As someone who has only experienced Asian culture through Chinese take-away and the friendships I shared with the few Filipino and Chinese friends I had growing up, it wasn’t until I attend Macalester that I could only begin to understand the Asian diaspora community. My friendship with Rachel has afforded us multiple opportunities to share our heritage with each other, no longer giving us the excuse that we were unaware of the challenges and stereotypes the other minority faced. Macalester brands itself as an international institution, bringing students from all over the world, so this sort of exchange was probably expected- but it wasn’t for my family in the beginning. Recently, my parents commented on my increased interest in Asian culture ever since I left for college and are dumbfounded as to why. I am not. It’s pretty simple really, it isn’t until you left your home when you can truly begin to realize where you’re from and who you are, or at least that how it was for me. And I believe this connection brought me closer to understanding my parent’s and Rachel’s plight when they emigrated from their respective countries to the US.
Visiting Hong Kong and South Korea made me realize how lonely, overwhelming, and fascinating it can be to be immersed in a completely new environment, surrounded by new faces, food, language, music and so much more. Yes, Koreans do really take care of their skin and hang out with others a lot and in HK there are a lot of people everywhere. While I was blown away from the efficient transportation systems and the variety of cuisines, others were blown away by my use of chopsticks and actually knowing a bit more about the culture than what they viewed me to (credits to Rachel).
Here are some questions that Rachel wanted me to answer for this blog post:
This blog post was written by Jennifer Arnold, Rachel's close friend and sophomore year roommate. She is a Computer Science and History double major at Macalester and is currently studying abroad this Spring semester at University of Edinburgh in the UK.
Before getting into the logistics of things, I want to clarify what the DMZ is for readers who are unfamiliar with Korean geography and history. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is the area that extends 2 km from the North-South Korean border on both sides. The DMZ is a civilian-restricted area, so anyone who visit must be part of a tour group. Overall, while the DMZ is heavily secured, the level of tension and security is nowhere close to the JSA/Panmunjom (which I will talk about further down). In order to enter the DMZ, our tour bus had to cross the Unification Bridge, where barricades are strategically placed in various lanes to (what I'm assuming) slow down vehicles intentionally.
This year's Chuseok break (Korean Thanksgiving) resulted in a 10-day vacation; the next 10-day Chuseok will be in 2025. With such a long holiday, the logical solution would be to TRAVEL! Before arriving in Korea, my mom and I both planned a trip to visit Japan, a country that neither of us have been to before. For two people without any knowledge of Japanese (except for hi, thank you, and sorry), I'd say we did pretty well in Osaka and Tokyo.
Being on the older end of the K-pop fan spectrum, Jennifer and I decided to opt out of buying KCON concert tickets and, instead, we bought 1-day convention tickets for $16 each.
We originally planned our LA trip for the 3-day KCON event; however, the line up of artists were not very attractive (most of the groups announced were relatively new) so dropping $200 on tickets would definitely not be worth it. The only groups that I was interested in were VIXX, Super Junior D&E, Heize, and (maybe) Girl's Day out of 10 announced artists.
As our alternate plan, Jennifer and I made it our goal to meet YouTubers and get as much out of KCON in 1 day.
(left) I wasn't planning on running into Joan, but I was super ecstatic that I did! If you know me well, you would know that I watch her vlogs daily- so meeting her was a really pleasant surprise! I was so shocked that my hands were still shaking for about 5 minutes after this photo.
The last time I visited Los Angeles was when I was eight with a Hong Kong tour group. Like typical tour groups we went to Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Hollywood Boulevard. The trip was a blur, and I don't remember much from it.
During our five-day trip, Jennifer and I were determined to cover our bases and see different sides of Los Angeles. Koreatown. Santa Monica. KCON LA. Chinatown. The Broad. El Pueblo. Griffith Observatory. The Last Bookstore. These were just some of the places that we visited. We stayed in the center of Koreatown and ate tons of Korean barbecue, knife cut noodles (kalguksu), and dumplings (mandu). In all, the trip allowed me to see another sprawling city- this time, on the west coast.
*Note: Don't forget to click "Read More" at the bottom right!*
TL;DR: Jennifer and I had a great time in Atlanta visiting museums, seeing Eric Nam in concert, and hiking in nature.
Coming back to Atlanta for six days with Jennifer gave me a different perspective on the city. This trip was truly Jennifer's first time experiencing a large southern city. Home to the world's busiest airport, tons of Fortune 500 companies, ridiculous sprawl and traffic, and museums dedicated to colonial, civil war, and civil rights history, Atlanta is a sight to behold. I have always emphasized the need for a car and the distance between places to Jennifer, yet she didn't actually believe me until she realized that she has spent half of her day sitting in the car (occasionally in traffic) getting to places even though our interstates are seven lanes wide and no one obeys the speed limit.
As for me, I was really excited to see my Lovett friends all together at one place! Although we hung out with Izzy just a few days ago in Chicago, we saw each other again in Atlanta with Adrienne and Markell (whom I haven't seen since last summer). Although we only managed to chat for about an hour or so, it was really nice catching up and hearing about the different paths that we are taking in college. Personally, I really love listening to others' journeys towards their goals, especially if theirs are really different than mine.
college student. junior. international studies major. over-the-top foodie. travel and lifestyle student blogger?
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