Korean Music


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A late update. (:

I'm so sorry about my lack of posting... But honestlty, nothing much has been happening..It's weird because I've been looking back at older posts and I smile to myself...but also..stare at amazed wonder because I can't believe how fast time is passing. I have less than 2 weeks left here...It's honestly hard to believe... I'm not sure if I'm ready to go back- I'm JUST beginning to get settled into Korean life here and now I'm going back to the USA for my senior year... Where does the time go? Heck, I still remember my first day of middle school: I was wearing a pink skirt and white flip flops with a white and pink "daddy's girl" shirt.... And now I'm starting my senior year of high school... Then I'll be in college...ah. XP

Lets see: Last time we talked, I was at the YFU thing....
That next week all I did really was help out with a Summer English camp...but I honestly didn't do anything- the English teacher was doing fine on her own... so.. ya...

Also, last week I hit my ultimite low point. YFU warns you that there are going to be ups and downs durin your exchange... I didn't believe it. I mean, I didn't get culture shock to omuch because I already knew so much abut Korea from books and I was used to hearing the language from the computr...But... I don't know.. Last Sunday was my ultimate low point. I just...broke down. It was my first time fully crying since sometime before I left. I just couldn't take it anymore.... You honestly don't know how HARD it is to be SURROUNDED by people havin conversations you DON'T UNDERSTAND. I'm very good at handling myself but for some reason I just...couldn't take it.. I get so frustrated sometimes because i WANT to know whats going on but i can't because I DON'T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE FLUENTLY. Thus, I'm not able to fully enjoy everything here- I won't be until I can speak fluently. But... Eomma asked me why I said I was hungry when I wasn't...and for some reason I just spilled over- my tears just POURED OUT and I cried for about 20 mintues... Eomma came into my room when I got out of the bathroom and just held me and I cried some more. But I felt so much better.
It's weird because it's like...I'm starting new.

Oppa and eomma and Oppa and Jiwon and Donghwa and I had a family discussion the other night and we reached an agreement that no one is supposed to speak in English in the house anymore so I can improve my Korean faster. And if I talkin English...I get hit by Oppa...Trust me when I say you do NOT wan to get hit by him... He works out. XP

Uhm..This weekend we are going on a family trip!! :) yippy!!!!!

Uhm. A piece of advice for exchangers: when you withdraw money...withrdraw MORE THAN YOU NEED. Seriously. It is a PAIN IN THE ASS to find currency exchanger banks that do Mastercard here in Korea. The only banks are KEB and CitiBank (my favorite). but ilsan is the closest citibank XP And there was tons of drama from that card.

Hm... It's funny---I've been seeing tons of foreigners lately. (: keke. And they all just kinda nod their heads and smile at me as if to say, "thank god i see another white person here." :) keke

I got to see the university of my DREAMS yesterday:
Yonsei University.

Which brings me to my hugest inner battle of my life- which I'm now going to share with you. :) What to do about the next 5 years of my life.
I already know where my parents stand on this matter soooooooo there is no point attempting convincing them of anything. (: keke.
Here are my two options I feel I have right now about after high school:

1. Take a year off from college- so do a gap year- go to Yonsei University and COMPLETE THE KLI PROGRAM- which basically gives me acceptance into most Korean university's and VERY VERY well communication/reading/fluency skills. Then either apply to Yonsei Universiy directly and attend the English school there OR go back to the USA and do my 4 years....

or number 2...whih I'm sorta leaning towards at this point.

2. Next summe for 3 months come back here and attend the SUMMER KLI program then go back to college in the USA in the fall of 2011 (hopefully University of Washington Seattle!) attend two years there and wehn I'm a junior take my year abroad at Yonsei University and study there for a year (I can attend the KLI advanced program during my year there) and come back 1year later and finish up my last year of college.

Then after com back here, get sponsered by a school, and teach english. Get married and have many babies. (:

Sounds like a plan, huh?

But honestly, let me say the campus is GORGEOUS. Seriously. I went with Heesonggie, my best friend here whose going to hopefully attend Yonsei next year...We both agreed that when we go to Yonsei we WON'T be ableto meet at all because our buildings are so far apart (opposite ends) and this place is so frekain' hilly.

I'm going to goooo!! <3

사랑해 :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

School & Lotte World

This past week has just been flying by so fast... I'm honestly not sure where all this time is going. :)

I did play night badmitton. ㅋㅋㅋ It was a lot of fun!! I'm actually pretty good at playing...too bad it's only popular in Asia. :/

Honestly, school passed pretty much in a blur. I stayed until 11 with Donghwa every day except for the last 3 days when we got out at 4. It was a lot of fun. Because break has just started, (get this: they get 4 weeks of "summer break" but 2 weeks have to be spent at school. ㅎㅎ) the past couple days of school was mainly just fun. We watched a lot of movies...Girls here are obsessed with Edward Cullen, why I don't know, Jacob Black has the chocolate abs.. :P It was nice to see that deep down, guys are the same here as they are in America: We watched some documentary on a remote tribe in South America that was naked and all the guys did that immature thing they do when they see boobies.... XP hah.

My last day of school was short. We got out at 11:30 but the WHOLE morning was just play time really. The day before we had a voting time for new school president and my close friend (the first classmate I met here) Sojin won! But we went outside the last day of school and we were there for 2 hours...doing I'm not sure what... :/ but we took pictures. ㅋㅋㅋ Then my homeroom teacher took me to say bye to everyone of the teachers and principal and then one of my best friends at school, EunJoo, took me around the school a couple times... She told me she was stalling because they were throwing a party for me and had to get set up. :)

We finally are given the okay to enter and I almost cry when I see it. They decorated the board with all these little quotes in English and Korean that we always would say and they made me a huge mountain (40) choco pies (thats how they do birthdays here) with candles reading: Happy 18h Birthday on it. :) There was also 3 big bags sitting up front for me... I opened them and started tearing up. The first bag contained 8 Korean children fairytale books for me to practice Korean, the second was a very nice box of green tea they had bought for me back in April before they even knew who I was, and finally, the last present brought a tear to my eye: A bottle of organic soy sauce- because they know I love soy sauce.

