Korea Diary | TY Giveaway

Lavenderlilac Dream lavlialcs Korea Diary Thank You TY Giveaway 2016

Today marks the 2 year anniversary of sorts of the day I returned home from my study abroad in Seoul, Korea. It was never my intention to drag out the Korea Diary logs for such a long period of time but that's how it ended up. Time sure does go by quickly. As I finally finished reminiscing those days and essentially said goodbye to that time of my life, it is only appropriate for me to say thank you to everyone who followed along the way.

My travel logs may not have been the most interesting. It certainly didn't receive as many views as my past beauty posts. Yet this was a period that I equally wanted to reflect upon for my own records.

For those that found the journey worthy of a little bit of your time to read, thanks!

I've gathered some goodies from various Korean beauty shops as a little token of my gratitude for the support. Some items are personal favorites of mine and others are just random bits and bobs that looked nice. Hope whoever ends up winning will enjoy everything I've amassed!

This is an international giveaway and will end on September 10, 2016 11:59PM USA Eastern Standard Time. As it is meant as a thank you for those that followed me all this way, the only requirement is that you are a follower via Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin'. It will be a bonus if you also follow me via e-mail and social medias (Instagram and Twitter). I will be going through to verify all entries and a winner will be selected randomly within a week of the giveaway ending. The winner will have 3 days after I announce and notify. If not, a new winner will be selected instead. In case the Rafflecopter form does not load on this post, please CLICK HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Korea Diary | Teary Goodbyes (Day 50)

Highs are typically followed by lows. Good things usually come to an inevitable end. Despite having the photos for this final post in draft for a month (if not more), I couldn't find the words to say goodbye to that chapter of my life (even though I am 2 years late at it already). To say I am not good with goodbyes is a terrible understatement. Whether it was 2 years ago in the lobby of SK Global House with newfound friends or currently at home with this blog post, my emotions run high.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - SK Global House packing time and final hangout all-nighter

There was not a moment to waste after my friends and I got back to the dorms after our Korean spa visit. We had to have our bags packed and rooms cleaned by morning so that we could have the required check-out inspection done in time.

I was surprised that I was able to fit all my beauty purchases into the biggest 29" suitcase that I had brought. Shoes, schoolbooks, and miscellaneous items fit a carry-on 21" sized suitcase perfectly. While all the clothes I had filled a medium sized Nike duffel to the brim. Getting all my belongings to fit was one problem solved. The next hurdles were to figure out whether or not any were overweight and how I would navigate around with 3 bags as opposed to the original 2.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Surprise birthday celebration

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Surprise birthday celebration Paris Baguette cake

In the midst of tidying, everyone ignored all rules (i.e. no boys after night) and gathered in the lounge. Routine hall inspections by security meant hiding out in dorm rooms for a bit. But what was the risk, we would get kicked out...on the last day?

Anyways, there was a good reason to the behavior. Remember the birthday event that we had planed? Sometime between 3AM and 7AM all of us gathered in one dorm suite to surprise our friend with a cake.

It was a much welcomed tidying break. Before the event, I think it was safe to say that a lot of us were pretty burnt out from just trying to make some sense of our luggage situation. Afterwards, I felt like I had newfound energy to finish clearing my room. Bestie C and I took our linens downstairs to the laundry room around mid-morning. The pile mountain of bed sheets, blankets, and pillows was unreal! But of course we should have gotten a hint judging by the flood of garbage and unwanted clothing in the lounge.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - SK Global House cleared dorm

Returning the linens meant we were ready for inspection. For us it was a quick and painless process; in, out, and OKed. Then it was goodbye to our dorm room forever.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Final goodbyes

The SK Global House lobby was hectic as everyone cleared their own rooms and met their friends to say goodbye. Even though I spent my entire night with all our friends perfectly fine and cheery, I was a hot mess the moment my brain finally took in the fact that we were all separating. I have always been the more emotional one so it wasn't a complete surprise that I ended up bawling. Social media and the internet may keep us connected but it wouldn't be the same as seeing everyone day in and day out.

Bestie C and I were the only ones in our group to immediately fly back home that night. The others were staying behind for an extra week or two to do some more exploring. Some were meeting up with family members who were flying in. Somehow it just worked out that most of our friends ended up staying in Korea and even the same guesthouse together for the rest of their summer. (I had tried to extend my stay as well but flights back to NYC were apparently packed until September!)

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Taxi ride to Incheon International Airport

Bestie C and I chose to leave on a night flight in order to make the most of our stay in Korea. When time came to it, we didn't end up doing much the last few hours anyways. I was an emotional mess, the weather was rainy, and we were both pretty tired. Things just didn't work out the way we imagined.

We helped the big group of friends load up their luggages and sent them off with hugs and byes. A few hours of recouping later, Bestie C and I grabbed a taxi and headed towards Incheon Airport ourselves. The potential headache of fitting our luggages into the sedan taxis thankfully never came. This particular taxi driver was super patient and nice. He somehow found a way to fit 5 suitcases, 1 duffel, 2 personal bags, and 2 passengers into the vehicle with him. Just like that we were on our way home.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Rainbow spotting and a delayed flight

The last anticipated hurdle I had to face was the weight of my suitcases. Despite the 29" suitcase still have free space, it was way over the maximum weight with all the Korean beauty goods that I amassed over the past 50 days. There was no reshuffling things between bags or tossing things out. At that point there was nothing I could do but pay the overage fee. On the positive note, at least I had the option to pay a fee instead of being told it was completely too heavy to fly.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Brightness after a storm

Who knew we would be faced with more issues once after that?

Due to some miscommunications, I ended up passing through security before Bestie C thinking that she was already inside. I actually somehow got permission from the security personnel to let me backtrack to the check-in area when I couldn't find her. They even gave me special permission to return via the faster "TSA Pre-check" equivalent lane once I located Bestie C.

