this is me

Friends Only

Just a dude in Korea, studying/working/being pretty awesome.

I still post here, but everything is friends only now. Feel free to add me and I'll be more than happy to add you back!
serious business

새해 결심

I've been pretty busy lately - not even so much with studying as with hanging out with friends, eating too much food, and spending way too much money. I'll write up a post on that in the new year. First I'd like to ruminate on 2016 and contemplate 2017.

2016 was a kind of meh year. I don't think it was a great year overall to be honest. School was not great, my health (cyst removal in February, 6+ months of nonsense including surgery in August) was not great, my romantic life was also not great. I'd say, the things that went well this year was that I now understand how important health is. I understood it in 2015, after my arm and everything relating to that - but 2016 was the year it really sunk in.

As far as 2017 is concerned... I've been thinking about resolutions and I have a few, I guess.

1. Be healthy. I can't control this per se, but I can start influencing my health in a positive manner. Be more diligent about applying sunscreen, eat less and healthier, call out for delivery less, etc.

2. Exercise. I did a great job in 2016 of keeping up my exercise, and I hope to continue that in 2017. I hope to finally run a (half-? Full-?) marathon. I hope to run so much that by this time next year I'll have a runner's body. Not because I want a runner's body, but because I want the visible proof that yes, I am a runner. I also want to keep going to the gym and keep getting stronger.

3. Graduate. I want to pass my exams and write a semi-decent, somewhat novel thesis that I will find myself proud of.

4. Study. I need to improve my Korean. I say this every year. I am more serious than ever now. I want to improve my speaking skills, writing skills, and learn Hanja. It would be nice if I could get, or at least be within a stone's throw of getting a 6급 on the TOPIK next year. I want to feel feel, well, competent and confident in Korean.

5. Work. I want to get a job of some sort. I want to start translating Korean literature - a nice way to make a little extra money. I want to do a presentation at a conference or get a paper published. Basically, I want to pursue anything that may improve my resume and lead to new, interesting possibilities.

6. Write. I've gotten it into my head recently that my dream job is becoming an author. Which it is, and it's what I've wanted to do since I was a kid. The problem is, even though I consider myself a writer, and I've participated in many NaNoWriMos, I have hardly written a thing since I came to Korea. What a waste of time! I want to start writing a little every day - just 30 minutes a day is enough. At the very least it would be a nice hobby. No reason not to try!
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visor sneer

최근 스트레스

I wrote my last post on Thursday and a lot has happened since then.

Friday I made the executive decision to be an hour later to my undergrad class. Why? Because I am fucking sick of the awkward group discussions about our books, that's why. So I was an hour late... and when I showed up I discovered that only 3 classmates had bothered to show up. Oh boy. I felt really embarrassed. Also felt like I had egg on my face when the professor let us out 20 minutes later. Yikes.

At 3pm I met up with my advisor. He gave me some advice about my thesis. I'd emailed him a brief summary of what I was thinking; that I wanted to write about gender, and that I was looking into writing about Choe Yun or Gong Jiyoung. When we met up he told me that my idea of gender was a good idea, and that he'd recommend that I consider Choe Yun over Gong Jiyoung, since there has been a lot of research about Gong Jiyoung's writing and gender in her works. He then asked me if I had the thesis evaluation paper that had caused this whole mess. "What?" I said. I went and got a copy from the graduate school office, brought it to him, and he filled it out. Then I submitted it. Because he did that I did NOT fail the 1 credit pass/fail class. I am just... I don't even know. Blown away. I instantly felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

On Saturday I wrote the undergraduate class paper in English, and in the evening met up with Ted near Gongdeok (Mapo). We had really good samgyupsal and then got coffee (well, hot chocolate). Today (Sunday) I translated the paper into Korean and Skyller helped me edit it. He's offered to be my Korean tutor/help me edit my final papers, which is incredibly kind of him. I am hopeful that it'll actually work out and I'll find my Korean skills improving.

I don't have class tomorrow, so I intend on spending the day writing the melancholia paper. My current plan is to write the entirety of that paper on Monday/Tuesday in English. Then from Wednesday I'll work on the semiotics presentation. And eventually I'll get around to translating and also writing/translating the Korean Lit History paper. Most importantly is that I actually finished one final paper(!) already! Yeah, it was short, and kind of a low-effort paper, but it's another weight off my back. I just hope I can keep up this momentum over the next 2 weeks. And then... freedom. (Eh, kinda.)
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visor sneer

11월, 똥월

How the hell is it already December? Jesus.