I ended up crying. I couldn't help it. These girls were so sweet and welcoming that I truly love them. They all hugged me and said "Don't cry" in Korean which made me laugh because "don't cry" sounds almost identical to "don't smile" which was one of the words that we'd all say to each other. ;)

After school we went to my close friend SongYee's house and Eunbee went too. It was a lot of fun!! But I had to hurry home as I had to get to the bank to exchange my money. However...my card didn't work... I was freaking out because the next day we were going to Lotte World (27 dollars per person) and I had 21 dollars left....

The next day (Friday) Dongwha and I woke up and had to race to get ready...We were late....Again. :P JungSeok, Sojin, and Eunbee came to our house to pick us up. :) We raced to the bus stop....And literally, just BARELY made it. :) We sat at the back of the bus and settled in for an hour bus ride to....GUPABAL! :) I was like, an expert on the Halla---> Gupabal bus ride. :P When we got there we took the subway to...I'm not sure where but we had to change lines... Let me make one quick mention about Subways vs subway stations: The subways are freezing cold yet the stations make you want to take off all your clothes. I'm not joking. There is a VERY SHARP difference. XP About an hour later we get there!! :)

Let me say one thing again: Donghwa says Lotte World is small...I have to disagree. It is the largest indoor theme park...It is so freakin' huge. We rode almost everything there.... And we bought reservation tickets to the popular rides..I didn't understand what that was at first...until we got to cut an hour and a half waiting line because of the tickets. :) ㅋㅋㅋ I was initially very scared to ride the rollar coaster...but after the third time I ASKED to ride it again. :) Who knew I loved them so much?! I also met some American girl from Washington DC who was staying with her best friend who lives in Korea. She leaves August 3rd. ㅋㅋ I wish I would have exchanged contact information with her. :(
Anywho, yes it was rainy. But it started raining around 2 pm and it was kind of off and on but very heavy rain. We were bad teenagers. We took out a pen and signed our names and date by on of the rides... ㅋㅋㅋ So when we come back in a couple years, we can all see where we were so many year before. :)
We were in line for the bumber cars when I saw an ATM that had my mastercard emblem on it...once again, I tried my card..but it didn' work!! For some reason that upset me to the point of near tears... :( We were in line and I was thinking and thinking...And then it hit me: I KNEW why It wasn't working.... I was pressing "Withdraw from savings account" NOT "withdraw from checking account"..My savings account has a lock on it but my checking account doesn't....After the bumber cars I try one more time...AND IT WORKS!! ha :) I felt so much better.....
We ended up staying until 9:30 pm.. My feet seriously were breaking off my body... I wore flip flops...and Poophwa told me to wear a dress...Which was a dumbass decision. :) In the end, Poophwa and I enter the house at 12:30 am exhausted... and we had to get up at 7 am the next morning for YFU meeting. XP

Yesterday was a YFU returnee/cast off party for YFU Korea students...There was a lot of them. :) I had to give an introduction in Korean...which I wasn't too happy about. :( But it honestly passed really fast... Oh! For lunch we got....BURGER KING BURGER! :) It tasted NOTHING like American Burger King. And they don't put mustard on the burger..thank god. They put lettuce, pickles, ketchup, MAYO, and tomatoes. I only picked off the tomatoes and pickles.. I gotta say, it was delicious. I met a lot of new people and became facebook buddies with them!! :)
OH! I saw the Han River yesterday!! SO BIG!! :)

today is Sunday. We didn't go to church again. ㅋㅋㅋ
I'm not really sure what's going to happen today... I'm supposed to go to Ilsan with Hyunwoo (my guy friend-Donghwa's close friend) and 2 of his friends...but Hyunwoo hasn't told me details like "Where we're meeting" or "what time"...All I know is something happens at 2. And i'm supposed to wait for a facebook message....RIgHT. hah. O_0 I hope everything turns out okay!! :(

I'll message soon!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I am so sorry for not posting Thursday!
School literally took me by a storm! I haven't felt so tired in a long time. I understand now why Korean students are always sleeping in class. ㅋㅋㅋ

So lets see: My first day at Korean high school.... I got so many stares I thought I was on display at the zoo. ㅋㅋ But it was so much fun. I felt the school was huge but apparently it's one of the smaller ones in the Paju area. All Korean schools are shaped sort of like a U with there being a courtyard complete with exercise equipment and badmitton courts as well as a sitting area and such. On the outer rim of the U is a tennis court, basketball court, and a soccer field. The building is anywhere from 3-5 stories tall, depending on where you are in the school. And it has a school store on the 4?th floor which is open during break periods.

A typical schedule at Bong-il Cheon high school rotates everyday. Same time frames, just classes switch. O_0 keke. Each class is around 50 minutes and after each class you get a 10 minute rest break to do anythin you please, go outside or whatever. After 4 classes you go to lunch. Boys eat first. psh. Then after 20 minutes girls can eat! Lunch is one hour long... After you have 3 more classes with those rest breaks...
Here is the one bone I must pick with the school- the classes are not mixed except for 2. :( Then at 5 school gets over. If you're staying past required school hours (8:30-5pm) then you have an hour and a half free time (but staying within your classroom). then dinner!!! Girls eat first! :) Dinner gets over at 7:20. From there until 9 it's self study time. 9pm is when the second wave of students leave and everyone else goes upstairs to the 5th floor for "study time" until 11. Which is what I did.

I got to school, and Oppa came too with us. It felt very comforting having my two brothers on either side of me. I remember getting a ton of stares as I walked up...Thank God one of my two of my classmates were there and I vaguly knew one. They took over from what Oppa and Donghwa did and we walked inside together, people constantly staring and sreaming "HELLO" "HI" to me. haha. I already knew some of my classmates because of Wednesday night, so it was all good! They are all so friendly I really do love them and will miss them terribly. :/
I met the principal who gave me a present (pen/pencil set) and he welcomed me, I'm the first exchange student they've had because their school just opened in 2007.
My class has 40 girls XP But..I like them. Lunch was rice, soup, kimchi, meat, and some lettuce thing. It was all delicious!!

I'll update more later!
I'm going to play night badmitton ㅋㅋㅋ

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

People (사람)

One of my YFU friends was talking with me today and she told me that she has been actively reading my blog and checking almost every day to see if I have had any updates (I'll probably update either tonight or tomorrow about life here) but she had one complaint:
It was hard to keep track of who was who. I tend to write this as if it was my own personal diary entry so I tend to forget that not everyone knows who I am talking about. I'm sorry!

