Where did the summer go? Seriously, it felt like we just got off the flight from Chicago dazed and confused, halfway across the world in a country we knew nearly nothing about. After a two-hour bus ride we mindlessly hauled our luggage through a bustling Seoul suburb, clueless of where our destination was. At the time I wasn’t exactly sure that this was a good idea. What was I getting myself in to? 82 days later I’m positive that this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The people that we’ve met and the experiences that we’ve have all been incredible. However, the first couple hours in Korea have been engraved in my mind forever. It’s crazy that it’s already over.
Here’s an update on our lab work. We have been filming every day since my last blog, getting about 12-18 videos each day. We’ve attempted around 150 videos and have ~120 usable videos. Our goal was to reach 180 videos so we’re really going to be pushing getting that many. The filming continues to be frustrating. The difficulty and level of frustration completely depends on the type of grasshopper. We got one species of grasshopper done (60 videos) in three days. The other week and a half has been spent trying to film the other species, which are much less cooperative. There are many types of stimulus that we’ve tried to make them jump. We typically use our tweezers to prod the life out of them. When that fails, we usually just start clapping and screaming at them. I wish someone could record us flailing around the grasshopper. We probably look like complete idiots. So, as you can probably tell, this isn’t the most exciting work. We try to liven up the mood by jamming out to music the entire day. It makes life a little more bearable in lab. We’ve also been teaching some of the other students in lab how to do the force and frequency measurement that we did a few weeks ago. Usually, the language barrier hasn’t been that bad in lab. However, it has been a bit of a struggle since Hyejin and all of her friends left. These guys don’t have as great of a grasp on English yet. It’s a lot of ‘um’, ‘ah’, and awkward silences, but we usually get the main points across. Re-teaching everything that Hyejin and company already knew how to do has been a bit of a pain.
Thankfully, I was able to take some time off this week from filming. The boys from Daegu were up in Seoul again this weekend! Whenever the USA boys are together, adventures are bound to happen. First on the list was another Korean baseball game. The game ended up starting an hour late due to rain. It baffled Dacotah and I how unprepared they seemed. This is a professional baseball sports stadium and they can’t handle a little rain? We didn’t let it get to us though. I even caught a home run on video! I can never get enough of watching each team cheer captain pump up the crowd for every pitch. They must be dead tired after each game. Exhausted, we headed off for some Korean BBQ and hit the hay.
Saturday proved to be the real adventure. We had made plans to go to Caribbean Bay, one of the world’s best waterparks. It took us over two hours to get there, but only cost around $3 by subway! We wanted to spend the entire day in the waterpark, but upon arrival we received a waiting ticket, stating that admission didn’t start until 5:00. We were there at noon! What in the world were we supposed to do for FIVE HOURS? Turns out they have a deal that lets you get in to Everland, the amusement park adjacent to Caribbean Bay. Everland was actually pretty amusing! They had some pretty badass rollercoasters (I even snuck my GoPro on for the biggest one). After a couple rides 5 o clock rolled around and we headed in to Caribbean Bay. So the wait time for each of the rides we went on at Everland were around 40 minutes, which wasn’t that bad, considering how busy it was. It was a completely different story in Caribbean Bay. Their main attraction had a wait time of over 3 ½ hours! There is no way I’ll sit in a line for over three hours for anything. Period. I cannot believe how packed that place was. I remember hearing something about there being a limit of 20,000 people in the waterpark! Our favorite attraction was a particular waterslide. You first stepped into a capsule that sealed and you were standing straight up. All of a sudden you hear a countdown, “THREE…TWO…ONE…” followed by maniacal laughter. Then the panel holding you up is pulled from your feet and you shot down the waterslide at over 30 mph! You don’t even know when the ride is over due to all of the water splashing you in the face! We rode that waterslide over and over. Nothing sounded more appealing than my bed after that long day.
All of Saturday was spent in lab, filming more grasshopper jumps. Dacotah and Kyle worked on their presentations that they have to give to their lab on Tuesday. It was a much-needed recovery day. We then met up with Junoh (Matt’s high-school buddy) for dinner. He took us to a delicious Korean BBQ right by our subway station. I don’t think I can reiterate this enough when I say bulgogi is DELICIOUS. We then headed over to a Noribang. This is pretty much a private karaoke room. Thank the lord it was private, because we would have embarrassed ourselves anywhere else. I think my favorite was Sweet Caroline. We finally headed home after all of our voices were completely gone.
Dacotah and Kyle headed back home Sunday afternoon and Matt and I just rested until dinnertime. We decided to meet up with Junoh again for our last dinner with him in Korea! He had something different in mind. We headed to a Korean-style Japanese restaurant. It looked like one of your hole-in-the-wall restaurants. All of the railings were caked in grease, and the entire place just seemed dirty. However, this was arguably one of the best meals we’ve the entire trip. There were different noodles, Japanese pancakes, and other concoctions only describable through pictures. All of the food was cooked right in front of us. Imagine a less fancy but far less expensive Osaka. I didn’t really know what I was eating, but I knew was that it was delicious and it needed to be in my belly ASAP. I don’t think Junoh could have picked a better send-off restaurant. If it weren’t for Junoh, we’d probably be eating chicken-and-beer 5 nights a week. Thanks again Junoh for all of your hospitality!
I still can’t believe that I’ll be back in the states in four days. FOUR. MORE. DAYS. I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve loved the time I’ve spent here. There have been so many unforgettable memories made. I’m excited to get back and see family and friends, but I’m really going to miss it here. It’s been one hell of a ride Korea. You haven’t seen that last of me.