1. Earlier today I got the response back from the regrading of my Foreign Service essay: I ended up getting a lower score, so no passing this year. Well, it's kinda sad that I didn't get through this time, but it can't be helped, you know? I know what my weak points are (writing like a high school student and the "job knowledge" section), so I can... I dunno... hopefully do better on them next time, I suppose?

2. This week. Jesus. Monday I had a presentation on 이상, where I focused on the dadaism and surrealism that appeared in his poetry- but turns out I kinda messed up and there wasn't any goddamn surrealism. Jesus fucking christ. Wednesday I brought what I've written of my melancholia paper- which ended up being about 8 pages thus far, which, of the 3 people (of 12...) who actually made progress on/brought their papers in this week, was far and away the most. I was told that I was way too broad and didn't to actually find a point, which I absolutely agree with, and I actually have figured out how to narrow down my paper idea quite a bit since then.

2.5. Tuesday I got an email from the English KGSP advisor, saying that we had to turn in thesis proposal evaluation forms on Friday (tomorrow). I hadn't even heard that we had to do a fucking thesis proposal, let alone a goddamn form. So I contacted my advisor, who is in America this year on a visiting professorship, asking for advice. He basically said to ask someone else, that he'd be coming to Korea for a couple days this week so we should meet up on Friday, and oh yeah, he didn't know that he was my advisor because nobody had told him. WHAT THE FUCK. The shear INCOMPETENCE involved in this situation, my god, it's fucking ridiculous. The real issue here is that I signed up for a 1 credit pass/fail "Thesis Advising" class at the beginning of the semester and then forgot all about it because I haven't heard anything about it from anyone. Well, this thesis proposal evaluation form is what will give me a grade in the class. Because I keep experiencing this situation- not being told of something until the last minute, going through 77 different people to figure out a way to solve my problem, etc- I decided... fuck it. I am BUSY and I have SHIT TO DO. I am NOT in the GODDAMN mood to deal with this bullshit right now. I am also depressed on a pretty fundamental level and this was causing so much stress and angst- that you know what I did? I didn't talk to anyone. I decided, fuck it, I'll take the goddamn failing grade. I am going to take an extra semester to work on my thesis and not spend all of next semester giving myself a hard attack over all the work. I do NOT want to not only write up a thesis proposal, but flat out come up with an idea for my goddamn thesis in less than TWO fucking days. That's bullshit. So yeah, I'm going to get a failing grade on my transcript for the first time in my life. Fortunately, I can sign up for the class again next semester and get a passing grade then. I am a bit concerned that it'll impact my potential for getting a PhD in the future- but on the other hand, it's not going to affect my GPA, and thus far I've gotten nothing less than an A+ in every single class I've taken. So I don't know. I'm frustrated and angry and depressed but... resigned. I'll talk with my advisor tomorrow and see what he thinks.

2.75. Current thought on my senior thesis: gender awareness in Gong Ji-young's early novels. It covers both masculinity and femininity, it's very broad, and her works aren't terribly difficult. There's also a decent amount of research done on her novels already so I won't kill myself trying to find sources.

3. Tuesday morning I got the last gardasil (HPV) shot. It's been a process- I got the first one way back in May, the second in August, and the third now. Hopefully it'll prevent other types of HPV. Wednesday I went to the doctor to get my bum checked out. He prescribed a cream a few weeks ago- which was so strong that I only used it four times before giving it a rest for a week, because it was chemically burning my skin. No difference, so I'm using the cream for 3 more weeks (once every three days) and we'll see. Cross your fingers that it helps. I've been getting these fuckers lasered off every other week since fucking May and it is painful, embarrassing, and I REALLY fucking hate it. It's improved a bit but they still keep coming back. So yeah. I'll take the cream over the laser treatment any day of the week, to be honest.

4. Today I put off studying until pretty late, but I finally managed to complete the last worksheet and paper for my undergrad prereq class. That means, from here on out the only stuff I have left to do is work on my final papers. Here's what the final papers situation is looking like:

Lit Crit (undergrad prereq): 3-5 page paper on gender and violence in Han Kang's The Vegetarian and Gong Ji-young's Our Happy Time
Modern Korean Poetry: 13+ page paper on melancholia (and gender???) in Gi Hyeong-do's poetry
History of Korean Lit: ?? page paper on something by Yi Sang (probably melancholia in his poetry... I'll be able to recycle the discussion/research from the Poetry class paper. The paper can be any length we desire, so I'm gonna aim for 13+ pages in an attempt to get myself an A+ for "hard work" ahaha)
Semiotics: 15 minutes presentation/analysis of a poem (also by Yi Sang...). This would be maybe 4-5 pages written down. We may also have a final paper? Or maybe not? I'm confused. I'm crossing my fingers that we don't have a final paper, because that'd be AWESOME. If we do, I'll take one of the other poetry papers and examine the semiotics of masculinity/melancholia in those poems. Because that would help me a lot as far as time is concerned.

