Monday, December 29, 2014

KGSP - Christmas in Daegu

Ughh I forgot to make another Sunday post! Ahh why am I so bad at this this year. Anyways, this last week was Christmas. It was my first Christmas away from home, so it's probably going to memorable regardless.

For the most part, the 24th and 25th was spent with friends downtown. Me and my friends managed to book a restaurant for the 24th so we went downtown to eat a Christmas dinner. That was pretty fun. A bit expensive, but it was nice to have real food.

Steak, wine and a buffet. The food was ok.

Despite it still not really feeling like Christmas, Daegu tried it's best I think. Downtown was pretty lively, and it still is really. They have a bunch of decorations and lights up on the main shopping street, so it's nice to visit at night.

The campus is feeling completely dead though. Most of the Korean students are gone so it's just feeling more depressing than usual. There aren't really any decorations or anything either, so it's kinda bland.

Christmas decorations downtown.

The 26th was pretty exciting too. Skyped home while my family opened presents which was nice. Doesn't beat being there in person though, but it's still better than nothing I guess. I opened my presents too haha.

After that I went to the language school's Christmas festival. It was pretty much just a bunch of performances by the students and teachers. Our class is boring though so we didn't do anything. Regardless, the event was more fun than I thought it would be.

Was super surprised that they got the teachers to dance.

Other than Christmas festivities I started playing World of WarCraft again. Started the trial and got to 90 and got like 100 achievements. Will probably resub sometime in February, after TOPIK and this semester's exam.

Monday, December 22, 2014

KGSP - Dorm Change

So yesterday I had to move dorms. It was quite the ordeal. There was a lot of packing, moving and a ton of cleaning. As a result I totally forgot to write an entry yesterday, so as usual here is another Monday entry.

With the KGSP program, we are all supposed to live in the school dorms for the duration of our language studies. This was initially not really a big deal for me since I wanted to live in the dorm. It's definitely the best chance to meet new people and and it's also the easiest option when going to a new place.

My stuff, prior to the move.

I chose the dorm option that has three people in the room, but has a private bathroom. Because of a certain beehive situation, it ended up with just two people in the room. Which obviously is a pretty good deal. That dorm, Bongsadong, is newer and the rooms are bigger.

So I lived there for almost four months. Honestly, the dorms weren't that great, but I totally got used to it. The worst thing was the curfew because you had to be back by 11 or had to stay out by 5. Unless if you knew of a way to sneak in.

What I don't know how to sneak in what are you talking about oh I got 194/200 on my English test.

So the curfew sucked, and there were a few other things that bugged me about the dorm, but I got complacent and was like whatever. But, since it's now currently the winter holiday, most of the Korean students and other exchange students left, leaving the KGSP scholars.

As a result, they moved us all to a different dorm, one that has two people to a room and a public floor washroom. At first I was like whatever, I'll deal. But then I moved here and it really sucks man.

The room looked absolutely terrible when I moved in.

The room was absolute trash. Like there was dust and garbage everywhere. It looked and felt disgusting. It took me half the morning and half the afternoon to clean it up to respectable levels. And even now it still feels dirty.

But the washrooms man. Public washrooms suck. Our room is right in front of the washroom which is convenient I guess, but it's super weird to have to carry your stuff out there to brush your teeth and shower.

I don't have a picture of the washrooms so here's a cardboard box on a light.

The worst part is that the shower stalls are really close together. And by stalls we mean three shower heads on the wall with no curtains so it's just like. A very free place to shower, if you know what I mean >_>

It's gonna be weird I think. I'm here for another two months and I'm already thinking about the headache that awaits me. I kinda wish I moved out now. Some of my friends did and the rooms they got look awesome. No curfew and no privacy issues.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

KGSP - Starting to Feel like Christmas

It seems like every time I go on a trip or something the next week I don't really do anything. I guess it kinda makes sense cause I can't always be doing stuff, but at the same time I kinda wish I was haha. Would be super tiring though.

This week was just one of those weeks where it was more of the same stuff. However, after my post last week about the lack of snow, we actually had a few more bouts of snow. Unfortunately, they all melted the day after, but for a day we actually had a real winter day.

