Monthly Archives: March 2006

fingernail polish and X-rays

today was a sad day for our friend, ms tegan, who has taken to talking about her self in the third person out of sheer exasperation. as previously mentioned, i had to spend some time in the hospital sunday night, which was a horror story in and of itself, but to top it off my body actually felt completely worthless. i have never felt worse, really. and three days later i can’t seem to shake it off. anyway, at least i got this really cool xray out of it, i always wanted to know what my bones look like…

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my roommates and i have also managed to make a bonding experience out of it and continue to joke about me throwing up for like five hours and insisting that i was fine while they unsuccessfully attempted to sleep. i was issued a three-dose-single-day-prescription, the point of which has gone unrealized.
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feel free to call the number on this bag if you ever eat hotta (pancakes) in the mountains and have similar symptoms. another positive point was all of the tasty fruit i recieved to ease me back to health, most of which my roomies (Eun-Hye….) polished off when i was in class on tuesday. i dont think i could have possibly eaten it all myself anyway.
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but in the end everything was cool because we got some sweet matching sweaters and i lived through one of my scariest experiences ever and Eun-Hye got to enjoy a lot of free fruit…..

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either way, feel free to leave me a note on this site somewhere because, needless to say, i am feeling pretty homesick right now regardless of how awesome my roommates are. and my belly hurts.

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the east sea, and then some

judy, having only a few days left in korea before she returns to the cold crisp air of northern wisconsin, insisted that the UWS crew go on a journey with her over the weekend. being the adventure mongers that we are (a trademark of anyone participating in this program, let it be known…) we all agreed on friday to jump in a bus the next morning and travel to the east coast for a little dose of ocean air, cost unbeknownst to us. and an adventure it was! we had a few rest breaks along the coast but our first formal landmark was that of Hwanseondonggul mountain where we hiked a very steep slope to investigate a cave of enormous porportions. here are the mountains that sheltered the impressive earth-womb –

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JK, just being her evil old self. i’m glad that she is the director of our program. she treats americans just the way she should…

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the entrance to the cave; marked in Chinese, it was apparantly named before the Korean language was invented several hundred years ago. many national landmarks still hold their traditional Chinese names.

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here are some interior photos –

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an amazing little boy i met in the depths of the caverns. kids are cool everywhere, especially if they have no idea what you are saying and just laugh hysterically at how idiotic you seem (his brother is peaking out from the back)

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this model was really hilarious

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but it didnt even compare to the plaque that accompanied it….

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morale of the story being “never steal dragonhead stalagmite formations from national parks”?

this skeleton hanging on the rope bridge kind of freaked me out too –


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i think the cave was as humorous as it was mesmerizing – not exactly something that can be said of every american monument….

our next stop was the coast of the east sea to prance around, some of us in speedos, and enjoy the sand and sun for an hour or so until the sun went down

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Mr. Quon, the bus driver, and the boys

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we stayed at a fantasticly fancy condo in the mountains that night and the next morning judy and i went to the hot springs (which were, incidentally, built right into the hotel) while the boys went hiking. we went out for lunch at a sweet family restaraunt where we had bibimbop, my favorite korean dish. they had an entire display case of very valuable ginseng (insam) that had been collected from the moutains nearby.


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this one cost over $1,000


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the view from our condo


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mountains where the boys went hiking


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spring is on its way!

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later that day we all went to a nearby temple to explore. this particular temple had burnt to the ground a few years ago and was undergoing renovation which gave it its own peculiar vibes as pilgrims came to pay their homage to the remains both spiritually and financially; we happened to be visiting on a sunday and there was a considerate amount of traffic

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the end!
(except for the part where i eat a sweet pancake (hotta) and get food poisoning when i get back to the dormitory and throw up until my roommates think i am dying and finally send me to the hospital where the bed still has blood on it from the person before me and they stick an IV in me and X-ray me then i throw up some more until i fall asleep holding blocks of ice to cool down and finally come back to the dormitory at 6 am, fairly healthy, and sleep the monday away…. )

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ahhhh…. jim jil bang….

today i finally went to the korean public bathhouse. i have packed my bags and am moving out of the dorms – i will just wear bright orange shorts, eat ice with syrup, and swim in warm pools of green water all day whilst i stare up at beautiful mosaics of semiprecious unpolished stones. oh the bliss. unfortunately, i definately could not bring my camera with, so i’ve got no proof of my euphoria. here is me afterwards, however, aglow with sparkling fresh skin and wizened cultural awakening…..

