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So, I have been home for about 12 days now. I am still missing Korea like CRAZY. Now, I am counting down the days until I return back to school in Ithaca.

I’ve noticed so many things – big and small – that caught my eye in Korea. There are things so innovative, smart, just plain nice, and even so simple yet cool that are in Korea. Here is a list, not in any particular order.

1. McDelivery. Yes, that’s right. McDonald’s delivers in Korea. (And other countries as well.) AMERICA, GET WITH THE TIMES. It was nice at 2am at our dorms when we were craving a burger, we just called up McDelivery and they came on their scooters.

2. The sliding glass doors in the subway system. Hello, innovation and safety. I think this is highly intelligent in preventing accidental – or purposeful – deaths by subway. It even puts me at peace of mind knowing I won’t fall or be pushed somehow onto the tracks. No worries about the yellow line and standing back, like in the New York metro.

3. Cleanliness. I noticed Korea was significantly cleaner than where I’ve been in America. They lack public garbage cans, and yet people still don’t feel the need to litter and be trashy. Amazing, right? Of course, Seoul is a city and no city is perfect, but from what I have seen – and smelled – the city is very clean, as well as other places I’ve been to. Again, I know there may be places different around this country that I haven’t seen, but this still really stood out to me in the places I have been. The subways and stations were clean – unlike New York’s. I just thought it was a bit nicer than home.

4. Low crime. I know many people have talked to me about this before and explained to me. I know nowhere is perfect, so I’m sure crime exists somewhere, but what is highly noticeable and known is the low crime rate in the country. What put me at peace was how safe I felt walking around alone or at night, or even with a small group of friends. I have made the 3am walk back to my dorm alone in one piece. When I see people pass me, they just continue walking, going about their business. In New York or even in Endicott or Binghamton, I have to be worried about being kidnapped, raped, mugged, or something. Again, not saying it couldn’t happen in Korea, but I’m sure you know what I am trying to say. It’s nice to feel safer. I think the people in Korea are much kinder as well, which was just great.

5. Speaking of which – the kind people and culture. I’ve always respected that about the Korean people. Something that always has stood out to me is the politeness in speech and actions. For one, the language has levels of speech depending on politeness. But also, everyone was just so kind to me and it was a really nice feeling. Walking in a store, people are so welcoming. Meeting for the first time with high schoolers, they bowed to me and said “안녕하세요.” The people at the airport were so kind in helping me – compared to JFK where I was talked to rudely by a few workers who didn’t seem to care. I could go on and on – you get the point.

6. Door pass-codes. Do we have these in America? I mean, I don’t have it, so let’s run with that. You always see it on K-dramas with their apartments, right? I loved having a 4-digit pass-code on my door to my dorm room in Seoul. The families I stayed with had the same for their apartments. Not a huge deal, but certainly cool. (Oh, well it also makes cool noises at you.) I didn’t have to worry about a key or an ID card.

7. Water served at meals. It may sound like no big deal, but I noticed it right away. All of the restaurants I went to, they immediately set the table with those small metal cups, and place a container of cold water on the table. I felt like I was really healthy there in Korea, drinking only water with my meals, and it has changed how I eat meals here in America, too. The only difference is, I have to ask for water. I also liked how in the dining halls, cafeterias, and food courts, you can go get the small water cup and fill up your water at the water machine they have. Very nice.

8. No tax, no tipping. Now, I’m no expert on why we have those two things here in America. I will say it made my time in Korea much easier. It’s nice when a price you pay is the price you saw in the first place when shopping. Without tax, it also makes for simpler amounts, rather than America’s $13.82, or $19.99, and so on. Not tipping means not having to figure out how much to tip, not having to worry, and just paying the bill and going on your merry way. I notice the waiting staff works differently I assume in relation to not having tips.

9. The call-button-thing at restaurants and bars. I think it is so smart. The wait staff doesn’t bother you every five minutes with “How is everything?” And, when you need something, don’t struggle with waiting, or trying to call over a waiter. Just press the button and hear “네” or “예.”

10. Well, all I know is their kids are extremely smart and their schooling is rigorous. I don’t know details, but I’ve heard a little bit about it from my exchange students and friends. Their kids don’t slack like ours do. They would shame themselves and their families big time, to my understanding. They work so hard and study so incredibly hard. Their schooling is longer, I believe, too. I feel like I would have liked that. At first I thought I would hate that thinking it is too hard or crazy, but if I were attending Korean school all my life, it would be what I am used to and what I know. I worked hard in school, but it just seems so different. I find it so incredible.

