Confessions of a Nobody – Reminder for the self


It was my birthday recently. I just turned 25. It was hard passing another birthday, at least for me. Getting older is inevitable, but not something I look forward to.

I forget sometimes the things I’ve done in my life. Every year passes by and I worry about what I will be doing. I can’t appreciate what I’ve already done. And the more I worry about it, the more that worry consumes me. I get worse and worse these days, I have no energy to do anything. I don’t want to do anything. I worry about dumb things, like why people don’t like me. Why I can’t set my mind to things I want to accomplish. I feel trapped, stuck with the person that I am. Someone I mainly hate and rarely like. Nonetheless, a person I know isn’t all that bad. Life gets hard sometimes: you forget about the good things because you worry so much about other things. You  meet people who seem so much happier than you. And you think to yourself “why am I not that happy? I work so hard to be beautiful, on the inside and out. So why doesn’t anyone like me? Why don’t people want to be my friend?” Why am I always stuck in this same place?”

I’m sad because people don’t like me and I can’t accept the decisions I’ve made in my life. I have many regrets. I try so hard to make others happy, to befriend people. But nobody wants me. All I can do now is remind myself of my accomplishments. Remind myself that although no one is recognizing me, that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked hard to be where I am today. When you’re alone, it’s hard to see that for yourself. So, I will share what I am proud of so that I never forget.

– I went to university and completed my degree in Commerce, specialization in International Business. I studied hard to graduate, to make myself and my parents proud.
– I got kicked out of my program for low grades. I worked hard to bring them up, and I did. I got accepted to study abroad in Seoul, a place I always wanted to visit. I was so happy when I got accepted, I couldn’t believe it.
– I studied abroad in Korea for 4 months. I took business courses; I aced all of them. I had the best paper of the semester of the entire class for Strategic Management. I was so good in Business Negotiations I surprised myself. And I did very well in Korean level I.
– I loved Korea so much that I decided to stay an extra four months. I taught English to a group of individuals my age plus one older man.
– My students weren’t happy with my teaching at first, they said I wasn’t professional enough. I worked hard every night by making them tests I wrote by hand late into the night. Near the end, they were so impressed; they said I was so professional and were happy with me. In the course of four weeks I changed my students thought about me from negative to positive. One girl in the group, Eun Jeong, hardly ever spoke in the class. By the end of my class, she spoke so often everyone was impressed. They were happy to have me as their teacher.
– I was unemployed for a while after I returned from Korea. I had lost my job where I because of my exchange abroad. It was depressing being home everyday; I was scared I would never find work. I accepted a shitty job through an agency, working with people I despised for minimum wage. I endured it for 6 months until I finally quit on the spot. Thanks to a post I made on online government website before the end of my shitty contract, I was contacted and offered permanent work. I now have a permanent job making decent money.
– I wasn’t happy with my body. So I took kickboxing to improve myself. My good friend Morganne always told me to join the kickboxing school she attends, but only recently did I finally do it. I am happy with the results and look forward to getting better.
– I was so shy to speak out in front of others. So I forced myself to take improv classes last year. They were the funnest classes I’ve ever taken. I decided then to take acting classes because I love to act even though I am not the best at it. To play someone else is a fun thing. I now take them regularly and I love it. Hopefully it will lead me to better things.
– I just came back from a three week trip to Japan. I can’t believe I was there, it was such an amazing experience. And to believe I did everything that I did while I was there, the travelling and meeting people; being in a country completely different than your own where no one speaks English, all of it was surreal.

Yes, I have accomplished a lot in my life. And I should look forward to seeing what else I can do.

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Check-ins: South Korea (Episode 5)


Episode 5: The Good, the Bad and whatever this is

Date: December 31, 2012

So my passion for blog writing has been lackluster, and I only really realized this after wordpress sent me a beautiful email detailing my stats and my non-impressive contribution of blogs. Can you believe they told me this:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

I think the writers at wordpress were the ones breaking my leg instead of wishing me it. Ouch!

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote anything. And I actually have a great explanation for that: I am a lazy adult. I’ve been ignoring the signs for too long… I’m a lazy person. How kind you all are for thinking otherwise but do you know what I’ve been doing every day since school ended? Sleeping, skating, dancing… so I’ve been busy and lazy. School’s ended with a bang! As in I think I kicked ass in my finals. I just pray that I’m actually right this time he he.

Today is new year’s eve!! So I’d like to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013!!! I wish everyone a wonderful new year wherever  you are in the world and hope that this year brings you great success in all your future endeavors. Celebrate with your loved ones and look forward to a brighter new year!

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Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the skating rink at Seoul’s City Hall!

We also had a wonderful white Christmas which was great because it made me feel not too far away from home! I really miss Canada and all the terrible weather that comes with it. Seoul was covered in a blanket of white snow and I can’t help but feel giggly when the snow fell from the sky. Laughing to myself and what not, don’t you feel the same?

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Also, a word of advice, don’t go shopping on Christmas. It’s like every Korean decides to go out that day and things aren’t cheaper despite what you might think. There ain’t no boxing day here aigh’t.

There are nice little parades though with girls dressed up in cute little santa costumes if you think that's worth fighting through a sea of Koreans.

But there are nice little parades though with girls dressed up in cute little Santa costumes, if you think that’s worth fighting through a sea of Koreans.

