Monday, May 25, 2015

KGSP - Vacation Part 2

So despite the semester starting this week, we only had class for two days and I went on another trip, so in a way it's kinda like it was still my vacation, despite the two days of class. After coming back from Jeju I just pretty much rested until the semester started.

On Thursday I officially started level 5, which is weird cause that's technically the "advanced" level at Keimyung but I still feel completely intermediate. What makes it weirder is that because of the way they decided to mix the classes, we're starting from chapter 6 instead of chapter 1.

Also the book's material sucks and it's totally gonna fall apart.

So I'm not a big fan of the class structure. But whatever, final semester. As long as I pass TOPIK the result of this semester doesn't matter. All that matters is passing TOPIK and learning Korean, not the grade or result of this semester.

On Friday, I went to Seoul to see a friend. A friend of mine from Canada came to Korea on Wednesday as part of his grad trip, so I just had to go see him in Seoul. I've known this guy forever, so it was nice to see him again.

All things considered, this isn't that great of a picture.

So I haven't gone to Seoul since last  year for my own grad trip, so it's not like I know it well or anything, but it was still cool to go to Seoul. For the first day after we met up, we ate dinner and then pretty much just went and chilled for a bit.

He had a bunch of friends with him too, so we ended up getting a small group of us together and the original plan was to go hang out on an island in the Han River. But we got there and it was kinda meh, so we ended up walking around until we found a good chill spot by the river.

Classic walk around Seoul until you find a cool place.

The next day we woke up and then took the train to Suwon. Suwon is a city just south of Seoul and they are connected by the local line, so it's actually really cheap to get there. All you have to do is make sure you are on the right train so you go on the right side when the track forks.

We went to Suwon because my friend wanted to do a hike of sorts, but I didn't really want to do another mountain hike (see: Hallasan). So as a result I found out that in Suwon you can do a hike alongside Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO designation that sections off a part of the city.

Just walking along the wall.

That was pretty cool. The day was pretty hot but other than that the weather was nice. We started going counter clockwise and it started off from the top of a small mountain so we got a nice view of the city. We wanted to finish the entire trek, but after 3/4 of it we were gonna be late so we left.

We covered the cool parts of it anyways, so it was alright. Following that we returned to Seoul and ate dinner and again just chilled. Today we woke up early cause my friend was flying to Jeju, so I just saw him off at the station and had some time to myself.

So I decided to head to the War Museum, which still looks awesome.

I heard that the War Museum was a great place to visit last time I was in Seoul, but when I went last year I went on the day they were closed, so I didn't get a chance to go in. Since I had two hours to kill before I returned to Daegu, I decided to go check it out.

The museum was pretty awesome. Talks about a lot of the wars and conflicts Korea was in recorded history from the early days to the Korean war to now. I'm pretty interested in the last hundred years of history, so it was pretty awesome to check out.

Pretty powerful museum as well.

Learned some stuff, saw some cool stuff, a good time was had. When my time was up I just got on the train back to Daegu and now here I am. I'm pretty sure I'm done with trips for a while now, two in such a short time has been a drain physically and monetarily.

Monday, May 18, 2015

KGSP - Vacation Part 1

Time for my scheduled Monday blog post. So after 8.5 months of constant Korean classes and minimal time off, we finally have vacation. And this is like, a real vacation too as it went for like a week and a half. So as a result I'm trying to make the most out of it and so this post will be a bit longer.

The language school at Keimyung did a few trips before and this time to celebrate the end of the spring semester we had a one day trip to Busan to kick off the first day of vacation. We went to only two places, both of which I've been to before, but it was a nice trip.

There weren't these many colours last time I was here though.

So we went to Yonggungsa first and then hit up Haeundae after lunch. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy that day so the weather was kinda chilly so no one really wanted to go swimming. Except for one of my friends who decided to not care and swim solo in the ocean.

