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From Montreal to Incheon

a travel blog by Maestro


A little blog for the folks back home to keep up with what I'll be doing at Inha University in Incheon, South Korea. I'll be starting there in Fall 2009. Hope you guys tune in!


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Patience is a Freaking Virtue...

Montreal, Canada


For those of you who have went through the process of applying for an exchange program, are probably familiar with the dreaded waiting game. I'd say it's worse than any other waiting period for an application I've had so far.

You see, waiting for an ordinary application is a pain to start with. I remember checking my application process for Concordia every two days (Mind you, I'm just impatient like that). Luckily, I sent it out at the end of February and I received my answer around the end of March, beginning of April.

Exchange programs run differently. With what feels to be four times the amount of paperwork. At Concordia (and probably most schools), you have to list three schools that you'd like to go to. Then you have to write down pre-course selections for these three schools. Then you must get them approved from your faculty adviser. Then the department adviser. Then you finally ship out all those things to the international office at your school. Then you wait about a month as they decide whether or not you're eligible. Once you're accepted, then there's a whole bunch of other various papers you need to fill in. Then you wait about 2-4 months for the host university to answer you back. It's all quite tedious.

Currently, I'm in the near the last stage. Basically, I'm still waiting for Inha to send me back my letter in order to get my student visa. However, I received an email from my intentional liaison officer saying that we should be getting out answers early next week. So! That's a relief. Hopefully, by the next time I write here, I'll have that paper to wave around. :)

Laters everyone!

permalink written by  Maestro on June 12, 2009 from Montreal, Canada
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged South, Waiting, Montreal, Study, Abroad, Korea and Exchange

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Quarantine is Mandatory

Montreal, Canada


Well, I finally got my admissions package! Which now officially means I've been accepted into Inha University for the Fall. I got my admissions letter and this lovely little handbook basically giving me all the info I need (except for how I'm supposed to apply for the dorm and when orientation is). Looks like I still have a lot of things to take care of before I leave. Well, Friday, I'll renew my passport, so that the week after I could get my D-2 visa.

There was something else that was in my package that I thought was rather entertaining. I supposed I shouldn't since the issue is rather serious, but you know- can't help but chuckle a bit. What I got was information about the H1N1 virus and what's going to happen when I arrive. For a week, I'll have to wear a mask, and go to the Health Center daily to check for symptoms and body temperature. If anything doesn't go the way they want, I get quarantined for a certain amount of time.

So yeah. I'm going to make sure that I don't cough upon my arrival.

permalink written by  Maestro on June 22, 2009 from Montreal, Canada
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged StudyAbroad, Korea, Exchange, H1N1 and Quaratine

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More Pre-Stuff

Montreal, Canada


Woo! Update. Been awhile.

So, I have a few more weeks before the big day. Still feels like there's so much to do. I got my addmission letter from Inha, as to which I was supposed to receive my D2 Visa, but when I went to the consulate, apparently I was still missing ANOTHER piece of paper from the bank. So, this week, I'll have all the papers to go.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to get my passport renewed, which was by far the fastest process I've had to deal with in awhile. Was done in less than an hour and within 9 days, I had my new little passport. I still look like a criminal. No Surprise there. ;) Don't we all look like we've done something bad in those photos?

I also got my Twinrix shots out of the way and let me tell you this- Ow. The first one was fine. The second one hurt a bit, and the last one just made me want to cry (but I didn't because I'm grownup and Manly like that). They're all taken care of now, thankfully and won't have to deal with the last shot until I get back.

Other than all of that, I've actually been pretty busy with other things for the summer. Was up in George River, I went to see Russell Peters, it was my Grandma's 95th birthday... lotsa stuff! And all in our lousy summer weather.

Oh! I got my tickets. I shall be leaving August 26th. My flight will be heading from Montreal to San Fransisco, I sleep there and then the next day I'm off to Seoul. It's gonna be long, but hopefully, I'll manage. Well, I'm going to have to. There's going to be a lot of jet lag involved, I know that much.

