Korea Diary | Doshirak All Day, Everyday (Day 11-12)

8:18:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University campus
Yonsei University campus

The lovely campus of Yonsei~ This city girl was thoroughly amazed by how well kept the landscaping was. One of my regrets of the study abroad trip was not taking the chance to fully explore all of Yonsei University.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Obong Doshirak at SK Global House
South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Obong Doshirak at SK Global House South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Chicken doshirak from Obong Doshirak
Chicken doshirak from Obong Doshirak at SK Global House

Obong Doshirak is apparently a chain lunchbox restaurant in Korea. I have only seen (or noticed) it at the SK Global House dorm building. My friends and I loved the convenience and variety they had to offer. Even though some of the portions may look to be on the smaller side, it was actually a very fulling meal. For those that are bigger eaters, they also offer combo lunch boxes.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University - KLI Beginner Korean class

Day 11 marked the first day of Korean language classes. After the fact that I was actually going to be in Korea, being able to learn Korean in an official class setting was the second most exciting part of my study abroad experience. The first lesson we had involved a lot of emphasis on pronunciation.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Convenience store dinner South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Convenience store dinner

I don't remember exactly the situation, but judging by my dinner meal it seems like everyone had a busy school night. Eating in? No problem! A few convenience store food options can make a hearty meal.


What I thought would be a not-so-interesting school day on day 12 ended in a surprising way.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Sogogi doshirak from Obong Doshirak
Sogogi doshirak from Obong Doshirak

Since this was our first week of classes, I wasn't daring enough to venture outside of school grounds for my meal between classes. Obong Doshirak seemed like an obvious choice since the first lunchbox was pretty tasty and it's right by the dorms and Korean language center.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University - KLI Beginner Korean class

The second day in the Korean language course was all about forming words. From the way different letters of the Korean alphabet (hangul 한글) can and can't be combined to how the combinations are pronounced.

Once the Korean language course ended and I made by way back to my dorm room, my computer greeted me with a charging issue. Wonderful!...Where was I going to get my MacBook issue resolved in Korea at night? The hunt was on.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Jeju doshirak (chicken and donkatsu) from Obong Doshirak
Jeju doshiak from Obong Doshirak

Before trekking to fix my computer issue, the tummy needed to be filled. A quick dinner was definitely much needed. Thus my third meal from Obong Doshirak in 2 days! Perhaps this is some kind of food record for me? So much fried food and eating from the same restaurant so frequently is not ordinary for me.

South Korea, Seoul, Hongdae, YISS 2014, Frisbee Korea Authorized Apple Seller

During my frantic research, I found that Apple didn't actually have an official store in Korea. Considering that Samsung and LG are Korean companies and the most popular brands in Korea, it makes sense that there wasn't an Apple store.

I only managed to find a bunch of authorized Apple retailers via blog posts. Most of which seemed like they were near Gangnam, which was a good 45+ minute subway ride from Yonsei University. Luckily I recognized a name of one of the retailers, Frisbee, being in Hongdae. I didn't notice when we first passed by it but Frisbee in Korea is practically like the official Apple store.

I was shocked by the cost of the laptop charger that I needed (close to ₩100,000 or ~USD$100). If I didn't already research how much this would cost back home (USD$79) and this happened near the end of my trip, I would have seriously considered not purchasing the replacement whilst in Korea.


Korea Diary | First Day of Class at YISS (Day 10)

10:23:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

What happened on the first day of class probably isn't the most interesting of days to share, at least not in my case. But food-wise, I think this day deserves it's own dedicated post.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, Korean convenience store breakfast
Convenience store breakfast

A simple breakfast from the GS25 convenience store in the dorm building. In the mornings, students clear out the kimbap section to fill their tummies. I don't normally eat rice for breakfast but I ended up having triangle kimbap and rolled kimbap almost daily on school days. Most likely because of how abundant & affordable they are in the convenience stores, cafes, and cafeterias on campus. It is everywhere!

