PKNU PEEPs – India

PKNU PEEPs - India by @Owlslovepears

Welcome to the blog PKNU PEEPs – Incredible India!… specifically Kerala. These 4 are some of the first people I met here have quickly become a part of the strong friendship group that I have been fortunate enough to participate in during my time here at PKNU. It’s really no secret how much I am drawn to this spectacular and vibrant country and these people have made that draw all the more strong. I look forward to seeing them all in the years to come as I travel around this dynamic country and ultimately head to Kerala.

PKNU PEEPs - India by @Owlslovepears
From right to left, Friend, Albin, and Prince, Friend
PKNU PEEPs - India by @Owlslovepears
PKNU PEEPs - India by @owlslovepears

I remember the day I met them all, it was the orientation day for International Students Albin and Prince were standing together and Lisa was chatting with others in our group…  and Justus was standing around taking photos of everyone… So naturally I took one of him in action.

PKNU PEEPs - India by @Owlslovepears

I was introduced to these four brilliant and proud people on that day but it wasn’t until we began hanging out that I really got to know them. There is such a sense of fun about them and the way we banter with each other as a group.

This PEEPS interview is a bit longer obviously because it has 4 people but it still follows the format. I will introduce each of them separately throughout the questions. I hope you enjoy this long, but entertaining blogpost.

We went to the local Indian restaurant Otsal which is a small taste from home for the guys. The cuisine is not quite the same but we’re not in India and apparently it is pretty close. Singing along to the traditional music in the restaurant was how we set the tone and it was a colourful and fantastic day where we reflected on our own experiences, the cultural shifts we’re noticing and our dependence on technology.

  1. What university do you attend?
    Albin:Raja Giri Business School Raja means King, Giri means mountain”
    What about you Lisa, where do you study?
    Prince: “All the same…”
    Lisa: “All from the same University, same college, same batch, same class *laughs*. [Albin] sits in the front row.. yeah it’s alphabetical”
    Albin: “I hate the front row” *laughs*

  2. What is your major & what year are you?
    Albin: “My major is Business Administration, Masters, 1st year”
    Lisa: “All of us”
    And what does that entail, I know you’re ALL postgraduate yeah?
    Albin: “Yes, Doing Masters”.. “[Prince & I] we finished our Engineering, I’m a Mechanical Engineer and [Prince] is an Electronics Engineer”
    Ahh, So Prince, you’re the one I need to talk to about my laptop?  *laughs*
    What about you Justus, what was your first specialisation?
    Justus: “Bachelors of Commerce”
    Lisa: “I did, Bachelors of Science, but in Hospitality and Hotel Management”

  3. What is your country/culture like?
    Note: I missed this question with these guys, the food was just that good. In the coming days I will probably edit this post with an update… but we have exams coming at the moment so there is no rush.

  4. How long will you be/have you been on exchange?
    Albin: “One semester, we all go back at the end of June, June 24th”

  5. Why did you choose Korea?
    Justus: “We had three options, Germany, Italy and then Korea. Something happened in the decision making process and I got Korea”
    Right, so it wasn’t your first choice?
    Justus: “No. I wasn’t sure, I had doubts, I didn’t have any mind of going to Korea so I wasn’t prepared. But I asked my seniors who said it was very good and a cheap place to live & study” … “I feel happy now being here, meeting different people… it is totally different”
    Was that the same for all of you?
    Albin: “No, I had chosen Germany and then if I didn’t get that I was going to stay in Kerala and do my semester there. But [Prince] spoke to me…”
    Prince: “…I wanted to go to Thailand…”
    Albin: “… yes and he came to me one day and spoke to me about it”
    Prince: “I took him to one of my seniors, who had come here last year, and after hearing from him for some time…”
    Albin: “… so I chose to come here and I am very happy”
    Lisa, what about you?
    Lisa: “I was fixed, our seniors had presented about this thing here and after they came back from Korea they had this presentation so I had my eyes on Korea from that time on. I wanted to go out, I wanted to see the world outside. And they said that Pukyong would be the best.”
    So PKNU was given to you as the best option?
    Prince: “Yes, our seniors said you will meet more international students here and it will be very good because it is a national university”