Also someone on campus made this fabulous snowman and I had to take a picture of it.

I kinda wish the snow stuck around haha. Like I mentioned before, it doesn't seem right that it's mid December and there's no snow. Still feels like October. Despite that, it's starting to feel like Christmas. People are starting to put up Christmas decorations which makes the city feel more festive.

They even put up a Christmas tree in the Sarangbang, which is the lounge I normally hang out at during the break time between classes. It's a really sad looking tree though, it almost looks like it's going to fall over.

We had to add a chopstick buffer on one of the legs to stabilize it.

Aside from that stuff and studying, I've just been trying to fit in time to play some games. Hearthstone released their first card expansion so that's pretty exciting. Been trying to play some arena games to get some of the new cards.

I also managed to slowly create a group of friends here who play Magic. We wanted to go today to the card store to draft, but they did a last minute cancel because apparently small card shops suck. We ended up just going to a coffee shop and played with the random decks we have though, which was fun too.

Also started playing Birth by Sleep finally!

But yea, I foresee a lull in the immediate future in terms of exciting things. I'll be moving into the dorm next week and I'll also get my English test results this week though, so at least that'll be kinda interesting.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

KGSP - Winter in Korea

Man, time flies. It's already been a bit over three months since I first moved to Korea. Feels like just yesterday that I moved into this dorm room and now I'm already thinking about how much of a pain it's going to be to move to the other dorm when this one closes for the holidays.

But yea, it's that time of year again, winter. Normally in Canada, this is when the dread starts because another five months of winter awaits, but here in Korea I'm a bit more curious about what a winter here entails.

First real snowfall in Daegu; not enough snow.

This will be my first winter away from home, so in a way it's kinda sad that I won't be facing the Canadian winter this time around. I kinda already miss the cold and snow. I don't think I'll have to face knee high snow or -30 degree temperatures here.

I mean, we had snow twice already and despite it being minimal and melting almost instantly, people are taking pictures of it and complaining about the extremely cold 5 degree weather. It's kinda interesting I guess. I mean, it's cold, but it's not that cold.

It's also almost Christmas.

Aside from that, this weekend I went to Ulsan, which is a city just north of Busan and east of Daegu. It was kind of a random trip that I was invited to on a whim, so I didn't really know what to expect. We didn't really do too much to be honest.

The entire trip could basically be summed up as rocky cliffs, traffic and food. We went and checked out Daewangam (대왕암) which is pretty much a bunch of spiky rocked cliffs by the ocean. That was actually really nice. I've seen a lot of ocean and rocks in the last few months, but these were different.

It was super windy so the sound of crashing waves was also pleasant.

That was pretty much it in terms of sightseeing. I kinda wish we did more, but I wasn't the "leader" of the trip so I just followed. We went to downtown Ulsan and pretty much just ate a lot of food. The first night we had an awesome seafood dinner and then followed it up with some makgeolli and kimchi tofu.

The next day I had a huge breakfast and was still super full when we had lunch at two. After another huge meal of Korean Barbecue, we left for Daegu. I swear, I've never eaten that much food for breakfast and lunch. I skipped dinner because lunch was so filling and late.

On another note. Food is delicious and I love food.

Super tiring weekend all things considered. I think the constantly waking up and going to class every day is catching up to me. I'm just more tired than usual. I need a proper break I think, but we don't get any of that for a while ugh. But whatever, powering through.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

KGSP - NEAT and Stuff

As opposed to the action packed week I had last week, this week wasn't as exciting. For the most part it was just class as usual. However on Wednesday we had to do an English proficiency test. Don't ask me why, but the Korean government wanted all the KGSP students to do it.

So we went and did NEAT, which is a new English test made by the Korean government. I have a feeling they wanted us to trial it for them, so we did. As a native English speaker, it was fairly easy. I'm not sure if I got perfect though. I zoned out a few times during the listening portions since it was so slow.

Neat (NEAT).

