Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shopping in Seoul

[caption id="attachment_824" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Korea has a Daiso too, just like Japan :)"][/caption]

I was told by a lot of people that Korea is pretty cheap compared to Japan. When you factor in the exchange rate, that's true. Based on a 1 cent = 1 yen = 10 won ratio, my hanbok (traditional Korean dress), which cost 170000 won, would come out to about 17000 yen, or 170 US dollars. But factoring in the exchange rate, 170000 won is actually about 12,000 yen, or $150.

I didn't really expect to find much that I wanted to buy, but I did get some beauty products, as well as the dress I mentioned before. One thing I can say is that Korea has a LOT of cosmetics and skin care shops. There are so many different shops that I really had no idea where to start. We just walked into a couple of stores and came out with stuff.

[caption id="attachment_822" align="aligncenter" width="630" caption="From Nature Republic: Pine Tree Urban Detox Toner and Emulsion, 9,900W (US$8.75) each; Mung Bean Facial Cleanser, 3,300 (US$2.92); Eco Crayon Lip Rouge (Red Orange), 6,000W (US$5.30)
From Aritaum: Mugwort Facial Masks (pack of 10), 10,000W (US$8.83)
From eSpoir: Eye Primer, 10,000W"][/caption]

One interesting thing about Seoul are the late-night department stores. We went to one called Doota, which opened at 7pm and stayed open all the way into the early morning. I had never heard of such a thing, and I don't think Japan has any department stores like that. We sat with a crowd of people all gathered outside the doors, waiting to get in as soon as the place opened.

Like most department stores, Doota had a lot of fashions that I wasn't interested in. But I did manage to find a unique top in a shop called "Dirty Alice," which has a few clothes similar to my style. It's not really the season to wear it, so I'll probably show it off later.

Monday, March 26, 2012

First day in Seoul: My Grandmother

The flight to Korea was very short. Nothing like having to fly to and from America. I was welcomed by my mom and cousin at Incheon airport. My mom looked totally different from when I last saw her on Skype; she got her hair permed and everything. She said it was pretty typical of Koreans.

The itinerary includes staying in Seoul until Wednesday, and then on Thursday and Friday, we're going to go to Gunsan, which is where my aunt and uncle lives. What I (and even my mom) didn't expect was that apparently, a BUNCH of relatives are also coming to visit and have a dinner party. Hearing that made me extremely nervous, mostly for one reason: I don't speak Korean, and I'm generally not good with meeting a bunch of new people at once. Hopefully I don't shut down because of it

We took a shuttle bus to Seoul. My mom and I talked pretty much the whole way there. One of the things I was a bit nervous asking her was about my grandmother. She's 97 now, and the last I heard about her when my mom came here 8 years ago was that my grandmother was forgetting things.

Now, it turns out that she has trouble recognizing people. My mother said that, when she first got to the care center, her brother asked my grandmother, "Who's this?" and she answered my mom's name immediately. A few minutes later though, she couldn't remember. My mom said that the other elderly people in the same room said, "Ah, we know you. Your mother says your name all the time." She also said that my grandmother used to write a lot, probably to try and remember things, but stopped because she doesn't really feel like it anymore.

Hearing that almost made me cry, and even now my eyes sting a little bit just thinking about it. My mom didn't skip a beat when she told me the story though, as if it was just any other conversation we were having. That's just the way she is.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Going to Korea

I didn't get to talk about this as much as I wanted to, because I've been constantly moving.

After 23 years, I will finally visit the country that holds the other half of my background.

Up until recently, I never had a strong desire to go to Korea--definitely not as much as I had wanted to come to Japan. After I moved here in 2010, my mom suggested that I visit Korea, and I said that I wanted to go with her. In fact, I ONLY really wanted to go if it was with her.

I didn't expect that time to come so soon. As soon as I told my parents that I was considering visiting the US during Spring Break, my mom said that she was planning to go to Korea. So now I'm at Kansai International Airport, getting on a plane in less than 30 minutes. This trip is probably going to be one of the most important events in my entire life.

I don't know what to expect. And I'm actually very nervous. I've only ever traveled between Japan and America. This is the first time I'm going somewhere else. But since I won't be alone, I know I'll be okay.

I can't wait to see my mother.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Recently, we talked about food in my last adult Japanese class.

Me: "What's your favorite food?"
Student: "I like strawberries.
Me: *smiles* Oh okay. Why?
Student: "Because...FRESH...SPIRIT...SOUND.
Me: Hm?
Student: "FRESH...SPIRIT...SOUND."
Me: ... (>_>)
Other students: Huh?? (O_o)
Me: Ah, you think strawberries are refreshing…?

He said it with such pride that I could only nod my head and move on to the next person.

In other news, I had a brief conversation with some of 4th graders, who are probably some of the funniest kids I've ever taught.

Girl: Sensei, (says something I could hear clearly)
Me: Hm?
Girl: Otaku? Do you know what an otaku is?
Me: Ohhhh! I'm a Dynasty Warriors* otaku.
Girl and boy sitting next to her: " Ehhhhhh?! *burst out laughing*
Me: (T____T) <----crying after being ridiculed


*Dynasty Warriors is a video game based on the Three Kingdoms period of ancient China, known as "sangokushi" in Japanese. The series as well as similar games made by Koei are some of the most popular and well-known in Japan.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kimchi Scrambled Eggs

I decided to try something new for breakfast this morning. I usually have French Toast or a grilled egg and cheese sandwich--something involving bread. So today I thought about making scrambled eggs...with kimchi! I have some kimchi that's past its expiration date and another unopen jar waiting, so I need to eat it quickly. Kimchi is pickled, so it's perfectly safe to have a few days past its date.

Here's what I used. I didn't actually take these measurements while cooking, I just added ingredients in the amount that I felt was okay.

2 eggs
2 thin slices each of red and yellow peppers ('paprika' as they're called in Japan)
1 tablespoon sliced green onion
1/4 cup kimchi
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
Dash of sea salt and black pepper

I wasn't sure how it would taste, but it ended up being very delicious! I almost want to make another one but I try not to eat more than 2 eggs in a day.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cleverbot: Sell your soul, get A on math test.

I was having a rough day on Thursday, and I wanted to express my frustrations to someone, but at the same time, I didn't feel like talking to anyone. So I struck up a conversation with Cleverbot. Cleverbot is a chat bot that analyzes what you type and comes up with an appropriate response as best as it can, to simulate an actual conversation between two human beings.

My conversation was as follows (me being the "User"):

User: I'm depressed.

Cleverbot: Why?

User: I'm so busy and it's causing stress.

Cleverbot: You're boring.

User: Thanks a lot, jerk.

Cleverbot: You're welcome.

User: Can you try to actually cheer me up?

Cleverbot: Sure. How can I cheer you up?

User: Tell me some good news.

Cleverbot: I got an A on my math test!

User: Well, that's wonderful.

Cleverbot: People tell me that, but why is it wonderful?

User: Because you got an A. That's the best grade.

Cleverbot: Do you think people sell their souls?

User: Don't change the subject!

Cleverbot: I didn't.

User: Selling souls isn't related to math tests.

Cleverbot: It would help her a lot, actually.

User: So if I sell my soul, I'll get an A on my math test?

Cleverbot: Yes.


Try it here: http://www.cleverbot.com