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


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!  ;)


Travel Gear

I will modify this everytime I remember something that I thought was or would have been useful

What to bring:

Season appropriate clothing.

For summer: Tanks tops, t-shirts, shorts, 1 pair of tennis shoes, flip-flops, dress up shoes, nice outfit for end of the year banquet, school clothes, going-out clothes such as skirts, dresses, nice belts, earring, hair accessories, camera, laptop

money, because you will have taxis, travel expenses, room and board fee, trip fee, lots of lunches that you will pay for, and shopping of course!

If you don’t bring it, you will buy it:


Pillow, pillow case, blanket, bed sheet

Cooking supplies such as fork, knife, spoon, pot

They offered a phone plan, but it was a mess for a lot of my friends

ethernet cable


Jihachul (subway) : you enter where you start, end and it will tell you how long it takes, when to get on/off/transfer

Learn Korean: it will help you get the basics like hello/goodbye/thank you

Korea is famous for having:

Great cosmetics and lucky for you (if you go during the summer) most cosmetic stores are 50% at the end of July! (face masks/creams/sun screen/ brightening powders: Koreans like paleness because it represents purity aka you work in a 4×4 cubicle and not on a farm haha just kidding…kind of)

Cute socks, pens, pencils, notebooks

Some places such as the Express Bus Terminal have very cheap clothing, jewelry, hair pins

I like how my sister described subway clothing…you wear it and by the time it falls apart the trend is over so no worries! haha

the you go to Namdaemun for madness shopping

TIP: if you want large quantities then head inside the building because they sell bulk and cheap versus outside which is small or large and expensive!


seniority rules @ the bus, subway you must stand up when an elder is nearby to give them your seat

a young person never rides the elevator unless escorted with an elder

in general, men are nicer here so ladies make some nice friends! haha

there is no tipping in restaurants. what you see is what you pay!

I’ll continuously update when I think of them! :)

Gyeongju, Korea

Hello Hello!

One thing my grandfather in the USA repeatedly stated as I packed my bags was, “remember if anyone asks who you are or is mean to you, tell them you are Kyongju Kim-shi.” You probably have just as good of an idea of what that means as I do. I simply nodded my head and smiled. haha It wasn’t until we were in Kyongju that I truly understood what his words meant. The two largest Kim clans, the Kim family of Kimhae and the Kim family of Kyongju, are descended from semi-mythological characters who lived two thousand years ago. According to legend, the Kimhae Kim family founder, Kim Suro, came in answer to a prayer offered by the nine elders of the ancient Karak Kingdom. In 42 ad, these elders met together to pray for a king. In answer to their prayer, they were sent a golden box containing six golden eggs. From the first egg emerged King Su-ro, Karak’s first king. The other five eggs became the five kings of Karak’s neighboring kingdom, Kaya. The founder of the Kim family of Kyongju, Kim Al-ji, had similar origins. In 65 ad the king of Shilla, T’alhae, heard a strange sound from a forest near the Shilla capital, Kyongju. On investigation he found a crowing white rooster standing next to a golden egg. From this egg emerged Al-ji, founder of the Kyongju Kim family and subsequent king of the Shilla Kingdom. Because Al-ji emerged from a golden egg, King T’alhae bestowed upon the child the surname Kim, which means ‘gold’. It is estimated that about half of the one hundred or so Kim clans of modern Korea are descended from the Kyongju Kim clan. Kyongju is the “old” Seoul, Korea were the city was alive fully of people, numerous places to go, and businesses bustling with people. However as with a lot of locations, people began to move away and industry go along with them. Kyongju is now famous for their traditional lifestyle. Of course there is nothing wrong with it, but I wouldn’t consider it a tourist destination. Fortunately, my sister had an awesome friend who drove us around to site see.