It was actually harder than I thought it would be. A lot of the answers had to be deducted from the question based on the context, rather than just hearing keywords and marking them down. But yea, it was English so I finished 20 minutes early.

Despite that though, a lot of people didn't finish, even if they were a native speaker. It was actually really long. The last few questions took up a full page to answer a single multiple choice question. One of my favourite questions was an email to a British guy saying how they got used to living in England, especially after almost getting run over by a bus.

My friend took this picture. But I'm assuming these busses are dangerous.

And there was another question that was like, a mail from a restaurant owner to a customer. Then one of the questions was like "so what is the food item that the customer most likely ordered?" and there were four pictures of food.

I was like what. How is this English. Why is this on there. But it was.

Speaking of food, I had this today. Yum.

But yea, other than that it wasn't super exciting. Did some shopping downtown and stuff. Still doesn't feel like winter. It's practically December but it still feels like October. Sigh.

Monday, November 24, 2014

KGSP - Geojedo, New Semester and GSTAR

Man, after a few weeks of not really doing too much, I had like an overload of stuff this past week. Since our semester ended last week, we had a few days off for our "semester break". Part of that was a government sponsored field trip to Geoje.

We were supposed to go to Jeju, but apparently they didn't have enough funding for that so we went to Geoje instead. I was ok with it though, because I would never go to Geoje normally, so it was a free trip to a place I wouldn't have gone to.

It's an island you can drive to because of that bridge in the distance.

That was a surprisingly fun trip. On the first day we went to a famous cliff by the ocean and got to take in some of the natural beauty in that area. That was a pretty cool spot to go to because it was literally a rock cliff by the ocean.

So not only was the view really cool, but it was pretty fun to just like, climb around the rocks and try not to die. We ended up skipping some rocks by the beach they had there too, which meant I was sore for like a week because climbing rocks and throwing rocks are a type of physical activity.

Cool view from a windy cliff.

After that we went to a stone beach, which is pretty much just a big beach that has rocks instead of sand. Wasn't super exciting, but it was still kinda nice to walk around there and look at stuff.

We went to the hotel afterwards. And since this was a government funded trip, we didn't have to pay for it. We were all super surprised when we pulled up to the hotel and it was actually a really fantastic hotel. It was super fancy and super awesome. Wish we could've stayed there for more than one night.

Our view in the morning. Beats our dorm room any day of the week.

The next day we went to do more naturey sightseeing. We went to Tongyeong and took a cable car up a mountain to get a view of the ocean and the city. There, we just did a small hike up to the peak and again there was a lot of climbing rocks and trying not to die.

Super fun time was had. It's just nice to get out of the city and do things you wouldn't normally do you know?

There's me in the middle there.

The final thing we did on that trip was go into the city and check out some of the street art they had there as well as some of the historic old ships they had by the harbour. Overall pretty cool as well, but I enjoyed the nature stuff more I think.

So normally this would already be a blog post worth of content, but wait, there's more! The semester started on Thursday so I had a new class. Despite that, we just continued with the stuff we were learning from before anyways. The most interesting thing was that on the first day we went and made kimchi.

Super random. Kinda gross.

All we did was slother kimchi sauce onto cabbages, so it wasn't that exciting. Super weird though. That was also around the day when I found out that there was going to be a special StarCraft event going on at GSTAR in Busan.

GSTAR is an annual gaming convention that's held in Busan, but I wasn't planning on going since I wasn't sure if it would be worth it. But after finding out that there would be StarCraft, I grabbed some friends and planned the trip.

We waited in this line for an hour to buy tickets to get in.

It wasn't just a regular StarCraft match. It was Brood War. I've never watched Brood War live, and they had Bisu playing, who is a really awesome and famous player. I really wanted to go watch because of that.

We managed to get our tickets in time for the pre-show to start, and I was already really hyped for the games. The games ended up being fairly awesome and they were saying how they were going to do a quick signing session. I ended up being first in line at the cutoff, so I was kinda bummed out about that.

The four players.

We found out afterwards that we could totally walk backstage, so we did. It actually turned out better than if we made it into the signing because they were rushing people through. But backstage there was no rush, so we could actually talk to the players and get pictures with them.

