summer nights

Late night snacks are always a good idea – sometimes. There’s a culture of eating meals at convenient stores here; specifically, instant ramen noodles. I always see it on tv or hear of it through friends and family members, and I finally got to experience it!

Let’s get one thing clear. I never eat this late and I haven’t eaten instant ramen in about 4-5 years. Even at church retreats when they give it out as midnight snacks, I refuse to eat it.

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But it was 1:30AM and the conditions were perfect. I told my cousins I wouldn’t eat any but after almost no convincing, I was in line with them, pouring hot water into my container. It was…. amazing, haha. I didn’t think I would enjoy it that much, but it was so good. I don’t think it was the noodles per se that were good, but the ambiance was perfect: the brisk air, sitting outside of a convenience store, and talking life with my cousins. These moments don’t come easily, and I think I’ll look back on this night and smile every time I think of it.

it begins with failure

A lot of times I look at success, whether it be in a relationship or a career or a mindset, as an immediate occurrence rather than constant effort. I blame myself for this mentality, but I also blame the culture I grew up in and the way I’ve been socialized to believe that everyone attains success and has their lives figured out by age 23. What a lie this world feeds us! I always forget about how Daniel and his companions suffered for their faith and how Joseph’s rise to power came with time and righteousness. Or how Esther had to sacrifice and risked her people, or how Ruth had stayed faithful to her mother-in-law and gleaned the fields for something to eat.

It’s so easy to get lost in the little things in life rather than looking at the bigger picture. I’m learning about but more importantly accepting failure. Failure is a good thing and necessary thing. I mean, c’mon… Oprah was fired from her job, Seinfeld was booed off stage, Marilyn Monroe was told she couldn’t become a model, J.K Rowling lived off welfare, etc. You get the point.

A lot of times I get embarrassed by mistakes and failures and I get shy and my self-confidence drops to the point I want to hide under my bedsheets for days, but that’s the thing. Embarrassing setbacks and attempts are building blocks to something greater, even leading to major lifestyle changes.

Yes, I’ve been in a slump this past year.
Yes, I did horribly on an interview this week.
Yes, I’ll sometimes eat bags of popcorn (healthier than chips) and live vicariously through blogs to make myself feel better.

But do I regret any failed interview or days wasted eating popcorn? For some time I was hard on myself and thought I did, but the thing is.. I really don’t. I’m learning something more valuable, and that’s to get back on my feet again.

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Flowers are always a good reminder for me of God’s faithfulness. People don’t know or understand why I dry flowers or press them or collect photos of them, but it’s because I’m always reminded of how good God is and how great his mercy is. If he takes care of the lilies of the field, how much more will he take care of and provide for me. And yet, even King Solomon wasn’t clothed as elegantly as these.

Cheers to the opportunity to be in Korea.
Cheers to flowers – dead and alive.
Cheers to living life.

weekend roundup

The weather here has been really crummy this weekend. Rain, rain, rain. It would be better if it would just pour but its just been glum. But just because the weather has been downcast doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the weekend. It was actually pretty packed. My dad hurt his leg playing tennis so I’ve been going to the hospital with him the past couple days to get therapy, spent an afternoon in Gangnam, and took a day trip down to Daejun. Packed to say the least!

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1. Fresh juice that costs 7,500 won. Um, no thanks.
2. This concept was cool. A cafe within an Urban Outfitters-esque store
3. Pastries and pastries and pastries galoreIMG_2429My parents sharing food at a gas station/rest area on the way down to Daejun. Cute, no? It was a snack before we went to the greatest buffet of my life. Photos of 2 of like 8 plates I ate. The sushi and dessert were amazing!
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market day

Overexposed photos, just the way I like them. Every Thursday, there’s a street market in our city, so I made my way over there this afternoon. So many venders and so many people! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to people not walking on the right side of the street/side walk and people bumping into each other without saying excuse me. But I do think I can get used to the freshly fried donuts. It was probably the most delicious thing I’ve eaten so far, and it only cost 50 cents. Say whaaat. It was so good I went back on my way home and bought four more! Looking forward to getting more next week!

