Friday, October 31, 2008

I want a big X in my planner

Today I got half of one, with a slow morning. It rained and I didn't have sun streaming into my room when I just wanted to lay low. So I feel a little better re: a possible sickness coming on. This afternoon I went to my aunt's and uncle's place and was like, how did I EVER live out here for 3.5 months?? It's so far away!! It was good to see family, though I was falling asleep the whole time. So, it's Halloween, but I've had not a lick of Halloween and am turning in EARLY. I'm excited about tomorrow: a full day in the studio.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In pursuit of perfection of sorts

Seoul is a constant construction zone. Koreans seem to feel ill at ease when something isn't being torn down and rebuilt. Just like the plastic surgery scene. When I first moved to this neighborhood, there was some sidewalk being torn up across the way.

But now it's WAY more than just the side of a sidewalk under attack.

Meanwhile, business goes on as usual. Just lots more dust and noise.

This corner was being torn up, I think to put down new paving bricks. This bboy-themed design is all over this area.

Something you'd NEVER see in the US b/c of liability insurance: the road is torn up and pieces of cloth are put down over bumpy sidewalks and you just walk over it. Treacherous but no one seems to mind.

Today: panic attack about my shoes not matching my suit, buying $1 stockings on the sidewalk and a pair of shoes in the subway, only to find that they were too big. Mailing art, tutoring, rushing to meet the author of two books on hanji who was like, why are you doing this research?? and then running to meet my cousin to help him w/a few notes for MC-ing a medical conference tomorrow in English. He took me to this restaurant that has been around since 1970, in my grandfather's old hood. We used to go there as kids and the food was really good.

It's sad to see the neighborhood so changed. It only hit me today while waiting for the bus: I live really close to the hospital where my grandfather passed away 8 years ago. Tomorrow night I go to his father's death rites. I have no point of reference for my great-grandfather, except that he was a doctor who served a poor community so he never made money, which caused my grandmother to not let my father go to med school, b/c she thought that doctors went hungry. Otherwise, I know nothing else.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rock star friends

Joseph has an interview up here. He's one of those people who makes me feel like I'm doing nothing with my life, and was a good motivator during my last year of grad school. Of course, after reading it, I remembered that I have to send out a book for another show! So I'm filling out paperwork now. Good times.

Just when you thought I was done

I just wanted to say that I had a great day. But I wanted to give Jeong-In her own post so it wasn't totally mixed up w/my babbling. Which didn't quite happen, but hey, I tried. I got a really wonderful email today, only about 3.25 lines long, but exactly what I wanted to hear: a professor at a university here who has written two books on hanji and natural dyes is happy to meet me and gave me his contact info. Wohooo! Of course, I was too crazed getting out of the door to call him but I will tomorrow. I ran to the huge bookstore in the basement of a huge life insurance company to get supplies to mail a letter and CD of images to the nun and get birthday gifts for my niece. Part of the joy / difficulty of being here is all the FAMILY. Suddenly there are like 20 new birthdays to keep track of, and other family events.

But at the same time it's really nice to know that I can call up a cousin or an aunt anytime if I'm in a pinch, and they'll be able to help me. Today I ran off to my cousin's place to drop off the gifts and have lunch. I was supposed to go shopping for plants w/her since she is plant QUEEN (this is a glimpse of her veranda. She has an amazing green thumb. It's the way she stays sane), but I had to skip it and instead run to meet my mom's friend who was in town w/things for me from NY: colored pencils, a fall jacket, vitamins, and other things that moms send to daughters living on the other side of the world. I then ran to the studio to get my Portable Library books ready to ship and hit the post office.

I did my Korean homework and a couple of other pieces to mail tomorrow, uploaded pictures,* and then ran off to Jeong-In's opening. The whole day I was thinking, this is my life. People always wonder what the hell I do w/my time. I guess this is it. And while running through the streets of Seoul today, I felt really grateful for this life I've made for myself. For a while now, lots of people have been asking me where I'll be in 5, 10, 15 years. That answer has always been a total mystery. Some options are starting to formulate now, still smoky, and quite scary (b/c goodness! We all know how I feel about long-term commitments). But what's exciting is that it's not something I ever imagined, yet it makes a lot of sense, and it does what all the best endeavors of my life have done for me: it brings together all of my talents and abilities and passions. And it marks how far I've come, b/c I didn't know that I had these abilities, or, I worked hard to cultivate them. I just hope things keep coming together for my research for the next eight months, and then I'll worry about the years to come after that.

