Exchange in Kimchiland

From Korea with Love

Tag Archives: Food

So much to do, so little time

I feel like I won’t have time to do or try everything I wanted here even though it’s not even the halfway of the semester yet. I feel like every weekend has already been fully booked for the next month or so and the plans are badly overlapping. Apparently four months isn’t enough for one country or even one city to fully experience it. I’m feeling like the time is running out. I even had a nightmare the other day that I suddenly had to return back to Finland without experiencing the things I wanted.

I’m still wondering where is the culture shock I should have experienced by now. From the day one I’ve been feeling very comfortable here in South Korea and the feeling hasn’t changed. I’m falling in love with this country and its people more and more every day.

When I first arrived to South Korea I felt very familiar after being to Japan before – the same brands, neon lights, concrete, night life, karaoke boxes… But soon I started to realize that it’s actually a lot different here than in Japan. The mentality of Korean and Japanese people is different – I’m not saying that the other nation is somehow better than the other, but they surely are different. I love both Korea and Japan and their people just the way they are.

I truly wish I had studied the Korean language more before I came here. Even though I’m studying Korean now, I feel like my progress is very slow because I’m using English a lot. I also feel like when I actually can make a conversation in Korean it’s time for me to leave this country. It really is a pity.

Here's a mix of Korean and Japanese culture - Japanese udon noodles with Korean spices.

Here's a mix of Korean and Japanese culture - Japanese udon noodles with Korean spices.

Neon lights of Seoul.

Neon lights of Seoul.

Traditional Korean houses in Seoul.

Traditional Korean houses in Seoul.

Gyeong-ju Field Trip

One week ago we did a field trip to the historical city of Gyeong-ju in South-Eastern Korea. Almost all of the exchange students joined the trip so we had three buses full of people. The whole trip cost only 50 000 won (about 35 euros) including transportation, entrance fees, dinner, lunch, after party with beer and soju and one night in a very nice hotel.

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With my roommates at the Kolon Hotel.

As you may see from the photo, my hair has changed a bit. I actually went to the hairdresser with some friends few weeks ago to ask for a Korean haircut. I like how it turned out. It was only 10 000 won (about 7 euros) in a hair salon near our campus.

When we arrived to Gyeong-ju, we visited few temples at the mountains.

Seokguram Grotto had a pretty nice view over Gyeong-ju.

Seokguram Grotto had a pretty nice view over Gyeong-ju.

I love the Korean temple decorations.

I love the Korean temple decorations.

Bulguksa temple.

Bulguksa temple.

After visiting Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa temple we drove down from the mountains and visited a place that was built for the king to have parties in. Actually Gyeong-ju was the capital of Korea (known then as Silla kingdom), so it has a lot of royal history.

The party halls for the king.

The party halls for the king.

When the sun was setting down, we knew it was time for dinner.

When the sun was setting down, we knew it was time for dinner.

Meat stew as a dinner. Delicious!

Meat stew as a dinner. Delicious!

After the dinner we drove to our hotel. I saw a sign outside that said “sauna” so I was really excited that they might actually have a sauna/hot bath section at the hotel. As soon as we got to our rooms I went to search the hotel with my friend if there actually was a bath section there. We really found one! I went to get Leena and we went directly there. It was about 5 000 won (3,5 euros) for the hotel guests to use the sauna/bath. It was totally worth it! They had a cold bath, warm bath and hot bath. They also had a pretty nice steam sauna. My favourite was the hot bath which was around 42 degrees celsius – just the way I liked it back in Japan. Naisu!

After we had relaxed ourselves in sauna we had an evening party prepared by the A.G.A. members. They had a talent show and a fashion show which were quite nice! I made a video of the evening party, which you can see here.

The next day we went to see the royal tombs in Gyeong-ju.

I loved the scenery at the tombs. I also love the yellow flowers that were blooming in Gyeong-ju - the same flowers are now starting to bloom here in Suwon!

I loved the scenery at the tombs. I also love the yellow flowers that were blooming in Gyeong-ju - the same flowers are now starting to bloom here in Suwon!

It was a very nice trip – I recommend the future exchange students to join the trip as well as they seem to arrange this trip every semester.

Oh yeah, we finally got our A.G.A. baseball jackets as well.

The baseball jackets are a big part of the campus life here in Korea - every faculty has their own.

The baseball jackets are a big part of the campus life here in Korea - every faculty has their own.

My room & Orientation day

I took a few photos of our dorm room. As I’ve said before, we live in a small dorm room together with Leena, the other exchange student from JAMK. It’s surprisingly cozy for a dorm room!

Our room.

Our room.

My half of the room is at the window side and you can see Leena’s half at the side of the door. I took these pictures before Leena had arrived so that’s why Leena’s half is a bit empty… :-)

My half of the room.

My half of the room.

My study/blogging corner.

My study/blogging corner.

The bed - it's very nice to sleep on!

The bed - it's very nice to sleep on!

