Michiganders Find Sparty in Gwangju

I’m currently sitting in the little coffee shop below my school, sipping on my $1.78 vanilla latte (thankfully teachers receive a 50% off discount) and watching Korean families gather to share a bowl of red bean ice cream.  It seems like a very popular dish during the humid days of summer.  It’s funny, as interesting as I find the people here, they find a random foreigner just as interesting so I find myself making awkward eye contact more than I would like.

My internet is out, so that’s the main reason I’m sitting at the cafe and I’ve decided the humidity is probably the only thing in the world that could ever stop me from my adventures.  Well, that and being poor.  So here I sit, sipping on a delicious latte, basking in the the free A/C and wireless internet 😉

For the past couple of days, Monica, Emily and I have been roaming around Gwangju showing Emily the best of the city.  I’m still trying to get my bearings, so it was a pleasant refresher re-walking the streets of downtown.  There is one shop in particular that I really enjoy, it’s got loads of cute little Korean knick-knacks and decor.  I only walk the stores to dream how I’m going to decorate my apartment so when I can finally afford it, I’ll have an idea of what I want 😉

A Bamboo garden!

A Bamboo garden!

Yesterday I discovered I LOVE octopus jerky!  It’s very sweet and obviously has the texture of any jerky-ed meat, I’d say it’s probably one of my favorite snacks.  I’ve made a note to myself that the pre-packaged peanut butter sandwiches aren’t anything like home.  It’s more like a light, whipped peanut paste.  I prefer the heavy, peanut “butter”.  It almost seemed more of a dessert than an actual lunch sandwich, which would make sense as they had it the doughnut section!

Yummy Octopus Jerky

Yummy Octopus Jerky

Peanut butter sandwiches with a Korean twist.

Peanut butter sandwiches with a Korean twist.

After my minor peanut butter sandwich disappointment, we discovered a sign that read “MegaEvents” and was sponsored by Michigan State University!  For all three of us, it was a welcomed piece of home, so we decided to find out what the forum was about and possibly talk with some fellow Michiganders.

Sparty in Korea!

Sparty in Korea!

The convention center is huge, so several flights of stairs and a yelling security guard later, we found ourselves in a cold, large room with tables of very professional looking people.  They welcomed us and were excited to discover that all three of us were from Michigan, Emily even attended MSU.

They gave us an ear piece for to translate the Korean part of the lecture and an informational packet about planning large, international events.  I never realized how much goes into planning huge events.  One of the professors used the Olympics as an example and said that it really is the details that make an event.  Think about it, cities that host these major events have to invest in people involved in the event itself and all other details surrounding it, like the taxi drivers.  A taxi driver that speaks more than one language will appear much more welcoming and appreciated by the visiting foreigners than a taxi driver that only speaks the native language (Monica and I got a laugh out of this example because of recent experience with taxi drivers).  A huge shout out to all my event planning friends, you all are awesome and I envy your major attention to detail!

Later, the director of the forum invited us to a dinner with all the presenters and professors, but due to our tight finances we had to forgo it for a dinner that all three of us contributed to and chef Monica put together.  I’ve been very fortunate on my trips abroad to always be paired with someone who knows something about the art of cooking!

Photo and beautiful meal compliments of Monica

Photo and beautiful meal compliments of Monica

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