So what to talk about… yes. Well my days left in South Korea are numbered, literally. I leave on January 11th off to India! There, I’ll meet my uncle where we can explore one of the most spiritual countries in the world together. Also one of the scariest but hey, I’m game. And this will be special because I will be with someone I cherish deeply. I love my uncles and aunts and I am very lucky I have a great relationship with them. At least the ones on my mom’s side. And I will also continue this blog, but from India! Yay a blog from India! So original, right? Damn right it is.

Now, I’ve done so many amazing things here in South Korea and I think if everyone gets a chance, they should take the time to visit this country. The country offers so much to do, whether you just love Korea cause of kpop or because you’re simply and adventurist and appreciate travel for what it is: an opportunity to educate yourself about the world and to open your eyes to a reality different than your own. Now me, I’m a bit of the two I just mentioned. I’m not going to lie, the reason I chose to come here was because I fell in love with Korea through kpop and dramas. But after coming here, my love grew beyond these boundaries.

I want to share with you some deeper reasons as to why Korea is a wonderful place to visit. If you’re even reading this blog it’s because you have some interest and have probably heard the generic reasons  of “OMG Korea is so fun, so much kpop and boys are so cute and so technologically advanced and people are so nice and I want to marry a Korean and have a drama scene.” But let me give you a sincere explanation for my love for this country. In my perspective, Korea is one of those gems in Asia that is too often ignored. Believe it or not, Korea is more than Starcraft and Samsung. Far much more to my surprise. And why is that? Well… Korea is different from any country I’ve ever been to. And maybe I’ll be eating those words after I return from India, but each country is unique in itself and now I’m talking about Korea ok. People here work hard and have such a twisted concept of life. You work hard all day for a decent salary (about 5-10 thousand won an hour, depending on the job), then you go blow your salary on a 100$ Bean Pole bag. You cover yourself head to toe in brand names and you go on crazy diets when you’re already so skinny. Oh and don’t let me rant on plastic surgery cause that is A-OK. I think Koreans prefer tiny dogs over children and there’s this sick, sick obsession with dying your hair. Women here are so beautiful and men are actually really tall. Koreans drive really well despite the Asian stereotype’s we might all refute but deep down inside do believe. Korea is so mesmerizing to me because it’s so unique. Nowhere in the world will you find this. And although it seems like all I did was list bad things, it is what makes Korea. People here are nice and food is cheap and boys do look better in Gangnam. South Korea is the most unique country I’ve been to. There is such a beautiful coexistence of traditional Korea and contemporary Korea in one. And the youth don’t revolt; they accept it with open arms. Even the most plastic of Barbie dolls and the most handsome of Korean men will sit on the floor of a restaurant and enjoy black bean noodles as an activity with their friends.

People here are different. The air is different, the feel is different and the sense of knowing your place, regardless of your age, exists and applies to everyone. This is why we don’t have subways in Ottawa, because even if we did, it’d be like herding animals into a far too sophisticated carriage for them. My hat goes off to the youth and adults of Korea. I don’t know how you were raised, but it never ceases to amaze me.

So how does this make Korea interesting? I’m providing you with a non-generic opinion. Everyone is different in the world. But what intrigues me the most about Koreans is that they are just as fortunate and beautiful and full of life as we Americans are. I’m not comparing countries and their economic states and power; I’m comparing life which can be the same even in countries that stand at two completely different areas on whichever scale you choose. They live like us but they’re not like us at all. They’re… Korean. They’re shy, nice, friendly, skinny and speak terrible English. But they are so unique and amazing. Most people, given the opportunity, try to be different than what they are. The Koreans, no matter the age, never forget where they come from. I think that’s also why Americans like Koreans so much, because they feel part of something different. It’s… liberating. I don’t need to be like the people back home. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just, I realized its ok to be different from them. I don’t need to try and hook up in clubs and move out of my house at 18 or be ashamed that I am a total fucking nerd. And it’s ok to want to eat food my mom made at my age and that my idea of a fun night is going to a karaoke bar or playing PS3 all night. Even though I’m a social and friendly woman, I love that double side to me and I think we all have a double side. One we repress more because the other one is what helps us fit in. I’m the youth, and I’m telling you even we forget all this all the time.  I forget to be me and fit in by doing things that aren’t really me. I guess, that’s why I love Korea. People seem, sincere. Heck they might not be, but they seem like it. And that’s all it takes, right?

Well, I guess this blog was more about me and my opinions instead of being  an informative piece on South Korea. But as the amazing show Community has told me, it’s good to shake up the system sometimes. Also, try yuja-cha when you are here, it is my favorite tea ever.

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Now that I am free of school, I will try and take the time to write more, especially before I head off to India 😀

Take care and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

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Check-ins: South Korea (Episode 4)


Episode 4: Halloween and Plastic Surgery

Date: November 22, 2012

I’m a monster for promising weekly blogs! I’ve been very busy with school work and life in general and for not writing my blogs sooner, I’m sorry DX I hope you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me DX But I’m back (yay) and I’ve got awesome things to share with you all!

