Videos

Recipes, Videos / December 9, 2017

Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Recipe (video)

Happy Sunday!

How is your life?

I am frankly just about to celebrate breathing. That is how much I am not handling my finals. I feel the pain of anyone going through the same torturous weeks and I try to be the most positive myself about surviving it all.

But I think I will fail at it.

Nevertheless,

after being absent for a week and “only” managing to write this awesome new Benton product review I have a new video for you.

Excited?

It is also my first recipe since I came to Korea.

I call it Cooking With No Kitchen Series.

No Cooking Allowed

I was very excited moving to Korea, I really was. New school, new life, new room. New room… that was the most horrifying part of it. What will I do without kitchen?! In the recent years I have not only begun to cook so much just for the love of it but also I need to deliver enough healthy nutrients to my body. And all on vegan diet. But the biggest part is that I started putting really a lot of passion into my photography and delivering new recipes every week. I had to just absorb that I will have to put all of that on hold until I move out of the dorms (hopefully in just a year).

The sad reality is that although there is a community kitchen in my dorms, I have used it about twice? It’s really bad. Utensils that you don’t want to use, constant smell of ramen and basically no cleaning morale. The worst is that I have to march through half of the building with all of my ingredients and utensils if I want to cook anything. And it’s both tiring and really time consuming. So I gave up early in the semester.

The only food place we have is a community microwave/fridge room. The rules for the fridges are pretty tight, people still take your food and I take up half of one of the fridges. The microwaves are ok but constantly filthy and smelly. But it is all I work with no. And when I met some of my friends they wondered: “What do you cook? How?”. And from that i got the idea to start making easy, mundane recipes for dorm cooking.

How Cooking Without Kitchen Series was born.

Oats, Oats, And More Oats

Let’s start off with oatmeal. It is simple, filling and delicious. Not to mention it is a great superfood. I was honestly waiting for the temperatures to drop so I could dive into my oatmeal season. Every single day it is what powers me and makes me get up. I switch the toppings and with that even the seasoning but the base remains. I thought it would be hard making it without a stove top, but no, microwave does it all. It won’t be as perfect but it is all I could wish for.

During the weekdays I usually soak the oatmeal base overnight to make it a bit faster in the morning but this recipe was made on the weekend hence no pre-soaking. It works both ways, I just cook it a bit less if I soaked it beforehand. As for the amount of mylk I just adjust it based on how I want my oatmeal to be, if I have a lot of dense toppings I make sure to make it creamier. Why did I suggest microwaving your apple as well? Sometimes I want the feel of soft, applesauce like fruit and microwaving it helps a lot. (tip – works best when you need to use up older apples) Want it all fresh and crispy? Just add it afterwards.

As you may have noticed I also added a persimmon. There are three simple reasons for it – it’s persimmon season meaning they are cheaply everywhere in Korea, I need to eat a bigger breakfast to feel even half full, and I just like them. Feel free to add any other topping that can work well with the cinnamon & apple combo.

Now, let’s get cooking. No more excuses that you can’t have delicious and healthy breakfast in the dorms. You don’t have to live of ramen forever.

Hope you like it.

 

Love,

 

Sara

 

TIP: for all my oat and health food lovers in Korea, I order most of my ingredients from this site.

They offer free shipping to Korea when you spend over 40$ (buy in bulk) and you can find anything from the “foreign” and health category, even household and beauty, for very good prices.

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / November 25, 2017

Where To Go In Songdo – Triple Street Mall Tour (video)

Welcome back!

 

What have you been up to lately?

 

I am still and constantly drowning in studies but I think most of students are. Especially as it gets closer to finals…

This is not what I want to talk about today.

Remember my vegan bakery taste test in Smoothie King? (go check it out if you have not done so yet!)

Well, that took place in the newest addition to the fun places in Songdo.

And I wanted to show it all to you.

Where to shop in Songdo?

I have to confess, I am certainly a shopaholic. At the same time, I kinda hate going to shopping malls. Too many people, noisy annoying music, flashy lights, overall one crazy mess. And I am not even mentioning all the things to throw out your money for. But sometimes you have to go and it can even be a nice day out.

In Korea, it is no different. The stressful part of the experience is even highlighted (more people, more lights, more things) but at the same time, it has so MUCH to offer. Especially looking at the great food courts.

