A productive week calls for a festival...or two


It's Friday afternoon of week 2 and I'm sitting at Caffé Bene, drinking an Iced Americano, feeling very settled in, despite not having my own place or a job. After a delicious lunch with Agnes, a woman from the Korea Times, I can confidently foresee that it won't take long before Seoul starts feeling like "home."

Because Monday was a rainy day, I made it a "business" day by spending the entire day indoors, sending emails and looking for apartments/jobs. I followed up with all the wonderful people I met Friday evening and Skyped with my loved ones back at home.

The following day, I had an interview with Anthony Spaeth, the editor of The JoongAng Daily, which is a subdivision of The International Herald Tribune. Although it went very well, they informed me that they aren't hiring. They offered an internship, which I politely declined because, let's face it, this girl's gotta make some money. It was definitely a disappointment but I'm not letting it bring me down. Anthony was impressed nonetheless and informed me that they might be hiring again come December. We'll see where I'm at in 3 months...time has quite the sense of humor.

That evening, Jamie and I went to the Hi Seoul Festival along the Han River. We walked for what seemed like miles and miles but it was well worth it. They had some really neat art installations along the river, which proved to be great for our spur-of-the-moment photo shoots. We explored for about two hours, then made our way to a cafe for some fruit smoothies. Jamie felt the beginning of a cold come on, so we made it an early night just to be safe.

[Lots of people = lots of trash]

[The Han River]

The following day, I met up with my cousin Ji-Hye to visit the Seoul Design Festival at the Olympic stadium. To be around such talented creativity was really inspiring. Design students buzzed around the stadium, taking notes, snapping photos and finding inspiration for their next project. The festival was so large that there were many exhibits we didn't get to see. However, I was beyond satisfied after aimlessly wandering around for a couple hours.

We were supposed to go to Myuong-Dong, the shopping district of Seoul that I blogged about before, but our visit had to be cut short because Ji-Hye needed to go home to tend to my grandmother. I, then, met up with Mark to take him to the Hi Seoul Festival since he didn't get to go with me and Jamie the night before. We ran for a couple miles along the river, which was so wonderful and peaceful as the lights from the high rises reflected off of the water.

After our mini workout, we ate some street food that was a part of the festival and spent the rest of the time people-watching. We observed that although men are generally more touchy-feely here than in the States (they link arms and hold hands), most of the time it's because one man is usually holding his drunk friend up for support. I can't count how many ah-jah-shees (old men) I've seen here, red-faced, wreaking of soju, walking with his eyes closed as his buddy holds him up.

Anyway, on Thursday, I met up with Ji-Hye again to go to Myuong-Dong. We only stayed for an hour before heading to Samcheongdong, an area next to Insadong, which is an ancient part of Seoul that preserved its traditional-style homes. So far, I think Samcheongdong is my favorite area. Its small alleys, independent shops, quirky cafes and cobblestones are comparable to France's romantic and eclectic aura, which I obviously have fallen in love with.

[The most delicious shaved ice...]

[All gone!]

[In front of a really cute, traditional restaurant]

[Me and Ji-Hye!]

[Delicious noodle soup]

That evening, I went to Itaewon to hang out with Kenny and his girlfriend again. I met a few of his other friends, one who's just visiting for a week and another who moved out here just a few weeks ago to work for Samsung. It's really neat to see how large the expat community is out here--everyone is so welcoming and genuinely interested in what brought others out here. There are so many different reasons why people have come out here, and each person did so at various walks of life, so it makes for quite the conversation when you ask, "So...what brought YOU out here?"

Speaking of which, I mentioned earlier that I had lunch with a woman from the Korea Times. John of the L.A. Times gave me her info, so I invited her to lunch today, which ended up being a great time. Agnes is originally from Toronto but she has lived in Seoul for quite some time now. She recently made a career change from teaching to copy-editing at the Korea Times. Although she only began at the Korea Times six months ago, her insight on the industry was very helpful. She informed that I may have just missed the major hiring period for papers, but that another one will take place again around November or December. Almost all reporters are native Koreans but most copy editors are foreigners because the articles should be written as if they were published in an American paper. Thus, the copy editors make it more readable to native English speakers.

Although it's a little disheartening to hear this, I know there are so many other opportunities here. For example, radio stations are constantly looking for people to write their shows and there's the entire field of magazines that I haven't even tapped into yet. Whatever happens though, I'll be sure to keep you all posted :)

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