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thought #1

I would like to think I’m open to new cultures and experiences. That I’m able to adjust easily to changing circumstances. But why is it so difficult for me to get accustomed to Korean culture? When it comes to Korea, I’m so critical from the way they dress to the way they treat workers to the way they lavishly live their lives. Truly, an outsider and Western “I’m better than you” mentality. Because let me be honest, sometimes when I’m out with my parents, I’ll speak English rather than Korean to show people that I’m from the States. Messed up, yo.

Yesterday I went to a cafe to order an Iced Americano. After I thought I had successfully ordered, the cashier said something about having a membership or getting a discount. I’m not sure which it was but either way, my response was a blank stare. I immediately said, “Excuse me? I don’t know what that is. I’m from America” in English. The waiter just smiled and apologized.

It’s hard, and I think it’s hard because I don’t want to be embarrassed. I realize that using the “I’m from the States” phrase is only an excuse to get away with not knowing the culture or language (note: very different from being ignorant of the culture). In a sense, I don’t want to associate myself with Koreans, and it’s always been like that. I’m hoping during my time here my mentality will change and I’ll be more open to this place. Because let’s be real, there’s a lot of great things to like about this place like the sheep cafe I will be visiting next week. Yes, a sheep cafe.

03. Learning how to relax

I’m not sure how to just sit still and do nothing. I guess that’s a prevalent problem in our generation. And that’s why I’m in Korea – to learn how to relax. And yet, here I am looking for a hobby and wanting to get moving.

I woke up early this morning, facetimed my boyfriend (the time difference is really unfortunate), went to the gym, and bummed around until I couldn’t take it any longer. Solution to my boredom? Go on a walk! How beautiful are the trees and my neighborhood!?

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Okay, kind of embarrassing, but I couldn’t figure out how to make coffee (like I couldn’t figure out how to work the stove this morning) so I stopped by the convenient store to get some. A little too sweet for my liking, but coffee is coffee! Originally 1,900 won but got it for 1000 won. YES!

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Once 2PM hit, I went to this donkatsu place called 돈까스 클럽 and got the biggest piece of pork cutlet in the world.. And to add to the great big portions, the interior was great!

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02. street food, street food, and more street food

I am so tired. Nothing seems to be registering in my head but I’m determined to write this blog post and stay up until at least 10. Today was a lot of fun which is probably why I’m so exhausted (in addition to my jet lag). Here’s how it went down:

6:00AM: Wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day. My mom loves cooking healthy. So healthy that she doesn’t even put salt in her food. This mornings breakfast? Porridge made with beans, bean sprouts, carrots, broccoli, and other healthy things – it surprisingly didn’t taste bad! But it definitely was a little too healthy for me as I ate two pieces of bread after..

7:00AM: Seoul’s city center with my dad! We stopped by the American consulate, walked around, ate some street food and lunch, and went to his school to show me around his campus.

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As a snack, we each got a skewer. It was 700 won per skewer, and I thought to myself “THAT’S SO CHEAP!!” Later in the day I found out that it’s usually 500 won per. Note to self: don’t buy overpriced street food. Meh, but whatever. It was still good.

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My dad’s office + coffee brewing! I thought I drank a lot of coffee.. but he drinks even more. I guess he’s where I got this addiction from.
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School campus! Isn’t it beautiful?

3:00PM: Look at new apartments because my parents are moving! There’s something I’ve noticed coming here: consumerism is insane…. like significantly more than it’s prevalent in Chicago. Everything has to do with brand names, luxury items, and status. That being said, even apartment viewings are made into events. It’s shocking.

4:00PM: Snack on some 붕어빵. So good when they’re hot and fresh!

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5:00PM:  Street market where we had more food! Street 떡볶이! Only 2,500 won and tasted amazing. AMAZING.

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So here’s what happened. We were walking around and when we saw a ddukbokki stand, we immediately wanted some. But my dad didn’t have any cash on him, they didn’t take credit card, and my mom only had 2,100 won in her wallet when the cost of 1 serving was 2,500 won. The picture on the left is my mom looking through her wallet to find loose change, and the picture on the right shows our satisfied and extremely content faces with our ddukbokki. We ended up paying only 2,100 won because the lady was nice. Thank the Lord she was generous because it was delicious.

I hope I never forget how much of a blessing it is to be with family!