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안녕하세요 서울!

June 2, 2010

At Narita Airport in Tokyo. I had a 4 hour transit so there was plenty of time to run around checking out the oh-so-kawaii stuff they had. And zomg, their origami shop!

What is Japan without Hello Kitty??

I have tonnes of pictures of cute foodstuff. I will spare you.

...Or maybe I won't. HELLO KITTY!!!

AHHHH! ...Okok I'll stop.

ZOMG BRILLIANT. An origami pagoda with cherry blossoms!

Amazing innit!

Origami Japanese garden! With a lily pond!

WOW. I'm speechless.

A live Japanese woodblock print demonstration!

I reached Incheon a few nights ago and decided to stay there until Seoul National University’s dorm opened for the summer, which was yesterday. Incheon is the airport city, a 1.5 hour bus ride away from Seoul and an oceanside village of sorts. There’s nothing much to do there but I went for a set meal lunch which turned out to be crazy huge (10 dishes of 반찬) and chockful of oysters! Oh the oysters were heavenly – very very very good.

My awesome 10 dish set meal o.0...Sometimes I didn't even know what I was eating!

Left - Right: Succulent cold fresh oysters (VERY GOOD), pickled vegetables, oyster and spring onion flour cake (FAVORITE)

So yesterday I checked into the dormitory in SNU and realised that my roommate is an 일본 교포 (Japanese-born Korean) and can’t speak English at all. It’s been rather tiring trying to communicate and decipher what she means, but I think I’m doing a pretty decent job considering my level of Korean right now. At least living with her forces me to speak  Korean! I remember watching the documentary “Our School” about the Korean diaspora in Japan so I had a conversation with her about which she felt she was more like. She told me that though she has Korean blood and passport, she doesn’t not have 시민권 (nationality rights), and in Japan, where she is a 3rd generation Permanent Resident (영주), she feels like an outsider.

I realised the absurd limitations of my Korean and though I apparently do not have an accent, my vocabulary is so narrow. So I’ve been relying on people’s kindness everywhere I go. It was funny because I was trying to find my way to the Institute for Japanese Studies (일본 연구 센터) to meet with the Director who would be my contact person for my research here. She was so nice, and assigned me an english-speaking guide to help me get acclimatised to the school. Ga-young (가영) drove me around Shilim-dong and we bought some foodstuff, utensils, detergent and bedsheets etc and she helped break the conversational barrier between my resident advisor and I while filling in administrative stuff. Couldn’t have done it without everyone’s kindness! 🙂

It was funny – I was trying to get to IJS and I stopped this lady who spoke to me in rapid-fire Korean. When I told her I’m Singaporean, she was like “Oh, I’m Chinese!” and I eventually found my way via Mandarin. *wipes sweat drop*

Oh and amidst the hustle and bustle, I missed my placement test. ): I wrote an email asking them for a make-up session but it’s a holiday here. I really hope they don’t make me start from beginner’s! *PRAYS VERY HARD*

I have to write a report every day so I’m going to be blogging very very often. :)) Check back soon!

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