*The persimmon festival.
Visiting the temple in the mountains.

Jeong-In's exhibit and afterparty

Tonight was great. I went to Jeong-In's opening - she was one of nine illustrators in a group show at Kyung-In Museum of Fine Art. She had a whole little alcove area for her work and did a great job of hanging it herself. This piece is about her late mother, and how in Korea you get a "good job!" stamp on your homework if you did it well. But she made that w/her smiling mother along w/a "hm, not so good, you could do better" stamp w/her frowning mother. How do you have a career and keep house immaculately at the same time? And the other pieces are all done on cardboard that she pinned up painstakingly (I saw that and my fingers felt all sore out of empathy), relating to the things we do close to the ground...actually, this is the part where things got lost in translation. I think it does fine w/o my commentary anyhow!!

These two are images of these balls of leftover acrylic paint (again, I could be SO OFF but I think that's right) that she has been collecting for years. If you look closely, you can see the illustrations she made of herself as a kind of dung beetle.


She also had the actual little balls in a small sculpture/installation box along with three structures: "house," "for living," and "freedom" (as in her home, her work as an illustrator, and her artwork as a book artist).

And older man saw me taking pictures of her with her artwork and insisted that he take one of both of us. I ended up going w/her and all of the other artists and other guests to dinner in the neighborhood, which was lovely. I had been talking to her eldest daughter, who is in college now (at her mother's alma mater!) and her youngest sister, whom I met when I first got to Korea, but ended up talking for a long time at dinner to a calligraphy master. We talked, of course, about hanji, but also about Korean traditions and why they die out but also why they won't completely die out. He said, Koreans are no ordinary people. Which is true: it's no joke to come out of seemingly endless years of oppression by other countries, colonization, war, and armistice and still retain a very distinct culture.

He said that I have to learn calligraphy to really understand hanji, since that was the main reason that paper came into being. The two have a strong relationship, with the method of making paper being created directly with the purpose of the brush and ink in mind. And so it unfolds - just as the Americans I met on Monday night said that learning Chinese characters would help so much in learning Korean. Agh. It all makes plenty of sense, and I would love to do it all. But I can only do so much, and am already feeling like I have run out of time!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


That last post was bad form, too cranky. So here is a video from Monday morning when the sun was out. At 20 and 57 seconds, listen.

What I REALLY meant to say: the miraculous thing about the trip was that the worst of my demons fell away - so quickly and quietly that I didn't even notice it was gone. Something about being to breathe, walking out the front door to live green things, and living closer to the earth automatically opens my heart. I've been steadily building my defenses for a long time now, but getting away from urban chaos gave me some relief from the worst of myself. If I ever worried about being able to be vulnerable again, enough to fall in love, that fell away, too - I just need to be in the right place where I'm not constantly battling __[fill in blank]__.

Reentry always sucks

It's not like I was even away for very long. But today was very trying. My body staged a big enough protest for me to skip a lecture tonight, skip homework, and just come home. My roommate put out boric acid and potatoes but it seems like the ants are now coming out in bigger droves (I'm convinced that they are living inside of my MacBook). I'm still on a reaaaaaally slow connection, so I can't get pictures up very quickly. I'm hoping the first set will be done in an hour.

I was feeling bummed this morning about how hard it is to do the whole simultaneous language learning and research, and how maybe I should try to come back to Korea later to do just the language part. But honestly, why I would put myself through that kind of hell? Since this weekend's trip already confirmed that the little time I have left is not going to be adequate to save the dying art of papermaking in this country. Not that I even want to be saddled with that responsibility! It seems ridiculous to think that I'm the only one who is concerned about it fading away. I'm not the only one, right??

Sigh. See how easily I fell into negativity? Damn this urban living. Barely living, I think. And I'd be better off w/o the computer and the camera. Or, maybe I just need more sleep. But first, a few pushups!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Portable Library Project

This is the box I was talking about a while back. I am getting ready to ship mine back to Canada, but am really out of it so we'll see how long that takes. But watch the blog to see when it goes up! This is straight from the blog:
The Portable Library Project is a mail-art/book-making project involving the creation of small works exploring ideas surrounding archiving, journaling, libraries, ephemera, and incorporating an art practice into everyday life. Participating artists span all disciplines, from performance art to fibre-based art; from photo-based art to craft to sculpture and installation.

