Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I do not consider myself a good writer, maybe creative from time to time, but not good.  With my blog posts I just want to share with you a little bit of my experiences here in Anyang each week.  And with each week I am finding more value in my life by sharing these moments with the great people living in the dorm house with me. These people are absolutely wonderful!  I am learning more and more from them as each week passes, and sharing our cultures with each other has made this experience fun and interesting!


This past Saturday we celebrated the Kazakhstan New Years!  It was an important and special day for Albina and Diana (the two girls in the center picture on the left).  They spent all morning preparing a big dinner feast for the whole house!  They cooked traditional Kazakhstan food (and I helped! a little...).  It was a really nice way to get all of the exchange students together, and it was a very lovely thing that Albina and Diana did! Thank you! :)

Yesterday, my roommates, Agathe and Mihyeon, and I went to Hangdae to "window shop".  Hongdae is similar to Ilbanga.  It is an area of Seoul where you can find a lot of shops, restaurants, etc. We shopped in Style Nanda, which is a department store that is becoming more and more famous in Korea.  It sells clothing items that are more unique than the average clothing store.  I found a lot of interesting clothes and a couple of items that I liked but of course they didn't have the right size for me!  Which is okay since I was "window shopping" anyway. (I ended up purchasing a few clothes at H&M later on that evening.)

Agathe and I later enjoyed this interesting ice cream treat!  It is just called a "stick ice cream". I'm not sure what the "stick" is made of but it was hard and airy almost like rice cake but it doesn't really have a taste.  

Yesterday in Cross Cultural Communications Class, Professor Ahn had a surprise for us!  We played a traditional Korean game called Yut Nori, or Yut for short.  The game is very simple and is based more on strategy. The supplies are four sitcks, eight tokens or coins (four distinguishable tokens or coins for each team), a game sheet, and a blanket to toss the sticks on.  The object of the game is for your team to get all of your tokens back to the home position first. 

   Each player takes their turn in tossing the four sticks.  The sticks are special for this game because they are round on one side and flat on the other side.  If only one stick lands with the flat side up then they player can move only one space and so on.  If all four sticks land with the flat side up then it is called a "yut" and the player takes another turn.  If all four sticks land with the flat side down it is called a "mo" and, again, the player takes another turn. If a player's token lands on a spot that the other team already has a token on, then that team's token gets knocked off the board and the player takes another turn.  After the first game it gets easier to play and you understand the strategy better. Even Professor Ahn (pictured in the far left photo) joined in the fun with us.  Playing Yut was the only thing that we did in class.  Best class EVER!!

I <3 Korea!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I survived my first week of classes! I have adjusted well into the dorm house as well as with the other international students. I have made many new friends and have enjoyed my time here in Anyang so far! I am beginning to feel much more comfortable with the food, the people and navigating my way around campus and outside of campus as well.

During my four month course at Anyang University, I am completling four classes: Leadership Discovery, Cross Cultural Communication, Beginner Korean Language and International Politics and Business.  I am also taking two online classes through my school, Northern State University (which is located in Aberdeen, South Dakota): Accounting 211 and International Management.  So far my professor here have been very nice and very cool!

I know, I know. They sound like extremely hard classes! Most of my classes are quite fun actually and I'm looking forward to the rest of the semester. The most challenging class is Beginner Korean Language! I am just beginning to learn the basic syllables (pronunciation) to the Korean characters. So far I have had a couple of Koreans tell me that my pronunciation is good! Off to a good start I think! Should be speaking basic Korean in no time! Maybe....

I do know some basic phrases. Forgive my spelling as it may not be right. "Anyo" is the informal way of saying "hello" and "goodbye", "kan sa hab ni da" is to say "thank you", and "ne" which is to say "yes".  My korean professor, although he does not speak much English, is a very funny man! Apparently, we are just suppose to call him the Flower man!

I have tried many of the Korean delicacies! It easy to find any kind of authentic Korean food and it is just a short walk from campus.  Many restaurants are located in what we would call similar to a downtown area.  This area is like a market with many many restaruants, shopping stores, salons and bars.  They call this area of the city "ilbanga".   

