Saturday, October 23, 2010

Things I Didn't Realize I Missed in Korea

1. 24 Hour Grocery Stores

Granted, the Buy the Way in the first floor of my apartment building carried everything I ever needed in a pinch, but sometimes I need the kind of therapy that only a giant warehouse of foodstuffs can provide. And sometimes I need it at midnight.

2. Looking Like A Total Schlub

Sometimes part of that therapy involves leaving the house in "loungewear" and uncombed hair. Bonus points for wearing a jjimjilbang t-shirt. (They have fast become my favorite autumnal "sit around and do nothing at home" shirts, on account of the surprisingly substantial material. They're so warm!)

3. Driving

Again, another essential part of this therapy is motoring myself there. Walking is nice, sure, but sometimes it's cold and sometimes I'm lazy and sometimes I feel like moving faster than I can go under my own power.

Just some thoughts on my way to some food retail therapy. ^^

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jet-Setting: Costa Rica

As of 2.15 this afternoon, I was accepted into the International House Costa Rica franchise of Cambridge's TESOL program.


This beats the crap out of my original plan of finishing a CELTA program in NYC, both in terms of price and in terms of pure awesome. An official TEFL certificate will be an edge back in Korea; one from Cambridge doubly-so (CELTA is one of the most-respected programs in the TEFL business). I will be too busy to travel around Costa Rica during the course, so I'm taking an extra week at the end of the course to properly see the country. Stay tuned for wacky Central American traveling antics!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis

Meet me at the fair~!


I went to St. Louis to visit one of my "top tier" friends (of whom there are only two in the whole world), Noah. He transferred out of Hamilton after our sophomore year, so I haven't been in the same area code as him since 2006. That means we need planes, trains, and automobiles to see each other.

We make a neat set of opposites, n'est-ce pas?

(The reason this visit gets a write-up, while my weekend jaunt to visit my token Korean friend in DC does not, is that Jong-min does not seem as enthusiastic as Noah to photo-document our time together. I think Jong-min might be embarrassed about the trainwreck white girl he's added to his life. =P)

My flight to St. Louis was longer and more arduous than it needed to be, thanks to a combination of mistakes on both my part and the airline's, suffice it to say that my trip to St. Louis started at 8.30 PM at the STL airport in a poofy, over-the-top prom dress, pearls, and the most makeup I'll wear for the next three months, waiting for my ride from Noah. For that night was Metro Prom.

Sadly, I missed the metro part of the prom, but our prom getup got us free entry into a piano bar called Big Bang, where we sang around with the requests for an hour or so. The crowd started picking up soon after, so we fled for a nearby diner (a common theme in any of my visits to/from friends).


The next day we made an abortive attempt to visit The Arch and the City Museum, but dead batteries and a private party rained on that parade. However, we did make a successful excursion out of Blueberry Hill (Chuck Berry's piano bar), the St. Louis Walk of Fame (notables: Chuck Berry, Yogi Berra, Vincent Price), a sweet old movie theater, a store full of spices, another store full of bottle-your-own-whatever (we left with two bottles of whisky), and a restaurant with the best milkshakes I've ever had. Five dollar milkshakes, even.

Things start picking up in my memory post the purchase of some new batteries for my camera. We walked from Noah's house to a movie theater/bowling alley/bar called Moolah to see The Social Network. En route we made a couple whisky stops.

The first was a pizza place/bar called pi. As in the irrational number. We went there for lunch later and I have to say, their pies are tremendous. Look them up if ever you go. The whisky list is also impressive:

(I don't know what connection the Rittenhouse Rye has to the Rittenhouse Square of Philadelphia fame, if any. I didn't get to try any, either; they were out.)

The second place had once been a speakeasy, but since converted to a proper bar. You can still go downstairs to drink in a super-atmospheric basement area. AND GUESS WHAT THEY HAD:

WHY ONLY THE WORLD'S BEST SINGLE MALT OF 2009. Probably my favorite non-Islay malt.

We also met a lawyer/countertop salesman? I don't know how that combination works out, but apparently he gets to travel to China multiple times a year for whatever it is that he does. And he can afford expensive bottle of port and nice cigars.

The next day we started with a hearty American breakfast at:

This is what I miss about America whenever I'm not there:

This time I had fresh batteries, so I got in some obligatory shots of The Arch.

And The City Museum was also open for us, which was awesome and probably the highlight of my whole trip.

A couple of things. First, note the metal spire type thing you can see on the roof. You can climb up into that:

Which is terrifying! But the view is awesome.

Also note the school bus. You can go in it.

Afterwards, Noah had to go in to work for a couple hours, so I slept in Forest park for a while. We picked up some ingredients for whatever meat-based dish he had planned for dinner (which was tasty), made dinner, and drank some St. Louis microbrew.

My flight home suffered from massive, massive delays (oh flying! you were just not happening for me that weekend), so I killed a couple hours in the airport reading some David Mack I had picked up in a comic book store on Saturday. I also emailed CELTA at International House Costa Rica from my phone to see what the turnaround on my application would be. A couple days after I got back, I'd find out that they'd want a phone interview.

St. Louis was too short, unfortunately; there was a lot more I could have seen, and more time could have been spent with Noah before I go back to Korea. Hopefully I can make it back for a longer visit some day!