Sunday, May 29, 2016

KGSP - Festival Season

I've been living as a student in Korea for almost two years now. One thing that I didn't really understand when I first got here, and one thing I still don't really get now, is why they have so many festivals going on at the schools.

Like, back at home you only have a few in a year. One at the beginning of the school year, and maybe one at the end. That's like it. A few was probably even pretty generous all things considered. But here, they have more festivals in a semester than they have in a year at home.

And they're all like, live music with food and drinks in the field type festivals.

I don't even know why there's a festival anymore. There just are. Like once a month there will be a small festival where things kinda just happen around school, and once or twice a semester there's a few days of festivities going down.

I guess I'm not complaining too much, livens up the atmosphere a bit and having a festival is more fun than having no festival. Granted I didn't really get to do much for the one that just happened this week. Too much work, not enough time.

But when your professor tells the lab to hang out for the festival, I guess you do.

They called this one the spring festival. So they had some performances and a bunch of booths where you could buy alcohol or food. Not exactly cheap, but it was kind of cool to have the option of buying random stuff on campus.

Speaking of which, once the spring festival ended they had the international food festival literally the day after. That was a bit more interesting that the spring festival in my opinion. They had maybe a dozen countries set up booths on the commons and sell ethnic food.

Well, as close to ethnic as they can get without putting horse meat in this Kazakh dish.

The food was ok. But again, kind of expensive. It's kinda interesting too cause that one meeting I went to for free food a few weeks ago was about this food festival. Canada obviously did not participate because the KAIST population is just me and this other dude.

But a bunch of people did. Some people dressed up in their ethnic garb too. I tried that Kazakh dish with potatoes, beef and onions as well as a German dish with more potatoes, onions and an egg. Finished it off with a Thai milk tea.

Nothing special, but closest thing I could get to Western style breakfast food. Delicious.

I'm always down for trying new foods. It's nice to not have Korean food all the time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

KGSP - KSDS and SC

So this is another Monday blog post that I'm doing on purpose. The last week for the most part wasn't that exciting, but the highlight was by far the weekend. I've mentioned before how I wrote a paper on some work I did and it got accepted into the conference.

Well, the conference was on Saturday. This meant that I spent the weekend in Seoul. I woke up real early on Saturday morning, took the train to Seoul and then spent the rest of the day in a hot and un-air conditioned university where the conference was held.

View from the balcony of the floor where most of the stuff was going on.

The conference itself is essentially a domestic conference for design students. As a design student, my professor figured it would be a good experience if I went through the process of submitting a paper to it.

I definitely did learn a lot from the process, but the conference is very very small. As a result, it honestly seemed like any work that was submitted got published, regardless of quality. Now, my work is nothing special, but it still kinda bugged me after seeing a few other presentations.

At least someone actually asked me a question.

Regardless, it was a cool experience I guess. First publication at KAIST, first presentation too. Small steps right? Aside from presenting, the rest of the conference was nothing of note. It was just really hot cause it was like 30 degrees with no AC.

Actually something interesting was that the school was straight up an arts school. I didn't really notice until someone pointed it out to me, but they had a lot of girls at that school. The room I did my presentation in was actually a dance studio and there's even a modelling major.

The road to the entrance. Man it's already so hot and it's barely summer.

Afterwards I just went and met some friends to hang out with. The following day was pretty much more chilling and just enjoying my time in Seoul. After eating lunch with a friend, I went to buy some stuff and just relaxed in a PC Bang and played some games.

Was too hot to stay outside. But afterwards I met another friend and we went to watch the StarCraft Cross Finals, where they took the champion and runner up of the two Korean leagues and had them play each other in a mini tournament.

Packed studio too.

That was an incredibly entertaining series of matches, but unfortunately I thought they tried to fit way too many matches in one night. Four matches is normally ok, but not when they are best of 5. I had to leave before the finals because I had to catch the train home.

Regardless, it was a fun night. Live StarCraft is always pretty fun. But the weekend ended up being really tiring because I didn't really get to sleep much due to the conference and staying a bit later to watch StarCraft.

Didn't get to see who got to lift this, but still fun.

But yea, I'm tired. That's like what, the third weekend in a row that I left Daejeon. I really hate taking this train man. Luckily I don't need to go anywhere this coming weekend, so I can sleep and get some more work done.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

KGSP - Outside Perspective

This week was quite an interesting week. School has been alright. Workload is definately picking up and I'm not entirely thrilled with that, but you gotta deal with what you have to deal with right? Aside from that I went to a meeting with the international student association.

I'm not even really sure how it happened, but I ended up becoming Canada's representative in KAIST. There's only like two of us so I can't even say I represent much, but I got invited to a meeting with the other representatives. To be honest it wasn't that exciting and I don't think I'd go again.

School, am I right?

Afterwards I met some friends and we went to the Yuseong Culture Festival. It was Buddha's birthday this weekend and I'm not entirely sure if it was related at all, but they had a culture festival where one of the streets had a bunch of booths selling food and drinks.

That was ok. The festival itself was nothing special, but hanging out with friends is always nice. It was kinda interesting too because last week I was hanging out with a bunch of Russians and this weekend it was a bunch of Ukrainians. Interesting group of people.

There were also fireworks.

The next day, so Saturday, I ended up going to Busan to meet a friend. One of my friends that I met in Germany was doing some travelling around Asia and so for part of his Korean trip we decided to meet up.

