First day of Class

Hello Hello!

My objective before coming to Korea was to establish a foundation of how to properly speak, write, and read korean. While my parents wanted to teach us, there wasn’t enough time to put us in classes because our weekends were filled with tennis. My most vivid memories of my childhood all took place on the court. Tears, sweat, forehands against the backboard, endless baskets of serves to an imaginary opponent were my after school activities and weekends were dedicated to tournaments. I’m not complaining I loved every bit of it. It also allowed me to develop a better relationship with my dad, sister, and brother. When we weren’t playing tennis, we were talking about it. It drove my mom crazy, but she knew it made us happy in the end. Any who, everyone figured I would be shining in the classroom because I was one of the few who could speak casual korean. Even though everyone had confidence in me, I knew I was going to struggle because I can’t read korean.

The first day was entered the classroom there were packets of papers on each desk. The  room kept growing as more kids were sent from level 1 to our level 2. I looked at the paper and couldn’t answer one question. So, I wrote the english sound made by each letter above the word. Then I said it as fast as I could hoping I could figure out what I was saying. It was a challenge and my paper was full of random english letters. After an hour and half of this, I raised my hand and told her I couldn’t read any of this. She spoke no English so she simply said just write something and turn it in. So, I picked random answers and turned it in. I was confused, embarrassed, and went for a run after class to blow some steam. I wanted desperately to stay in level 2. My communication with my grandmas and grandpas both in Korea and America is terrible. I can hardly carry a conversation. I feel so stupid because I always mess up and end up causing trouble because my American grandma misunderstands what I say and I make her upset. Then her tension cause even more trouble for weeks. I don’t know what to do sometimes and I just have to avoid her because I am not looking for more trouble. This is my dilemma and why I have to learn.

After my run, I went to check out the cafeteria food.IMG_1254 This is bulgogi (korean marinated meat) with mushrooms over rice, a yogurt drink, and kimchi. I don’t know if it is the water they use, but it tore my stomach apart. I opted to start buying food outside of school or food from grocery stores.

In essence, my first day was rough. I’m hoping tomorrow will get a little better.

Hope you have a great day though,

Jennifer

Off to the Races!

My run this morning was chilly, but worth it! photo IMG_3006.jpg photo IMG_3013.jpg photo IMG_3010.jpg photo IMG_3017.jpgYeahp, this about sums it up <3

After breakfast, we said bye to the hotel and were ready to leave for a last adventure and then Suwon bound.

 photo IMG_3019.jpgWe stopped to take a walk and see the oldest tree in Korea. It is a nutmeg tree that is approximately 813 years old. Wowzers! Nature is beautiful in its purest form. photo IMG_3029-1.jpg photo IMG_3027.jpgThen we had lunch from Lotteria, which is like the McDonalds of Korea. Below is a shrimp burger I had for lunch.

 photo IMG_3034.jpgInteresting, but I’m still not a fast food fan anywhere in the world unless its ice cream. :P I love Korean ice cream because I won’t get an upset stomach. Then, we went through a cave that was freezing! It must have been 25 degrees Fahrenheit, while outside it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit!  photo IMG_3036.jpg Then I sprinted out of the cave because it was cold and I needed to desperately buy some souvenirs for my other side! At the shop, Hyunjeong helped me pick out gifts and the sales women was so sweet! She helped me find prices and gifts that my cousins, aunts, grandma, sister, and brother would all like. Then to top it off she said my bad Korean was cute and gave me lots of free chocolate! Super cool, but embarrassing considering I’m 21 years old and walking like a 9 year old… On our way to our last activity, we stopped by an optical illusion place. Our bus driver put the bus in neutral, cut the engine, and we slowly went downhill. It was pretty neat seeing this all happen for the first time.  photo IMG_3039.jpgThis was the shop outside of the strange hill. Our tour guide said that a taxi cab driver had stopped for a rest at this area. After he shut the car off, he went to run inside the store for a quick meal. He was sitting outside when someone was yelling that someone’s taxi cab was rolling downhill! He immediately ran outside and saw his cab crawling downhill. He didn’t think to pull the emergency break because he thought it was on a leveled surface. This is how the optical illusion hill was discovered!

