Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I err therefore I am

This video is from ted.com, a site that I might start frequenting. The following video is somewhat long, but well worth it. I think maybe a year ago I would have been exactly like the people she described. I have a better understanding now (compared to a year ago) of what it means to be wrong, and this video further improved my perspective. I encourage introspection as well as humorous enjoyment. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring

I found this on someone else's blog, so don't think I'm the original finder of this. But I loved the song. 


A Fine Spring Morning:


This is a fine spring morning
It's everywhere for us to share
Just look what a fine spring morning can do
I've got a brand new feeling
When I think twice it's awful nice
I hope everybody is feeling it too
Bees are getting busier
Birds are getting dizzier
Little girls & boys are getting quizzier
Songs are getting singier 
Butterflies are wingier
And sure as shootin' spring is getting springier
So on this fine spring morning
My hearts resigned
Made up my mind
To spend every fine spring morning with you
Say I've seen a lot of mornings
The sunshine glows
A rooster crows
But this is my first spring morning in love
So if this young girls fancy
Gets out of hand
Please understand
It's just that this young girls fancy is love
Kids are getting cozier
Neighbors getting nosier
Bulls are getting more & more bulldozier
Bums are getting bummier
Chums are getting chummier
And yummy looking girls are getting yummier
Some of these fine spring mornings
Were going to be a family
And spend every fine spring morning
In love

A walk with God


I think I just royally screwed up. But God is gracious, and I have to take comfort in that. 


I set aside today as a Sabbath. I haven't really taken one since I got to Korea and since it's my last little while here, and several people encouraged me to, I took a day for the Lord. 


It's been a pretty slow day, but good. I actually left the apartment with seeing a movie at the theater in mind, but God definitely put a stop to that plan. So I decided to take a leisurely walk around Gimpo. It was interesting; and I turned a different direction than I had in the past (literally). The last time I hit the T corner on that road, I had turned right, this time I went left. There were a lot of students around. I assume school was just getting out because it was a little after 4pm. 


I was just walking along when I realized one of the kids, who was about ten years old, was talking to me. I saw right away that he probably wasn't a student because he didn't have a uniform on. He looked a little scruffy, like no one was taking care of him -- no one making him wash his face, brush his hair, etc. 


It sounded like he said "America", so I said "Yes, I'm from America." When he didn't understand, I repeated myself. He finally said "Ah, America juseyo." I nodded. He said "Canada?" "No, USA." He responded, "Me-guk!"


While this was going on, I was trying to continue on my slow walk. He stepped in front of me a couple times to stop me from moving ahead. I lifted me hands a bit as I said "Yes, Me-guk." And he grabbed my hands -- not hard, he just held them for barely ten seconds and stepped close. I don't know what he was doing but I got really nervous and stepped away. I said, "I'm going to go. Annyoung-eegeyseyo." Then for the next two blocks, I obsessively checked my pockets and purse to see if there was something missing. 


I really didn't and don't know what he was doing. About four blocks away, I remembered the verse in James about serving the widows and orphans. And I wondered if he was an orphan. Then I remembered Jesus speaking about those he will see in Heaven. Some will be told that they saw him and clothed him, fed him, so he would acknowledge those people. Others were told they ignored him when he needed food or clothing. The ones that are told they didn't clothe Jesus will ask "When did I see you and not clothe you?" and Jesus answers that whenever they walked past someone in need they rejected him as well. And whenever they fed the hungry, they fed Jesus. 


Sheesh. I feel like such an idiot. I wish I had done something. I'm not sure what, but I think God really wanted me to do something. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Funny Night

So Alyssa and I were goofing around on our walk home tonight (it's 11:18pm right now) and we saw this random man who obviously had too much fun tonight. Thank goodness he didn't join the crazies driving on the roads. 




Just so everything is clear here: this is the first time during my stay that I've seen a Korean toasted, but I thought it was funny. People get drunk everywhere, don't take this as a characterization of all Koreans. 

