Korean adventures


No matter what country you’re in, cafeteria food is never good.

When you don’t speak Korean, it’s hard to communicate with people in Korea.

Midnight card games are always fun, even if you’re exhausted.

Sadly, I’m dumber than most things Korean.

There are hundreds of creative ways to flip someone off.

The idea of wanting to get married and start having kids right off? Well, let’s just say I’ll be okay with waiting a little bit for the kid part if the Lord should choose to bring marriage into my future.

Korea: cities=dirty and smelly; countryside= absolutely breathtaking.

Always bring more than two pairs of shoes on trips.

Jamie’s a punk… and I love him for that.

Public transportation in Korea is amazing.

April and Jamie are 100% where the Lord desires them to be, and it’s a great thing to see.

My bed is amazing. Korean beds are not.

Plane rides for more than 2 hours pretty much bite. As do any amount of bus rides.

Teenagers will always be teenagers, whatever nationality they happen to be.

I’m really attached to my family. (really, i already knew that, but now i really know that…)

Walking is really underrated in the States. Walking more places is good.

When exchanging currency, don’t try to talk to the grumpy man. Just give him your money, get your money, and walk away.

Cameras are fantastic inventions.

When travelling internationally, stay with people who have Vonage phones. Then you can call home for free.

Whipped cream on toast is good.

Most other Korean food is not.

Rest stops in Korea are palaces compared to the nasty ones here.

Airplane bathrooms, however, are nasty no matter what country you start in.

You can’t eat at buffets for 2 weeks and expect to feel like you’re in tip-top shape at the end of it.

Leaving one of your best friends in another country when you know you won’t see her for almost a year is hard… really hard.

But it’s a little easier knowing that you’re leaving her in an amazing community of people that will love her in your place.

If at first you don’t know where you’re going, just keep walking and eventually, a bus driver will pick you up.

There really is no place like home…

Well, my time in Korea is coming to an end. I’m boarding the bus for the airport at 6:30 tomorrow morning, and it’s back to the States. It’s bitter-sweet, really. I’m glad to be heading back home, but on the flip side, I’m leaving April here and won’t see her for almost a year. So weird… I already told her there would be no crying tomorrow, since she cries at EVERYTHING. Oh, wait- that’s me. I’ve enjoyed my time here (even though jamie is sitting here as i’m typing saying mean things to me because it’s his last night to torture me). It’s been hard at times trying to get two very different lifestyles to merge, but looking back over the past two weeks, it’s been good. I love knowing through seeing it happen that Jamie and April are serving exactly where the Lord’s best is for them. Seeing them in action here is amazing. Jamie is so great with these guys- he was made for this position. And the guys are really taking to April’s tenderness combined with funny banter. They’re loving on these guys exactly the way they need and want, and all for the glory of God, no matter how hard it gets. They’re able to do what they love, with an amazing community of people around them, and get paid really well for doing it. Seeing the Lord’s timing and provision in all of this has been a great reminder to me, too. His timing is… perfect. Selfishly, I’m going to miss the stink out of them. But it’s good to leave knowing that they’re being held by the arms of the Lord. So here’s to my friends, and to the time in a stinky foreign country, that turned out to really be not so stinky after all…

The weekend is over, and the retreat was lots of fun! We were in Gyeongju, about 3 hours south of Taejon. The hotel we stayed in was great- I ended up staying with two other girls, Becca and Angie, and I loved it. It was great getting to connect more with Becca and getting to know Ang. And staying up late playing card games… I learned a new game called “Don’t Get Angry” which is a Mongolian version of Uno. I’m telling you- these people have been EVERYWHERE. Especially the single RAs. They travel like crazy to some really great places. Hearing their stories was cool. Somewhat depressing since I’ll probably never see half the places, but cool. Saturday, April and I went on the cultural tour with a bus full of others from TCIS to a couple of different temples and then to Folk Art Village. I have no idea what the name of either of the temples were- something big and Korean and that I didn’t understand, but I took pictures!

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Behind the fence is the main temple area- not what I expected, but still cool.

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There were little buddha statues you could buy all over the gift shop. I figured a picture of one was good enough, but then I got clapped at by the tiny Korean woman working and she said, “No picture!” I’ll show you no picture…

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Again with the rusty metal. What can I say? It’s love at first sight…

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An archway (in case you hadn’t guessed that…) under the stairs that we couldn’t use to go up to the temple area.

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This guy was hanging out in one of the smaller hut type things.

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Inside of the main temple area.

