Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ewha Exchange D16 - Gamaksan Suspension Bridge (감악산 출렁다리) | Expensive meat

Today I went to Uijeongbu.

Joo's (주) parents have previously invited over so they could buy me food and show me around some of the places that foreigners might not be able to go to as easily as Koreans.
Now that we're on holiday, his dad finally had a day off, which meant I could visit.

Joo picked me up at the station and then we walked to his home where I got to meet both of his parents and his older brother by one year.
The first thing they said was:
"Wow, her face really IS tiny"
This is a compliment since having a small face is a beauty standard here in Korea.

I pointed out the family pictures on the wall that I had previously seen while video calling with Joo and his dad ended up finding a whole photo album with baby pictures to show me while his mom had prepared a plate with grapes, apple, and a piece of chocolate cake since both Joo and his dad had recently celebrated their birthdays.

While eating, his mom asked me where I'd like to go - a temple or a lake, and whether I'd like to see the apartment that they'll be moving into in 3 years. I chose the lake and told them I'd love to see the apartment since I'm such a fan of architecture.

But! Before we headed out, his mom handed me a bag with two items; a body lotion and a foam cleanser. I'm not sure if she bought them specifically for me or if they were just extras she had lying around but they were unused.
The reason she gave me this is due to a conversation I had with Joo previously about how northern Europeans don't shower every day, especially not in winter when nobody is sweating, in contrast to Koreans who shower at least once and maybe twice a day.
Joo had joked that I was dirty but I told him that my skin and hair will simply dry out if I wash it that often.
So now I have a moisturizing lotion for my dry-as-a-desert (from a Korean perspective, I guess?) skin.
I'm not sure why she gave me the foam cleanser but it's a soap (this one has no perfume at all) that is supposed to clean the skin and add nutrients.
In the little bag, she also added an apple and some grapes because I need food and everything is closed for 추석 (Chuseok) this weekend.
The grapes are really strange, by the way. The skin is super thick so Joo told me that Koreans slip it off, like like when you blanch almonds, and eat the inside, including chewing the stones because apparently "those are super healthy." They are also very sweet and smell pretty alcoholic. Banu said she thinks it's because the fermentation process has begun.

So we headed out and went to a small.. I'd call it an information center. The apartments have not been built yet but inside this center they had built life-size models of 3 out of the 4 types of apartments on the 1st floor. On the ground floor, there were 1:100 sized models of all of the apartment buildings.
I wish I had taken more pictures but I left my phone in the car and had to borrow Joo's camera for this one. The shutter sound was SO LOUD that I was too embarrassed to take more.
 I'm not sure if this is unique to Korea but I have never seen something like that at home.
Sometimes when new houses are being built in Denmark, you can come and see the first one, which will be used as a model house to attract buyers. But when the rest of the houses have been built, someone will move into the model house.
Here in Korea, these model apartments have been built solely for the purpose of showing off the apartments and attract buyers. Also, they are not set up on the actual site of construction but somewhere near. When all is built, the models will be deconstructed again. To me, it feels like a waste of both time and money but the companies behind these buildings, Doosan (두산), Xii (자이), and Lotte (롯데) are all huge companies with huge incomes so I guess it doesn't matter to them.

They also showcased models of the 'common rooms,' which featured no less than several study rooms, saunas, fitness rooms, cafeterias, children's playgrounds, etc. etc.
Joo said that for never apartment buildings, it's common to have areas like this for the residents to use.

It was a super cool experience that I'm sure most exchange students don't get to have.

After seeing the apartments, we drove to 파주 (Paju), another city outside of Seoul. As we got closer to the lake, I saw big suspension bridge. Imagine my excitement when they told me that WE WERE GOING TO CROSS IT. YAAASS.

The bridge is called 감악산 출렁다리 (Gamaksan Suspension Bridge) and was built in 2016. It remained the longest suspension bridge in Korea until the Wonju Sogeumsan Mountain Suspension Bridge (원주 소금산 출렁다리) was finished in 2018.
Today was a rather chill day (23°C) and a bit cloudy so it was the perfect weather to be here.

The width of the bridge is just enough for 3 people so although some people might stop to take pictures, it's easy to walk by them.
 If you enjoy heights, you might enjoy the view from the grid or the glass floor tiles.
After crossing, we had a walk around. The air has been GREAT lately and with so many trees, the lake, and the fresh smell of rain, it was a perfect getaway. Recently, the combination of the word "healing" and words like trip, travel, etc. has become popular here in Korea. I'd like to think of today's adventures as a healing trip. Compared to the bustling city, it was peacefully quiet here.

Here is Joo and his signature post: "The Thumb."
I like this family photo. His mom is leading the way, his dad is smiling back, Joo is being Joo, and his older brother is patiently waiting.

After this, we went to a restaurant that Joo called a 맛집 (matjib = a place selling delicious food). The previous two times he and I went to so-called matjibs, neither of us were too impressed. This time my expectations weren't too high.

