Korea Diary | First 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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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