Archive | June 2012

40 Days in Korea: D-day. Day 1.3. Thoughts.

My first day in Korea was a very tiring day. I realized that, even if I had prepared, my initial plan of going around Incheon and Ganghwa on my first day is something impossible. Especially when you have heavy luggage with you! Yes, I could use some storage lockers, but I am not also familiar with the places yet, so I don’t know what’s the best place to leave my things except on my friend’s dormitory.

I woke up early because of the cold.

In Korea # 008: In Korea it can still be freaking cold even in summer!

It was raining when I wake up and the wind was blowing so hard.

Wait, where am I again? In Korea? Like really in Korea? In the Korea that I’ve been dreaming to go to since god knows when?

But honestly it hasn’t sunk in yet. I don’t know why and I’m starting to feel really annoyed. Where’s the excitement that I was supposed to feel?

Maybe because I was tired. And maybe because I came unprepared. Hopefully my feeling would improve eventually.

40 Days in Korea: D-day. Day 1.2. Getting my phone and getting lost.

When I entered the subway I was amazed. It feels like I’m inside a Korean movie! So cool! I rarely see subways on dramas, but I often see subways on movies, so I was reminded with movies. The seats were all comfy too.

I enjoyed looking outside because the sights feels too City Hall-ish – Kim Sun Ah’s 2009 drama that was actually filmed mostly in Incheon.

The travel time was quite long and I often fell asleep once in a while.

When I reached the Hongik University Station, the real challenge started. Dragging my uber heavy luggage is something that is not easy! Especially when you have to transfer stations. It doesn’t help that I didn’t get enough sleep and rest.

But somehow I managed to get myself to line 2.

I didn’t know that the most difficult part is just about to come. The exit I need to take from line 2 is very far and there are no more elevators! I’m dragging a trolley and a duffel bag that’s about 20 kilos, plus a paper bag, a back pack, and my Sam Sooki.

Also during the exit, since I can’t fit myself and my bags on the swivel doors, I used the ‘help’ one, but my T-money beeped and somehow this time my Korean didn’t work with the station officer. I can’t understand him and I actually barely spoke because I don’t know what was happening. He just let me go.

One the way out of line 2, an ahjumma approached me and helped me in carrying my luggage. I was so touched with the gesture and was really thankful.  I also feel a bit shy because my luggage was really heavy. BUT I think the ahjumma made it more difficult for me. She walks fast. Too fast for my pace, so I practically have to catch up with her speed while carrying a heavy duffel bag on my shoulders. And even if I want to stop, I can’t because my other bag is with her.

In Korea # 004: In Korea, ahjummas are the strongest and most powerful person!

I also feel amazed at her power and speed. And I feel quite embarrassed that I my age, I was panting and I almost lost my breath when we reached the exit.

I followed zemoneko’s guide into getting a prepaid phone for foreigners near Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station.

But somehow it seems like I left my sense of direction in the Philippines! I used to be very good in directions, but it just doesn’t work in Korea anymore. Maybe because everything’s new.

Anyway, I kept walking and when I can’t continue anymore, I decided to stop by a convenience store and buy a banana milk to give me energy.

In Korea # 005: In Korea, stores don’t give out receipts all the time and they don’t put the things you brought in plastic bags. – actually it’s more practical that way, however I’m just used to how it was in the Philippines. You buy a gum for less than 50 cents (USD) and they will give you a receipt for it and put it in a tiny plastic bag. Come on people! It now looks ridiculous to me after living here in Korea for 9 days without having to put my purchases on plastic bags.

I kept walking. I know it’s near Paris Baguette and I just saw one earlier. But the thing is I saw another one. I don’t remember that there’s another Paris Baguette nearby. Also I reached a crossroad and it’s quite complicated and I don’t know whether to go straight or make a turn.

So I decided to ask a delivery ahjussi on his way to his motorbike. I don’t know the name of the place, so I just opened my laptop and showed the map to him. When he can’t figure the location either, he went to his bike and guess what he did. He pulled out his smart phone. Tap tap tap. And he showed me the way.

In Korea # 006: In Korea, almost everyone has smart phones! actually our Korean professor told us that according to survey 1 out of 2 Koreans uses smart phones these days. I beg to disagree – if your sampling are subway commuters, 9 out of 10 people uses smart phones here!

Apparently I walked too much and the place I’m looking for is quite near the exit. I walked straight ahead when I was supposed to turn.

Anyway I went inside the store after locating it. I took my time choosing a phone and was lucky to find a cute pink LG ice cream – for free! I just paid 10,000 won for the phone and it was activated and I have 10,000 won worth of credits on the phone. So basically the phone was free. Cool! It’s a damn LG ice cream! How much is that model in the Philippines now? The phone, just like most of the available in the store, was second hand. But who cares. There’s actually a better one, an any call phone that looks so neat and new, but I opted for the LG since it’s pink (and luckily when I get home and after cleaning it it looked brand new and no one believes me when I said I got the phone for free. I  guess I was just so lucky that day! Not everyone can get a second hand phone as pretty as mine).