So I'm writing this post as a guide to help you with who is who. I'll make it a post as well as a page a the top of my blog just in case you want to refer back in the future!

So lets start things off!!

Eomma: Korean Mom

Appa: Korean Dad

Oppa: (Tony/Donghwee): My older brother by one year; He just came back from spending the year in the USA. **Oppa literally means older brother and is what girls call their older brothers...Or boyfriends...**

Donghwa: My brother; 18 years old, my class. He's exactly one month older than me, thus in Korean culture, he is considered my chingu (meaning friend). I can't call him Oppa because he technically isn't older than me in the eyes of Korea.

Jiwon/Jiwonnie: My younger sister (dongseng); She is 15 years old and in her last year in middle school.

Taylor: YFU Summer Korea student

Jae Unnie/Katie Unnie: Both YFU unnies.

Now for a quick guide to Korean words:

Korea is a country with a huge emphasis on respect and honor. Thus, everyone basically has a....title I guess is the proper word. Here are the basic ones that I tend to forget that I have to explain.. Sorry!!

Oppa: What a girl calls her older brother or boyfriend or older male friend (No, it isn't confusing when you call your boyfriend and brother oppa. Don't ask why, it just isn't.)
Hyung: What a boy calls his older brother or older male friend.
Unnie/Eonnie: What a girl calls her older sister or close girl friend.
Noona: What a boy calls his older sister or girl friend.
Chingu: Not really a title...Well...I'm not exactly sure what to classify a chingu as. Donghwa and I are considered Chingu's as well as everyone in my grade. You don't have to actually be friends to be a chingu. Chingu also is refered to as someone who is the same age as you... It's confusing. hah.

These are pretty much all the words I'll be calling people here as.
Any Korean word that I add here I will put the English translation in () immediatly afterwards!! don't worry!!

If you have ANY questions what-so-ever I will be glad to help.

My next post I'm going to be talking about Saturday-today as tomorrow I start school and I imagine that will be a post all in itself.

I tend to have a hard time forcin myself to write on the blog as I find it easier to write in my journal...Then I get lazy and don't want to update my blog but I know a lot of my parents friends who are reading this so I want to make this something you can experience with me.

Now about pictures.... I don't know if I'm going to upload them here or wait until I get back. I've only taken like, 300 pictures because I try to live in the momen and create memories in my head rather than through a picture. I don't want my time spent behind th camera...But don't worry, I'm getting a lot of pictures!!


Monday, July 5, 2010

YFU Orientation Week

Monday was the first day of orientation. It was honestly very...intimidating. The YFU building is in the Yakjae area of Seoul and is a couple hour trip from our house in Paju. Eomma and I took the bus and then the subway and met up with Taylor's Eomma and Taylor. Eomma dropped us off and then Taylor and I met everyone and had some Naegmyeon (냉면) for lunch. Anywho, honestly, Monday through Wednesday was just introducing yourself into Korea and YFU Korea and learning basic phrases. Which was very boring because the YFU Korea orientation is designed for students who know absolutely nothing bout Korea and it's language and culture and Taylor and I already knew everything in the first two lessons. But....lets just say that we made our own fun with learning time with our Unnies' and Oppa. :) hehe. Biemeil! (Secret!) We also met the YFU Korea director on Monday.... He is without a doubt one of the most intimidating people I have ever met. And let me say, I've met a lot of intimidating people in my life (cough, father cough). He is very....stuck in his ways and YFU Korea is....well, let me sum it up in a way that a YFU Korea 2009 student told me: "YFU Korea is very good but they're very....intresting people. I can't describe them exactly but when you meet them you'll know exactly what I'm talking about." I didn't fully believe him when he told me this but I understand what he meant now. :P

Monday was also the first day that I road on the subway. I went there with Eomma but she told me that Tuesday she was going to have to go to Jiwonnie's school for testing so I'd have to take the subway myself. :/

Here was my route:

to YFU Korea:

Halla apartments ----> Gupabal by bus. Roughly 1.05 hours.

Gupabal----> Yakjae by Subway. Around 45 minutes.

To Home:

Yakjae---> Yeonshinee. Around 40 minutes.

Yeonshinee----> Halla apartments. About 1.20 minutes.

I'd leave every morning at 7:40 am and get home around 6pm each night. But by Friday I was seriously an expert in the realm of the Korean Subway system.

Tuesday was once again just an introduction to the Korean language and Culture and we received this packet in which we went through everything and learned all this stuff. We watched a couple of videos that...didn't really make a whole lot of sense but whatever. OH! YFU Korea is very big on....self-study time. But I'm the type of person who has to be in a comfortable environment to study and wasn't in one, I found that time passed incredibly slowly and I didn't think that 4:30 would ever come.


We ended up taking a tour of the Palaces and one of the shopping centers in Seoul. That was actually supposed to happen Thursday....so I don't know why it happened Wednesday. Anywho, Katie Unnie from YFU was our guide that day. And YFU gave her the wrong information. Well, let me rephrase that. They gave her the address to one palace and the name of the other palace...They were both accurate pieces of information, just didn't match with each other. :P So intead of going to ONE palace YFU Korea made us go to both. :/ So we went to the Changdeok Palace as well a the Deoksu palace. They were both GORGEOUS. And we totally ditched the tour to the second palace and just played around by ourselves... We still say the whole palace but had 10000000 times more fun. :) After visiting the first palace we made our way to the King Sejong monument in the center of the business district in Seoul. Then we went underground to the Haechi gallery (Haechi is the mythic creature that watches over Seoul. Let me tell you, a Haechi is adorable!). From there that took us to the Cheonggyecheon Stream which was one of the places I really wanted to visit. Then we went shopping at some place...That I think is called Insadong? I'm not sure. I'll come back latr with the correct place but I actually ended up going back there yesterday with Eomma and Oppa. Anywho!
Wednesday Oppa came home too. It seriously was like deju vu all over again. I attempted to stay awake and meet him, but I fell asleep around 10pm and Jiwonnie sent her Unnie off to bed. I woke up around 11:30pm to find Donghwa, Oppa, eomma, and Jiwonnie staring at me... I stumble out of bed and bow to him and they all laugh and then Eomma takes off my glasses and tucks me into bed...All while they're staring at me. :/

I ended up waking up at 12:45am though and walk out of the room and run into Oppa who gives me a warm hug and we ended up talking for like, 1 hour. It was a lot of fun.

