Almost There…!

I just came back from a weekend up at New Paltz and… there’s only five days left for me in the states!!

It feels extremely surreal, as though I’m not actually about to get on a plane to live and study in a foreign country halfway across the world for four months. It’s a childhood dream for me to visit Japan, and for that dream to finally be coming true feels so… well, surreal!

While having to adjust to a completely new environment is frightening, I’m extremely excited for the classes in Nagasaki! Off the top of my head, I’ve got anywhere from only 1-3 classes a day, save for Wednesday where I’ve got a full 9am-6pm schedule of five 90 minute classes… Regardless, the classes sound so good that I don’t want to drop any of them! I’m taking classes in Japanese history, culture, pop culture, society… the list goes on!

Saying goodbye to my friends this weekend was what really help the fact that I’m actually leaving soon settle in. Walking them to class, saying goodbye… Even though it’s only four months, I couldn’t help but cry. These are friends who’ve really made New Paltz a second home for me. I know that in a few months, I’ll probably be saying the same things about the friends I’ll make in Japan!! I just can’t win with these things… I’m always going to be left crying and missing everyone!!

In order to help me adjust, and have a constant reminder of them, one of my best friends let me take a little Gunter figure with me! I’ll be sure to take him around in place of everyone!! He’ll be my little reminder of home O(≧▽≦)O


One Week?!?

(I meant to post this before my first entry, but messed up… sorry!!!)

Well, I just got back from visiting friends on campus before my flight. It still doesn’t feel like I’m going, but I’m leaving for Japan on the 31st! I’m not really looking forward to the 13 hour non-stop flight, but I’m really happy I’ll have a friend at the airport to help me when I land… I’m gonna be exhausted, but probably excited enough to stay awake!

I’ll be jumping around different friends’ houses for about a week until the dorm opens and I can move in. The trains in Tokyo are apparently really easy to navigate and I’m confident enough with my Japanese speaking level that I’ll be able to get around. Lugging around my suitcases may be a little annoying, but not a big deal.

I’m excited to go to Shibuya and Shinjuku to meet up with some friends that I haven’t seen in years and walk around the cities with them. They said they have a lot of places they want to show me, so I can’t wait! I think I may have to wait to shop until I’m settled in, but I think it may be hard not to…

Orientation starts about a week after I get to Japan, and two days after I move in, so it looks like I’ll be pretty busy figuring out how the commute works, getting everything I need before classes start, and all that. It’s going to be such a different experience from New Paltz in that sense for me too, and I think it’s a good one to have and compare so I’m looking forward to it a lot.

And now that I think about it I’m gonna miss things I take for granted, like my mom’s cooking…

… I should learn how to cook while I’m abroad…

Alright, I should probably pack some more, so I’ll write more when I’m half way across the world!

♫Tokyo, I’m on my way♫ Wait… I’m here!!!

First of all, I have to say that Japanese Vending Machines and Toilets are incredible. I know that’s a weird way to start off, but they really caught my attention.


I’m FINALLY here!!! It was pretty surreal saying goodbye to my parents at the airport (with my mom crying the whole time), and I thought it would sink in once I stepped off the plane, but it really still feels like I’m in a dream. My friend picked me up at Narita airport on September 1st with her mom and one of her super tiny puppies.


They were kind enough to treat me to Sushi on my first day in Japan, and let me just say that we have GOT to get some Conveyor Belt Sushi places in New York. It’s basically a dollar a plate and it’s amazing I really don’t know why we don’t have these things back in the States.

kaiten zushi


I was lucky enough to relax and catch up for couple of days before I went to another friend’s house in the city of Nakano, right next to the campus I’ll be taking classes at. Naturally, we went and visited the campus, and it was incredible.

meiji 1

meiji 2

meiji 3

I honestly didn’t expect it to be so nice and HUGE. We explored the building and my friend showed me what classes were where, where to go if I had any questions, and so on. Then we went into town, walked around and did some window shopping.

nakano 1

nakano 2

nakano 3

A few days later, I went to Shibuya and met up with one of my best friends from High School. She took me to all kinds of different places and stores around the city and it was so incredible. I had been to Shibuya once before, but I didn’t really get to do anything. This time, we went to the Hachiko statue, all kinds of stores, and even took some Purikura!

eri 2

eri 3

eri 1

(They make your eyes HUGE in these things)

After a few days of practice, I think I’ve gotten a better hang of the trains than I thought I would. Here the ticket costs depends on the distance, and you have to adjust the fare if you have to transfer. There’s something pretty similar to New York’s Metro card, but I don’t know much about it yet. Hopefully after I move in they can answer the questions I have about it.

