A month and a half in Korea compressed into a long post

It’s been a long time since my last post, and there are just too many things to update you on so I will do the shortest version possible longest version with lots of pictures… if you would like more details about a particular event or place leave it in the comments and I’ll provide you with those details :)

– Orientation in Seoul for a week – met many of my current friends there. Some great people from all over the world… I really enjoy having a diverse group of friends. Interesting how you can connect with people from all over the world in such different ways. My friend Butterfly put it simply, “Isn’t it neat to know people will love you wherever you go?!” … it is neat! Wherever you are in the world, whatever point you’re at in your life, you can always make friends and find people that will care about you, even momentarily.

– Then I spent a week in Gangneung (a little less than 2 hrs south of me – along the coast), where I bonded with a group of people that I met at orientation and a couple various other places… this is one of my favorite groups of people that I’ve met in Korea and I foresee many adventurous weekends with them. This weekend largely revolved around good food… which if you know me, means it was a very fulfilling weekend (haha, get it?! Double meaning! Yes, I need to work on my puns).

First there was Tararosa Café – nutella, banana, bacon panini = amazing

DSCN6478

Tangerine Ginger Tea (I think?) - I'm definitely a tea aficionado :)

Tangerine Ginger Tea (I think?) – I’m definitely a tea aficionado :)

The crew at Gyeongpo Beach in Gangneung

For dinner we went to eat Galmaegi-Sal… I thought I wasn’t a big pork fan, but my oh my, this was delicious! Also their side dishes we especially scrumptious and had very fresh flavors. I also liked that the salad came in a bowl and you ate it with the meat as opposed to the typical wrap it up in a lettuce leaf with a slice of garlic that often comes with bbq. Whenever I tell Koreans about this dish they laugh because it literally translates to seagull meat, but it’s actually just pork… still not 100% sure why they laugh… am I missing something?!

Galmaegi-sal

Galmaegi-sal

Edel and Yelly

Edel and Yelly

Edel is a wonderful and lovely person from Ireland. Yelly is Korean, but speaks English extremely well (she also just got accepted into grad school – very competitive – yay, congrats Yelly!). I enjoy the company of both of them very much! They’re very open-minded, great senses of humor, and can have intellectual conversation as well as let loose and just be silly. So grateful to have met them. <3

The following day we went to Samcheok to check out Haesindang Penis Park! Definitely a very interesting place and not something you would find many places. This is a place people go on family outings… there are penises everywhere…. abstract, realistic, sculptures, statues, totems, and everything in between. This park comes with a legend, of course!

“Legend of Aebawi and Haesindang” – The area used to be a fisherman’s village, one day a virgin girl was swept away at sea and drowned. Soon after, the fisherman realized the number of fish were declining and it was believed to be because of the virgin maiden’s spirit haunting their once affluent with fish sea. The local fish industry was in trouble and they had to think of a solution. Somebody came up with the idea that to appease and soothe the spirit’s soul they should build penises… because obviously… what else would a virgin want!?

If you looked through a telescope that they had there, you could see a statue of the virgin on a rock, far out in the distance of the ocean… standing there… looking a lot like the statue of liberty.

Penis Park

Penis Park is right along the coast of this beautiful shore:

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Regardless of the silliness of Penis Park… this beach was so amazingly calm and peaceful to me. It was fairly small and secluded, but I could have sat there all day and just stared  out into the movement of the water crashing against the waves. It sounds cheesy, but there was something poetic about this beach on that day for me. I appreciate that I took the time to truly savor it.

That night we ate dakgalbi for dinner (chicken in chili pepper paste based sauce, sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, onions, and doekbokki <– chewy mochi-like rice cakes), and went to a couple of bars and noraebang (karaoke). Overall, a very successful weekend… I enjoy doing things like this. Going out and really seeing Korea… not just shopping, house parties, and foreigner bars.

Following weekend was….Daegu! Mostly walked around the shopping area this weekend… it would have been nice to explore more things that are specific to Daegu since it is quite a trek to get there from Geojin. But we did not plan out the timing well…it’s alright, you live, you learn.

This weekend I really bonded with Steph, she’s from Manchester, England. Great girl, she’s got this energetic and positive personality and can make light of any situation. She’s always making jokes and cracks me up… apparently I crack her up too, though I’m often unsure why. Good to know I can be entertaining by just being me. She’s also very thoughtful and is always checking to see how I’m doing! <3 you Steph! :)

Weekend of Nov. 17th – I went to Seoul to meet-up and hang out with my friend Jenn… partially with the intention to go shopping for winter clothes which turned out to be a big failure… I decided now that I’ve figured out gmarket (online shopping), this will be my best bet for shopping if I really need something…. at least for now. I don’t have any good pictures of Jenn at the moment, but she’s become one of my closer friends here as well. I met her and another friend of mine, Sarah, at the airport the day we arrived. We went to orientation a day early to hang out and they’re both great girls. I forgot my camera that week so no good pictures of us, but I’ll be seeing them soon… unfortunately they live pretty much on the complete opposite end of Korea, in Gwangju, so getting together with them is a bit more difficult… but we’re going to make it happen!

November 24th – My neighbor had a birthday celebration in Inje. We stayed in Min’s cabin up in the mountains. It was pretty relaxing there even though it was a party… food, drinks, variety of people, dancing, sleeping, then eating again.

