Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!! Yes I have been pathetically bad at writing this blog, but maybe it is because it\s a travel blog and I have been living here in Seoul the past 4 months. But tis will change and next Monday when I start hard core traveling again and maybe I get better in bloging too.
But before I leave a look back at the past months. By the way I uploaded plenty of photos earlier and they each tell more than 1000 words!
School is over, but because I haven't talked to much about it I tell you what I been up to. The school in it self is a huge building and the IDAS department where I study is on the 11th and 12th floor. So you understand that there is not very much inspiration to take the stairs in the morning. But the problem is that you sometimes have to cue to the elevator and count with 5-10 minutes extra to get up. The school isn't very cozy, it's more like a hospital with clean white walls and all the rooms look the same. The computers are a bit old and the first week I got a virus from the school computer. But nothing is perfect and even if it's not as cozy and lively as in Media Lab, it's been good. Also IDAS used to be a own school with nicer spaces, but they moved last year to Hong ik University and merged with them and things seams to be much more conservative here. In 3 years they move again, so that might explain that no new computers etc. has been purchased.
I took the maximum amount of classes I allowed to take. Just to be sure KELA can't ask me to pay any money back ;) And 5 classes was quite a lot of work. Afterwards I think I might have dropped out one to have some more free time...but you know me, always gathering too much to do. My two favorite classes Digital Media Studio and Public Environment and Space Design was teched by the same professor Simone Carena. The best thing with these classes was that they were about Seoul. In both classes we made projects for the "Seoul World Design Capital 2010"-event. I made four proposals that will be presented to the WDC-board, so maybe I have slim chances to get back here and work on one of them...you never know! You can find more about the projects at:http://idastation.wordpress.com/.
I also took a 3D class the only slight challenge I meet that it was in Korean :D But it worked out well, because It was a project based class and we worked on it quite independently and the teacher new English a bit so we were able to communicate. The task was to make a short movie with space ship theme and I try to put the movie on-line. My only disappointment was that I could not learn Maya here, because the basic course was in Korean and it would just been too much.
I also had a 4D class that wast mostly Flash and Video project where synchronizing sound, visuals and typography was in the main role. The topic sounded more exiting than the actual course. A small funny detail about Korean teaching is that we where threaten to sing in front of the class if we came late...a bit disappointing that no one actually had to sing even if people were late.
Advance post production turned out to be more video production and more on a very basic level than any analyzing of what we where doing. My biggest successes was to learn using Premier in French. I had to borrow the programs from the French students because my computer crashed in the beginning of the semester :P The tasks where not very inspiring so for the final project I started to work on a mock up for a possible Final thesis project to get inspired. The last time we had the class we went all partying and after all work we really needed to relax, drink soju (local rice wine) and beer and of course sing in the local Karaoke place!!! The party ended very late and of course I got the Väke-hangover....next day was the Final Thesis and Bliss show (student work like Demo day) opening and of course a party after that. So I manage to drag my self to school and party an other evening but by Friday I was sic. Anyway it was quite fun to party the ending of the semester and I haven't been out so often even if I live in the party district.
Hong ik were I live changes totally by night. A lot of restaurants, night clubs and bars open their doors and at exit 5 on Hong ik station you have to cue to get out. I have been a couple of times out and it has been fun. The drinking culture is pretty wild and you can see really drunken people around and a mine field of puke when you try to get home. Koreans party a lot and mostly with their co-workers. They say it is impossible to get further on your carrier if you don't go out drinking with the boss at least 3 night a week...and when they go out they get drunk! And then they stay at work from 8-19 next day...I just could not make it here! But the student life is pretty easy and to contrast to Finland it dose not involve alcohol that much!
An of course before the school ended I had a chance to attend a very fancy party at the Safir Ballroom at Lotte hotel. The Finnish Embassy's Independence day reception. I was happy I had bought new shoes, because sneakers or trekking shoes would have been a wrong choice to this party. After shaking hands with the embassy next in turn was Minkku's brother Stefan Lee who works here and his wife Heidi who I talked with later and we became instant friends as Swedish speaking Finn aliens in Seoul. I also meet some other exchange student and had a nice time comparing experiences. It was a really nice evening with some wine and good food.
When school was over it was really fun to have time for visitors. Olga was here for almost one week and we manage to see and do so much. It was fun to be a tourist in Soul again and specially with Olga. Already the day she arrived we started with hard core sightseeing. We went to City Hall and Seoul Plaza where young couples where now skating. We passed by Nandemun market and made a plan for the coming days at a Tea shop in Insa-dong. In the evening we had traditional Korean food and enjoyed the Christmas lights in Seoul. Next day was tourist on a mission. First we visited the Korean village with traditional houses and a time capsule and the near by Namsan park with Seoul Tower. Then we had seen posters that there was Seoul Photography Festival Exhibition in the old Seoul Train Station and the exhibition was great. How lucky was it that the biggest photo exhibition was there at the same time as Olga(she studies photography). And in the evening we still had time took a peak at Han river by Night and went up to the 63 tower to see a thrilling night view of Seoul.