So once again I went to Busan for the weekend. Since the purpose of this trip was mostly sightseeing, I decided to once again find some places that I haven't been to. I've been to Busan a decent amount so I've seen a lot already, but I found some stuff I haven't done yet, like hiking.

Yup, Busan is still my favourite city in Korea.

It wasn't a very difficult hike, and it was fairly close to my regular hangout spot in Busan, so it was a no brainer that I had to go check it out. The hike wasn't very long and it was a really nice day for hiking. Temperature was good and the skies were cool.

An interesting that me and my friend saw along the hike was a snake. I thought it was a branch on our path at first, but then on a more detailed glance I realized that it totally was a snake. That was the first time I saw a snake in Korea, so that was kind of neat.

Snaaaaaaake.

After just chilling and talking at the top of the mountain, we headed to Samgwangsa, a large temple in the middle of Busan. It was Buddha's birthday so they had a lot of decorations at the temple and made it look really nice. Plus I've never been to that specific temple either so it was cool.

Today we just went to a bunch of the traditional sightseeing places before I came back to Daejeon. An interesting thing though was I found a guy selling old Korean money at one of the markets. I looked at what he had and found some one won coins and the guy gave me one for free.

I knew these existed.

Overall the trip was pretty nice. Short, but nice. Seeing my friend again was cool especially because every time we've seen each other it's been on a different continent. We had a lot to talk about too, so a lot of story exchange. Plus the owner of the hostel I stayed at was super cool too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

KGSP - Childrenless Children's Day

Super late blog post this week. Was gonna do it on Sunday, but I forgot so I was gonna do it on Monday, but I forgot about so I'm doing it now. Last week was pretty ok. It was Children's Day on Thursday so that was a day off.

It's nice how Korea gives a day off for that, although I guess back at home they have Family Day too so it's about the same I guess. Last year I went to see a Power Rangers musical with one of my friends and that was super awesome.

Throwback Tuesday I guess.

This year wasn't that awesome. There might have been another musical this year, but I didn't like this season anyways. Regardless, I had other plans. Since Thursday was a day off, the Korean government just randomly decided to give Friday off too because they can.

Now I'm not gonna complain about a free day off, especially when it makes it a four day weekend, so that was great. I ended up going to Busan on Thursday for essentially the night to meet some people. Boy that was an interesting night.

I also had a Reese's McFlurry.

I went to Busan to meet a bunch of Russians. Now, it sounds random but it makes sense in context. Anyways, we met up, had some seafood and then had a bunch of drinks by the beach. Talking to them was kind of interesting, different perspectives and all.

Language barrier was also an issue too, but I've gotten used to that for the most part now that I've lived in Korea for so long, so once we got a bit more comfortable with each other it was actually pretty fun. But man, Russians drink a lot.

I saw this tranquil pond on the way back home, it did not reflect the state of my stomach.

I ended up spending the rest of the weekend just kinda working a bit in the lab, sleeping and watching Game of Thrones. All in all a pretty decent series of resting days, but I still feel quite tired. This weekend is another short trip to Busan, but this time to meet a German guy instead.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

KGSP - Daejeon Tourism

So I was both looking forward to this weekend and not looking forward to this weekend at the same time. I was really looking forward to it because my parents came to Korea to visit me. But at the same time I wasn't really looking forward to it because I had to show them around Daejeon.

Seeing my parents was great. I missed them and seeing them again, even for just a few short days, was nice. However what is not nice is Daejeon. This is not a very good city to sightsee. I tried to make the best of it and show them around, but there wasn't much to do.

They also brought me a lot of snacks. Parents definitely do know their children.

I met them after lab hours and showed them the typical dinner and drinks area around my school. The next day was our first full day together so I showed them the lab and the campus. Unfortunately I couldn't get the Oculus Rift set up, but they thought the campus was nice.

Afterwards we ate lunch and went to the Daejeon currency museum. Honestly it sounds like a super random place to go to, but both me and my dad have an interest in this kind of stuff so it was actually pretty cool. No one wanted to go with me before so it was a good chance to go.

Wish they had a gift shop though.

It was actually pretty interesting. A bit small, but they had a lot of information on the history of Korea's coins and bills as well as a collection of money from around the world. Some of the special editions or money from the past, such as Japanese occupied Korea, was pretty cool.

Afterwards I was planning on going to a park and a botanical garden, but allergy season is in full swing so we decided not to go. Instead we went shopping at the old downtown area before going home. My mom was awesome enough to cook for us.

Pretty simple but a mom cooked meal is the best cooked meal.

The following day, which is today, was a bit of a disorganized mess. There's really not much to do in Daejeon so you can pretty much run out of things to do in an afternoon. So on the second day I decided to take a short trip out of the city instead.

We ended up going to the Daecheong Dam. It's a large dam just to the north of Daejeon. It took a while to get there by bus, but we got there. It was nice, but since we didn't want to hike there wasn't too much to do there.

Seriously though, check out all that pollen in the water.

Apparently it turns out that there isn't a very good transportation system to that place, so after a lot of walking and waiting we finally got on a bus back to civilization. We walked through the downtown area a bit, did some shopping before going back and just resting and eating dinner.

I know my parents came to visit me and they don't really care about Korea that much, but it felt kinda weird not being able to show them too much. There really is a complete lack of stuff to do in Daejeon unfortunately. Next time we have to go somewhere else.

Dinner before farewells.

They're leaving Daejeon tomorrow morning and leaving Korea in a few days. It was nice seeing them again though and I'll see them again relatively shortly as I'll be going back home for a bit in July. Can't wait for that.