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, Stationary store buy
Stationary store buy

Asia's the land of cute stationary! How could I resist? Brings back memories of when I used to buy loads of cutesy paper, notepads, stickers, and mechanical pencils. Now that most of those stores have closed shop in New York, seeing similar stationary shops in Korea made me feel all giddy inside.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, Student Union lunch - Bulgogi gratin
Student Union lunch - Bulgogi gratin

School cafeteria food, at least from the accounts I've heard, always tend to be just alright or even not that great. But the cafeteria eats at Yonsei was far from it. Most buildings on campus have their own cafeteria or small chain restaurants/cafes. If I remember correctly, all the cafeterias serve something a little different: Korean, Japanese, Western, etc.

The bulgogi gratin from the Student Union building was so delicious and hearty. Layer of rice, bulgogi (beef), onions and peppers, melty cheese, and tteok (rice cake) all in one dish. This was definitely calling my name! While I ate this during the hot summer, I can imagine enjoy it so much more on a cool fall or wintery day.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, KLI - Korean Placement Exam
Korean Placement Exam @ KLI

I ended up taking 2 courses during my summer session at Yonsei: an Asian Art History course and a Korean language course. The first day of classes meant taking a placement exam to figure out which level of Korean I fell in. There is the option to opt out of the exam for those who know absolutely no Korean at all. But since I was capable of at least reading some words, just not understand what I read, I gave the placement test a try.

Once I went into the exam, I was immediately overwhelmed. Even though I could make out what the words said, I had no idea what it meant or how to respond. I wasn't however regretful of attempting the exam because I was placed with other students who were in the same position as I. This meant our class didn't cover the basics as intensively as other classes, which I was very content with.

Since it was the first day of class, we ended up trying to find dinner somewhere in Sinchon near Yonsei-ro (yup there's a car-less road near the university that bear Yonsei's name). I think this was the first time our group was surprised by how quickly restaurants close shop. We found recommendations for restaurants on blogs that were probably only a year or so old, yet when we got to the address it didn't seem like such an establishment ever existed.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yukhoe Jijon
South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yukhoe Jijon - Bossam South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yukhoe Jijon - Ddeokgalbi
Yukhoe Jijon 육회지존
Bossam 보쌈 & Tteokgalbi 떡갈비

After wandering around the small neighborhood streets of Sinchon, Yukhoe Jijon was our ultimate decision. I don't think we realized at the time, But this restaurant is apparently famous for their yukhoe (beef tartar). Most tables had ordered the raw beef dish. I think our group wasn't too keen on eating raw meat and passed up on that opportunity.

We ended up ordering bossam (boiled pork belly) and tteokgalbi (minced beef and pork patty) for our dinner. Unlike other bossam I've had, Yukhoe Jijon served theirs on a steamer to keep the meat warm. They also do not skimp on the meat portions either.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Korean convenience store ice cream - Hershey ice cream cone
Korean convenience store ice cream - Hershey ice cream cone
Oh the dangers of having such easy access to ice cream at night. Let's just say this is one of the many ice cream and ice cream-like items I had in Korea that summer, ssshhhhh!


Super Blood Moon

4:29:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse - Mid-Autumn Festival - New York City 2015

Typically whenever there are reports of lunar eclipses or super moons, I don't get all too excited. Not for the reason that they're not a sight to behold. But mostly due to the fact that it is really difficult to see such an occurrence in the city. It is hard to even see many stars at night, forget about an eclipse! With all the buildings, pollution, and clouds playing a part, being able to see the moon is already a great feat (I think).

However, when a super moon and lunar eclipse occur together the chances of being able to witness are far greater. Adding to the fact that it fell on Mid-Autumn Festival meant I was already due to stare at the sky at some point during that night. More reasons to star/moon gaze.

Seeing the full bright moon slowly but surely eclipsing throughout the night was something else. Yesterday was the first time I saw it happening and I was very fascinated. It's just something about barely seeing the edges of the moon glow red to gradually glowing a little brighter as the night passed.

Now if only the next time there weren't so many clouds in the sky to obstruct the view a majority of the night.

Anyways, how was your holiday (if you celebrated)?
Were you able to spot the super blood moon where you are?