Being a New Yorker in a place like Tokyo can be pretty strange, with how incredibly friendly the people are and how safe the city is. I thought it would be hard to get around without my smartphone or the map applications on it, but it’s much easier to ask someone for directions here than it is in New York, at least for me. That plus people leaving their bags and items unattended is definitely the biggest culture shock I’ve experienced so far. That being said, it’s not a bad one.

Today my friend who lives in Kichijoji, a few stations away from my dorm in Izumi, picked me up and took me to her house (I’m really lucky to have so many great friends here already). She said there’s a bunch of restaurants in town so we’re gonna go look now. It’s only, or rather, already, been a week since I got here, and I’ve been loving every minute of it apart from the muggy weather. I have a few more days before I move into my dorm and start orientation!!!

eri 4

Boryeong Mud Festival (AKA in my world: Kid Day)

This event was quite fun. I was expecting there to be only mud, and mud slides but there was a beach right next to the festival and I was wanting to go to a beach in South Korea so this trip allowed me to kill two birds with one stone. The mud festival was quite small though. It cost ₩10,000 to enter so I could not expect for that much.

At the festival there was two slides, two big mud pools, one obstacle course, one couple obstacle course, one mud jail, and a pool to wash off. I really enjoyed the slides because it was fun to go down, getting to the top was difficult because there was someone else going on the bounce slide with you. This was a little bit of a competition to see who would get to the bottom faster, but the true competition was the obstacle course. It was difficult to get myself through it because everything was slippery. So I could not walk properly and grasp on to items to make my way through. In the mud pools there was little games we played that involved 20 people. The first was a hitting/slapping the palm game. This was difficult because the floor was slippery, so you could fall on your own account. Then the chicken game, so we were split into two groups and there was the mom chicken and the rest on the line were chicks. If the other team mom chicken touches the end of our line we would lose. Sadly, I kept slipping and breaking our teams’ line so we all had a punishment, sitting in the middle and allowing everyone who did not lose spray you with mud, in the end. The last game was to group with the amount of people the announcer of the game would pick. Of course I lost in this also.

Temporary Palace @ Suwon and Korean Movie: The Fatal Encounter (역린)

I am always amazed that South Korea has modern and traditional buildings right next to each other. I think it is great to change old buildings with new ones, but by preserving the countries landmarks, it helps not only the native people but also people who are visiting to understand the country history.

In the past, I have watched many Korean dramas. So it was really exciting to put myself in the setting and it was fascinating that I could walk on the same ground as kings and officials did.

When I went to the Temporary Palace in Suwon, it was not as grand and fancy as I thought it would be. Despite the appearance, I had a great time learning about South Korean history. The palace was used during the Joseon Period during the twenty second King Jeongja reign. The day after visiting the palace, I saw the movie, The Fatal Encounter, which helped me understand the situation a little bit better. During King Jeongja’s reign, his grandfather ordered people to kill King Jeongja’s father, the crown prince. In South Korea, a crown prince is the one who is definite to be crowned next. After watching all these monarchy dramas, it was no surprise to me that something like this could happen. I saw the box, not the exact box, which was used to kill King Jeongja’s father. When I first saw the box I had a feeling it could be used as a torture device. And I was right. They put King Jeongja’s father inside the box and nailed it so he would not be able to escape. He was left in the box under the heat for 10 days, till his death. The movie was more graphic than I thought it would be. King Jeongja’s father had his fingernails chipped and covered in blood, possibly from the attempts to escape. Including feces on his clothes. Since the death of his father happened, King Jeongja felt deep regret for not being able to be filial, a characteristic that is popular in eastern cultures because of Confucianism, to his parents. Thus when he was on the battlefield he personally protected his mother to make up for not being to protect his father when he was younger. There is actually a picture of the format of the battlefield. The tour guide told the group that she told her son about King Jeongja’s action and her son did not feel the same way King Jeongja felt. I believe that King Jeongja’s traumatic experience was the basis to be protective of his parents. His personality shows that he has power, influence, and a great leader because King Jeongja was fairly high in neurotic, there was seven attempts to kill him but King Jeongja remained calm. In addition he was high in conscientious, because he was hard working and sincere. He read books daily, exercised, and cared for his people. King Jeongja was probably in the low average area of the spectrum for agreeable because he did not simply agree to the officials’ comments when they went against him for wanting to change the meetings to make them more effective to tackle real situations. Overall, King Jeongja left a good impression on me because he is a resilient person for being able to put up with so many opposing factors and he is a person I admire.

