This morning I went to Heung-Ryun Temple (흥륜사) in Incheon. It was so beautiful and was my first ever temple!
On Tuesday July 23, I celebrated my birthday with a bang. I had the best birthday I’ve ever had in my life. I couldn’t have been happier to have so many friends help me celebrate, and to be in my favorite city in the world. I started off by having dinner with a few of my close friends. We went to have some Korean BBQ, specifically 불고기(Bulgogi – Beef). We just had a little bit of 소맥(Somaek – Beer with Soju). After, we had time to kill since we told people to meet us at Casstown, my favorite bar in Wangsimni, at 10pm. So, we went to 노래방(Noraebang – Singing Room). I had a blast! Finally around 10pm we headed to the bar where about ten of my friends were already there. We sat down and ordered our drinks and 안주(Anju). More people showed up! And then more! It was awesome. Perhaps we had about 40~50 people come? I had a lot of fun. We just enjoyed each other’s company. My friends Jeffrey and Mimah were so awesome that they “missed dinner because they were busy” in order to get me a cake! It was a cute cake from Baskin Robbins in town. They came down with the cake, lit it, and everyone sang. I was so happy. After the bar, we got on the subway from 왕십리역(Wangsimni Station) and headed to Hongdae. In Hongdae, we went to a club called Cocoon. I had so much fun!! I was with all of my friends dancing the night away until closing. No joke. I was there until they stopped playing music and turned on the lights. This was around 6am or so. I had the most fun ever. I headed home in a taxi with two of my friends from the Netherlands. I nestled in my bed and had nothing to do the next day which was great.
The following day I celebrated my birthday again with my close friend’s parents and their friends. They were so sweet! The father picked me up at my dorm and drove me to the restaurant we would go to. It was so nice. I drank a few beers with them and ate lots of delicious food! They were so sweet they brought me a cake from Paris Baguette, birthday candles and all. They lit it and they sang to me. I got beautiful gifts as well. Here are some pictures from my birthday in Seoul.
Just got back from our day-long and overnight trip. I was without WiFi and connection the entire time. I must admit, that was actually kind of nice. We all enjoyed each other’s company that much more, I think.
Friday night, we spontaneously decided to go clubbing in Hongdae. I had heaps of fun. It was my first Korean clubbing experience so it was about time! We hopped on the subway and went. We went to a club called Papa Gorilla, which is pretty popular. It isn’t the best in people’s eyes, but for me it was great! It is aimed at foreigners I guess, and it’s considered an “international club.” We would’ve gotten in for free, but while checking IDs, they knew three of our friends were Korean citizens, so for some reason, we had to pay. Oh well. We went on in and immediately I was dancing like crazy. I had so much fun. We actually went to a local bar beforehand to uh…..get ready! 😉 I had so much fun just letting loose and hanging out with my friends all night. My friend and I even took the “stage” – just the more elevated platform inside the club. So much fun. We had so much fun we stayed until about 4am! Dancing non-stop. Sweating like crazy. Going deaf, practically. We knew we wanted to catch a subway since it is the cheaper and easier option. The subway was closed until the first one at 5:30 am, so we went to Burger King for some food and even took a short nap before heading to the station. Caught the subway at 5:30 am and the sun was up and bright. We ended up in the part of the subway car where the seats are only for the elderly, pregnant, or disabled. We sat and planned to get up once we saw someone who needed the seats enter. We kindly got up for a group of old Korean women, and they were so sweet, in Korean they insisted that some of us still sat. We talked with one of them, sitting next to me, with my Korean friend helping out. She kept saying I was smart and pretty. How sweet. I felt awkward at that moment, sweaty, and just post-club, but still keeping my cool. I’m sure she knew we are just young and having fun. She kept saying how sweet and nice I was, too! And was impressed with my Korean. That was a nice little moment to remember about Korea.
I got back to my dorm at 6-ish am. Well, I had my alarm set for 7am to get up and catch the bus to Boryeong at 8am. What did I do? Just a quick catnap. Showered, packed, and headed to campus to catch our bus.
I was dead. Half asleep walking up the bloody mountain that is the Hanyang campus.
We arrived about three hours later at the festival. It was a beautiful sunny day, Saturday! It is at a beautiful resort place, right on the beach. Mud-covered people everywhere. Mud on people’s faces, arms, hair, entire bodies. The mud is supposedly good for the skin, and is also just loads of fun to play around in. It’s not just normal mud from the ground, if I am not mistaken. I was wearing my bathing suit underneath athletic shorts and a t-shirt. Within minutes I was mud covered as my friends slathered it all over me, and then even pushed me around a bit in the mud pool, even after I slipped and fell down a few times. I did get pissed though cause someone accidentally kicked me in the foot right where I had a bad blister! Ouch.
We were muddy for an hour or two. Then we headed into the ocean, on the beach, to rinse off and enjoy the waves. There was music and dancing, and a large crowd.
