26 July 2007

Pannikin Café

Saturday Morning Girl Time!!!

I love Pannikin Café in Leucadia and I love it even more when I get to spend it with some of my girls. Saturday morning was a blessed respite from studying. I hung out with Aimeé, Kelsey, Candace, Paige and Mona & Jill (not pictured). [Mostly I chatted Mona's ear off. I love her!] Pannikin is a converted train depot with some of the best spots in North County to sit and ponder life. If anyone wants to help me study early next week, I'll be camped out dodging bird droppings and testing latin root words. :)

Side note:
I think the best spot to ponder life in south county is the Living Room in Point Loma. I would HIGHLY recommend it.

16 July 2007

GRE = Summer of Studying

I registered yesterday to take the GRE on August 8... yep you did the math correctly, I have 23 days to cram some intense vocabulary and mathematical formulas into my dusty head. I have set up camp at the Carlsbad Library and am mooching their Internet to run through practice exams and flipping through Barron's GRE guidebook. All I have to say about that is: "The covers of this book are too far apart." (Ambrose Bierce)

Honestly, I love all of this. I am a nerd and I love being a student. I adore taking practice exams and going back to figure out what went wrong. I enjoy soaking up new vocabulary (I podcast PBS's "A Way With Words" for crying out loud!)... I just hope some if it lodges itself into the crevices of my mind so that I can access it on the 8th. I'm even kind of excited for the drive down to SDSU, finding my testing room, and having the proctor remind me that I can't have my own paper, handheld computer, calculator etc. at least six times. OMG I am a card-carrying nerd!

The thing I love the most is being in a library. I sit here and inhale the smell of books, hundreds and hundreds of books. I adore feeling lost in the stacks. I love hiding in the cubby holes they set up in the corners of the room for studiers like me. They have lamps at each desk and that excites me. I wish there were dark wood paneled walls... BUT I guess I can't have everything...yet. I dream of having a library of my own one day; A library I can legally drink a mug of coffee in... a library with a window seat and large globes and one of those ladders that let's you slide around the entire room. Awwww just the dream of it makes me smile.

"When I step into this library, I cannot understand why I ever step out of it." (Marie de Sevigne)

That's it I'm moving in here! Oh wait sorry....OK back to studying and the GRE... some of you may be wondering why I would be back to the books so soon after graduation. Well, I'm wondering the same thing myself really. The truth is, as I was looking for a job, nothing got my blood pumping like the thought of learning more... So I did some research and I'm applying to UCSD's Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies for the fall of 2008. This next year I will work and study to get ready for being a student one more time next fall. Funny how all of this works... I always think I have a plan, but someone else seems to have a much better one.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be." (Douglas Adams)

Harry Potter

"Never judge a book by its movie."
-J. W. Eagan

That's all I have to say.

... let's be real, it's me. Of course, that isn't all I have to say.

I know I sound like a crazy person. I realize I could have an obsession with Harry and his friends. ... but truth be told, it is that good. The books will change your life. Read them and then try to tell me I'm crazy.

14 July 2007

One Nation's Obsession with Chicken

Pizza or Chicken? The debate raged each time my suite mates wanted to order food to be delivered. Most of the time chicken beat out pizza. We weren't the only suite in Global Village that ordered chicken regularly. But does chicken delivery an obsession make? No. I mean look at us, we eat fried chicken in the USA. We have even been known to eat it out of a bucket... but over time it became very clear to me that South Korea's relationship with chicken may not be as innocent as I had initially thought.

One of my first clues was the chicken statue I found in Seoul near the beginning of the semester... We have weird statues in the USA too (Bob's Big Boy anyone?) so I wrote it off. I was naive... I had not yet endured four months of variations on fried chicken.

After numerous "Room Parties" spent sitting on the floor of my living room eating chicken with disposable chopsticks and drinking beer out of Dixie cups, I was already aware of the addiction (obsession, really) that South Koreans seem to have for chicken. Near the end of my time in Korea, I found the clearest evidence there was... an entire museum dedicated to CHICKEN ART. I laughed out loud, knowing that my theory had been proven, and had to take this picture to share with everyone.

Those in glass houses should not throw stones. As I was judgementally pondering the South Korean love affair with chicken, I thought back to my own childhood and summer afternoons at Jack Murphy Stadium watching the Padres games. Those of you who are local San Diegans and getting older, like me, will remember the World Famous San Diego Chicken. I have to admit that I (along with an entire city) had my very own love affair with a chicken. My new theory is that the deep and enduring love of poultry is universal... and knows no geographic bounds.

Chicken anyone?

08 July 2007

Is it possible that it's genetic??!?!!?