  6. How is Korea different to your home country?
    Lisa: “Oh very different”
    Prince: “…We cannot kiss in public but we can piss in public.. it’s not my own quote…” *so much laughing*
    NB: Prince references the interwebs for that quote
    Lisa: “Even for girls who get out at night it’s not possible in India. I’m so happy I’m here because I can actually have a social life. I can go out anytime, come back anytime, no restriction. But in India, I can’t do that”
    Prince: “After 8’oclock you can’t find a girl [in India]”
    Albin: “They just stay in the house”
    Why is that?
    Lisa: “My parents won’t let me go out… it’s a little risky”
    So Korea is safer?
    Lisa: “Yes, it’s safer in Korea. But in our hometown it’s not really that bad, it’s very good for girls, it is other parts of India”
    What about you Justus?
    Justus: “Same reasons. Also, when you compare India with Korea, Korea is obviously a more developed country. In India, we are still developing…[India] only just starting to promote our own companies now and moving forward with Digital India and Make in India” … “the other thing, they have these open gyms all around… fitness.”
    Yeah, What do you think about all of that? Do you see it as a promotion of keeping yourself agile so you can be ‘agile’?
    Justus: “Yes, I think it’s the best idea you could implement in a country like this. Back in India, after 50-60, people tend to stay at home, they don’t go anywhere else and work” … “here they seem to work longer. It’s all about the culture, they are very hardworking and driven”
    Prince: “We don’t have pubs and clubs in India and the ones we do have aren’t like this, Ghetto was my first club here…”
    Albin: “…me too”
    Prince: “…I’m going to be very sad when I have to go home, I love dancing in the clubs, and in Busan this was the best Holi I’ve had”

  7. What do you miss from home?
    Lisa: “OOH… OOOOOH”
    Albin: “My mums food..”
    Lisa: “Same here, traditional dishes of India”
    Prince: “I miss everything… not so much the food, just miss India”
    Justus: “I just miss the food”

  8. What is your favourite thing about Korea?
    Prince: “The people, The attitude of the people…”
    Albin: “…The people, I love the people here. The way the help us, really!… they don’t hesitate to help you, they’re really kind”
    Lisa: “I still remember my first day when I came here. I didn’t know where to go. I was waiting for these people *gestures around the table*. There was this one girl, who didn’t speak English, and another guy who was just walking, he saw me and he came to me and said “Is there anything I can do to help” and I felt so WOW” 
    Justus: “They are so respectful”

  9. How has Korea changed you (if at all)?
    Prince: “I’m thinking”
    Albin: “I’m learning so much, learning to talk to other people. Lots of foreigners here to interact with that I’ve learned so much. But I haven’t really changed… I’m still the same”
    Prince: “…and a few table etiquette ideas, we have been asking others like the Moroccans and French about this… and I went bungee jumping… It was amazing!”
    Justus: “I think it has… Manners and showing respect” 
    It’s not just implied respect or manners now you say it?
    Justus: “Yes, more emotionally aware”
    Lisa: “For me, personally, it has been a great self discovery. Before I came I was just existing, but now it’s a more meaningful journey. I know who is important to me and who isn’t I have had time to reflect on things” … “and realising that no matter what happens, we are acting as ambassadors for India here”

  10. What challenges have you experienced?
    Albin: “The language, I still can’t manage the language, I find it quite tough”
    Lisa: “Getting up early in the morning, morning doesn’t feel like morning here. Not so much the language”
    Albin: “Ah yeah… sleeping” *laugh* “that’s a challenge for me”
    Prince: “This might sound weird, but keeping in touch with my girlfriend… long distance relationship, time difference is hard but it’s been good” 
    Justus: “dealing with the prejudice that I have faced, here they see colour, (Justus has had a couple of experiences here that have made him aware of his difference to the locals and it has been awkward) and getting around the language barrier was a bit hard but is ok”

  11. What advice would you give to Foreign Students thinking of studying in Korea?
    Albin: “I’m planning on telling them specific things about adapters, don’t skip classes and places to go but they have to experience it themselves”
    Lisa: “I was never interested in learning the language but came here anyway… and bring things like a sari with them too”
    Prince: “we are going to tell them to bring cultural things with them, and bring coins or notes to trade with people”
    Justus: “get cash from home and enjoy your life over here, do Korean class back in India before you come”

It’s been such a pleasure and I cannot wait to go to Kerala and visit the beautiful place where you all live. Thank you guys for a wonderful semester.

PKNU PEEPs - India by @Owlslovepears

PKNU PEEPs - India by @Owlslovepears

I’ll finish this post with a reflection from Albin that the world is becoming a much smaller place and while each country has their own differences culturally, with this generation (around the world) it is almost becoming one big culture.. a global culture.



