Sunday, May 29, 2011

Aaand 꿑!

It's official, our Sogang days are behind us. All in all, it's been a great experience, I've met some good friends, and while my Korean is still not where I'd like it to be, it's vastly improved from when we first started. I've come to realize that this is going to have to be an ongoing process and I need to accept that I'll probably never be fully fluent. The best I can hope for is to be functionally fluent, with an accent that'll always sound a little off to normal Koreans. But I'm okay with that.

Birth Father came in town the other day and we were able to have some serious conversations with him. My reason for studying was to reach that level, so I feel like this year was well-spent.

So here's the mandatory picture with my Level 4 class at graduation.


Our speaking teacher is in the middle with the Japanese beer we gave her as a thank you present.

I'd say after Level 4, there seems to be a lot of turnover among the students at Sogang. It's probably because if you start at Level 1, reaching Level 4 means you've spent a year studying. So, a lot of the people who started at Level 1 with us are returning to their hometowns.

We attended a going away party for one of Mark's friends from Turkey.


It's kind of a strange feeling to know we'll probably never see some of these people again as their hometowns are miles away from ours. Leaving Poly, it just didn't seem so final since most of the teachers were from North America, so I always kind of assumed we'd reunite at some point. But when people are heading off to Russia, Turkey, Taiwan, Japan... it'll be a bit trickier to meet up. I guess that'll just give Mark and me and major incentive to earn a lot of money so we can travel the world and see these people once again. :)

Anyway, thanks Sogang for the memories, friends, and the Korean skills~ I'll never forget you. ^^

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ajuma Palooza

Well, the day I've been dreading has came and passed. I've exited my 20s and entered my 30s.

Truthfully, it was all a lot less painful than imagined. Good friends and a great party organized by Mark helped.

My actual birthday was on Friday the 13th. I still had to work, so we had a pasta, wine, and movie night. The next morning, we headed into Itaewon for brunch. I have to admit, that while I've adjusted to most Korean food, kimchi for breakfast just doesn't cut it for me. So we treated ourselves to an omelette, a sandwich, and a Bloody Mary. Then we headed back to the apartment to hang out.

Now here comes the fun part. First we met some friends for dinner at this BBQ meat restaurant. The food was delicious, but the best part was the wait staff's outfits.


Then, Mark organized a birthday party. It was a mish-mash of people we've met from all over in Korea: friends from our year teaching, Sogang friends, language exchange friends, and more. It ended up being the most international birthday party I've ever had with Korean, Japan, Turkey, Russia, Taiwan, and the US representing.





The fun place about the bar is that there's a river of 막걸리 (Korean rice wine) running through one of the tables. In addition if you pay about $4, you can drink all the 막걸리 you want for 3 hours. We didn't end up sitting at the 막거리 river table, but we did get to take advantage of the drink special. And we totally got our money's worth. :)

A 30th birthday cake was necessary, I guess.


After our 3 hours were up, our friend Alex (who happens to be a SLU graduate from St. Louis), recommended a bar down the street that had beer pong. For the beer pong uninitiated, basically you set up cups in a triangle formation and have to throw a ping pong ball into the cups.


If you get the ball in, the cup is removed and the opposing team has to take a shot of beer. So we ended up setting up a beer pong tournament with a cash prize. You may actually remember that beer pong kicked off the Metro Olympics we held with my brother and his wife.

As most of the people at the party had never played before and every American spent many college nights majoring in beer pong, we were feeling pretty confident.

But then surprisingly many of the teams seemed to have some serious "beginners luck."


And people's true competitive natures really emerged.


Mark and I got knocked out in the second round by a Turkish/Japanese team. But finally, the other American team pulled out the win.


It was a great way to spend my birthday, and playing old college games with our many new friends helped me forget I was celebrating this "traumatic" birthday. Here's to many, many more!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Picture of Success

So lately I've been craving curry like craaazy. So Mark, being the amazing guy he is, looked up a recipe to make it for me.

He found a recipe online and wrote it out. It looked like this...


No big deal, he just found a recipe entirely in Korean, wrote it all out and translated it to English.

And then proceeded to make the most delicious curry ever -- proving his translating skills were spot-on. Wish I had taken a picture of the final product, but I was too busy scarfing it down.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kimchi Chronicles

Just found out there's a cooking show on PBS called the Kimchi Chronicles which features Korean cooking for an American kitchen. I tried searching on PBS's website, but it looks like it hasn't started yet.

Anyway, here's the link to the New York Times writeup.

And it looks like Hugh Jackman will be on it.

Can't wait!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Uphill battle

Check out this blog post about the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. Yep, Korean's definitely on the list.

It says to achieve proficiency you need 88 weeks (1.69 years) and 2,200 classroom hours.

So... Mark and I have spent 1 year studying... and approximately 750 classroom hours at Sogang.


Monday, May 2, 2011


Another kinda awkward foreigner moment for Mark...

Last night we were at dinner at a little hole in the wall restaurant in our neighborhood and a report about Osama Bin Laden's death came on the news. Then they flashed to footage of Americans celebrating and chanting "USA USA." Every single head in the place immediately swiveled to stare at Mark like they expected him to erupt out of his seat, jump on the table, and join in.

So, while we weren't performing any shows for the Koreans, we were very happy to hear the news and hope that this will mean the world will be a little more peaceful.