Thursday was supposed to be our outing day but that obviously happened on Wednesday so Thursday was another.....self-study day. ALL DAY LONG. I was seriously dying of boredom today.haha, more so than usual.


Friday was our last day at YFU Korea orientation (!!) so it was an outing day. Instead of meeting at the YFU office building in Yakjae we agreed to meet at the Seoul World Cup subway station which was a lot closer and that way we didn't have to backtrack. Eomma decides to drive me this day but for some reason there was a ton of traffic so we were 20 minutes late. However, Koreans are big on the 20% rule which is basically saying that if you're 20-25 minutes late you're still considered on time...wtf?! haha. But I just lied to you. There wasn't for some reason a ton of traffic. Korea is ALWAYS in rush hour. No Joke. korean drivers are some of the best drivers in the world because of how dangerous the peoples driving is. So Eomma and I get there and it is literally POURING rain. It was awful weather...Well, no, I actually LOVED THE WEATHER but it was awful...exploring weather. :)

So we meet up with Taylor and Jae Unnie and Eomma hands me the cell phone (WTF!) then leaves.... Then we start our journey after buying snacks at the grocery store located..UNDERNEATH THE WORLD CUP STADIUM using the company's card of course. :) Not even 10 minutes later the phone rings and it was Oppa asking me where Eomma was...I DIDN'T KNOW! haha. We ended up exploring the world cup stadium and I bought some stuff there which was actually a really good price and then we were off to tour some ancient traditional homes about 30 minutes away. The rain stopped by the time we got upstairs and it was just in time! We had some yummy little...I don't know but they were like, bite sized creme filled hot donuts... but not. haha. So we took some pictures and quickly left because we all wanted to go shopping!!

We went to the Myeongdong shopping area and spent like 2 hours there. I was supposed to be home around 5ish yet I actually didn't get home til like, 6:30pm. Oppa called me twice telling me to hurry...I'm sorry Oppa but I cannot make the bus driver drive any faster... So I finally get home and as I'm waiting for the elevator this old man comes up to me and I bow to him then he smiles and bows and then...breaks out into perfect english!!! WTF!?!?! I guess he was once a piolet and we started talking a bit but I REALLY had to go upstairs so I excused myself then made it to my floor!!

Then Eomma had to leave for smething so Oppa and Jiwonnie and I went to a norabang. :) And that pretty much sums up my YFU Week.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My First Korean Weekend

My apologizes for those reading my blog about the lack of update. It's honestly been very very crazy here as it was YFU orientation week which meant I was literally gone Monday-Friday from 7:30 am until 6pm.

So let me wrap up this past weekend starting with Saturday.


Saturday we went to the DMZ. It was so....eerie. Since the Gyeonggi-Do province is part of the border to North Korea it is heavily protected. On the way to the Unification Observatory that borders North And South Korea there was a long gate on the right side of the road with barbed wires and every so often posts with a guard ready with their gun to fire if need be. Like I said, it was so eerie and yet, I can honestly say that I have never felt safer in my entire life. :)

The ODU is huge and spans across the border for a while so you can literally see 360 degrees around you. Appa and Eomma and Jiwonie and I went together and I had a lot of fun. Keep in mind that I had only been there a total of 3 days so we were still virtually strangers. We got down to the gift store and Appa started talking to this lady in Korean and then 4 minutes later Appa handed me this package and said it was a present. I told him that it was okay, he didn't have to buy me anything but he told me that it was a memory. :) hehe.

As we were leaving we saw these people making popped rice and Eomma asked if I liked them. I told her I never tried them before so she reached into her pocket and grabbed like, 1,000 won (1 USD) out and gave it to her. Let me tell you. Popped rice is amazing. :)

After that we went to this amazing bbq place that Jiwonie and I had seen on tv earlier and I said it looked good. :) They seriously spoil me here. We then went to this shopping district (I forgot the name) and Jiwonnie and I went on a 4-D ride!! It was so scary! As well as getting some sticky photos with each other.


Sunay we had church at 10 in the morning. Jiwonie and I went thereand we had so much fun!! I met 2 of her friends and we ended up all going out to eat at ramen place. YUMMY!! :) Then we went home and Eomma and Appa had me go with them to Hamoni's house to meet Appa's brothers. I was there for four hours.... It was sooooooo sooooo long. Eomma could tell I was getting restless so she made a random phone call and then she tells me to get into her car... I obviously follow. We end up at her best friends house who has a daughter who is top in her class and turns out...she's in my grade (2) and MY CLASS (10)!! I was so happy! It was so awkward at first... Korean's, especially Korean gils, are VERY shy towards strangers/foriegners. So.... it was awkward. But then she takes me into her room and shows me this packet...It was MY APPLICATION PACKET MY HOST FAMILY GOT REGARDING ME! And she was pointing to a picture of me at prom asking me if that was my boyfriend! haha. It was funn!!

That is pretty much all that happened last weekend. My next post will be about YFU week and the weekend. :) That will be up by tomorrow!!! yakksuk (promise!)


Friday, June 25, 2010

In Korea- Incheon, Seoul, Ilsan, & Paju


I apologize for the lack of update since my arrival but so much has happened and I haven't found a time to write about it. :/

Uhm... Lets see. I left off with one day left before I went to Korea and I was getting pretty nervous. Which is a totally ridiculous thought now. :P

I got to the airport at Omaha and was wedged between two freakin' sumo wrestlers and when I got off Denver I sort of got lost. :/ My plane was supposedly on time to Denver but I think I'm going to have to disagree as I was supposed to have an hour and a half layover at the Denver Airport but ended up with only having a 45 minute layover....psh. :P

Then I left for San Francisco..... That airport is huge as was the plane I went on... I got off the plane only to be greeted by 3 YFU people, one of which being Taylor, my Facebook friend and fellow YFU Summer Korea student. :) We stayed the night at a hotel but YFU only provided four starving teenagers with one pizza and two...yes TWO, small bottles of pop. :/ [By the way, people in San Francisco don't call pop pop. They call it soda...Which sounds completely weird.]

Anywho, the next day we got to the airport but was almost killed by this freakin' chinese bus driver who shouldn't even have his license...He did a U-turn in the middle of the street....WHAT THE HECK!?!?