Everything is pretty much due from the 18-21st, so I'm going to try to whip my way through them earlier rather than later.

Current study plan:
- tomorrow/Saturday, do the 3-5pg Lit Crit paper.
- Saturday/Sunday/next week, finish the melancholia paper for Korean Poetry class.
- next week (perhaps from Wednesday on; take a break from the melancholia paper if I must), complete my analysis/presentation for semiotics class.
- finals week, do the melancholia in Yi Sang's poetry paper.
And if I end up having a final paper for semiotics, then I'll piece something together at the end of finals week.

I've already done a lot of research/work on a lot of this stuff (melancholia is thoroughly studied, as is Yi Sang's poetry), so I may actually be able to get through these papers with minimal pain and agony. I hope. I am just crossing my fingers that there is no final paper for Semiotics. If there isn't, then I quite possibly will be done with all of my work by the end of finals week- a first. Usually it drags into the following week. Crossing my fingers...
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when your advisor doesn't know he's your advisor because he's been a visiting professor in another country for the last fucking year and nobody fucking told him because everyone is fucking incompetent

tldr; for fuck's sake

There's much more to this story, but it's bedtime and I need to chill the fuck out. Shall post in a day or two.
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철학 싫다

People really need to stop overestimating my Korean ability.

(he says, as he reads over and corrects a graduate level philosophy paper written in Korean)

The struggle is, as they say, real.
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visor sneer

너무 좋지 않은 일주일

This week though... ay yi yi.

So I had all these grand plans of working on all my papers/presentations this week, right? Well, Tuesday morning I got up, went to the gym, came home, and was suddenly just... out of it. I usually pace around my apartment in an attempt to get steps, but I was so worn out and tired I couldn't even make myself stay standing for more than a couple minutes at a time.

It got worse and worse; as the day progressed I started to get hot and cold flashes, a bad headache, and I felt like I was going to puke. I forced myself to set up and work on my paper for about 30 minutes in the afternoon, but found myself too out of it to do any good so I went back to bed. I was at my worst at about 4:30pm, took an hour long nap, and found myself feeling a bit better. I forced myself to go out to get food from the convenience store and I managed to break my fever by being outside in the cold weather. I took a cold shower and more or less felt back to normal by 8pm. A big waste of a day.

Wednesday I made a little progress on my paper. Very little. I found a lot of sources but didn't do much with them. I did meet up with Ted in the evening and we got pajeon and coffee, so that was good.

Today... well, I managed to make a lot of progress on my paper. But like, it's not very good. I kind of just regurgitated everything I read in modified Korean, more or less cribbing it all. I don't really know how else to do it though, honestly? I'm not quite done, but it's Thanksgiving, goddammit, so I'm calling it quits for the day. I only have another page left to write, so as long as I force myself to sit down and do some work on it tomorrow I'll be good to go. I don't really think the presentation itself is super important though, to be honest. I think what's more important- especially for me right now- is that I build enough of a base/background knowledge in Korean surrealism/dadaism and Yi Sang's poetry that I can produce two final papers on it in the next few weeks. I... don't necessarily know if that's what I'm doing, but I'm goddamn well trying. Anyways, if I can finish it tomorrow, that'll give me the weekend to work on the melancholia paper, which should be immensely easier. Well, maybe. Sorta. Kinda. Ugh.

Anyways, today is Thanksgiving and I had leftover pajeon for breakfast and ordered Chinese food for dinner. How American is that, right? Eating Korean-style Chinese food for an American holiday. I mean, if I can't celebrate the holiday with turkey, may as well go for the second best option, amirite?

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visor sneer

기말페이퍼 기간 시작...... ㅠ

Summary of the last week: last week was shit, part two. I failed 2/3rds of my comprehensive exams (passed one though!). I didn't have to get lasered at the doctor, but since I'm not getting better, I got this godawful ointment that may or may not work (cross your fingers). Things looked up on Friday; went with Kay and Nick to Garosu-gil, went to the Joan Cornella exhibition (not worth it- saw everything for free online), got delicious food at Brooklyn the Burger Joint (jalapeno burger and peanut butter and brownie shake), and then watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (quite good!). Saturday I met Ted in Hongdae for coffee. That's about it.