Invited artists were sent/delivered an empty cigar box, roughly the size of a hardcover book. Over the course of a week, individuals were expected to create a 'book' a day reflective of each person's day-to-day activities and artistic process. Books were ideally made while on the go; boxes were intended to be carried with the participant, where books were to be added and collected each day for seven days.

In addition to an online archive, The Portable Library Project will take the form of a series of exhibitions (TBA), and components will be housed in a local alternative library for viewing and circulation.

Please keep an eye on this blog for project updates, extensive photo-documentation of each portable library, and artist information.

My connection sucks but

maybe it will be stable enough for me to say: I am back from the countryside and it was FANTASTIC. Coming back to Seoul made me realize that a huge chunk of my insanity comes from living in insanity. All of the traveling was JUST FINE - train to train to bus to festival to temple via car, festival and back via car, and then car to bus to taxi to train back to crazy Seoul. Totally doable, even when random men ask for me to ride the train w/them to get the cheap fare (I even scored some breakfast from one), and even when the bus driver suddenly puts on the emergency brake at a stoplight and walks back to me, the ONLY person on the bus, to ask if he can use my cell phone.

I stayed an extra night at the temple, which was NOTHING like I expected. I never even went to the temple part of it. The food was amazing. Everyone was super nice. I worked two days at the festival, basically doing what I always do at fairs: helping kids make paper, and selling paper. The other volunteers worked way more than me but I didn't even know I was going to be re-living book & paper fair land!! So given that, on top of traveling and not sleeping enough and trying to be on my best behavior, I did okay. It was a fun group of people to work with and the whole first day of travel consisted of strangers telling me that I was pretty, so I can't really complain. One even looked up the Chinese characters of my name (the only characters I know besides the one for "water") so I have a better translation than the one I learned 11 years ago.

The Buddhist nun, after a long "interview," said she would help me as much as possible, which means that I can come and stay at the temple for as long as I need, and she will take me to a different province where there is a papermill so she can teach me how to pull sheets, since her studio isn't built yet. She just has a paper museum built. And I shouldn't say "just" - it's beautiful! I sadly didn't get to take photos, but that's okay since I'll get to go back. And I didn't want to make her feel like I was putting her stuff out there for other people to rip off, since she's had that happen to her a lot.

Waking up in the morning and walking out to see the sun peeking out of mountains, coming home at night and getting out of the car to see tons and tons of twinkling stars, watching someone who may be my future teacher totally blissed out while sitting in a sea of paper, seeing a woman pull green onions out of the garden to prepare breakfast, CLEAN AIR...all the skittish stuff fell away, all the tiny worries. The big ones were still there and other worries like "where is the bathroom?" but clean air, clean water, good clean local vegetarian food, and a nice fat Louise Erdrich novel from a friend who gets it cancelled out any bad stuff.

Oh, crap. I just realized I forgot to do my homework for tomorrow's tutoring session. Too tired to do it tonight...even though I had a nap on the wonderfully fast and smooth train home today going 300 km/hr. This weekend was exactly what I needed when I needed it. Pics, etc. to come.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Anticipating I don't even know what

Apparently the gentrification of the neighborhood I'm living in has been pretty hardcore. Every year, the shops encroach on one more street, pushing homes further inward (though there's no place to go since you just hit a big hill/mountain and that's a park). I still haven't been inside this place b/c I can't figure out exactly what it is.

Today was my big pre-trip errand day. I dislike riding the subway. I prefer the bus; it's much nicer to stay above ground as much as possible. But Seoul is a very pedestrian-unfriendly city, so there's lots of crossing huge streets via underpass or risking being hit by a vehicle while trying to cross in the few seconds they give you every many minutes. But I have everything I need except snacks and a train ticket.

I'm just hoping that I can just buy a ticket at the station tomorrow early morning b/c booking online is still way too difficult a task for me. I've been staring at maps of Korea and still unable to make heads or tails of it all. Today's great big wonderful things: getting a box of books from Velma at the Fulbright office, and finding amazing Chinese dumplings for lunch. Time to pack.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trying to hatch eggs

I had the most ridiculous hour in the subway system today, all due to my own stupidity. It was just a series of going around in circles on two or three different lines and missing my stop at least twice, just to end up late to my tutoring session and not getting my package from Fulbright. Coming to Korea really makes me question my ability to be a functional human being. To confirm that, my tutor taught me a word that apparently describes me to a T. Its definition follows:

1. extraordinary; extravagant; fantastic; unreasonable; outrageous; preposterous
2. wrong; different

Another dictionary says it means "bats in the belfry," aka crazy & eccentric. My tutor said that teachers have a hard time w/students like me b/c we don't answer questions in the grammar patterns that are being drilled. I said, that's not true! I answer in the right grammar pattern, but the answers are much more interesting than "I bought this shirt b/c it was cheap" or "I was late because I overslept."

