(merkit hukassa)

Adventures in Korea

Tag Archives: I’m not used to this

Wussup, Pillandu?

Hell yeah I’m back in Finland!

Aside from getting my clothes all wet, the typhoon didn’t cause any major discomfort. My plane was an hour late though, but since I had enough time to change planes in Amsterdam, no problems.

Tips for padawans: remember to leave your alien registration card with the immigration personnel in Korea. I did. And EU border formalities with EU passport were lovely. The guy barely glanced at my passport. In Finland I didn’t even see any border personnel.

My trip home took 44 hours altogether. I almost cried, watching the sunset from the plane for the whole flight from ‘dam. Yes, sunsets in northern regions last pretty long. The first thing I tried to do in Finland was to ASK someone at the tourist info if they knew the bus schedules – instead of the Finnish way of just reading the boards and figuring things out by ourselves. Well, there weren’t anybody to ask from and I got confused. Then I bought some snacks from the convenience store and wasn’t sure anymore how to use my credit card – the system in Finland is different, you know, and I had forgotten. And I still have problems using the tap… which way it closes? And I think it’s gonna take a while to start handing and receiving things with one hand.

I had to wait for the bus for 2 hours and, due to Foo Fighter’s gig in Helsinki, it was packed. I had to stand for the first hundred kilometers, but Finnish bus drivers are honestly way better than Koreans, so it was like standing in a train. Except smoother. And I spend it chatting with this cute and polite young guy, not bad right?

After Lahti I got a seat and fell asleep. I woke up a couple of times, saw white people around me and wondered where all these tourists were headed, until I realized I was in Finland and they were locals. I woke up in Kärsämäki and started chatting with a the lady seated behind me and it was great. It never happens normally though, chatting with strangers, in Finland.

I was surprised and happy to have three of my friends welcoming me at Oulu bus station, after the 10 hours bus ride. So happy! The weather was superb, my friends were there and we had interesting stuff to do. Although, when I got home later, there wasn’t anybody to welcome me (even my sister went back to Oulu pretty quickly, she had to work in the morning). My parents are in Norway and they took the dog with them. SO QUIET HERE!

My home

The nights are white. The sun doesn’t set until halfway of July. There are mosquitoes everywhere. I can drink from the tap. The food is salty. Fruits are cheap. And, I have to face the reality, finish my school and start looking for a job. I feel the stress piling up already. I did little for the job finding anyways, since my friend called and I asked him to put a word around for me.

Xiit, this is not June, this is August.

Note: the nights ain’t getting this dark until August, obvious xiit picture.

There is so much to do and so little time! Aaaaaa. Gotta go.

Ps. I lent my camera for a friend, the pictures are old. Only things that have changed since are the cars anyways.

…and it’s kinda gay

I went to check out the gay clubs in Itaewon last Friday. Certainly, a lot of gays and very friendly atmosphere. Totally different from earlier on the day in the same area. Itaweon in daytime was super intimidating, after I’ve gotten used to the reserved Korean manner guys. Honestly, I wonder if the guys there really get lucky with the aggressive approach. Don’t try it on me, I get annoyed.

Back to the homo hill, there weren’t many girls there, and the lesbians I could count with one hand’s fingers. My friend told me there are lesbian clubs in Hongdae, but isn’t it just boring and prejudiced to separate rainbow people by gender? If I went out with my gay friends in Finland, why would we want to go to separate bars just because some of us have something hanging between our legs and some don’t? I don’t get it. Well, doesn’t matter, we had fun.

I got all happy the next day to see so many cool indie kids in Samseong,  I got a ticket from my friend Vanessa, for this band I had never heard of before, but which was very awesome. Mellow and massive and cute. Check them out: Dear Cloud (디어 클라우드). There was this coolest girl ever sitting beside me, but of course I was too shy to talk to her. By the way, again they gave out freebies. I guess they do it often here. And the concert was awesome, but way too long… more than two hours of mellow music is just a bit too much in one go.