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Tops of pagodas in the temple area (i think that’s what they called them…)

While we were in the main temple area, there were a bunch of students from a summer program where I’m assuming they were learning English, and they were supposed to have conversations with people in English. We got asked quite a few workbook questions by kids who probably had no idea what they were saying and what we were saying in return, but it was pretty cute to see them try to communicate with us. They’d just run up, ask a question, give us the answer and then run away. So cute. One girl was really struggling- her teachers kept encouraging her and people were taking pictures of her talking to us. Again, so cute! I don’t know what made me stand out as an American, though. I mean, I thought SURELY people would think I was Korean…

The next temple, we had to walk a path through the mountains to. There were monks that lived at this one, but they didn’t really come out. I only saw a couple coming out of what I assumed to be their private worship area.

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This big guy was in a grotto, which I have no idea what that is, but that’s what it said, so that’s what I’m calling it. I guess it’s one of the oldest grottos in Korea or something. There was a no photos sign on this one, too… This was actually a “hold the camera at the hip and hope something comes out” shot. Try to stop the mad photographer. I dare you.

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These were taken inside of a little temple area where people were actually bowing before stuff inside. It was really sad to see their empty worship… The hardest thing was seeing kids doing it. I mean, well… yeah. It was just hard.

After the two temples was the Folk Art Village… holy pottery heaven. Let’s just say that my pottery collection has been expanded. And I love it. We only got 30 minutes there, so I was hurriedly trying to figure out what I wanted. I almost cracked under the pressure, but thankfully, I made it out okay.

That night, we had a Korean dinner and cultural show experience. I hate Korean meals. I hate them. I hate big pans full of meat cooking in front of me. I hate eating rice all the time with random soups on it. I hate kimchi. I hate pickled stuff. I hate spicy stuff. So what did I eat? As little as possible. I mean, what does a girl have to do to get a sandwich? The experience was cool, though. After we ate, there was a traditional Korean show which was pretty stinkin’ cool. There was dancing, lots of drumming… amazing drumming, and by chicks, none the less, and singing. I really enjoyed getting to see it.

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This morning, while they were having their last session, I decided to go on a little adventure back to the Folk Art Village for a little somethin’ somethin’ that I didn’t think to get the day before. The bus ride the day before didn’t seem too far, so I thought I could get back no problem. It was raining, but it looked like it was letting up, so I decided to just brave it and go for it. Keep in mind that I really didn’t know where I was going. And I was by myself. And it had rained. And was still sprinkling. Oh, and I don’t speak Korean. (who does this kind of stuff?) The lady at the front desk said I could catch a bus, but I didn’t know where or how much or what bus… her English wasn’t too great, and as already stated, my Korean isn’t so great. So I walked to the sign that looked like a bus stop, but when the bus came by, it went by… and I just stood there and watched it go by. Here was my moment of truth- I could turn around and walk back to the hotel, or I could earn myself a gold star of bravery and forge on. Of course I chose to forge on. Don’t you people know me by now? I started walking in the direction that I thought the bus came from the day before, hoping I was right. So, as I’m walking, the light sprinkle just turns into rain. Don’t be fooled- trees provide no protection from rain. So don’t try. I’m walking… and getting wet… and walking… and getting wetter… and walking… and… well, you get the point. Taxis kept honking at me, but what kind of fun would that be? I can’t tell them where I want to go, and I’m already wet, so QUIT HONKING AT ME!!! Just when I was thinking it might be a good idea to turn around, I saw the sign telling me I was headed in the right direction. So, I turned down the next main road to get to my destination, and walked… and got wet… and walked… and got wetter… wait, have we been through this already? I was just about to give up- I told myself that if I didn’t see it around the next corner, I was giving up. (did i say i also had no watch so i had no idea how long i’d been walking?…) Just then, a bus honked at me, pulled over, and the driver waved me on. I wasn’t about to turn him down. So I got on on the bus, told him Folk Art Village, and he looked like he knew what I was talking about. I was just grateful to be out of the stinkin’ rain. I was trying to shake some of the water out of my hair, and the driver handed me a bunch of paper towels to dry off with- I fell in love right then.  I knew I left the hotel at 10:20ish, and when I got myself dried off a bit, I saw the clock in the bus that said… 10:54. I had been walking for 35 minutes… Oye. He dropped me off at my destination, and didn’t even charge me for the ride.  Seriously, I’m pretty sure this is what love is.   I got my goods at the pottery place, and then decided that maybe I should take the bus back. Anyone else agree with that decision? Good. We’re all on the same page. Caught the bus, and made it back to the hotel by 11:30, just in time to get cleaned up and check out.