I think I've learned more about American topics while studying Korean: Sandra Day O'Connor, Mickey Mouse, and Thomas Edison. How random is that? Today was kind of a bust but also kind of not, b/c I talked to one guy close to Seoul who might be able to help me w/research, and I made a date to see the Buddhist nun down south this weekend. Guess where??! At a PERSIMMON festival. Hahahaa! If I couldn't even make it across town today, I'm going to have a hard time getting to this place, but it'll work out. I like to think that if I have such a severe directional disability (I just spent way too much time reading about dyspraxia. I think I'm slightly dyslexic w/English but then severely so w/Korean), then it must mean that I must be really good at something ELSE that doesn't involve getting lost. I just need to figure out what that something else is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This election is 1,000% drama

I saw these ladders the other day and the landscapers have been at it for a while, but are these ladders SAFE?? Anyhow, this is how I feel about voting this year. I only do it once in a while, and it's a big pain in the ass. It also involves WAY too much running around to various locations to get my mail since there's no "home" address that I have.

I've almost always voted absentee, and have never had problems. But this is my first time voting from overseas, and it's been a total drag. My first application was rejected, and then I emailed them twice to fix the error AND sent a new hard copy application. I had my sister finally call them and some surly guy said that my absentee ballot was sent to my NEW YORK address. Um, how does THAT work???

So I went into a panic last night and stayed up an extra hour to do an emergency ballot and print out my waybills for free FedEx 1-day delivery to NY (thank goodness for THAT arrangment!!). I skimmed the directions, and printed 3 copies, and remembered I had to put TWO in the pouch. But once I got to the FedEx place (a US dude in front of me also just sent his ballot off) and explained to the counter person that I was an American, he insisted that I keep one copy for myself and took all the 2nd pages off of the waybills. I couldn't remember what to do and figured he knew protocol, so I took it with me. But then later I read it and it said I needed to put THREE in the envelope. I finally just checked online and I was supposed to STAPLE the 3rd to my ballot envelope. AAAGH.

So. I guess I just have to pray that my dad mails my ballot to me in time for me to mail it back in time, though I'll only make the postmark deadline. I know it's really just "for the record" and won't matter come November 5th, esp since my state will go my way, but still. Then I think about last week when I talked to another Fulbrighter about how people who are starving and can't afford to feed and clothe their children don't give a crap about voting. In the end, I'll be relieved when the whole thing is over, b/c it has dug deep into my time and energy stores. I'm not going to blame the election if I totally fail in my research, but if I ever get desperate, it'll be on my list of scapegoats.

Oh, and about screen doors: these are being installed throughout the subway system in Korea, to prevent 1. people trying to commit suicide from throwing themselves in front of incoming cars and 2. people from falling in accidentally. It's kind of sad b/c it makes the stations feel more claustrophobic, but I guess there have been enough incidents of both kinds to warrant it.

Boram's solo show!

All my plans fell through today but the ONE great thing I got to do was visit Boram (left) at her solo exhibit in Seoul at Gallery Andante. She was there with Yoon-sung, the curator (right), and I had a really nice time.

It was really good to see the work in person after only seeing it online for months. I wish more people were able to view in, but it will be up until November 2nd, so hopefully all the Seoulites will make it.

I was really struck by the large piece on canvas, b/c she treated it exactly the way I did back almost ten years ago when I prepped canvas for a book transcription.

These are some of her publications, and also some clay pieces that she made and fired while in residence at the Vermont Studio Center.

I really like her small drawings. She does very personal and intimate work, which is probably why it resonates w/me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Plans, plans, plans

They never work out! Don't ask why I still plan. Everyone I called today didn't pick up, so I psyched myself up for nothing. There's no voicemail in Korea, so I just have to keep calling. Luckily, tomorrow I can't b/c of my last (hopefully) dentist visit. I'll meet the head of FIDES for lunch, so hopefully she can help me w/definite leads instead of my random smattering of randoms.