So overall it was really awesome. Got to talk to Bisu and get his autograph and a picture with him, which is fantastic. Made the entire trip worth it right there.

When my friend said she was from Hungary he thought she meant she was hungry.

Afterwards we walked around the convention a bit. StarCraft took up most of the afternoon for us, so we only had like an hour and a half to walk around. As a result we couldn't really line up for anything, and a lot of things were wrapping up.

It was still pretty cool though. Overall the event was a lot bigger and more legit than I thought it would be. Definitely would go again next year and the year after. Probably for at least two days. Need the time to check out the games, get free stuff and network with people you know.

Mostly Korean games, but still really cool.

And yea, that was my week haha. Long post for a fun filled week. Definitely one of my favourite, if not my favourite week of my stay in Korea so far. I doubt this week will be as fun haha.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

KGSP - Level 1 Complete

Earlier this week apparently there was an unofficial celebration event day thing called Pepero Day. Pepero is essentially Korean Pocky. But on November 11 instead of remember the end of World War I like the rest of the world, Koreans buy Pepero and give them to people.

It's supposed to be similar to Valentines Day or something. People are just supposed to hand out Pepero to people they like, or to just give it to friends because why not? For me, it just means I get free snacks haha. I'm always down for free snacks.

Giant Pepero for breakfast? Awesome.

I've also finished the first semester of my studies. It doesn't really feel like a semester since it's only been like two and a half months, but whatever. I wrote the exam for my level 1 class on Thursday, and even thought I haven't gotten my marks yet, I know I passed.

That pretty much means I get to start level 2 on Thursday, which is kinda exciting. It's cool to kinda experience an objective measure of progression. Everything still needs more work, but I can already feel my Korean improving with each passing week.

Our class with two of our teachers.

We had to dress up in Hanbok as part of like, the end of semester celebration. I thought it was kinda silly, plus mine didn't really fit well. But whatever, cultural exchange and all that stuff right?

Yesterday I went skating for the first time in Korea. The lounge here had an activity that foreigners could sign up for, so I signed up for that because the occasional skating trip is pretty fun. As usual it's fun seeing people skate for the first time.

I noticed a disproportionate female to male ratio for this event.

Aside from all that the week wasn't all that exciting. Our "semester break" technically started on the Saturday, but in reality we only have the weekend off and three days. Two of those days are for our field trip so we only really get one additional day off.

Regardless, free time is cool. Finally got back to some programming today. Hopefully I'll be able to get more done in the next couple of months. I wanna actually get back into game deving so I don't get rusty. But that will have to wait until Wednesday, because tomorrow I'm heading to Geojedo!

I have no idea what's here, but hey, free trip (Wikipedia).

Should be fun I think.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

KGSP - Trees and Stuff

So considering how it's fall, the leaves are changing colours here. To make the most of the season, me and some of my friends decided to go to the arboretum here to check out the trees and stuff. You know you're running low on things to do when you decide to go look at that stuff.

It was actually pretty cool though. I didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out that it was pretty much a park that had a bunch of trees, flowers and greenhouses for people to look at.

Flowers arranged in the shape of horses and dragons.

It was a pretty nice park. Unfortunately we went maybe a week or two too late, so half of the trees were already bare or bareish. If we went a bit earlier I think it would've been really nice. But since the arboretum was actually pretty ok, we might go back in the spring.

In the greenhouses, they had a bunch of stuff too like a cactus exhibit and a tropical fruit exhibit. That was kinda cool. I don't normally see that stuff often, so it was cool to see random things like cacti.

This greenhouse reminded me of the pterodactyl cage in Jurassic Park.

After that, we went and watched the movie Interstellar. That was a pretty cool movie. I really enjoyed it. It was definitely one of those movies that made you think a bit. It was also really nice aesthetically so I appreciated that too.

Aside from that, this week was pretty standard. Blizzcon was this weekend so I set my alarm for 3:45 AM to watch the opening ceremony. Was totally worth it. I expected expansion news for Hearthstone and StarCraft, but I didn't expect them to announce a new IP.