Happy Birthday Buddha

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

Last Wednesday I went out with Daniel, a Korean friend, who took me to a beautiful Samgyeopsal place in Seomyeon. This was by far the most delicious pork BBQ I’ve had in Korea and the best bit was that it was cooked for us at the table.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

We followed this up with a quick cab ride out to Samgwansa and a hike up THE STEEPEST HILL I HAVE SEEN IN BUSAN… to go to the Buddhist temple at the top and be floored by the amazing lantern display in honour of one, Mr Buddha… {HBTY HBTY HBDB HBTY – hip hip hooray!}

When you get to the top of the hill, by climbing the giant staircase* (I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture) you are greeted by these guys who are there to ward off the evils of this world including wayward pedestrians who ignore the bus shepherds bellows.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

And this guy who apparently helped the first warriors above get to Earth.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

2016-05-12 04.49.44

… and this guy who filmed me being appropriately amazed and saying things in English for a Korean television show on KBS.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

That staircase needs to be walked thoughtfully apparently: if you go up the right hand side you are thinking of the future and the now and if you go up the left hand side you are asking for forgiveness and kindness for past deeds.

Now it was really dark, which is the point when you are visiting a temple but makes it difficult to get snaps of the actual architecture, so please forgive my lack of structure shots [might have to go back and get daytime photos].

We walked to the top of the site and saw the carved temple spire thingy [technical name for it] where you can make a wish with a candle and send it out into the universe after walking around this spire thingy 3 times.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

I made a wish after doing the laps and placed my candle among others from many people who had done the same thing. Now because it wasn’t my birthday but Buddhas… I don’t think my wish will fail if I tell you… only Buddha has to keep his secret… got it mate?

My wish was for: enlightened engagement for everyone with empathetic endeavour to end enslavement to ego… wordy but direct.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

We wandered through the lanterns where people had attached their prayers and the coloured lanterns were for the wishes and dreams and hopes people had for the future of those who are living and the white ones are prayers and thoughts of those who have passed. I lingered in the white lantern zone for a moment to send a thought to a sisters friend who passed just a week before.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

We saw the winding staircase lined with lanterns and the statues guarding the corners of the grounds and the massive display of lanterns.. though you’re completely right [snapchat friend person]… they should try harder next time *winks sarcastically*

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

We stumbled upon the Chinese horoscope cast of characters and some other symbolic paper statues and they were fantastic… the detail is magnificent.

I have never seen anything like this in Australia before and that may speak to my ignorance in this regard but it was a magical display and a lovely night of walking that ended with a walk-and-talk through Citizens Park and a super friendly *no sarcasm at all* cab ride back to dorms. [seriously – best taxi driver yet, Korea…] Thanks Daniel.

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears

Happy Birthday Buddha by @owlslovepears-Cate

PKNU PEEPs – Sweden

So here it is … the first PEEP interview and we have Sweden, just in time for Eurovision. I sat down with the lovely Amanda Lindqvist, at a Ramen house just outside the main gate, for a chat and belated birthday lunch – Happy Birthday to you… Amanda is the kind of person whose smile is contagious and energy and enthusiasm for adventure and exploring the world is inspiring [motivating].

PKNU PEEP's - Sweden by @owlslovepears

Amanda lives an hour out of Stockholm with her mum, dad, sister and her cat Alfons. She is not new to travel having been to the USA three times with family and to China and Singapore as a solo traveller. I hope you enjoy the interview below and note: I saved the most important question until last of course. Thank you Amanda!

  1. What university do you attend?
    “I don’t attend university” Amanda used to be a baker back in Sweden and is studying a 1 year language course here at PKNU self-funded. I asked if she had a part time job to help cover the costs of living and studying here in Korea: “You can only work here after 6 months, so yes after that I will be trying to find some work”.

    1. What units would you study if you did attend University and where would you enrol?
      “I would like to still stay in Korea. Before I wanted to read History and stuff like that but maybe just one course, like, not a full major.” Individual units to help broaden her knowledge.
  2. What is your country/culture like?
    “Very careful of not offending anyone. It’s like very [courteous] yeah, [considerate] yeah very considerate, like sometimes too much [politically correct] yes!”

