Friday, January 30, 2009

My First Trip to a Korean Salon

Yesterday after class, SanGwan and Emily planned to go get their haircut and asked if I'd like to also. I'd been wanting to for awhile, so walked into Salon Uno (at the bottom of the Technomart) with every intention of keeping my hair long and just adding some long bangs.

Well, when we arrived, they sat us down with books of hairstyles and told us to pick one. Mark, Emily, and SanGwun convinced me to go short. Emily was particularly convincing as she kept telling me that short hairstyles are "very very popular" in Korea. When in Rome...

Here's the guy who cut my hair. He spoke no English, so SanGwan had to explain to him how I wanted my haircut. Talk about nerve-wrecking having two guys discuss how to cut my hair and having no idea what they're saying!

You should've seen this guy with his scissors though, he was spinning them around his fingers and flipping them up as he cut my hair. Made me a bit nervous, but he obviously seemed to know what he was doing.

This is me right after the haircutting portion. I think I'm finished and getting ready to head back to Mark when this girl walks up with a robe and tells me to put it on over my clothes. Then she lead me over to the sink where she washed my hair.

After the hair washing, they led me to another seat, where they handed me a magazine and began putting some white goop in my hair. Kind of looked like hair dye, but smelled funny. I was in full freak-out mode at this point, with no idea what was happening. And there was not a person in sight who spoke English to explain!

After they put the goop in, they covered it with this sexy showercap and sat me under a heating device for about an hour. Finally Emily came over and took this picture, and told me I  was getting a perm. I think I literally stopped breathing at that point (a PERM?!??!). Here I am right after receiving the news.

A few minutes later Mark came over and assured me that he talked to Emily and SanGwan and I wasn't getting a curly perm, but more of a controlling perm. Apparently this process would make the haircut wash and wear friendly, eliminating the need for a flat iron, etc. Sounds interesting, but I'm still very scared.

Then I got yet another hair washing (I think there were 3 total).

Then they blow dried my hair with 4 hairdryers. FOUR. There were two people who each had two dryers in a hand and went to town. I've never seen my hair dry so quickly.

Then they started curling my hair and putting in curlers. Um, I thought this wasn't a curly hair perm?!??!!??! (Don't I look like I'm going to cry in this picture?)

Finally, I got another hairwashing and they dried my hair. The stylist came over to make a few additional cuts, and here's the finished product...............

It's still kind of an adjustment for me, but at least I didn't end up with a 'fro! And it's kind of a cool experience to go to hair stylists who truly understand my hair, it's texture and what will and won't work.

The jury is still out on whether or not I like this, especially the bang part, but I see a ton of girls walking around here with this haircut, so at least I'll blend in and won't look out of place.

Emily and SanGwun also got their hair cut, so here's the crew with their new 'do's. 

Our Last Day of Class

Friday was the last day of our Korean class for Kim and I.  While it was tough adjusting to being back in the classroom, I think that we are both going to miss it a little.  I can already see an improvement after just 4 weeks.  I think that it helps a lot that we are living with Kim's birth family.  The next step is for us to continue studying even though we do not have class.  The frustration that comes from our inability to communicate beyond a very basic level I think will provide us with more then enough motivation to continue learning.  

This is a picture of our class.  We gave everyone our email and blog address so we can try to stay in contact with them.  

Below are the resources that we believe will help us to build upon what we have learned so far.  The top two objects are dictionaries.  The one on the left is just a normal Korean-English paperback dictionary and the one on the right is an electronic multi-lingual dictionary.  It has 7 different languages, but for now, I think Kim and I will stick with just Korean.  It is actually a pretty cool little device.  It has an audio function so we can hear how the Korean word is suppose to be pronounced and it has a notepad on it so we can write out a word in Korean and it will give us the english meaning.  

Hopefully it will get easier as we go along, but in the meantime please wish us luck!

COEX Aquarium

Here is a video of the COEX Aquarium to go along with the post below. Sorry about the poor quality. I was using the video function on my camera. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

COEX Aquarium

Since we had the day off on Tuesday, the four of us decided to take a trip down to the COEX Mall and go to the aquarium.  I had never visited an aquarium before, a few Zoos and even Bush Gardens once, but never an aquarium.  I must say that I was thoroughly impressed.  I am not sure where the COEX Aquarium ranks with its counterparts around the world, but I cannot imagine that I will ever see such an impressive display of marine life quite like this.  I cannot remember the price of admission but it was not too expensive.   