Pixar level cinematic. Blizzard is just completely next level on this stuff.

I'm normally not a big fan of this genre, but I was hooked from the trailer alone and would probably give it a try. It's been 17 years since Blizzard released a new IP so I'm really interested to see what they do with it.

It's definitely a smart move. It's a completely different genre than what they're used to so they're expanding their portfolio. In addition it's not the most developed genre so they have a lot of room to experiment as well. Really excited to see what comes out of this game.

Have I mentioned how much I love the art style? (Blizzard)

I have an exam this week. Assuming I pass I'll be put into level 2 for my Korean classes, which should be exciting. It's also exciting because I get a few days off afterwards as a break, which is appreciated.

I really need to start studying though.

Monday, November 3, 2014

KGSP - Sick Halloween

I'm fairly certain like most of my entries at this point have been posted not on a Sunday. I've been complaining about them at the beginning of every entry too, so it's pretty noticeable I'm sure. Anyways, another Monday entry >_>

So this was a relatively relaxing week since I didn't do much. I think I got infected with something on my trip to Busan because I started feeling kinda off the few days after that and I ended up with a cold in the middle of the week, which sucked.

This bastard (Wikipedia).

As a result I didn't really feel like doing anything. Weather has also been getting kinda colder now too, which I'm not too happy about. I was gonna go buy a coat or something, but due to my cold I decided not too go out shopping.

It was also Halloween on Friday. As usual I didn't dress up because I'm just not that type of person, but I went to the International Lounge's celebration event. It was alright, some costume contests, some food, some socialling. Ended way too early though.

I didn't take any pictures, so here's their poster.

It was overall a pretty cool event. Kinda wish it was longer than 2.5h though.

I also went and watched the movie Gone Girl this weekend with some of my friends. It was an alright movie. Definitely not what I expected, but it was good. Surprisingly enough it wasn't that expensive to watch it in theatres. 9000 KRW normally, but we had a coupon to bring it down to 6000 KRW.

I expected a movie more akin to "Liam Neeson finds his daughter". That's not this movie (Wikipedia)

But yea. One of my less exciting weeks I guess. Reflected in this blog post by the lack of taken pics too.

Monday, October 27, 2014

KGSP - Busan Fireworks Festival

Ughh. I forgot to do another post on a Sunday again. I'm just straight up terrible at this now. I didn't really have plans this weekend, but on Friday a few of my friends spontaneously decided, "hey, let's go to Busan tomorrow for the fireworks festival".

So I was like, yea sure I'll go. I wanted to check out Busan anyways and I heard the fireworks festival was awesome. Plus it's fairly close to Daegu, so on Saturday morning me and three of my friends got on a train to Busan.

This time, the non-KTX version.

The moment I got out of the station, I already felt like I would like Busan. The station looked really nice and the environment was really nice too. Lots of mountains but still a lot of open space. After some walking around and looking for food, we decided to head to the beach to get a good spot for the festival.

And in order to get a good spot for the festival, we got there at like 2:30. The actual event started at 8:00, so we got there pretty early. Reason was because literally millions of people go to Busan for the event, so you need to get there that early for a good spot.

Barely even 3 PM and there's already a lot of people.

So we staked out a spot, threw down our tarps, and waited for the fireworks to start. It was kind of a long wait, but between casual conversation, the odd game and going on food/snack runs, next thing you know it was dark.

By this point we had like 7 other people join us. Apparently a ton of people from our school came to Busan for the festival, so we just invited them to join us. The more the merrier right?

Besides, what's seven more people in a sea of millions?

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I read that the fireworks festival was amazing.

It really was. Holy crap it was so good. Like, I've never seen such a display before. The fireworks were huge and it was all choreographed to music. It was a 45 minute experience of just pure awesomeness.

Lasers and lights.


More explosions.

It was soooo cool. Totally worth the trip and the waiting. Afterwards we decided to walk around a bit more and kinda just take it all in. Then we ended up staying in a 찜질방 because that's apparently Korean style and what you have to do when you go to an event like this last minute.