So, by the time it was over, I was hungry and tired and since it was such a long time since I last took a bus from Gangnam, I forgot from which exit it leaves and spend a long time looking for the right bus stop, since of course Koreans can’t put the information on any maps – they just have like 12 tiny bus figures on the map but no info of which bus leaves where. And, no north arrow either, so I couldn’t even figure anything out by compass points. Of course I could have asked, but I’m from Finland, we don’t ask.

Yesterday a couple of Lotta’s friends from Finland came to Suwon and we had great time. Of course we drank excessively and today I’ve been feeling not that fresh. I ended up causing some trouble, even though I had no intention whatsoever, nor did I start it, but oh well, I got the blame since I’m older and look oh-so-manly with my new summer haircut. It was nothing serious though so I guess it’s okay now. And I’m leaving the town anyways kkkkkkkk

PS. They are opening a new store called ㅋㅋㅋ down the street. I wonder what kinda business it is?

Mentoring

What up?

I’ve been sick, I’ve been clubbing and I’ve met loads of new people. I’m so sad I barely have two weeks left.

Korean drama (as well as Japanese drama, manga and anime) often have characters catching colds, and they faint, wobble and almost die and need to be taken care of (preferably you should feed them with bunny shaped apple slices). Before I came here I was hardly ever sick and I thought it’s just stupid drama thing, over exaggerating and yeah, drama.

Now that I’ve experienced Korean cold twice I can tell you: hell no they exaggerate, I honestly felt like dying with my 39 degrees of fever and shaky legs. So if you come here, take care not to catch cold. I missed our school festival because of cold. So sad.

As soon as I got better, I went clubbing in Hongdae, because now it’s warm enough to stay until the buses start running again (around 5.30). Hongdae certainly has a lot to offer, it is still very awesome. I wanted to go today too, but then again it’s too much work to wait until morning and the guys can be very persistent and pushy. Sometimes I don’t mind, but I’ve got my share already. I kinda wanna try the gay clubs still, there should be some in Hongdae and a lot in Itaewon (where I still haven’t been to). But it’s boring to go alone and rude to drag a bunch of straight friends with you. So I guess I’m gonna skip that performance.

Other topic, I’ve been meeting with the students who are coming to my home university next semester. They are very nice and awesome and I hope I can be of some help. And I really hope I have time to hang out with them in Finland too! I feel like I’m tutoring again – although now I feel like I have more to give coz I know their culture and how Finnish culture is different – and how surprisingly similar it is.

And how is it similar or how does it differ?

Similarities:

  • Finnish people love to drink – so do Koreans.
  • Finnish people love grilled meat – so do Koreans.
  • Finns like things predictable – so do Koreans.
  • Finns at least pretend to be humble – so do Koreans.
  • Finns are punctual – Koreans are even more.
  • Finns like well organized stuff – just like Koreans.
  • Koreans go to sauna naked – which is proper way to do it if you ask a Finn
  • Finns… ah, never mind, can’t figure out more similarities.

Differences:

  • Koreans eat when they drink – Finns just drink
  • Koreans behave even when drunk – Finns just don’t
  • Korean guys treat girls like princesses – Finnish guys couldn’t care less
  • Many Korean girls act like princesses – Finnish women couldn’t care less
  • Koreans spend their free time in school or work – Finns rather scratch their rears at home instead
  • For Koreans the group matters – Finns couldn’t care less about their classmates, and even less for workmates
  • Koreans avoid arguments because consensus matters – Finns avoid arguments because they are too lazy to fight – except when drunk.

While mentoring I decided to start a new blog. I got inspired by Hangul a day, which has been a huge help in learning Korean. I wanted to make a similar blog about Finnish – small daily fragments of Finnish culture and language. I post a link here later when I get enough stuff to publish.

    Feelin exhausted, creative, and very, very Finnish

    Hi dudes!