It took many minutes to activate the phone. I should’ve walked around the area instead while waiting but 1.) I was too tired and 2.) I don’t know if they will need me, say for my passport or payment or what not. So I decide to stay.

After getting the phone I went out, dragging my luggage still. I sat on a small post on the sidewalk near a cart vendor. I was supposed to buy one toast but the ahjumma disappeared. I was too tired and I decided it’s time to ask my friend to rescue me! After sending a message to my friend from SNU, I headed back to the subway station. Slowly.

But my friend was actually somewhere nearby so she was able to go to Dongdaemun Park station quickly – even a few minutes earlier than me.

We met halfway and we were just so excited to see each other. We are really close in school and we both love chatting and walking. And we kept in touch via Facebook even after she went here in Korea early this year.

Upon entering the station my T-money beeped again. The station officer talked to us but my brain has totally shot down by that time due to lack of sleep and painful back and shoulders (from the bags I was dragging along) and painful feet (from my uncomfortable footwear). He then called someone (yes on his smart phone) who can speak English and he talked to me. I actually can’t understand him much but somehow it seems like my card wasn’t charged on one of my transfers or something so they need to charge it. I said no problem. I might have tapped it incorrectly or something.

Me and my friend took the subway, then we get off 낙선대 station to take a bus going to her dormitory in SNU. Another ahjumma came and helped us with my luggage. She also talked to us in Korean and when she talked in English she was really good!

Riding the bus for the first time is so cool! If subways makes me feel I’m inside a Korean movie, buses makes me feel I’m in a Korean drama!

On the bus, a certain ahjussi had small talk with my friend. And I was really glad to see my friend talking in straight Korean now. We were classmates in some Korean classes way back home and I know she’s good. But it’s always difficult for her to talk, especially to our Korean teacher. Like she is always thinking what to say. But today, I was surprised and was very happy to see her conversing in Korean freely and confidently!

In Korea # 007: In Korea, dragging heavy luggage could start a conversation from the locals. – we think that it was because of the luggage that we were carrying that made people talk to us.

So we finally arrived at my friend’s dormitory. I told her I am planning to go to Kangnam that day to visit Kim Sun Ah’s management agency’s office. Then we can have dinner and probably go some other places in Seoul. I just want to put my bags down. I said I’ll also rest a bit. But the moment my back touches the bed, I fell into a deep sleep. When I woke up it’s already early morning.

40 Days in Korea: D-day. Day 1.1. Good morning Korea!

I woke up seeing this view on my window. Pretty neat! Then I fell asleep again. And when I woke up it’s already bright.

The plane ride was okay. There were very few passengers (that’s probably why the fare suddenly got cheaper). There were just one or two passengers per row of 6. I have no one beside me.

Also the plane was bigger. It now looks like a plane. A small plane. Because last time I went abroad – to Taiwan, I felt I was just inside a bus.

When we finally landed, I was delaying things and I don’t really wanna go out of this gate.

I don’t know. Probably I was just afraid that everything will fade away when I step outside even before it started happening and everything will end up being just a dream. Oh no! My Sam Soon sickness is here again.

But I stepped out and somehow things didn’t fade.

But it didn’t turn magical either.

Okay, there were Korean signs everywhere and high class facilities. But I didn’t feel anything. I was expecting I’ll be super elated. But I was more excited when I arrived in Taiwan last year. Was it because I’ve been used to flying and going to other places as compared to the time when I was in Taiwan and it was my first time to travel abroad?

I spent a lot of minutes on the restroom – trying to freshen up and wake myself up. Maybe it’s the tiredness that’s why I am numb to excitement.

I went out and it there were not much people around anymore. Considering I was one of the last one to alight the plane, I also spent a lot of time in the restroom. Now where do I go next? A right, baggage!

So I just followed the signs and found myself in a place that looks like a subway station. A subway station inside the airport? Is it the AREX? I don’t know and I don’t care. I think I was lost. Then a staff went to me because I was probably looking like a lost kid. I told him, in English (because I don’t know how to say it in Korean) where the baggage claim is. And he told me to take the train. Woah! Cool!!! (Then I remember reading about it once in a blog – the train inside the airport).

After getting my stuff, it was kinda cool walking among many Koreans, mostly airport staff, that are talking to each other. A girl called out to her Unnie who was walking-running, asked her where she was going and the Unnie answered she’ll get coffee and asked the girl whether she would like one too. Did I just understand everything they said? Oh well, it was a simple conversation.