The weather here has gotten much colder now. Compared to the unbearable, sticky weather I experienced upon arrival, the weather is now much cooler thanks to the wind of many neighboring mountains. Even though it’s still fall, we’ve finally hit some below 0 temperatures which to be honest, I miss. I quite like this weather (as any respectable Canadian would) because it’s way better than the summer here. And you can’t strip when it’s hot, so you become this overheated, sweaty and tired looking creature that sometimes smells some nasty BO. Now all I need to do is throw on a huge jacket instead of making an effort to look good. But most importantly, it reminds me of back home ❤

As sarcastic as I am, I’m truly sorry for not posting anything within the last month. School’s gotten a lot more busy and I’ve joined a kpop dance class which I attend every Sunday. I learned  the dance for Ring Ding Dong by Shinee! I’m happy because I’m not a very good dancer so for me it’s an accomplishment :D. The kpop class I’ve joined is by a group called Mannam Kpop. Anyone who enjoys dancing or wants to learn some kpop dances for fun needs to join this group. They are so friendly and I’ve grown to feel part of a family every time I go to class. It’s a great feeling.  A while back, we volunteered at a school for disabled children and painted murals! We also performed a dance at the Russian Festival and we did a surprise flashmob on the subway! Joining groups like this is a great way to keep yourself occupied while living abroad. And these people are so nice, the thought of leaving them forever makes me terribly sad. I love you Mannam Kpop ❤

Even though it’s almost been a month, I’d like to talk about Halloween in South Korea!
It was alright. Well I won’t tell you lies, it’s definitely not like back home. The youth really want to celebrate Halloween but the older generation seems completely uninterested or unaware it even exists. I dressed up as a Terminator for Halloween. I thought it was pretty badass, but riding the subways of Seoul with fake blood on your face is never a good idea. People will genuinely think you’re hurt, that’s how much Halloween is still somewhat of a mystery to Koreans. I don’t think dressing up is important either because no one will really understand why it’s interesting. Fine, the truth is no one appreciated my costume which is grounds for my assumptions. I’m starting to think the only thing that matters here are sexy legs. Apparently, you’re not worth anyone’s attention if you don’t show off some skin. Then again, Halloween has always been an excuse to dress “down” if you know what I mean 😉 Man I should have dressed up as a slutty pirate or something.

For my terminator costume, I needed face paint which btw is very hard to find in South Korea for some odd reason. There are only specialty stores in South Korea. By that, I mean you can’t just walk into e-mart or Grand mart and find face paint like you can in a Wal-mart back home.  So here are some places I discovered which can you help you get Halloween supplies:
– There is a toy store that sells face-paint at 3000 won a piece in Itaweon. It’s through exit 3, walk straight for about 100m. You can also find costumes and accessories there as well (if you’ve gone past the converse store you’ve gone too far).
– There is a place where you can rent costumes and get face-paint in Hongdae. It’s in Hongdae station, on your way to exit 3. Don’t leave the station; it’s in a secluded area so just look for it.

As much as I enjoy it here, I find the South Korean society very hard to deal with sometimes. And I’m not saying this as foreigner, but even for Koreans I imagine it can be difficult sometimes. I wanted to talk about plastic surgery because it really is a matter that is prominent in South Korea. I really didn’t think it was that bad, but it is. Koreans are really into plastic surgery and I don’t think it’s even because they personally want to. It’s so socially acceptable here; no one will judge you for it. You can’t pull that shit back home; people will think you’re some Barbie bitch. But here, my god if you haven’t at least considered it something’s wrong with you! Even the most good looking of people wouldn’t mind a double eyelid or a thinner face because… why not? People are used to it here and you can see advertisements for plastic surgery everywhere!

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(even in the subway)

I honestly can’t imagine growing up in a society where this kind of pressure exists. Yes, I think it’s a pressure. I don’t think it’s 100% a choice, even though technically it is. You’re favorite kpop stars are all doing it. You’re friends probably have done it or will. Your parents don’t mind, hell they’ll even pay for it. There is such a need to be perfect and skinny here, it’s scary. For the first time in my life, I feel like a cow. And for the first time ever, I am not proud of my curves. When I got here, I felt like the fattest bitch and I wished so badly I could look like those slim Koreans. Because I thought like this, I felt terribly unattractive. You feel like everyone is looking at you with disgust when I’m sure they’re all thinking you look great. It took my a while to get over it and accept the way I look, which I’ve never disliked more while being here. When nothing’s wrong with your body or face, I think this kind of pressure can destroy you.

Plastic Surgery isn’t the only kind of pressure; Koreans feel the constant need to be in a relationship. If you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re a loser. BTW, those stupid pictures you’ve probably seen on the internet of couples wearing the same clothes is so real it’s scarier than a horror movie. Paris might be the capital of love but Seoul is couple central. Couples will deliberately put away an umbrella to share only one when it rains. They will wear the exact same clothing and even go as far as to wear each others’ names on a necklace (which I saw and I’ve never been the same since). I used to think it was cute but I realized Koreans just don’t appreciate single life for what it is. It ain’t great, but you shouldn’t be worried about it is all I’m saying. They’re always searching for a significant other and are unhappy when single. Growing up in a Korean society, I’m sure I’d be a very nice and friendly person, but I’d probably be constantly judging myself. And I probably wouldn’t eat a lot which ain’t right. I love food more than I love people. Food can be my boyfriend any day… Anyways, back to what I was saying. I don’t care what anyone says, it is not cute to dress the same. In no universe is that shit cool, it just yells out that you’re too afraid of being alone. I will love my boyfriend with all my heart but he better use his own damn umbrella when it rains.