Anyway, that's basically what's been going on. Hopefully my entry, I'll finally have my damn Visa!


permalink written by  Maestro on July 3, 2009 from Montreal, Canada
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged Doctor, Passport, Random, Study and Korea

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It's Crunch Time!

Montreal, Canada


So, almost everything is in check now after a good year of planning. I have my student visa, I have my student I.D number, and I have my tickets. With just nine days left before I leave, I'm getting pretty nervous. Will the trip there be safe? Will I be picked up at the airport? Am I going to enjoy my time there? Well, I can't really find out until I actually go there, eh?

All that is left now is packing! And maybe a bit of shopping. I need some new shoes and pants.



permalink written by  Maestro on August 17, 2009 from Montreal, Canada
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
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Good Golly Miss Molly...

Montreal, Canada


So, I have 19 1/2 hours left before I head on out, and I gotta say- my nerves are really getting to me. I'm nervous needless to say. Really nervous. I've been planning this for about a year, so it always just seemed so far away- very unreal.

Now, the time has finally come- and it just hit me now- I'm travelling across the world to a country I've never been to, a language I can't really speak- all by myself. Sure, there will be other Concordia Students, but man...

I'm excited and happy. It'll really be an adventure. I'm just a worry wart about things going wrong, like I forgot a paper, or look like a terrorist, or silly things like that.

I really gotta thank everyone for supporting me. Family and friends of course. My mom has been just been awesome and amazing- helping me with buying last minute stuff, and just been for me travelling the whole way. Love ya mom!

Anyway, so enough with the cheesy stuff. I'm basically all set. Hopefully- I think I am. My checklist says so. But ugh... I always feel like something might just go wrong, you know what I mean?

Well, guess won't know until I get there huh? ;)

Tomorrow, It's Montreal to San Fransisco. It's about a six hour flight. That's pretty tame compared to my flight the day after. Either way, though I'm only there for the evening- I'll take pictures! Maybe I'll see the bay. :)

Laters!

permalink written by  Maestro on August 25, 2009 from Montreal, Canada
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged TravelStudyAbroadSanFransiscoMontrealKoreaIncheonSeoul

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Economy Seats Still Suck

San Francisco, United States


They make your butt hurt a lot. :/

So, it's really happened now. I'm no longer in Montreal- I have no landed in San Fransisco. I was a bit teary-eyed as I left my mom at the gate, like a sap. Yes, yes, I'm a momma's girl.

All in all, the flight went pretty smoothly. It took about six hours, which felt longer. There were a lot of movies and T.V shoes to keep me occupied which was nice.

I watched Star Trek for the first time (the new one of course). It was pretty cool. Not my favorite movie of all time, but still really neat.

I also watched two Big Bang Theory episodes, as well as something about Flying Saucers.

And now I'm in San Fran, which is chillier then I thought, seeing that it's in California. Of course, the time difference is screwing me up. 3 hour difference. It's almost two back home, and only quarter to 11 here. I'm gonna go to sleep soon and do some looking around tomorrow. :) My flight isn't until 1:30, so I got the morning to gaze around the area.

Check the Album here and my Facebook for new pictures!

permalink written by  Maestro on August 26, 2009 from San Francisco, United States
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged Airport, Montreal, Korea, San and Fransisco

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Tired, but Happy.

Inch'on, South Korea


Warning: This is gonna be long. Prepare for a lot of reading.

So, I'm finally here in Incheon! Woo!

I gotta say, 11 hours and 40 minutes in Economy? I was ready to die. I want to say 'never again', but I know I'll be doing that when I have to get back to Montreal. Ugh... my stomach still churns thinking about it.

But lets focus on the good things! Once I got to the airport, just... it was really amazing. Wow. So shiny. You can really tell it's a new airport. It's just really lovely to gawk at (which you'll see later). The only thing that made me nervous were the quarantine guys waiting for us as we entered the airport. Apparently, they're very quick to jump the Swine Flu case, and I had a bit of the sniffles- so I had to write that down. I was afraid they were gonna quarantine me right then and there. But now, all they did was ask why I didn't put down my cell phone number (I don't have one yet) and then I ASSUME they took my temperature. Hard to say. It was a little device that they pointed to my neck and then it beeped. Then I was handed some hand wipes and was on my way.