Before Triple Street Mall opened in Spring 2017 there was apparently not that much to do around the Yonsei Campus in Songdo. The nearest mall required you to take a subway to main Incheon and in my opinion, is not even that great. Naturally everyone was excited for this new huge complex, given its also only about a 10 minute walk from our dorms.

Did it fulfill all the expectations?

I think most of them.

Triple Street Labyrinth

The new mall was well worth the hype. It is build as a huge snake-like row of shops with one way outside along it all. It has 3 floors altogether – one underground, the biggest ground/first floor and then the first floor. That one is filled mostly with restaurants and the big cinema complex – Megabox.

The buildings are like a kind of a block, the starting point is the biggest one and virtually the only ground level part where you can enter individual shops from the inside. Here I started of my tour with the korean “Sephora” aka. Olive Young. In my opinion it is like a mix of your most fancy drugstore with some higher end makeup. No other shop (well at least for beauty) is as spread in Korea as Olive Young. In fact, Triple Street has one on each end. I explored the first entrance one, a bit smaller but still filled with everything from skincare to “health” snacks. Prices are usually very reasonable too and they put so many deals out it is hard to resist.

It is not the end of makeup and all beauty. The whole mall provides space to many brands and shops like Etude House, Aritaum, The Body Shop or Celltrion. You can get your haircut here (although it will be costly and I do not trust anyone with my non-asian hair).

Clothes and all the food…

Besides the beautifying market there is so so much clothes to choose from. Since it is Songo, expect some higher priced stores. You have the sports classics like Adidas,  Peak Performance and more or the Europe beloved H&M or Zara. Be aware though that these are so so pricey here! Like Zara is a luxury nowadays. Miss 2$ shirts from the H&M sales rack…

But what I find the most excessive part of Triple Street is all the food part. Most of the underground floor is covered with all kind of restaurants. You can find burgers, japanese food restaurants, Mexican tacos or even Indian meals. Once again though all is much pricier than what you can normally find in Korea (25$ for small pizza?) but I suppose it is much closer to the “original” versions. Well, you can always try my favorite relatively cheap kimbap shop that still feels much more gourmet than you would expect it. The first and second floor have also an abundance of food. The first floor is mostly covered in cafes (expensive Starbucks) and cake shops and the second once again hosts more fancy dining places.

It wouldn’t be Korea without having an arcade on the second floor right next to the Megabox. My personally favorite attraction is also the underground Daiso. You can literally find anything there for almost no money and often even in a decent quality.

So what did you think?

Unless you go and explore yourself you will never see how big of a maze Triple Street is. What is important is to know that there ARE places to go even in Songdo so no more ghost cities please.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / November 11, 2017

Vegan Desserts In Korean Smoothie King (video)

Hello!

How are you?

I have been so busy lately I had almost no time to make proper videos and articles.

Wait, no the blame goes to my hand. I actually have plans on what to film and try but somehow I can’t do it one handed… hopefully I will only stay like this for little while longer.

Anyway, this week I wanted to show you something I have been wanting to try for a while now.

Should we start?

Smoothies In Korea

I remember back in the days I still used to live only between horses and school I rarely had enough time to sit down and get some meal during the day. (not a good way to live at all) I was also too exhausted (and lazy) to pack more meals for the lunch time. The only thing that saved me was a newly opened healthy deli, salad and smoothie shop right at the bus station I used to wait everyday. I then ended up mostly drinking my lunches on the go. The thing is, even in Prague were smoothies pretty pricey. Especially once you get used to making them at home. In Korea, it’s even worse.

I am just glad that they are here. Indeed not as much as in Europe but Korean people also like their dose of “liquid health”. Well, they are often not as healthy as it may seem but that is another point to talk about. One of the chains I have met the most here is Smoothie King. Relatively old company founded in US has spread all across the world, even to Korea. It seems to be one of the most go to options for smoothies back in the US as well as here. And we have one in Songdo’s Triple Street Mall.

But knowing the prices, why would I go there?

For vegan dessert.

Vegan bakery in a fast food chain?

Yes, it is true. During one of my mindless walks through the Triple Street Mall my eye has caught a big VEGAN sign. In Korea this word is so rare to hear and seems like the last thing you can expect to be on a regular poster. It obviously got my full attention and I learned that Smoothie King has this “event” during which they sell two (full two options!! 😉 vegan desserts – a muffin and a crumble. I was suspicious but I had to try.