11.  The innocence  and modesty – if that’s what I call it – I’ve noticed. Sure, this isn’t the case for everyone, but I notice that trashiness and sluttiness just really isn’t a thing. It isn’t. That’s all I’m going to say.

12. Umbrella bags! So simple, right? During the monsoon, I walk into the business building at school, and put my umbrella in a bag for the day. Simple. And, when I enter restaurants, they have buckets at the entrance to put your wet umbrellas in, and one time I didn’t they asked me to place it in there. Nice to not have your wet umbrella dripping water all over the place, and also nice that people don’t really steal your umbrella – unless accidental, I’m sure.

13. How cheap the food is, and how delicious it is. I ate some good meals for a low price each day. I budgeted about $5 a day for my trip, and it was quite accurate. My meals were from $2-6. I really enjoyed it. I also loved how cheap street food is. A couple-hundred won for some late night fried deliciousness. And, the water bottles weren’t overpriced – except in the subway station! I went to the GS25 and grabbed a bottle of water for 500원. It wasn’t overpriced like they are here which was lovely. Soju is also cheap, which is quite nice, too. 😉

 

I will end here for now. I know that I remembered a ton more things that I even ranted to my mom about. I can’t remember now, but here is a solid list, I think. Just some things that really stood out to me – very random and some small things!

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There is something wrong with my WordPress. It is not allowing me to upload pictures at the moment! But, I have so many I have to share with you all! Maybe I will try again later. I would like to share my photos from Changwon.

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Hello, everyone!

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 ^^

 

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I wish I had something more interesting to blog about lately, but school has really gotten into full swing. Today I had my first exam in Korean Cultural History, and I’m starting to dive into my assignments for my Korean linguistics course. I’m also having fun with my many friends exploring around Korea. A lot of times I haven’t brought my camera lately as it is just one more thing to carry.

I am making memories and having a great time. Tomorrow is one more day of classes. Wednesday we have a field trip day where I will go to a water park called Caribbean Bay. Thursday and Friday are classes. Friday night is the international party.

Until next time.

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Hi everyone!

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I have been really busy. Classes are getting into full swing and I might add I am exploring the Korean night life a bit as well 😉

 

Yes, that is possible to handle both! Anywho, I’m having a lot of fun in Korea and I swear I never want to go back. I owe my followers many pictures now. I’ve done a lot since the last post and have seen a lot of neat places! I hope to find time soon to post more, but tonight I am seeing the Seoul Philharmonic perform a “Russian Night” concert filled with Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich.

 

Until next time, 안녕.

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Ah I totally forgot to blog about my third day, spent in Gangnam. (cue PSY)

I am so tired right now I have to go to sleep. Perhaps I will catch up on that blog post at a later time.

I noticed that though I feel I am over jet-lag and handling the days well, I always wake up early and get tired earlier. I guess that’s okay since when I need sleep I won’t be out too late some nights. (Still awaiting the Korean nightlife, however.)

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Hi everyone. Lately I have been too tired or busy to keep up with blogs, just as I imagined.

 

Today, I woke up feeling great! Finally, I even felt hungry. I ate some “jook”(죽) for breakfast.

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The rice porridge is good for people who are sick, as it is a mild food and healthy. I was brought “jook” by my professor, as well as brought to a restaurant by my close friend, so I had plenty leftovers.

I then was picked up by my close friend’s husband, my friend’s father. He brought me to Gangnam to go see his wife, my friend’s, work and pick her up. We drove to a wedding in Gangnam, and I got to see a Korean wedding! I also ate at the lunch buffet afterwards. After the wedding, the father brought me around Gangnam, walking. We walked up and down Gangnam Street. It was pretty fun!

When I returned to my dorm, I finally met some HISS students. I met up with some really nice girls from Amsterdam, and we had dinner at a Dunkin Donuts near Wangsimni Station, and also went shopping for our needs (toilet paper, notebooks, etc) at the EMart.

Shortly thereafter, I returned to my dorm super tired. Now I am going to bed early. I am missing out on Korean nightlife! Everyone is going to Hongdae. But I feel it is better to rest after all I have been through. I need to sleep and relax. Perhaps I will be even better then to explore Korea some more.

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Yes, for those who don’t know I went to the hospital. I am okay now, though! Just a rough first time in Korea. Things are looking up now.

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Hello everyone.