Maybe writing long blogs discourages me from even writing them in the first place, so I’ll keep this one short. I’ve done a lot in the past few days that I’d love to share with you all in my next blog which ”ll hopefully write over this weekend.

To conclude, I thought it would be fun to do a short blurb on my observations of Korean people^^. These observations come from sitting on the subway and staring at people every single day. Oh ya, I creep like that.
First observation: 1 out of every 5 Koreans’ smartphones are smashed or damaged. Koreans are obviously partaking in some kind of activity that potentially damages their phones. I have yet to figure this activity out. I will let you know when I do.
Second observation: 1 out of every 3 Koreans is playing AniPang. A fun little app where you gotta pang the animals! In other words, align them so a row of three and they will explode. However, this is old news! Upon new observations, I see now that every Korean is playing a game called Dragon Flight. By every Korean, I mean from the young hipster to the old ajusshi sitting down. Everyone.
Third observation: Koreans will stop dead in their tracks when doing something. That means, when you’re walking alongside 50 other people in a direction, the person in front of you can suddenly stop to answer a phone call, tie their shoelace or even have a smoke. It’s very frustrating because that’s considered very rude back home. The polite thing to do is move to the side, not stop traffic in the middle of the sidewalk. However, that’s just how it is here and no one seems to be bothered by it except, well, me.
Fourth observation:  a red light is an option not an obligation. Far too many times do people blow red lights and it always shocks me because pulling that kind of shit off back home can get you some nasty looks and cursings, or even reported! But here it ain’t no thing. My only suggestion to you is to watch before you cross, a lot of times I tried to cross and almost got run over because I thought pedestrians had right of way at a red light. Asides when you were a child, being in Seoul is the only other time you’ll look both ways before crossing a road.

And this concludes my blog for today! I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and silly observations 🙂

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Check-ins : South Korea (Episode 3)


Episode 3: Yeongojeon & the DMZ

Date: October 6, 2012

OMG! I’m so sorry to the 1 or 2 people who read my blog!!! This is quite a late post; I just realized now that’s it’s been a month since I’ve posted anything. Time flies when you’re having fun so sorry once again!

So it’s been five weeks now I’ve been in South Korea. I really enjoying myself and I’m even considering extending my stay here! Maybe by another semester if my University allows it. I think it’s a combination of living on my way and experiencing a new culture that makes me want to stay here even longer here. I really do love South Korea, people are very friendly, living here as foreigner is not expensive and I experience something new every single day.

If you’ve actually taken interest in my blog thus far, you’ll notice it started from a nervous, uncertain kind of storytelling to a more comfortable “haha I’m in South Korea, don’t you wish you were me!?” type feeling. I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable living abroad because I’ve started to familiarize myself with the way things are done here. I guess you need to go through these frustrations and problems before you can enjoy anything.

I need to start this blog by talking about Yeongojeon. I had a great time attending Yeongojeon and if you get the chance to attend, go! Yeongojeon is the games of Yonsei University vs. Korea University which are Soccer, Basketball, Ice Hockey, Rugby and Baseball. They play various sports and students can attend all the games and cheer on their school for hours straight (I’m serious the students just don’t get tired). For the Basketball and Ice Hockey games, you’ll need to get tickets to attend. The experience was amazing; I have never seen school spirit so alive and vibrant than at Yonsei. Heck, just in Korea in general because Korea University seemed even more ecstatic and cheered on non-stop. Students here are very proud of their school and show it off with pride! Although Korea University won this year 4-3, Yonsei students were so energetic and proud of their school. The after party was great fun as a concert was held at the Uni after where students came to show off some talent and KPOP group f(x) performed!

Yonsei maestros are so much fun to dance with 😀

Victoria, Amber, Krystal and Luna are so damn beautiful in person!

I’m told also that many students, after the games and concerts, will walk the streets of Sinchon and cheer and chant in front of restaurants until restaurant owners come out and give them food. I didn’t get a chance to do this because I didn’t know who I would tag along with so I’m assuming if you’re Korean or have made some Korean friends, you can easily have a chance to participate in this activity.

Now, I’m from Canada and Canadians have deep love for their country’s customs and traditions. I miss my Tim Hortons so freaking much you have no idea! And I miss poutine, and beaver tail and the Rideau Canal and my beautiful French and English! And I’ve only been here four weeks, is something wrong with me? Perhaps, but eating Korean food everyday is not something my body is use to so if you’re not a fan of spicy food and seaweed soup and kimchi then there are many places you can visit to eat Western food. Lotteria offers great burgers and fries at a cheap cost and much healthier than McDonalds. KFC here is terrible because it isn’t oily enough. And although that’s supposed to be a good thing, let’s admit it, we westerners are fat motherfuckers. I grew up eating shit like McDonald’s and KFC and Burger King despite eating my mom’s healthy food every single day. So don’t feel bad! You’re body is not use to different kinds of food so don’t hate yourself for indulging in something non-healthy. I give you three weeks before you give in anyways.

Places I recommend to go eat when you’re missing the food back home is Lotteria, MOS Burger, Popeye’s, and there are plenty of western restaurants in Itaewon that I can’t possibly remember. Itaewon is the foreigner’s district, that’s where you will find all foreigners (mostly American soldiers) and everyone speaks English there. You’ll find Indian, Middle Eastern, American, African, and European restaurants by the lot. Yonsei University also has cafeterias everywhere that provide yummy western food.

