[dog] days of summer

This is the entrance to one of Seoul’s most reputable… dog meat restaurants.

…which I went to with my Seoul-residing, former South Korean diplomat-grandfather.

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반친구들끼리… my classmates & I

Yesterday, at the Ewha Korean Language Center quarter’s ending event, the most important thing was certainly not the certificate (or free pen).

It was having a last little bash with my classmates, who I didn’t know existed 10 weeks ago and have since spoken awkwardly with, horribly misunderstood, eaten with, sung with, and 배가 터지도록 웃겼다 (laughed so hard my stomach almost fell out). A lot of that has to do with my two teachers also, one of whom was the funniest teacher I’ve ever met (pictured).

As the quarter went on, fewer and fewer rounds of people came to class… especially the last week, post-final. But me, being a total nerd, got a special stamp for full attendance; I honestly didn’t want to miss my chance to see these girls while I could. After all, the 12 of us gathered from at least three different languages and countries and totally different life situations. Some are in college, some are in grad school, some are married, some are looking for work in Korea, one just loved KPOP… It was really a convergence of craziness. Continue reading

view from the Ritz

For the rest of the world, Seoul doesn’t have its Eiffel Tower, yellow taxi, or historic sphinx (at least not yet, considering the government’s various city branding campaigns). It has a river (formerly disgusting, currently way cleaner), but not one that is pictured on postcards, majestically winding through the city. No, you won’t find the “Miracle on the Han” high on the list of dreamers who want to get out and “see the world.”

But, much like my relationship with this city over the past decade of my life,  Seoul is evolving and unfolding every day, faster than you can say… um, “rice cake.” Continue reading

BR ice-cream cakes in the summer with the people you love.

Of all of the family restaurants, coffee chains and downright bad-quality fast food obsessions Korea has adopted from its more westerly peers, there is one that just doesn’t fit in with the rest.

It’s name is Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors. And in Seoul, behold! There is even Cafe Baskin Robbins. (Said cafe usually just has three more floors than necessary.)

I hardly ever go to BR in the states.

But in Seoul, it holds my absolute favor. It’s got something that has become a necessary ingredient for my reunions with my little sister [of a cousin] Tiffany

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on the floor, with my neighbor and fried 치킨

In Seoul, everything delivers. McDonald’s delivers. The groceries deliver. The [Korean-style] Chinese restaurants deliver. Frozen yogurt delivers. It comes straight to your door, courtesy of a young man in a helmet who rides an electric scooter-bike around the city. There are hundreds of these hunger-halting warriors weaving the streets of Seoul at any given moment. And, on the heels of one of the many ridiculous fried chicken commercials on the airwaves, I found myself remembering that fried chicken might be Seoul’s most in-demand delivery.

I hope you understand how so not-prone to eating fried chicken I am – really, fried anything. But now I’m in Seoul, and there’s no way I’m denying the influence of environmental context. (I’m going to try 보신탕 this weekend for Pete’s sake! That, my friends, is dog meat. Don’t grimace, please…! More on this later.) Thus, after realizing the hold fried chicken (with beer, actually) has on the munchies-suffering Korean population, I’ve just been so curious. I see a TwoTwoChicken delivery boy at least every other day. I’ve been missing out or something.

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My overdue ode to Seoul’s Metropolitan System

Once upon a time, I could go nowhere on my own efficiently or conveniently. That is, before learning any useful Korean, even getting into a taxi involved the lengthy and horrible process of calling someone after getting in so that they could be my mouthpiece to the driver.

And then, about a year and a half ago – yes! – I became acquainted with the subway.

This card represents my relationship with Seoul’s subway system. It also represents my love of people-watching. It represents my love of discovering this city. It represents my mobility. It represents a high, high number of missing my stop and going the wrong way and sometimes getting caught in the train doors and getting a grimy dust-stripe on my shirt. Oh, T-Money card! How I do so love my weird Adam-and-Eve T-Money card.

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11-year-old tutors, pretty people & way-too-pretty people

HELLO FRIENDS! Doesn’t it feel like it’s been forever? Because it has!!! I’m sort of on this roller coaster experience over here: playing that how-many-different-ways-can-you-describe-this-forgotten-vocab-word game with store clerks, losing grasp of English grammatical structure in pursuit of the Korean one, meeting and re-meeting tons of people, making my way around the city, exploring new dish and drink territory, and getting ridiculous KPOP songs stuck in my head (can’t help it, seriously).

But.

I won’t overwhelm you all at once, so here’s a small piece of my past week and a half…

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Schoolgirl pen pal acquaintances

SO. Funny story.

Around the time I started NMC, I chanced upon a blog about Seoul written by a Korean high school student! Naturally, I was very excited. Naturally, I totally e-mailed the author to tell her that I thought her blog was cute, that I came to Seoul every summer, and that this year I would be studying there!

And then we became pen pals.

Ohmygoodness. AND THEN WE MET! Continue reading