It seemed fun regardless and after a bit of just chilling on the beach and in and out of the shallow parts of the water I was like screw it and decided to just jump into the water with my friend too. Was colder than expected but also pretty fun.

Look at him so lonely out there.

After that day trip we returned to Daegu where I just had two days of just chilling in my room. It was nice to not have to worry about class or studying and I could just do what I wanted for a change. Got some gaming done and just had a bit of rest.

Thursday was the start of my Jeju trip though. I kept hearing good things about Jeju Island, so considering how we had time during this break, me and a friend decided to go to Jeju and we just returned today.

Why thank you.

Day 1 was pretty much arrival day. We arrived early evening and then made our way to our accommodation. We took some busses and after getting off at our designated stop, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere in the dark.

So we were like hey, let's walk, but then we heard two dogs barking at us and all I could see were two dog silhouettes and their eyes reflecting light back at us and I was like, nope. Nope. Eventually we found a nice guy who drove us to our accommodation.

Pictured: No angry dogs.

Day 2 was the first day of actually sightseeing around the island. The first place we went to was to Ichulbong, otherwise known as Sunrise Peak. It was a small hike up to the top and we were greeted with a pretty vast view at the summit.

Afterwards we went to Udo which is a small island off the coast of Jeju. It was a pretty cloudy and foggy day, but it was still a pretty nice place to visit. We use the bus tour thing they had there to hit up some of the popular spots around the island.

Kinda jelly at the people who went on the submarine tour actually.

We also tried black pork barbecue that day too. That was alright. It tasted different than regular pork, but I can't really explain the taste difference. It was kinda subtle but it was alright. Not sure if it's worth the extra price though.

Day 3 was a bit less action packed as we just went to Manjanggul, a lava tube where you could walk down this cave and just check out how the lava used to run in Jeju, as it's a volcanic island. Afterwards we made our way to Jeju City and just walked around random places.

Pretty sweet cave and lava column. Shame pictures can't capture the scale of things properly.

Day 4 was the most tiring day of my life. Hallasan is pretty much the heart of Jeju, being the largest mountain in Korea and the main volcano that helped form Jeju. As a result it's a must visit because it's pretty significant.

Now, I knew it was going to be a long hike, but I didn't know it was going to be nine hours long. It took five hours to get up to the summit and then four hours to come back down. Man, I'm still like, reeling in the soreness from that hike. Was ridiculous.

Again, lack of scale. Was pretty, but not sure if it was five hours up mountain pretty.

Then today I came back to wonderful Daegu. Was a great vacation despite it being pretty tiring with all the walking. There's still a few days of vacation left to enjoy too, which is great. Plus another friend is coming to visit this week, so I'm gonna consider it part 2 of my vacation and head up to Seoul.

Monday, May 11, 2015

KGSP - Level 4 Complete

Another Monday blog post. I told myself I was going to do it yesterday, and I totally remembered up until the point I forgot. But this week was actually more exciting, so there's that. The first thing this week was Children's Day.

That's a holiday we had on Tuesday where essentially everyone gets the day off to spend time with their family. Naturally, I have no family here in Korea, so I did the next best thing. I grabbed my 28 year old Dutch friend and we went to watch a Power Rangers musical together.

They said Power Rangers. I imagine Super Sentai.

No shame. Yea, we we're the only ones there that were not less than 10 years old or parents, but whatever it was awesome. I wanted a pic with red or gold, but the kids got in the way. Would probably go again but the next series coming out next year is ToQger and that one isn't as cool.

Following Children's Day we had our level 4 test on Friday. So that was the test that decides if we have to repeat level 4 again or move onto level 5. I don't know my score yet, but my teacher said I passed, which is good. But really, it doesn't matter cause TOPIK is what matters.

And as much as I absolutely love Daegu, I really don't want to be here come September.

There were some celebrations for Buddha's Birthday as well on Saturday, so me and my friend decided to go check it out. First we went to dinner at a Hong Kong restaurant I found, but it wasn't really Hong Kong tasting food. It was alright though.