My Dog ate my Visa…

Yes that’s right. That’s pretty much what happened.

Because I’m leaving the U.S.A. a lot earlier than my other classmates C.L.I., The Chinese Learning Institute, like the wonderful people that they are Fedex-ed my visa documents overnight with an attached application guide so I could go to the Chinese Embassy as soon as possible.
They did not foresee that the Fedex delivery man was afraid of my 9 month old puppy….Ok I’ve give the mailman pity points because my pup is 65 pounds
but C’MON MY VISA!!!!




Unfortunately I didn’t even find out about it until 3 days later when I can back from New Paltz. So I’m sure you can understand when my 65 lb terror was terrified of me. I called C.L.I. right away and told me that the documents couldn’t be saved because there were the official ones and I should just get a long tourist visa. I was distraught and really I didn’t know what to do without my student visa so 3 days later I chanced it. The documents looks kinda salvageable…sure there were bite marks and the corners were COMPLETELY torn off . I filled out a tourist visa like C.L.I. said but I made copies of the original documents, got copies from Christian Wilwohl, my study abroad adviser, and also filled out my student visa…with an apology letter written in English and Chinese attached…


Now I just have to find a better method to hold my dog back when the delivery guys comes -_-

"Dog eat visa Day"

“Dog eat visa Day”

NOTE: I ended up tearing the head off the Fedex guy over the phone for throwing a package into a yard had a ‘BEWARE OF DOG’ sign…no regrets.

COEX Aquarium

So I am not a big fan of museums or aquariums or events in general where I cannot interact with the art so COEX Aquarium was just a 3 on a scale from 1 to 5. It cost 22,000 won, so about $22. It did have a lot of different aquatic animals like fishes, sharks, octopus, seals, penguins and sting rays. I am listing a few things on the top of my head, so the aquarium probably does offer more than listed before.

My favorite was the seals because they kept doing cycles of back flips. I am unsure if that is just how seals are suppose to swim naturally but it felt like a little show for me. My second favorite would be the Good Doctor fishes that nibble on you, they remove the dead skin cells. I have always wanted to try that and to be honest I was a little bit of a coward so I am glad I got this little exposure before trying a whole container of them nibbling on my feet.

Adding on, there was the Love Machine evaluating machine. I do not think that was accurate because me and the group of friends I came with to COEX all matched well. This just shows more of the couple culture that is prominent in South Korea.

From Dankook University to the COEX Aquarium it takes about an hour and a half – taking the 8101 bus to Gangnam Station then transferring to the train. So it is a bit of a commute but definitely worth it because COEX is also a shopping area. Now if you are not into animals or shopping … this place is not for you. There are Korean souvenir shops – a very small Insadong, Korean souvenir district, in COEX so you may want to pick up a few items to take back home there. In addition, everything in South Korea is reasonably priced, there are not overpriced souvenirs in COEX, and the prices align well with the prices of the items in Insadong.

More travel posts to the coming. For now …

안녕, V

English Village End, Classes Begin

Back in Jukjeon. First day of classes.

Transiting back to Jukjeon campus was hard because there were a lot of Global Village teachers that I was not able to know while I was away in Cheonan campus. Day by day, I learning their names and their personality but for the most part, I tend to stick to the friends I made last year and the Cheonan teachers.

I also had to relearn the geography and transportation of Jukejon, but because I came here last year, I still remembered a lot and it was not that difficult getting around again.

This year, I decided to take only one class so that I would be able to travel more of Korea. So far, I am loving that decision because I was able to really travel and explore.
I am currently taking a mindfulness training class. Essentially, we learn about different personality types and about meditation. It is a pretty chill class. We spend the first 10 minutes of class meditating, which helps get into the mindset of this class and I love doing “nothing.”
I have to admit that in the beginning I was skeptical about this class and whether I would really like it or not because I never thought personality tests were accurate. In this class we focus on the Enneagram, which has 9 types of personalities and a scale of each 9 types. However, after a few days in, I like that the professor says that we do not have to agree with the Enneagram, but it is knowledge that we essentially gain about a personality type.
I am hoping that by the end of this class, I will learn about myself and learn how to improve myself for my future.