Our last stop was horse racing. 11500_10151756711121369_1764288801_n They look cute and cuddly at this angle, but when I say horse racing, I mean it. Holy crap. I don’t know whether the ranchers were in a rush or if chasing the horses with a whip to go faster is part of the experience, but I almost peed my pants! We were going so fast on the horse that I wanted to cry/laugh. However, we were going so fast I couldn’t even make a sound and simply held on for dear life. It was like when a roller coaster goes so fast that you can’t even yell. No kidding it was insane I thought my horse was going to buck me off. Some girls even had bruises from holding on so tight because they thought they were going to fall off. It was fun/scary event. haha After an eventful ride of my life, we were on a plane heading back to school.

 photo IMG_3040.jpg This is when Jiyoung( she has the same name as my korean name, but its spelt differently) (sitting in the middle) found out she passed the English exam and is studying abroad in Maryland next year!!! I was so proud of her! So, I began teaching her more english and she taught me more korean. We talked about how the korean alphabet doesn’t have the different sounds for “R” and “L.” So, when she tried to say my boyfriend’s name Ryan, I couldn’t tell whether she was saying Ryan or lion hehe

Hope you have an adventure like this soon!

Jie Young

Jeje Jeje

Hello, How are you?

This is how koreans usually greet one another as opposed to the usual good morning/afternoon/evening. Interesting ay? Also, people find it funny to I say cool, fancy, and nice! I suppose its not as common to say? :P Oh yes, and the title means hurry, hurry in Jeju slang  (something every korean says, but on the mainland you say balee-balee) haha I thought it was cute probably the same way others thought my slang was funny. ^.^ < its a cute cat face

I began day 2 of our mini vacation by going for a run.  Want to see my view? :) photo IMG_2999.jpgCrazy right!?

 photo IMG_3002.jpg photo IMG_3001.jpgYes, I could get use to this. Then, we showered, dressed, ate at a breakfast buffet. It was interesting that they served fish and beef in the morning! I do eat korean food at home, but these for breakfast were new even for me. The first place we went was kayaking. We drove to the site and they basically showed us as they pushed us off in our little canoes!

 photo IMG_2863.jpg photo IMG_2866.jpg photo IMG_2869.jpg photo IMG_2874.jpg photo IMG_2877.jpgThis was seriously so much fun and relaxing! The view was beyond amazing. The weather was crisp. After an hour of kayaking, we all went in for a dip! Everyone was throwing seaweed at one another and having a great time! A group was throwing people in the air for fun so us being girls ran away. However, as I was backpedaling in the guys surprise attacked me and tossed into the air! It was actually more fun than I thought :P We all cleaned up either by a quick shower or change of clothes. The line was way too long so I opted to simply wipe the sand off and change. Some of the French girls and I took a picture! photo IMG_2893.jpgSo Fun!:)

Then we all got into the bus and went to lunch.

This always makes me chuckle haha

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I was surprised that they served fermented soy bean soup! Its an acquired taste that many people can not overcome. For instance, I had my boyfriend try it once and he said it smelled and tasted like catfish bait. :P I find it addicting and my mom makes it the Best!

One of my friends, Yanina, enjoyed lunch before lunch and then lunch again after lunch. photo IMG_2900.jpg poor girl :( She sure does have a way of finding chocolate though ;)

After lunch, we went for an awesome hike! photo IMG_2901.jpg photo IMG_2903.jpg

To be honest, these girls + Jiyoung (you will meet her later) are three Ajou students that inspired the name of this blog. While going up this mountain, I kept chanting “We can do it!” because thats what my mom says when things are hard. I think attitude can be a game changer, dream maker. They said it really helped to hear that and I realize I feel the same way when my mom says that to me. Wow, great now I want to go hug my mom hehe <3 I feel like we all bonded by climbing to the top and overcoming this obstacle. This was nice and I think we will all be great friends! Eventually, we made it to the top!