But because it was a bit out of the way, we got to the lantern festival late. Now, we thought it would be ok cause it's a festival and things should be going on all night. But we were wrong and the festival was literally ten minutes. Feeling a bit dejected we decided to leave when we saw a parade.

This was like, the end of the parade.

So seeing that me and my friend were like hey let's go closer and take some pictures. So we followed them to the station and noticed that it extended pretty far out and they had some cool floats up ahead, so we decided to follow the parade and take pictures.

Now, a bit about the geography of Daegu before I continue. Pretty much Daegu has one main street, and that street runs east to west through the center of the city. One of the three train lines follows that street so in theory you could walk instead of taking the subway.

We literally joined the parade at one point.

So we would pretty much see a cool float, and then run ahead to get a good spot, take pictures. If we failed, we would try again until we got a good shot. And then we'd see another cool float up ahead so we'd catch up to it and do the same.

We kept doing this for a while and next thing we know we reached Banwoldang, which is the main central station downtown. That was also the point where the parade ended.

Time flies when you're having fun chasing parade floats.

So we essentially walked from Duryu station to Banwoldang station. That's about 4 - 5 kilometers of pretty much us chasing this parade. It was actually really fun. We didn't have any expectations about the night to begin with, so it was pretty awesome.

Sunday was a bit more relaxing. I just went and watched Avengers 2 with my friends. It was alright. A bit of a "too many heroes" syndrome going on, but the action sequences were cool despite not really doing anything different than the previous one.

Parts of the movie was filmed in Seoul. This country is literally permeating my entire life (Wikipedia).

So that was that week. Definitely a lot more fun than the last couple weeks. Now we're officially on vacation too, like we had a school trip to Busan today, but I'll talk about that next entry. Which will also be on a Monday post by the way, cause I'll be in Jeju until then.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

KGSP - Random Problems and Random Things

This week was a bit more eventful. To start off on a more serious note, I ended up locking up my jaw again this week. I've had this issue for a while now, but whenever it happens it normally resolves itself naturally within the hour.

But this time it straight up just didn't. So that started on Wednesday night and even now on Thursday it's still a bit locked. Better, but still not perfect. It was bad though so after some consultation with my teacher I ended up going to a dentist office, then a hospital, and then a different hospital.

It was a long day of waiting, getting prodded at and getting electric shocks to the face.

So yea that was a thing. Hopefully it gets better. Anyways, it's nearing the end of the semester so the language school decided to have an event day this week. It was similar to the event we did back in September for Hangul Day, but instead it was called Sports Day for no particular reason.

Instead of having real sports we just got put into teams and did random things like group volleyball, tug o' war and some random Korean games. It was a fun day and a nice break from class. Our team ended up in second place. But whatever, we're the true winners deep inside.

Also seriously, these shirts.

I guess those two were pretty much the biggest "events" of the week. Like I mentioned before the weather has been nice when it's not raining, but when it does rain some disgutingness comes out. And I'm not even talking about the humidity.

So Korea has a thing where because it's so close to China when the seasons change the wind blows over a bunch of pollution from China to Korea. It's called the Yellow Dust and gets pretty bad sometimes. I never really thought about it until one of my friends pointed out..

No that's not pollen or foam in the puddles there.

Yea so the rain actually gathers the pollutants and then you can actually see it in the puddles. It's like a yellow grainy gross thing that honestly, if you think about it, is literally what I'm breathing in right now.

Kinda gross. Can't be healthy. I knew it was a thing but it didn't really hit me as to how much of a thing it was until you actually see yellow particles on the ground that was once in the air. Despite that life goes on I guess.

Speaking of life, we've seen this stray dog on campus for a long time and I honestly wonder how it's survived for so long.

So the coming week is mostly just gonna be more exam prep. The level exam is on Friday and if I pass that I'll reach level 5, which is officially the advanced class according to this school. Granted the school level doesn't matter since only TOPIK does, but hey, it's something.