Fun Facts About Korean Customs, Part 2

I have some updates and some new facts. 


Apparently, the bumping into each other has a philosophical background. The Koreans are generally of a Confucian belief system. Part of Confucianism is respect for others. When you bump into a stranger on the subway, you don't know how to address them. Are they of higher or lower status? You don't know, not until a formal introduction is made by someone else. So apologizing for bumping into someone is actually more trouble than it's worth. You would have to find out where they work, what age they are -- anything having to do with their station. It's easier to ignore the brush of shoulders. Of course, if I body checked an old Korean woman, I would need to apologize!


This is part of the subway station at Yoeido Island (but during the cherry blossom festival, so it was unusually crowded)


Giving a business card to someone is a big deal. It determines the respect the other business person should have for you. The card is meant to be presented with some ceremony. After a formal introduction, the card should be handed over, at the very least, with the right hand. It is better to present things with both hands, especially for a business card. Most Koreans will receive things or hand things over with their right hand and hold the middle of their right forearm with their left hand. Giving something with the left hand is actually disrespectful. Most of this comes from a Korean guidebook, but now that I'm aware of this custom, I've actually noticed a lot of the respect shopkeepers give me with using their right hand. 


Bowing when you say thank you is another sign of respect. This might be obvious for some, but when thanking someone, you should bow a little lower than them if they are older or deserving of more respect. 


Many of the women walk around with a hand or paper to cover their face from the sun. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is because they prefer pale skin. There are many skin care products here meant for whitening skin. It could also be to prevent squint lines. The older women tend to wear giant visors that cover their entire face. They tilt it way down so you can't see their face, but they can see you. 


This was at the Seoul Museum of History - probably doesn't apply anymore. 


Between friends, sharing food from the same communal dish is a way that builds friendship. Many Korean restaurants will just serve the food on one big dish rather than on separate plates. They give you separate plates and it isn't considered disrespectful to move food from the communal dish to your own plate. 




All very interesting. 

A couple days on my own in Korea

Sunday was a little less hectic than my Saturday. I was able to go to Alyssa and Brooke's church, Onnuri, in Seoul for the English service at 4pm. I also got to hang out with my friend who was an exchange student at WWU. 




We went to a fabulous vegetarian restaurant in Itaewon (a tourist trap, basically). I bought a few gifts at the shops and we had fun chatting and window shopping. It was so great to see a friend that I never thought I'd see again! And I found out that she may do graduate work in the states! So hopefully she can visit me next time. 


That Monday, I had an epic plan for my day. I was going to stay on one subway line (I hate dealing with transfers) and hit up four places. The plan was to get off at Jongno 3(sam)-ga station and go to the Jongmyo Royal Shrine, then walk to Changgyeonggung Palace, then to Nobujip (a traditional restaurant where you sit on the floor without a table and they bring the table to you with all the food prepared on it, and they have traditional musical and dancing performances), then finish at a shopping area at Marronier Park and Daehangno. 


Only one part of my plan worked out. I found Jongmyo Royal Shrine after some mix of Korean and hand signal communication with a kind Korean woman. I also got there one hour before the English tour began. They don't allow anyone in without a tour guide. So I suppose it was lucky that I made it before the only English tour of the day started. 


The picture below is the outside of all of the shrines. I believe there are nine spirits of kings and queens in this particular building. They expanded the building as the years went on and this represents three generations of kings and queens. 



This pathway is split into three separate areas. The center path is for the spirits, so no one walks on them. The one on the right is for the king. And the one on the left is for the prince. This was familiar but unusual. At the palace, the center path was for the king and the side paths for the officers of lower rank. All the pathways in the palaces and shrines are made up of granite that is purposefully uneven. It doesn't get slippery in the rain, but the unevenness is to make the people walk at a sedate and graceful pace. 


