To the Beautiful You/Insomnia Rant

Good gracious. It’s 3 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I’ve tried drinking water, listening to music, reading articles, and washing my favorite brushes. This is mostly cause I was fantasizing about painting again. Digital. And oil especially….I only get to do it once a week! Why not take a painting class you ask? Cause I have no idea how I’m going to lug all my paintings home. I’d probably have to leave them all here and I dunno if I’ll be emotionally prepared enough for that. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with my club painting. I just joined to keep myself from going crazy. I wish I was into music instead. I think musicians have the right idea by sticking to an instrument that probably won’t potentially give you a life-threatening disease or pollute your water. Think of the fishes. I like fishes.

Totally not representative of the entire series.

In hopes of lulling myself to sleep, I’m going to write my thoughts on my first completed Korean drama “To The Beautiful You” (Korean: 아름다운 그대에게). To get myself in the mood, I’m listening to the ending song “Stand Up” by J-Min on repeat. It’s a catchy angstyish tune.

Gee Michelle, aren’t you Korean? Don’t all Koreans listen to K-pop, watch dramas, and know the Gangnam Style dance perfectly? No. No to all. I rarely like any K=pop just cause I can’t really take it seriously most times. The few songs I do enjoy are mostly for campy entertainment.

My rant on dramas will get it’s own separate paragraph cause it’s that special. The main reason I never completed dramas before is cause when I was younger I didn’t have a laptop or whatever. I did use a computer, but it was my dad’s work computer where I could get kicked off at any second. So I invested more in anime since that’s half as long.

But here’s how dramas generally go (from what I know of. Take it with a sack of salt). Stupid innocent girl makes stupid innocent decisions and falls in love with a brooding Byronic dude and breaks the heart of some awesome happy dude who really liked her for her. This drama was no exception to my stereotype. I also realize shoujo manga might fall here too, but I feel like there are just as many unconventional ones that don’t follow that used and abused storyline.

So if I were the heroine, here’s what I wouldn’t have done that she did. Of course I’m not going to remember everything, but these are the ones currently sticking out in my head. SPOILERS ABOUND. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

-Wander into a pool at night from some obscure note that’s supposedly from my room mate. Especially if I have a “chlorine allergy”.
-Pester my room mate to oblivion.
-Rode on a bike that I had seen someone tampering with.
-Been an athletics major. Kay seriously, I get you’re a track star, but you’re really just asking for trouble by focusing on sports.
-Break a whole mess of hearts.
-Ran my first marathon so my unfriendly room mate wouldn’t have to jump in our field day.
-Leave for America the day my room mate/boyfriend has a track competition and wants me to come support him. Didn’t you think he’d notice? And get all frazzled trying to come after you?

Aw heck if it were me the story would never have happened. My parents would definitely have found out it was an all boy’s school. I would’ve just stayed in America, followed my brother into the “Ivy league” (lol they think Johns Hopkins is Ivy League), kept my hair long, and married my awesome childhood friend. She says she did it to support him, but honestly I think a fan letter would’ve been good. At one point in the series she makes a video to a track coach asking him to take on the male lead. The video was like a short documentary on how the dude gave her a reason to live again. I think sending it to the guy would’ve been more appropriate than everything else that went down in the series.

In short, this is a story that you must view with your brain turned off if you want to enjoy it.

That said it IS enjoyable. The colors are all wonderfully saturated. The school scenes were for probably some of my favorite parts. Especially the crazy training montages where they were frantic about getting the rights to the best cafeteria. Engyol (the obligatory heartbreak guy) was pretty great to watch. His silly fantasies, his struggles with his sexuality, and his eventual heartbreak was so palpable it made me want to remain single forever. Ha ha. In short he was probably the most interesting and understandable character the series had.

And did I mention Sulli looks great in drag? Only when she was in her school uniform though. Not so much her casual stuff. There were times where I forgot her real gender for a couple seconds cause she really brought it. Well when she wasn’t squealing about people using her bathroom or whatever. Haha, she would’ve made a really good looking dude…

And that’s all from me for now. Time to try to sleep again.

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How I Spent My Chuseok

First I went to Bundang to go with my great-uncle and great-aunt. My maternal grandmother has 6-7 brothers and sisters, so this was one of her younger brothers. She actually called and talked to me when I arrived at his home. Once I handed the phone back, I heard my great-uncle say, “No, you can’t talk to her again! It’s so late over here, and she has to go sleep soon.” He sounded scandalized.