We got to the airport and went through customs and scary security...which I passed. :) We had like, two hours to kill, so we just went to this ridiculously expensive airport food place where a botle of pop was 2.90.. I'm sorry but I have a hard time forking over 1.50 for a bottle of pop, much less 2.90....

Then we went and sat downstairs by the gate leaving for Incheon...
I swear I have never. ever. seen. so. many. Koreans. in. my. entire. life. O_0
Taylor and I go onto the plane which was a two story plane by the way, and we were wedged right by the mini-kitchen. :/ And I sat behind this Canadian guy who was so disrespectful and had his seat laid back so I couldn't even move...And then he had the nerve to ask me to stop hitting the table attatched to the back of his chair.... UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

But 11 hours and 19 minutes later we finally landing into Incheon International Airport.
It was about 3 pm in Korea when I landing making it about 1am in Omaha. And yet, I wasn't even the least bit tired. :)

We get off the plane completely lost as no one was there for us.... So we do what any normal person would do...Follow the wave of people... Which led us directly to a train.... WHAT?!
Apparently this mini subway train takes you directly to Customs and Immigration and returns every 5 minutes.... Now I have a question: Do you enjoy being crammed into a small box like cattle off to the slaughter house? Then riding the Korean subway/bus system is for you.

We get to the other side only to find a ridiculously long line of people....Who knew that many people entered Korea every day? 45 minutes later we pass through customs and go to the airport termina and we met this outrageously nice Korean boy who is living in America but visiting home for a month.. But then, all Koreans are outrageously nice. As long as YOU show them respect.

Then, we pass through the doors going into the front of the airport where people are picked up. Immediately upon passing through the doors we are overwhelmed with the strong crowd of Koreans peering in through the doors trying to see their loved ones... Taylor and I see a sign that her Eomma is holding up...

This was a huge suprise for us; We thought we weren't going to meet our famiy until Friday but we ended up meeting them on Thursday! I was honestly pretty bummed.. I was like, oh! Taylor's Appa and Eomma are here...Did mine forget about me? Attempting to push that thought out of my head, I slowly followed her but continued to look around just in case my Eomma would be here... I didn't see her... Until this happy Korean Eomma comes running up to me and grabs me in her arm taking my bag and putting her arms around my shoulders... It was my Eomma. :)

The rest of that night passed in a blur. I wasn't tired so Eomma and I stopped by Cosco... Cosco here is nothing like Cosco in the USA. They have an escalator for your carts. 0_O

Then I went home and Jiwon was waiting for us... I gave her a hug. :) I wanted to stay up and wait to meet Appa and Donghwa (who is in school until 11pm).. but I fell asleep on the couch waiting for them. :/ So Eomma sent me off to bed and I missed Appa. :( But I woke up at like, 12:30am and ran into Donghwa. I hugged him too. And we ended up staying up until 3 am on the computer and talking. Oppa skyped Donghwa but didn't know I arrived in Korea yet and was very....suprised...to see me there. :) haa. We had a lot of fun.

Which brings me to yesterday.

I woke up and Eomma and I were the only ones at home... She made us lunch which consisted of Kimchi (most famous Korean dish) and 고기 and some spicy soup... It was delicious. Not at all as spicy as I would have thought and nothing like anything I have ever tasted before. Jiwon came home at 1:30 and then Eomma, Jiwon, Eomma's friend, and I went to Haiti(?) It's basically this art village and museum village with this god-like bookstore in it. There is one thing I believe every person should know about Korea- They are always eating. Jiwon had an orange and offered me one. Then we had some cake and tea (nothing like American tea) then we had another orange as well as some hard rice.... I don't think I have ever been so full in my entire life. 0_o it was so amazing though.

When we got back home, Eomma went out to meet a friend and Jiwon and I went to a... NORABANG. :) It was a 10 minute walk...We got there and turned back because Jiwon left her money in her other wallet. :/ haha. It was so much fun though.... Oh! And I don't think I have ever been stared at as much in my life. :/ hah. Koreans attempting to speak English= priceless. :)

So off to the norabang. Oma! Probably my favorite thing I've everdone in my life.

This sounds weird, but I think it was a bonding moment for us. I felt extremely close to her afterwards and we went home with our arms linked. But this time, we took the bus home.

ugh. Korean buses. we get to the bus stop and since it was about 10:15ish a lot of students were going to another cram school so there was easily 40-50 high school students at the bus stop...All of which stared at the two of us... They were probably thinking why in the world is that Korean girl touching an American and who in the world is that American girl... haha.

We got home and Eomma was back. :) We watched music bank and a rerun of music core...Dance partyyyy!! :)

At 12:30 Donghwa came home from visiting our cousins in Seoul. Appa was out with friends because apparently it is very very common for businessmen to go to norabangs and out with friends on Friday nights....Celebrate the end of the week or something.

Jiwon fell asleep and Donghwa, Eomma, and I stayed up until....FOUR am talking and such. :) Another great memory I have. :)

Appa came home around 2 am and we met for the first time. I bowed to him and he gave me a hug... He is a great Appa.

I woke up at 9am this morning to a completely quiet house...No bueno. :)

I showered and shaved my legs!! Oh! And last night, Donghwa came home from Seoul with two gifts for me: A Korean red devil bandana and a Korean red devil t-shirt for the big game tonight!! :) AWWW!! Koreans take soccer (football) very very seriously. They are known as the red devils and the Red waves for the SEA of Koreans wearing red in support of the Nations team.

So right now I am wearing capris and my red devil shirt and my bandana, though I'm using it as a headband. :) Jiwon is up as well as Eomma and Appa...Donghwa is still asleep. :/ tiss tiss! :P

Appa says we're going to the DMZ today.... YIPPY!! :)

I'll update more in a couple days!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Pre-Departure Jitters

I'm getting nervous.
Not like... "Oh, I-wonder-if-they'll-like-me-nervous" but rather, "I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS THAT NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW THE ANSWER TO AND I LEAVE IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS!!!!".... That kind of nervous. :)

I spent my last day in the US finishing errands. :)
And I got my eyebrows waxed... :/ hah.

yepp... :) I got to spend the day with my parents too. :) I had suprisingly amount of fun... I'm going to miss them so much!