While I was on the plane, I typed up a draft of a blog post about my experience with the flight and the airport. Wouldn’t you know my Wifi isn’t working on my phone for some reason!

 

So perhaps I will write about that later. But here I am in Incheon, Korea, safe and sound. (I arrived yesterday, about 12 hours ago.)

 

I was scared and nervous at first, aside from the excitement. I had a bit of culture shock, though I thought I’d handle it okay. I think my biggest problems was that I got sick upon arrival. My family here was so nice to take me out to dinner and I had to leave, rush out of the building, because I felt like I would vomit in the restaurant. And, of course, we were on the top floor of the restaurant! It was a nice bulgogi restaurant. And, in Korea, you take of your shoes. So I had to shuffle to find my shoes, slip them on, and run down the stairs. I sat down outside and the owner was so sweet he brought me water and medicine for an upset stomach. My father here explained to him that I have sickness from a 14-hour flight. The nice parking man spoke little English and asked me where I had come from and asked me about my Korean level. I had to admit I only know a little bit. I can read and write Korean, and I know some words, but my conversational Korean is a bit….nonexistant. Almost embarrassing coming here and I can’t speak the language as well as I though, forcing my father here to speak English, while the grandmother and mother cannot. Hopefully the language barrier won’t be an issue at Hanyang where I’ll be with international students in classes speaking English. I think I got so nervous I panicked. I froze up. I barely said anything. I said short phrases in Korean that I knew. I even brought my dictionary to dinner which was so awkward. But, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to express something I may really want to say. My family here is so sweet. They were so worried. I continuously apologized that I had left dinner, but they did not think anything of it. They were worried and took good care of me. They even made me all kinds of food and brought it to me, which I sadly had to turn down because my stomach just wasn’t hungry. I think they said they’d make me ddeokbokki, however shortly thereafter I fell asleep. I do remember grandma coming in and pulling a blanket over me. How sweet! The grandma does not know English, but she is really sweet. She kept speaking Korean to me, rubbing my back, and taking care of me.

Hopefully today will be better. I rested up, and now I haven’t eaten in so long that I AM hungry. I also haven’t showered and feel disgusting, so that would be nice! I’m kind of hiding in my room right now. I also feel awkward cause it’s quarter of six in the morning and I am wide awake. My body may still think it is quarter of 5 PM. Oh, jet lag. But, hey, I woke up at midnight this morning fully awake and realized that I couldn’t do anything. So, I forced myself to go back to sleep until a reasonable hour so I don’t feel awkward or wake the family. Now I’m just sitting here….. what do I do?

I’m going to go to Hanyang today, but not sure when. I’m a bit worried, because all the students want to do is party and enjoy the night life. While I want to explore the night life, I want to focus on my studies and enjoy every aspect of Korea – and remember it. Not to mention, me starting off by being sick wasn’t a good sign. I want to be careful. So, I don’t care if everyone wants to go clubbing tomorrow – I may stay back. I also am making plans to have dinner with my friend’s mom here this weekend. That will be so nice! She also speaks little English.

I feel so bad. I come to this country and I still speak my native language. I speak very very very broken Korean. I feel like I should be speaking Korean. But, on the bright side, most students at this program don’t even read Korean. However, I have a different experience, as I’m staying with a family right now overnight instead of going to the university.

I will say I am happy to be here. I cried upon landing. I was staring out the window of my AirBus A380 and could not believe after 14 hours at an altitude above 40,000 feet, that I made it to Korea. I finally have left my country for the first time. I was in shock. At first, it was in a good way. The airport just kind of sucked having to wait in long lines for customs and immigration. Eventually, I got my luggage, went on my way, and met my family. They had such smiling faces, holding up signs they made me. Mom kept taking pictures of me. I formally greeted them and shook their hand, then the father just hugged me! It was so sweet!! I will never forget that.

I’m going to go. I will blog more later, and hopefully get my other blog post I had ready on here.

Goodbye, from Incheon!

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Alright, the week of my travels has finally arrived!

Today is my last day in Endicott. Tomorrow, I will go to Jersey to stay overnight with my uncle, and Wednesday morning him and I are adventuring over to JFK for my FLIGHT TO KOREA!

I am so excited. I can’t believe this is happening. I’ll be on the other side of the world for an entire five weeks. I’m okay with that. I can’t wait to explore Incheon, Seoul, and Changwon. I’ll be seeing my exchange families, attending international summer school at a university in Seoul, and I will also see the Seoul Philharmonic!

I can’t wait!