Late Post, Only One More Week Left

I’m down to the last week of teaching, and although it has only been two weeks of teaching in South Korea, it feels like two months. I am surprised at the rapid growth of my relationships with my students, and other English Village teachers. To be honest, I wish the English Village lasted a little longer, I still need my students to show me around South Korea! I will be taking a Korean language during my stay here, so hopefully I will be able to grasp onto the language ad utilize it to survive everyday here.

Since last time I posted, I have been to Myeongdong (명동) and saw the musical Ghost, which one of the three casts was Joo Won, an amazing actor. 명동 was a little too crowded for my liking, and even though I am from New York and Soho is just as comparable, I rather not have to go through crowds regardless of where I am at. WARNING: if you come to South Korea and walk through 명동, you will get lots of free samples! You do not even have to go that far to 명동, and even walking through the city of Yongin will gain you some samples. I do like that 명동 do have not only Korean fashion and cheap items, but there is also Forever 21, Uniqlo, H&M, Zara, and American Apparel. So if Korean fashion is not your style, or not the right fit, there are still western brands. I also really enjoyed the underground market. The $10 clothing rack was my best friend last weekend. Transitioning to the musical. Sighs, I was not able to see Joo Won perform, but I did see Joo Won in the flesh. Me and my friend bought tickets for the last show, thus all the cast came out on stage. The musical itself was spectacular. The settings and the props used was amazing, and it was definitely worth $112 – I was pretty close to the front and little to the side but still had a great view. I could tell this production cost a lot of money and the immense amount of effort put into this production so even though I bought the ticket expecting to see Joo Won perform, I am not even mad.For now, I am looking forward to getting a haircut, going to Insadong (인사동), going to COEX Aquarium, and exploring all South Korea has to offer me.

안녕, V  

P.S. Follow my instagram: viow9 for pictures!

A Quick Recap on my stay in South Korea – Lots of 8’s

I am posting this 8 days after I have landed in South Korea, and I wanted to briefly mention a few of my initial reactions and my journey here.

So before I was even allowed on board, I had to change my already paid flight, and I had to buy an additional new flight because my original flight had me transferring twice in Russia. I do not have a Russian visa, thus, I could not step onto Russian land twice. Already my trip seemed to be going down hill. I had an 8 hour flight from JFK International Airport in New York City, to Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, Russia. Then I had an 8 hour layover till my next flight which would get my to South Korea. Slowly my phone began to die, and because I did not have the correct plugs for the outlets in Russia, I could not charge my electronics: LESSON LEARNED, BRING NON-TECHNOLOGY TO KILL TIME – I will have a 22 hour layover when I return. After the dreadful 8 hours of waiting till my next flight. I finally got on board and was given a window seat, which I used to take many pictures of being in the clouds.

Finally, after a long journey, I landed in Incheon Airport, and went through customs, and baggage check. I also exchanged a bit of money at the airport – I suggest people to exchange from card to cash so you can take out a little at a time, this avoid losing money and in case you do not use up all the money you exchanged, there is no need to change it back to your home currency. I had a Dankook University student pick me and two other students at the airport, they were German and were teaching at the Cheonan Campus, I stayed at Jukjeon. I was excited to meet people from out of my country because it does not hurt to learn about more than one country while going abroad. Right across the highway from Incheon Airport to the rest of South Korea, we passed a mud flat – it was already 2 in the afternoon, so I was surprised that the river did not sweep over it yet. As we got closer to campus, I realized that South Korea had amazing infrastructure and landmarks – that was only the beginning. I finally got to campus and am currently living in the Woongbi Hall with my roommate, Susan, who is also from SUNY New Paltz.

To be honest, I still do not feel that I am in South Korea, despite the volume of Koreans, Korean language, and Korean words surrounding me. Instead I feel that I am in a really huge Flushings in Queens. The only possible distinctions other than the overwhelming Korean culture would be the infrastructure, and the amazingly priced food.

I have started teaching for the English Village and in my next post I will be mentioning a few things about how the English Village and teaching has been going.

안녕, V