We were both at the airport well before our scheduled departure time yet mother nature had other plans. The rain storm was heavy and relentless that day. It was inevitable that our flight ended up being delayed a bit. Luckily it wasn't by much and I think we even arrived back home around the expected time.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Brightness after a storm

The homebound flight was a little easier than the Korea-bound one. No more worrying about being in a new place and being on such a long flight for the first time. I really was homesick while studying abroad but I was definitely thinking about the comforts of home awaiting me after the flight.

Who knows when I would get to fly internationally or even get to go to Korea again, but whenever that would be, the experience would definitely not be the same as what those past 50 days were.

Korea Diary | Making the Most of It (Day 49)

Oh before I knew it, the last full day in Korea with my new friends awaited me. Some of us may have gotten back during the wee hours of the morning but it would have been a waste to sleep in and waste our limited & precious time left together.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sincon Ewhadang 이화당 Chocopie Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Ewhwadang 이화당 Chocopie cross section

My last To-Do item was ticked off with the pickup of the prescription glasses and sunglasses. For Bestie C and a few of our friends, their next goal was to get a fresh new haircut in Edae. They decided on a Juno Hair Salon and off we went. Juno was a pretty popular chain in Seoul with many locations throughout the city. The prices were pretty very affordable at around ₩20,000 for a wash, cut, and style. I believed my friends also received a discount for showing their Yonsei IDs as well. The service at the salon was impeccable. Customers received complimentary drinks during their visit and I believe they were able to voice their hairstyle wishes with the help of a digital photo album that the stylists had handy.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Paris Creperie Chocolate Ice cream Soft service

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Paris Creperie Ice Tea Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae band performers

Since I was trying to grow my hair out in order to donate it to charity, I decided to skip out on the haircutting experience. Another friend and I leisurely strolled along Edae and window shopped as we waited for everyone else to be pampered at the salon.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Albab House rice bowl

Those who got haircuts finished just in time for lunch. We grabbed quick bites at Albab House in Edae. This place never disappoints: fast service, delicious food, and inexpensive price.

Now my memory starts to get really fuzzy about what happened after eating lunch. Bestie C mentioned going back to the dorms to grab things for the jjimjilbang or Korean spa, yet I don't have much memory of needing to bring much for our spa visit. What I do remember is our group splitting in order to divert attention so that a surprise birthday cake could be purchased.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Myeongdong Choissi Ahjussi Budaejjigae 최씨 아저씨 부대찌개 Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Myeongdong Choissi Ahjussi Budaejjigae 최씨 아저씨 부대찌개 ddeokkalbi 떡갈비

Anyways...! Once the surprise event had been settled, our group met up again to head to Myeongdong. A few friends had wanted to visit a Haunted House type of place there so why not make one last visit to the shopping haven. I wanted no part in the scary trip and luckily Bestie C was on the same page as me.

We ended up eating at a nearby budaejjigae 부대찌개 or army base stew @ Choissi Ahjussi Budaejjigae 최씨 아저씨 부대찌개. My favorite part was the ddeokgalbi 떡갈비 or minced short rib patty that came with the stew. Not that the budaejjigae was bad or anything but since we ordered a non-spicy version to accommodate for the non-spicy eaters at the group, our stew just didn't have the same flavor.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Myeongdong Turkish Ice cream
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Myeongdong Twisted potato hot dog
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Myeongdong Egg bread

Our last visit to Myeongdong wouldn't have been complete without a street food sweep. This time, we had the most mouths together which meant we could sample even more foods.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Dragon Hill Spa
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Dragon Hill Spa key tags
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014

There's no better time to visit the sauna and spa than after a full belly. We wound up at Dragon Hill Spa 드래곤힐스파 in Yongsan. Boy was it an interesting experience that I didn't even fully immerse myself into. (I'll explain more on what I mean later.)

We were greeted by the clerk who collected the admission fee of ₩13,000. In return, we were given a key along with a change of clothes. Once we crossed the turnstile there were rows and rows of small lockers for our shoes to be put into. The number on the keychain corresponds to the lockers number. But yes, be prepared to wander around the place barefoot.

The next stop was to the elevators which led to the locker rooms, changing area, bathing area, etc. This was when it began to get slightly uncomfortable for me. As the elevators were gender segregated and led to gender-specific floors, we were greeted by much nakedness the moment we stepped off the metal box. All the ladies walked around without a care in the world and only wanting to get cleaned and relaxed.

Lockers and changing rooms were on one side of the floor and the other had the snack bar, resting area, heat/sauna chamber, and bathing pool area. I stayed in the resting area most of the time we were there because I was pretty exhausted. Plus, I needed a little shuteye to help with my mission to pull an all-nighter packing, cleaning, and trying to adjust to jetlag before the flight. We did enter the heat chamber once or twice for a few minutes while we were there and it was HOT. I don't know how the older Korean ladies did it but I was sweating the moment I stepped into the contraption. Some point during the night we snacked on eggs and sikhye 식혜 (sweet rice drink) from the snack area. The cool thing about the keys was it doubled as a credit system. If we wanted to buy food or pay for anything while at the spa we could just tap it to keep a record. The bill was settled right before we left.

Before we even arrived I was already adamant I wouldn't take part in the cleaning part of the jjimjilbang experience. My body was and still is not something I am 100% comfortable with, even if everyone else there doesn't give a damn there. While I don't regret missing out on this part of the spa, I won't rule out the idea of trying it later.

We ended up leaving Dragonhill around 2AM. Apparently there was a co-ed arcade area in the spa but we realized it too late. The guys ended up having their bro-time and us girls had our gal-time. It was definitely much needed relaxing nap time to ready ourselves for the checkout process at SK Global the following morning.