There is Life After the LSAT

•June 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

(It’s true! I’ve seen it.)

I finally took the LSAT this past Sunday and am now free to travel around and blog without feeling massively guilty for not channeling all my productivity into studying.
Something you guys might like to know: whenever someone is about to do something difficult or taxing, such as take an important test or run a race or something, you say 화이팅!, pronounced hwhi-ting, which I hear is “fighting,’ Koreanized.

My first free day (which was about a week ago, actually–now that I’m free to procrastinate, I’ve been procrastinating hard) I traveled to a suburban area just outside of metropolitan Seoul called Bundang to meet up with the lovely Dr. Lee of the philosophy department.  We went walking in Bundang Central Park and I managed to get some pretty okay pictures.

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Walking or hiking is something of a national pastime in Korea, so of course there are millions of walker-friendly areas anywhere you go.  This particular park is located in a hilly area with lots of pine trees.  In places like this you often see the old meshing with the new.

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A peek out at the apartment buildings just outside the park.

I don’t really know what it is, but Korean forests always have a distinctly different feel from those in the States.  Maybe it’s because the trees are different, or the smells, or the way the light hits the leaves.

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Walking through a place like this you almost realize how much sense it makes that the Buddhism and the concept of Zen took off so well in East Asia.

So there’s that.
Nothing to exciting -this- week, but stay tuned for my travels to the bamboo forest in Damyang, my first encounter with bondegi (That’s Korean for silkworm, a delicacy over here), and the chronicles of my adventures in


EAST EUROPE.
(That’ll be Germany, Poland, the C.R., Austria, and Hungary.)

I’ve never been on that side of the rock before, so I’m fairly ecstatic.
For now, though, it’s time for me to go breakfast on some delicious Korean bakery bread (Koreans have -such- good bread!).

Have fun!

For your viewing pleasure…

•August 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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Don’t worry, my (three) faithful readers, I haven’t died of some strange European disease…though you might say I -have- caught a bit of the yellow fever (haha?  get it?…).  I’ll be posting about my tour of central Europe as soon as I get enough motivation to pick through the 12831297323 pictures I took and find which ones are worth sharing.  Til then, happy living!

I’ve got Seoul, but I’m not a Seoul-…

•June 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve officially been in Korea for a little over a week and it already feels like I’ve been here a month.  The transition has been slightly jarring.  I wouldn’t say it’s been uncomfortably so, but the viscosity of my memories of Korea begins to thicken while I’m away so that when I actually get here everything feels vivid and new again.  My ears can’t process the language, the smells are unfamiliar.  Signs are all in Korean or very bad English.  And there’s just so much more motion; the scene outside my window is never still.
I know this last bit is a feature common to pretty much every city, but the change from the slow pace of small-town Illinois to the constant go-go-go of metropolitan Seoul compounds with the general sense of unfamiliarity to give me the feeling that I’ve come to some strange, alien land brimming with ~adventure~.

I’m a chronic sufferer of wanderlust and I have the fortune of being able to cure it just by going home.

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The view out of my new living room window…a little hazier than I’d like, but whatevs.

      The building I’ve moved into is roughly 35 stories, which seems to be becoming the norm these days.  Seoul is growing taller every day.



Shots of the views to the left of and straight down from my window, respectively.  I tossed a coin out to see how long it would take to hit the ground but had to stop watching halfway through because I was struck by some serious vertigo.

Moving aside, things have been pretty uneventful since my last post apart from some serious LSAT crunching.  However, this Wednesday I plan to go to Bundang, a suburb outside of Seoul, to visit a professor of mine from EIU  (if you’re a philosophy major, you probably know Dr. Lee).  I’ve been told that there’s some great scenery, so you can expect plenty of pictures from that~

It’s midnight now and I’m still not quite adjusted to the time difference so it’s way past my bedtime…
I’ll leave you with a sketch I drew of Priscilla during a little book-reading/study session we had at the library (whenever I get to Korea I suddenly turn into some kind of artist wannabe.) and her much more expert rendering of me


In my defense, I drew first and I didn’t know that hers would be so good (though I guess I should have expected it from Miss. RISD.)  Also, don’t ask me why her hands are drawn above her head.

The Great Escape

•June 6, 2012 • 1 Comment

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My life is now meted out in 35-minute segments.