IMG_2916 IMG_2907 969670_562289193812152_1055124749_nIMG_2910Then on the way back down, I met some Tennessers! IMG_2923 and we went to watch the famous Jeju women divers! 421178_10151531711862507_957592044_n photo IMG_2934.jpgThey are incredible women who dive for both personal fulfillment and because thats how they provided for family long ago. It is illegal to use equipment so they hold their breath for up to 10 minutes to find all sorts of seafood from mussels to octopus!

Next, we went to a maize. Each team had to make it to the finish line and ring the bell. Our team was the first to ring, but came in last because we left a member :X oops!

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Dinnertime! This was special because we ate famous black pig that was grilled and then wrapped in lettuce with other vegetables and sauces.We also celebrated Dr. Miller’s birthday!  photo IMG_2948.jpg1005424_562290420478696_1311393456_n

I would also like to mention Happy 4th of July! :) We celebrated American-style. photo IMG_2961.jpg

 photo IMG_2964.jpg photo IMG_2974.jpg photo IMG_2993.jpgI would like to think it was quite successful night on the beach! photo IMG_2997.jpghehe

Sweet dreams!

Jennifer

Jeju Island

Yahooo!

We are heading off to Jeje Island for the next 3 days. I have no phone, no internet, and no familiar faces. Its quite difficult knowing that I have no one I can trust or depend on. It makes sense since I just arrived, but the feeling is a bit uncomfortable. I hope I can make friends learn about other cultures. So, I packed lightly. This included shorts, t-shirts, tennis shoes, cute shoes, and my iPod. The itinerary they passed out were AWESOME. The office was extremely organized which made all of us feel at ease because we had an idea of what to expect going into this weekend. Our teams were assigned a bus letter and then one student did roll call every time we hopped on or off. One thing I noticed was time expectations were flexible haha the Germans were definitely not use to the tardiness which I found pretty funny because soon they became a late arrival as well! :P I love each of them though, their sense of humor is blunt and so direct that I can not help, but bust out laughing at it!

Anywho, we arrived at the Gimpo Airport and checked in. Then we received our plane tickets and were free to shop in duty free and buy lunch. A group of us went to eat, mingle, and take pictures.IMG_2782 IMG_2787 IMG_2780 IMG_2778 IMG_2777 IMG_2775Yay for making a lot of friends!!! So happy and feeling much better!

So next, we boarded the plane :)IMG_3044

The flight was only an hour and half long. It passed by quickly because I klonked out! We arrived and then met our tour guide.IMG_2791Sorry about the quality. Its hard taking a picture of someone without being creepy… Then we boarded the buses and went to our first destination Udo (cow) Island. We rode a ferry to the small island. She said that it was named because it resembles a lying cow. It boasts fertile soils, abundant schools of fish, and scenic sights; local heritage (female divers, stone walls, and stone tombs) as well as natural attractions abound on the island, making it a miniature of Jeju Island. The island is also full of amenities and tourism outlets: fishing, bike trails, sand massaging, tour submarines and cruises. We began with the choice to walk, bike, or even four wheel on the island to see the coral, pebble, and sand beaches! I chose to ride a bike since it was H-O-T and it was W5,000. We took some pictures along the way! Here is a picture of the island while we rode the ferry. 1006224_10151756711196369_1443111928_n

IMG_2797-1 IMG_2798 IMG_2804 IMG_2802-1 IMG_2799 IMG_2807 IMG_2809-1 IMG_2813 IMG_2805 IMG_2806http://  photo 1047977_681660295182851_1433358411_o.jpgIts nice that in Jeju Island it is acceptable to wear flip flops! Did I mention that I was about to wear flipflops to walk to the grocery store and my Grandpa wiggled his little finger and pulled out a pair of my grandma’s shoes! He told me to wear them and hid my flip-flops! ^-^ I don’t know whether to be offended or embarrassed! So, this is warning for others to avoid potential embarrassment! :P Anyway, we worked up an appetite and rode a ferry back to the main island. The bus took us to a place where they prepared spicy pork and fried mackerel! It was delicious!

