for today's blog post, instead of writing about my fourth day in penang, malaysia, i will blab about all things seoul for a bit.
i'm doing so because today (actually, yesterday, but i was too tired to blog) marks my one year anniversary of living in seoul. not to sound crazily deep or anything, but i believe i've grown and learned a lot this past year. i've tried many things i never imagined myself doing, and i've put myself in semi-uncomfortable situations for the sake of expanding my worldly experiences. this blog post will include some of the things, both good and bad, i've learned about myself and the korean culture. forgive me for being ignorant, but living in america, it never really crossed my mind that there really is! a world outside of the U.S. i have a feeling a lot of americans think this way, and i'm glad i had the opportunity to prove this ridiculous mindset wrong.
the following are photographs that document my life this past year [i tend to repost my favorites, so you may have seen a majority of these]:
mama jeri came with me to seoul in august. she helped me get settled into my new apartment because she's the best mother ever.
[september.] i carried this book everywhere with me for two months:
my friend chera took me to this delicious sushi place in hongdae, a place in which i now frequent, despite the hour subway commute.
i quickly learned that the korean society is much classier, prettier, and more well-groomed than the american society. NOBODY (and i truly mean not one person) is ever caught wearing sweatpants in public, nor does their attire reveal buttcracks or cleavage.
it was after this realization that i had another one - i will never truly fit into this culture of high class and high heels. not surprisingly, living in an area with literally millions of beautiful people has an effect on your own self confidence. that being said, i've never felt so alien, unattractive, and heavy as i do now, living in korea amongst these beauties.
i went to a torture chamber on the border of north and south korea. it was here i secretly admitted to myself that my sarcastic, girly "life is so haaard" phrase is rarely applicable.
i found out that being a vegetarian in korea was going to be a challenge. everybody and their moms here love eating meat, particularly "galbi", or korean bbq. street food often contains raunchy meat, such as this mondu:
a lot of people doubted my ability to remain a vegetarian (well, technically a pescetarian - i eat fish), but i have proved them wrong. sure, there have been rare times here in korea when i've had to eat dishes that have touched meat (something you would NEVER catch me doing in america), but i'm still living. and, no, i still have no intention of ever eating meat, despite my limited choices of vegetarian korean dishes.
speaking of food, i ate live octopus, something of which falls under the "never-thought-i'd-do-this" category.
[october.] papa blaine came to visit me in october.
pops and i ate the eyeballs of a fish! clearly another "never-thought-i'd-do-this" moment.
i got to play photographer woman at work on halloween.
this made me happy because 1.) i fooled my coworkers into thinking i'm cooler than i really am, and 2.) i (finally) got to take/edit posed, fun photos of people, something i desperately miss about vancouver.
i spent a lot of time in hongdae in the cold of november.
my good friend megan wetterau came to visit me! we did all sorts of touristy stuff.
it was awesome seeing a familiar face in my new territory. i am so thankful for good friends like megan. we've known each other for a good 14 years now. i hope megan will get a chance to travel elsewhere, because i know she really enjoyed visiting me =]
we had a work christmas party at tricia and alex's houses.
my washer and dryer continued to ruin my clothes during the winter months. coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool.
instead of ice fishing, we (and when i say "we," i mean "they") slid on an ice slide and got drunk at a local pizzeria.
papa blaine came back in february to visit for lunar new year. =] i am so spoiled, i know, i know. =]] =]]
we went to lotte world (my first time there) where we people-watched at the ice rink and bowled a few games.
we also went to a great folk village in suwon.
also in february, i accompanied myself at the taylor swift concert =] she performed her tour of her latest cd, speak now.
i had a wonderful, guilty-pleasure-filled time singing along with taylor's girly songs ^^
finally, i think it was around january or february of 2011 that my office got an upgrade. we moved from the 3rd floor of our building to the newly remodeled 4th floor. my grammar skills have improved TREMENDOUSLY since arriving at KNP. it's silly to think how poorly i used to structure my sentences. i mean, yes, i still sometimes talk like a fool; but at least now it's in a mocking manner and now i can write properly slash smugly correct others' grammar.
i didn't take any photos in march because i sold my canon rebel t1i to my friend chera and waited patiently for my canon 7d to arrive from america. actually, another lesson learned - i should have bought my camera here in korea. i was thinking i would not only save a few bucks, but i would also be receiving a manual in english. long story short, customs charges a good amount for newly purchased goods being shipped from other countries.
i learned that i'm not particularly a mountain woman in april. my dumbass wore rainboots (i thought it was going to rain, i swear!) while hiking baegundae peak, the highest peak on mt. bukhansan. i feared for my life as i neared the top, seeing that i had to HOLD ONTO METAL STAKES NEAR THE EDGE OF A CLIFF whilst simultaneously hiking a steep cliff face and avoiding hundreds of hikers.
it was during times like this when i thought to myself, "my fat ass would have never done this back home."
a few teacher friends and i attended the cherry blossom festival.
i went to cirque de soleil with my WSU friend, jessica.
i finally started using my old, rusty bike in april because the weather permitted me to do so.
mama jeri came to visit me again in may!! i love my mom so much. she makes me laugh so often and she's always spoiling me with clothes, candies, and makeup products. our relationship has grown stronger as i've grown up and matured into a real person (as opposed to a bratty youngster).
we also went to a lantern festival/parade honoring buddha's birthday.
i went to a cat cafe for the first time with mama j during her may visit.
i spent a lot of time with miss kaitee fellerman in may. she lived in seoul for three months as a total babe model lady thing.
again, it was so great to see a familiar face. i never thought america would be coming to me as much as it did this past year, and i'm so thankful it did. seeing friends in a foreign place makes it that much easier to become adjusted to the alien lifestyle.
may's weather allowed me to spend a decent amount of time at olympic park.
i've discovered the alone time in a park is one of the most peaceful, relaxing things to do here.
we had a great rooftop party for lauren's birthday at the end of may.
my fat ass started playing basketball in june.
there is a great court for shooting hoops in olympic park.
when i wasn't trying to be kenyon martin, i was, again, having a date with myself under the june sun in olympic park.
sometimes, jeff teacher came to kick it with me at the park. but these times, i didn't use the word "date," considering jeff and i are totally just brahs.
i did the dmz tour in june.
lastly, i attended a baseball game.
july flew by!
kaitee and i went out a few times in gangnam and hongdae.
i hung out with my new korean friends, of whom i met through a cultural exchange program called CLIP. CLIP is the brainchild of my director's son.
i went to the boryeong mud festival with a bunch of teacher friends mid july.
it was a lot of fun! you can creep all of the photos here.
finally, at the end of july, i traveled to malaysia and singapore with my teacher friends, casey and jeff.
[august.] finally! august! it's crazy to think i've been over here for a year now. it does not seem like it has been that long whatsoever. hence, why i have chosen to stay another year in korea, at my same school, KNP. i love the korean culture, my job, and in all honesty, i enjoy not being able to understand every word that surrounds me. korea has provided me with such an easy lifestyle. my school provides me with housing, lunch, and dinner (on days of which i can avoid the massive amounts of meat). the subway system here is immensely helpful and easy to use. having a beer outside on the street makes me feel cooler than i actually am. these are only some of the reasons why i've signed another contract that ends august 2012. sure, it's a fast-paced city, and sure, there are some downfalls of korea, but all in all, i like it here. i'm coming home in september for my brother's wedding. but besides that, i won't be seeing america (or breathing her fresh air) until next year around this time.
see yas then, friends ^_^ 사랑해!!
p.s. - you can see all of my photographs from seoul by clicking here.