It turns out that I have a really hard time keeping myself motivated to keep up with this blog. If I don’t feel at my best, I don’t want to write, and if I feel great, I want to go out and do things. I’m approaching two months since I’ve been here and this is still only my second post. A lot has happened, and that’s part of why I don’t write a lot.
The leaves are slowly beginning to turn color here as the autumn season has really started rolling in. It was hot all the time for quite a while, but now, suddenly, we have a few warm hours in the afternoon and it is getting quite cold for the mornings and nights.
Here’s some information on some of the things I’ve done!
Baseball game at Jamsil Stadium (9.13)
The baseball game that I went to was at Jamsil Baseball Stadium (잠실 야구장) and was the Samsung Lions versus the LG Twins.
This was a pretty funny experience. We, my friend who brought me and I, got tickets that we thought were supposed to be for LG, but it turned out we were in the Samsung fans’ section. We felt very out of place with our red colored fan gear in a sea of blue, but in the end LG won 1-0, so we then felt proud of our red noise makers.
Jamsil is roughly 40 minutes away from my local station, Hyehwa (혜화), at the Sports Complex station (종합운동장). It’s a very nice looking stadium and the place was packed. We got there just in time for the game which meant that there were actually no seats left. We ended up sitting on the steps until we scoped out some seats that someone had abandoned. We ate fried chicken with sweet chili sauce, enjoyed the beautiful clear sky, and watched the game and cheered. Some of the cheers I believe were uniquely Korean, but others were Korean versions of the same cheers I know from the states.
I really wanted to buy a baseball jersey there, but I didn’t. It was great anyhow, especially when followed by the many LG fans hanging around eating and drinking together, buying from the vendors set up outside. You could buy various types of foods like ddeokbokki (떡볶이-essentially soft rice cakes covered in red pepper paste), soondae (순대-“sausage” — actually stuffed intestines), and soups, and drinks. We had soondae, soup, and soju (소주).
It was a wonderful night and very interesting to see something thought of as so American done with a Korean twist.
Here’s a pretty panoramic I took during the game:
Hiking Gwanaksan (9.14)
The next day I went for a short hike on Gwanaksan (관악산; aka Mt. Gwanak). The hike was nice though and I realized how out of shape I have gotten. I don’t even want to know how out of shape I am now since I haven’t been able to go running at all here. Anyway, it was a good hike with a pretty path, pretty view, and a nice little temple and resting spot at the end of the hike. We also brought the little dog Hyosoon (효순), along with us and she makes everything fun.
Along the hike there was a spot where you could take a break from the hike and instead stop and workout. There are various machines that you would normally find in a gym as well as a few bars that you can use to do push-ups, pull-ups, etc. on. I didn’t actually try any of these myself (yeah, lazy, shush), but my friend did and there were a couple of other people that were using some machines. You also find places like this at random places around the city or in parks.
When we got back home, we replaced the calories we burned with those found in this delicious shrimp gold, Korean style pizza! It was both sweet and savory at the same time! And, like all Western food in Korea, is served with sweet pickles.
Korean Class Midterms (9.26 and 9.29)
The midterm exams for the Korean class were three parts: listening, grammar/reading/writing, and speaking. The speaking was on a Monday while the other two were on the preceding Friday. The listening was immediately followed by the grammar/reading/writing, so no one left, but I was among the first to leave the latter test. We draw from a pile of folded papers to determine the order of the speaking tests. I ended up being the last one and was also feeling unlucky to be one of 3 or 4 of the entire Level 1 to have to test with a teacher other than my normal conversation teacher. I thought it went really badly, but my scores were decent.
The scores are listed as follows.
Grammar, Speaking (which is averaged with my listening score, 95), Vocabulary, Reading&Writing, Intensive Listening, and Average.
The text underneath says (roughly in my lazy and slightly assisted translation), “Works hard and Korean skills are good. Knows a lot of words and grammar. Mistakes are few, too. Moving forward, please continue to study hard.”
Final exams are this coming week. I’m very nervous for the listening. It was my worst before and the class has gotten much more difficult since.
After the first set of exams, so on Friday, the language program actually sent us all to see a Nanta (난타) performance. Nanta is Korea’s longest running show ever and we went as part of our cultural experience for the Korean language program. It was really great. The wiki page linked above gives good basic information, but I will back up the claims about the quality of the entertainment. It was funny, creative, and impressive. The music, mostly (or entirely) of the percussion variety and done with both drums and random kitchenware, was very satisfying and the cast was very skilled. They must possess several very well trained and perfected talents all at once in order to perform.
Now, these things are only a fraction of what I’ve done so far here. I have a list of what to write about and will be posting about them soon.