behind so now I feel kinda rich. Just in time for a nice weekend in Seoul with my roommates. We leave tomorrow afternoon!… What does the rest of the night have in store? It is only 7:15PM now and I have been staying up until all hours lately, 3AM last night. Korea is messing me up!