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After a few traditional places, we stopped for the famous tteokgalbi.  It is made by shaping a mixture of beef and pork into a rectangular appearance then grilled on charcoal. It was good, but not one of my favorites. The meat tasted like a hamburger patty and you ate rice and other banchan (side dishes) with it. Outside the restaurant, the owners has a small coop with goats!DSCN1201   Then we headed into town to walk around. We stopped by Baskin Robbins, which is crazy popular in Korea! Also, 7-11 is a convenience store and probably on every other corner! It amazed me that these corporations are much bigger in Korean than in America. The other day I found out 7-11 is the largest retailer corporation in the world (saw on Sharks TV show) hah I probably shouldn’t tell people how nerdy I am but….too late! hehe After walking and seeing some small shops we headed back to the hotel. IMG_0142 IMG_0141 You can ask for rooms with either a bed or no bed. My sister and I shared the small room and my brother had the living room. Did I mention this hotel had an arcade room as well? IMG_2652 IMG_2653

Today was a really relaxing day,

Good night!

Jennifer Jie Young

A More Natural Way to get High


We waved good-bye to our uncle and his graduate student. I am so grateful to have such kind family to help us discover Korea. It really does mean so much that my other side have gone out of their way to help us.

IMG_0334So, it was W3,000 ($3) to enter the park/mountain. We stopped by the park office to pick up a map. On there it says it normally takes people about 2 1/2 hours to climb up and another 2 1/2 hours to climb down. It was around 4pm so headed towards the 5K trail.

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Heading up towards the top with the 3 muskies!

Even though I’m an athlete, this was by far one of the most challenging hikes I have even been on! There are large rock trails and a good balance is required because the rocks are a little slick. So, we maintained a steady pace and after on 35 minutes we had only 2K left! We were cruising and then we hit a brick wall. The rock pathway became an immediate 75 degree angle. HOLY COW!

The next 1K was insanely hard. With the skies darkening and people who were coming back warning us to turn around we were even more determined to hurry along! Finally, we saw stairs…I didn’t know whether to celebrate or cry…haha it was even harder. IMG_0359 IMG_0358DSCN1148The 0.8K left was a grind for each of us! When, we began inching closer we stopped to look around and the view when priceless. The skies were a pale blue with one spot of beaming sunlight shining as if it was only for you. IMG_0353All I could do was smile and relax my shoulders. This moment was well worth it and it was even the top yet! After a few minutes of soaking up the moment, vultures came toward us flying in a circle! YIKES! So, I naturally screamed and ran up the rest of the 1 million stairs! haha

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We finally made it to the top and some nice ladies were there as well. We took their pictures and they took our picture. They shared some watermelon and korean melon with us. Some of the smallest squirrels and birds I have ever seen were up at the top with us as well! The top is basically one huge rock with a safety kit next to a small torn apart sheet. IMG_0363

This has been one the proudest moments in my life because I was able to share it with my wonderful siblings. I couldn’t have done it without them. <3 A beautiful memory I will carry with me forever.

I was really surprised at how difficult the climb down was for us! The way down was most certainly hard than the climb up. Our legs were shaking we were so fatigued. IMG_0378 I recommend carrying a small backpack with bottles of water, fruit/food, and a small first aid kit (A reminder for next time.  When we made it home we thought our worries were over. The sun had just disappeared and the temperature was dropping fast. There were no workers, taxi cabs, or people. We waited for 30 minutes for a taxi to finally circle back to the site. It took us to our hotel, Del Pino! DSCN1177 DSCN1174 DSCN1175 Our uncle had hooked us up! In the basement was a small grocery store for guests interested in saving a little money and time. IMG_0391  Korean bread is lighter and fluffier than American bread because they use less fats (oils/butter/cream)

IMG_0390 IMG_0389  Also, milk tastes different here too! Even 2% or 0.8% fat tastes rich. The small bottles with foil caps are one of the most popular drinks you may find. Its a sweet yogurt drink. I remember when I was younger, I use to drink one yogurt and eat one boiled egg for breakfast. :) I would definitely bring this concept back to US hotels! This was an awesome place. Inside was an indoor pool, children area, outdoor pool with water slides, small restaurants, and a huge dining area.