IMG_2836Then we finished up and took some pictures outside. IMG_2843 IMG_2842

Next, we rode the bus to our hotel and I finally met another student from my college! We had no idea that we were both going until just before we left! How funny! Her name is Missy and she is so sweet and bubbly. Its nice being able to talk about the culture shock with her! So, she went out with some others and I went for a walk with one of the Ajou students, her name is Hyunjeong or Stephanie. Out of the 100 international students, 20 of them are actual Ajou students. So, they help us with travel, planning, and we exchange english and korean so its a great opportunity for both of us to learn! I met Hyunjeong at the Udo island and she seems really nice. IMG_2840 Thats her! While we were walking we ran into some girls from China!  photo IMG_2858.jpg photo IMG_2859.jpg At first we were shy, then not so much! haha Both of them Man and Coo are so funny and cute! We taught eachother different greetings and laughed at each other’s horrible pronunciations!

Cheers to a great first day,

Jennifer

Orientation

Hello Wonderful People,

Today, is my first day of school and we began by meeting at one of the auditorium style classrooms.

 photo IMG_2774.jpg We began the day by meeting everyone for the first time in this classroom.  Our professors, study abroad officers, and graduates introduced themselves and made a presentation about what to expect and gain from this experience. Also, we discussed insurance, class times, and they answered any other questions we had. We were given packets that contained a nametag, day by day schedule of our Jeju Island trip, and a team letter. Mine was Team D! :)

We ate lunch and were free to explore our city, Suwon. So, that night a group of us met downstairs. One floor is for male and another is for female. We are forbidden to step into the opposite gender’s area are be ready to be yelled at by the head mistress/mister No. Joke. lol Anyways someone setup a facebook group for all the international students and we can communicate through there! The school has internet, but unless you brought or buy a ethernet cable then the internet is so slow you will give up on trying to use it haha Apparently, it is super fast when you plug in though. A group of us met downstairs with one of the Ajou students who led us to find pillows and a few outside shops! I bought some pineapple. You may laugh, but fruit and vegetables are expensive in Korea! Since the land mass is small, growing products is both time consuming and more expensive. with the exception of rice haha Our group bought pillows and blankets then went for dinner at Mr. Chef! It was cheap, yummy, and I will definitely visit again :) Its funny how its cheaper to go outside and eat rather than prepare a meal yourself in Korea, while its the complete opposite in the United States!

See you at class tomorrow ;)

Jie Young

Ajou University

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

To my summer school :)  photo IMG_3106.jpg

You may be asking yourself, Why is she studying abroad in Korea?…she looks Korean, she understands some Korea, so “isn’t it like she is going back home” as said by some…and I understand how you could think that if you are stereotyping. I know it is harsh, but thats the truth! I am 100% Korean, yes. However, I am American-Korea, meaning I grew up in the United States just like you (with the exception of internationals, immigrants, etc.). I have never stepped on Korean soil.  I’ve never learned korean language. I’ve never met my other side (mother’s side of the family). So who am I? I’m just discovering that part of me too…I want to thank my college, Eastern Illinois University (EIU), for giving me the opportunity to learn more about myself in a way I never dreamed of possible. EIU and Ajou are sister schools and they have a partnership exchanging students! It is awesome that they have given me the chance to learn :) I’m a nerd…a really big nerd and I love to learn. haha

So, I’ll continue and say welcome once more. :) I hope that you take away things that you like and leave the rest behind.