And here is how this adventure went.

It was not the worst.

Taste Test

I had NO expectations at all having eaten way too many “vegan” takes on regular food presented by regular food chains. I ordered both the Carrot Walnut Muffin and the Blueberry Crumble, plus me and my roomie both threw in a smoothie to wash it down.

Since the shop was empty we got our food pretty soon. Visually there was nothing super pleasing about the food and I could see the dryness from miles away. Starting with the crumble my initial thought was – dry as a dessert. Both of the foods had surprisingly similar flavor – a big bunch of fall themed spices (cinnamon, cloves,…) and in my opinion it was the classic “we have to make it packed with artificial flavor since it’s vegan”.

Later though as we kept reaching the warm center (they warm it all up for you) my taste buds were more and more satisfied. I found some whole juicy (defrosted) blueberries and I genuinely enjoyed the crumble top part (there is no way you can ruin it). The muffin was the less preferred by me (my roommate like it more). Similar spices, even drier (and crumblier) with no carrot in sight. I have to compliment at least the adequate amount of walnuts and we did find a carrot string or two at the end.

Smoothies were not perfect either. Ordering Peach Slice I wanted a blend of peach and strawberry but somehow the strawberry flavor never reached my cup. The same with the Coconut Surprise – here it was just banana and no coconut.

Verdict?

Overall, I may be a lot critical but here in Korea, I am just glad for what is here. I appreciate that they are trying although vegans are scarce here. Honestly,  were it not so pricey (Crumble – 4000 won, Muffin – 3 100 won, small smoothie 3900 won) I would go again. Smoothies are still a good dose of tasty fruit and sometimes I get sad and want a cake and can’t go to Seoul all the time.

 

Would you try any of it?

 

Have a nice day.

 

Love,

Sara

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Blog, Videos / October 28, 2017

ELIZAVECCA 24k Gold Mask & EGF Elastic Retinol Cream Review (video)

Welcome back!

 

You missed my beauty reviews?

I did end up writing a LOT about food recently, I admit but now I am back with a double! dose of Korean beauty review.

What is up this week?

I got a great opportunity to finally try one of the brands I have been hearing so much about so let’s get straight into it!

“These products have been kindly offered to me for review purposes by an independent provider. All of the opinions presented here and in the video are 100% my own (like I could ever lie) and I would never recommend something I believe is not worth it. Thank you.”

Milky Piggy Storm

The brand I was dying to try out is none other than Elizavecca. You might have heard of the sensational Bubbling Clay Mask people on the internet seem to be obsessed with or the Hell Pore Cleansing Peel off mask. What I previously did not know was that not only has Elizavecca been on the beauty market for more than 20 years but they were also the first ones to bring BB Cream to the world! It has grown incredibly popular all over the world and I will be writing about two of their products; the Kangsi 24K Gold Pack and the EFG Elastic Retinol Cream.

Both gold and retinol have become incredibly popular skincare ingredient and besides the fact that people just want to slap gold on their face it has a profound reason. Besides looking pretty around your neck, gold has some good anti-aging benefits. It is said to target the specific skin cells in the skin and thus promote not only elasticity and wrinkle repair, but help even out overall complexion, reduce inflammation and leave your skin brighter and smoother.

When it comes to retinol it is the new main anti-aging star. It is essentially a form of vitamin A with a tiny structure that allows it to sink into the skin deeply and rejuvenate it from within. It has the ability to improve the elasticity, smoothen wrinkles and even increase moisture. The only downside is that is highly reactive when hit by UV rays so make sure you use your retinol enriched product ONLY AT NIGHT.

Enough said, let’s look at the products.

EFG Elastic (literally) Cream

Immediately after I received my package I decided to test out this cream. As it is my first first hand experience with retinol I was quite unsure what to expect. The packaging is signature bright and colorful but still functional. First plus I have to give this cream is that it comes with a spatula conveniently attached to the second lid (which took us a long time to open).

The ingredients list goes:

Swiftlet Nest Extract, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Polysorbate 60, Dipropylene Glycol, Retinol, rh-Oligopeptide-1, Sodium Polyacrylate,Allantoin, PEG-100 Stearate, Adenosine, Carbomer, Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polysorbate 20, Triethanolamine, Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ceteth-3, BrassicaCampestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cetyl Phosphate, Cholesterol, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Phenoxyethanol, Water, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Ceteth-5,Disodium EDTA, Glyceryl Stearate, Fragrance. 