The photo to the far left depicts a Korean commodity called "kimchi".  It is best described as a spicy cooked cabbage.  The Koreans eat it with almost every meal and mix it with almost everything.  And the second photo in depicts one of my favorite Korean foods that I've tried so far.  It is called "pibimbap" and it is a mixture of rice, meat such as beef or tuna, several common veggies found in Korea, and kimchi as well.  They serve a seaweed soup with everything as well.  They also typically serve pickled raddish.  
The first two photos on the right depicts authentic Korean BBQ.  It is not like our BBQ at all.  They cook the pork and garlic on a grill right on your table.  Once the pork is ready then you hold a piece of lettuce in your hand (not sure what kind of lettuce it is, but it's not like ours) and place all of the ingredients on top of it; a piece of pork, garlic, kimchi, onions, "special Korean sauce", pickled raddish, and some other type of onion (don't remember the name). Then you fold the lettuce together and put the whole thing in your mouth!  It's a lot in your mouth at once, but otherwise it is absolutely delicious! I've never tasted so many different flavors at once!  And the bottom photo, of course, is authentic Korean pizza.  I feel like we did not try pizzas that were too different from pizza back home.  They like to put all kinds of crazy toppings on their pizza.  I tried three different pizzas.  One had potato wedges on it.  The one depicted in the photo had chicken tenders on it with some green peppers and some sweet chili sauce on it. The other pizza had shaved beef on it.  All of the pizzas had cheese, onions and a little bit of corn on them as well.

This week was eventful and exciting.  I very much enjoyed all of the great food and getting to know my housemates.  Everyone I have met so far is very friendly and welcoming.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this semester with these beautiful people! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

On Saturday, March 8, 2014 I arrived in Seoul, South Korea! I'm beginning a new adventure by studying this semester at Anyang University in Anyang, South Korea.  It is a city of about 600,000 people.

My Korean buddy, Sol, picked me up from the Incheon International Airport around 4 pm and we took a bus to Anyang.  I was surprised that the bus ride was only about a half hour.  Before long we arrived at the dorm house where all of the international exchange students live. I found my bunk and space to live and began to unpack right away! Although, it was a long flight (15 hour flight from Dallas to Seoul) and I was tired, but I wanted to get settled in as soon as possible!

As soon as I was unpacked for the most part I got cleaned up and ready to go out with Sol to the market and for dinner.

I was amazed to see the city! It is very hilly and there are lots of people, shops, markets, salons, restaurants, and vehicles everywhere! Vehicles drive through small streets and just drive right around people and other cars with other cars trying to pass by! It's scary sometimes! And there are lots of men riding bicycles or mopeds that just drive in between vehicles on the street and ring bells when on the sidewalks to alarm people they are coming. I guess most of those people are delivery men. And delivery is free of charge here! You can get your food delivered anywhere and you will not be charged extra for delivery!

That night we had kimchi kimbap! It was the first time I finally had real sushi and not the imitation stuff! I loved the one with tuna. We also had it with cheese, which was also good.  I didn't realize the Koreans ate so much spicy food! It's okay because I like spicy and it helped clean out my sinuses since I was just getting over a cold or allergies or something.

The city at night was scary at first, but I felt safe with Sol.  It was not as scary as the city streets like Paris or London.  There are so many people everywhere all of the time.

It is cold here at night and slighty warm during the day. The weather is similar to back at home, as it is turning spring time here as well.  I can't wait for the warmer weather to come. I'm tired of the cold!

On my return to the dorm house I met more of my house mates.  They are all warm and welcoming people! They are great people from all over.  There are two people from France, two or three from Kazakhstan, three from Taiwan, two from Germany, four Koreans from other parts of Korea, two or three from China but attend school in Missouri, and one American from Kentucky! She is great and I love her accent. It was relieving knowing that there was another American in the house!

Yesterday Sol took me downtown to the subway station so I could take another passport photo for school. I saw many many shops and people.  They have like an underground shopping mall when you go down to the subway! And it's huge! I've never seen so many little shops in my life!

After getting my photo we headed back up to downtown and browsed some more shops! I told Sol that I've been wanting to re-dye my highlights so she took me to shops that would have some hair dye, but we didn't find the color that I'm looking for.

Then she asked me if I wanted something sweet and I said I have been craving ice cream! She laughed and asked if I like Baskin-Robbins. I told her I do and I haven't had it in a long time because we don't have that near my area. So we headed down the streets to find Baskin-Robbins.  Of course, we saw a little donut shop along the way and bought some donuts for later.

Today is Tuesday, March 11 and I had my first class this morning since arriving.  It was a great class.  It's call Cross Cultural Communication, and we discussed some of the differences or similarities that we have noticed so far between our culture and Korean culture.  Our professor, although was born in Korea, is American and is very cool and funny.  He made the class very interesting! I'm looking forward to the rest of my classes this week and for the rest of this semester here at Anyang University.

After class many of us returned to the house for lunch.  As similar to us poor college students in America, we eat a lot of ramen too! Unlike America, though, Korea has many more flavors to choose from.  They have spicy ramen, spaghetti ramen, seafood ramen, cheese ramen and many more that I'm not sure what the flavors are since I cannot read the labels!

I finally attempted to eat with chopsticks today! I find it very difficult, but I surprised myself and did quite well for the first time.  I'm sure it will be an acquired skill in no time!