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You can take the girl out of Korea...but she's still gonna bow to the ATM?

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Some habits I've internalized after living in Korea:
I like to sit on the floor (nothing beats sitting on the floor with a blanket and 온돌/ondol floor heating in the winter in Korea ooooooh it's so good I've even fallen asleep).The chopstick habit. Soup? Noodles? Meat? Birthday cake? Chopsticks.I cover my face when I laugh.I bow to everyone (hostesses, cashiers, extended family, ATMs...nothing is safe).Conversing via Kakao emojis (who needs words?).
How long before these habits erode away in a different cultural environment? It makes me sad to think the day will come where I don't bow to the ATM.* >.< My observations about American life feel refreshed since I've been living outside this culture for so long. Here are a few things I've noticed since being back "home" in American culture:

*UPDATE: I wrote this post 6 months after moving back to America, and I never published it. I'm sad to say I haven't bowed to the ATM in months ㅠㅠ

Differences…

*UPDATED!* My Top 7 Favorite Korean Skincare Products

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Living in Korea exposed me to amazing skincare and cosmetic products as well as the advantages of having a skin care routine. My favorite store is OliveYoung which I described in a previous post as "sort-of what you would get if you combined Walgreens and Ulta in the US". I love OliveYoung because they import skincare and beauty products (and snacks) from all over the world, not just Korea. They have such a remarkable stock of beauty and skincare products that it sets them apart from all other competitors, even though they cannot be described as a purely "Korean" store. For example, I was surprised to learn that my staple facial moisturizer, Physiogel is actually from Europe. (Still classifying it as a Korean beauty product since I can't find it in a physical store outside of Korea).

Since I moved back to America, I've been told many times that I look younger than my age. Whether this is an elaborate conspiracy of Regina George style compliments or not, I …

Not excited about the Olympics? Kpop to the rescue!

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Okay everyone: 2 days until the first Olympic events begin in PyeongChang and 3 days until the opening ceremonies (at 6 am Friday morning EST: information to stream the opening ceremonies). Personally I am SO EXCITED, but I may be in the minority here. Rumblings about the lack of enthusiasm around the Olympics have surrounded the event in recent years. In my case, it's fair to say that if the Olympics were being hosted elsewhere, my interest would decline. (Check out my previous post to read about my trip to PyeongChang).
Well, I can't write anything about Korea without referencing Kpop it seems. Nike and Kpop have combined in the video below to get us all hyped for the Olympics, because Kpop + corporate sponsorship + singers + athletes + timely release before the Olympics is a successful formula.



Nike is capitalizing on the Olympic buzz with "Run It" by Jay Park featuring Woo Won Jae, Jessi and Korean athletes in this new song/campaign. (Personally I'm onboard …

What is PyeongChang, South Korea like?

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A story of picturesque views, gondola rides and spider bites
The Olympics will soon begin in PyeongChang, South Korea bringing the global media spotlight to Korea for a month. I made a trip to PyeongChang in September 2013, when preparations for the Olympics were already underway. My impression of PyeongChang from my brief trip there is likely a typical refrain as a foreigner venturing outside the big cities in Korea: Delicious food, friendly and helpful people in the town, beautiful clean air, gorgeous natural scenery, traditional buildings and.... MASSIVE SPIDERS. MASSIVE. SPIDERS.
Korean Spiders: Demons of the countryside The hype for the Olympics has brought memories from PyeongChang to the front of my mind, including an unfortunate encounter with a Korean spider. I'm from New Jersey so I've only grown up squishing the occasional, non-menacing daddy-long-legs. In Korea, especially in the spring and summer, exotic looking black and yellow spiders pop up all over the place. (…

Kpop Workout Songs 2016-2017

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This update is SO OVERDUE. I've tried to keep most of the songs on this list from 2016-2017, but since my last Kpop Workout Playlist was from January 2015 (haha) there are some songs that came out in 2015 which really had staying/slaying power to me, so they're on the list. When I'm running, I generally want high tempo songs to motivate me and distract me from working out. With that in mind, here we go......

1). Winner "Really Really" SLAY. I know it's not even summer but...Kpop song of the summer? This is such an earworm and really has a Western sound to me. If they released an English version, maybe it would do well...???

2). CL "Hello Bitches" I was not on board with this release at first and NOW I LIVE FOR IT. If the intent was to make listeners reject the song at first then get on board for over two years then IT WORKED. 

3). KARD "Rumor" KARD have been slaying my life since they debuted their first song a few months ago so I'm obvio…

Reverse Culture Shock

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4 years in Korea. 4 birthdays. 3 different apartments. 2 cities. 2 jobs. 16 seasons. 
I find myself thinking about these things. As though breaking my "Korean experience" down into something quantifiable will make it easier to understand. I want to mentally compartmentalize my time there so I can try to make sense of my experiences.

I recently returned to New Jersey after 2 years in Jamsil, Seoul. (This is my second "homecoming", as I lived in Suwon for 2 years, then moved back home, then back to Seoul for round two from Feb 2015- March 2017).  Despite this being my second time saying "goodbye" to Korea, the reverse culture shock is hitting me much harder than I anticipated, since I've already gone through this before. Right now I'm trying to relax in my home country before deciding if I should go back to Korea or try and put some roots down in America.

For anyone who recently returned from living abroad, I think the article on this blog, although…

The Best K-Pop Workout Songs

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K-Pop Workout Playlist: We're 11 days into the New Year. If you're like me, you're still telling yourself you've committed to a healthier lifestyle, and vowing this is the year you'll stop eating Nutella with chopsticks at 2 am.

I need to make working out as fun as possible otherwise iHate it. Listening to the right music is crucial. I narrowed down my Kpop workout playlist to these 13 songs that reflect the 4 phases of any workout: warming up, the workout, when you want to die, and cooling down.

WARMING UP:Songs that put you in a good mood, and raise your energy level.
"It's Me" by Kahi
This is always my first song. I think I've primed my body to associate this song with exercising. In this song, Kahi exudes a subtle sensuality that I find believable and appealing. Gain and Sunmi are two others, that to me, can carry a sexy concept without it seeming forced or cheap.

"Itaewon Freedom" with JYP
WHERE IS NAMSAN TOWER? How does this not have …