Korea Diary | Recovery Day, Campus Exploring, & Sindang Eats (Day 8-9)

11:22:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

The day after a (mild) night out meant all of us craved rest and staying in to recuperate. Day 8 in Korea for me involved sleeping until the afternoon and lounging around the dorms. Seems like a pretty relaxing and familiar Sunday routine.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, SK Global House, 7th floor view
View from 7th floor of SK Global House

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, SK Global House, 7th floor lounge view
View from 7th floor of SK Global House lounge

All floor lounges are at the corner of the dorm building. Since my dorm room was on the top floor, we had a really nice panoramic view of the Yonsei campus, Sinchon, and Edae area.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Dunkin Donuts
Korean Dunkin Donuts selection

If you travel abroad and see familiar chain stores, don't hesitate to go in! Even though Dunkin' Donuts is such a common sight in New York, the selection in Korea was completely different than what America has to offer. Some donuts may be similar, yeast donuts with icing coating. But the stars are definitely the glutinous rice ring donuts. They're so light and chewy. One of the things I miss after coming back home was definitely these donuts.

There is another chain called Mister Donuts that also sells something similar but they call it the "Pon De Ring". It is supposedly more famous but unfortunately we didn't spot any of their stores during our stay in Korea...perhaps next time.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, Chinese delivery night, Jajangmyeon Gunmandu Tangsuyuk
Chinese restaurant delivery night

What's a living in Korea experience without Chinese delivery? Since everyone was already in the staying in mood, we all happily agreed to ordering food. Luckily there are stacks of different menus available in the lobby of the dorms for students to choose from. I don't remember the menus having very much English on them but most had images of the most popular/promoted items. The perk of being in the international students' dorms meant the security guards and students at the front desk know enough English to help place delivery orders. If not, try to brave the call yourselves.

Big bowl of saucy noodles (jajangmyun 자장면), big platter of fried pork (tangsuyuk 탕수육), and free "service" fried dumplings (gunmanu 군만두). This might not have been the best Korean-style Chinese food meal there is but hey, it is comfort food! Just the thought of sitting around a table with our friends, mixing our noodles, dipping the pork into the sauce, and engulfing all the food while chatting and watching TV makes me all excited.


Day 9 signaled the preparations of school life for the next month. After 3-day weekend of fun and relaxation, we all had to face the fact that classes started the next day. It would have been trouble to be late the first day just because we got lost on the massive campus right?

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, Yonsei University, YISS 2014, Lord Sandwich South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, Yonsei University, YISS 2014, Lord Sandwich
Lord Sandwich
We passed by this sandwich shop many times going in and out of the East side of the Yonsei campus. I don't quite remember expecting much going into the restaurant but the chicken sandwich I had was pretty delicious and very filling.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, EDU Building view
South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Yonsei University, EDU Building view
Views from EDU Building

After our brunch, we all headed off into the heart of the Yonsei campus to familiarize ourselves with all the buildings and roads amidst all the trees. Being a commuter student in New York City, Yonsei University's campus was a complete shock to me. So much greenery, everything is so spread out, and so many buildings for all the different departments too. The school I went to back home only had 2 buildings for classes that were just a city block away from each other. Talk about night and day!

South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Sindang Tteokbokki Town South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Sindang Tteokbokki Town
South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Sindang Tteokbokki Town
Sindangdong Tteokbokki Town 신당동 떡볶이 타운

Our dinner destination: Tteokbokki Town. This food area was not under my radar before coming to Korea. If it weren't for the friends we met, I could have probably missed out on this place. Who knew there was a whole area just to eat tteokbokki?

South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Sindang Tteokbokki Town, Mabokrim Tteokbokki
South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Sindang Tteokbokki Town, Mabokrim Tteokbokki before South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Sindang Tteokbokki Town, Mabokrim Tteokbokki after
Mabokrim Halmeoni Jib 마복림 할머니 집
292-112 Sindang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

The restaurant our friends had in mind was Mabokrim. It is hard to miss this particular place since it is right at the start of the Sindang Tteokbokki Town. Unlike the spicy rice cakes that you may have seen in Korean dramas that are sold on food carts on the streets, the one at Mabokrim was loaded with all kinds of goodies. It isn't just rice cakes, fish cake, and veggies in a spicy sauce.

Nope! This sit-down restaurant adds ramen, spaghetti noodles, boiled eggs, and fried dumplings to the concoction. They bring it out to you in a big shallow pan and all you have to do is wait for it to bubble away until you think it is ready to eat. All the ingredients cook pretty fast anyways so the staring time isn't too long, don't you worry.