I swear, this street (where my tutoring and artmaking happen) is torn up daily. Construction in this country is incredible. It's an hour turnaround sometimes. When I first started lessons here, I used to stop into a convenience store for tea and snacks. Suddenly, w/no notice at all, it was torn down and within a WEEK, there was a grand opening for a new cafe. Just like that!! I know, it's way worse in places like China and Dubai, but still.

[The same street, opposite direction, at night.] Today's BIG feat was applying for internet banking. It's a confusing process, full of numbers that I don't even have (like a national ID), with vocab I definitely don't know. I went to the bank twice, and then had the front desk person at my school help me out. I think I'm set up now, but who knows. The big push to do it was my desire to get a digital dictionary: they're all cheaper online, so I need to be able to purchase them online (searching for them online will be the feat for another day).

I feel like the characters in my textbook for Korean: unable to do the simplest transactions. My tutor asked today, "Aimee, what do you DO on the days you don't have tutoring??" I have NO clue. When you're just trying to survive, you don't pay attention to the details. At least not the ones that make any sense.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A call for printmakers!

Renata sent me this call for printmakers - a mail art show for next spring in Portugal. Pass it along!

Matriz – Printmaking Association of Porto calls for:
1st Edition of postal print
Open to all print artists
Theme: Self-Portrait
Dimension: Standard postcard size– 10 x 15cm
Technique: all kind of prints except digital one
Deadline: 31st March 2009

Send only one postal print without envelope
No return, no fees, no jury
Exhibitions: online at and Esteta Gallery in April 2009

Send to: Matriz -1ªEdição de Gravura Postal
Rua Sousa Viterbo nº 28, 1ºA
4050-593 – Porto

With name, address and e-mail.
Documentation sent to all by e-mail.
For more info:

I missed my window

Sleep is a lost cause. I'm never going to sleep past 8:30am and never going to fall asleep before 1am. Plus, the birds at my window are REALLY loud. For the first time since I arrived (four months am I already 1/3 done with my time here???), I sat in meditation after marveling at the fact that dinosaur descendants were quarreling at my window. It wasn't for long, but it was remarkable: all the things I've been freaking out about came up, but then passed. I remembered that everything comes and goes. Nothing seemed important anymore, and just sitting was a welcome change. Then I did some yoga. Last night was my last night of pure procrastination. It was my way of accepting that I am resisting my purpose here in a hardcore way, of saying that it's okay to be freaked out. So I let myself surf for random things like the myth about lactic acid!! I only just figured that out.

I would have started to make the hard calls (cold calls to professors and papermakers in Korean) but I had left all my notes in the studio. I made a tofu and veggie lunch, picked up more mail at the Y, and sent some mail art. HOW excited am I about what I got today?? It's a cigar box that I get to fill with 7 books, and I have a week to do it and mail it back to Canada. I'm definitely in a place where I have to be "assigned" work to make it. I made my first book tonight, and that felt good. The next two should be easy, and then it might get hard. I also need to accept that I get sleepy around 4pm, and that it's okay to doze off before tackling Korean homework. I'm getting better, though. I can now send emails to my cousins! That's exciting, especially since it was unthinkable four months ago.

My tutor gave me a big lecture today about how I HAVE TO do my research (she's not the only one), and went into detail about how it is so much bigger than just me, and that I am in a position to do a big service for Korean culture and its relationship with the outside world. She had a lot of really good ideas about how I can contribute in real, concrete ways to the academic and papermaking worlds. She keeps telling me that my Korean is fine and to stop being scared of using it. She actually believes that I can translate Korean into English. If I could do that, I'd be way closer to dying happy than I am now.

If I called people and said "I'm an American," rather than "I'm a Korean American," they'd think I was the second coming. I've let myself get totally discouraged by the fact that I live in a foreign country where my grasp of the language would be celebrated if I didn't look so much like the locals. It's bad for my already low self-esteem when it comes to language skills. On top of my already outrageous sensitivity around language mastery, it basically has shut me down. But it's time to just get over it and call everyone, b/c it's now or never: the forecast says rain for Wednesday, and then it's all over. The summer will be over, temperatures will drop, and traveling will only get more uncomfortable. So I am planning to hit the road this weekend, and then again next week. I got a geography lesson today so I finally have a better grasp of this peninsula and why things are called what they are (each province is named after two of its major cities, and split into north and south xxx province).

