My Weekend Trip to Cheongpyeong!

This weekend was the first time I went on an overnight trip outside of campus! A group of us (teachers and students) spent the night in Cheongpyeong to explore the countryside and bungee jump for the first time! Cheongpyeong is very far from just about everything. We had to travel 2 ½ hours to get there and took three different types of public transportation. Because we only have class Monday-Thursday we left at 9:30am Friday morning. First, we took a short bus ride to Jukjeon station. Next, we rode the subway for just under 2 hours to Cheongpyeong. After that we had to take a taxi to the bus station where we then took a half an hour bus ride to our hotel. The traveling was exhausting, but definitely worth it.

Before taking a bus to our hotel we met a few more students at a local grocery store and did some shopping for dinner that night. We ended up spending almost 300,000 won for 14 of us… Needless to say we had a lot of extra food. By 2:00 we had made it to our hotel and finally got to relax and settle in. Some of us planned to bungee jump that afternoon because 10 more teachers were coming the next day to jump as well, but it was too windy out so we were not able to. As a last minute idea we decided to go to Petite France, which was right down the road. After spending a couple of hours there we made our way back to the hotel to start dinner.

Luckily, one of my students loves to cook so he was willing to do all the work for us. The food was delicious and we had an amazing night. The hotel we stayed at also owns a campground, which is right next to the hotel. Outside there is a swimming pool surrounded by a dance floor and neon lights. By 8:30 the lights were on, music was blasting, and the atmosphere of the campgrounds completely changed. Our entire group was drinking, eating, and dancing the night away. There were a lot of other people eating and drinking as well, but no one wanted to dance with us. After a short amount of time one group decided to jump into the pool and after that we all became friends. For the rest of the night we were swimming and dancing, having the time of our lives! I can honestly say I will never forget that night along with the people that I met.

The next day we all woke up to go bungee jumping. Almost everyone was scared, but a few of us only felt excitement. I’m proud to say everyone in my group did a fantastic job jumping and no one chickened out! After we all finished jumping we decided to go to Nami Island. Prior to going I had no idea what to expect, but am happy I went. The island is beautiful and definitely focuses on the beauty of nature. There were cultural music shows to watch, traditional Korean food to eat, and breathtaking landscape to look at. By 4:30 we were all exhausted and just wanted to go home. We bargained for a cheap dinner and then made the 2 ½ hour journey back to Yongin.


*Below is a picture of everyone in our group that decided to go bungee jumping, all of us at Petite France, and one of the many walkways on Nami Island!

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Academic Classes

I have officially completed my first week of classes. In the morning from 9am to noon I take beginner Korean. I have two different teachers throughout the three hours I am in the classroom. My first teacher is named Bae Hi Yeon. I can’t tell if she doesn’t know how to speak English or chooses not to because she only speaks Korean. She is with us until 10:45. After a short break we switch teachers. Her name is Han Sun Saengnin. She speaks some English, but talks really fast so it usually sounds like Korean and I can never understand what she’s saying. Overall, I am learning a lot in a short amount of time. Because this past week was our first week we only had three classes, but I have already memorized all of the Korean vowels and consonants. This language class is much different than previous language classes I have taken. I have never had a teacher who is teaching their first language and doesn’t speak English. I think it works in our favor because it only allows us to only hear Korean, but is also a disadvantage because it’s hard to ask a question when we don’t understand something. Even though this is a setback it doesn’t stop us from learning the language and is only a minor problem. Based on the amount of progress I have made this far I am very excited to see how much I’ll learn in the remaining 3 weeks!

In the afternoon I take Leadership Theory and Application from 1pm-4pm. My professor is from Michigan (U.S.A) and is really cool. So far we’ve learned multiple theories about what it takes to be a good leader and have done many self-awareness activities to help us recognize our strengths and weaknesses. After writing this blog I need to work on my midterm project and writing assignment that are both due this week!

Both classes are only Monday-Thursday so I have every Friday off. I love that the school schedules all of the classes like this because it gives us more time to explore Korea on the weekends. Two, three hour-long classes may sound bad, but they are over before you know it. I have taken summer classes before and think that they are much more laid back compared to classes during the fall and spring academic semester. With that said, don’t take a class for an easy A! There is still a lot of studying that needs to be done along with many important assignments.

*Below is a picture of all the characters I had to memorize in three short days (writing, reading, and speaking)!!!


Food Adjustment

Before I left for Korea I had my mom make all of my favorite meals because I knew I would miss American food. Prior to coming to Korea I never had authentic Asian cuisine so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In my college town there is a Japanese restaurant that serves a few Korean dishes, one of which is bibimbap. One day I decided to try it, but didn’t find it that appetizing. I didn’t think it was bad, but just very bland. This experience made me a little nervous about trying real Korean food.