The prices here are pretty cheap and will leave you stuffed by the end of the meal. It starts at 2 serving size for ₩11,000. 3 serving size is ₩14,000. 4 serving size is ₩20,000. 5 serving size is ₩24,000.

This particular restaurant must be pretty famous. There were many photos of what I assumed were celebrities who visited or television segments who filmed there. Even when we were leaving the restaurant, our group was stopped by a Chinese television crew from NTD TV who wanted to interview us. What an experience!

South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Red Mango South Korea, Seoul, Sindang, YISS 2014, Red Mango Patbingsoo
Red Mango Patbingsoo

We spotted yet another familiar name in Korea: Red Mango. I think this was the first and only time we had Red Mango whilst on our trip. Our dessert of choice was of course shaved ice (patbingsoo 팥빙수). Since we were at a froyo place, their version of patbingsoo came with frozen yogurt, fruits, and various froyo toppings. Even though it was really refreshing after a spicy meal, let's just say Red Mango isn't one of my top places to go to for patbingsoo in Korea.


Room rearranging

6:30:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

Sometimes it just takes a little rearranging for a place to feel completely new again.
After - Room rearranging

It was a really random idea I had one day while feeling a little trapped by my old setup. What if...my table faced that direction instead?

Before - Room rearranging After - Room rearranging

My room has been in the same configuration for the last 3 (almost 4) years since we moved in. Bed and side drawers on one side, table and bookcase on the other. Even though the Ikea desk that I chose has a handy extension, the space left over between the bed and table is just enough for my swivel chair. Both the extension and chair in that particular spot created a "no-man's area" on one side of the bedroom. Plus, I have also been accumulating some MUJI Acrylic drawers that have been taking up a little too much desk space.

After some careful measurements and getting my dad to help with the lifting, the ignored space was finally getting some love. The extension can't fully extend but it is enough to still act as a small side table. My swivel chair couldn't fit in the new space but I think the new chair will help with my poor sitting posture.

After - Room rearranging
The chair may be even more stuck in this spot than before, but I still have the option to shimmy myself backwards to sit on my bed. This is especially beneficial whenever I am watching a long video at fullscreen. My eyes don't feel as strained by sitting so close to the monitor and my butt can get some cushioning.

Camera lenses & notebook display

One of the most favorite things to come out of this room rearranging kick was cleaning up this window area and getting a place to display my camera items. I used to have them stuffed into my camera bag and it would be such a hassle whenever I needed to use different lenses. I always toyed with the idea of getting one of those floating shelves to do essentially the same task but not anymore. Win-win, yay!

Inspiration & Notes wall, Muji acrylic drawers for organizing stationary

I couldn't believe how nicely my MUJI drawers fit along the short edge of my desk. This means more workspace for me (that is when my table isn't full of papers, receipts, and other knick-knacks). My notes and inspiration wall also found a new home on the opposite side of my bedroom. While some people have cork boards to tack their important papers and ideas onto, I just use good old Scotch tape to stick things to my wall. Cheap and effective!

Purple floral decorations from Ikea

These fake flowers have been with me since we moved into the house. Purple flowers that will last forever? Perfect! (I don't have a very green thumb...even succulents and cactus plants have died in my house.) Over the last few years this floral arrangement has become an after thought, getting lost amongst the many other things in my room. Now that it is sitting in front of me, it is always peeking through the corner of my eye.

Hat display wall

Hats have been on my mind lately. But with what I think is a big head, finding any that I like is difficult. Since taking these photos a few weeks ago, my hat collection has grown a little. This has become my hat display wall with 3 already hung up. I am not sure what I would do if I add more to the collection because room on this wall is very limited.

What is your room organization like? When's the last time you've done a major rearranging in your house?


Korea Diary | Myeongdong Eats & A Tipsy Evening (Day 7)

2:36:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

Myeongdong is one of those places that I think everyone should visit if in Korea. For shoppers, it's a dream...rows and rows of stores in all directions. Plus there is usually some sort of sale to be found in the area. For non-shoppers, don't worry! Food is very abundant here, whether it is found on street carts or in restaurants.