    Next week is the mid-term week and that means a lot here. Even though 벚꽃, cherry blossom, is awesome and everywhere, people are studying like crazy. It even affected my lazy ass and I’ve been studying too. It feels good, to use my little gray cells for something. I don’t take it as far as Koreans – they spend nights at the uni library and even have study group meetings all weekend – but I do use my spare time in the club room, studying, and often stay there until late night. Or… we might do this:

    I was a bit concerned when I decided to study in Korea. I knew they are hard ass math freaks (which I surely am not). I thought I would have hard time trying to catch up. I was partly right – they have way better math skills than I do (which on the other hand is not that hard to achieve, I suck), but I also have skills they don’t. Creative thinking, that is.

    My teacher (yeah, Mikko) once told me Finns are appreciated because of their ability to think creatively and outside the box. I didn’t really pay much thoughts on that, until now. I find myself being sometimes the only one in my class who can visualize past and future stages or possible variants. Or even draw flowcharts. Or suggest new things or improvements. And this is all thanks to Finnish education system – we do encourage students to think, not just swallow something that the teachers decide to pour in. But I wish teachers demanded more from us. Me – I only do what I have to do, I would never do more.

    So sometimes in class I feel utterly stupid, but the next moment I might be the only one who has something to say. It’s partly because I’m years senior to my classmates and partly because I have been through more than they will in next ten years, but also because of the Finnish background. I do realize how little I know. I should study more. A lot. I’ve been lazing around too long. I’m kinda in the verge of finding my thing. Let’s hope I’ll figure it out soon.

    Don’t worry, it’s not like I study all the time. I’ve gone to places. To do stuff. Here’s proof:

    Picnic at Teletubby Hill. We made Finnish (universal) pancakes with Lotta. And ordered food – the delivery guys know where to take it if you ask them to bring it to Teletubby Hill.

    Had some beers with the girls. These are the “side dishes” to go with the drinks (we already ate the mozzarella sticks). These and 3 l of beer cost us 27000w – 19 e.

    Went to see cherry blossoms in Seoul, with a friend. This is from Yeouido Park and the general area around.


    Of course my camera battery ran out right before we found the cherry trees. But I got a snap from the campus instead, right in front of the Dpt of Engineering

    The weekend before our Current Issues course (from which I dropped out) made a field trip to Seoul. So I managed to see the palace I missed on my first week.

    In Chinese horoscope I was born on the year of Pig, so I took a picture with this fellow:

    In front of the Tourism Bureau Something we saw these dudes, replicating a traditional Korean wedding. Their hats are very fancy and mesmerizing

    And we had a party and went clubbing with the professor… but that part of culture we knew fairly well already. The club, btw, was very crowded and full of guys. Dancing guys. Guys don’t dance in Finland.

    YEP. Heippa!

    PS. I got a package from a dear friend. Salmiakki <3 But now I miss her and Finland even more.

    “But you should see the other guy…!”

    I was in a fight, look:

    Just kidding. I went to get rid of my wisdom tooth, but they took out two. With the painkillers (I even managed to find a pharmacy and get my prescribed medicine) it cost me 300 000 won. Maybe 250 euros_ Thank you Visa. (Message for my mom: kantsii kohta kertoa paljonko oon velkaa ennenko mennee rahat risasiin hampaisiin) They even gave me an antibiotic shot – after allergy tests. They never bother with tests in Finland. I like Korean system. So efficient.

    And my life is a musical! I’m not sure if I already mentioned this, but when I need to get stuff done I go to my Club’s room in New Student Union Building (Yes, building. They have not only one, but two student union buildings – for clubs and student activities. In Finland we barely have a basement cupboard for the student union). There is always somebody – people doing their homework quietly, playing piano, chatting. Then suddenly someone starts a song and people join, singing harmonies, spontaneously. When the song ends they just keep doing what they were doing like nothing happened. And that happens all the time. (Well, it’s GLEE Club so that explains.) Yes, I too join spontaneously now that I know the songs they sing.