    1. After the image of Tess Asplund went viral last week [and I rather like this one too] I was curious to ask about the current political tensions/protests in Sweden “Is that something that happens often?”
      “No, like, that’s new I think. On both sides it’s getting more tense. They [fascists] are a minority, but it’s like one political party and everyone who is dissatisfied goes to them.”
  3. Tell me something about the culture of Sweden, what’s a traditional thing that you do?
    “We have a thing called fika, it’s like coffee and cake, every day with your friends, and family, Yeah fika is great!”
    “So, like, people don’t drink that much or regularly, but on special holidays, they drink a lot. That’s one day of the year they do it” But other than that there’s not a big drinking culture? “No, it’s not like you go out to get drunk [not like here?], No, not like here (laughs).
  4. How long have you been in Korea and how long will you stay?
    “I have been here 6 months and all up will be here for one year”
  5. Why did you choose Korea?
    “Because I like Korean food (laughs)”
  6. How is Korea different to your home country?
    “For me people are more friendly, when you approach them on the streets. People are very private in Sweden”  but also, “for me I guess it’s like the whole culture. You know the language and how it is formal & informal, the different levels of politeness. We don’t have that back home And you know how here they respect their elders, I mean of course you do [back in Sweden] but it’s not like here. You see it even in sport with people who are higher than you, and sometimes they take advantage of that position too.”
  7. What do you miss from home?
    “My Cat, Alfons and I miss Swedish breads, I miss having a kitchen”
    PKNU PEEPs - Sweden by @owlslovepears
  8. What is your favourite thing about Korea?
    “I think it’s just the whole experience, but still the food of course takes the first place, but the whole thing of just being here, there isn’t one thing that makes it great”.

    1. What’s your favourite food here?
      “Everything! (laughs) I mean I really like Samgyeopsal, Kalguksu, Mandu
  9. How has Korea changed you (if at all)?
    “Right now I will say I haven’t noticed a change so I think when I get home it will be more apparent. If I go home and I haven’t changed I would think I’ve done something wrong.”
  10. What challenges have you experienced?
    “The only difficult thing for me has been the homesickness.” 

    1. How have you dealt with that?
      “just like, calling my friends and also like, trying to get out and not stay in my room.”  
  11. What advice would you give to Foreign Students thinking of studying in Korea?
    “Just do it!”… “you’ll have your own experience but like for me, I doubted for a very long time if I wanted to but this it’s really worthwhile experience [so don’t hesitate?] yeah.. just do it.”“It also helps to have a basic understanding of Hangul”
  12. The most important questions is: do you watch Eurovision?
    “I do I want to see it actually but I don’t know how I can” .. it’s ok I hooked her up with the Eurovision link.



Gong Cha with a PEEP

Gong Cha with a PEEP by @Owlslovepears

I’ve had a very quiet week, in part due to some severe homesickness and worry for family who all seem to be going through some big things at the moment. I wish I could be there with them but it isn’t long until I see them now, only 6 weeks. Given this quiet week I haven’t socialised much and it was great to change this yesterday with Amanda.

It’s been a long long weekend here in Busan with Childrens’ day on Thursday and an extra public holiday called for Friday. This has meant that the Sejong Cafe in the dorms has been closed however so Amanda and I went out to Starbucks for a coffee and cake, both tasting a bit like disappointment. It was nice to chat with her though on all things Korea including language learning, delicious foods, people, K-Pop and culture and to find out more about her experience here.

Amanda is doing the language program here in Busan and is an intrepid traveler who makes my passport feel inadequate in comparison. We both live in the dorms and have seen each other around a bit but never really caught up before. Now, I will be popping up an interview here with her as one of the PEEP’s posts in the coming weeks so I’ll save the official introductions to then, let’s just say she is one of the sweetest people I’ve met and we had a lovely time wandering about yesterday buying makeup from ‘Nature Republic’ and following this up with delicious Gong Cha bubble teas.

I’ve bought a few cosmetic items from each of the stores here in Busan and I find the quality to be excellent and the price is pretty much unbeatable. There is so much to choose from and it’s been nice to learn more about products and try things out… a little confidence boosting.

Now to the Bubble Tea: ERMAGERD I love bubble tea. I think I’m going to have a chat with the cafe back at Uni to see if they can introduce them for Summer… we have so many Asian students on campus that it could be a good draw-card and probably wouldn’t be that difficult to facilitate. Alternately I’m just going to have the tapioca pearls in my fridge ready whenever I want to make myself one and will try all the variations possible. The Gong Cha chain has by far been the most delicious I’ve had yet and I love that you can select so many different options:

Gong Cha with a PEEP by @Owlslovepears

I chose 30% sweet; regular ice; earl grey milk tea; with tapioca pearls.

It was just sweet enough, and the earl grey flavour was super delicious, the only thing I would change would be to choose less ice.

Gong Cha with a PEEP by @Owlslovepears

We then wandered back to the campus and chatted about family and friends and the experience here in general. It was really pleasant afternoon and a great excuse to get out of the dorm room. 

Gong Cha with a PEEP by @Owlslovepears

So it was a lovely day, with beautiful weather and the gardens on campus looking splendid, and a random singing group on the way back past the global lounge.

Now I’m off to have a vanilla latte at the Sejong Cafe which is open today and attempt to Skype my mum for mothers day.

Take Care