Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I can't say enough nice things about Japan, I'm extremely glad I was able to visit. The food is amazing and the people are friendly and warm. There is an abundance of cultural diversity in Japan that is much more apparent than in Korea. Korea's culture can seem monolithic in comparison; and Koreans can sometimes be more xenophobic. But in Korea's defense, it's a much smaller country than Japan; but for how big Seoul is I thought it might be more international than what it really is. While I do enjoy Korean food, I prefer Japanese food. One of the major reasons why is because Korean cuisine mostly revolves around the red pepper, while the Japanese cuisine has a wider range of taste, in my opinion, and usually has a sweet/bitter taste that I find pleasant to the palate. Korea is a nation which has been strongly influenced by both Japan and China, and now that I've been to Japan, I have a better understanding on how the country has influenced Korea.
Three or four days is not enough to experience Japanese culture. So I hope that I'll be able to come back again some day. The cultural diversity here makes an American feel a little more comfortable and relaxed. Also, I just felt less 'foreign' here, which was also comforting. The fashion here is much more radical than in Korea, which was fun to see. And I have to say I'm a fan of Japanese Arcades, it was a great throw back to see so many awesome video game arcades.
Almost all of my friends and family assumed that I would be going to Tokyo, but I went to Osaka instead. I chose Osaka for a few important reasons. I felt that it would be a bit quieter and easier to get around in than Tokyo, but still have plenty to do and see. I think my assumptions were correct, because I really have enjoyed Osaka and my hotel was across the street from the testing center. Also there are many other small cities near by which are easy to get to by train and visit. I visited Kyoto, only 30 minutes away by train, which has many temples, shrines, and other classic examples of Japanese architecture through out the city. I would love to visit Tokyo someday, but for this trip Osaka just made more sense, Tokyo might have distracted me from my test.
The GRE went well. Although, it was a bit of a challenge to fly into a country that I had never been to before and take a test like that with in 24 hours after arriving.
I now am looking forward to completing and turning in my application for grad school; the program is for a Masters in Film/Video production. A chemistry professor who had a PhD once told me, the more your educated, the more you discover how little you know. And that's true with me; now that I've graduated college I want to go back to learn more, because I realized that an undergrad just scratches the surface.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The picture at the top is from a cafe that kept a couple of sheep in front of the shop. If there was one thing I was not expecting to see in the middle of the city, it was sheep.
The second picture is of a traditional Korean dish, backbone stew. I'm not a real big fan of this one, although it did taste pretty good. It reminded of some type of dish that would be served in Star Wars, I know that's a bit immature of me to say. Some friends confirmed with me that I ate meat before ordering, I guess next time I should answer more specifically. One of my friends did point out that they thought it was cool that Koreans tend almost the entire animal, while in America we only have a relatively few cuts from our meat. I agreed with my friend, but pointed out that backbone meat is probably to be found in a hot dog. Backbone stew is usually considered a dish that elders enjoy more than the contemporary youth of Korea. On one hand I really wanted to enjoy the backbone stew, but I felt a bit too unfamiliar with the dish to be able to jump right in and think it was the best stew ever. All my friends who really enjoyed it were Korean American, so I'm assuming they've either had it before or at least had some familiarity with the dish.
I have everything booked for my trip regarding the GRE. Only having one month of studying is not an incredible amount of time to study compared to some people, but I hope I'll do well enough on the test. I'm looking forward to seeing Japan, although it would have been nice to be able to visit with out worrying about a test. It will be nice to have something to look forward to if I get accepted into the graduate program, and if I don't get accepted at least I'll have a larger vocabulary from the studying. My two favorite words that I've learned so far are 'circumlocution' and 'ineffable'.
I've found a few good burrito places to help with my craving of American food. I eat Korean food about six days a week, two/three times a day, so it's always nice to find a good burrito on the weekends. In America we take the variety of food we eat for granted. Although Seoul has many international restaurants, there are none in my direct vicinity, as I'm more in a traditional area of Seoul.
Monday, February 2, 2009
I'm in the process of applying to a graduate program back in the States, which I'll talk more about if I get accepted. Although I am very excited about the possibility about being accepted. To complete my application I will have to fly to Japan to take the GRE, as the GRE is only offered in Korea twice a year, but in Japan you can take it almost any day of the year. So I've been spending my free time figuring out where I'm going to take the test, how I'm going to get there, where I'm going to stay, and studying for it. I went ahead and scheduled the test for later this month. I'll be back at work for the next two weeks, but then I'll have some down time again where I'll be able to fly over for a day or two to take the test.
This winter has been as cold as I thought it would be, but these last couple days have been really nice, as it has been above freezing. Spring should be beautiful once it comes.
The top picture is of coals that are used to cook your meat at your table during a Korean style BBQ. The second picture is of a snowy night.
Since I have been stuyding for the GRE I have not yet had the time to make any developments to my website, but I'll keep you posted once I put something up. What I'll probably do is at first put up a basic site, and build it up through out the year.