My grandpa is so sweet and recorded the directions from his house to Suwon, Korea where Ajou University resides and not just once, but twice and by himself! <3 so kind! So, my sister and grandpa dropped me off on my first day. We brought two small suitcases of clothes.  Then I was greeted by these lovely people :)

IMG_1253+ Akofa (my other roommate not pictured) Triina (on the left) is from Estonia, which is in the Northern Europe region. Yining is orginally from China, but studies at Eau Claire University in Wisconsin. & Akofa is orginally from Togo, but has lived in France most of her life. Aren’t they gorgeous!? I have the best roomies by far. Everyone is so diverse, yet super awesome ;)

You can see in the picture that there are two sets of bunk beds. Then each person has a chair, small closet, desk, shelf, and there is a line that crosses the back room for drying clothes. As well, there is a huge window that you can open and see….other people’s rooms haha so we definitely closed our blinds at night! :P Its an older dorm room with community style bathrooms. It was older than what I expected, but for the price its understandable. I think they are considering building new ones, but who knows!

I can’t wait for the next few weeks!! Come join me :D

<3<3<3,

Jie Young

Busannn, Yipee

Ever heard of Busan?

Well neither did I until my sister told us it is a must-see destination. She came to South Korea about 3 years ago to participate in The Talk Program  (English-speaking students who teach Koreans how to speak,read, and write English). I encourage anyone interested in visiting Korea to check it out at http://www.talk.go.kr//talk/talk/talk_intro/intro.jsp

Back to Busan…it’s Korea’s largest port city filled with endless excitement and pleasant surprises.

After a 6 hour bus ride (35,000 Won or $35) from Kyongju, we made it!!!! This city is beautiful in every way possible. We debated what we should do with our luggage since we weren’t staying the night. My sister remembered that at the train stations there are lockers. Good thing because we could not have carried those puppies everywhere! Now, the difficult part. How do we use a locker. Directions? Can’t read them…any of us. Coins? We had a few. Ways to hold this stuff? Non-existant. So, we creepishly watched others put the money at a central machine and then punch in a locker number. We copied them and then a locker popped open! Yipeee! Its the little things that can make my day brighter hehe We shoved our belongings into two locker and paid W2,000 for each large locker. I carried a small bag for the keys and my wallet. I do want to mention that inside bus terminals they have food courts, snack places, and medicine shops. WARNING: medicine shops are a bit dangerous because no prescription is necessary so be wary of anything you put into your body. My sister was sore from the climb and wanted something to help her body recover. She purchased some medicine that they said would make her soreness go away. However, this backfired I’ll share more later.

So we headed to the Busan Subway :) We picked up a map of Busan at the bus terminal. On the subway, which accepts T-Money (insert mini squeal of happiness),However, you won’t be able to reload the card. If you don’t want to purchase a new subway card in Busan, make sure to reload your T-money before heading there. Also, subway hours are roughly 5am to midnight. We studiously examined the map. We chose to travel along Line 2 (2호선) (subway lines)  since we only had one whole day to explore. We began at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사). It is situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. This  temple offers  the rare find of a temple along the shore line.

IMG_2714 IMG_2713 IMG_2681 Then we bowed to pay respects to our ancestors and my parents (Love/Miss them!)

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The view was breathtaking.

IMG_2681 IMG_0434 DSCN1245 DSCN1248 DSCN1243 On our way out there were statues of the animals that represent your horoscope. IMG_2672 IMG_2673 IMG_2676 IMG_2675 IMG_2677 IMG_0442