So I went out of the arrival gate and saw someone from CNU waiting for students. I ignored it thinking they were waiting for different students. Because I clearly told them in the email that I will stay in Seoul first and will go to Gwangju by myself on July 1st. They did receive my email, right? Right?

So now, to look for eggmoonrice – a good friend from the Philippines who’s taking MA in Kangwon National University in Chuncheon. She went home for a short vacation and unfortunately she missed her bus to Chuncheon so she ended up sleeping in the airport. But I can’t find her. She said she’s near the arrival but there were too many people. So I went to G25 first because I wanted to buy something.

In Korea # 001: In Korea, you can leave your things anywhere without worrying that it’ll get lost. No one will care.

The G25 near the arrival is quite small. I wanted to go to the beverage section and it’s not possible to drag my trunk all the way inside. So I just followed what everyone did and left it outside the store.

Ignoring the hunger, I went straight to the beverage section and bought my first purchase in Korea – Vitamin Water.

Any Kim Sun Ah fan would know why I want to buy this. 🙂

I went around the arrival area and looked around the information area for some stuff that I can get. Like some brochures or postcards or maps.

Then I saw eggmoonrice pushing her trolley. We had breakfast together – kimbap. And it was very delicious. There were kimbap in the Philippines from Korean restaurants but nothing taste like the one in G25! Haha. I think I can eat kimbap everyday!

In Korea # 2: In Korea, I can eat delicious Kimbap everyday!

We took some photos together then eggmoonrice needs to head to Chuncheon right away. She already missed a few days worth of classes because of her vacation in the Philippines and now she is running very late for her classes. I sent her off, and again, just leaving my luggage somewhere in the arrival area.

We were both thrilled that both of us are in Korea now. That I AM in Korea now. Though I still didn’t feel anything special. Probably because we were just together a few days before in the Philippines? The airport looks nice. The bus terminal in the airport looks cool and definitely not something you’ll find in the Philippines. But still it doesn’t feel Korea to me. I don’t know why. I thought maybe when I’m left alone everything will start sinking in.

I went back to the airport.

I don’t know what to do next.

I was initially planning on going to Incheon city hall, then around the area. Afterwards heading to Ganghwa and touring around the area. Then go to Seoul in the evening. But I wasn’t bale to finalize my plans before I left and I don’t know exactly where to go. My laptop’s battery is dead too and I don’t have a cellphone.

I decided to just go around the airport first and wait until 9:00am when the banks are open (because I have to withdraw some money). I was able to check my facebook briefly and a friend informed me that Kim Sun Ah has an ad somewhere in the basement. So I head to the basement and looked around. Pushing my luggage sometimes. Leaving it somewhere at other times.

I didn’t saw Kim Sun Ah’s ad (but I was very near it! 😥 ). But I was able to go around the airport. There were many other things I want to see in the airport but I wasn’t able to write them all down. So I decided to just look for them on my departure. I’ll just be early in the airport so I’ll have time to look around.

I decided to go back to the arrival area and look for an outlet to plug my laptop so I can start deciding what to do… when I heard my name being paged. Darn! Were they waiting for me? Today?

So I went to the information desk and told the lady there that I think I heard my name was called – in Korean! Success! She understood what I meant. And for some strange reasons, I didn’t have a hard time talking. She called someone informing them that the person they are looking for came, then she told me to wait.

Darn! What do I do? And how do I explain? I knew it! They probably either didn’t notice what I said on the email or didn’t receive it. But I remember them replying to it.

A staff from CNU came and I greeted him and I apologized – in Korean. He was surprised that I can speak Korean. Then I tried explaining the situation.

At first there was supposed to be a service from the airport to CNU. But eventually we were told that someone will just show us the way to get to an airport limo until Gwanju Terminal. Or if we are coming from Seoul, we can take the express bus. So I decided to spend a few days in Seoul first before coming down to Gwanju since they are not going to pick us up anyway and I don’t need directions on how to get to Gwanju. I could just ask around.

So I explained to him about it and he called someone, probably someone from CNU. He looks worried at first when I told him I’ll be going around Seoul on my own. But after talking to me in Korean for a long time, I think he realized I’ll be okay. I also said I wasn’t able to contact anyone since I don’t have a phone (then he asked me don’t I have an iphone? What? Is it required to have an iphone now? – And later I realized that almost every Korean uses a smart phone now so it was not really strange that he asked me if I don’t have an iphone. O.o) and I told him I’ll contact them as soon as I have my 선불폰 (prepaid phone) which I’m planning to get in Seoul. He taught me how to use the payphone. Then he left me alone. Hooray!

