The Brave, Little Ninja Goes to School in South Korea: Week 22 & 23

These weeks I went to a Lego cafe, popped by AIE, struggled with buying contacts, and got my hair cut.

(7/24) This was the start of my mid-term break week. I made myself a to-do list, and for the most part actually got everything done on it! I am going to be going to the EMTC in a couple weeks for OMS (the same place I was after AIE last year), but only once a week this time to teach pronunciation. This time, I’m going to be more prepared, and so I worked on what I was going to teach and found some fun games to play to practice pronunciation.

I also went back and updated/edited a lot of my previous blog posts from my How to Sogang series. It’s a never-ending task as I keep learning better ways to do things the longer I’m here. I still really enjoy writing those posts though, and a handful of people have actually commented and asked for help after reading them, so I’m extremely happy that all the hard work I’ve put into these blogs is worth it.

On Wednesday, I met up with two of my classmates from level 1 at a Lego cafe in Hongdae! So what you do is you buy a drink and them the amount of time you want. Then you go to the display and grab a lego kit that you want to build and you have that build what’s in the lego kit within the time limit. It’s such a simple and fun thing to do! I hope I can go back again sometime. It was really nice to hang out and say goodbye to those girls before they headed back to Norway.

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This is from the Lego Hobbit set.

On Thursday, I visited AIE. It was such a fun time. I got to see the guides again—new and old—and that was fun to hear how the camp was going this year. I also got to see some familiar faces—teens, staff, and adults alike. This year’s camp was much smaller than last year’s, but I was so surprised how many people I recognized. I also came on a good day because that seemed to be the day that many of the teens who came last year but couldn’t attend this year and previous staff members came to visit too. I was so happy to see all of them.

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AIE’s theme this year was “A New Thing”

On Friday, I went back to AIE again, but just for the evening talent show. Everyone was so creative and talented. I had a really good time.

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This is the view from the roof of the EMTC building. You can see Gyeyang subway station in the distance.

On Saturday, I bought plane tickets for Japan. Currently I have a D-4 visa (student) visa which is good for 6 months, but I can’t leave the country. Because I want to come home for Christmas, I decided to change my visa to a 90-day tourist visa. For that to happen, I need to leave the country and then reenter. Because I have a friend who is currently teaching in Japan, she has kindly let me come hang out with her for a few days after this session is over before I return to Korea for the next session. I’m so excited to be able to go back to Japan, and most importantly, I get to see my friend! Yay! So this short trip will be from August 26th-29th.

The next Monday, school started back up again. I’m not one of those people who does well alone, so I was extremely grateful for it.

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A random Korean culture thing: there are ajummas (older women) who sit on sidewalks selling things like vegetables and rice cakes like this all over the place.

Tuesday, I finally decided to buck up and go get myself some contacts. I have my glasses, but I just like wearing my contacts better. However, I ran out of all the contacts I brought from the US. I purposefully didn’t bring enough because I heard that contacts and glasses are cheaper in Korea and easy to get. So I figured I would put myself in a situation that would force me to do so that way I would have to practice Korean. Sometimes I have to do that to myself when I’m too shy.

So I went to a store that was really close to the school figuring that with it’s location the people who work there would have some experience dealing with foreigners. The man was friendly and got myself a month of contacts. However, while the power of the lenses was correct (-1.75) the diameter of the lenses was different. I didn’t know if that mattered so I just took them anyway. However, when I tried them on the next day, the lenses kept shifting around in my eye. So everything in the prescription is important. Who would have guessed?

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These are the recycling ajusshis (older men) who come and take away the used cardboard boxes from farmers’ markets. Most of the time these are ajusshis, but it’s not uncommon to see ajummas pushing these things up the streets.