This was a beautiful pond at the entrance of the Jongmyo shrine. The Koreans believed that the spirit world was round and the earth square. It's hard to see here, but the edges of the pond were square and the center with the plants and trees is round. The azaleas are a sign of Spring for the Koreans.  



After the tour, I asked the tour guide about the Changgyeonggung Palace, only to find out that it was closed on Mondays. So I moved on with my plan. The next step was to find Nolbujip. I walked around, generally confused because I was supposed to find a certain road with a Pizza Hut somewhere on it. In the basement of Pizza Hut, this amazing restaurant was supposed to exist. 


While on the hunt I found these strange poop-like sculptures outside a high school:




After pausing and staring for a bit, I continued on the hunt. I found the street after stopping for help three times and it occurred to me that the website I had looked at said "Prices are from 2005." When I couldn't find the Pizza Hut after being on the search for a good hour, I decided to give up and went to an Irish pub called the Red Lion:







I decided to get nachos and a jack and coke. To be clear, I didn't get much beyond a couple sips of the jack and coke. Either Korea has a higher proof for alcohol or that had more than a single shot of jack. It felt like drinking nail polish remover straight up. I stuck to my water bottle and suffered through the guilt of having spent 14,000 won on a drink I didn't enjoy. Also, that price is really high. I'm not sure if alcohol in Korea is generally really expensive, or if it was just an overpriced restaurant. 



I really enjoyed my day, actually, even with all the directional confounding. And I finally feel able to navigate the subway system on my own. Although the bus system is probably the worst thing about travelling outside of Gimpo. Every day that I've gone into Seoul, I'm tempted to pay 9,200 for a taxi ride into the city. Not a very good investment at all, considering the bus is only 1,000 won per ride. And if I swipe my card at the subway station within 30 minutes of getting off the bus, I'm not charged again for the subway. That's a pretty neat system. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hole in my Coach Wallet UPDATE 2

Another 100,000 won withdrawn again. But I found out that my bank doesn't charge me an international ATM fee and they gave me a much better exchange rate than the San Francisco Airport. 


But I should still reevaluate my spending decisions. Except right now I'm contemplating going out for lunch. My usual thought is "It's vacation! I can spend however much I want." Which isn't a bad attitude because I may only come to Korea once in my life (I can't totally write it off the list; you never know where you'll end up when you're following God). 


So the conclusion is: I don't know how much money is appropriate to spend. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hole in my Coach Wallet UPDATE

Definitely a hole. Has to be. I had to withdraw 100,000 won yesterday because I only had 20,000 left. But I did buy souvenirs for people that had promised to pay me back. So I'm hoping that works out.  

I'm Alive

Just thought I should let everyone know this. It's a shocker! I went a few days without posting whereas I was posting more than once each day! 


The last few days have been really busy. The weekend allowed Alyssa to take me around Seoul for the first time, and then Monday and Tuesday came and I went on my own. It's been quite the adventure. 


First the National Museum of Korea.







Then the Cherry Blossom Festival on Yeouido Island. 





Yes, there were snails, like the tiny ones found all over Birch Bay:




And squid:


Cute tykes, banging on drums:



Then on to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest palace in Korea. 



The ceilings were amazing:



As were many of the staircases (the creatures had specific meanings as well):



These stone markers were in place for the officers to form lines at:







Most pathways had three sections. The center was only for the king and the left was for the military officers, and the right (the lowest of the three classes mentioned) was for the civilian officers. 




Saturday in Seoul was very eventful, because we also went to Namsan Seoul Tower. 








It was a great day, and four days later, my feet still ache from the four hours spent at the National Museum. 


I hope you enjoyed being able to scroll through the pictures as fast as you wanted. I always seem to get stuck with the people that want to describe every shot in minute detail for hours. This way, you can look at what you want and ignore the rest. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fun Facts About Korean Customs, Part 1

I've learned several things about the culture that don't really fit into any category, but they're fun to know. 