Next, we stopped by International Market in Nampondong (Gukje Market) and the Busan tower. The market is fun just to browse through there are so many different kinds of food, little quirky shops with towels, tea cups, and everything else you could imagine.IMG_2747 IMG_2748 IMG_0476 I am a lover of theok (pounded rice or rice cake as some people call it). It is chewy, faint rice flavor, and covered/stuffed/yumminess! We found suk theok, sukk aka mugwort powder, very nutritious, is grinded and mixed with the rice and then covered with  yellow toasted soy bean powder. Wow thinking about it this sounds gross..how can it be so delicious though!? hehe oh gosh I began by sharing some with my brother and sister, but they found marinaded fried chicken, crispy green onion pancakes, so I put the rice cake in my bag (which I secretly ate by myself while we were walking towards the Busan Tower hehe ). After so random turning/pointing/map turning we made it to The Busan Tower, located inside Yongdusan Park, remains one of the best spots to see the whole city – water and land – in a sweeping 360 degree view. While not as tall as the Seoul Tower, I liked the view from Busan better – and less pollution meaning less haze. At 120 meters tall (about 394 feet), it’s Busan’s most obvious and well-known landmark, and is located inside a fully-fledged park. IMG_0053 DSCN1322 DSCN1321

Also, in the heart of the park there was an outdoor performance, including traditional mask dance and folk songs, which are held until autumn for locals and tourists. IMG_2753 Men at the park playing baduk,

here are 181 black stones and 180 white stones. Black plays first.

The two opponents play alternatively, one move each time. A move consists of placing a stone on an empty intersection.

Once placed on the board, stones don’t move (other than getting captured and eliminated from the board). It was cool to see people playing this game in real life because I had only browsed by channels at home  on my grandparent’s Korean television!

IMG_2752 DSCN1301 IMG_2769DSCN1292It was wonderful to watch and take pictures. Honestly, there isn’t too much to do so we took pictures and then went on The ’40-step Culture & Tourism Theme Street.’ DSCN1311 DSCN1314 DSCN1310 DSCN1306A 450m-street which starts from the Jungang-dong branch office of KB Bank and runs to the 40-step stairway of the ’40-step Cultural Center’ and continues on to the Palseong Tour. The time-honored 40-step stairway embodies the joys and sorrows of refugees and those displaced by the Korean War. It was sad to see some of the statues and stories, but a nice reminder to cherish those who fought for freedom and peace. We picked up some snacks along the way our next stop!IMG_0448 IMG_2559 IMG_2666 Let me introduce some of the best finds anywhere in Korea….Fish Cake (think fish sausage) haha yummy! then melon ice cream; for those lactose intolerant (including me) this kind of water/sugar based cold treat doesn’t upset my stomach yipee! & the triangle bap (rice) its seaweed on outside with a line of tuna or kimchi in the rice SUPER yummy fast food found in any grocery or convenience store also, you must follow the unwrapping directions or you will have a mess in your hands haha learn by experience ;)

IMG_0479 This is where we went next and it was the first time our brother had searched/led/found independently a place! Yipee! It is definitely hard to search for some place without asking others or getting lost haha IMG_0480 IMG_0481 IMG_0486 After walking so much we took a trip to Haeundae Beach (해운대 해수욕장) to soak in the night life! :)

IMG_0444 My sister wrote something, but I can’t remember what it was..</3IMG_0446Those little people up there are my sister and I :) DSCN1285  The lights on the bridge light up at night. It was beautiful! IMG_2717

After a nice stroll, we saw a bunch of people screaming, jumping up and down, and cameras flashing…what could it be…

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Just a Par-TAY so we dance, shouted, and left haha

to go to THIS PLACE :) IMG_0462 IMG_0463 IMG_0464 Yummy in my tummy. It was abolone, sausage, uncured bacon, and cheese with rice cakes all on the bbq! Super jjang (cool)! After dinner, we picked up our things from the lockers and took the KTX home to grandmas! KTX (Korean Train Express) is the fastest way to travel. Although, it is more expensive than the bus. However, the medicine my sister took earlier (mentioned above) kicked in and were destroying her kidneys. So we wanted to get her home fast!

So long Busan!

Next stop @ Seoul Station…and buses stopped running :X IMG_0488 So, we took a taxi.

To DO: Go to Busan and try some rice cakes!  ;)

Jennifer