27 June 2007


I'm in San Francisco... yeap that's right. I'm home!!! I'll fill you in on the details soon, but I'm here.

22 June 2007

PC Bang

PC Bangs (PC = computer, Bang = Room) are all the rage here in Korea... people (mostly men from my limited experience) sit smoking cigarettes and playing online role-playing games or watching movies. Having so many of them around makes it easy for those of us traveling to try and keep in touch with home, because they are easy to find... BUT there are some sacrifices one has to make (IE. the cigarette smoke, the eerie feeling that you are one of the only females in a room filled with computer loving men, etc). The PC Bang we used in Busan was beautiful, well-lit,
smelled pleasant and had non-frightening restrooms... the one we found in our makeshift neighborhood here in Seoul this afternoon is an entirely different story. ALL the windows are covered with some burnt-sienna blackout shades. I'm pretty sure that I am the only person in this room who knows that burnt sienna is a color... For that matter, I'm probably one of very few who has even looked up to see there are windows.

The man next to me has finished FIVE cigarettes since he's been here... FIVE. That's a lot! I've been here for maybe twenty minutes and was witness to most of those five. I just showered in the hope that I would be presentable for the rest of day and maybe even smell pleasant by the time I have dinner tonight, BUT my dear neighbor in the cubicle next door has taken care of that. I just looked up to see that there is a clearly labeled "Smoking Area" across the room from my very own Computer No. 15... it seems that sign may be a bit irrelevant.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... I'm a spoiled girl who misses her iBook... and misses her smoke-free wireless Internet connection at home. I am most definitely getting VERY ready to come home. I have been very blessed over the past four months. I have LOVED my time here in South Korea and I am SURE I will love the remainder of my time here, but I miss home. I miss my family. I miss using my computer whenever I want to. I miss being a spoiled American girl. It's sick, but it's true.

P.S. Yes. I am using another STOLEN photograph courtesy of Google Images.

P.P.S. Despite how this entry sounds, I really am quite happy today. :)

18 June 2007


Friday night Will, Tom (Will's roommate) and I said our goodbyes to many friends and packed all that we had collected in four months of dorm living into Tom's car to drive about an hour to Tom's home in Daejon. Tom's parents are adorable and so generous!!! We had a great weekend hiking, eating dog, and hanging with Tom. I'll fill you in on more with pictures later. Tom delivered us to the train station yesterday afternoon (with lunch boxes in hand, packed by Mommy) and now Will and I are vacationing in Busan. We are trying to be as lazy as possible, and seeing as we're on vacation I think it's okay this once. We are in a PC Bang (read: internet cafe) right now, so I don't have my own pictures, but this is a stolen photo of Haeundae Beach in Busan courtesy of Google Images. This is the very beach that I napped on most of this afternoon, only there were a lot fewer people. It's Monday, and I guess some people have jobs. Whatever! Now we are trying to make contact with the outside world via the Internet. :) Tonight I think it is off to Sushi and sightseeing. Maybe if there's time, I'll squeeze in another much deserved nap.

(Yes, I know I still owe you some Jeju pics and I will deliver in time.)

15 June 2007

ConGRADulations Allie!

On the last day I could receive mail at SCH I did! My cousin Allison is graduating and I got her announcement in the mail yesterday afternoon. I love you Allie. You look adorable! Congrats.

14 June 2007

Moving Day, Goodbyes, & DOG soup?

The past few days have been a whirlwind! I took the last final exams of my undergraduate career. In fact yesterday I gave my last presentation, turned in my last paper AND took my last exam... I like to keep busy. ;) In the midst of studying and typing I have also been saying my goodbyes and packing. I don't know how I manage to collect so much stuff!!! But I just sent home THREE boxes... and I still have a carry on suitcase and traveling backpack to lug around for the next month. Maybe I'll just have to throw more clothes away.

Last night was my last night in the dorms and tonight Will and I are heading to Daejon to stay with his roommate Tom's family for a few days and then on to Busan, in the south, to sit on the beach and squeeze in a few more touristy hot spots.

The picture above is of two of my favorite suite mates (Chloe & Gloria) and I, at a going away lunch for my international suite mate Deon, on Wednesday. This morning we had our final meal in the cafeteria together; octopus soup. mmmm tentacles for breakfast anyone? (It was actually quite good.) Tonight's plans include eating dog soup... yep you read that right... I'm eating dog soup for dinner.... I know I'm crazy. I know a few of you are rethinking our friendship, but it's part of the adventure and part of the experience. I still love you. I am not planning on eating any of your dogs. :) Now I really need to get back to finding a way to fit more stuff in my luggage. See you soon!