Tonight was my first hot shower in about five days, and I was thinking that if I weigh the pros and cons of being who I am vs. pushing myself out of my comfort zone, it's pretty clear what I have to do. Yes, being shy and fearful lost me the best window of time in which to travel, but it's not like the roads are iced over yet. My new goal is to bust my ass and get around to as many places as possible before Ellie and David land in November. The pity party is over!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why doesn't sleeping help?

On my way home today, I noticed loud music, so I turned around and there was a b-boy crew up on stage. Not very good dancing and a super tame audience, but an amusing diversion.

After that, I saw the line for the waffle place. I'm sorry, I mean A waffle place. They're all the rage here.

That's the sign for the stand, which romanizes back to something like "wah-pul" b/c there is no "f" sound in Korean. No sounds made by bringing together the front teeth and bottom lip exist in Korean.

In case you didn't believe me about the rage, this is a vendor just down the street from that first window. I'd say about 100 meters away, but I still can't gauge meters very well (and could NEVER gauge distance in feet or miles, so forget about that). The sign says ice cream waffles (the line in blue) and then just regular cream waffles (the line in pink). At today's exchange rate, you get one for under $1.15.

And in case you REALLY didn't believe me, this is another stand in a different part of town, on my way to catch the bus home. I only shot the ones that I noticed, but I'm sure there were more. I also saw a LOT of people eating them on the street. But I thought it would be too rude to shoot them. On the bus, a woman w/a very messy waffle and coffee in an open container sat next to me, and for a few minutes, I was terrified about it splashing all over me. Plus whatever was inside her waffle was green.

The pollution in Seoul is quite awful and makes me want to move out of the city. Meanwhile, I finished knitting another piece today, made some mail art, did homework, and pretty much was sleepy the entire time. Which I don't understand, since I got almost 12 hours of sleep last night. I'm going to bed early tonight again to see if it helps to get TWO nights in a row of sleep.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This is going to hurt

WHOA. Today's hike was ridiculous. It was pretty much rock climbing as far as I'm concerned. Ten of us went, all people I met through my language class last semester, a fun group. Mayumi's husband did a good job of constantly telling us that we were "almost there" to keep us going. When we got to the "knife rocks," I was like, are you KIDDING?? I did it, and I'm going to be in a lot of pain tomorrow. This mountain really sucks for people with short legs, but it was nice to feel like I had a really good sense of how my body was functioning, and to honor any instincts to fall back, take the path with my arms, or reposition my feet. It was an hours-long lesson in how insanely right-footed I am.

We had beer and some food at the bottom before taking a bus home. No one is home tonight, and I didn't know how to turn on the hot water heater, so guess who got to take a cold shower AND do laundry by hand w/cold water? Of course, my roommate called after it was over to tell me how to turn it on. Ooooh well. At least I know I'll sleep hard tonight.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I somehow managed to get up and get on the train to meet Melissa for a trip to the National Museum of Contemporary Art outside of Seoul. It was mobbed by school groups and other tours but we managed to see some art and take in the Bill Viola installation. It was okay. I liked his last show in NYC much better, though.

There were tons of sculptures outside of the museum and thereabouts. This tower was huge. Melissa was super sweet and gave me two mixes for my bday. New music from a new friend! Yay.

I love all the stone structures. I didn't understand why this one was colored blue and red, though.

The museum is located in Seoul Grand Park, a HUGE park that also is home to this random amusement park or who even knows what it is...(no, I didn't see any lions today or ride the elephant train: the "shuttle" that takes you from place to place. Totally Disney).

I was almost late today to this mandatory Fulbright meeting where we had to listen to two lectures by Korean professors who want to go to the US to teach. It made me all fidgety and I wondered how I EVER survived all the schooling that I've gotten. A bunch of us went out afterwards for food and drink. Richard had threatened karaoke and dancing but luckily we just did tapas, wine, sangria, beer, and fried chicken (two different locations).

The sangria was super weak. But it was nice to hang out w/other researchers and see how everyone is faring in Korea. There are a few who have lived in Korea for a while before, and a huge range of research topics. Everyone is really nice, and really smart. So it was an unexpectedly pleasant evening. I especially enjoyed talking to Stephanie, who is almost 10 years younger than me but really smart about things that matter to me. She's doing research on autism awareness and disability rights legislation here. I loved that when I said that I am always stressed, she asked, "do you meditate?"

Time for bed: tomorrow is a BIG mountain hike. Yeesh.