It was only 10 o’ clock.

But I did try to honor my grandparents by sleeping at that time. I don’t remember the last time I ever went to sleep that early willingly.

The way Chuseok goes is that you get together with all your family, a bunch of food gets cooked, and you bow to your dead ancestors. Then you all eat the food. I’ve never done it before. I don’t know if it’s because some consider it anti-Christian, or if it’s because I simply don’t see my extended family more than once or twice a year.

While I was eating I had a stomachache (happens very often to me) and couldn’t really eat that well. But I thought it would be rude if I said so, so I was forcing it down. Unfortunately one of the grandma’s noticed and said sympathetically, “You don’t like Korean food cause you’re American right? You don’t have to eat if you don’t want to. Do you want something else?”

And then other grandmother’s started chiming in, so I had to put a stop to it and say that it was because I had a stomachache (though it’s true- I actually am not that fond of Korean food). Then they brought me a bunch of pills.

For those of you who don’t know, I cannot swallow pills unless I eat them with bread (yes, that’s the same way you give them to animals). Or I vomit. And I was not about to vomit in front of all my distant relatives. So I hid the pills in my cheek while gulping the water down.

“You’re not just hiding it in your cheek, are you?” asked one of my grandfathers. I just laughed nervously, and waved my hand hoping the matter would drop. Later I excused myself to the bathroom and flushed them down the toilet.

After lunch, I tried chatting with my distant cousins and tried to ignore the fact that everyone was talking about me outside the door. They weren’t being mean or anything, but it was getting a little tiring.

Eventually it ended and I hopped on the metro to go reunite with Melanie!! Here’s a picture:

We went to Gangnam to do Dr. Fish. I’m never doing it again…personally I think we’re teaching fish the wrong lesson by feeding them our calluses.

Art Club (그림탑)

I’m probably more social right now than ever. One of the clubs I’ve joined is an art club. It was unlisted, so by some miracle I saw a few posters for it. It’s been pretty fun so far. I have people to practice my Korean with and I get to paint! I thought I’d be able to make it through without my oils, but that hasn’t really been working out so well haha. In our club we had to pick a famous painting and make a copy of it. I’d rather make my own paintings, but copying is really great practice. So I’m not complaining too much.

I picked “A Seville Belle” by Mary Cassatt though in general I’m not a big fan of her. I picked it cause I liked how the woman has some weight on her. I also thought it was easy enough that it wouldn’t be rejected, but it turns out the teacher thought it was going to be too hard and tried to convince me out of it…

Today we got started on our paintings. This is my sketch after 1.5 hours. I was scared the teacher wouldn’t like it since we could hear him criticizing some members in the hallway saying that they weren’t a genius or whatever. But luckily the girl next to me said that he liked mine.

I left all my brushes and paints at home, but at least the club provides paints. I’m going to buy myself a better brush though.

Daily Adventures

My Korean class has two different teachers who alternate days. They’re both really cute, but today’s teacher made me crack up big time. Luckily I’m getting better at self-restraint, so I just shook in silence and held my paper over my face. My face gets red real easy. She was talking out how her little brother would tease her about how her down made her look like a rocker. At this she bobbed herself back and forth to show what he meant without any change in expression. Then she said he’d also draw a line on her leg and say that that no fat should be past the line. My descriptions aren’t doing her performance justice. Try to imagine a cutesy lady with an ingénue vibe? He recently got married and she was so curious to see whom he was betrothed. His blushing bride-to-be was super short and super skinny.

Yesterday my roommate was so sad that she didn’t get mail. She looked so cute, so I wrote her a letter with a piece of Ferrero Rocher and slipped it in our mailbox. I wondered how long it would take her to find it. She found it today. Aw, she’s so cute =)

Oh, and today I almost choked on a chestnut. I think a piece of it might still be in my throat? Maybe I can burp it out.

Really?

It’s too soon for me to post on tips to improve your Korean, but one of things I’ve been doing is eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Yes, it’s sort of in the morally grey area, but grey is my favorite color. And it does help since no one really talks the way textbook examples do. I just posted on how much I hate the phrase “fighting”, but walking through campus made me realize I have another expression to hate on: “Really?” I don’t know how to spell it in Korean though cause my spelling is still pretty unpretty.