Now we’re back, and I’m TIIIIIIIIRED. Bed time soon. But I couldn’t keep you all waiting any longer since I know you’ve been checking my blog every 5 minutes, biting your nails, wondering when I’d return. So, in case you weren’t already ravenously jealous of my weekend adventures, I thought I’d leave you with pictures of our hotel and the view from my room…

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he he he!

In 30 minutes, we’re off to the TCIS staff retreat to… well, I dunno. But somewhere cool. Maybe I’ll have more pics to show you when I get back…

Holy hotness…  I think we picked the hottest day ever to explore the mountain.  It wasn’t at all what we expected, but I still got quite a few shots that I love!

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This was on a gate to a house- I have some weird obsession with rusty metal…

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Dying wild chili peppers.  Cool

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One of my favorite shots…

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Again, with the rusty metal.  And rubber, apparantly

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Um, yes.  Nice plastic McDonald’s chair.

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The mountains.

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I think we were walking through a grave yard?  I dunno, but I love this pic.

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A view of the city from the mountains.

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The rows of apartments I was talking about.

On our way home, we rode with a lady taxi driver (first for me) who spoke a little English and tried talking with us on the way home- it was quite hysterical.  We also came closer to death during this cab ride than any other… no side comments, please.  Then we walked around for another 2 hours after dinner.  Legs… very… tired…

I leave you with this-

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in you.

-St Augustine

Good night!

Mornin’. Feeling a little better now than I did last night. Which is good. Because I’m not really interested in throwing up in a foriegn country again. Or throwing up again period.

Yesterday, I got to experience a real Korean restaurant for lunch.

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The Smith’s, who are dorm parents here as well, wanted to take Jamie and April out for lunch to help them experience culture more and get to know them better, and I was included in that as well. This is the first place I’d been where I had to take my shoes off- I loved it! Bare feet are highly underrated. The tables are sunk down so that you’re sitting on the ground, but your legs still go under the table. (great day to wear a skirt…) There are gas grills on each table and they set a pot of boiling something (water? broth?) on them and then they throw stuff in it to cook- our pot had what I think were mushrooms, some roots of some kind, something greenish that looked like maybe spinach, and meat. Yes, meat. Gross. There were only 3 rolls of something dark in ours, and every time she dished stuff out, one of the nasty meat rolls would end up on my plate. And I threw them back in the pot. Everything else in the pot was good, though. The other pot only had meat in it. Even before I was a vegetarian, I just don’t know how’d I feel about boiled meat. Koreans like it, though! And so does Jamie. There was a lot of other food on the table, too (as you can probably tell by all the bowls)- I ate the potato salad stuff- everything else was spicy (but i did try it before i assumed i didn’t like it…)- and the soupy stuff, and I got a plate of rice wrapped in lettuce leaves. That was good, too. Especially dipped in the peanut sauce (don’t be jealous, mama…). Then at the end of the meal, they put noodles in the big pot and cook those and you eat that. Gooooood. Definitely a Korean experience! April and I went to Kong’s and Han’s afterwards (because we didn’t eat enough food…) and while I probably didn’t need it, I’m really glad we went. Tavin was sleeping, so he stayed with Jamie, and it was just us girls. I tell you what, I love that girl. We probably spent about an hour just sitting and talking, and it was so good. So good. It was nice to connect, just the two of us. When we came back, it was back to dorm life, full force! We spent the afternoon and evening getting random stuff together, cleaning some stuff up, and then went to dinner. I swear, this school only knows how to serve spicy food. So I choked it down with some rice and called it good. When we got back, I said I would make cookies for snack for tonight, and I think that was my demise… I made 4 batches of cookies- that’s right. The Jessi cookies are going international, only I had to make them with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips. When you’re making cookies, it’s necessary to test the batter occasionally to make sure they’re coming out right. Any baker knows this to be true. So, after 4 batches, and testing the batter from each, I was feeling a little… queasy from my day’s food intake. When you combo my somewhat sensitive stomach with new, random food with spicy food with cookie dough, a revolution is bound to happen. And it did. Big time. However, I felt MUCH better when it wasn’t all in my stomach anymore! 🙂 At least the cookies came out good. We’re heading to Chicken Foot Mountain today, which I’m hoping is a real mountain, and not a whole bunch of chicken feet. (i’m so funny…) I’m really looking forward to it because I’m busting out the camera and doing what I love. Hopefully I’ll get some great images out of the deal! I’ll try to post some when we get back so you, my loyal readers, can see the Buddist temples and other cool stuff we see. Later!

I vomitted in a Home Plus bag…

how’s your day been?

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