Food wise, the first two days of being in Korea was okay. I enjoyed the meals I was served or ordered even though I usually didn’t know what they were. On the third day this completely changed and I had absolutely no desire to eat anything. All I wanted was American food and I didn’t even care what it was. I decided to skip breakfast and had pringles and bread for lunch. The pringles were nothing like American pringles either so that definitely bummed me out. That same day my fellow co-teachers and I moved to the Cheonan campus. After settling into our rooms we all went to E-Mart to explore the area and get anything we forget at home. While we were there I made my way to the food section to try and find an American snack. I ended up buying bananas and a bucket of fried chicken. It sounds pathetic, but I was desperate for “normal” food. After we were done at E-Mart our coordinator took us to dinner at a nice restaurant. I ended up ordering a rice cake and dumpling soup (pictured below: left). This was one of the best meals I’ve had in Korea so far and I ate every last bite of it. I was no longer hungry for the chicken so I saved it for the following day. A couple of days later a few students took me and my co-teachers out to a real Korean bbq (pictured below: right). So far this has been my favorite meal that I’ve had!

It has almost been a full 2 weeks since I arrived in Korea and I can definitely say I am more open to trying new foods. I found out that not knowing what I’m eating helps, especially when it comes to seafood. I can honestly say I really enjoy the food here and am excited to see what else Korea has to offer!


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My First Week Experience

It has now been a week since I arrived in Korea. After getting off the plane I was exhausted and could hardly function so it didn’t hit me that I was in a foreign country. Once I met other American students at the airport and talked with them I found out they felt the same way. As we were in the taxi driving to campus it still didn’t feel like we were in Korea. It just felt like we were in a different part of the States that we had never seen before.

As I mentioned before I am adopted. Even though my physical appearance looks Asian I feel like I am white because I have grown up with only white people. Before the trip I have been to New York City multiple times. Whenever I go to Chinatown or an area with a lot of Asians I feel like I am the minority as a white person. Because this is true I assumed it would be the same way in Korea, but to my surprise it is not. Even though it has finally hit me that I am in a foreign country I don’t feel as out of place as I thought I would. I honestly don’t know why and it interests me to why this is so.

Since it took a few days to realize I am in Korea I was not that excited at first. I was struggling to get over the jet lag and just wanted to sleep. I could always go to bed at a normal time, but would wake up at 4am and not be able to fall back asleep. Now that the jetlag is over I can enjoy and take in everything surrounding me and I am definitely excited I am here. Teaching also started this past Thursday and makes the experience so much better and stimulating. I absolutely love it and am sad to think it only lasts a few weeks. My students are amazing and really interested in learning about America. They look forward to spending extra time with my co-teachers and I outside the classroom as well. So far I find this true with most of the students in the program.

Below is a picture of my co-teachers and I on our first day of our internship and part of my dorm!

** For the first three weeks of my time in Korea I am living and teaching at the Cheonan campus and not Jukjeon. So, my blogs will be based on my experience in Cheonan. Starting July 13th I will be back at the Jukjeon campus taking classes for the academic program.

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June 24 – Jukjeon Campus to Cheonan!

Two Campuses. Why I am going to Cheonan Campus. Pros and Cons.

It was great to come back to Jukjeon campus – before I go further, Dankook University has two campuses. One in Jukjeon, closer to Seoul but it is in the Gyeonggi-Do province. While the other campus, Cheonan, in the South Chungcheong province. The past few days I spent in Jukjeon was great because I was able to spend time with friends that I made last year, and I was able to meet the new comers.

Since I stayed at the Jukjeon campus last year and spent many of my weekends or after class time at Seoul and traveling in that city, I thought it would be good to spend this year in a different setting. I heard mixed comments about the Cheonan campus, but none the less, everyone who went to Cheonan said that it was a great experience.

Some Pros I heard:
1) The air conditioning works all the time in the dorms.
2) You experience more parts of Korea.
3) There is a smaller group going to Cheonan campus, thus more bonding.
4) There is no hill at Cheonan campus, so there is no need for hiking!
5) Beautiful lake!

Some Cons I heard:
1) Mosquitoes/Bug problems.
2) Farther away from Seoul.

Right now I am sitting in a Korean 0.1 and am excited to be going to Cheonan campus in a few hours. 24 hours from now, I’ll be meeting my class that I will be spending the English Village with. The anxiety.

Next Post shall be about the first day in Cheonan!

Till then.