BTW there is a Canadian pub in Itaewon! The food is terrible but you do feel at home 🙂 Subway station Yaksu (line 6), exit 7 and walk straight for about 10 minutes.

So, my dad decided to visit me for a week before heading on his yearly trips. Now I love my parents, but I’m also enjoying my freedom here. So no, I was not happy he came to visit me. But I was very sad when he left. After waving goodbye to him at 5:30AM, in a taxi bound for Incheon International airport to catch his next flight, I began to tear up. Only now do I realize that I miss my family so much. More than I ever expected.

Alright, no sappy shit now. So I was busy occupying him for a week. We took a DMZ tour yesterday morning where we visited the 3rd infiltration tunnel, the Dora Observatory and Dorasan Station. This package is called the Half Day DMZ tour. There are three kinds of tours:
Half Day DMZ Tour: Price varies depending of which time of the day
Full Day DMZ tour: Includes lunch – 65 000 Won
DMZ&Panmunjeom tour: Includes lunch – 135 000 won
Panmunjeon Tour: Includes lunch – 87 000 won

The Half day tour was great but if you’re looking for a richer experience, I recommend any Panmunjeom tour. The only reason I say this is because in such tours you can reach the most forward point of the Demilitariazed zone and you can actually see North Korean soldiers. But that depends on how much you value that experience because it does cost a lot more. I plan on doing the Panmunjeom tour, when I do I’ll let you know if it’s worth it. As for the tour I did, I thought it was a great experience for its price. I don’t really think the lunch was worth it cause you can find something to eat on your own for later. But for an extra 8000 won, lunch is included at a Korean restaurant in Insadong on your way back from the DMZ.
Before that, however, we visited a Ginger Museum where they try your best to sell you overpriced ginger that apparently keeps your mind and body healthy. If I had a 300$ budget to spend on ginger, I would. Looking at the Koreans’ skin, I believe it.

The DMZ tour was very interesting, and whether you choose the morning, afternoon, full day or half day DMZ tour, just make sure you DO IT. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the country’s terrible separation and a chance to say you’ve seen North Korea! Tours into North Korea are no longer permitted after two South Korean tourists were shot by a North Korean soldier during a tour, you can now only visit the border or see North Korea from afar. It’s quite sad because North Korea is terribly underdeveloped compared to South Korea. Few buildings stand high, some of which aren’t even occupied according to our tour guide as they’ve been built merely for show.  Two flags stand side by side near the border, North Korea’s being taller because everything is just a big competition for them. I don’t know how it is to live in North Korea, but I still felt very sad watching it from afar as a free tourist. I wondered how happy North Koreans really were, but still kind of hoped we were just all so wrong about life in a communist country.

Word of advice, when the tour guide tells you not to take pictures in a specific area, don’t take any fucking pictures. Now I know you’ll be a smart ass and sneak pics anyways. That’s fine because everyone’s doing it. But don’t be a dumbass like me and do it in front of an employee. I got my camera confiscated and they refused to give it back until I brought my tour guide to them. Until you can prove that you aren’t some North Korean spy and you’re actually just a dumbass tourist, you aren’t getting your shit back. Needless to say my tour guide wasn’t happy because not only did he specifically tell us not to take pics, but he also had to walk down and up that long ass tunnel that leads to the 3rd infiltration tunnel. Fuck, it wasn’t fun for me too I went up and down twice! Prepare to exercise your ass out on that tour.

I’ll stop here cause it’s getting long. This weekend was Chuseok in Korea, or as Koreans call it, Korean Thanksgiving. It isn’t Thanksgiving at all, it’s more so a holiday to celebrate harvesting in Korea. Many Koreans have their family’s over and perform interesting ceremonies to pay respect to their ancestors. I didn’t have the opportunity of going to the country side so if you get the chance, do it. Many Koreans visit their grandparents in the country side where they get to eat yummy food and live away from the city for a while. I’m sure it’s a great experience so try it if you can! Meeting Korean people has been harder than I expected so I’ve made few Korean friends. Korean people are just like the Chinese in Ottawa, always sticking together. It’s hard to enter their clicks so I advise you join school groups and clubs. It’s a great way to meet people, especially if you don’t look like a typical Westerner and by that, I mean blond hair, blue eyes, pale skin. Koreans really, really like that. So try your best at making friends and don’t worry if you don’t, you can always befriend exchange students like yourself! (Befriend the Canadians, they are super nice ;D)

Good luck, have fun and until next time!

Big Bang and I greet you with a “HELLO!”

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Check-ins : South Korea (Episode 2)


Episode 2: Alien Registration Card

Date: September 4, 2012

Watching Super Junior dance away to “SPY” on Mnet Countdown is a great way to start this second blog!

Living in South Korea for the last two weeks has been great! So far, I have visited some really cool places thanks to the tours organized by Yonsei University for exchange students. The first stop on our tour was Gyeongbok Palace. This palace was created by King Taejo in 1395 and is the largest of the five palaces created in the Joseon Dynasty. A beautiful palace to visit, I highly recommend you go see it and check out the changing of the guards!