    And I got my work done too… sat there for whole day working on my mind map and flowcharts – which apparently overwhelms my classmates. They told me Koreans are not good with holistic views but details – in which I suck hard. My mind works in pictures, so I need to process everything through flowcharts and mind maps to actually understand. Tomorrow I have a presentation and I’m still a bit confused.

    I took some very random pictures. Here goes:

    My Biological Wastewater Treatment handbook. Very heavy, very big, and very boring.

    Wrist bands from Everland and Big Show. And Pizza ads.

    I’m bored of orange juice and allergic to nestle IceTea, so I switched to this. It’s good, but the pink one tastes like childhood antibiotics. Yuk… YUK!

    One very cute Lotta and our dorm room. Check Lotta’s blog too if you haven’t already. In Finnish or in English.

    And a postcard to my friend who has her birthday soon. Hope it gets there on time. Yes, that’s only one word there. Saying happy birthday. So Happy Birthday Kemppu <3

    PS. I bought PhotoShop smudge effect from the cosmetics store nearby. It’s just foundation, but it gives the exact same effect that photoshop. ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

    The fresh air of Gyeong-ju

    The Office of International Affairs (OIA) and Ajou Global Ambassadors (A.G.A) organized us a 1 night 2 days trip to Gyeong-ju. The little I know about Gyeong-ju is that it is the spot with most historic sites. They were pretty nice, but I guess I would have enjoyed it more by myself and later in spring – and if I had researched a bit beforehand. But it was great to get away from the Seoul dust – the fresh mountain air was awesome.

    The bus ride from Suwon took about 5 hours, with two stops. The highway rest areas here are pretty well equipped, nothing like the shabby gas stations in Finland. There are similarities though – in Finland we have the ABCs, here they just have more chain stores. Fast, that’s the key word.

    I spent most of my time in the bus taking pictures of weird things that interest me. Like construction sites and erosion prevention. And load securing on trucks. I wonder if they have any legislation to control it. They barely do it. I have to find out how it is…the girl next door is doing her masters in transportation engineering, I have to ask her.

    We spent the night in Kolon Hotel (in the middle of nowhere). They had a sauna/onsen there so me and Lotta had to try it. We only had 40 minutes, but it was worth it. Refreshing. A.G.A held a talent show at the hotel and many groups had prepared something. I have to say I liked the Indonesian dances the most. Colorful, smiling, pretty and they are good dancers too. And they are friendly. I love friendly people.

    It would have been fun to do something together with A.G.A people afterwards, but we had fun with our own little group too. I guess I’m getting the first symptoms of culture shock, since I’m starting to feel a bit irritated about stupid stuff. I need to get my ass out of the dorms soon, and do it alone, or I start nagging at people who don’t deserve it.

    Here are some pictures of the sights and the people (and food):

    Fast dentist is fast

    In Finland I waited for six months to get an appointment with my dentist. It really sucks a big time, the queues there. Here my filling suddenly came off and after trying one private dental clinic down the street (they kicked me out, saying they don’t speak English) I went to the university hospital’s dental clinic.

    After filling in some forms the dental hygienist walked me to the x-ray guy, click, “okay Leena, phinished!” and out to the dentist. She checked my teeth while waiting for the filling material and told me my filling came out because my wisdom teeth is putting too much pressure on it – and I need to have it removed. Is next month okay? Oh, and we need to finish your root channel treatment and put a new crown on your teeth, is next week okay? And do you want a golden or porcelain crown?” And all this took maybe 30 minutes.

    I have no clue how much do I need to pay for all this, but it’s probably dirty cheap compared to private dentists in Finland. Which would be my only option, since it’s impossible to get in the public dental care. For this one round – emergency filling, one local x-ray and one panoramic x-ray and check-up I paid  83000 won –  58 euros. Let’s see how much does it cost for the rest. I don’t really care, I’m just happy to get my teeth fixed and I have my insurance.