On Wednesday, I went to a different contacts place because if I the guy didn’t give me my exact prescription, then they probably didn’t have it. I also couldn’t return the contacts because I opened the box, so in that disappointment, I went to the second contacts place. This place, I insisted that I have the correct prescription, but they kept telling me that it didn’t matter if the diameter and BC were off by a little. I insisted and they dug through their contacts and found one that had the same diameter but not BC—the opposite problem I had with my first kind. They asked if I wanted to try a sample, so I did, and everything seemed okay. So I bought a box. But as I was on the bus going home, my face just started hurting. So I kicked myself for not being insistent enough, but the good thing was that I didn’t open the box.

The next day, I went back to that contacts place to return the contacts, resolved to look in every store I could find until I found one that had my correct prescription. The guy at that contacts place wasn’t the same guy from the day before, but he was really nice though and offered to order the contacts for me so I could pick them up in a couple days.

Not only did I successfully get someone to order my contacts, but talking with this guy was the most positive experience I’ve had trying to talk in Korean to someone who wasn’t my teachers or any of the missionaries that I knew. There were only a couple words that he had to say in English when I didn’t understand, and the one sentence that he tried to say, he was so proud of himself for being able to say that I couldn’t feel disappointed in myself for not being able to do it all in Korean. The guy said he also works at a store in Myeongdong which is a huge shopping area that is very popular for foreigners, and he said that the foreigners who come in there and try to speak Korean are very hard to understand, but he said my pronunciation was very good. I was just about exploding from happiness. So that was probably the highlight of my week.

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On the days with low pollution, you can see Namsan tower from our apartment. You can also see it light up at night.

After I got back, I went to Homeplus with Monica, my housemate. Homeplus is essentially a Korean Wal-mart. She also needed to get contacts and glasses, so we went there to one of the glasses places. I mostly went to do some price comparisons and to see if I could get my exact prescription there without having them have to be ordered by the guy at that other store every time. Because Monica can speak Korean fluently, she was able to translate for me and said that the workers were telling me that each brand of contacts is only made with certain diameters and BCs so that’s why it shouldn’t matter as long as I’m close to my prescription.

While they were making Monica’s glasses, we went to get our hair cut. I guess I’ve never been to a proper salon before, and I had no idea what to expect. They washed my hair before they cut my hair, which I was unprepared for. Monica told me how to ask for just a trim, so now I know how to say that. My hair is extremely, extremely thin, which is just about the opposite of how Korean hair is typically textured. The poor lady was trying to run her fingers through my hair to hold the strands apart while she dried it with a hairdryer and kept pulling out wads of hair. I hope I didn’t gross her out too much with my silly hair.

While I waited for Monica to be finished, one of the employees handed me a drink menu with teas and coffees on it. I said no thank you thinking that they would charge me for it, but it turns out that it’s complementary. In total, with them washing, cutting, and styling my hair, they charged me W20,000, which is about $18.

Saturday, Monica and I went out to eat after dinner at Sulbing which is a bingsu place. Bingsu, if you’re not aware, is a kind of Korean ice cream and is basically the best thing to have ever been invented by humans.

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This was a special seasonal one. And yes, that’s a half of a melon.

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Inside is vanilla ice cream, bingsu, a cereal that’s basically Frosted Flakes, rice cake, and red bean.

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It cost about $12, but it is totally worth it. *Matilda lunch lady voice* Entire confection!

After that, we went to Coin noraebang (karaoke), and jammed to both American songs and kpop. I found I can really jam on some Evanescence songs.

Sorry there weren’t that many pictures this time. I’ll try to do better about that next time.

Please pray that God will be clear to me about how long I am to stay in Korea. I am currently planning to come home after the winter session at the end of February, but I have no idea what my next step is. Please pray for direction and the obedience to follow.

Thank you for reading!

Next: Week 24&25
Previous: Week 20&21

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5 comments

  1. Hi Alicia !
    You said that you need to go to Japan to stay longer in Korea because of your D-4 VISA. But you have an Alien Card, no? The Alien Card allows you to stay in Korea for a longer term and it also allows you to leave Korea as much as you want. Thanks to it, you are considered as a resident in Korea.
    Thanks for your posts ♥

    Like

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