I’ve also had a chance to visit the FIFA 2002 world cup stadium (which I didn’t even know was held in in Seoul…), the Blue house (Korea’s version of the White House) where the President of Korea lives. I also got the chance to visit the beautiful Buddhist temple Bongeunsa and the SeonNeung (World Heritage Site) which is the burial ground location of two Joseon Dynasty Kings and one Queen. For any student or someone just visiting South Korea, I would recommend these places as great starting points to check out. They are interesting and educational and you might as well educate yourself about the country you are visiting or will be living in (don’t be lazy now).

Blue House

It’s been two weeks since I arrived in South Korea and I guess I am at the culture shock phase of my adjustment curve. I was in a deep honeymoon phase upon arrival because South Korea really is an amazing country filled with interesting people and many things to do. Furthermore, if you are a KPOP addict like me, you’ll feel overwhelmed with the amount of Kpop and Korean goods you suddenly have access to (I admit it feels oh so good). But nothing here is easy. Finding housing, registering for classes, organizing your banking, getting your alien registration card, and many other things are a bother and the language barrier only adds to the frustration. In all honesty, today I just wanted to go home. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is wrong with South Korea, but I just wanted to go home, speak some English and be surrounded by my family & friends. Majority of people here don’t speak English… you can’t believe how utterly frustrating that is. Not being able to fully communicate can be… depressing? I mean eventually you settle in, but no matter how much you might love a country, you will feel this way if you are living there for a while. It’s very frustrating and no amount of love for KPOP or Korean food can make you feel better. But it’s all part of the experience and being thrown outside of your comfort zone. Time to grow up my fellow students!

Lies! Korean food fixes everything X3 YUM

Lies! Korean food fixes everything 😀 YUM

Oh my god, enough sappy shit Sabrina! What else did I have to say…. Oh right! Dear students! Here me out! Don’t expect to come here and find easy housing. NO! this is not Canada, finding a homestay can be very difficult because many places in Seoul and around your university will already be taken. Furthermore, most apartments will require a deposit ranging anywhere from 15 to 20 000$ which they return to you when you leave (they make mad interest off your money!). A big mistake I made was to not reserve a spot on campus. Dorms are much cheaper and the location is convenient. So don’t make my mistake and be stuck with no housing T_T. One big word of advice I can give you is to be prepared in advance and assume nothing will be easy. That being said, I love living with a Korean family. Being closer to campus and friends OR experiencing the Korean lifestyle. You choose what you value more.

However, I’m really enjoying my time here! If you enjoy spicy food, Korean food will definitely satisfy your cravings. It’s full of flavor and can be enjoyed by meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Though I must admit, Koreans eat a lot of meat! It’s very easy to find meatless dishes but if you get a chance, you must try samgyeopsal (BBQ’d pork belly) homg it’s good…

Stay open-minded when coming to Korea and try different things. Koreans really appreciate that and don’t like picky eaters. I’d know because I’m like a living garbage can: I eat EVERYTHING. And Koreans enjoy my company because they know I’ll be more than happy to try anything! So no matter how picky of an eater you may be, be respectful and be adventurous about the food you try! When Koreans offer you something, try your best to enjoy it as a sign of courtesy towards them and their hospitality.

Caf food, yum ❤

Now I must bring this up because my god do Koreans know fashion! Despite knowing many Europeans, I think fashion here prompts my interest more than anything I’ve ever seen! Everyone dresses very nicely and ladies seem to all have the latest fashion here. The men too are quite fashionable with an almost European look to their style, but… a little more gay? I don’t really know how to express it but I think some people would think it looks gay. Which is also called looking FABULOUS!!! However, I find the Koreans have created their own style for men and it works well. I find it more charming and suiting to the Asian man and I must say they look good! Anyone from anywhere will come to South Korea and definitely learn a thing or two about fashion.

Some silly observations but Korea is a very conservative country and cleavage and chest revealing is seen as very inappropriate and is frowned upon. Now I know what you’re thinking, but the KPOP stars all dress sexy! Well stop and think, do they show any cleavage? I’ll give you a second to think of that… (me checking KPOP vids frantically to make sure I don’t sound like a dumbass D:)
No they don’t! Korea is very conservative like that so try and be respectful even though I know us westerners don’t dress like that. I think the Americans here are very fearless, they dress as if they were in the States! But out of respect and to avoid dirty looks, I try my best to cover up. Now, flip side! Women here where ass short skirts, dresses and shorts. I think the Koreans have a distorted idea of covering up because cleavage isn’t allowed yet short till I can see your panties is. I think you’ll be shocked when you come here, even people from the West don’t dress in such short clothing. It’s all about the legs here in South Korea, oh yea.

If you get a chance, shop in Myeongdong! It’s s about 30 minutes away from Yonsei University (you take bus 7011 from Shinchon station to Myeongdong stop or you can take subway line 4). It’s a huge market packed with every store you could possibly imagine and then some! I enjoyed shopping there as you can find anything you’re looking for and street vendors offer great deals for items (try your hand at haggling!). I highly recommend MyeongDong for shopping, if you have a Korean friend, I’m sure he/she will bring you there. There is also the Korea Tourism bureau there where you can dress up traditional Korean attire and take pictures (left hand side of Forever 21).