Here’s how a typical conversation goes between two Korean girls:
A: Oh my gosh, (insert some mundane event) happened to me!
B: Aw, really? You know (insert another such event) happened to me!
A: Oh really? (insert something a girl might say).
B. Really?

And so on it goes. Just like how I can’t walk around through Sinchon without hearing “Gangnam Style” five times, I can’t seem to pass a Korean girl’s conversation without that phrase popping up. And what makes it more annoying is that chances are if they’re asking it, they’re not actually interested; it’s just there to fill up space to make you sound interested.

But I can’t hate on the phrase too much since I’ll probably using it a lot too. Really? Yes, really…

The Good and Not so Good Parts of Korea Part 1

Bad
-Well I wouldn’t really call this bad per se, but I feel like lots of the girls here are pretty innocent. And this is from me, a virtual hermit. A couple girls were flipping through my diary, and they though pretty much everything I drew and painted was the freakiest thing ever. At least they didn’t get to the end. And while I was trying to recommend some of my favorite books and movies to a girl, I realized I had to cut pretty much everything off the list cause it was too scary for her. I’m not even that hardcore. Guess I won’t find someone who’ll want to watch Requiem for a Dream with me…
-Some of the public bathrooms. I might write a post on them too. Some of them don’t have toilet paper. Lucky for me, I always carry napkins with me everywhere.
-The phrase “fighting” (or “hwaiting”) for encouragement. I think it’s stupidest phrase in the world and it makes me so angry. I can literally feel my face heating up just thinking about it.
-Lotteria insists on charging me extra for not drinking their Cola. As a result, I just go to McDonald’s more.
-In general you can’t try clothes on before you buy them. And normally they won’t let you return them if things don’t work out.
-There is no Chick-Fil-A. You lied to me, Mom.
-Saturday something happened that I didn’t think would happen again. It was so terrifying that I didn’t get off my bed for a couple hours. And I missed an event I was going to go to.
-It’s easy to get lost because so many of the same stores repeat every or every other block.

Good
-The many art supply stores in Hongdae. Will write a seperate post on them later. I was shocked to find Homi (호미화방) first since it’s supposed to be super hard to find. I was so excited my contacts fogged up, and I had to rub my eyes for a few minutes.
-The crepe stands =)
-Going off on the crepes, the fact that the combination of banana and chocolate is more acceptable here. I don’t know why this hasn’t caught on to the States yet.
-The flavors at the Baskin Robbins here are pretty tasty.
-Decently priced clothes. Back at home I think I went shopping like twice a year. Now I go out pretty often.
-Being able to haggle.
-It’s pretty safe here to walk around alone at night. So I do most nights.
-Finding Onnuri Church. It’s honestly been really great. My small group is so cute. And they offer prayer after every service? Why doesn’t NCFC do that too?? =P
-The smell of Etude House. It’s so sweet. Whenever I find one, I take a quick lap around the store and leave.

If I had to sum up Korea, it would be fried chicken places, cafes, cosmetic stores, alcohol places, noraebangs, and PC bangs.

Ewha/Korea thus far

Ewha’s definitely a girl’s school. From the campus to the surrounding stores. The campus is really pretty. Especially the Ewha Campus Complex though it can be pretty annoying when I have to walk across outside whenever I guess locations incorrectly. Sometimes I climb the steps (over 100). At night I’ll buy myself sweets and eat them on the steps facing the shopping areas. There’s a kindergarten, an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. Maybe there are a lot of education majors. It’s like an elevator school.

I have been eating so much junk food in the past few days. I might review that later…

Stuff here can be cheap, and some people will try to utterly rip you off. A woman tried to sell me a scarf for 49,500 won. I found the exact same one for 4,000 won.  But Korea’s been a lot friendlier than I thought it would be. To be honest, I feel a whole lot safer walking around at night time than I would at home. People have kind enough to correct my Korean.

I like roaming around alone. I find new places and shortcuts every time. It’s nice how I can walk anywhere to get stuff I want. I even stumbled across part of the Yongu/Guyon games or whatever it’s called. Basically Korea University and Yonsei University are friendly enemies that hold these events together. I saw a large amount of their students playing different Korean traditional drums. It was pretty cool to watch.

The sidewalks here are pretty uneven. I’ve stepped on more than a few loose bricks. People spit on the sidewalk a lot.

The Korean classes here start at 8 a.m. and last till 10:45. We get one 15 min break though. It’s intense, but it’s doable. For now at least.

I’ll be tackling the metro next.