I opened my laptop again. I think it’s too late already to plan a trip to Ganghwa. Besides I don’t have much money with me yet. Also the stupid luggage I’ve packed are all so heavy, it’s difficult to move them around. I decided maybe it’s better to stay in Seoul with my friend. But I can’t contact my friend and I told her I’ll be in Seoul the next day instead. So I guess the best thing to do is to get my phone and I can work from there.

So I head to the AREX (and checked the basement one last time for Kim Sun Ah’s ad that I didn’t see). Was surprised to see there’s a CGV (moviehouse) inside the airport.

In Korea # 3. There’s a moviehouse and a spa inside the airport.

I went to the AREX. But I don’t know what to do. I want to take the commuter train – the cheapest way to Seoul. But was afraid I might take the incorrect train. Also I don’t know how I can get to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station.

So I went to the information and, in Korean, asked how to get to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station while showing her my map. And I was told my map was old! Darn stupid map! So embarrassing! So she gave me a new subway map (yey!) and showed me the way. Get off Hongik University station and transfer to line 2.

Then before getting in, I told her I want to take the commuter train and asked her if I’m in the correct area. And she said yes (apparently the KTX is on the other side).

Wow! Just wow! I was able to get all the information and directions I need and all was in Korean! Just wow!

On the way to AREX, a kid noticed my Sam Sook stuff toy and started small talk with me, asking me if it was my doll. Cute!

And since I didn’t prepare for the trip, I don’t know how the subways work in Korea. So I had to ask which side goes to Hongik University station to an ahjumma and I was told where.

So far so good. I’ve been speaking purely in Korean after eggmoonrice left. And I survived!

40 Days in Korea: Why am I in Korea right now?

So, I’ve been blogging and ranting about crazy preparations and I’ve been here for 9 days now yet I haven’t properly blogged why I’m here.

I’m here for the 2012 Chonnam National University’s International Summer Session. Although it’s a bit similar to an exchange student program because there are classes and you can earn credits that would be reflected in your transcript, it’s different in a sense that you don’t belong to the real university classes. It’s a special summer program for international students. Students can chose classes and can will also have an opportunity to join the cultural excursions.

Here’s CNU ISS’ website:

A good friend who’s currently on exchange in Seoul National University told me about this program. I applied immediate and was nominated by my university. That’s why now I am here in Korea.

The summer program would only run for a month. I decided to take Study of Korean Culture (since I’m interested in Korean culture) and Understanding Chinese People and Culture (since I’m taking Mandarin, I thought it would be really helpful). But I opted out of the cultural excursions. The selection was good and worth it, but it’s too expensive for me. Besides I want to explore on my own and mingle with the locals.

Since my home university is in partnership with CNU, CNU waived the tuition and dormitory fees for me and another student from our university. We have to pay for our own air tickets and we don’t have any allowance for meals and other stuff.

It took me a long time thinking whether I’ll join or not. Of course I wanted to join. But buying tickets and saving enough pocket money is difficult for me. I also feel guilty of spending too much for this program instead of using it for say, paying debts and having our house fix or getting a refrigerator since ours was broken.

It’s also going to be difficult for me since it’s not vacation in the Philippines right now. So basically I’ll be absent for a month in all my classes in the Philippines. So I’m just making it hard for myself. I will have to study here, then study for my classes in the Philippines too – by myself! And by the time I return home, it’ll be midterms week!

I must be crazy to take this program. But I’ve always wanted to go to Korea. And this is my chance. So I just closed my eyes and decided to take the chance.

And now I am here. On my 9th day. Surviving, enjoying and loving Korea all the more. 🙂

40 Days in Korea: D-1 Departure

The last week before my flight to Korea has been tremendously crazily busy! With the visa application brouhaha, documents to complete, classes to take care of, things to buy, things to do, things to bring… etc etc etc.

I was still running everywhere the morning of the 28th (my departure date).

I attended my morning classes in our university. Had all my readings for my classes in the Philippines photocopied. Renewed a book in the library. Submitted last minute documents.

I also had some financial problems before my flight so I had to ask for help from friends. So I had to meet them too. I also met my friend’s mom. My friend’s in Korea and her mom asked me to bring her some stuff.

I managed to get myself a camera that day (yey!). I barely have money to survive Korea, but I thought believe it’s okay even if I won’t have enough as long as I have a camera. I must have a camera. And I managed to get one. A nice one. So I was happy.

I came home and started packing. Although I have sorted things that I’m planning to bring, I still haven’t packed them. Also I didn’t get to buy some things and decided to just buy them in Korea (wrong move! everything’s expensive here!).

So I started packing. But time was running out so I didn’t have time to sort my stuff again and lessen the things I’m bringing. I just stuffed them inside my bags before I miss my flight.