MyeongDong

School started yesterday and I was very ecstatic to attend my first class (studying in another country actually makes you excited to go to school). The professors are Korean for the most part but speak good English. I’m taking business classes as I’m an International Business major and all Business and Economic classes are held in Daewoo Hall. If you enjoy walking, good for you! But if you’re a lazy bitch like me, get to your classes early! Walking from the main gate to Daewoo Hall which is at the opposite end of Campus is a 30 minute hike (considering you aren’t speed walking)! I was running like a maniac to get to my class this morning and barely made it (speaking of which I ran all the way there only to find out I already missed my Business Negotiations class cause I read the time wrong… ). I swear, I better return to Canada looking like a freaking model.

And yes, an important thing I want to mention because I can 100% guarantee you your university or college won’t tell you this in advance and you’ll find out when you arrive in South Korea from word of mouth is that you must apply for an Alien Registration Card. And although we are not Aliens despite the fact that we look like them to Koreans, if you are staying more than 90 days in the country then you must go to the immigration office and sign up for it. You will need to go once to apply then a second time to pick it up. From Yonsei University, it’s about 30 minutes by Subway. At the bottom, I posted a Youtube link of how to get their by Subway from the university and listed what you will need to apply for the card. You need this card in order to get basic things such as a phone and to travel to neighboring countries such as China or Japan.
This isn’t just for students. Anyone staying more than 90 days must get this card or you might get fined. And the last thing we all want is Korean fine.

Some final thoughts before I close up this blog: South Korea is very polluted, unfortunately, due to many unknown car brands created in the 80s and 90s that many Koreans still use today and blow out as much burnt gas as a family of immigrants after eating too much spicy food. The women here are to die for beautiful, and the guys are cute. I think KDramas and KPOP create high expectations, but the guys are just your average cute Asian boy 🙂 But when all suited up, they look goooood. Or when looking like a young university student, or when casually going out with friends… I swear I’m not a creeper.

I’ll cover the unknown car brands I was talking about, the University some more and some random tips on my next blog entry. See you then!

How to get to the immigration office:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YiYHSN9IB4

Don’t forget the following!:
– Passport and a copy of your passport and visa
– Letter of Enrollment (the University will provide you this)
– Proof of payment (should be indicated on the letter of enrollment) 
– Color passport picture (must have white background)
– 10,000 Won

Upon arriving at the immigration office, take a number and fill out a form while you wait. On the pink application form, stick your picture in the indicated area.

**Some advice: the immigration office is ALWAYS packed. I waited 4 hours when I went on a Friday to submit my application. To avoid long wait times, get their early (so around 9AM) or sign up before hand on hikorea.go.kr to avoid long lines.

To get back to Sinchon station, do the reverse of what the video explains and you’re back!

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Check-ins : South Korea (Episode 1)


Episode 1: Yonsei University and Incheon

Date: August 28, 2012

For the first time in my life, I’m living away from home. I’d like to believe I’m courageous by nature, but the truth is, I force myself to step outside of my comfort zone. Either way, my decision to come to South Korea is definitely not something I regret. That’s not to say I’m entirely enjoying myself; I do miss my true north strong and free and the adjustment is a slow and long process. But as the days go by, I fall more and more in love with “The Land of the Morning Calm”.

I am a fourth year International Business Major of the University of Ottawa. I decided to do my last semester in Seoul, South Korea studying at one of the biggest universities I’ve ever come across, Yonsei University. Coming from the small capital of Canada, I received a major culture shock within the first few days. I decided to start this blog to help others deal with the shock and confusion I had to deal with, and will continue to deal with while living in South Korea.

First off… holy craps I’m in South Korea!!! I am so excited to be here as I absolutely love everything Korean! The food, the music, the sights, the people… everything is so exciting to witness! But wow has South Korea shocked me! I feel quite intimidated when I walk the streets of Seoul. It’s indeed a very busy city and although there are many foreigners living here, you hardly see them around. And Koreans just love to look at your beautiful, foreign face so expect a lot of staring 😉 I can also add that I’m experiencing a huge culture shock! Even coming from a country as diversified as Canada, living here is really experiencing a completely different reality.

Where does the culture shock come from? Well for me, a lot of things widened my eyes or made me want to whip out my camera. I travel a lot but I really have never seen a country like South Korea. One thing that will amaze you is the beautiful coexistence of traditional and contemporary Korea. Now I use the word contemporary because you never know what tomorrow brings in this country. Modern and sophisticated apartments stand high everywhere, ingenious gadgets and automobiles, and the latest fashion is what’s happening. Nonetheless, you can always turn the corner and find a traditional style restaurant or boutique nearby. It’s something beautiful to experience as you feel you’re never too far from the two different faces of South Korea.

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I am currently living with my friend Eunseon and her family in Incheon, a friend I met  in Canada while she was doing an exchange at my university. And now, here I am, in her beautiful country and she has received me with more than just open arms. Living with a Korean family is quite the experience. I recommend it to you all. Korean people are very friendly and very welcoming. Even if they speak little English, they will always try to include you in their conversations and activities. Korean hospitality ensures you always feel like you’re at home!

Incheon is the booming little city next to the Seoul, about a 45 minute bus ride to and from the capital. That’s if you aren’t stuck in traffic which can be like going from Ottawa to Montreal (that’s an hour and a half by the way). Traffic is a huge problem in this country, and results in 3 hour commutes for me everyday! Waste of my life D:
In all honesty though, there is nothing to do in Incheon other than shop. If you have time to waste you could pay it a visit but there’s nothing tourist worthy here.
Everyone here lives in apartments and Incheon is currently experiencing mass development. Apartments stand tall by the numbers and they are huge (as spacious as town homes!). As my friend described upon seeing a picture, a copy and paste city.