These are my Goseong neighbors! (Left to Right: Dana, Bernie, Me, John, Logan)

These are my Goseong neighbors! (Left to Right: Dana, Bernie, Me, John, Logan)

Robert is missing in the above picture, I have him in another one somewhere. Dana, Bernie, and I all live in the same apartment building in Geojin and Logan, John, and Robert live 10 minutes away from us in Ganseong (also all in the same apartment building). They’re both really tiny towns, and our county is called Goseong.

Nov. 30th – I invited a group of my friends to come visit ME in my tiny town, Geojin! It was so nice to host people and be the one to kind of show people around… it is so weird that I can do that now! We just hung out in my apartment Friday night and ate pizza, chicken, and homemade chocolate chip banana bread (props to Sean, it was so delicious!)… I got the recipe and I will be making it soon as well.

Jon, myself, Sean

My girls – Steph and Edel

The next morning we whipped up a breakfast for Kings! (and Queens)… I introduced shakshouka! A popular Israeli dish… sautéed onions, garlic, tomato in olive oil topped with eggs, salt, pepper and paprika. There’s a variety of ways to make this dish, but that is the base of it, and the ingredients I had. We also made bacon and french toast to go along with it. Korea has perfect french toast bread, you can only find the whitest of white breads here… in fact, today I thought of my step-dad, Greg, when I taught my co-workers “the whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead.” I guess this year in Korea is perhaps taking a year off of my life?

shakshouka and bacon

shakshouka and bacon

After breakfast we went to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) – where South Korea meets North Korea….or close to it. Basically, we went to the border. I didn’t especially feel connected to North Korea, nor was I expecting to, and you couldn’t see much… but it was a gorgeous view. I spent a long time looking through the telescope, scanning the land inch by inch, not wanting to miss anything. Mostly saw buildings that resembled apartments, but I was told that they are propaganda… just to “show off” and send the message, “Hey, look! People live here in nice apartments, you should live here too.” Or something along those lines? Correct me if I misunderstood. If that’s what they’re doing, I don’t think it’s really working.

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The crew that came to visit me – all of them from Gangneung, with the exception of Steph, who lives in Yanggu.

Dec 8th weekend I made a conscious decision to do NOTHING and stay HOME. There were things going on… even not too far from me there was a girls day and I felt like I should go, but I think I just needed a day of rest. Let me tell ya, it was lovely! Especially since my apartment is all nice and homey now, and I got a mattress pad and electric blanket… a day of nothing at home was pure bliss. I find myself wanting to be social and with people often, but honestly, I’m largely an introvert at heart and I regain my energy from being alone.

It seems I’ve finally settled into life here in Korea, and sometimes I find myself asking “what’s next?!” … some of the novelty has worn off, and I’ve gotten comfortable because I have a solid group of friends, and it’s cold outside so you just want to stay in and drink tea and eat… but I need to remind myself that this experience is still in the beginning stages! I’ve been here for about 2 and a half months only… yet at times it feels like soooo much longer. There is still so much to discover ahead of me! The people in my immediate surroundings have also all been here for almost 2 years or longer, and they are ready to leave so I think that sometimes I need to readjust my mindset and remember that I do not need to adapt to theirs. Enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like the first snow, successfully communicating with someone that works at the grocery store, post office, bus terminal, or a random person on the street, enjoying the mountains and ocean that surrounds me.

Staying in the present moment is challenging for me sometimes, but I think it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Appreciate the here and the now, free yourself from the attachments, expectations, and ideals that you put on yourself. I’m generally a fairly contemplative person, but I believe the long weekend bus rides have further propelled me into pensive moods… sometimes it even takes a moment to shake myself out of them.

I hope you were able to bare with me through this very long post… I know it’s more of a re-cap of the last month or so than anything else.

Hope all of you are doing well!
Please comment or e-mail me! I always loooove hearing about your lives! Please click “follow” and subscribe to my blog – promise you won’t get spam – just notified when I make a new post.

I’m also happy to get feedback on my blog and am open to questions, comments, suggestions, or anything else!

I will try to update more frequently! :)

About mshahar6

I'm 25 years old, graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Education and Applied Psychology. I was working as a Behavior Interventionist for the last 4 years and decided to do something completely out of my comfort zone and teach English in South Korea for a year! I thought it'd be fun to document my experience, travels, growth, and keep my friends and family in the loop with this blog. Who know where this adventure may lead me?
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5 Responses to A month and a half in Korea compressed into a long post

  1. Anonymous says:

    Where are the peppers in the Shakshukah?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing again, and thanks for the shout out! : ) Every time I read your posts, and see your pictures I feel like I am in Korea with you. Thank you for showing me another part of the world. I am so proud of you for exploring, and finding good friends along the way. What you are doing is incredible. Love, butterfly

  3. Az Gor says:

    Butterfl picturs.are you sure thet you are no a Professional Photographer?
    i lave pictur no.7 The monument on the border of North Korea,Very political and symbolic.
    Keep smiling sweet Maya
    NESHIKOT SAVTASABA

  4. Megan says:

    I LOVE IT! And I miss you <3 you have the best posts :)

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