Saturday, September 16, 2017

Day 25: Field trip, orientation, and taxiride

For once, I actually went to bed at a reasonable time last night because today was going to be super busy for me!

We woke up around 10 or so and slowly started getting ready.
For our Korean Popular Culture and Korean Wave class, our professor had arranged two 'field trips' from which we had to choose one to go on. They were today and next Saturday. I already knew that I had a meeting to attend in the afternoon today but I would rather have a tight schedule than miss out on 연고전 (yeonkojeon)~

So we went today and what we were supposed to see were performances of traditional Korean music and dance.
It took more than an hour to get there since we were going to the 국립국악원 (National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts), which is situated in Seocho-dong, on the other side of the Han River. During our first class with her, our professor told us that there would be a bus that we could take there. But since we weren't very familiar with the busses here, we decided to walk from Nambu Bus Terminal station.
A big group of foreigners? That can only be our classmates!
Our professor had told us that she would bring rice cakes for all of us and she kept her word!
As soon as we arrived, we were pointed in the direction of a big cardboard box filled with tightly wrapped rice cakes.

It felt very chewy and compact to eat and had a slight sweet taste to it but nothing too noteworthy. And then there were raisins in it!
Our professor had a few student go and pass these ball pens around. I got a cat-dog! It's the cutest pen ever!
Shortly after, tickets were given to those of us, who had paid in advance during class.

Before the concert, though, our professor took us around the museum there and told us about and showed us the different traditional musical instruments.
And then she brought us into a small room and had us sit down to listen to two girls demonstrating how some of the instruments we were going to be listening to worked.
These girls had been practicing since very early ages and had been accepted into very prestigious music programs. The instruments were out of tune though so we didn't get to hear much.
Our professor, being the expert that she is, sat down and tried to play it after tuning it but also had to stop because the sounds wouldn't come out right.
Then the tour continued!
We were a LOT of students and at this point we couldn't possibly fit more students into one room so I went out to snap some pictures of where we'd first been.

Then it was time for the concert.
But! Before we went into the hall, our professor wanted us to take a group picture outside.
In true Korean fashion she uttered:
"Make like a cute!"

Celine grabbed a program on what we were about to watch but it was also announced before every performance in both Korean and English on two big screens on each side of the room.

We were told that we weren't allowed to take pictures in there (nor bring food or flowers) but that we would be allowed to take pictures in the end. I don't know why they wouldn't let us take pictures of the first act..

The Daechwita sounded absolutely horrible.
Celine and I had gotten seats to the right side on the very front row and once they started drumming and blowing the horns, it was so incredibly loud! There was no change to the tones or rhythm and when they finally stopped, I felt like part of my hearing had crept into the very back of head as a self-defense tactic. Holy freak.

The next act was better. There was a group of both men and women sitting on the floor, playing different instruments. All 4 performances were pretty long but this one varied a bit in the sound at least. Celine and I both enjoyed how the others would sometimes make noises of approval whenever one of the others were having a solo moment of either singing or playing their instrument.

Third was a single woman dancing elegantly, dressed completely in white. To my right, there was a small scene where a group of 4-5 men sat down and accompanied her dance with music. I couldn't get a picture of them but there two people, performing during the last acts, were sitting in the same place. As you see, they were super close. But their loudness never even came close to that of the first Daechwita performance.

Now we were allowed to take pictures!
It started out with music and slowly, more and more people entered the scene. Their clothes were quite different from the previous numbers but that's because this was a Buddhist dance rather than just a traditional Korean dance.
It was chaos. But an interesting kind of chaos.

The concert ended at 16.20 and the meeting I was going to was supposed to start at 16.00 (I'd already told them I'd be late) but was luckily rescheduled to 17.00 instead. Phew.
This time we decided to take the shuttle bus back to the station with some of the other students and a bunch of older Koreans.

The bus stopped at Seocho station and from there, I took the subway to Gangnam where the meeting would be held.
I forgot to tell you why I was even going to the meeting, didn't I?
On the same night as I had gone for the interview with Bruce (준행) and his friend, Charles (진욱), they'd told us on Facebook who had become the first official members of Beyond the English Divide, which is what we will be called from now on - and I was one of them!

Today's meeting was actually an orientation day where we could be meeting each other for the first time. Bruce had asked us to send him pictures of ourselves the night before and then used these pictures in a powerpoint presentation so we all could take turns introducing ourselves.

They'd brought donuts from Dunkin' Donuts but I was too flustered when I came in to eat anything.
After introducing ourselves, we got to chit-chat a bit with each other and some of us walked back to the station together afterwards. I also got to talk to Bruce a bit so that was cool! It's always interesting to hear people's intentions when they start up a project like this.
We were a good mix of people; 3 Koreans (Bruce, Charles, and their friend), a Dutch woman, a British woman, a Nepalese man, an Uzbekistani girl, and three Americans (a guy and 2 girls). From what I could see, I was the youngest one of us.

After the meeting I hurried to Isu where I'd be meeting Jake. Since he cancelled yesterday, we'd changed our plans to today.
Since I walked with the others, I was a bit late and was nervous that he'd been waiting for a long time when I finally showed up. It didn't help that it was hard for me to connect to the wifi the first 20 minutes I waited there, making it impossible for me to contact anyone. So I stood there, eating the rest of the rice cake I had left, and tried not to notice the stares too much.
When I finally connected and messaged him, it turned out he'd been sleeping and was only on his way now.
I'd sat down at a bench facing the road and didn't wait long before Jake showed up.
He was feeling pretty sick so instead of doing anything in te neighborhood, we hung out at his place.
On our way, we met a cute little dog that Jake squeaked at the sight of.
He tried petting it but it's wasn't too interested at first. Then I sat down and it totally came over to me hahahhaa.
Earlier today, or was it yesterday(?), I'd told Isabella and Celine about having seen stores in Isu where older ladies were sitting on the floor on mats and pretty much had the things they were selling stabled on the floor as well. Although this wasn't the place I saw the ajummas (elder ladies), I finally have a great example of it on picture!