13 June 2007

My Path

"I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it."

-Rosalia de Castro

Seriously though... this is my life right now. :)

Thanks to Lauren, for giving me the best quote ever.


10 June 2007

I'm coming home!!!

It is official, my flight home is July 11. I am so relieved to finally know what my plans are. :) Now I can allow myself to get excited to see everyone!!! I may still NOT be in San Diego until a little later in July, (I want to spend some time with my grandmother up in Willits.) BUT I WILL be IN California on July 11!!! YEAH... I am coming home!!!

Best International Student?

It's official. I am the "Best International Student" in the English Village Program. [Actually, Josh is my male counterpart... so my title would better be "Best Female International Student."] :) I am flattered and unsure if I deserve it but, what a great way to end my undergraduate career.

"Soonchunhyang University, Republic of Korea
Certificate of Commendation
Best International Student
Awarded to

Melissa Gaare

This award is being presented to you because of the excellence of your participation in the Spring 2007 semester of English Village at Soonchunhyang University. Your enthusiasm and commitment to this program is greatly appreciated."

Apparently somebody likes me here! :)

09 June 2007

Quick Update

I should be studying... but I'm not! So here is an update.

I am home from a five-day trip to Jeju-do, the Honeymoon Island. It was beautiful and we had a wonderful time! [more entries regarding that to come] Below is a little taste of the beach, the water, the sun, the fun...

Friday afternoon, Will and I went to Seoul to replace his computer's faulty AC adapter. We took the opportunity to fit in some touristy stops. We hit our favorite electronics market in Yongsan. I may have bought more movies. ;) I have a small addiction to CHEAP movies... and because Will shares my addiction, the guy there loves us. We are officially "VIP" customers. [The pic is from a few weeks ago... but you get the idea.]

Then it was on to COEX (a HUGE mall) to get haircuts. Will has a favorite gal, so we went to visit her. I got an Asian haircut too! My hair is short again and I think I will be really thankful during the next month of traveling... less maintenance is always good when you're not sure how dependable the hot water will be or where the nearest hairdryer is.

Across from COEX is the Bongeunsa Buddhist Temple. We walked over to snap a few pictures and found a lantern festival. The sky was filled with lit lanterns... It was beautiful, almost other-worldly. We meandered on the grounds and enjoyed the colorful summer evening.

Once it was time to head "home," we squeezed ourselves on the subway with EVERYONE else in Seoul and went to Jongnowon Hotel. I took a much needed nap before we left to find the next stop on our adventure tour, Dongdaemun.

We had to experience Dongdaemun, Asia's largest outdoor market that is open all-night, before we left Korea. To be completely honest, I don't ever want to go back! It was overwhelming... BUT now we can say that we've been there. We stopped for beer and fried chicken on the way back, finally going to sleep at around 4:00 am.

We had had BIG plans for our Saturday... but after the all-night market, we weren't really up for BIG plans. Instead we walked to the Blue House (the Korean equivalent to the White House) and said a quick hello to the President. We got lost a few times, but were glad of it, because we found a nice park, some quaint coffee shops and art galleries. I loved the neighborhood! It was packed with people out enjoying the beautiful weather on a Saturday afternoon. So if Will or I end up moving to Korea, we will definitely buy houses in the President's neighborhood! :)

Last stop before home was Myeongdong Cathedral. It was a beautiful cathedral, but I sure didn't feel like I was in Korea. It is interesting the cultural power and influence that the Catholic Church holds... it really is a globally unifying force. I'm not Catholic, but the building in the shape of a Latin cross, with the stained glass windows and wooden pews, felt so familiar, so comfortable. It reminded me of cathedrals in Paris, Valladolid, and even Costa Rica. Being here transported me to each of those places again. I could hear the rain pounding on wooden roof of the Costa Rican cathedral... I could smell the musty stone pillars from Valladolid, Spain... I could see the tiny candles again that had been lit by the sojourners at Notre Dame in Paris, France.
The outside of the cathedral was being cleaned, SO I am posting someone else's picture. (Thank you Google Images!)

We ate, caught our train and now we are home again in Sinchang... this may very well be the last week I call Sinchang, Asan-si, South Korea home! I will keep you updated on what the future holds, as soon as I know myself.