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Transportation here is amazing and highly sophisticated. The transportation card, or T-card, is useful for all those traveling by bus, subway, train, and taxi. You simply buy it for 2500₩ and you load it with cash. You then scan it when you get on the bus and once again when you get off. Don’t forget to scan it! If you do, you’ll be charged the full distance (ouch). Fare is based on distanced traveled and it’s generally very cheap (traveling twice a day to and from Seoul costs me around 4$ a day). Get the T-card, it’s useful. Also, word of advice, don’t load it with a lot of cash. I say this because I’m very clumsy and forgetful and if you’re like me, it’s a good precaution. There is ALWAYS an area where you can load it so to prevent losing it and ruining your day cause you’re a lazy mofo and had to jam pack it with money, just put a minimum of say, 30000₩? You won’t be sad if you lose that, right?

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Food here is ridiculously cheap, eating out will generally cost you less than 10$. Furthermore, you can have anything delivered to you, anything. Even McDonald’s. Due to a lack of fruitful farming results in South Korea, buying food in grocery stores can be costly. And if you’re lazy like me, eat out! It’s cheap and healthy. Korean food is very tasty and good for you! Unlike Western food, Korean food is generally boiled, baked or barbecued. Eat as much of it while you’re here, the authentic stuff is homg good! *drools* :O

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I will be attending Yonsei University, one of the top three Universities in Korea alongside Seoul University and Korea University (which by the way are the uni’s rivals!). Yonsei University is ridiculously vast and packed with foreigners. I highly enjoy being on campus as I don’t feel as secluded as I do walking on the streets of Seoul (I am literally the only brown person there!). There are foreigners everywhere studying at the University and you can go up to anyone and chat to make friends. People are very nice and just as eager to meet new people like you. I highly recommend the campus housing International House and SK Global House. Not only are they right beside the huge ass Yonsei University, but they are also cheap, yay! Around 500$ per month for a single room and 450$ for a double.

The University’s orientation was good, but a bit messy. Granted, Yonsei is quite new at International exchanges and I forgive them for a downright confusing and long orientation session. My general feeling after leaving the orientation session was to basically not screw up, in any way. The orientation covered everything from having safe sex to sexual harassment to alcohol and drug abuse. The University highly prides itself on its reputation and we, the students, create that reputation. So be a good little student 😉 The University has great activities planned for you and many clubs you can join at the SK Global House. The tours planned by the school this year were a Seoul City tour and the Gyeongbok Palace tour. I highly recommend both as they are inexpensive and you get to go with a bunch of other students.

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I, of course, have tons more to share but who the hell wants to read this much? I will continue with my next blog which I intend to post over this upcoming weekend where I will discuss Gyeongbok Palace, underground secret passages (ok, it’s just the biggest freaking underground mall ever, calm down) and aliens! And by that I mean foreigners and your alien registration card which BTW is not a joke…

And as I finish my blog entry in the midst of Typhoon Bolaven smashing against my window and whistling throughout Incheon, I leave you all with my last major thought for the day… this country is unbearably hot!

ImageI love Big Bang

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Indian Clothing 101


Indian clothing is considered one the most beautiful ethnic pieces of clothing around the world. Coming in a range of gorgeous colors, patterns, styles, and designs, Indian clothing portrays the beauty and eloquence of the female body. Many different types of Indian clothing for women exist and differentiating them can sometimes be difficult. Here is a quick look into the different types of Indian outfits that are generally worn:

Sari
Saris are the most popular piece of clothing amongst females in India; women are seen wearing saris on a daily basis, and not only for special occasions. Saris are rectangle cotton, nylon, or silk fabrics that can measure up to 5 to 6 feet long. A petticoat is worn (a tight long skirt) tightly around the waist, and the sari fabric is spun around and tuck tightly in the petticoat. Pleats are then made and tucked in the petticoat as well, and the rest of the fabric is then folded over one side of the shoulder. Saris are worn with short length blouses called Cholis.



Salwar Kameez

Salwar Kameezes are the second most popular type of Indian clothing amongst Indian women. Salwares are pyjama like trousers that are tied tightly around the waist. They are loose fitting and generally quite long in length. Kameezes are long, loose type blouses or dresses that are worn with the Salwares. Many of these blouses usually have the Kurti style design to them.

Lehenga Choli
Lehenga Choli, also referred to as Gaghra Choli or simply Lehenga, look like a much simpler version of the Sari. A pleated skirt is worn and is accompanied by a short or long fitted blouse known as the Choli, the similar type of blouse that is also worn with the Sari. Lehengas are usually accompanied by dupattas, or long scarves or veils which can be worn in any desired manner.

Churidar
Churidar is essentially the exact same thing as Salwar Kameez but differs as it is generally more form fitting. The pants will start off tight near the ankles and will increase in size upto the waist (almost like skinny jeans);the length is usually no longer than below the ankles. Churidar are also worn with Kameezes.

For more information on different types of Indian clothing, you can visit indianclothing.org or click on the following link: website.

For a look at all the aboved mentioned Indian clothing for women, as well as for men, check out this Indian clothing fashion show:

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