The actual amount of retinol seems to be pretty ok for this price.

Upon finally getting into the jar, I was startled by how sticky the cream was. It is so thick! I feared it would be difficult to spread but not at all. A tiny amount was sufficient to cover my whole face and all the stickiness was gone. What I liked even more was that it sunk into my skin very easily but didn’t feel dry afterwards. I could almost feel it tightening my face but never so much it would be uncomfortable.

The smell is there, a bit too chemical for my liking but still pretty tolerable. Unless you are very sensitive to the cosmetic scent, you should have no problem for it.

Even after continuous use I had no irritation or breakouts, my sensitive dry skin seemed to handle this cream well. And the benefits?

It certainly kept my face well moisturized, my skin was glowing even after the long nights of studying and despite going into the windy weather I still felt comfortable. When it comes to the wrinkles, I luckily did not have that many to start of but I have notices a teeny tiny improvement in my mouth smile lines and certainly no more of them appeared. This feature is however best tested over a longer period of time but to see even a small result like this makes me approve of this cream more.

24K Gold For Ultimate Youth

As I described above the main feature of this wash off mask is the anti aging gold. However, on top of that it also contains 7 types of berries to deliver a dose of hydration and control your pores at the same time. So mask for all skin types? Definitely! I tested it on my dry and sensitive skin while my roommate tried it on her normal to combination skin and both of us were so happy!

The texture of the mask is a bit thicker but spreads fairly easily, once you put sufficient layer (just so you don’t see your skin) it is so gold and shiny, resting on your face. It starts to quickly turn white as it dries, depending on the layer you should leave it on from 15 to 25 min. I did not notice any irritation or unpleasant feeling whilst wearing it or later after I washed it of. Actually, I felt radiant as a jewel.

This has to be one of my favorite wash of masks I have tried. It left our faces so moist (sorry…) plum and actually brightened them as well! I usually refrain from mentioning any benefits right after the first use but here it was clearly visible. My skin felt calmer, super hydrated and I shined without any significant redness the whole next morning. For the price I couldn’t ask for more.

For smell sensitive people I have to admit you might have trouble with the mask but to me the scent was nice and not too strong. Actually even easier smell to handle then the EFG cream and I think this has also less anger of irritating the skin.

Final Verdict?

Given the prices and the ingredients list of both products I felt like they certainly exceeded my expectations. When it comes to the Retinol EFG cream I think it is a great introduction to retinol products for almost anyone, especially for those with normal to combination skin. Sensitive skin and dry skin can benefit too, it might just not be enough for winter or if you don’t combine your other products well with it. You need to take special care when handling retinol. For the mask, I recommend this to anyone! It is my new obsession and I would certainly repurchase this once I finish this pack. It makes me shine and happy, plus who wouldn’t like gold on their face?

 

What do you think?

You can purchase both of these products – the mask here

and the cream here. (do it trust me 😉

 

Have a lovely weekend.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, Travel Diaries, Videos / October 21, 2017

4th Vegan Festival In Seoul (video)

Happy Sunday!

 

How are you there?

I know my fellow university students are just reaching their critical points of desperation as the Mid-term exam week continues…

Good luck everyone!

And if you are not currently having to deal with the proximity of failing an exam enjoy your near Halloween!

I myself, being as handy as I am, have prevented myself from enjoying almost anything these days since I kid of broke my arm…

and the right one.

But that is not important to this post.

What is important is, that I managed to visit the 4th Vegan Festival In Seoul!

Vegans In Korea

First of all, I would like to applaud all the vegans living long term in Korea! Great job everyone!

Why?

It is really hard. But not impossible.

As you may have read in my Street Food post I mentioned that I had to revise my “vegan standards” and that is sadly true. Being vegan, even vegetarian, in Korea is truly a challenge so I live now by the rule of doing my best. Also there doesn’t seem to be that many of us.

Or are there?

Before attending the festival I have met only a few people who actively avoid certain animal products and those would be generally my fellow international students. The concept of vegetarianism and veganism is not very well known around Korea so I was surprised by the amount of people I met today.

And not just people attending the event. I was taken aback (happily) by how many vegan restaurants and little shops have emerged in Seoul over the last decade. And most of them are really popular! You may have seen my trip to Plant (go watch it now if you have not) and that is just the top of this new amazing list of vegan places I need to visit.