Customs and Declartion were easy enough. Lines were short. Once I got my luggage, I was greeted by two men sent by the university who were very nice. They towed my luggage, which was nice. I had to wait about an hour though before we could leave because there were a few students from China as well as one from Austria. Once that was done, were drove off in some vans (I think Korea has some Montreal drivers in them. They can be dangerous!) and headed to the dorms.

So, once I was there, I was met by my Korean Buddy, Dahae, who has been the nice and patient with me. Her duty was essentially to help me settle down, and explains things to people in Korean if they didn't understand me, and explain things in English when I don't understand them. She's been awesome. Today, she helped me buy a couple of things I didn't have (hairdryer and pillow) and then we went to watch a movie at the theater. They have a big one with both English and Korean movies! :) What did we watch? Orphen. I gotta say, that was one really weird movie. It kept me on the edge of my seat, but it was still really weird. I'm not gonna spoil anything for those who haven't watched it though.

Seoul isn't actually that far by bus or metro. It's as if I were going from John Abbott to Downtown, so that's nice. And it's for a cheap transportation too.

I've managed to meet a couple of International exchange students- Francois Paradis from Concordia, six Chinese students, two guys from Austria and one from Sweden. Also, my last roomate just came in, who is also from Concordia. She seems pretty cool.

So, my roomies for this semester are two Korean students, and the girl from Concordia. Hopefully we'll all get along! I'm pretty used to the dorm experience though, so it's all good.

As for now, I'm just trying to force myself to stay awake. I'm so sleepy, but that's jetlag for you. Tomorrow, I think I'm gonna try to head to Seoul. Maybe. If not, I'll just do more exploring-. So far, everyone has been really nice to me. And despite what people have said, I haven't gotten that much staring. Other than a few kids, even then, it wasn't a biggie. All they said was Hello and I said Hello back.

Alright, well, I'd say that's about it for now. If I write anymore, it'll turn into a novel. Bye!

Also check for more pictures. If you want more, Facebook has 'em.

permalink written by  Maestro on August 29, 2009 from Inch'on, South Korea
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged University, South, Incheon, Korea and Inha

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First Day of Classes

Inch'on, South Korea


So, today was my first day of classes, which despite all the insanity, went quite well. This morning, all the students had to go and get our temperatures checked to make sure we didn't have swine flu. It actually took awhile to find. There was me and Jackie, and then we bumped into two Austrian students and one Sweden student. Eventually we found it, got checked out and then were told to keep on coming until Friday. It's a bizarre system, but whatever. I'm not gonna argue about it. I have to take a Psychological test next Monday, so getting my temperature checked it probably the least of the two. Go figure. Apparently there was one interntational student who was a bit crazy, so that's why they do that test from now on. The one flaw I saw in that is what if the Korean student is the one that goes crazy? Who knows...

Anyway, if some of you didn't know, I had a bunch of problems registering my courses here, but I went to talk to the International Liason this morning, so that worked well. I was originally supposed to take five courses, but seems I can only take four since, despite the fact that I'm completely capable in English, there's a class for teaching and they are theories that I am only starting to cover in my other class. Soo.... I'm going to tell the teacher that I am unable to attend it. Too bad though, because she seems pretty amazing.

So today my classes were Theories in TEFL, the hard class, and Special Topics in History. Now the History was rather humourous because a bunch of us were waiting for the teacher for awhile, only to find out that our Teacher wasn't coming because he was in Japan for whatever reason. Kinda makes me think of a few teachers in Cegep! Hee-hee-hee. Either way, we start those classes next week.

Tomorrow, I have another Education class and then I take my Korean Profenciency Test to see just how badly I suck in Korean. Which I assume, is pretty bad. That's alright though, because I'm here to learn! >:3

Thursday and Wensday are continuations of my TEFL class and Korean class, so that's pretty simple. And I also applied to tutoring in Korean conversation. Yep. Only thing I'm missing now is just joining the Tae Kwon Do club and I'm set.