    I’ve been x-rayed quite a lot in these last two months – first full torso x-ray back in Finland when I had to stay in the hospital, then here my lungs and my teeth. I need no more radiation.

    GLEE club started for real. It’s a mixed choir, rather big one. I was happily surprised of their talent and even the young conductor dongseng gets my approval. We started with this song (skip to 3:40) – medley of animation music. My choir back home should learn from Korean culture – no excessive chatting and stupid questions, just listening and doing until the practice was over. After that we had plenty of time to talk – it seems to be common to go to a bar after clubs. We apparently had fun – after two bars we came back to the club room to play some more drinking games – until 6 AM. Those games are totally awesome.

    Then again, I caught a cold so today I’ve been staying at the dorms, trying to get better. My friend is coming to Seoul tomorrow so I want to be able to go and meet him there. Also, tomorrow we are meeting some other friends and I have a presentation to make and and and… Oh, some pictures:

    First one is from my Ecodesign II class… we have to disassemble and analyze an existing product and design a better one.

    The lower pictures are from our dorm room – our decorations. Poster of the play I went to see, Big Bang, Korean flag and a hentai poster we found on our way home.

    Tech differences 1: Water automage

    I decided I’m gonna post short entries about things we don’t have in Finland – tech and design wise.

    First – machine that generates warm drinking water automagically!

    Yes. We have drinking water automates in Finland too, but only in public places and only for cold water. Tap water quality in Finland is quite high and it doesn’t taste that much like chlorine – so we just  drink from the tap. For tea and cup noodles we use electric kettles or normal pot&stove combo.

    As far as I know, the water treatment here involves quite a lot of chemicals (chlorine), so I haven’t seen people drinking tap water (I don’t know what they do in normal homes). Water automates are everywhere. Some connected to the water network, some using bottled water. On the right hand side there is the cold water tap and the magical hot water tap on the left.

    Considering the amount of instant noodles and tea I’ve been consuming, it is the most convenient thing ever, but I wonder how much energy does one machine consume per day – there are cooling and heating elements that require electricity and they are on all the time.

    Whoa! She’s a nuna!

    I’ve been doing so much these days I don’t know where to start? EDIT: some random pictures here

    Creative parking Suwon Suwon I insisted people here should call me unni (언니 ) or nuna (누나) (the former one is how girls address their older sister and the latter how boys address their older sister). It sounds cute, but now I regret revealing my age – I can’t call anyone oppa (오빠) – which is how girls call older guys.  It all sounds very, very whiny and cute, but the boys here said they like it. Apparently they feel very masculine when they can do something for the girls. I feel so very old here. And masculine too. Before I know, I’ll start answering when ever somebody calls “Oppaaaa~!” I’ve found lovely people here, really cute and awesome girls to hang out with. The guys are nice too, especially the tutor guys, who are soon gonna get tired of us if they keep that up. School started for real – I’ve already missed two of my classes (messed up my schedule, not on purpose). Two of my classes – Ecodesign I and Biological wastewater treatment – are taught by professor Lee Kun-Mo, who gave a really pleasant and professional first impression. He seems to be strict, he speaks fluent English and the courses don’t seem too hard by far. So I really recommend his classes – based on first impression. I’m considering taking Ecodesign II too, but I’m already taking six courses in total, that might be too hard for my lazy ass – especially if I stick to all those clubs I signed for today. So yeah, it’s all like in anime – they have stands where they lure in innocent minds for clubs and associations – varying from religion to astronomy and from rock band to study groups. I signed for choir and English conversation. At the choir stand I had to fill a form where I needed to tell my birth year – and the guys started whispering: “Oh, she’s a nuna!” I also signed in for band audition. There are two rock band clubs, but the other club wasn’t exactly welcoming  – they basically shunned me away. The other group seemed nice, so I’m gonna try my luck. The weather has been awfully cold. It was snowing on Tuesday morning when we left to Seoul. It was the March first movement day – the day they remember their fight for independence and those who died in wars. There were quite a many activities in Seoul and we also went to Kimchi museum in COEX mall.