When walking down the street, or on a bus or train, it doesn't matter if you bump into someone. Brushing shoulders, hips, elbows, or what have you isn't even noticed by Koreans. You just keep walking, no apology necessary. If someone is in your way, "excuse me" isn't a requirement, you just walk at them until they move; I don't even know the word for "sorry" or "pardon". Koreans just don't expect it. If you do, however, smash into an older person really hard, a formal apology (just one word that I don't know) is all that's needed. 






There are crosswalks diagonally across intersections. This means that all traffic stops at a four way intersection and the pedestrians can cross through the middle. It's pretty sweet. But you have to watch out, because cars still fly around corners without regard for pedestrians. I've noticed that if I'm not sure a car is going to stop for a stop sign, just holding up my hand as a signal to stop will give me the right of way -- sometimes. 






I've only really been in Gimpo but the smell of gasoline, sometimes sulfur or sewage, seems to be pretty common. It comes and goes, but down by the river it stuck around at a manageable level. 




The cake here apparently tastes like rice cakes, completely dry and flavorless. Alyssa and I went to Baskin Robins with a couple of her friends (the ice cream was great), Wynne and Paul, and the cakes were super cute, seriously amazing. And I really regret forgetting my camera at the apartment last night. But Wynne said she had one for her birthday and it was awful. So they're nice to look at, but not good on the inside -- whew, what an analogy for so many things. Cake and bread here have to be bought with caution. I was told that any bread that looks familiar is horrible. I should only buy bread that looks foreign because it's probably more traditionally Korean and better tasting because of it. So I went to Paris Baguette and got some awesome veggie breads, a caramel macchiato and also a garlic and cheese baguette for home. 





Well, it was very fun gathering these fun facts! I hope you enjoy them, and feel free to comment if you've had a different experience with these situations and/or can add some Korean fun facts. 

Hole in my Coach Wallet

Somehow I've spent 68,000 won (pretty much 68 USD) in the past two days. My first thought was that there was no way I could've spent that much. I was working at being prudent but still having fun. Then I remembered that I spent 20,000 on the taxi from the airport, and 21,900 on a pizza, then all the random meals I've had here and there. So I suppose it's a false alarm. But I will probably have to exchange more money soon. I have about 200,000 won left and at the rate money keeps jumping out of my wallet, it could be gone in just a few more days. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Romans

I'm bored because now I've been hanging out by myself for a couple hours so that I would be rested for our adventure to the grocery store and dinner. So I've decided to share my Bible revelation of earlier today. It's not much of a revelation, more of a question-creator. 


I read Romans 2 today and then had to go back to chapter 1, which I read yesterday, to make sure I had it all together. The bare minimum to read, if you want to understand what I'm talking about, is Romans 2:12-16 and 1:18-20. Here's what I journaled (I actually started a paper journal just for this trip!):


2:12-16 are particularly striking. It confirms and challenges what I've thought about non-Christians. Many hear the Word but don't get it, but they still live by a moral code. Are they saved? Maybe not, maybe so. Because God sees and judges men's secrets; is Jesus' grace covering them?


If they haven't heard the Word, but the moral law is in them, are they saved? If they disobey their law, is there grace?


Romans 1:18-20 says that creation is a testament to God's eternal power so men are without excuse. With science today, does that provide an excuse? Science doesn't prove or disprove God, but it creates doubt. Now that I'm thinking this over again, I wonder about my last statement. Science has actually proved a lot of the Bible, so does it really create doubt? Or does it allow some to take the leap of faith required to not believe in God? And yes, disbelieving God requires a leap of faith (we can discuss this anytime if you're curious). 


EDIT: I completely forgot about the Gospel and Jesus' statement  in John 14:6-7:


      Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."