I've been having a lot of issues making myself get started studying recently. The thing is, I have roughly seventy thousand (read: four) final papers due this semester, plus half a billion presentations (read: four papers, otherwise unrelated to the final papers) to get done in the weeks before finals.

I've always had trouble studying. Last semester was awful because I was so lazy I didn't actually get started on my three final papers until 2 weeks before the end of the semester. I greatly regretted that. This time around, I've been planning all semester to be on top of my studies, to do everything BEFORE the end of the semester. I was all prepared to do so, too, until these four presentations popped up at the last second. Now I have four weeks left of the semester and I'm starting to feel distressed.

It's a little more complicated that how I've explained, to be honest. We were supposed to have a term paper in my semiotics class, but the professor wants everyone to do the same poem/movie and turn it in a week earlier? And she's calling it a presentation? I don't really understand what's going on with that to be honest. My Korean Lit History class was supposed to have two presentations, but the professor canceled one of them today, so I'm down to one... which I'm not complaining about.

Let's do a review of my final papers/presentations.
Korean Lit History: presentation on 이상 and 거울 next week; final paper on the same poem due Dec. 19. (I was originally going to do a presentation and therefore my final paper on 김유정의 안해, but since the presentation was canceled, I'm stuck with 이상.... ugh) My final paper will probably be a comparison of 거울 and a western Surrealism poem, or a semiotic analysis of the poem. 거울 because I'll be doing a paper on it in my Semiotics class, and it would be nice to have the background in it before hand/to cut down on the amount of work I have to do.

Semiotics: 이상의 거울 presentation/paper? I guess? I need to contact the professor and ask what exactly the final paper requires... Not necessarily due during finals week, but maybe? And no clue as to the length. I thought we had to choose our own topic and go from there, but I guess the professor decided for us? So vague. (So Korean.)

Modern Korean Poetry: 기형도의 시에 나타난 멜랑콜리아... I've spent a lot of time trying to research melancholia, and this morning I finally found a source that will help me tie everything together. I have to bring in "what I've completed so far" next week, so that gives me a deadline to get a good portion of it done by- and it's also the paper that will be due the latest of them all, on Dec. the 19th, so we'll see if I can finish that sucker early... hopefully this week, to be honest. The stressful part is the philosophy reading; the analyzing won't be too bad.

Korean Literature Criticism: This is my undergrad class. I'm going to write about 젠더와 폭력 in 한강의 채식주의자와 공지영의 우리들의 행복한 시간. I have the paper completely outlined and since the class is pass/fail, I'm not going to dwell too much on it. I want to write the entire fucker next week and get it out of the way.

Class was canceled tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday, and I don't have class Thursdays, so I plan to write the FUCK out of my papers this week. Do the entirety of my 이상 발표 and do the introduction and 방법론 for my 멜랑콜리아 papers if at all possible. I've been having trouble making myself study, but I'm kind of running out of time, so I don't have much of an option.

Here's my rough plan: next week will be the gender and violence paper... the following week I'll work on the semiotics presentation/paper... the week after I'll do the 이상 surrealism paper... and then finals week I'll do the melancholia paper and be done with all of this nonsense. It doesn't sound as daunting when I write it down like this, but this all depends a LOT on my motivation- or lack thereof...

I guess what it comes down to is... well... I don't want to be super fucking stressed the last couple weeks of the semester. Last semester was awful. Mildly stressed is fine, whatever, I can deal with that. But I have so goddamn much to do that I absolutely do NOT want to be more stressed than necessary. If I can just get myself started I will be able to knock out these papers, no problem. But that's the whole issue... :(
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    스트레스 시작......
serious business

감기 싫다 ㅜ

I have a cold and within the next 24 hours the president of the United States will be decided. Here's hoping the right decision is made. Also, that my cold gets better...

In other news... Let's see... Two weekends ago I went with Nick and Kay to Nami Island. It was super crowded but very pretty - I'd like to go back one day when nobody else is there. Last Wednesday I met up with Sangeon in Myeongdong. We got Chinese food for dinner, walked around Cheonggyecheon, and got coffee.

Saturday was interesting. I had to work on my presentation for Cognitive Linguistics class this week, so I met up with Sangeon at a Starbucks near Jonggak and we studied/hung out for a while. By the time we left it was dark- and here's where it gets interesting. There were a ton of riot police out. Fair enough, the shaman scandal with the president has resulted in non-stop protests near Gwanghwamun. But then... We saw the crowds. Holy mackerel. The official estimates range from 43,000 to 200,000 people. We went a street over to the lantern festival... Even more people. Then we tried to get food... Insane.