It was drizzling when I left. And my mom and aunt kept nagging me that I’m gonna be late. Oh well, it was stressful but at least I didn’t miss my flight.

I took a cab to the airport. My bags were very heavy but didn’t exceed the weight limit. Nonetheless they were heavy.

I went alone to the airport but was was met by my good friend Bukas na Espasyo and she treated me to dinner.

I’m glad to be back in the airport. And this time I’m not sending someone off, rather I’ll be leaving. Was I excited? I actually don’t remember being excited. I was too tired that day. And I also hate that I was not prepared at all.

There’s a small notebook I was preparing for my trip. To put phone numbers, exchange rates, people I want to meet in Korea, places I want to visit, what I want to do, what I want to eat – everything! As expected, I didn’t finish doing that. I also wasn’t able to email my friends that I’m leaving (the Philippines) and  that I’m coming (to Korea). Everything is just so fast and I was too tired to get excited. It was also a long day. I had a very early class (7:00am so I was awake by 5:30am). I had to travel from my university back home after my classes. I had to buy some stuff. And I haven’t slept.

But I was happy. Knowing that something’s good’s waiting for me.

Before boarding a Korean mother notice my Sam Sook (the Kim Sam Soon stuff toy) and called her kids’ attention saying it’s Sam Soon’s pig doll. I was happy to know that Sam Soon is still popular among Koreans (or at least to that lady).

On the boarding area, I was happy to know that the attendant was actually from the same university. He even interviewed me for a while.

Then he thought the one before me, a Korean girl, left her baggage claim tickets and he asked me if I can give it to her. I obliged and attempted my first ever Korean conversation. But it ended up that the baggage claim tickets were not hers. When I looked at it, it was actually… mine! O.o

I went in the boarding area early so that I can sit down for a long time and probably get to be online. I went to the restroom first. When I was inside the cubicle though I heard one airline staff asking the restroom staff if she saw any Korean inside (I guess they were making the last call for the flight before mine and was missing a Korean girl). The restroom staff said she saw one enter the cubicle. When I get out, the attendant went to me right away and asked for my boarding pass – in English. I showed it to her, then she returned it right away (after seeing that it wasn’t me she was looking for) and rushed our of the door.

Was I the Korean the restroom staff was talking about?

Then on the way to the boarding area, I was kinda lost because I can’t see our boarding gate. While trying to look around, another staff approached me, asked me if I was looking for Gate something something. And I nodded. She told me where it was – in English. In a slow English that Filipinos usually used when speaking to foreigners. But I’m not Korean!

Inside the plane, the airline staff handed my the immigration forms in Korean. I have to tell her I’m a Filipino. Even though I know Korean, I won’t be able to understand that complicated immigration form. The staff shyly laughed and handed me the English version of the forms.

I basically slept the entire flight. It’s about less than 4 hours between Manila and Incheon. I wanted to actually try to complete my travel notebook but I wasn’t able to do so because I keep falling asleep.

40 Days in Korea: Preparation – Korean Visa Brouhaha

I know it’s difficult for a Filipino to get a tourist visa. Just like what they say, “Been there. Done that.” I had my share of troubles in getting my Taiwan visa last 2010. I was going to Taiwan for a Kim Sun Ah fan meeting. I just quit my job because it was the year I decided to go back to school. I have prepared all the needed documents but I had to go back and forth because they keep requesting for more supporting documents, specifically financial supporting documents – even though I’ll just be there for 2 days and have a proof that I’ll be attending an event. Anyway, I eventually got my Taiwan visa the day before my flight and after many hair-pulling moments!

So I never attempted to get a Korean visa.

Even if I’ve always been wanting to go to Korea. Even if I’ve always wanted to attend Kim Sun Ah’s birthday party every fall. Even if I’ve always wanted to support Kim Sun Ah’s drama or movies when they are shown. Even if there were unbelievable low ticket prices during seat sales. I know I will never ever be able to get a Korean visa. Probably not until I graduated and got myself a stable position in one of the top 100 companies in the country and my savings in my bank account reached 7 digits and got myself an apartment and a car and a family. But while I’m still a student who’s only working part-time with almost zero savings (not just on my bank account but on my wallet too) and supporting my family and myself I will never ever get a Korean visa.

But this exchange student program came. Thinking that I’m gonna be studying in Korea I foolishly believed that it’s going to be easy to get a visa.

So, after buying plane tickets, I carefully prepared all the required documents. As of last month the listed requirements were: Passport, invitation letter from the Korean University, proof of enrollment in home university, birth certificate, fully accomplished application form, birth certificate and proof of financial support from parents (bank certificate, employment certificate, ITR).