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despite all of this goodness, i regret to inform that there has been tragedy in my life. in the US i have forever protested owning a cellphone. i despise being able to be contacted, especially via cell phone because one is expected to carry the device on them EVERYWHERE. so despite all arguments back home about “what a nomad” i am, or just how damned difficult it is to get ahold of me, i have absolutely refused to own one of these soul-sucking contraptions. end of discussion. in eastern asia, discussions such as this dont have an end. everyone has a cell phone. everyone wants to be like everyone else. i am given a cell phone. everyone thinks i am complete dumbass for refusing to use it. everyone text messages and calls me and i, presumably, will risk many friendships if i dont make the effort to memorize the teeny korean keypad and learn how to navigate and type ridiculously petty messages on the devil-device such as “goodnight” and “you are cool”…..
i almost cried over it today. for the first time since i have been here. i really, truly hate it –
i hate you!!

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i’m pretty sure it hates me to….

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in the end though, everything will be okay. i may learn as much about the foreign language of text messaging and cell phone culture as i hope to learn korean. and for that i wont complain. being tech-savvy is sexy, right? besides, i can always just go to the jim-ji-bang, stuff all my junk in a locker, devil-device and all, strip off all my clothes and prance around wet and naked for a few hours to wash away my contraption woes.
mmmmm….. jim jil bang….

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the roomies

and now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – introduction to the roomies. here is the notorious Eun-Hye who, despite all language barriers, manages to convey her sillyness and her amusement with my idiosyncracies very well. most of the time we spend together is laughing at eachother….

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here she is being cute (usually doesnt look this sweet)

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we like eachother.

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here Eun-Hye and Adu-ma are dragging the neighboring cheeleader in for her picture. she has her hair in this little ponytail thing and is really resistant to having it photographed….. tough!

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i had to sneak this photo of Adu-ma from Ha-na’s bed, but its pretty fitting of how she spends most of her time; studying hard.

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here’s Ha-na. she came in late to the photoshoot. she’s always working hard on her laptop. like me. except that she actually does something. sometimes we call her “Oma” because she is oldest, wisest and has a tendency to take care of the rest of us…

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Japan wins: 7 to 0

yesterday i sat in the cafeteria for an hour or two with a few hundred korean students, mostly male, who shouted and cheered as korea’s national baseball team was just completely creamed by japan. the korea-japan relationship is rocky, to say the least, so this sort of competition is just reveled. korea was doing really well too – it had already beat japan, not to mention the ass-kicking it gave the US this week. anyhow, it was really a cultural experience for me more than anything, which is ironic being that baseball is known as “the american passtime” and i never make the effort to watch it there (except for Henry’s summer games in coon valley….)
today as i scanned the news for stats on globalization for class tomorrow i found a really interesting article written by a korean about the war in iraq. i found it particularily exiting because it addressed the role that south korea has played and the pressures on the nation to participate. it was also really refreshing to read something about the war from a perspective of an east asian. this is the page:
http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/SITE/data/html_dir/2006/03/21/200603210027.asp
or else just go my korea herald link and read away.

today was also my team meeting session. last week we did introductions and played bingo, which was completely boring from all sides, so for an exiting change we went to Maiji-Pajan (a korean pancake restaraunt in little Maijitown) it’s one of my favorite places to eat – pancakes here are like nothing you have had before, my dear friends – and we had a really nice time eating greasy fried squid and kimchee pancakes and drinking rice wine. it was some guys’ birthday in the restaraunt and so everyone was very loud. there was some joke going on that included a free meal for any girl in the place who would date the birthday boy. i teased my roommate Eun-Hye (the one who is simply convinced that hot pink brings out my eyes….) relentlessly about this offer. here we are, at peace with eachother…

