There is still so much to see in Korea, that I definitely have to come back in the future. I have only been in Korea for about a month and 4 days, and I had a really great time! It was really fun! Studying abroad is worth it, and I definitely recommend that students should go study abroad. I gained new experiences, new friends, and tried a lot of new things. Plus, I met a lot of cool people from 20 different countries, including people from the mainland United States of America.
Countries Such As:Vietnam, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Germany, Canada, Taiwan, Singapore, Macau, China, Taiwan, England, Finland, Romania, Mexico, Australia, Turkey, Serbia, Venezuela, United States of America (Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia, Texas, California), and Korea, because local Korean students part of the program volunteers helped made us feel very welcome. ^_^
I am back home now, and I am currently reminiscing my time spent back in Korea, it was amazing, but it felt so short~ I really would like to come back again in the future. The next time I go back, my Korean will (hopefully) be a lot better. I didn't experience the culture shock as I thought I would because I did kind of had an idea of what Korea would be like. It was a good image, and about everything turned out as expected. It could have been better though, if I had some coffee (and then instantly be not tired) I would have went out with my friends to go see more places of Korea, because there is honestly so much more to see. And I thought that I should put it out there, but after two weeks of learning Korean, it felt so good to be able to read Korean, but I still need to figure out what I read. I needed to expand my vocabulary, and understand the grammar. I remembered in the past me and my mom would go to the Korean Supermarket in Hawaii, to buy lots of groceries, and cute snacks that were unique to Korea, and I thought that the characters were so strange with the circles, but knowledge is power, and it feels great to understand that the circles mean either "ng" (at the end of a character) or is just a silent space holder in the beginning of a character. :)
Another thing was that it took some time to get used to hearing Korean (instead of English) all around me, plus it is very quiet around the streets even in the daytime because people don't talk loud at all, and majority of the people I do see walking around are listening to music with earbuds.
Also, when my friends told me that Korea will be more humid than Hawaii, I didn't really understand what that meant, but now I get it. I also did a lot of walking, exploring and eating. Based on my experiences, I felt that Korea is hotter than Hawaii, and in the subway stations it would be hot, but I can still handle it, and then once I got in side the subway train (because it had air condition) it felt great, but then after a while of being in the train, it started to get cold, and finally when I left the train, it got hot again. But for one thing that I was super glad, that I took care of myself, drank lots of water, and ate food all day, therefore I did not get sick at all.
For breakfast, I would go to the bakery nearby and purchase baked goods and pastries:) and sometimes in a rush of time, I end up eating instant ramen in my dorm (before class). For lunch, my friends and I, or sometimes I go alone, we would go to Emart and purchase food and other things that we may need. And on days when there wasn't any program activities, my friends and I would go around shopping or exploring parts of the city, Seoul.
In one of the bookstores (Band & Luni's Bookstore), I went to the music section and saw that there were many western pop music, which was a surprise to me because I was expecting more kpop variety music. But there were also various sections, a part dedicated to western pop, a section dedicated to K-pop, and a section dedicated to Korean dramas OST (Original Sound Track). My friend and I went to several places (I don't remember the name of) to shop for K-pop albums, there were also so many items printed with my favorite idol's faces.
Some restaurants/fast food places that I have seen:
- Mom's Touch
- Lotteria (reminds me of McDonalds)
- Dunkin Donuts
- Baskin Robbins (ice cream place)
- California Pizza Kitchen
- Pizza Hut
- Burger King
- Natuur Pop (ice cream place)
Some Coffee places/cafes' that I have seen:
- Coffee Prince (I saw it from afar, but we didn't go in that direction)
- Ediya Coffee
- Holly's Coffee
- Caffe Cucina
- Ivy Coffee
- Caffe Bene
- Caribou Coffee
- Zoo Coffee
Some interesting food/drinks I have not seen before:
- Banana Milk
- Mango Milk
- Strawberry Latte
- AND an actual Brand Name called: "No Brand"
Other places/shops I have seen:
- Forever 21
- Bandi & Luni's Bookstore
- Kyobo Bookstore
- NewBalance (shoestore)
- Luxury (Highest Singing Entertainment) <--a Karaoke place
- Art Box
- Sewing Factory
- Tasty Market
- Line Friends
- Kakao Friends
- SM Town (specifically the @ the coexartium)
Cosmetic/beauty shops I have seen:
- Nature Republic (in Myeong Dong, famous tourist place)
- innisfree (all lowercase on purpose)
- The Face Shop
- The Body Shop
- Etude House
Conveniences Stores I have seen:
- Mini Stop
Some of the New things I have tried:
- Lotte World Adventure (an amusement park) [https://youtu.be/LTwHaX90DxU]
- Korean Spa
- Stayed a night in a traditional Korean house
- Water Sports
And here are some of the other places we went to in Korea:
- Samsung Innovation Musuem (SIM)
- Amore Pacific - Story Garden (K-beauty)
- National Musuem of Korea
- The War Memorial of Korea
- Kyung Bok Goong (Emperor's Palace)
- National Folk Museum
- Korean Spa (Jjimjil bang) at SPAREX
- Dongdae Mun History and Culture Park (where there were nightflowers)
- Nam San Tower
- K Star Road
- Lotte Cinema (watched Now You See Me 2 in English in Korea)
- Bukchon-ro (a place in the city where there are traditional korean houses)
- Han River (it was a dinner picnic near the river)
|Pictures of the two rooms inside the Korean Spa, 100 degrees and a 97 degree room. Super hot and moist inside.|
|Night Flowers at Dongdaemun|
|Me with my new friends|
While riding the subway, I noticed that almost 90% of people in the subway train is either listening to music or looking down in the screen on their phone doing something.
In some restaurants, we had to order first before sitting down, and water is self serve. And in Holly's Coffee, I found it interesting how they separate their trash. First one is Recyclables, second one is other waste, and the third one is pouring in liquid and ice.
It only rained for a few days during the entire time I was in Korea, and something I found interesting while I was there is that before entering the department store they have this small thing that you stick your umbrella in and then grab it out and your umbrella comes out in this plastic bag to prevent water being dripped all over the floor. It is different from the one I see in the buildings back home in Hawaii.
|Nam San Tower|
|See what I mean? This was the invention I mentioned previously. You would stick your tall umbrella in the right side, and then pull it out with the plastic bag, so your umbrella comes out inside the plastic bag.|
|Lobby view of the Korean Traditional Spa place|
|Wet Napkin Dispenser at Lotteria|
|Deep Fried Ice Cream Street Food, it's hot and crispy on the outside, but then inside is cold ice cream. So unique flavor!|
Update: I meant to post this blog the month after I came back from Korea, which is in September. However, time flies, and it's November 1, 2016, and I am finally uploading this last blog.
Thanks for reading, if you got down this far. :) All photos are taken by me.