Sunday, August 06, 2006

School haze


It's fiendishly hot, hazy and so, so very humid that the earthworms are jumping on the asphalt, I kid you not. I think they think it's raining. Wait, worms can't think, they lack brains, right??

(This recalls a highschool freshman Honors Biology project for which I attempted to train earthworms to follow a maze for food. The worms were intractable, and I received an F on that project...)

Well, at least I missed the monsoons, by a close shave, by only one week! Last week it was raining buckets, I'm told (so much so that major damage to roads and rails leading to Soraksan, a notable national park, will prevent me from visiting it -- on this trip.)

So far I've been taking Korean class and bumming around the EWHA/Yonsei University area of Seoul and seeing my cousins a bit.

The school, EWHA, is situated on a very hilly part of Seoul. The hills are as steep or worse than the most treacherous parts of San Francisco (!) I don't yet know the alternate walkways which avoid the hills which I know must exist as I rarely see people walking on the roads as myself, drenched in sweat, close to sun stroke (not really, but you get the picture). My little cousin Mi Hyun promises to show me those secrety byways -- she finished her undergraduate degree at this one of the most prestigious schools in Korea, and she will begin her graduate studies in Social Work here in the autumn.

The campus is lush and well-maintained.

I know you want pictures, but at this point I've been too hot while outside to think about anything else other than getting up or down that damn mountain (dorm room is at the top of the hill, class is at the bottom). So this might be a little disconcerting but, I'm including a picture that I took in April when I visited with my family (taken on a relatively flat road):

UPDATED PICS HERE! The campus has a mix of modern buildings...

and traditional structures:

The residence of the university president:

This is the final hill of 4 major ones to the dorm:

At least the Korean cuisine is equipped for the summer heat and discomfort! There is nothing better (and nothing else one can stand to eat on a day so hot and humid one can barely breathe) -- than nang myun, which is cold, buckwheat noodle soup. Sour and sweet, cold and chewy, sharp and fruity, it is the perfect Asian food (variegated due to its trimmings -- like kim chee and asian pear-- and balanced in colors and flavors). Slurping is allowed and encouraged. Did I mention its health aspects -- it's buckwheat after all!

(Yes, that's ice in the broth!)

Korean class is mostly Japanese students. I have to say, it is already coming in handy. On my first day upon contacting one of my elder cousins, I couldn't even tell her my phone number. That next day in class, I learned the numbers, called her back with no problem communicating, so she could then disseminate the number to my other cousins.

On the other hand, it is not without certain frustrations and hilarities. For a homework assignment, I was looking up words in my (academic, most reputable) Korean-English dictionary, basic words I later learned upon a 911 call to my mother for help with my homework (geez I felt like a kid)...which confirmed that I could not find words like bird and chair (and yes I know the dictionary order of the Korean alphabet!)... oh, but I did find the words for "penis of a giant sea bear" and "doll bride" -- very important words I suppose...


Blogger Richard Thornton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:34 AM  
Blogger christene said...

Were I to imbibe something alcoholic, surely I would dehydrate... next time I will have one with my nang myun and report back!

6:37 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Wow! Sounds like quite an adventure already. You are too hilarious. Manolo and I are having a very good laugh getting caught up on your posts. Between getting locked out the night before and finding "penis" whatever in the dictionary, this trip is off to a great start!! We can't wait to read your future posts. Manolo especially wants to know if there are any misunderstandings along the lines of "cojones" and "cajones" ("you know what" and "drawers") or my very favorite mistake ever of Manolo - toilet and omelette. That was, of course, a long time ago, and his English has improved since then...
Hasta pronto and muchos abrazos!

9:25 PM  
Blogger christene said...

Hola Rach!

Don't forget the
"of a giant sea bear" part, that's very important in the usefulness of the term (tee hee hee)!

Regarding cojones, Koreans are very, very innocent, it seems. Passion and sex just are not that important in life. I'm sure there is a dark side here (as elsewhere, everywhere) and exceptions, but for example, one of my cousins (a middle cousin like me, close in age to myself) gets embarrassed by very "romantic" wording in American pop songs of the 80's.

This is one of the culture shocks (or perhaps re-adjustment) compared to the over-sexualization of everything commercial/American.

So, I can't exactly ask my cousins about cajones/cojones, though I will keep my antennae up.

(Oh, but they are telling me where to find the best everything in Seoul, such as tonight I had the best nang myun!)

(Isn't it so that everything is reduced to the basics when traveling -- sleeping, eating, ablutions...)

Espero que tu y Manolo y Brianna y Alejandro estén bien!!!

mucho amor,

8:09 AM  
Blogger Sister 2 said...

Hi, Christene--
Reading your updates makes me miss Korea dearly!

And to all of Christene's friends & loved ones reading her blog--
This is Christene's sister. In our family, Christene is the one who wears her heart on her sleeve and lives in the moment, all the time. On the one hand, her trip around the world, what I refer to as her great escape from life, is exciting. On the other hand, I am probably the one in our sibship who "balances" her out, by being the worrier and introspective one. So, naturally, I worry more about Christene's staying safe, finding peace, having contentment and stability, etc. Since she has received a number of you-go-girl messages, I will leave one to say, I hope you accomplish what you set out to on this trip, including healing, de-programing, etc., but I will be at ease when you make it back to the states grounded. Be safe and be well.

5:55 PM  

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