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and here’s the rest of the crew, except my real shy roomie, Adu-ma, who manages to sneak her way out of most photographic obligations
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somehow i tricked her into posing for this one – i must have offered her a bite of cake or something and then when she wasn’t looking….
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Judy turns 61

i used to think that the highest concentration of pisces-peoples resided in the driftless region – but now i have come to assume that they just stick to their school of fellow fish. our professor Judy Dwyer from the ol’ UW arrived in korea earlier this week after spraining her ankle really badly in tokyo. she has been very well taken care of here, except the fact that Jinkyoung Mok (GV program director) forces her to drink this horrid concoction of dark chinese herbs that are brewed into a stinky disaster that Jk actually goes so far as to call “tea.” jason and i have been taking turns plugging our noses and downing some whenever Jk looks the other direction so as to spare our visiting teacher further pain. yes, we enjoy the pain of martydom. anyway, yesterday was Judy’s birthday and jason and i miraculously navigated ourselves via taxi to judy’s hotel where we enjoyed conversation and chocolate cake until Jk drove us to a nearby restaraunt where we followed up our wholesome desert with some rewarding entrees – black noodles and fried pork things. it was a nice meal.
here is the hugest drum i have ever seen.
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the amazing sunset that greeted us on our way out the door from judy’s abode.
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judy and i hanging out
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judy, jason and i. we make for a wierd looking little family. IMG_11501.JPG

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lately….

somehow, i’ve found myself with lots of time for introspection lately. maybe it’s the bus rides, the long walks, i’m not even sure, but i’ve been spending a lot of time in my head and it has been refreshing. i have been contemplating the US – South Korea relationship, thinking about the roles of women, dreaming about my future, and mulling over my ever-present speculations about advertising and consumerism.

i went to seoul yesterday for a play called “come with me” (i can’t remember the korean translation…) about a serial rapist/killer – the plot of which was unbeknownst to me until i arrived at the theatre; it was, even in a foreign language, intense. the set was phenomenal – most of the play took place in the police headquarters (incidentally, they never caught the perpetrator) but it featured this ridiculously awesome rain outside of the windows which later were raised to show the criminal running naked up a grassy hill with his blue umbrella. i could not figure out how the rain was done. it was so realistic that at first i assumed it was some sort of actual panel of water that poured from some pipeline and landed in a basin or something. later i realized that that was near impossible, and as i stared at it i began to think it was some type of tinnselly streamer. i still have no idea. (perhaps i obsessed over this feature because i understood nearly none of the dialogue)
the play was at the national museum in seoul. it was beautifully constructed and i really wanted to explore it, but didn’t get the chance because we simply didnt have enough time. we had a cool crew though; my american friend matt and his roommate hoorim and his wierd friend “john”(english name) all went. we took the bus in the morning and then back at about six. it was just nice to learn that a one-day trip to seoul was not only possible, but fairly realistic. i wasn’t even too tired to go out for yogurt soju with them in maijitown when we got back. hoorim and john ate grilled chicken asphogas. wtf? i have butchered chickens and this just makes absolutely no sense to me! they insisted that i try a piece, and i did, and it made even less sense…..
here is the national museum, picture courtesy of matthew barrowman. my friend Te-he said he will take me back soon for in-depth exploration of this huge buildingn7702923_30525570_7722.jpg
i came to korea for the escalators. they just dont make ’em like this back home…
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here’s the huge poster for the play we saw. we weren’t allowed to take any pictures of the set. not that i could have done that amazing rain any justice with my petty digital cannon….

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eatin’ in a tent outside of the bus station. sketchy-looking food tents are everywhere in the big city. picky american matthew looked a little worried when we entered this grimy green one for what john calls “fish ham soup.” it turned out pretty tasty though, despite the fact that hoorim slipped and got this spoon impailed into his eye cavity.
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here’s john, he lived in canada for seven years. he likes beer. a lot.
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hoorim and i. he really likes having his picture taken.
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