Sorry.. I'm pretty scatterbrained tonight...
I just can't believe that it's almost here.... The wait is almost over. :)

So I guess when I get to Seoul on the 24th, I am going to stay there for the night and *maybe* go to the US embassy the next day (If what holds true with YFU Japan is the same for YFU Korea). Then, later in the afternoon on the 25th I'll be on my train to meet my family: Appa, Eomma, Donghwa, Jiwon, and later, Oppa.

I PROMISE you that I WILL keep this updated regularly with tons of pictures and posts to satisfy you.

Ya'll should check my facebook too for the other pictures that I can't put up here.

So I guess I'll see ya'll in Korea!!

Saranghae. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Music Programs, Fanclubs, Among Other Things

I can't believe the weekend is here. My last weekend in the US until August. :)

Omaha actually had a horrible rainstorm last night.... I hate storms... It was all hot and humid and this random downpour of rain started coming and then the sky turned yellow... Yet I could still see the sun across the street. That is Nebraska weather for you. :) I had to work last night too.... I went to go clean the girls bathroom and when I came out our front doors were open and massive amounts of water were creeping into the store. :)

1-2 more posts before I leave. 1 will discuss my host city and the other will probably just tie up some last minute things before departure!

To kick off the start of my weekend (though I work tonight at 5 and tomorrow morning) I spent the day with one of my best friends, Carly!

Carly and I at our school

We went to a noodle place that I absolutely adore and then just creeped at borders for like, an hour before coming back to my casa and just hanging out. I finally set her up on skype so she could talk to me over there. I'm kind of sad because I know this will be the last time I see her until I get back. :( It's times like these that I'm glad I'm not gone for a year.. I'm honestly not sure I can handle a year right now. Next year, sure!

Now onto my main discussion: Music programs

I started ranting about this last night but I held myself back. ;) But let me continue.

Like I said last night, it's really hard to describe Korean music programs to an American. Koreans take their music very seriously.

Here's the deal. Every week they have music programs- there are 4. Thursday night is M-Net, Friday night is Music Core (MBC), Music Bank on Saturday Nights (KBS), and Sunday nights have Inkygayo (SBS). All the "promoting" artists show up on these network shows to perform to their fanclub with the hopes of winning the weeks number one sales. It's pretty confusing and hard to get unless you've seen it.

Which brings me to point number one. The main difference between Korean bands and American bands. The volume of noise their fans emit. Korean fans are well known for making up chants with the song. It seems odd but trust me, it sounds perfect if done properly. Established groups with well known fanclubs such as Super Junior (ELFS) and DBSK (Casseopia) and SNSD (SONES) have amazing chants that flow with the song. They also often sit and listen to the song or sing along- in perfect unison. It's almost eerie how amazing it sounds.

This topic basically introduces me to my next post on Fanclubs among Idol groups. They all have them. But these fanclubs are named and you actually have to apply to become an official member of the fanclub. Since Korea holds a lot of joint concerts it can be hard to tell who belongs to which fanclub. Thus they have specific colors assigned to them. Super Junior for instance, is pearl sapphire blue. Other idol groups can't have that same color as another active group. However, they can have, for instance, pearl sky blue. Get it? They are all just shades of the same color. Two colors are currently off limits for any group. Orange and White- in recognition for the two most legendary idol groups of all time, Shinhwa and HOT. Those are renowed for gaining recognition of Kpop to the world.

Do I love kpop? Yes. :) Think....Boy bands without the drugs. I just...love Korean music in general. Donghwa is supposedly in love with music over there so I hope I can go with him to see some live concerts!

Do I officially belong to a specific fanclub? Nope. I am an "unofficial member" in 4 fanclubs though!

This is my only post on music I'll have. I just wanted to share it with you because I think that music shows a lot about a country and especially since Korea is the leader of the Hallyu wave, Kpop is seeing an increasingly popular growth in other countries.

Remember Rain in the American movie, Ninja Assassin? Guess what! He's one of the most popular singers in South Korea. Wonder Girls has also recently entered the American Market. It's only a matter of time before the rest of America is introduced into the Korean music realm.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top 10 things to See

Annyeong! :) So this post is mainly going to focus on my top 10 things I want to see while I'm in Korea. These are all Seoul specific places as Paju is a mere 40 minutes North of Seoul (20 minutes by train).
At the rate of things I want to discuss before I leave, I imagine I will have a suprisingly 2-3 more posts before Tuesday! :)
So lets start things off! :)
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Gyeongbokgung palace was the largest and main palace of the 5 grand palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty. It was the residence of the queen and king and their royal subjects throughout the years until the Japanese government came and destroyed nearly all of the palaces. Heavy reconstruction began to recreate the palace to original state. It is open to the public and serves as a museum. :)

2. North Seoul Tower

I don't really have a reason behind why I want to go here, I just do. :) haha. It's in a lot of dramas and couples often come here to....well, I'm not exactly sure what. But it is supposed to have a gorgeous view. ;)

3. Dongdaemun Market

Okay. You all know I'm not a shopper. But I think I may have to make an exception. DDM is basically a series of malls and shops spanning over 10 blocks. There is approx. 26 shopping malls in this market with over 30,000 speciality shops. There hours consist mainly of times opening at 10:30 am and closing at 5 am with some stores being open 24 hrs. Uhm.. heck yes I'll be going there!

4. Cheonggyecheon

It's a river for those who are wondering. :) It runs through the heart of downtown Seoul. You know that area in the Old Market in Omaha? There is a little stream down there surrounded by artwork and trees? It's just...gorgeous. Thats what Cheonggyecheon reminds me of. I really want to go there and take some pictures. Especially at night!

5. Everland

Okay, this is a long shot by far on my exchange. I honestly don't expect to achieve it but I certainly hope to go there someday. It's an amusement park. It has everything; A zoo, a haunted house, dozens of roller coasters (some ranking in the top 10 highest in altitude in the world), music, and shops. I saw a variety program where the people went there and it looked like so much fun!!