I prepared the following documents (and added some for good measure): Passport, acceptance letter from the Korean university, invitation letter from the Korean university, certificate of enrollment from my home university, registration form from my home university, true copies of grade from my home university, birth certificate, application form (where I specifically indicated that it’s going to be myself and the Korean university who will be financing my trip), MY bank certificate (with a generous amount of money – thanks to a good neighbor who helped me gather funds), MY wage certificate (from my part-time job), my plane tickets (specifically the return ticket).

I did well, right?

That’s what I thought too!

When I went to submit my application to Window 1 (new applicants), I was asked to submit a copy of my school id, the school permit of some university in Korea (Note: He didn’t say 전남. He said some other university’s name, I swear!), my parent’s bank certificate and certificate of employment.

I knew it! I just knew it that they are not going to make it easy for me. I dunno, but somehow I felt like I will not be able to get my visa easily. I just knew it.

I didn’t argue with the name of the university anymore and I didn’t bother pointing out that it’s ME spending for my trip and not my parents (and that I am from a single-parent family and there’s no way to get my father’s documents and my mom doesn’t have a job nor a bank account). I can easily have my school id copied, but I definitely have to go back anyway since I need the school permit from Korea.

I asked some other exchange students from our university before and was told that window 1 is actually notorious for asking whatever documents he wants to ask. I understand that. What I don’t understand is why he is not reading the documents submitted to him. Aside from asking for my parents documents when it’s indicated that it’s me financing my trip, he said my university’s name incorrectly even if Cheonnam National University is one of the famous universities in Korea, and he asked for my birth certificate while he was holding it!

I was kinda pissed off at that time. And it’s not as if going to the embassy is easy. Their location is very far and is not very accessible!

Thinking about it now, it doesn’t look so bad anymore. But I remember that time I even declared a silent war with Korea because I was totally pissed off. Maybe due to too much stress at that time too.

Anyway, I went back after getting the additional documents that were asked of me. This time I went to Window 2 since I really don’t want to see Window 1 anymore. Windows 2 was better. She carefully read each of the documents I submitted. And she didn’t ask for my parents documents anymore, simply because she read my application form. HOWEVER, she asked for the MOU between my home university and CNU! Where did it come from? A few hours earlier than me another schoolmate, whose gonna be on a different program, actually submitted his application too and was not asked for it. Also my schoolmate who’ll be with me on the same program have submitted hers and was not asked for such additional documents.

I told our program coordinator and she was also a bit annoyed. She doesn’t want me to go back and forth the embassy. So we asked help from a friend from the same university who’s working at another division of the embassy. She is not related to the visa division but since she works nearby, the document needed was forwarded to her. That way I don’t have to go back to school to pick it up. But my generous friend also offered to submit my documents on my behalf instead since it’s already cut-off time (instead of me going back to the embassy again).

So eventually, after all the brouhaha I got my visa after a week. Just 2 days before my flight. Stressed!


[소설] I Do I Do: Chapter 1.1

DISCLAIMER: I’m still not good in Korean. Please take my translations with a grain of salt (might as well take the whole salt shaker with you). I’m just doing this for fun and found reading and attempting to translate the novel as another opportunity for me to learn Korean in a fun way.

Mary jane. A lovely shoes with rounded front and a strap. It’s easy to match it with any outfit but if it is worn with a very feminine one-piece dress, it’s like being a princess from a fairy tale. A magical secret moment when a cute and innocent girl changes into a lovely lady. A shoes that hides a secret sexiness.


SHOWCASE 1: The place where my mary janes took me.

First day of kindergarten.

Dad bought her only daughter a pair of red shoes. The same kind of mary janes that Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland wore.

Ji Ahn steps her little foot into the red enamel shoes that sparkles like a ruby. And for the first time Ji Ahn heard the sound of her soul the moment she fastens the thin strap with a click.

“Right, this is it!”

The round front of the shoes covers the toes and everything turns into one – yes, that kind of ‘matching’ feeling.

Every clacking step Ji Ahn took, she heard the sound of magic unfolding. Every clacking sound Ji Ahn makes on each of her step is the sound of magic –  the clacking sound of happiness.

It seems like Ji Ahn can go anywhere just like Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, just like Alice in Alice in Wonderland, and just like Cinderella who’ve met her prince charming. It seems like it became possible to go anywhere Ji Ahn wants just like magic.

“Shoes, shoes! Take me to the place where magical shoes that are as pretty and as wonderful as you sleeps!”

A place full of shoes that are lovelier than Dorothy’s and more dazzling than Cinderella’s!

Then, if she can grab that happiness by a hand she’ll be happy, won’t she?

Now, if only she can fill her hands with beautiful magical shoes……..

[소설] I Do I Do: Cover

DISCLAIMER: I’m still not good in Korean. Please take my translations with a grain of salt (might as well take the whole salt shaker with you). I’m just doing this for fun and found reading and attempting to translate the novel as another opportunity for me to learn Korean in a fun way.


