Besides my hideously depressing last entry, I feel like I haven't written anything about my trip to Seoul so far. I mean, I covered a few things briefly, like Simply Kpop and etc., but I think the last real update I did was around the time Natalee and I finally settled our issue with tickets for Infinite's Second Invasion concert? Which was back in what, late March, so... yeah. Been a while.
I never thought I would say this, but honestly I have kind of a rhythm of life in Seoul so far. Weekdays are mostly classes—Korean class has ended by now, but before then, I had class Monday-Thursday with Fridays off (Korean Cultural History on Monday and Wednesday, Linguistics on Tuesday and Thursday, and Korean on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday). So weekdays, with the exception of every other Wednesday, were dedicated mostly to school and class endeavors (and every other Wednesday to Arirang's Simply Kpop taping). Then on weekends, sometimes both days or sometimes just Saturday or Sunday, Natalee and I (and occasionally Thea, Karmie, and Kat, or any combination thereof) would go to music shows like Music Core or Inkigayo.
Periodically we also attended random events, like F.Cuz's guerilla show in Dongdaemun, but for the most part the above is how our schedules look any given week.
It's funny how totally different life in Seoul is than how I expected it to be. At least on the kpop end of things, I was expecting we'd go to maybe one concert, maybe one musical, and a handful of music shows—and that was it. But we've been incredibly lucky when it comes to music shows—we've gone almost every weekend, and we've had the opportunity to meet a ton of idols, like WE, U-KISS, EXO, BAP, F.Cuz, Ulala Session, Mighty Mouth... This is something I hadn't really even considered when I was planning this study abroad session. I was like, "Maybe I'll see a few idol groups." I never imagined that I would be close enough to idols for them to follow me on Twitter.
But the kpop side of things isn't the only thing about Seoul that's amazing. It's just... it's weird, how sometimes I still—after three months—look out my window and am like, "Ah, right, I'm in Seoul." In some ways it's very similar to Los Angeles: No one can drive or walk on the right side of the sidewalk, there are a bajillion huge buildings, etc. But in most ways it's wildly different than anything I've ever experienced, from the obvious like the language (and resulting language barrier) to the less obvious like how hard it is to find some things in Seoul (like bacon, wtf).
I was worried initially that I would get to Seoul and it would disappoint me, or that it wouldn't be what I'd imagined and I wouldn't love it the way I wanted to. But honestly, the opposite has been true. I absolutely love living in Seoul. Even with the daily struggles of language barrier, Seoul is a phenomenal city—I love how busy it is, how easy it is to get places (thank god for the Seoul Metro), the intermixing of nature and industry, the placement of important cultural icons in the middle of the city. I love the contrast of old and new, of traditional and modern—that's what interested me in Korea to begin with, how Seoul could simultaneously exist in this conservative state of tradition and a progressive state of modernity.
Of course, there are bad things too. Seoul's persistent obsession with physical appearance, for instance, and the emphasis on being skinny—you can only find clothes in a certain set of sizes in Korea, not because everyone in Korea is that size, but because they want everyone to be that size. But I wouldn't say that's enough to keep me from loving it.
I have five weeks left here. Natalee and I are going home on the 23rd of June, and honestly I think... we've been making lists of "good" and "bad" of going back to America, and the list of "bad" is waaaay longer than the list of good. Well, that's not necessarily accurate. I'm really looking forward to seeing my friends and family, and I miss 3G, and I miss being able to eat American breakfast (Korea has a really funky idea of what constitutes a western breakfast, to be honest). But overall, I think this has really only solidified my desire to come back to Korea someday to live for a longer time. It'll be nice to be back in the States, where I don't have to rack my brain for verb conjugations every time I talk to someone, but otherwise... yes. I definitely want to come back to Korea.
Ah! That entry got way longer than I meant it to. I also have some reviews—I've been watching way fewer movies and reading way fewer books since I cam to Korea, since I'm so busy doing... pretty much everything else, but I did manage to power through a couple ㅋㅋㅋㅋ So under the cut, Some Assembly Required (by Anne Lamott) and The Avengers! There may be some spoilers in the Avengers section, sorry!
|First up is Anne Lamott's Some Assembly Required, which is her journal of her son's first son—i.e. a memoir of her becoming a grandmother. I don't really know what inspired me to download this book to my Kindle, since I've never read any of Anne Lamott's other books and no one had particularly recommended this book to me... But ultimately I'm glad I did! |
The book is a combination of tender, funny, and irreverent, which is funny because Anne Lamott traditionally (I think) is a fairly religiously-themed author. Or at least she talks about God a lot in her writing—anyway, what I found interesting is that though she talks a lot about God in this book as well, often she does it in a very realistic, very human way. I'm not a very religious person so I was a little nervous about it, but Anne Lamott is very funny about it—she questions God, pokes fun at God, demands why God doesn't listen to her "always excellent advice," etc. She's also very honest about her her own neurotic tendencies, and knows how to poke fun at herself as a grandmother—she knows her own failings and doesn't shy away from them, and ultimately I think the very realistic portrayal of her family is what gave the book so much of its charm, for me.
As a memoir it's not very plot-heavy—it focuses on the birth of her grandson, Jax, and the first year of her life, as well as all the trials and tribulations that come to them as a family. Her son Sam is only 19 years old when he becomes a father, so none of them are really ready for it, but they all adapt to it with as much grace as they know how. The book doesn't move a whole lot, at least not plot-wise, but you can really see everyone growing day to day, which I think is what I enjoyed so much about it.
Anyway, I don't really expect everyone to like the book, because memoirs are definitely a very subjective thing. But I enjoyed it!
And then, of cousre, The Avengers, which Natalee and I have seen twice in Seoul because it's just that badass.
The thing about the Avengers, first of all, is that it's a really context-heavy movie. If you haven't seen the movies leading up to it, or if you don't at least have some familiarity with Marvel canon and its heroes and villains, you'll probably spend a lot of the movie being really lost. Much of the movie and its moments of alternating hilarity and awful heartbreak are dependent on the viewer knowing the mythology of the universe—Loki's discussion with Thor on the mountaintop, for instance, loses a great deal of its power if you don't know about Thor and Loki's relationship and the things that happened between them in the Thor movie. Similarly, a lot of Captain America's humor won't be quite as funny to you if you haven't seen the Cap movie, and the importance of Iron Man (particularly his relationship to Pepper Potts) will fall flat if you haven't seen Iron Man and Iron Man 2.
That said, if you're like me and do have at least passing familiarity with the universe, I absolutely loved the Avengers. I thought it was phenomenal. I would go to see it like a million more times if movie tickets didn't cost so much. It had such a good combination of humor and seriousness, and I think they did an excellent job rounding out each character and giving them their fair share of screentime, which can be hard to do when you have a superhero movie involving like seven superheroes.
Some things that really stood out to me: Black Widow, in my opinion, is an amazing protagonist. I know some people don't like her, for reasons (in my opinion) ranging from valid-ish to completely ludicrous, but I loved her. I wish she had her own movie, or at Hawkeye & Black Widow movie, because I would love to know more about what makes her tick. She's such a strange woman, honestly—like it was so hard for me to get a read on her. When she talks to Loki in the SHIELD ship, for instance, and it seems so much like she's opening her soul up, and then the next moment she snaps back to the professional, cool, collected demeanor we're used to from her—which side of her was real? How much of what she said to Loki was true? I don't know! Granted, I haven't read the comics, and if I had I'm sure much of her backstory would be illuminated to me, but... lmao.
Anyway, ultimately, I really enjoyed it OBVIOUSLY. I want to watch it again sobs ;__;