6. Dragon Hill Spa

I don't necessarily want to go to this spa exactly, but rather, just a bathhouse in general. Most Americans don't get it. Bathhouses in Asia aren't what spas are here in the USA. For admissions as low as 5 USD you can enjoy a day at the spa including steam rooms, baths, massages, and food. It's honestly a real family setting. And no, you don't have to be naked in order to attend. Often you wear undergarments or really cute outfits (blue for boys and pink for girls of course!). Oppa said he'll take me here with his friends if I wanted... :)

7. Korean Folk Village

This is a very popular place to go to see the traditional way of Korean life. This place is lined with traditional games and activities, complete with old style food and shops!

8. The Korean War Memorial

This place will bring tears no doubt. I want to go to see as close to person as possible just what Korea has gone through. Most people look down or even past Korea and think of it as "another country." Korea has a rich history full of tragedy. This museum shows first hand the hardship its been faced with; and has overcome.

9. Music Program

This one isn't exactly location specific but rather, just something I want to do. So in Korea music programs are huge..... It's hard to explain to Americans because we have no real equivalence to a music program in the US. I suppose you could call MTV a music program by Korea's standards...but not really as MTV focuses on music videos... Music programs in Korea- eh, you know what, I'll save this for another post. hah. But regardless, I do want to attend a music program!

10. Olympic Stadium/World Cup Stadium

Both these stadiums hold a special place in Korea's heart. The first was built for the 1988 Olympics and the later was built for the joint World cup ownership with Japan in 2002. I think these stadiums are must sees, regardless if I enter them or just drive past them. :)

As you can tell, there is so much to do in Korea! There is so much more I want to see/do but I attempted to narrow it down to my top 10 must sees! :)

Expect a post tomorrow, probably about my rant on music programs. hah.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Host Family Presents

Annyeong! :)

So I have six days left before I leave!

I'm starting to worry about how everything is going to come together. There is still so many little things I need to get. XP Also, even though I get 2 suitcases and 1 backpack I can take, I'm opting to only take one giant suitcase and 1 backpack. I'll just buy another suitcase while I'm there and fill it with gifts to bring back. :)

Anyway, I've been buying gifts here and there for the past month:

This book is basically a collection of photographs taken throughout Omaha for the Director at YFU Korea. I was strongly encouraged to include him in my gift giving. :)

a book on Warren Buffet- My Appa is a businessman and Warren Buffet is obviously one of the richest men in the world AND he lives in Omaha.

I bought my Eomma a Nebraska Cookbook because she adores cooking. :)

My Oppa and Donghwa are getting matching Nebraska hats... It is so hard shopping for boys. XP Plus I know that Oppa likes to wear hats.... I bet Donghwa does too. ;)
I found Jiwon the most adorable little bunny rug! I think it's perfect for a younger girl! (I did get her another gift pictured below.)

I also got her a cute little panda bear from Panda Express. :) I don't know for sure who I'll give the other two too... I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I bought all three of my siblings various rubber-band shapes. They're super popular here and I know Oppa really likes them (the giraffe is for him!) and I KNOW that Donghwa will like them too. :)

These are various pins I got for my classmates. From everyone I talked to I should bring pins or something for my classmates as they'll shower me with little gifts. :) I cannot wait to meet my classmates!
These are just various items I bought for my host family and maybe classmates... Nothing really big, just cute local items.

I love these Husker earrings! Once again, I'm not exactly sure who I'm going to give them too but I imagine I will find someone. :)

Lastly, this is the husker season for this year. I just felt like showing how important football is to us. No real gift giving reason for them. hah.
So thats pretty much it! :)
I'll have at least one more post before I leave! I cannot WAIT for next Tuesday... I'm not sure it's ever going to come! :/

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Countdown Begins

These past three weeks I have been working like crazy putting in 30-some odd hours a week. But I suppose hard work pays off. My check that I will be receiving Friday will be HUGE. Probably around 500-600 dollars. :) yippy!

Panda Express also opened a new store in Iowa on Wednesday and dozens of Panda peeps from the USA have flown in to help open the store. They call this Panda Support. I call it making the employees' ridiculously nervous. :) I have been working at Panda almost a complete year now- I have the most seniority at my location and yet I am the youngest worker- the baby of the group.

I absolutely love my coworkers. These people are some of the nicest and funniest people I have ever met in my entire life.

These are the original Panda Women at Store 1802.

(from left to right) Susie (Sujan), Lusia (my boss!), Me attacking Julie, and Jenny.

As you can tell, we're all really close. I am going to miss them when I leave for Korea. But they all have been encouraging me and helping me with my Korean along the way (Kpop fans in the house!).


So I received my report card last week. All A's (even AP classes) AND a got an A in Chemistry! :) I worked so hard in that class and struggled time and time again throughout the year, starting off with a 4- and ending up with an A. Good things do happen to those who work for them. I do have to thank my chemistry teacher, however. He taught me a whole new way of thinking as weird as that sounds. I mean, you can learn something and memorize terms for the test, then forget about them. With chemistry you actually have to apply what you know into test problems.

Also, the ACT was this morning. I took the regular test as well as the writing portion. XP I suprisingly think I did better this time, but I guess we will have to wait and see. This actually brings me to my next topic- My host family.

Host Family

I love them. I honestly do. My Appa and I email on a regular basis and my oldest host brother (Tony/Donghee) talk on the phone/Skype a couple times a week. Which actually lead to the problem I had this morning. Oppa (Tony) called me last night around midnight. I almost didn't pick up the phone- I knew he was visiting family in Maryland and I didn't think I would be hearing from him and to my suprise it WAS him! Anyway, we ended up talking on the phone for FOUR hours. We didn't hang up until 4 am (5 am his time). I had to get up at 7am to get ready for the ACT. It probably was not my brightest move but whatever. It was totally worth it. We talked about everything under the sun and back. He is currently staying in Michigan as a host student and returns home exactly one week after I arrive. So I only get 6 weeks with him but oh well. You make the most with what you got! More on specifics on Korea later.

World Cup

I wish I could watch it. I work so much that I miss the games. But I will find a way to watch the match between Greece and Korea again. KOREA WON! Victory, Victory, Victory, KO-Re-A! :D (It's a song...) Anyway, I wish them the best of luck to their next match! :) If there is one thing that Koreans do have, it is National Pride. They breathe soccer the way Americans worship football. :)

I will be back at least two more times before I leave! :) And I PROMISE picture spams will be coming! :)


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Flight Departure Information

Last week my official flight information came into the mail! :)

So here it is:

Tuesday, June 22nd:

-Depart Omaha: 4:45 pm
-Arrive Denver for immediate plane change [no time given]

-Depart Denver
-Arrive San Francisco: 8:27 pm

Total time: 5 hr. 43 min.