It’s funny that you will give up on life just because of THAT?
A straight forward cheer to those who have dreams!
The role model of today’s generation – romantic-comedy queen Kim Sun Ah!
Winner of KOCCA’s story-writing contest

So what if you took the wrong path? So what if you have to step back a little?
The safe route is not necessarily the best one!

Front Cover:

She is a natural born shoe-holic. Since childhood, for no apparent reasons, she just happen to like shoes.

(She) thinks Manilyn Monroe’s life is really cool – having a scandal with Kennedy and dying a mysterious death while still in the flower of her youth. (note: the text was cut off on some parts)

Strongly denying it, but honestly I really don’t know. Maybe I’m liking that ‘kid’?

Eliza said, “The world is full of things that you never could have imagined happening. But the things that you thought couldn’t happen, when it happens, it is really cool. Because the things you never thought could happen, is happening.”

Although your classy outfits is shouting Gangnam, your exuding ‘hometown manners’ reveals that you are Chungbuk’s ‘little princess’.

Haven’t been on a date for 10 years. A city workaholic worn out and stressed 365 days a year.

If she were to choose a color to represent herself, she’d probably choose primary colors over pastels. It must absolutely be clear whether something is hot or cool; something like ‘somewhat roundish’ and ‘lukewarm’ doesn’t amuse her.

Inside Front Cover

Do you know what “line” is? A millimeter can make a difference in the quality!

Kim Jong Hak Production Planning
First place winner for ‘Korean Story Contest’ in a KOCCA sponsored Mythopoeia Project 2010
MBC drama

Jo Jeong Hwa (screenplay)

Born in Seoul and majored in Scriptwriting for Film and Theater at Sangmyeong University. He debuted as a junior writer for MBC sitcom Non-stop, and after that wrote scenarios for movies (No Comment Family, Man Who Went to Mars) and dramas (Rays of Sunshine, Stranger Than Paradise) and has then been active on both the silver screen and television.

Park Yi Jeong (novel)

He joined writing contests with the motto of leaving various deeply moving works. He wrote with a wide spectrum. From general fiction, romance, fantasy as well as action, thriller, comics and cartoons, to game stories.
He worked with many experts on different genres gaining him a deep understanding and a strong foundation and was sought by OSMU (One Source Multi Use).
He has also fictionalized movies including Haunters, Petty Romance, Blind and Sunny.

Inside Insert

Eliza said, “The world is full of things that you never could have imagined happening. But the things that you thought couldn’t happen, when it happens, it is really cool. Because the things you never thought could happen, is happening.”

<excerpt from Anne of Green Gables>

Back Cover

“Why does it have to be shoes? Why do I have to be at the bottom?”

“Do you know that good shoes takes you to good places? At first I only thought that pretty shoes brings you good luck. But it’s not the case. Shoes actually can let the magic unfold. The braver I become, the better I feel. So I will be taken to a place where my heart leads me. And that place is the best place that could be.”

I, Hwang Ji An, is a natural born shoe-holic. Since I was a kid, for no apparent reason, I’ve always liked shoes. Even when I have to wear a sweatsuit without make-up, I must wear only the prettiest and most luxurious pair of sneakers.
Tremendous efforts and a deep passion I gained even worldwide recognition for my talents and skills. And in my age, of late thirties, I received the best treatment in the industry being a top designer and gaining a director position in my the company that I work for. And at this rate I think that as long as I continue running forward, there’s no doubt that I can become a CEO and be able to launch a brand under my own name. However, one day I stumbled upon a path that I have never even imagined. Is this the collapse of my dream? Or is this the start of a new life? First I have to try. But because of pride, or perhaps embarrassment I am hesitant.

Inside Back Cover

Director Hwang Ji Ahn’s “Life Coaching” for those who are dreaming a dream.

1. Design your goal.
Hwang Ji Ahn’s coaching tip: You have to sketch your life.

All designs starts from a sketch. Same with your life.  Sensible women design their own life and must know how to combine colors too. Whether life is a first-class luxurious brand, or an imitation on a display rack on the streets depends on your own choice. It’s not somebody else’s, it is your life. There’s always something that is solely your own that you can’t sacrifice or share with somebody else. To me it’s shoes and fashion. Before I even reached puberty, I have already started designing my own life. Dreams, future, desires? I like all of them. The moment you start sketching your life, life becomes beautiful. Keep that in mind. A masterpiece is not born, they are made.