That was pretty terrible. I'm glad to say that I've spent a night there, but it wasn't very pleasant and I couldn't sleep well since it was hot and filled with people so it was noisy and just uncomfortable. Regardless, it was a place to stay. The next day we were super tired so we just went back to Daegu.

But not before checking out the beach one more time.

Busan was super fun. Didn't get to do everything I wanted because of the limited time, so I definitely need to go back again. Super beautiful city.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

KGSP - Korean Food

This week was pretty ok. Pretty standard week; a lot of Korean learning, some eating, some shopping. Nothing too exciting. Fun fact though, this was the first full week of class I've had. Every week except for two so far have been interrupted by some sort of event or holiday.

The first week I missed a few days because I went back to Canada, the second week was this week, so yea. Since there wasn't too much going on this week, it'll be a filler week of sorts. In this edition I'll be talking about Korean food.

Again, can't be iterated enough. Korean BBQ is delicious.

So Korean food for the most part is more spicy than the food I eat at home. Not all of it is spicy as in like, hot, but the way they prepare the food with random spices and sauces and stuff makes the food taste spicier than the milder tasting food I eat at home.

Now before I get into the good food, let's talk about the dorm food I get at the cafeteria here. I'm on a meal plan right now so I eat at the dorm cafeteria (look at me not using res caf guys) pretty often. It's pretty much prison food.

I was surprised to see the crab there until I tried it and realized it was terrible.

That pretty much tastes like it looks. It's not very good. The standard stuff they have is rice, kimchi and a soup. 90% of the soups tastes the same even though they're made of different stuff. Then they have some sort of meat/fish thing and other veggie stuff. Overall kinda meh.

But, Korean food really starts to shine when you leave the school, similarly to most other countries really. Of course, they have Korean BBQ which everyone knows about, but they also have other stuff. For example, some restaurants are 치맥 restaurants that only serve fried chicken and beer.

I thought I had a picture of food in a restaurant. Apparently not so here's a picture of a picnic we had.

Most of the time it's pretty decent. Lot of variety in flavours. They have like, regular barbecue flavours, soy sauce, spicy, cheesey, etc. Everything really. It's pretty good. Unlike fried food back in Canada though, it doesn't feel as greasy. So you don't feel absolutely terrible for eating it. You just feel a tiny bit terrible.

There's also a lot of stir fry and  stuff as well. I don't really know how to explain it other than a bunch of food is mixed together and then cooked and made delicious. Sometimes it's spicy, sometimes it's not, but most of the time it tastes pretty good.

Chicken, potatoes, onions and cheese. So good.

And of course since Korea is in Asia you have a ton of traditional rice and noodle dishes as well. Again they're generally more spicy than their Japanese or Chinese counterparts, but it really depends on the dish. Sometimes they're not too spicy, but then it gets a bit boring.

Speaking of Chinese food they claim to have "Chinese food" here but it's totally just Korean food. It's always like, 자장면 and stuff, which is ok, but it's really not Chinese food. I really do miss some good Hong Kong style food.

"Chinese food"

Don't get me wrong, still tastes good, but I miss traditional Chinese food. Speaking of fusion food, a lot of Western style food gets a Korean twist too. For example, they have bulgogi burgers at McDonalds which pretty much taste the same as your regular burgers, but they're called bulgogi.

They also have a surprising amount of pizzas. Pizzas are a thing here apparently and you can get a ton of interesting toppings on them. They put random things like corn and mayo and potatoes on their pizzas.

Seriously, there are potato wedges on my pizza.

And of course they have street food and desserts too. There's so much to say about these two things so I'm just gonna post a bunch of pictures.

Fish cake with some rice cake in the middle.

Waffle thing with cream and delicious on top.

More fish things I think.

There's popcorn on my ice cream guys.

I'm a really big fan of snacks, so I've been pretty happy with the random things I've found here in terms of desserts and stuff. Overall Korean food is pretty ok. I kinda miss some more milder tasting food, but there's a lot of cool things here to try.

Also by writing this blog I realized I have a distinct lack of food pictures. I think I need to take more now.