     Like a jealous mistress, the LSAT has begun to take up all my free time; if I’m not studying for it, I’m thinking about it, and when I’m not thinking about it…well, I’m never not thinking about it. Yesterday, however, I managed to break free from its long-armed grasp and spend a couple forgetful hours at my favorite place in Korea: the Han river (or Hangang, as the natives call it).
It’s about a two-minute ride on the subway from where I live.
A quick note about the Korean subway system: the US subways don’t even compare.  The station by my house is huge. First you go down the stairs and reach the top floor…then there are three more stories til you get to the tracks (I have pics in the gallery below).
You take the train a stop, transfer, then get out the next stop and you’re a two minute walk away from here:

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Ain’t it lovely?

Bike rentals are 3,000 won (about 3 dollars) an hour and there’s a bike path all along the riverside. It’s quite nice.  We haven’t quite hit monsoon season this year, so as yet the weather is perfect–not too humid, and cool in the evenings.  Ideal bike-riding weather.
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I tried to get more of the bike in the picture, but that didn’t work.  Here’s my face instead.

The bikes are these super-cute hipster bikes.  I was tempted to ride away on mine and let the manager keep the 9 thou I left with him as collateral.  But I didn’t.  That would be illegal, and I never break the law ever. (At least I haven’t recently. :0)

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My faithful companion…for three bucks an hour.

If home is where the heart is, my home is and always will be Korea.  It’s where I grew up, where I became a person.  I didn’t adjust well at first, but with time I managed to burrow in and make a place for myself.
But now that I’ve moved away, I’ve changed.  I used to come back expecting to find my little niche where I left it but now it’s gone, healed over.  Korea looks the same, but it’s changed as well, and I wasn’t here to keep my place in it. Now I’m just here.

Except when I’m at Hangang.  At a time where I’m grasping at any sense of familiarity, I find something like stability here at the riverside.
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Sarah + Hangang 4ver.

It’s a good place for making new memories.
If I ever want to find a place in Korea again, here is where I’ll start. It may not be the most beautiful place on earth, but it’s perfect to me.
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Meow.

peach fuzz on a mote of dust

•June 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Blawgpics 010

Jet Lag and Birthday Cake.

•June 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Koreans make the best cakes, I swear.
Just look at this:

CamPics 033You jel?

Airy, fluffy, not too sweet.  It was my mom’s birthday today, which is why we had it.

Whenever I come back to Korea, one of the first things on my list of things to do is to eat as much of the food that I can’t get in the states as I can.  Itaewon, the shopping district I live next to, is full of great foreign restaurants. One of my favorites is Wang Thai, where I lunched with my best fran Priscilla Boatwright. Incidentally, WT is situated right above my favorite bookstore, What the Book, where I bought a Korean phrasebook today.  (I’ve decided that I’m going to be fluent in Korean by the time I leave Korea, so help me God.)

 


A totally non-posed photo of me studying hard.

And then I slept. I slept a lot. Jet lag is a pain.  It’s now 2 in the morning and I am a weird mixture of groggy and alert that isn’t very conducive to good blogging, so I’m signing off.
Tomorrow I plan on taking a walk along the Han, so tune in next time for some pictures of riverside Seoul! :)

(I can’t get the gallery to show the captions for my photos, so I just have to say: Sometimes I just don’t understand Koreans.  Why anyone thought putting two freaky little croc-people in the display window would make Crocs seem even more appealing is beyond me.  Maybe I’m just not culturally aware enough?)

First Post, or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Turbulence

•June 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment


The sunset at Narita airport in Japan.

     When the 747 I was riding in took, after a fairly smooth 10 or so hours of flight, several short but rather sudden downward swoops, I’m sure a good number of passengers felt somewhat uncomfortable, and justifiably so.  But I smiled as I leaned back in my seat and let the rocking of the cabin lull me to sleep, knowing that the turbulence only signified that we were entering Japan airspace and that the longest leg of my trip home was almost over.  For whatever reason, whenever I fly within a couple of hours of Japan, the trip gets very rocky, and now whenever my plane hits it I get something of the feeling of seeing land on the horizon.
Anyway, after a three-hour layover in Narita airport as well as plenty of free wine, sushi, and edamame from the fancy UA Premier lounge and a two-hour flight from Japan to Korea, I am safe at home.  It’s 3 in the morning and all I want to do is go on a run or something (it’s a little after noon in Illinois right now), but when in Rome, sleep when the Romans sleep.  I’ll probably be lying awake in bed all night, but at least it’ll be in my own bed, in my own home.  It’s good to be back.  Korea’s just the way I left it.

 
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