2. Design your tomorrow.
Hwang Ji Ahn’s coaching tip: Once the draft of your sketch is done, start putting the details.

Have no regrets after a day passes by. There’s still another chance for you tomorrow. And that chance has been prepared for you. First of all start from choosing the shoes and the outfit you’ll wear tomorrow. It’ll be the beginning of a change on busy mornings. And you will see improvements on yourself little by little. Before you know it you’ll become the object of envy of others. Refined, fashionable, glamorous, luxurious, lovely, sexy, classy, powerful… Solely through fashion, you’ll be able to possess all of these. The tomorrow that you can design can be as diverse as this. Keep this in mind. When you design your tomorrow, you design your success.

3. Design your confidence.
Hwang Ji Ahn’s coaching tip: Coco Channel said, “I am fashion”

Your own ability. Style is an aura. Successful people are……..

40 Days in Korea: D-6 Preparation

I don’t want to flip to the next page of my weekly organizer because it scares me. Once the weekend is over, all I can see are just a few squares before my departure plus all the things I have to do before I leave.

There are still a bunch of school documents I have to prepare before I leave. I’m still looking for funds!!! I still have a full work schedule. I have tons of people to email. My room’s a mess. I have 3 full chapters to read and 3 problem sets to finish in my linguistics class that I have to finish (unless I want to do the last one on the plane – no! not happening!). I haven’t chosen what clothes to bring (and I’m pretty sure the ones I’d like to bring will be in the laundry basket!). I still don’t have a camera (noes!!!!!!! 😥 )!!!!!!!!! I still haven’t found all the books and readings I’ll be needing on both my classes here and in Korea. I haven’t started packing (though I’ve made progress by sorting things I want/need to bring and shoving them on one corner of my room). I have a number of people and friends to meet. I have to make lots and lots of notes for my mom (how to use the ATM, how to rent a pc in an internet shop, how to operate the DVD player – at least I’ve finished creating her online accounts). I haven’t made my trip schedule. I haven’t written anything on my travel notebook. All these when my passport is still at the embassy and won’t be released until Tuesday afternoon.

Alright. i’m ranting nonstop. I should keep reading for my linguistics class first.

[소설] I Do I Do (intro)

I finally got my I Do I Do novel! Thanks to eggmoonrice!!! She got it for last June 3rd, got it last June 12th and brought to to me last Sunday (17th).

I was in a bad mood because of embassy-related stress so I didn’t bother reading it right away. But now that I’m feeling fairly o-k, my excitement in reading it is slowly coming back. 🙂

At first I was even contemplating whether I’ll read it or wait until the drama’s over to avoid possible spoilers (I hate spoilers), but I realized 1.) this is just book 1, so I am still spared from the ‘ending’ spoiler (from browsing it looks like the story in the book is just right until the last episode that aired last week) and 2.) do I really believe that I will finish reading the entire novel BEFORE the drama ends?

I tried reading the covers and intros and summaries last night. It was still difficult for me. But when I tried reading the start of the novel I was able to understand a big portion of it. And it makes me happy. This is the first time I’m going to read a novel in Korean. I attempted My Name Is Kim Sam Soon before but I still haven’t gotten past the first few pages. I was thinking of starting to seriously read it this summer when I Do I Do came. I’m more interested with I Do I Do for now, so My Name Is Kim Sam Soon would have to wait a bit.

Again, we have book 1. I was a bit disappointed that it’s on paperback (unlike my hardbound Kim Sam Soon. But the cover’s pretty (not to mention the insert with Kim Sun Ah photo. I love the color theme because it’s pink. But the base is white in a matte finish (urgh! I can’t just toss it away on my bag and I must remember not to hold it with dirty hands!).

It’s 335 pages but the fonts are big (way bigger than my Kim Sam Soon novel). I has 9 chapters, or ‘showcase’ as what they used on the book. And each ‘showcase’ is further divided into smaller sections (yey!).

It’s written by Park Yi Jeong (박이정) but the screenplay writer, Jo Jeong Hwa (조정화) is also credited on the book.

Aside from Kim Sun Ah’s photo (that I’ve already removed), there’s also her autograph. I hope it’s enough motivation for me to keep reading (though I’d say I’m sooo interested and curious about the story and in fact, loving it, so I think that should be a good enough motivation for me).

I use a pencil to mark or underline some words on the book. But I use post-its to write notes and definitions. And I have a small notepad to jot down words and grammar explanations. I use naver dictionary to check words out when I’m online and a paper dictionary when I’m not.

I will try reading and translating one section a day if it’s not too long. Or maybe at least a couple of paragraphs a day. Just please note, I am an amateur to this and my Korean is still far from good. Thus my translations will never be accurate. I just want to do this for myself (because if not, I will probably be too lazy to just read). I am also doing this to learn through the novel. But feel free to read it if you want/curious about the novel. And if you speak Korean and you happen to have a copy of the book too and found some errors, I’ll appreciate corrections. 🙂