I'm thinking that either this weekened or next weekend I'm gonna go and head down to Seoul. I want to see the Palaces~ And also just see how crazy packed the city is.

Besides, I still need to use my lovely little bus pass~ Gotta abuse it!

permalink written by  Maestro on August 31, 2009 from Inch'on, South Korea
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged University, South, Incheon, Korea and Inha

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New Michael Buble CD!?

Inch'on, South Korea


Yes, I'm in Korea and I'm talking about Michael Buble. Can I help it if I'm a fangirl? So yes, Oct. is the month that his new CD comes out. They already have the single which I'm quite addicted to. It's upbeat and lovey-dovey, but in a different way. Mom said she'd get it for me when it comes out. I certainly hope so! If not, I have some searching around in Korea to do.

Alright, so a lot has happened in my first full week at Inha University. I've now had all my classes, which are actually quite interesting. My first is Theories in TEFL, then I have Southeast Asian History (It's actually named Special Topics In History, but this is what happens to be the special topic), Theories of Instruction and of course, Basic Korean. So far, it's the opposite of what I do back at Concordia, which means... a lot of reading! :/ I'm not crazy about reading homework. I'd prefer writing or assignments, but I'll make due since the stuff is actually all pretty interesting.

I'm also quite happy to say that even though I'm in Basic Korean, I'm not at the bottom! :) Since I know my Hangul, I am at a slightly higher base. Not by much, but it's a start I'd say. Our teacher is really nice and really funny actually. I think I'm gonna enjoy her for the semester.

Compared to the rest of the exchange students, I actually have a bit more homework this week because I have a group presentation tomorrow that is supposed to last an hour. AN HOUR! That'll certainly be something. My teammates are super nice and cool though, so I'm happy about that. Hopefully all will go well tomorrow.

Friday was certainly something. There was a party for all the international students in which we had games, met new people and registered for Korean tutors. I was also interviewed by the english newspaper on campus, so I'll be in the paper in the next few weeks! Exciting stuff, eh?

After the party, a bunch of people went out and we had a couple of drinks and then Noraebang. For those who don't know what Noraebang is, it's basically Karaoke. And yes. I sang. Horribly, but I did sing.

The one thing I do have to get used to in Korea is that the smoking laws aren't as strict as in Quebec, so a lot of bars you're still allowed to smoke, and there are no smoking/non-smoking areas. But hey, for now, I'll put up with it.

Saturday was also very exciting. It was the first time I went to Seoul. I went with Jackie, Francois (two Concordia students) and two of Francois' Korean friends and visited Deoksugung, which is one of the smaller palaces, as well as an area known as Sinchon. It's a popular place for young people (especially girls) to go shopping and hang out. Jackie was feeling ill though, so we didn't stay for long. There's still a lot of places to visit in Seoul, so I'll have to go again and again for awhile. I think the next place I'd like to check out would be Seoul Tower (which is essentially the CN tower).

Sunday was half busy, half study. Me and my three other roomates went out to try a paticular chicken meal who's name I can't remember. It was good though. You have a tiny chicken, stuffed with rice, ginseng, dates and a few other things, boiled in a sort of soup. Obviously not for the vegetarians out there (sorry Zeph!), but it certainly was tasty.

After that we did a bit of shopping in the Juan train station, and then finally *sigh* we all went back home to do our homework. Yes, reality did set in for all of us. It was a bit of a pain in the butt, but the big stuff is done now.

Tonight I have a final meeting with my group for the presentation. We're gonna have a dry run of our presentation and then tomorrow is the real thing. Wish me luck!

Check the Album and Facebook for new photos.

permalink written by  Maestro on September 7, 2009 from Inch'on, South Korea
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged University, South, Seoul, Incheon, Korea and Inha

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Last Week on Princess Hours: The Yeti Spinoff...