IMG_0124-1 The bedroom was definitely not like hotels in America.DSCN1234 Koreans like to scattered a thick padding and then sleep on the floor with a blanket and pillow. We went downstairs bought some noodles, mushrooms, eggs, and sausages. Ramen noodles can always hit the spot! haha

I encourage you to the path less traveled IMG_0357 and discover something new :)

Peace and Smiles,


Oh before I forget! I want to show you what my morning jog looked like…

IMG_0401 IMG_0403I ran along this shallow stream and no need for music because the trickling water was better than Red Jumpsuit or dare I say Linkin Park…okay lets not get carried away but it was so beautiful. I remember thinking if there was just some way for me to capture this beautiful moment into a small bottle and open it when I feel bogged down. I suppose I’ll have to relive this moment one day by visiting again! ;P  IMG_0408 IMG_0397 IMG_0398 Every where you look there are mountains. My Illinois corn fields have been replaced and I am not complaining..<3

To the Mountains…^.^

Seoraksan is the highest mountain in the Taebaek mountain range in the Gangwon Province in eastern South Korea. It is located in a national park near the city of Sokcho. My brother, sister, and I asked our Imoboo if he could help us plan an adventure to travel the Southeastern side of Korea. Luckily, he happily agreed and then recruited one of his students to help! We left early Saturday morning and boy I was a bad packer. I realized that I should have brought more cute clothes from back home! dang it…so I just brought some things that I had that were semi-cute and good for being active aka shorts and a t-shirt haha We left for the Gangwon Province early Monday morning and after about an hour and half of driving we made a pit stop!

Without a doubt one of my favorite things in Korea is the highway rest stop (휴게소).

There you can find HO-DOO GWAJA (Walnut Cookies): Walnut shaped pastry with sweet red bean paste inside and a whole walnut baked on top. Delicious, especially when fresh :)

Next, we arrived at Yeongdeok! We began by enjoying some of the freshest seafood imaginable

IMG_0322My uncle insisted that we try live shrimp! As it stretched its legs, we had to behead it with our spoons…:X However, I must say that it was quite sweet. My sister was lucky (according to my uncle) because her piece of shrimp has eggs aka Shrimp caviar! You mix it with rice and it goes crunch in your mouth just like the small orange eggs you can find at any sushi restaurant! :PIMG_0318 IMG_0315 Couldn’t believe this was our meal…

IMG_0090 Here is Jeffy from earlier…He was delicious and then my sister mixed her rice inside his shell with all his insides and crab broth. WOWZER! If you have a chance definitely try it. The taste was like a creamy rice/risotto combination. Absolutely amazing! After an eye-opening eating experience, we went to the beach!

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The only other time I’ve ever been to a beach was when I was 3 years old and we lived in New York. This by far was one of the most incredible experiences and standing along the outskirts (photo on the bottom right) was like an air conditioner! The refreshing breeze felt great in the 85  degree Fahrenheit weather. Oh yes, and above in the photos are my Uncle, his graduate assistant, my brother, sister, and I.

Next, he dropped the 3 muskies off at the bottom of Seoraksan, the mountain!

Check out the next post to read about our experience

Much love,


Night Before

Hello Beautiful!

Today is the dress rehearsal for the big day. My father, brother and I left a day before our flight to stay the night. We double checked our luggage for the tenth time to make sure we packed everything we needed. As usual I forgot something…my invisilign teeth. Then about two minutes later I could not find my kindle. After about 30 minutes of panicking, I found the kindle buried in one of the side pockets! Ah ha at least I was 1 for 2! Then we registered for our plane seats online, which I definitely recommend for those traveling abroad (another thing you won’t have to worry about!) Other than that make sure you pack the essentials for rain or shine. Of course, pack according to the season as well. Safe travels!