Yesterday we had an orientation day from 10am until 5pm or so. Even though it was a long day, the time flew past surprisingly quickly. We got a lot of information about our studies and living in South Korea/Suwon. They gave us a huge package of useful information that included a survival book (with info about everything and anything, really!), a map of Suwon and all the other necessary documents one should need. They really are efficient here!

They also treated us a huuuuuge Korean style buffet lunch. Everything was so good! You just couldn’t try everything even though you wanted!

The huge lunch buffet!

The huge lunch buffet!

I tried to fit a little bit of everything on my plate, but it was impossible!

I tried to fit a little bit of everything on my plate, but it was impossible!

The school will begin next Wednesday, since there is a national holiday at the beginning of the week. So we actually have a four days long holiday now! Have to make some plans for sightseeing! Today I’ll actually meet with Seona, the South Korean girl I met in Tampere last fall. Tomorrow we were planning on going to noraebang (karaoke box) with some exchange students and Korean tutor students. It will be fun for sure! Have to think about what to do on Monday and Tuesday… Hopefully they won’t close everything for the national holiday and I’ll be able to do some sightseeing then. (-:

First two days in Korea!

Yay, I’m in South Korea now! I arrived here yesterday without bigger problems. There were some kind tutor students at the airport to pick me up. They took me to the bus that goes to Suwon and told me to get off at the final stop which was called “Hotel Castle”. At the final stop, there were some other tutor students that guided us to the taxis. I took a taxi to the campus with two other exchange students. The taxi ended up costing only like 1 euro each! It’s so cheap in Korea to use a taxi! Actually, everything here is quite cheap compared to the Finnish prices. At the restaurant, we could eat our stomachs full of delicious BBQ pork and drink some soju (Korean liquor made of potatoes) and it was only 5 000 won, which is about 3,5 euros, each! Unbelievable!

BBQ pork and soju with Chinese exchange students.

BBQ pork and soju with Chinese exchange students.

After I had arrived at the Ajou University dormitory, the student tutors here guided me to my dorm room and told me to come downstairs in few hours for a trip to a Korean BBQ restaurant. The dorm room is actually kind nice – I thought it would be smaller but you can fit in here perfectly. So, when I had settled down to my room, I went downstairs and met many Korean students there. Everyone was so nice and they were asking a lot about Finland. Actually, I didn’t really think anyone knew the Korean xylitol gum commercial I talked about the other day, but everyone was like “Hyvä Hyvä!” when I told them I was Finnish. Weird! :-D

In Korea, you cut your BBQ pork with scissors. How convenient!

In Korea, you cut your BBQ pork with scissors. How convenient!

The BBQ restaurant was great! I loooove Korean cuisine! It’s spicy and delicious – and cheap! After the BBQ restaurant, we went to a huge department store called Home Plus. I bought myself a pillow and a pillowcase – they only had inflatable pillow here ready for me and it really is uncomfortable… But the pillow and the pillowcase were like 5 euros together so I don’t mind having to buy a new one. I also bought some other stuff like little baskets, hangers, laundry powder etc. Everything ended up costing like 20 euros together so not too expensive I would say.

The view from our dorm room.

The view from our dorm room.

The campus area isn’t really that exotic, it’s like any European or American campus area. The picture taken from our window could well be taken in Jyväskylä. I haven’t been feeling any kind of culture shock here, everything is just great! The campus area is full of little parks and trees so I first tough that this place was like the countryside. But once you step out of the campus area main gate by night, you will see streets full of neon light sings and you can hear Korean pop music everywhere. It’s so cool!

Tomorrow is the orientation day, can’t wait! There’s also a dinner organized by the tutor students in the evening, so I’ll definitely attend that one as well!

This place is just awesome!

Let’s go!

Today was my final exam at JAMK and now I’m ready to go! I’ll begin my final packing soon and try to go to sleep early since tomorrow morning I’ll take the 7:30am train to Tikkurila, from where I’ll take a local bus to Helsinki-Vantaa airport. My flight will leave at 2pm but I decided on an early train since the trains here in Finland have been very late during the winter. If the train is on time, I’ll reach Helsinki-Vantaa airport just before 11am.

I just did the online check-in for the flight so I already have my boarding pass now. All I need to do at the airport is to leave my luggage at the baggage drop counter. I usually use direct flights from Finland to Asia, but this time I’ll have a stopover in Amsterdam, so I’m a little bit worried of my luggage. I’ve heard many stories about these huge European airports and their luggage handling… Can’t be sure where my luggage will end up. Let’s just hope they’ll arrive to Seoul with the same aircraft as I will!

I’ll update this blog once I’ve settled down to my small but hopefully cozy dorm room. I’ll try to get the Internet working on Wednesday night. See you soon in Kimchiland!

My first attempt on Korean kimbap this Saturday. Can't wait to try some REAL Korean cuisine soon!

My first attempt on Korean kimbap this Saturday. Can't wait to try some REAL Korean cuisine soon!

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