This is a picture of my cousin and my father "testing" electric shock therapy at our family's Fourth of July BBQ. Just a little taste of what our family calls "good old fashioned fun."

07 July 2007

Memorable Korean Meals

I like eating... I really loved Eating in Korea

Here are some of my more memorable meals:

Silkworms: One of the most revolting things I have ever eaten. I DO NOT recommend them. They are easy to find throughout South Korea, BUT instead of looking for them, I would recommend hiding from them. Joyce and I were wise to be as fearful of the silkworm as we were when this picture was taken.

Kim Chi Burger with a Rice Bun:
This one was surprisingly a hit with me. The fast food restaurant Lotteria features this interesting "Korean" version of the classic American hamburger. It was difficult to keep the "bun" in one piece while eating it, but for all the mess it was tasty. Perhaps Carl's Jr. should bring it to the States; it would fit very nicely into their "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face" ad campaign. Just a thought. If it happens, I want a cut of the profits!

Tom Loves Dog Soup: I liked it... I didn't love it, but it was a hit with Will and Tom, my dining companions. This was my most controversial meal by far. A few friends are reconsidering our friendship now that I've returned with dog on my breath. The best way I can describe the flavor is dark turkey meat with the consistency of chewy pork. It may not sound good, but it was. I ate all the meat but was too full to finish all the soup. I would recommend at least trying it if you get the chance.

Octopus Soup: I ate octopus soup on quite a few occasions. I LOVED it actually. Sure the octopus is really chewy, but it's oh so tasty. :)

WARNING!!!! This video is NOT for the faint of heart, or stomach.
Eating Squirming Eels: While on the coast in Busan, Will and I thought we should eat some fresh seafood. We walked around the fish market and once we were hungry we found a place that served fresh eel... REALLY fresh eel. The eel was cut up once we ordered it and placed in a basket on our table. We cooked the still-wriggling pieces on the grill, dipped them in a spicy sauce and ate them. We ate the whole eel, heads and tails included... it was gross. I was sick to my stomach afterwards and will NOT be eating it ever again. Lucky for us, a few days later Tom's dad took Will and I to an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet and we got to eat all the luscious fresh fish we wanted. :)

06 July 2007

Cómo say what?!?!

Sometimes you run into things that make you ask yourself "Why?"... or even "WHAT?!?!" The following are just a taste of my "what/why/how?" experiences in South Korea this past Spring:

Some Subway Surprises:

1) Gas masks at the ready in the subway system? A grim reminder that I was in a country still at war. At first it was reassuring that the gas masks were there for us "just in case," but then someone brought up a good point about the number of gas masks in comparison to the number of people on the subway line... my reassurance faltered a little. BUT in four months time I never needed them once so it ended up not mattering how many elderly Korean women I would need to push out of the way to get to my mask in time.

2) Book Vending Machines: Why haven't we started this in the States!?!??! What a wonderful idea. Interesting side note: There seem to be NO copyright laws in South Korea because all the books only cost around two dollars, even the bestselling titles.

Free Money at Coffee Bean:
I found this random machine on the condiment bar at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Cheonan. I pushed the button to see what would happen. I received a 10 Won coin. FREE MONEY! I pushed it again and got another coin... "Why," I wondered, "would Coffee Bean be giving me free money?" (Although after they had tried to charge me the equivalent of four dollars for a cup of tea, it only seemed fair.) After watching people walk by and ignore the free money machine, I pushed the button again. This time I couldn't stop laughing and we took a picture. The chaos that is me attracted a Coffee Bean employee who explained in broken English that the money machine was a way of encouraging people to recycle their cups. When they finish their drink, they return the cup to the recycle bin, push the button, and get 10 Won. It all made so much sense... It wasn't a free money machine after all. I returned the 40 Won I had collected up to that point and thanked my new friend for the explanation.

Korean Traditional Tea or a Root Canal?
My friend MiJeong and I were walking around Anguk-dong in Seoul, saw this sign, and decided we needed a tea break. It was a wonderful cafe. While we were looking around inside, the lady working the counter told us to feel free to look around the patio. We went outside and found a nice courtyard that opened up to... A DENTIST'S OFFICE!!!! There was no explanation... we don't know why... we don't know how... It still makes my brain hurt a little to think about. OH I almost forgot!!! There were Botox advertisements in the dentist's office within the "art museum cafe." I know, the surprises never cease. :)

The Korean Idea of Fashion: We ran into this great example in a "boutique" in Onyang. There are no words really...

A special thanks to Will for modeling.

05 July 2007


When I left for South Korea everyone at home seemed to think that I would come home with a Korean husband. That isn't exactly what happened... but it's not too far from the truth. The following are the tales of love that could have been in South Korea.