We went to get lunch. I was getting impatient with the giant line for our free meal, as I was starving on the verge of possibly passing out, so I ran into the convenience store and grabbed a cup ramen and a beer. (Come on, it’s the mud festival. People walk around with a nice cold one in one hand.) I might add, by the way, Korea has no laws against public drinking. I can legally walk around the street with a beer – or anything really – and I won’t get in trouble of be judged, unlike in America where it is trashy and the people are well, more trashy. But, obviously this is a different case being a festival, as well. For 5000 KRW you can buy a soju cocktail in a little pouch with a straw from a little cart on the beach. Anywho, I had heaps of fun in the water, despite the water continuously burning my eyes to no end. Eventually my group ended up meeting up with the RAs, the Korean students, and we all hung out.
After several hours, we showered and headed to a hostel somewhere in the mountains in the “middle of nowhere,” literally. They were like giant dorms, except the rooms housed about 6-8 people. It is a bare floor with shelves and a bathroom. That’s it. They provide the bedding you lay on and the blanket, and small pillow. You sleep on the floor. (How traditional.) Did we sleep? HELL NO.
The “party” as we can call it continued. We had dinner first after arrival. Samgyeobsal meat was cooked for us, and we had beer kegs and water. I am getting over Cass beer though. It’s what most people have here, and now I don’t even think it tastes good anymore. Oh well, we were already tricked into thinking there’d be soju, and there wasn’t any, so take what we can get. It was really neat, this place. A large just….sand…..pit….thing. We had a huge bonfire there. We all sat around and drank, ate, and enjoyed company. No WiFi so we all had to be social beings of course. I had an incredible amount of fun here, though. I met even more friends, hung with different groups of friends, and enjoyed myself until maybe 2 am? We even danced cause they blasted music from….somewhere. The night eventually calmed down to us either sitting by the pool, or sitting in the sand by the fire with a cup of ramen and a beer. We met up with another program that was there, too. We wondered where some loud music came from. In one of the “dorms,” there were a bunch of people gathered around food and LOTS of soju, doing their own Noraebang (singing). One of the Korean students was nice enough to give us some soju, too.
We were about 3 hours away from Seoul. I believe were more south of Seoul, southwest of Korea. The bus ride was just boring, with everyone unwinding and sleeping. So glad to get back to my dorm to take a real shower, take a nap, and wash my damp and disgusting clothes and bathing suit.
Pictures to come later. Who knows when. I am so tired. Back in Seoul, in Wangsimni.
My photos are on my phone because I used my water proof phone cover and could not use it with a camera.
Those on facebook can see it. ^^
Cheers from Seoul ~
Life is good. I adjusted to Korea nicely and the transition wasn’t too bad. Seoul is actually quite foreigner-friendly. I have had the time of my life here. Honestly. I am so grateful for this opportunity and experience. I have been in Korea for three weeks now. I’ve learned a lot. I’m sure I’ve matured even more. I’ve opened my eyes to new lifestyles and a new culture. I’ve learned more of the language solely by being here. I’ve made the most incredible friends from around the world, including America, Korea, China, Vietnam, Netherlands, Malaysia, Japan, England, and more. We make the most out of every day and every night.
I’ve seen a lot already. I’ve explored many of what Seoul has to offer, though five weeks is not nearly enough. I’ve visited Gangnam, Hongdae, Itaewon, Insadong, and Sinchon. I cannot believe I haven’t yet been to Dongdaemun or Myeongdong yet, however. I’ve loved living in the Wangsimni area. My dorm is off -campus so I am right in town. Within a five minute walk, I have enjoyed ice cream shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and Noraebang. I am about five minutes away from a large subway station (왕십리역) and it is like a huge mall. A complex. Inside there is a large EMart, Cafes, a food court, restaurants, bubble tea, hair salon, movie theater, etc etc. In there you can take many lines out of the Wangsimni area via subway. There’s also a large “fashion square” mall inside. It is incredible. In the same building as my dorm, around the front on the bottom floor is a GS25 convenience store. How…..convenient. I walk about ten minutes (UP HILL) to classes each morning in the business school at Hanyang.
I can go on and on, but I love it here. I cannot believe I will leave in two weeks, leaving Seoul a week from today. This is CRAZY. I don’t want to leave! I don’t want to. I need more time in this beautiful country and wonderful city. I’ve had the time of my life. I love the city life. But I hate NYC because unlike Seoul, it is dirty and unsafe, ridden with crime. Seoul is quite the opposite.
I will miss so much. Even little things like speaking Korean, reading Korean signs and menus, Korean food everyday and cheap, legally drinking (lol), and the subway to name a few.
Hopefully I’ll post again later!
Tomorrow we go to the Boryeong Mud Festival for two days. Tuesday is my birthday. I have exams, graduation, and then it is off to Incheon. Then, off to Changwon. Then…
Yes, I am still alive and well. I just haven’t posted in a while, so I owe my followers a post or two regarding the past week or so.