I spent a million hours Sunday working on my presentation. Today I did it... It's over and done with. Not great, but done. My real issue now is this damn cold. It's not even too bad, but... Ugh. If it could just end I'd be thrilled.
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visor sneer

헬스에 관련된 이야기

I should be studying, but instead I'm procrastinating by writing this post. Woo!

I'm actually almost two weeks late, but I recently passed my one year anniversary of signing up at - and actually going to - the gym. There have been various periods in the last year where, due to traveling (January, June/July) and illness (surgery in February, broken toe in July/August, more surgery in August) I haven't been able to go, but as a whole I've gone 2-3 times a week for the last year.

I signed up at gyms a couple times in the past. When I first came to Korea, back in 2009-10, I signed up at a gym near my place. I went 5-6 days a week, worked out (mostly cardio) for 1-1.5 hours a day, and dieted ridiculous amounts. I proceeded to lose a shit ton of weight that I gradually gained back. I actually only went to the gym for roughly 4-5 months in that time. I joined the university gym when I moved to Jeonju, and then... proceeded not to go. Oops. Haha.

This time around, things have been a little different. Due to my broken arm/surgery/recovery period, I spent a good portion of last year angsting over the possibility that I'd gain weight. I started by taking regular walks, then twice a day walks, then long walks. I did a few exercise videos at home. But when I moved to Seoul and started grad school, things were... different. I was super stressed out, my eating habits had gotten 50x worse, and it was just kinda a lousy period in my life. On the end of a walk (read: break from studying) in mid-October, I dropped by the gym in my neighborhood and signed up for 3 months. The next morning I went to the gym, started Couch to 5k for the fiftieth time, and did some upper-body weight machines.

You know, the interesting thing this time around is that I really haven't lost a lot of weight, period. Until April I hadn't lost a single pound/kilo - because of my eating habits. All in one go I dropped my nut habit (nuts aren't good for you in large quantities, guys, if you weren't aware) and started eating more veggies. Since April I've lost- I want to say 6kg now. That's what, 13 pounds? In general I look a bit slimmer, but it's not as drastic a change (in as short a time) as it was the last few times I dieted/exercised. That's because I'm not dieting this time. I'm trying to watch what I eat, and eat lots of vegetables and fruit/not overeat/not eat unhealthy things frequently. It's a gradual process. Very, very gradual. Practically glacial, in fact.

But you know what? I AM seeing a difference. It was in the last two weeks or so that my face shape finally started to change, thank god. For a good chunk of time there I hated virtually every photo taken of me. Now, I only hate 90% of the photos of me. Hooray! But yeah, besides that, I'm also seeing a difference in my legs/arms. My gut (and manboobs) have been permanent parts of my physiology for my entire life, so I'm not really expecting them to vanish fast, but it IS shrinking. Slowly.

The other big change has been happening in the last few weeks- I'm starting to get stronger. I know it's silly to say that, after a year of going to the gym, but for a good portion of that time it's felt like I've made absolutely no progress. I would try to lift heavier weights, but it never worked out. Recently I've changed how I do my weight lifting and I'm actually seeing a difference. Yesterday I managed to squat 20kg. I mean, no, that's not super badass or anything, but it's a HUGE improvement over struggling to squat 5kg, or 10kg. I've also started to do more exercises outside of the weight machines. I'm still working my way up to doing unaided deadlifts/bench press/squats, but I'm doing a lot of free weights, which is pretty cool.

My big focus this whole time, however, has been running. I'm not going to go into my sordid history of running, but needless to say, it is my favorite sport and the one I've tried to get into over the years, with failed results, most of the time, thanks to injuries from overtraining (or "too much too fast" syndrome). This time around, I haven't injured myself at all. I mean, let me rephrase that. When my knees hurt, I use my foam roller. That has been a life-saver, to be honest. I've been running for a year now and I'm quite pleased with myself! My goal has always been to run farther and farther, so hopefully one day I'll be able to run a half- or full-marathon. That being said, my goal this winter is to continue running 4 days a week, steadily increasing my run distances, and not injure myself in the process. If I can manage to do this, I'll be thrilled.

Anyways, exercise exercise exercise woo. In the last year, I haven't changed physically as much as I was expecting, or would have liked, but I'm pleased with myself because I AM changing. I am making a difference. This is a gradual process. If I can manage to continue this for another year, I wonder what my body will be like then? Hopefully I'll manage to shrink my belly/manboobs...

Time to get ready for class.
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