Saturday, August 14, 2010

playing in the ocean!
sokcho city
pohang city
king crab

Pohang City, the birthplace of Kang Sun Mee

So you're probably, whose this Kang Sun Mee person right? Sounds like a hot shot. Well, sorry to disappoint, but that was the name I was given at birth. It later changed to Cara when I moved to America 5 months later.

So today two Korean friends and I rented a car, a tiny one, and drove the 4 hours south to Pohang City. It was beautiful because it is a coast city. There was a huge seafood market (yuck) but it was quite the experience. Everything was fresh (and trying to escape from their tanks), and I even got squirted by a huge shrimp. I don't think that anybody can say they have had crab until they've had Korean King Crab. There are huge. I got the eebie jeebies because they look like glorified spiders, but I was sure to stay far far away from those tanks.

After shopping for a bit we bought some deep fried shrimp and dipped it in soy sauce. To my surprise, it wasn't horrible. I'm not sure the changes of it happening again, but it was one of those "When in Rome" moments that we all have. After hanging out in the market we drove about a half hour along the coast to Sokcho City. This is another coast city that had markets, but also a beautiful beach as well. If you've never been swimming in Korea, make sure to wear your full outfit. Shorts, t shirts, the whole works. Koreans are very modest when it comes to skin. It was really fun, and the water wasn't too cold either. It did start raining after about an hour, but it was good timing because we were due at another location anyways. We ate some ramen and were on our way to a beautiful look out spot with a coast of rocks. Of course I have Shimon blood, so I ventured out onto the rocks to get as close to the water as possible (a success of course). My friends thought I was crazy, but then joined me in the fun. They think that Americans are brave they said, but I just don't think they're used to my family :)

After bringing the car back (we left at 5:30 AM and got back at 9:30 pm) we were pretty exhausted. We took a bus back to campus and now that leads me to right now. Lots of people are leaving early in the morning, so it's packing season in the dorm. I think I might start as well, the early bird catches the worm right? Or I'm just procrastinating from doing my laundry (sorry mom).

Tomorrrow I'm going to my Korean friend's family gathering in Seoul, it is a memorial for her Grandma that they have every year. I'm really excited to see some tradition!
Write more later,


Friday, August 13, 2010

3 days!

Well, today I took my final for my Business in Asia class. It was an essay on what kind of business we would do in China, how we would do it, and what things we might have some troubles with. In the states there is usually a page limit, or a list of topics that need to be covered. Well, for my Chinese professor the rules were: sit and write for 2 hours. It is much much harder than you would think. I finished my thoughts (and 2 pages front and back) in about one hour, so the last half hour I just babbled about some things we learned in class and hoped for the best. I feel a little bit nervous because our final is worth 80% of our grade (wow) and this class will be counted towards my major GPA (call me a geek, I don't care). We find out in the end of August, so I will just have to wait and see.

So on Wednesday we did two things: listened to Samulnori (Korean traditional percussion quarter) and went to the Nanta performance. Samulnori was ok, we listened to the University Club play, and then were able to play the drums ourselves. It was neat to see the traditions that Korea brings to everything they do. We danced in a circle (much like a Native American pow wow), sang, and beat our drums. It was very early in the morning though.

In the afternoon we went to see the Nanta performance. It was awesome! The performance is a "non-verbal show of free rhythmical movements that dramatize customary Korean percussions in a strikingly comedic stage show". It has been the longest running show in Korea (10 years), was born here in Korea, and has even played on broadway. It is definitely worth your money to go see it. It felt very nice to let out some laughs, as most of the time I am feeling stress from class, transportation, and of course the drama! It is very similar to Stomp the Yard if you have seen that except it takes place in a Kitchen scene so cheese graters, knives, pots, pans, water bottles, and even brooms are used to set the tone and beat of the stage. The show was 1.5 hours long, but I wish it was double. I want to take my friends to see it when it comes back to the US.

Since today was the last day we had a closing ceremony and even received certificates of completion in pretty, velvet cases. Afterwards the school held a reception where we ate pork and kimchi, and get this one...a keg of beer. I couldn't believe the school was giving its students beer, that's Korea for you! Many people were crying, and lots of pictures were taken...people were sad, but I can't wait to get home.

Right now it is 12:30 am and the majority of the students in my program are out celebrating and saying goodbye to one another (most leave on Sunday). But, in a few minutes I will be tucking myself into bed because I am leaving tomorrow morning at 4:40 am!!!! Yep that is right, AM. Why you may ask...because 2 Korean friends and I have rented a car and are going to drive to the coast tomorrow! I am very excited to see other parts of Korea and not be on any type of schedule. We can go where we want, and see whatever we please. My camera is going to have a heartache tomorrow guaranteed. I had to warn my Korean friends that I am not the happiest camper in the morning, and that I might (more like will) be very crabby. Good friends are honest, right?