Flying with KoreanAir

Like I mentioned in my first post I don’t have any flying experience. Since I was nervous about finding my way around the airport I decided to fly with KoreanAir because they offer direct flights to Korea. There were pros and cons to doing so. I loved not having a layover, but a 14 hour flight was not ideal either. I originally chose an aisle seat, but changed it to a window last minute. I regret this and now know I am an aisle seat kind of person. Prior to the trip I Facebook messaged a student who was taking the same flight as me and is also studying in Korea. To our surprise we booked seats right next to each other. This definitely helped out my window seat crisis and gave us the chance to get to know each other.

Besides the regret of choosing a window seat flying with KoreanAir was a great experience. All of the staff was extremely nice and very concerned with our well-being. I would definitely fly with them again.

Below is a picture of our first meal. We had the option between chicken or beef bibimbap. After meeting other students who also flew with KoreanAir I found out we all had different meal options, but still had two or three meals to pick from. So I guess the food depends on what flight you choose. From left to right starting with the top row I had, spicy pickles, oranges, rice for the bibimbap, the vegetables and beef for the bibimbap, and seaweed soup. Everything was delicious and I don’t have anything to complain about. For dinner we had western food, which consisted of beef, chicken, or pasta, mashed potatoes, vegetables, tomato salad, a pretzel bun, and carrot cake.




South Korea… Here I Come!

In exactly two weeks I will be in South Korea. Up to this point I have felt nothing but excitement. It still doesn’t seem real that I will be leaving the country and traveling across the world for the very first time. I have never been outside the United States before so I have no idea what to expect. My parents have only flown once so they hardly have any traveling experience either. For the past few weeks I have been arguing with my mom about how many suitcases I should bring. I am flying with KoreanAir and they allow each passenger to bring two bags, but my mom thinks I should only bring one. I understand her point, but it’s hard to fit everything in one, especially shoes! Last week I did a “pre-packing” trial. I decided this would be a good idea because it would help me eliminate anything I don’t have room for and let me know if I will have extra room to bring souvenirs home. Luckily, I am studying abroad over the summer so all of my clothes are small and light. I decided to pack as much as I can in my main suitcase and use a smaller, second one as my carry on. I will put my backpack in my carry on for any extra room I need when I come home. Now all I can do it wait. I’m hoping the next two weeks fly by!

Back in K O R E A !!

United Airlines. Newark International Airport. Looking like a Korean. Why I came back. This year.

This time around I had no trouble getting on the plane, unlike last year because of the Russian Visa. The thing worrying me this year is being away from my family, my friends, and my usual language, culture, and surroundings for 6 months. Starting June 18 I will be away from home till December. Despite being in the country I love and came back to, I can’t help but feel home sick.

But back to United Airlines. They do not give you a T.V. on the back of the seats. However, they do offer free WiFi. So download the United App beforehand if you want to be able to stream most things on your small devices (such as phone, and tablet). This means, bring your charger with you on flight. Of course, me being me, forgot her phone charger at home. Luckily for me, when I was about to buy a phone charger at a store my friend bought her phone, they gave me the charger for free. YASSS.

EWR – AMAZING, and NICE staff. I remember having to check in at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City and they were not the nicest people. Now, it may be because I was at the airport this year at 4AM (transfer flight at San Francisco was at 5:45AM) and that they did not deal with many people yet. Whatever the case, the staff at Newark Liberty Int. Airport were smiling, none were frowning, and all wishing me a good time at my destination.

Prior to this I did not sleep the night before because I knew sleeping/napping would only make me more disoriented. But I recovered by sleeping 2 hours on the flight to San Francisco.

Funny story, on the line of the flight to San Francisco, there were 2 ahjumma (older ladies) standing behind me in line. One of them tapped me and asked me in Korean if I was a Korean. In which I replied, “Ani,” which means no in Korean. I forgot to add the -yo at the end, to be polite, but that was because I thought I should have just said no. But hey, that was my first Korean ish experience since last year.

I decided to come back to Korea because I had a great time last summer. I learned about a culture in the perspective of Korean citizens. I learned more of their language – so now I can walk around Korea feeling more confident. I met amazing people, who I still keep in contact with today – I actually came to Korea a few days early and crashed in one of my student from last summer place. I also learned that I like that awkward, I don’t know much about your culture and you don’t know mine so I’m not sure what to say or how to interact with you but lets do it anyways, feeling.

This year I wish to go to places I was not able to last year. This year I hope I have a good bunch of students as I had last summer. This year I hope to improve/upgrade my Korean communication skills. This year I plan on making more awesome memories of the place I love.

P.S. many food pics and sight seeing pictures will be coming – Instagram viow9 for immediate updates.

Till then.

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.