Today's place was quite a bit more fancy than the restaurants I usually go to.
We went to 송추 가마골 (Songchu Gamagol), which is apparently a chain. The one we went to is the main restaurant.
In the very front of the restaurant were fridges with big packages of meat.
One of the 3.5 kg packages was priced at 350550₩, that is a little over 2000 DKK. For 3.5 kg pork.
Meat is expensive in Korea. I knew this. But it still blows my mind just HOW expensive it is. Banu was just as shocked as I when I told her about it after coming home.
The food was great and there was so much of it! I'm not a foodie but even I could taste a great difference between this premium meat and what I usually eat. 
Joo's dad complimented me for eating a lot. He said that girls who can eat a lot are pretty (얘쁘다). This is another very culture specific compliment.

This is probably where you'd think that I went home, right? HAH! Think again!
Because in Korean culture, there are such things as 2차 and 3차. These refer to the 2nd and 3rd places you go to after your original eating spot. Our 2차 was restaurant selling fried chicken. Sorry for the bad picture, I took it as we were leaving.
All in all, his family was super nice! And today was super exciting!

Going to Uijeongbu takes about an hour and I'll usually have to ride 3 different subway lines. However, after eating, they were nice enough to drop me off at the last transfer station and save me 20 min. on the way home.

Oh and his dad said that next time I felt like eating super good meat, they'll buy me more.
If you have read the post I wrote for KTO, you'll know that this is an important opportunity that should definitely be accepted.
Also, free food is always nice.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Ewha Exchange D2 - Welcoming ceremony | Housing orientation | Buddy group

Welcome back to another post about yet another busy day.
For our second day here at Ewha, we had the big welcoming ceremony!

I was dressed cute and comfortably for what was going to be an active day. And I'd spent time in the morning fixing my hair so it'd look nice and all but that was ruined by the rain.

You see, until today, the weather had been HOT HOT HOT with around 35°C every day. But today the weather gods decided that no, one can only have so much sunshine before it becomes unhealthy. And thus the weather gods blessed us with a month's worth of rain or so.

Of course most of us hadn't foreseen the weather gods' decision to soak us all so a lot of us were pretty wet when we arrived at the ECC hall where the orientation was to be held.
Look at the dude's shirt!

I used my green bag, as pictured above, to try to stay as dry as possible and while doing so, I discovered that it's rainproof. Neat!
The ECC building is super cool, by the way. It's built into the ground so we could see all the water piling up outside.

In the big hall outside, we lined up to turn in the paper that Joo helped me print yesterday. Afterwards we were handed Ewha bags with handbooks, folders, and other important papers.

The papers and orientation supplied us with information about campus, course registration, and alien registration. The paper with the bear in the upper left corner was a guide on how to open a bank account.

When the orientation began, we were greeted by Bongjin Kim (김봉진), the Vice President of International Affairs at Ewha Woman's University.
While he told us that we - of course - should study, we were also here to have fun! And it was important that we made sure to have fun!

As shown in the orientation schedule above, we also watched a video on sexual harassment; what qualifies as harassment and how to deal with it. This was the first time I had had to watch something like that.
Afterwards some of the PEACE buddies were introduced and they did little sketches (in English, Chinese, Japanese, French) while telling us about different events that would be arranged for us during our stay such as the upcoming movie night, ordering baseball jackets together, renting a club in Hongdae (홍대) etc.
They also talked shortly about part-time jobs. While I'd hoped to find a job during the semester, I might not be able to..

When it was time for lunch, we could all pick a sandwich and a juice before leaving the room. People just sat down on the floor randomly and I decided to follow the girls who had been behind and in front of me in the food queue.
The lunch break was pretty long so we had plenty of time to learn about each other, our countries, and our majors.
 The girl in the middle here is Abbie from America. The boy is someone I waved over because he didn't seem to know anyone yet. He ended up being in my buddy group, which I'll talk about later.
The girl with the beautiful lavender hair is Marie from England and her Korean BUDDY to the right.
To my right is Tiia from Findland. These were the girls I got closest to that day.

We had a bit more of orientation and then it was off to see campus!
I was honestly still a bit confused after the tour but I'm sure I'll figure out what all the buildings are soon.
My buddy group returned to ECC and since we had a while before the next orientation (yes, that's right, another orientation), we sat down to get to know each other a little bit.
Here's our buddy group!
The girl in pink is our PEACE buddy 서윤 (Seoyoon), the girl in a beige shirt in front of me is actually my neighbor in the dorm, and the guy in white was the guy I waved over when we had lunch. I wonder if we'll get to do a lot of cool things together.

The second orientation, the Housing Orientation, was only for residents of the dorms. There are several dorms here so they decided to split us according to which building we are staying in.
Everything they said was in the Resident's Handbook, which we'd been given upon checking in yesterday.

At the end of the OT, we had to turn in these little cards to confirm that we really were there.

If you fail to show up to this, you get 3 demerit points. At 10 demerit points they evict you. Attendance is no joke at Ewha. Luckily it was over quickly.

Our building was the last to have the orientation (among our little friend group) so when we were done, my roommate Banu and I gathered with the other girls that I had lunch with + a few more to go out for dinner.

We ate at a nearby chicken place that Marie had been to a couple of days prior.
I was the only of us who could speak Korean but that didn't stop Marie, the girl with lavender hair, from trying. We all had a good laugh at her cute attempt to order food.
Taking group pictures is hard.
People never look great at the same time.
After eating, we took a quick stroll down to 신촌 (Sinchon) to check out the area before heading back home.
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