Well I'm going to go enjoy my now 4 hours of sleep, and I'll let you know how it goes. We might visit the city I was born in, Pohang City, so memories will definitely be made. Peace out.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Busy, great week!

Today is Sunday, and the last time I wrote was Tuesday. Why? Because we have been so busy we don't have time for sleep. Wednesday we went to Mungyeongsaejae for "paper art making", natural tie dying, and to go to a provincial park. All 3 were amazing.
The paper making was creating a design on a fan (using really thin paper, you have to rip it up into shapes you want to use) then using glue to keep it stuck to the fan. It was pretty neat seeing your own design come to life, and I always love being able to take things home with me! I love doing arts and crafts so this was an awesome and exciting activity for me.

The second thing was tie dying t shirts with natural dye. We used dye that came from trees, and it was in all different colors: red, purple, yellow, and gray. The dye was much weaker than normal, but that's because the consistency was all natural with nothing added to it. My shirt was ok, not as good as when I'm a camp counselor, but a fun experience atleast.

The provincial park was so beautiful! In the middle was a traditional Korean village (old style buildings with painted designs everywhere) and around was mountains and more mountains! The day was so steamy hot, but I am so glad that we walked the 20 min to get there (some students sat in AC instead and didn't go to the park). The park is also used for many Korean dramas that take place in history. So that was Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday class, but that's not very exciting. Friday night...we went to a place called the Big Chill. They had wii, darts, pool, and a live DJ! It was really fun dancing and just reminding ourselves that it is the weekend. There were people there from Texas, New Jersey, and Ohio so it was good seeing friendly American faces :) Don't worry it wasn't just Americans, there were guys from Nepal, Ethiopia, South Africa, Germany, Poland, and much more. It was so exciting, that we're going to go back this Friday as well!

Saturday...white water rafting in Dong-gan (Kwan-wan-do Province). The best experience in Korea thus far. It was a perfect sunny day, but not too hot. We were split into groups of 10 and my group was perfect. We had some of the shy guys, so it was fun getting to know them and joking around. Our rafting trip was 4 hours in the water! Definitely got our moneys worth. Just picture yourself rafting through mountains...the water so clear...and cranes in the trees looking at you! It was just lovely, and we even played water games on the water rafts with our Korean rafting instructor. Some of you might think...boring. Definitely not, there were about 4 rapid parts of the river were there were huge rocks we would slam into (you had to keep your foot tucked into a strap) and a girl in our boat even fell out once! A little dangerous, but that's how life keeps it exciting :)

Saturday night we went to a "jimjilbong" which is like a spa/arcade/jacuzzi/sauna room/ice room and more all in one. You can get a massage there, a manicure, sit in a sauna, take a jacuzzi (don't forget, Koreans take them naked and together!) so you get to know your friends on a whole different level. We went with 2 other Americans from Milwaukee and they were most definitely in culture shock. They sat in a jacuzzi with a towel over the water! I think we should bring these jimjilbongs to America, what a great thing. I slept on a tile floor with no pillow...that was the only down side. After we woke up, hung out some more and got ready I took a train and bus by myself all the way back to our University (over an hour of travel). I always get a little nervous that I'm going to take the wrong bus or miss my stop and not even realize it...and end up in Japan.

So I met my other Korean friend Lucy and we went to Church together. Yeah, believe it or not I went to a Christian church in Korea. It was big, but surprisingly no pictures or stained glass on the walls (that's how ours are, so I kind of expected it there too). I met more Koreans there, and they all asked me to stay longer than 9 days (that's when I leave for home!). I told them to talk to Delta, and we'd see :)

Afterwards Lucy and I ate pork cutlet (pork submerged in a sweet teriyaki like sweet sauce). It was good, but I was so full from my noodles, pizza, and banana smoothie that I couldn't eat much.

Ok that's enough for now...I promise to not wait so long to write another one again.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"The Chaser"

Today is Tuesday which means Korean Movie Night. Tonight's movie was called "The Chaser" which is about a true story that happened in Korea...a serial killer murders 12 innocent people. It was very graphic, Saw style for those who have seen those.

Let's just say I will definitely have nightmares tonight, and as I was walking back to my dorm room I held my pepper spray in hand, locked and loaded like Mom told me too.
I'm not quite sure why I kept watching it, I mean it was a good movie, just not my type. For those of you thriller lovers, go see it (if you don't mind subtitles). Or if you're like me and you love comedy and romance, watch "The Classic". What a cute movie.
Tomorrow we're on a bus for 6 hours (3 hrs each way) as we head to the south of South Korea to tie dye and make paper.

Catch ya then!