Jake told me the night before that he felt like eating chicken tomorrow. And so we did.

Suddenly it was time for us to leave so I could catch the last subway home. When we were on our way out the door, Jake couldn't find his apartment card and was totally stressing out. We were already pretty tight on time so we probably wouldn't have made it anyways.

Taxi it was! We spent a while trying to catch one because a car had parked right behind the taxi spot. The taxi drivers didn't want to deal with it and just drove past us and another girl waiting.
We walked further down the road and with Jake's help, I finally got one!
Korean taxis are sort of a joke in my friend group. Not a funny joke but more like something we warn each other of because we feel like they're pretty reckless. They slalom their way around other vehicles and go pretty fast while doing so - that's what we think - and that's pretty much what my driver did. He accelerated quickly and stopped in the same fashion, all while playing soulful music from the car radio.
When we crossed the river, I was busy looking out the window to enjoy the lights. As my eyes returned to the speedometer, I saw that we were going more than 100km/h! Holy freak.
The most 'exciting' part was when we came to a tunnel. I was busy looking out the window again and suddenly we just descended down this tunnel that I had not seen coming! My stomach was convinced I was in a roller coaster in that moment.
We came to Yonsei's Severance Hospital where Jake had asked him to let me off. He went aaaaaaaall the way up to the front of the building in such high speed, yet somehow managed to stop the car almost at once. Korean taxi drives are like emotional roller coasters, I'm telling you.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Day 24: Chill day in Hongdae

Today was a pretty chill day.

Yeonkojeon (연고전 = the battle between Yonsei University and Korea University) is coming up this coming week and I am growing pretty excited! I've heard a lot about this and it certainly isn't lessening my interest when I hear sound tests from the amphitheater or see big banners like that one that we passed.

Celine pointed out how it said 원주, which is almost Wonjun's name. So she went over and made a ㄴ for it to become his name. And then we sent a picture of it to him later that night ㅋㅋㅋ

In between classes, Celine, Isabella, and I ate lunch at a small eating place that Wonjun had showed us the other day when we had sushi with him!
I don't want to call it a restaurant because there was only a counter with space for maybe 4 people and then a tiny table that we sat down at.
Celine told us that the eggs were brown because they had been marinated in soy and mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine). They were the most flavorful part of the meal!
I really liked it but Celine thought that the broth was supposed to have more taste to it. She's the food expert in our group so she's most likely right.

Right after Korean class, I was supposed to meet up with Jake but he had to cancel as his dad called and told him they were going to Jake's grandpa's place to prepare for 추석 (chuseok, an upcoming holiday period here in Korea).
Oh well.
Celine was going to go with me to the station since she wanted to go back to a beauty store in the underground of Hongdae station for a BHA skin lotion.
I had mentally prepared myself for Friday adventures all day so I just tagged along.

There were surprisingly few people in Hongdae tonight considering it was a Friday night! But it was also pretty windy today (as windy as my hometown)!
It turned out that you couldn't get this BHA skinlotion anywhere in Korea, only the AHA one due to import regulations.

Since we were already in Hongdae, I'd hoped that the racoon café would be open! But no <//3
It was already 19.30 or so and the place was completely dark.
As we stood there, me pretty disappointed, a guy with his phone on a selfie-stick came over and asked if he could film us for his live stream. I think we had accidentally walked into the frame of his stream right before he came over. A bunch of people most likely saw me pouting at the thought of not being able to hug racoons that day.

For a short while we walked aimlessly around Hongdae. We passed an aimerfeel store and I asked if we could go in there, just to check if they should have gotten any new bras since last time I was in there. I only brought one light bra and could use another one since most of the shirts I brought are light too.
They hadn't gotten new ones but Celine and I simultaneously fell in love with the same style of bra but in different colours.
We tried them on and got excellent service (as any other time I've gone into an aimerfeel store) and woops! Somehow they successfully crept into our bags and followed us home.
Celine got one just like mine but with a baby pink instead of the lavender/blue.

For dinner we found a tiny place that sold chicken in cups. We ordered chicken marinated in garlic and soy and with cheese on top. They also put pieces of potato and ddeok (떡 = rice cake) in. I forgot to take a picture so what you see here are the sad leftovers; two pieces of chicken and a potato. None of us had had ddeok like this before (as in, we always had it with a spicy sause or something). It was sort of weird because I've come to link the texture of ddeok with spicy foods.

We'd sat down to listen to these 3 guys playing music while we ate. They were already there when we'd come earlier to look for Celine's skincare.
They didn't simply cover songs but changed them to fit their style. They did some pretty great covers of a Michael Jackson, Uptown Funk, etc.
We didn't have anything else we needed and went home not long after finishing our food.

When we came back to Sinchon, there were fake palm tress standing in the middle of the open place near the red tube. I don't know why. But I took pictures of it just because.

When we got home, Wonjun messaged me, suggesting our mentor group goes out to eat dog meet.
Holy cow Wonjun.
Celine wasn't too up for it, especially since she has a dog at home, and I wasn't sure what to think of it. One the one hand I would like to try it just for the experience, but on the other hand I have grown up to see dogs as pets and only pets. I couldn't imagine eating cat. But then again, that's sort of a weak argument.
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