South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, Squid food stand South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014
South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, Toys stand

This was the first time I visited Myeongdong during our trip and it was truly an overwhelming experience. So many shops to go to, so many foods to try, and so many people shuffling from one place to another.

South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, Myeongdong Gyoja sign South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, Myeongdong Gyoja inside

Luckily our group went with a destination in mind: mandu/mandoo 만두 (dumplings) from Myeongdong Gyoza. The restaurant could be difficult to find in the maze-like streets of Myeongdong. I would recommend asking around since it seems to be a pretty popular spot. The line was pretty long when we got there but don't fret because I remember it moving pretty quickly. Even if it isn't, I think it would be worth the wait.

South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, Myeongdong Gyoja food spread - Kalguksoo and Mandoo
Myeongdong Gyoja
29, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (Myeong-dong 2-ga)
서울특별시 중구 명동10길 29 (명동2가)

One of the many (maybe even the most) memorable meal I had in Korea was here. The kalguksoo 칼국수 (handmade noodles) was the best. So much flavor in one bowl of noodles! We also shared an order of the mandoo but for me it wasn't as memorable as the kalguksoo. It was probably pretty delicious too but the noodles...no words from me can do it justice.

Our friend from Los Angeles said Myeongdong Gyoja has a restaurant there as well but the taste wasn't the same. Think she said she preferred Korea's version more. I regret not going again before I left Korea but it is definitely on the list for my next visit.

South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, 32cm Frozen YogurtSouth Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, 32cm Chocolate and Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Cone
After some browsing around in many beauty stores, we finally found one of the many popular ice creams in Korea. Behold 32cm of icy swirls! (That's about 12 inches/1 foot.) There are a few different flavor combinations available. Each cone is ₩2,000 while a cup is ₩3,000. I think the novelty of this particular cone is just the sheer size and prettiness of the swirls. Although they call it ice cream, the texture was more similar to frozen yogurt. The froyo itself wasn't anything spectacular.

South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, Bbopki vendor
South Korea, Seoul, Myeongdong, YISS 2014, Heart Bbopki

Even after a couple hours of walking we were still full from our meal. I didn't have any room in my tummy to try the savory street foods in Myeongdong but when I saw this sweet treat I had to try it out. I first saw this on a Korean variety show and was amazed by how simple it looked to make. Melted sugar and baking soda is all this bbopki 뽑기 calls for, but I have yet to try to make it myself. The idea is to try to break off bits and pieces to enjoy without cracking the design. It was fun to play with my snack but a little too sweet of a treat for me.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Street food cart South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014

After a much needed break from the afternoon shopping, we headed from our dorms to Sinchon for dinner. There are so many restaurants to choose from in the area.

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, JadamhwaroSouth Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Jadamhwaro KBBQ - Samgyupsal Pork Belly

Somehow we ended up at Jadamhwaro 자담화로 for grilled meat. I think we decided on Korean BBQ since we were going for drinks afterwards. Need to fill that tummy with food to help with the alcohol!

Before going to Korea I only had KBBQ and Japanese BBQ a handful of times in New York City. I was really intrigued by the grilling setup this place used. It was made up of a cast iron plate with wells that held a variety of wrapping ingredients and a stainless steal plate that sat on top of coals for cooking the meat. So fancy~

South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Bar Pro South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Bar Pro cocktails South Korea, Seoul, Sinchon, YISS 2014, Bar Pro Lemon Drop shots

The "highlight" of our night: Bar Pro in Sinchon. Unlimited cocktails in a pretty small and intimidate atmosphere. This was our friends' suggestion. I am not a drinker but ya know~ Korea has a drinking culture and I wanted to try drinking at least once whilst there. Good thing our group of friends weren't heavy drinkers either so we all went out of curiosity.

I think I only had 2 cocktails that night and 1 shot. The fruity cocktails we had here weren't particularly strong but it is unlimited. Get some, lose some~ The lemon drop shot was pretty bad to me, tasted too much like strong cough medicine. Since I had no idea what my limit was I took things very slowly and ended the night feeling quite alright. No accidents from me and drank responsibly! Needless to say I was wiped out by the end of the night. A lot of walking and shopping + alcohol makes for a very sound sleep.