I was happy to find ethical cosmetics, fashion and even my favorite vegan leather brand Matt&Natt.

Let’s get to the food though shall we?

Vegan Food Baby

With my amazing friend, who helped me in this handicapped situation a lot today, we decided to arrive just in time for the beginning. Despite multiple stalls just getting ready to open we knew we made the right decision.

Later, it was impossible to avoid any long line.

We walked around everything to mark are go-to spots and I immediately had to buy something. Finding the Huggers stall, a new INCREDIBLY LOOKING vegan restaurant emerging in Itaweon, they certainly had a lot to offer. I could’t resist and bought a S’Mores Cake (sounds epic right?) which made my breakfast extremely delicious. It was so good!My friend opted for their burger which was also definitely worth the wait! I now plan on visiting the actual restaurant soon so I will show you much more.

After we explored more we opted for lunch (just about 30 min later… :D) and I decided to try Sweet Potato Veggie Wrap and it was truly delicious. Whole-wheat tortilla, mashed sweet potatoes, raw veggies and my favorite pickled cabbage. I am obsessed with this purple stuff <3

Just after finishing that I had to get a second lunch of course and I was amazed by the RAW Kelp Noodles with Cashew Cream from a packed raw food stall. That has to be my favorite food of the day! So tasty and cream and perfect for actually hot and sunny day!

And my friend? She waited her line to get a Vegan Hot Dog! I have to admit it looked (and tasted) crazy good but I personally am not the biggest fan of fake “meat”…. sorry hot dog.

Like I was not full enough I had to end “lunch” this with Black Sesame Cheesecake. Raw cheesecakes being my nemesis, I wondered if it will be the same. It was not, but it was tasty. Made out of tofu and cashew mix and actually baked it had much firmer and drier texture than your regular raw cake. Not that it was bad, especially as I love black sesame desserts. It was just new.

This Is Not The End

People would think I can’t stuff my belly more but I was unable to stop with all the food around me. I honestly tried to target the stall with no permanent shop to visit later so I had to avoid very popular Jack’s Bean Falafel (I will go there soon..) or Korean Loving Hut. Instead I returned to the wrap stall (that pickled cabbage <3) and bought their Brown Rice Kimbab. I love kimbab and can get it without a bigger problem but this one looked so good! And it wasn’t even expensive. I know I said I eat a lot but I decided to only try a piece and then took it home for the next day. Just kidding I ate it that evening.. oops.

Instead of the Kimbab we bought ourselves weirdly (poop-like) looking Oat Milk Soft Serve. Since I am quite spoiled when it comes to vegan ice cream (thank you Prague..) I was hesitant whether or not it will be good. And it was!
I was so surprised how light, creamy and smooth the soft serve was! And with oat milk? Wow!

If you can ever taste it you won’t regret even as a non-vegan.

After taking last few pictures, we happily (and stuffed) left the Seoul Innovation Park and walked towards the subway to enter sleepy food coma. It was hard.

I can’t tell you how happy I was stocking up on some delicious goods – the best almond butter is now sitting on my shelf – and spending some quality time surrounded by all the stuff I love and sometimes miss.

Even in Korea, even if it’s more challenging, there is no reason for anyone to be the sad vegan. Things are changing and it is all getting more accessible than ever before.

 

So what do you think?

Would you attend the next festival?

I am already writing it down into my diary.

 

Love,

 

Sara

 

P.S. I truly apologize for the bad quality and lack of footage for my video but I am now in the critical week of healing my hand and I was unable to properly hold a camera nor film everything I wanted. I promise my videos will get better very soon. Thank you <3

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Blog, Videos / October 14, 2017

Vegan Plant Restaurant In Itaewon

Welcome back!

 

Did you have a great October week?

 

For me it was full of stress and craziness. returning back to the everyday class life after our Chuseok break but I am now used to it. Plus I am just about to leave to attend 4nd VEGAN FESTIVAL in Seoul! How amazing is that? (but that will be our topic probably next week)

Let’s look what I have for you today.