So, just more confusion to add to this story. End EDIT


Salvation is so difficult to understand when it's not myself. I was on the plane, praying for God to use me in whatever way He wanted, and I realized I didn't need a safe trip because I would be with God if the trip went badly (I am using 'bad' with the worldly understanding because the result is actually quite wonderful in this case). 


Anyway, that's what's on my mind. Maybe I'll add to this post (or make a new one) if I actually come to a conclusion. If you can shed light on this, please comment! Or send me a message. 
Thanks

On to the fun stuff

I've been in Korea for about 26 hours now. And loved almost every minute! What I didn't love was the taxi ride, or any of the driving for that matter. Some of you may know that I have anxiety about being a passenger in a car... and that's just in the US. 


Korea has hit a whole new level of psychotic driving. Without swearing (okay, well, I don't speak Korean, but my driver didn't say a word (because he didn't know English) in any language and people were incredibly rude)! They tailgate like no other, merge into a lane that already has a car pretty much alongside them and dodge and race through traffic like madmen. In about the last few minutes of my 30 minute taxi ride I started to relax because I realized the driver could handle the crazies. 


I fell asleep at about 6pm, 30 minutes after I got to Alyssa's apartment. Had about three hours of much needed sleep -- I'd been travelling for 20 hours straight without much more than 20 minute naps occasionally. When she got home, we went to a pizza place across the street. We got potato pizza, which was fabulous! It actually had a slice of potato on it with corn and an amazing but different sauce. 


This morning, Alyssa and I worked on her teaching stuff and at 2pm she went to work while I had a sandwich (that was also fabulous) from a shop nearby. From there, I went down the main drag and just window shopped. I took lots of pictures. 


The thing is though, my 1Gb SD card can only hold about 600 pictures. I didn't think that through very well because it filled up while I was on the train from Incheon Airport to Gimpo Airport (I had pictures on it from 1.5 years ago) with five pictures. I was stunned that I had filled it and worried that I left the SD card at home. Realizing that I had 300 pictures from my apartment, The Echo, last year that detailed the quality of all parts of the apartment and 300 other random pictures, I emptied it last night into Alyssa's computer (sorry about that by the way! I'll get rid of most of it before I leave!). I now have a budget of about 50 pictures per day. But I'll be here for 15 days (I think), so that's more than capacity. We'll see. Today I took 40 pictures while walking around. 


I've been on my own since two (and it's 5:19pm now), so I'd say I walked for about two hours. I'm lucky (and proud of myself) to have a good sense of direction when walking or driving (not while a passenger, though). Besides, you always know that you can turn around and walk back to where you started. I circled different areas and found a beautiful church, that relieved me because I was wondering if I was getting lost but knew that I had seen that cross from Alyssa's window. 









The church was beautiful and I'm jealous of their worship area. I'm so thankful that churches let anyone in, because I was about to pee myself. I had had a 16oz. Caramel Mcciato (no, not a typo -- well it is, but not on my end -- that's what was typed on the menu) from Moon Coffee an hour earlier. 



And I found my way back after window shopping, regretfully turning down shopkeepers' hopeful looks when I took the window shopping inside, being a tourist and stopping at random places to take pictures (see evidence below). 


Generally I was an awesome tourist that now has a blister on each big toe and feels great! I hope all is well at home! 
Heart Leslie 

Permissions

I decided that giving certain people permission to the blog was too difficult. Apparently you have to have a Google login. Which is just annoying. Google really is trying to take over the world (and may be close). So, now you can view it without logging in. I hope that's helpful. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Real

I'm talking with my awesome friend Alyssa. And I'm getting butterflies about how excited I am to be in Korea tomorrow!


Finally starting to feel real! 

Library

It's still not open. I'm a very punctual person...

This Morning

Well, here I am again. In front of my computer. It is a very dangerous thing to have access to the internet almost constantly and a blog about your thoughts. I find myself thinking of things that I want to write on here, rather than just having normal thoughts throughout the day. The random thoughts and bunny trails my mind has and goes on now have a purpose. It's kind of fun. 