My Korean "Boyfriend":
This is Han Sung-Ho, my Korean "boyfriend." We declared our love for each other under the stars during the Spring Festival at SCH. Of course, as we declared our said love we were sitting at a table with half a dozen people and giggling uncontrollably. Our relationship continued for the remainder of the semester and mostly consisted of me yelling "Hey Boyfriend" when I passed him in the Global Village lobby and him responding with "Hey Honey/Sweetie/etc." and us walking off to do our own thing.

I miss him desperately.

The Romantic Proposal:
On the same night that Sung-Ho and I "hooked-up," I became engaged to Keith. I know I am sounding a little bit out of control, but please read on... you'll see. The story begins innocently enough when I put my bottle of Hite (Korean beer) to my lips. Before I could take a sip the top of the bottle broke off and fell into my lap!

After we all laughed and asked "what are the odds?" I started playing with my glass ring. I tested it on each of my fingers. The ONLY finger that it fit on was my ring finger... my ring finger on my LEFT hand. We all knew it must be destiny... We KNEW that my future husband had to be present at the Spring Festival that night.

Enter poor innocent unassuming Keith. He walked up to the table and walked right into a marriage. He was a great sport and we are looking forward to our happy life together... if we ever see each other again. :)

04 July 2007

Lost in Translation

A few pics that make me giggle:

The Athlete's Foot: This was the name of a shoe store... I'm not sure that I'm hoping for athlete's foot to come with my shoes... I always thought it was something to avoid.

Drunken Bar: You gotta love it! Just about every Korean would come home from a night of drinking bottles of soju and tell me that they were "drunken." No matter how many times the conjugation was corrected the use of the word drunken continued. (Please note the photographer (ME) was not drunk (nor drunken) when taking this blurry picture, but was in the backseat of a moving car.)

Falling Rocks! Everyone should try it. They make it sound like so much fun. All those exclamation points made us almost tempted to try falling while we were hiking, just to see if it was all they were advertising it to be. (I guess I should be honest... I did fall, almost every single time I went hiking... and to be even more honest, it didn't rock all that much.)

Jeans Ad: I'm not sure that this makes me want to buy jeans... but it does make me think that yoga might be a good idea.

The grocery store always held many treasures.

This may look like a "normal" box of toothpaste... but let's zoom in a bit.

I had NO idea that people had such a strong aversion to Mathematics.... as a former Math major, that hurts my heart.

Don't worry there are many more gems to be shared... please come back for more.

03 July 2007

Thoughts on Culture Shock

Things that I'm currently adjusting to:

1) I am responsible for my own transportation. That's right, look out Southern California! Melissa is on the roads again. I spent four months on buses and trains only having to think about which song I wanted to listen to next on my iPod. NOW I have to pay attention!!! I need to check my blind spot and make sure I take off the emergency brake. I love my car, but she is really high maintenance... She wants baths, gas, oil changes... man oh man, this is a lot of work!

2) There is a serious lack of fermented cabbage in the American diet. I miss kimchi. Certainly NOT what I expected before I left, but I really miss the collection of spicy fermented side dishes that came at every restaurant in Korea. I agree with the South Koreans that a side of pickles is the best addition to any meal.

3) You actually have to CALL people to hang out with them. I had completely adjusted to having social activities planned for me and then only having to show up in the lounge downstairs to be entertained, or having friends show up in my dorm at all hours to share their funny stories, drink coffee and eat snacks. NOW I have to call friends, organize dates, and work around schedules. I had gotten completely lazy. I loved dorm life, all of the relationships are low maintenance.

4) We speak English in the USA. I didn't really learn a lot of Korean in my time in South Korea, BUT I find myself using the few words I know at completely useless times. No one I know in San Diego understands when I greet them in Korean and the workers at most stores don't know "How much does it cost?" in Korean. I am NOT letting that stop me... it comes out involuntarily and I sound a little retarded.

5) TV is the same... and it is still rotting my brain. I find most of the same English shows filling the air waves here that I saw in South Korea, only now they don't seem so interesting. They were something precious and familiar while I was there. Amid a sea of shows featuring people screaming in Korean and laughing their heads off (I'm sure I would have too, if I had understood), certain shows seemed completely enthralling simply because they were in English. Here, they are not so entertaining (I mean I can get English anywhere) and yet... I am STILL watching. I have been glad to get back to channels in Spanish... yesterday I watched a lot of soccer.

Those are a few of my recent lessons... I'm sure that there will be many more to come. NOW I need to go buy some interview clothes and work on my resume. The real world is about to rear it's ugly head!