It will come ^^
I could not take pictures during the Nanta performance last Sunday in Hongdae, but I took TWO pictures haha.
eatyourkimchi studio in Hongdae. I love their YouTube videos! I actually watched their videos to prepare and learn for my trip, since they give the perspective of foreigners living in Korea.
Like I said previously, I have been very busy. School has really picked up. One of my classes has a lot of assignments, while the other one is already having tests to study for. When I am not in my two three-hour-long classes or studying, I am out having fun with my friends as much as I can. Lately I haven’t brought my camera with me, as I like to carry as less as possible. But, I am still making memories in Korea nonetheless.
I forgot to mention that Saturday I went to Itaewon for the first time. Our initial plan was to go meet Simon and Martina of eatyourkimchi. Instead, I broke off from the group with some others and hit up a pizza and beer joint. We went to the street and cafe where Simon and Martina were, but the line was ridiculous for people to get in the cafe and see them. They had some event where you can take pictures with them. But hey, I saw them through the glass which was cool. I do love their YouTube videos, but I’m not too hurt that I didn’t actually meet them. Things have been so crazy, I don’t even remember what I did that night afterwards. Perhaps I went with some friends to a bar or something of that sort.
I really love the area where my dorm is. It is so perfect. Off-campus, right in town where everything is. The most perfect little restaurants and street food vendors are about a five minute walk away, as are several Noraebang, bars, and cafes. We hang out in the Wangsimni area a lot actually, and to get places via subway I typically leave from Wangsimni Station. The only thing I don’t enjoy too much is the walk to classes. It takes me about fifteen minutes or so, or sometimes ten. The hills are steep – worse than Ithaca – and it’s just a long walk. I wish there were a faster way. In the rain it really sucks. Gotta love monsoon season, too!
Sunday was very chill. I had dinner with friends, but I was too tired to do anything else, so I actually stayed in at night. I just have no desire to do anything crazy on a Sunday night for the dreaded Monday morning class at 9am.
Earlier that evening, we attended a Nanta performance in Hongdae. It was pretty neat.
This week I’ve just enjoyed dinners at various good restaurants with different groups of friends. I’ve enjoyed noodles, soups, and barbecue, always accompanied by an innocent amount of soju, maekju (beer), or somaek (beer + soju). Monday night I had dinner with my friend here from Ithaca, my friend here at Hanyang from Korea, and his friend. We went to a Korean-Japanese restaurant and I had some good Udong. After that, we wanted to try this place next to my dorm called Pommes Frites and it’s basically a small place that has good french fries and beer. After, we decided to go to a small little place that specializes in soju cocktails, since I haven’t had any yet since being here. We ordered Pomegranate soju and it was really good. It was kind of slushy, too. We were full, but had to order food in order to buy any sort of drinks. We ended up ordering Kimchi jeon. (Btw, I’m not typing in Korean hangeul anymore because I know many of my followers will not be able to read and understand.) This night we didn’t get drunk – so some of you, don’t get all worked up over seeing the fact I had soju or beer – we were just relaxing and eating and drinking. Casually. A part of the social and food culture here. But I must say, it’s nice being here and being legal and being able to go out for a nice dinner with a glass of beer, or somaek. I also like going to the traditional restaurants with Makgeolli you drink from the bowls.
Tuesday I had a lot of fun with many people from my program. We stayed out really late in Wangsimni area.
Again, I have no pictures from anything, sorry!
Yesterday, Wednesday, we took a field trip to a water park called Caribbean Bay. It’s about an hour outside of Seoul. I was super tired, but still had fun. Rather than going with a huge group of friends as planned, I hung with my own friend from my college. We started with the lazy river because it was much needed to just relax. We had a lot of fun on the water slides and such. The life guards were so cute there, and I loved when many of them attempted to speak English to us. Then some of them high fived us after the rides. We tried a really hot-hot tub in the sauna/spa area. It was super hot. I got out and felt dizzy so I literally went to a shallow pool and just relaxed to cool down. It was a fun day. I had an interesting experience afterwards. I totally forgot that the locker room experience is completely different here. So yes, some of you know where I am going with this. My friend and I were walking through the locker room when we spotted our first naked girl so far and we were totally thrown off. Unexpected! We then realized….ohhhh..I forgot they did that here. In any public bath house or locker room, the women are accustomed to walking around completely nude and showering nude in a big communal shower room. I saw more than I would have liked to. Of course we were timid foreigners who kept the swimsuits on in the shower. I just couldn’t do it. However, the locker room was nice. They have a big room with mirrors that is equipped with hair dryers and lotions and such. It was just really nice. Usually in America, at water parks, we just have a simple locker room or sometimes just outdoor lockers. I was surprised, the room was really nice. So there’s my story.
Unfortunately, last night I stayed up until 3:30 am doing…..HOMEWORK. I had my first assignment due today, and I have a group presentation for tomorrow. Luckily I will be free for a small while after that. I have an exam on Friday, and then we have the International Party on Friday night.
Until next time.