Stay Tuesday night at a hotel with a YFU rep due toflight scheduling conflicts

Wednesday, June 23rd:

-Depart San Francisco: 11:08 am

Thursday, June 24th:

-Arrive Seoul at Incheon International Airport: 3:05 pm

Total time: 11 hr 57 min.

There ya go! :)
Oh! And I have a little under 14 days left before I leave!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

YFU Pre-Departure Orientation


So today was the Lincoln/Omaha area pre-departure orientation meeting in Lincoln Nebraska at Lincoln's area reps' house, Jeff.
There was, not suprisingly, only seven, yes SEVEN outbound (USA students LEAVING the country) students at this session: three Germany year students, two Japan summer students, one France year student and me, that Korean girl.

I thought it was going to be very awkward and uncomfortable but I was pleasantly suprised. Almost immediately upon arriving at Jeff's house, I was wrapped in the conversation about countries and cultures that I didn't know it was already time to start!

We started off with the usual get-to-know-each-other warmup activity that brought on a bunch of awkward glacnces and giggles.

Then we got down to business.

One of the rep's told this amazing story about sunglasses and culture. Basically she talked about how you leave your home country wearing yellow sunglasses and arrive in a country wearing blue sunglasses and what happened was, when the girl came back, she told her friends she saw in green. The problem was, however, that she carried some of her own beliefs and cultural bias so she couldn't fully experience the other culture. The moral of the story was that you must first remove your own yellow sunglasses before wearing the foreign, blue sunglasses to fully experience the culture.

After that intense session, we took a ten minute break where Lida, Summer Japan, won a YFU hat. Then we had lunch- Eating Subway! Oh! I have found a new love: Italian Dressing and Cheese Croutons! :D

Then we talked about what to expect, culture shock, as well as "facing the critics" in your host country about America. My partner, Samuel and I totally kicked butt with our reasoning! :D I found this stuff enlightening but I already had a general idea as to what to expect.

I honestly do not feel, at least at this point, that I will receive much culture shock primarily because I already know so much about the culture. I have researched it and I know the social norms. I have yet to live it, however. But I am not going into South Korea cold turkey- I specifically chose this country for a reason. And I also keep in regular contact with my host brothers- Tony called me yesterday and we had a very fun conversation for over an hour!

Then we had another raffle after "facing those darned critics" and I won! I received a nifty little YFU computer bag- it was black and blue! :D

Overall, spending those six hours, yes six! With those seven students- no, friends, has made me even more excited for my trip. I learned a lot with spending the day from them. It is not just me who is confused and maybe a little intimidated, and we all learned something new today.

And as we each part for our own different journey we are each connected in a way that we weren't before- We share a bond- We are each about to embark on a journey of a lifetime.

Nicole, Cassey, Erin, Lida, Charla, & Samuel


Friday, May 21, 2010

Host Family Information

"...And then you realize just how small the world really is."

So in case you don't know me, I'm a very impatient person. Waiting one month to find out who my family is, is extraordinarily painful; I can't do it.
My mother shares my pain.
We got an offer with YFU for a year subscription of Rosetta Stone: Korea for only $75!! That is an EXTREMELY low price, considering each language is 400-500 dollars each. So my mom placed a phonecall to the head office asking about specifics and just randomly asked about my host family, not really expecting a response. To my mother's utter shock, I DID have a family! And the lady was putting in my information but was very reluntant to tell my mother, mainly becuase I think she wanted it to be a suprise. The only thing we got out of her was my host father's name, his email address, the province, and how many siblings I have.
Turns out I will be living in the Gyeonggi-do province and I would have 3 siblings: 1 girl (12) and 2 boys (17 and 18)!
Well, ya'll know me, the first thing I did was try to find everything I can about them! I had absolutely no luck until I went to Facebook and unthinkingly looked up my host father. Turns out he has a Facebook! And he had 3 children: 1 girl, 2 boys- 1 of which was currently on exchange!
A couple days earlier I asked a question on YFU-Korea about what to expect, and befriended a guy who had spent a year in South Korea and really explained a lot to me. Turns out, this guy KNOWS my host brother before I even knew it was my host brother!! So I added my host brother thinking he probably didn't know who I was and he didn't. Until my friend who stayed in South Korea talked to him and explained that I was 90% sure that he was my host brother..... Guess who was right!?!?!? :D
I am now more excited than ever to go to South Korea to see everything- Tony (my oppa [meaning older brother]) promised to take me to Seoul! Seoul is about 40 minutes away from my host city- Paju!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Annyeonghaseyo (안녕하세요)~

Anneyonghaseyo~ (Hello!)

When I was born, my parents got this crazy idea in their head to name me Heather.... Weirdos. Just kidding! Anywho, most people at school call me neatner, neats, ginger (EW!) or just the crazy girl. So call me whatever you feel like. :)

This summer I am going to South Korea as part of Youth For Understanding (YFU) Short term program to Korea for 6 and a half weeks.

I leave June 22nd and return August 6th.

I didn't want to do a full year because it's my senior year. I just, I CAN'T miss senior year. Not when I have so much left to do here. And YFU doesn't offer any semester programs for Korea so it was summer for me! But I am a firm believer in fate, and destiny and I figure, if it is meant to be, it will happen.

So how did all this come about?
It actually started during prom season. My dad & I went out driving around, trying to find some botiques that sold amazing dresses that weren't carbon copies of each other, when the subject of my love for Korea came up. We discussed maybe going on vacation there this summer- for 3 weeks or so. But the more we talked about it, the more we realized that going there, I would only be seeing things from a tourist's standpoint, rather than as if I were LIVING there. And the whole point is for me to see if I want to live there one day.

My dad suggested maybe student exchange for the summer. He told me to do some research and we'll talk. I researched and narrowed it down to YFU- one of the most respected and well-known foreign exchange programs and one of the few offering Korea. We talked about it with my mom, and by late March, I convinced my parents into going- not by begging, but by giving them logical reasoning as to why I wanted to go. Deadline was April 1st 2010. I found out of my acceptance April 18th.

Now, I play the waiting game for being matched with a host family. Host family info is being sent at the end of this week. :D