And trust me it’s amazing. Well, unless you are reading/watching this hungry…

Itaewon = Vegan Heaven

Seoul has many different parts and some of you may know one of them, Itaewon. Itaewon is well known as the international district as it is packed with foreigners. Being close to the US Army base, Itaewon is filled with such a variety of non-Koreans and with them came their cuisines and shops. You can find Mexican, Indian, Turkish, even African food – all in Itaewon. With that being said, it is also a paradise for vegans. Majority of vegan (and “hipster”) restaurants can be found in Itaewon. So is the so called “king” (or queen?) of all vegan food in Korea – The Plant.

Plantbased Plant

Originating as a bakery/cafe, The Plant quickly became local favorite. You do not have to be vegan to fall in love with this place. In fact, my friend who came with me is neither. Later Plant expanded their business and opened a bigger Plant Restaurant, just few blocks from the original bakery. And that is where we headed.

Located just few steps away from Itaewon Subway Station, Exit 4, it is hard to miss this place. Go to 2nd floor and you will enter this amazing and cozy restaurant. BUT be aware that it fills up very quickly. We came just in between lunch and dinner and the place still got super full by the time we were finished.

Salads, Wraps And So Much Cake

Looking at their menu I wished I could have tried everything, especially since they tend to change it from season to season. We finally decided to share the TEMPEH RAINBOW WRAP and HUMMUS & ROASTED SQUASH SALAD. The food didn’t take long to be made but look so so good!

And tasted even better. I personally preferred the salad, mainly because of that tender squash, homemade smooth smoky hummus and especially that garlicky alioli!! The best dressing I know. Not to forget about the wrap – it was also incredibly tasty. Fresh crunchy veggies with so delicate tempeh in soft wrap covered in sauce I can’t name but for sure can eat forever. Loved the fresh chips and the bread as well.

Then came the cakes. Originally we ordered only the PEANUT BUTTER & CHOCOLATE slice but after it made my friend nearly cry with happiness, I knew one slice will not be enough. So I came with the GINGER PUMPKIN SLICE. To describe both cakes – HEAVEN! I am the biggest fan of peanut butter & chocolate combo but this time (sorry) I preferred the pumpkin. It felt more appropriate for fall and that balance of sweet and tangy was on spot. To be said both were one of the best vegan cakes I have ever tried. Delicate but rich, none too heavy. Should I even continue?

All together, one of the best food adventures I have ever been on. However, note that it will be more expensive than your regular Korean food. I was ok paying for health and deliciousness, to defend I think it was worth every single penny. Also the portions were quite tremendous so I think you are paying actually good amount.

 

Would you like to try it?

Where will we go next?

 

Let’s wait and see.

 

Love,

 

 

Sara

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Blog, Videos / October 8, 2017

Celebrating Chuseok In Korea

Hello everyone!

And happy weekend! Did you all have a nice week?

I bet that most of my fellow students and all working people in Korea were quite excited to have a week of. What was the occasion?

South Korea just finished celebrating one of their biggest National Holidays called Chuseok.

Let me tell you all about it.

Korean Thanksgiving

I have heard many times Chuseok being regarded as the “Korean Thanksgiving”. Although it is a nice way to make it more understandable for foreigners, it is actually a bit different.  Family members from near and far come together to share food and to give thanks to their ancestors. Many Koreans visit their hometowns in and travel around meeting all their relatives.

This year, Chuseok Day falls on October 4. As the day before and the day after are also part of the holiday, this year’s full holiday period will take place for ten days at the longest, from September 30 to October 9, including the weekends, National Foundation Day on October 3, and Hangeul Day on October 9. It is really nice to have so much free time, but my college has become a ghost town. For us, the foreigners, it is more about figuring out what to do when everyone leaves and stores shut down. Doesn’t sound like fun anymore right?

Well, we could be studying but…

Let’s Go Sightseeing

Since my arrival to Korea I didn’t, unfortunately, have yet enough time to properly explore this country. Unless you count food. I have seen a lot of it. I always make plans to see certain touristy spots but just now I finally did it. With a couple friends we decided to take the proper tour of traditional Seoul places to immerse ourselves into history.

And we were not the only ones.

Our first stop was the biggest and arguably the most beautiful palace in Seoul. Part of the five main Seoul Palaces, Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) is a popular Chuseok destination. We quickly found out how true this was trying to squeeze through the insane amount of tourist and families alike. Many people also showed up wearing the beautiful traditional Joseon dress Hanbok. I need to say I respected them for surviving it in the heat. 

