As the weeks count down to the end of the semester, my friends and I are frantically trying to fit everything into our schedule while also finishing up final projects and studying for tests. Week 12 to 14 were jam packed with fun activities and tired college students. The UCEAP goodbye banquet (I’m like TT wooo~) also happened, marking the last (official) UCEAP event of the semester. Time is passing by so fast and I can’t believe it’s already December.
The last of the fall colors have faded away as classes continued as always. I finally finished my last essay for my cinema class (there was one literally every week) and we got a new KLI teacher with five days left of our Monday, Wednesday, Friday class. I actually really like this new teacher because even though our old teacher was funny (he got switched to Yonsei’s other campus because their winter quarter was starting), this new teacher uses color coding and is a lot more clear while explaining grammar. Five weeks of accumulating confusion and finally all the Korean grammar is starting to make sense. My first final is coming up next Tuesday and everywhere around Sinchon, students are packing into the cafes to study (and even Taco Bell).
On Wednesday, my friends and I revisited Hapjeong for another round of cafe hopping. This time, we went Billy Angel and Traveler’s Cafe. The cake I got, which was the Earl Grey chiffon cake, was super duper light and yummy. My friend got the chocolate cake, which was, if you really like chocolate, layers and layers of chocolate in addition to whole pieces of chocolate stuffed inside the slice. The Traveler’s Cafe really made it feel like Christmas, from the decorations to the coasters. There were lots of travel books inside (as expected from a ‘traveler’s’ cafe) and I would suggest coming here for a relaxing atmosphere and travel research.
Thursday night, we went to Edae to check out a new ramen place and I think this was the best one we have had so far, in terms of portion and price! It wasn’t super busy either and we were seated right away.
Friday night after KLI, we headed to Common Ground, a mall made of converted shipping containers. We finally tried Dore Dore and we were not disappointed. We got their rainbow cake right after dinner and were super scared that we would be too full to enjoy it but the cake was the lightest, fluffiest thing ever. I’ve never had a cake so good. Even the cream was not heavy. It felt like melting clouds. After eating Dore Dore, we checked out a Mr. Do Nothing gallery happening on the top floor of Common Ground. Super cute and super relatable art. After Common Ground, we headed to the Gangnam area to try some melon bingsoo and at the cafe there was a guy who was dead asleep. He looked super cozy HAHA. We slowly made our way to Apgujeong while checking out the little alleys and streets along the way before heading home.
Saturday, we went to Team Lab World, a newly opened interactive light art museum located inside the Lotte World complex in Jamsil (it can be found in San Francisco too at Pace Gallery). When we first entered we were scared that it would be for kids only, but we found that the coloring and light games were super fun and relaxing for all ages. We managed to start a trend inside Team Lab World when our tired butts sat on the floor cushions (you’re allowed to…just that no one did) and then everyone suddenly started sitting on them too. After Team Lab World, we headed into the Lotte World Mall. It’s super pretty in there and there’s a ton of restaurants to choose from. I tried my first jjimdak-basically Korean steamed chicken- that night. Super delicious although chicken is not my thing. It’s a great dish for large parties!
On Wednesday of Week 13, we went to Mustoy Cafe and got little ceramic dolls to color with. The lady there was super fun and nice and I actually got to practice my Korean although it took me about a minute to respond. We spent our whole morning and afternoon there before heading back to school for KLI.
Thursday was the UCEAP Thanksgiving dinner. We got to all hang out together again after a long time and eat hella good, and most importantly, FREE food. There were whole chickens (no turkeys here), mashed potatoes, salad, and lots of apple cider. Everything was from Costco so that was nice too since I’ve missed Costco food. After the main meal we got a pumpkin pie for each table…except it wasn’t your traditional pumpkin pie. It was made of the green colored Asian pumpkin and tasted like yummy egg tart. Someone joked that if our Asian grandmother was told to make a pumpkin pie for the first time, it would taste like this.
On Saturday, we FINALLY went to Gyeongbokgung Palace (Gyeongbok Palace Palace?). We originally planned to rent hanboks to wear there-you can get in for free that way-but it was rainy when we got there so we decided to just head in. The skies are against us because the momeny we stepped into the courtyard, the sun started shining.
I visited the palace before when I was really young…around ten years ago? But the palace was just as beautiful as I remembered. I think it got a little larger now because they’ve gradually rebuilt it over the years. We took lots of fun pictures and got lost in the many courtyards with no other tourists. I finally reunited with the rat statue and took a selfie with him again after ten years too. There was also this soy sauce pavilion we wanted to find but for some reason missed it like three times as we circled the palace again and again. We have zero direction sense in this group. Will 10/10 come back after a few years to see how things will change again.
Week 14 marked the end of final projects and the beginning of the final study grind. Of course, since we had so little left in Korea, we decided to have as muc fun as possible anyways while balancing it out with cute study cafes.
On Thursday night, we went up to a nearby cafe called Dokdabang to study. It’s on the eighth floor so we got sweeping views of Yonsei and the Sinchon area. It’s a little pricey but the environment is really nice for studying.
Friday night was the goodbye dinner for UCEAP. Our buses got lost on the way to the hotel which was hilarious because we encountered an old lady who asked us if a celebrity was in the hotel since there were so many college kids hanging around outside. We finally got to the right place and dug into the buffet the moment we arrived. There was so much to eat but we could only eat so much at once. Gotta learn an expand-the-stomach technique. We played some games, and did a raffle, all of which my table lost in HAHA. There was also a talent show which made me sad because why y’all all so talented.
Saturday, my friends and I headed to Gangnam in the afternoon to try out Remi Cone and then headed to KStar Road to take pictures with the Kpop bears (is that what they’re called) and visit some of the agencies. We went into a fancy supermarket and tried a lot of the sample food and I spent about five minutes trying to stab a cherry with a toothpick (awkward). Sadly, we didn’t see anyone at any of the agencies but that’s okay. This celeb stalking life is not for me. I felt like I was intruding even while walking down the street to the agencies HAHAHA. After Gangnam, we went back across the river to Myeongdong, which was gorgeous by the way because of the Christmas lights, and got some street food for dinner before finishing off with the long awaited Strawberry Cheesecake sulbing (yes you need to wait for fruits to be in season here). We also visited the Style Nanda Pink Hotel shop which was so extra but so awesome.