The aquarium is designed with a single path that takes you through every exhibit and tank.  I think that this is the ideal setup because it allows the visitor the opportunity to see everything the aquarium has too offer.  Though extremely crowded, none of us had any problems working our way up to the tanks to get an up close look at some exotic fish.  My only regret, and there was no way for us to know, was that we missed the shark feeding by 1 hour.  I would have loved to see that.  

Anyway, we took a ton of pictures and Kim and I sorted through them and tried to pick out the ones that we thought were the best.  

The picture is not that great, but we just wanted to show you the entrance.

We did not notice it at that time, but Kim and I thought these two pictures were funny with the little girl's faces in the background.

Below are just some pictures that we thought were cool looking.

The sign only said Two-Headed Turtle in english so I an actual species are a freak of nature.

Just some additional pictures that the two of us liked.  


School Field Trip

On January 22nd (see, I told you we were behind on our posts), our Korean school took a field trip to the Seoul National Museum. Besides the three of us from our beginners language class, there were 3 other students and three teachers who went on the trip.

We had to take a subway ride from the school and walk a short distance. Along the way, we walked by an area with a lot of Korean palaces. There were also people dressed up in traditional garments to get your picture with.

{In this picture from left to right are: a Chinese student in an advanced class, the school receptionist, our teacher, a Korean girl who grew up in Russia (also advanced), Mark, a girl from Florida who's teaching at a University who has lived in ROK for 5 years, Stephan, and yours truly.}
Here are some of the signs on the sidewalk on the walk to the museum. As you can see, a lot of the tourist attractions have information in English, making it pretty easy to sight-see.

This was a map outside the museum. As you can see, this museum is huge - the biggest in Korea. It contains artifacts from ancient to modern Korea, as well as other Asian relics.

This is the view on the walk up to the museum. I love the modern structure of the building.

There was a lake at the entrance. I bet it'll be really pretty when the weather gets nicer.

Here's another map outlining each of the floors of the building.

As a perk of the field trip, we had a tour guide to explain some of the cultural nuances of the artifacts. And the best part was our tour guide spoke exceptional English (she said she studied in New England for awhile) so we were able to learn a lot at the museum. The entire tour took about 2.5 hours and focused on Korean history, but it would be easy to spend a full day here, as we only saw a small fraction of the exhibits. It is just astounding to me the length of the history here in Asia. We saw things that dated back to the 5th and 6th century, which was just fascinating to me to imagine people from so long ago!

This was a burial structure used, basically like a casket.

This is an example of what a Korean warrior would've looked like.

We also learned the history of the Korean language and alphabet, which was fascinating to me as a Korean student myself. Hangul was actually invented by a King Sejong the Great to allow his subjects to write. Korean was a purely spoken language (mainly a borrowed and modified form of the Chinese language) until this King took matters into his own hands and created the alphabet.

Korean is a very scientific language, and is considered very logical. (Though there are definitely times when I'm studying that I see no logic at all!)

Below is the first book created using a printing press.

This tower was created by monks and is huge! It is an outdoor sculpture, but was created out of marble, which is a soft material, so they brought it inside to prevent any more damage.

Each of the little sections is hand carved and I find it particularly interesting that each little section is created one by one separately, then all of the pieces are connected almost like a puzzle to create the final tower. Talk about patience!

This is a replication of a traditional Korean living space. This one would have belonged to a wealthier person since it's pretty large. There are still some homes like this located in Seoul, but they are extremely, extremely expensive.

This was just a very pretty rug painting that was created by Buddhist monks to help with meditation.

Speaking of Buddhist monks, we toured a room filled with various Buddha's. Here are some of our favorites. Notice that each of their hands are positioned differently, these different positions indicate which Buddha you'd pray for what. For example one is for health, one is for peace, etc....

Overall, this was a very enjoyable way to spend to day and we felt like we learned a lot about Korean history. Here's a final shot of everyone who attended the field trip.