Uni Life

Hello everyone!

You haven’t heard from me for a while because uni has started and I am busyyy.

First of all I have Korean language class every day for three hours. It feels like primary school really, because we have teachers and learn grammar and vocabulary and we also get homework every day! It is quite a lot of work but also fun 🙂

Other than the language class I have one more business class three hours a week and I do an internship at the Korean Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) three afternoons a week. To get to KISTI I have to travel for one 1h, so it is all quite time consuming. Adding all that up, there basically no time for anything else during the week, considering I also have to do homework at night. This will maybe explain why the concept of sleep is not considered to be very important in Korea, certainly less important than the concept of education, work and food. I had to smirk when a fellow student of mine told be that his mother always says that he can sleep when he is dead, because my parents have told me to go to bed earlier for basically all my life. I always go to bed late for German standards, but seem to be a sleepyhead compared to Koreans!

The curious thing is that many Koreans don’t bat an eye if somebody has to work until 2 or 3 am and be back at work by 9, but if you miss your lunch, they might well be worried about you. I would prefer to miss my lunch than to get less than 5 h of sleep, but I guess that is a very personal point of view.

Next week there is the national holiday “Chuseok”, Korean Thangsgiving. That means I will have five days off in a row 🙂 My friends and I are planning a trip to the East Coast!
So I very much hope to present some great pictures to you in my next post 🙂

Cheers!

Clara

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About Burgers, Slippers and Photoshop

My dear readers,

in this post I will simply tell you some things about South Korea that are different to what I am used to and I deem interesting, just things I didn’t expect.

-Streetfood-

In the city there are many streetfood stalls selling all kinds of food. Some things I have tried, some I don’t dare. I have tried some fantastic Belgian waffles fo example, I haven’t tried raw squid. Sometimes those stalls provide little plastic stools so you can sit on the street in front of the stand munching away your delicacies. A few days ago I have had a rather interesting encounters with one of thos stalls. My German friends and I spotted a guy selling yummy-looking burgers and hot dogs. So we went there ordered our food and sat on the stools. So the vender heated both burger and Hot Dog up in the microwave and cut the good thing into peaces with scissors (!). Our explanation for this is, that this procedure makes it possible to eat them with chopsticks. It tasted better than expected, but it was a rather odd experience. This is what it looked like:

Image

-Bathrooms-

Korean Bathrooms are different to European ones. In modern bathrooms there will be a magical toilet. It has a zillion buttons and all kinds of crazy functions: the seat can be heated, air blown or water sprayed. Furthermore the shower doesn’t have a seperate tub, you simply stand on the floor when you shower. This means when you take your shower everything gets wet, everything. Including the sink, the toilet and the wall. In Germany this is what you would call a “Nasszelle” :D. And because it is very hot here in summer (meaning the shower is used a lot) the bathroom is basically constantly flooded. That isn’t a big problem, because in Korea there is the concept of slippers, which leads to my next point.

-Slippers-

In Korea you take off your shoes almost everywhere. It is rude to enter someones private room with your shoes on and “private” includes offices, restaurants (at least the ones where you sit on the floor, which is the majority) and apartments. Because it is rather unhygienic to walk around with you bare feet (at least in summer nobody wears socks) Koreans love slippers. There is one pair of slippers for the own apartment and one pair for your bathroom (needed because its always wet). Because most people also own slippers for outside (you may also call them flip flops, thongs or jandals), Koreans will own at least three pairs of slippers. When you stay in a hostel, slippers will be provided – one pair for the rooms and one pair for the bathroom. At my university I have a workplace in a lab, and even they provide slippers for every student working there! When I walked around my dorm with bare feet, because I was getting water quickly and I couldn’t be bothered to put on my slippers for that, one fellow Korean student pointed at my feet with a puzzled, yet almost distressed facial expression. So now I wear my slippers all the time to not cause any inconvenience.

-Passport photo-

For my student’s ID, Alien Registration Card and Dorm file I needed to hand in passport photos. So two of my friends and I went to the closest photoshop, expecting it to take 5 mins like in Germany. After the photographer had suggested for us to take a look in the mirror first, he took a few photos, which did only take a few minutes in fact. What took a lot longer though, was editing the photos with photoshop. He worked on each picture for about 20 mins, and he was working quickly! Not only did he smoothen any unpure skin, he also changed our skin colour, removed birthmarks and straightened strangs of hair sticking out! One of the girls has heaps of freckles, on the photo she doesn’t! He even made my friend’s face thinner! And it is not like her face is particularly round or anything! At the end of the editing our photos fulfilled all the Korean beauty ideals I guess…strange!

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