But then we had a backlash the next day. Olga was sic. She had cramps in her stomach and was trowing up and wasn't able to eat anything. The good thing was that her hostel was very cozy and I could also stay there so we were watching TV and taking it easy. Luckily it was just a one day thing and we tighten our schedule a bit so in the end we had time with everything we planned anyway. On Friday I had to do my last presentation at school but before that we had time for a visit to one of the palaces near City Hall and saw the ancient guard change rite. After my presentation we had shopping time in markets and shopping districts. And the perfect way was to end the day at the sauna that seams to be everyones favorite. Olga took some photos there so hopefully I can get some from her to put them on the blog. We were first a bit nervous to take photos at the sauna, but the Koreans are truly the most photo loving nation and no one had a problem with it...of course everyone has the pajama on in the sauna so no nude photos. Saturday was mall day. But before we visited the huge underground COEX mall we went to the Seoul Art Center and a nice small temple in the park behind it and then to the Royal tombs. They have a interesting small gars hump that is the tomb and then some statues of people and animals to accompany the dead. In the evening we made acquaintance with Hong ik party streets. First for dinner, and of course we got something totally different than what we thought we ordered, but it was still good. Then it was time for shisha and wine the traditional Olga and Linda way in the cozy Indian bar. But we had to learn the owner how a good pipe should work. And then while walking around and looking at the party people we got lost to Gogo bar where I had been with Andy and Anaisha and the Seoul Biennial people, so we just had to go for the free drinks for the lady's evening there and dance a bit. But we were smart drinking water between drinks so we could spend the last day shopping. We also met some of my class mates for lunch and learned that some of the French students were flying home with the same flight as Olga. After shopping we had dinner in my favorite restaurant the BBQ place and next morning it was time to say good bye. It was so much fun to have someone here who knows you and thinks the same way and just to relax and talk and everything!!!
So after Olga left it was just a few days to Christmas. On Christmas eve Stacey (who is coming to Finland for exchange) kept me company for the day. The Christmas is not as important here as in Europe. Even if there is a lot of Christians here the traditions are more commercial and the Christmas is more spent with friends than a family holiday. But feature that pops up is that everyone is buying cakes and they are selling loads of cakes everywhere and it was explain to me in a very serious way that at midnight candles are lightened on the cake and everyone sings Happy Birth day Jesus...a bit odd for me, but I was meet with surprise that we didn't have the same tradition :) So Christmas was different for me, but it was nice to have lunch and coffee and dinner and cake with Stacey and seeing a lot of people strolling around on the streets. There is a lot of people shopping and a very different feeling than back home where everyone is inside with their families.
I was back home at 22 and had a Skype telephone session with my parents and my brother and Elina who is soon coming here. I got some presents I opened at the same time and enjoyed some cookies and some Glög I got. So finally I got some Christmas spirit. Then I had a short session with Olga who was back home and later I talked with Andy who was just starting to celebrate Christmas in Austria. He got his present but mine is lost in translation and somewhere between Austria and Korea...hope it arrives before I leave the country:P So it was very nice to have contact to family, friends and loved once!
Next day I started with test packing and really felt that I am soon leaving and in the evening I meet Heidi for a couple of beers and we had such a good time that I missed the last subway and had to take the taxi...and yet again struggle with pronouncing Hong ik and Mapo-gu they just don't get it when I try to say it. Saviour was the alien card where my address is written in Korean.
Today I sent winter clothes to Austria and fixed stuff and tomorrow Elina will arrive. We will spend two days together here and then I am leaving to Taipei, Taiwan, she will follow the following day. So last days in Seoul. For sure I want to go to the sauna and meet some of my Korean friends for the last time. I want to eat the Kimchi and have some of my favorite BBQ. It is sad to leave, but yet I am exited to travel again. I have plenty of friends to meet on the way. Elina will be with me in Taiwan and hopefully I could also get a glimpse of Cheng Pei there if she hasn't returned to Finland yet. In the Philippines I meet Katianna and her CISV friend who have already planned the whole 12 days program for us. I still have a open place for a couple of weeks in Indonesia if someone wants to join!!! And in India train traveler buddies meet again because Nanna and Walla is joining me there. Then I get to Austria and meet Andy again :D and the last weekend I spend visiting Jenny in Germany. Oh, I just get exited when I think about all the fun! So yes I am ready to pick up the back pack again, but the time has been great and I have had a amazing experience in South Korea and I truly think I will return one day again!