    Statue of Hammering Man in Seoul

    The beauty of Koreans is starting to hurt my eyes. I think I might start feeling inferior pretty soon. Well… at least I managed to impress the locals in my class a couple of times. I’m not sure whether it was me answering professors’ questions correctly, me speaking English rather well and using long sentences, or me just being able to talk to the professor as an equal. Be as it might, I have to admit I kinda liked how the whole class went “whoooa”. (Note: Back in Finland I’m the crappiest student in my class.) I caught a cold, so I had to stay at the dorms tonight, although the girls went out to party. The hot food seems to help and it’s not that hard to find vegetarian food anymore. You just need to know what to ask. So long – diet! Today we found a really good and cheap toppokki place and yesterday we ate bibimbap… ah, the food is awesome, but it makes me crave for beer!

    And yeah, we’re gonna get our own Ajou Uni baseball jackets… They look warm and comfy! Look, here Sub is wearing one, ain’t that cool?

    Anna-Maria & Sub

    I’ll post some pictures when I have time… now I really need to start preparing for tomorrow’s classes. 안녕~!

    BIG SHOW… and yeah the school started too

    The orientation day at Ajou held in just as many PowerPoint presentations as I expected. Quite a many that is. But the information was useful and very down to earth and the lunch buffet was overwhelming and huge. Lots of vegetarian choices too! The OIA staff seems really nice and helpful and the AGA members are hard working folk. I figured out my course schedule and I have Fridays off! Yay!

    Awsome lunch is awesome.
    Spot the Finns

    Then the main course – BIG SHOW 2011, first one of the three Big Bang concerts. Korean pop – K-pop for short – is a huge thing all over Asia, as well as among freaks particular music diggers all around the world. Big Bang has been one of the most popular groups for years – if not the most popular. It was also my first contact with K-pop so I didn’t think twice when Ryo mentioned Puu had and extra ticket (I didn’t even know it was possible to get the tickets, but Puu’s amazing). Here’s a shining example of their music (with Seagways and a tank) – GD&TOP’s 뻑이가요.

    There is a straight bus from Ajou to where I was aiming, but I was too stupid to find it… and I was running late so I just took the route I knew. A long route. And crowded. And sweaty. Quite a lot of staring occurred too. But I got there on time, finally, and managed to spot Puu’s amazing pink hair in midst of thousands of screaming tiny fans. After hours of waiting we finally got to our standing area, which was pretty well located – we managed to see the guys up close, really close.
    Big Bang

    Every Big Bang fan.
    Every Big Bang fan.

    The show was big business. Thousands of screaming fans holding up their crown-shaped light sticks and chanting fan chants to every song, laser show, fireworks, Seagways, pink tank, hilarious parody fan service version (which might have been a bit gay) of popular drama Secret Garden, confetti and the amazing charisma those guys ooze. Even my hardened iceberg of a heart fluttered, and not just a little. Oh I just admit it, I was totally into it, in my moderate Finnish way. Not as much as those little ones though, they were a bit scary, but luckily so small that I could hold my place if I wanted. Nothing compared to moshpits of huge drunk neo-nazis back in Finland.

    The taxi ride from Olympic Park to Hongdae was scary, but Puu said it was actually pretty good compared to average. IT WAS FREAKING SCARY. I calmed down when I got food. Really spicy tofu soup and those good side dishes they offer at BBQ places. That place’s gotta be my favorite, the staff was lovely. And I almost cried when I got back to the hostel and saw a group of good people I met last week. I was so happy to see them again and it felt like coming home. And I was only away for one night.

    So I guess this is the honeymoon period of culture shock? I’ll give you pictures when I get back to dorms tomorrow.

    PS. Wives, I would have bought some fan stuff for you but they sold it out hours before I got there.

    PPS. For some reason everything I’ve done so far has been a bit gay… and this was supposed to be a conservative country! Or is it just me?