Inch'on, South Korea


For those who don't know the reference need to watch Goong (a.k.a Princess Hours) and the spin off. It's quite possible that the only person who will get it is probably my mom. Why? Because we marathoned that series hardcore. Well, not three days hardcore, but still hardcore enough for us.

So, this Friday evening, I went on an adventure with Jackie as well as three crazy, but fun Europeans. Jonathan from Sweden and Martin and Rene from Austria. We went to Incheon's very own Chinatown! Yes, there is a Chinatown in Korea. In fact, I don't know if there's a country that doesn't have a Chinatown. Please let me know if you find out. And no, Antarctica does not count.

Anyway, I have to say, it's quite beautiful during the evening. The streets are lit up with many lovely lanterns. It gives the area a wonderful charm. After eating a good Chinese meal (to which we owe Jackie thanks to her Mandarin and Cantonese skills), we decided to explore a park/garden in the upper areas of the town. It was high, but thankfully no stairs, meaning no pain. A very nice place to walk around, I have to say.

There was a nice pit stop at the top, to which of course the guys bought a bit of beer and enjoyed themselves as we all tried to hula hoop with this ridulously large hula hoops. And I mean ridiculously large. The guys could manage a bit of it, but Jackie and I, despite being female, could not manage it. It's not like women couldn't either. We saw not only a Korean woman work it like it was no problem, but children as well. To that I have to say, just what the hell?

Perhaps Koreans and Europeans have extraordinary hulahoop powers that us Canadians lack. Much look into this further.

After that, we went up to a statue of General MacArthur. For those who need a history lesson (I needed on because I'm retarded when it comes to war history), he was a very prominant American soldier during the Korea War as well as WWI and II. It was quite the sight, I have to say.

So, after some more walking, we finally decided to head back down. To our dismay, it began to rain and poor like mad. Luckily for Jackie and I, we had our umbrellas, but alas, the guys didn't. Mainly because they didn't believe us when we told them about the forecast. However, even with those, we still ended up pretty much soaked once we got back to the dorms.

The next day, the five of us decided to make our way down to Seoul and visit the mega trendy district of Myeongdong and the Namsan Seoul Tower. Myeongdong made me realize just how populated Seoul was, because holy crap, was it packed. Packed with everyone. Mainly with girls (it's a shopping area) but packed nonetheless. Me and Jackie managed to get free samples from a kind of Body Shop store, so I can't complain too much. I am quite glad I don't live in the heart of Seoul though.

So after a bit of Myeongdong madness, we decided to work are way up to Seoul Tower... by cable car. For now. The rest of that tale will come later. But lets start with part one.

Seoul Tower is situated in the middle of Seoul's Namsan's Park, which is is quite beautiful. Actually, I loved it there because the air was very clean, compared to the usual city smell.

We checked out the area around Seoul Tower as well as the Teddy Bear Museum. I enjoyed it, but it was pretty obvious that the guys didn't (which makes sense. They're guys.)

We went back down for a bit to eat (we decided we wanted to see the sight from the tower when it was dark), and when we came back to take the bus or cable car... well... it was rather um... packed.

So what did we do? We climbed to the top of that damn hill. Steep stairs in all. I gotta say, a half an hour of stairs? Kinda makes me look back at Fighting class and think that maybe the 'stair drill' wasn't so bad. But still, excuse me for my language but...

Fuck stairs. Several times.

Now that that's out of my system, once we made it back to the actual top of the tower, it was quite the sight. Seoul is big. Very big. If it was in a locker room with Canadian cities and it whipped off it's towel, it would make the others mumble with embaressment.

But of course, it's not how big the city is, it's what you do with it. ;)

Anyway, after all was said and done, we headed back, quite exhausted. Good day though, I gotta say.

This week, it's lotsa homework. But! Jackie and Jonathan just invited me to go check out the festival. So that'll come after.

Laters! Check out the new photos here and on Facebook!

permalink written by  Maestro on September 13, 2009 from Inch'on, South Korea
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged University, Tower, Seoul, Incheon, Korea, Inha and Namsan

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