I've found that I hate our dishwasher. Things have to be cleaned before they go in. When 'clean' dishes come out, they have black specs and gunk all over them. It kind of weirds me out. I know it's sanitary, but how sanitary can something be if it has leftover food flecked on it?


I woke up this morning thinking about Korea. It's starting to feel real. I'm not sure if anyone else has really experienced this to the length that I do, but when something very different is coming, and I know it's coming, it doesn't feel real until it happens. It was like graduating. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, or even anything to worry/think about, until I was waiting for my turn to shake hands with the President of WWU and take my degree. Then it felt real, and I kept grinning. 


I think Korea will be the same. Even now, seventeen hours until we leave for Seatac, twenty-one hours until my flight, I don't feel much different. My suitcase is finally half full upstairs. I'll have plenty of room for all the crap I'll not need but have to bring. When I'm on the plane, maybe, it will feel like it's actually happening. I land in San Francisco for an hour and a half layover. Not enough time to visit friends down there, but enough time to actually have breakfast. 


I still need to go to the bank, library and my parents, then back to my house for a skype date. The library doesn't open til ten so I figured this blog would help me pass the time. Whatdyano?! It worked!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Again

Well, I should be in bed. But instead I'm too excited to lay down and I'm all over the internet (as in, I'm reading blogs, reading facebook, on failblog, etc). 


Tomorrow's to do list:
-Pack (probably should've started this a while back)
-Go to the bank (checks that shouldn't come to Korea with me are in my wallet)
-Go to the library (TON of books in the backseat and trunk of my car, ready for donating)
-Go to my parent's house (visit with them before I leave, have some fun)
-Skype with my good friend (who happens to be the one I'm staying with in Korea!!)


Not a completely sucky day when all's said and done. 

Korea

And just so you know, I'll be posting about Korea here. The last post is kind of random, you can read it if you want.
lg

Thoughts

Well, to start off, I want to clarify that this is just a blog for me. I have a hard time journaling, and I'm hoping that the idea that others will be able to see what I post and/or care what I have to say will help me to keep up the blog. 


I went to church today and it was a fabulous message on Mark 10:1-16. Jesus is first approached by Pharisees who try to trap him when they ask about divorce. Then the disciples (ignoring what they were taught in chapter 9) tell the children coming to be touched by Jesus to keep their hands to themselves. Jesus gets annoyed and tells the disciples that the children are to be valued and that we should all have a child-like faith. 


This is where things got interesting... We were asked what the difference is between a Pharisee's faith and a child's faith. Then were challenged by the question: "What would we need to do, from where we stand now as metaphorical Pharisees, to have a child's faith?"


Wow. I don't really know. I'm thinking that the Holy Spirit is going to have to help me a lot this week -- and into the future. I'm not sure why I always put a time limit on when I expect things to happen. "Have a good week" is such a strange statement, I feel like the response should be "Thanks, and after that my life will be like chewing on crap and banging my head against the wall. Thanks for not saying my whole life should be good." But I suppose it's cultural. The euphemism or connotation to "Have a nice life" is that I'll never see them again. Which isn't the intent.


Anyway... my point was that I need have the Holy Spirit working in my life so I'm not coming to Jesus just for approval of decisions I've already made, but asking for a decision from him before I make my own. I also need to be searching and curious. 


Tomorrow night I leave for Korea. My wonderful roommate is driving me to Seatac at 3:30am. I am amazed and delighted at the way she has worked out everything to accommodate my travels. I'm very excited to see a friend that I haven't seen IRL for several months. We've been skyping, but it's just not the same. 


I'm gonna post this in thirty seconds, without rereading it - YIKES! I never don't reread thinsg (pun intended).  But the goal of the blog is to get me writing things down rather than just obsessing over them in my mind. Having something as purposeless as a journal is hard for me. A blog might help. We'll see.