After touring the palace we moved into the Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골한옥마을) and it was a great idea. Located only couple stations away from the palace and in the heart of Seoul, the village is a beautiful place to go. More like a huge park with a number of preserved old buildings I fell in love with the scenery and the green. All filled with nice clean paths, waterfalls and multiple places to go and explore the history. Exclusively during Chuseok you could have tried some traditional games or like me, go punch some rice cake (see the video.. 🙂

There were definitely many more historical sites to visit, but we had our share for the day.

Pancakes For Dinner

Each holiday is also linked to some kind of traditional food. Chuseok is more than complex with it’s family gathering food but one simple is the main. It is Jeon (). Described as the Korean pancake Jeon comes in many varieties and tastes. The common way to prepare this dish is to mince some meat, seafood or vegetables, coat them in batter and egg (or some can be without it YAY) and fry it. Not the healthiest but certainly a tasty dish not to be missed. You could even find a flower sweet jeon.

This evening we headed to our favorite neighborhood Hongdae and sat down in a cozy popular Jeon pub. Unfortunately all of their jeon included egg but I got to enjoy the BEST Dubu-kimchi (두부김치) I have ever tried. A perfect combination of warm stir fried kimchi with seasoned tofu made this Chuseok even better.

I almost forgot the drinks. Jeon is best paired with Korean traditional liquor Makgeolli (막걸리). Type of rice wine, it is very light and sweet, often even flavored with corn or chestnut (as we had). I personally really like Makgeolli but everyone should not be fooled by it’s almost alcohol free taste – it can kill you.

Enjoying this amazing dinner and chatting with friends I managed to celebrate this Chuseok in all it’s glory even being a foreigner. No matter what, you can always find a way to enjoy your time right.

 

What would you like to do on Chuseok?

 

See you next week.

 

Love,

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / October 1, 2017

Yonsei vs. Korea University, YonKo 2017 by an international student

Hello!

How have you been doing?

Last week I attended the amazing Yonsei vs. Korea University games and I couldn’t help but film and write about it. It was so much fun!

I can’t wait till next year’s games take place again.

But first let me introduce to you one of the main things I experienced.

The rivalry.

YonKo or KoYon?

 

Everyone seems to be well aware of the battle between Yonsei and Korea University as old as the schools themselves. Although for most foreign students it is a kind of a mystery. Both being prestigious institutions with great students on their side (Yonsei is still better, obviously), the battle is intense and never-ending, culminating each year with the September YonKo games. As an international freshman, I could never truly appreciate the clash between the two universities, described to me often as the Oxbridge fight, nor did I have the chance to watch the YonKo Games myself. I was quite interested in witnessing the competition for the first time and was happy to get a chance to meet the actual Korea University students to see how great or not they are. I was also a bit scared.

Songs over Sports

I would like to firstly give a round of applause to every student who attended the Games. Arriving at the big Jamsil stadium for the Friday Baseball game, I was taken aback by the sea of blue t-shirts, caps, temporary tattoos and even hair. How could I have thought I would be the only one sacrificing my hair color for my school? On both sides, I saw excited students from all over the world representing their university color. I would be lying if I said I was not happy seeing so many international students singing the Yonsei anthem and noticing less foreigners on the Korea side. Particularly entertaining to me was the lack of attention paid to the actual players (sorry guys) as everyone was too emerged in singing with the incredible Akaraka group. I would have never imagined anyone to have such stamina in the heat.

Language Barrier

I should now probably explain why I was a bit scared. After finishing the sports part of the YonKo Games, students of both universities united and went celebrating together like they do every year. However, it was the first time I attended and I lack both in Korean and in social skills. I knew my fellow UIC students were more than comfortable with English, but how would the Korea University students react to my bad “anyonghaseo”? And how would their attitude be since Yonsei managed to demolish their team?

I needn’t have worried.

The Aftermath

The evening commenced with the “Train Event” and after the subsequent barbeque we sat down with our sister department from Korea University. Despite my friends and I being obvious foreigners and not very proficient in the Korean language none of the students refrained from our table and went to their limits to try and engage us in the conversation. Speaking literally with our hands and legs, we shared our experience and laughed together at the Korea University tragedy. Throughout the entire night, I met many of our rivals and almost none had trouble speaking to us in a way we could understand. We all tried our best, had a lot of fun together, and I still consider it the best Korean learning experience so far. I would be lying if I said I did not come across few individuals, who were more reserved and left us fairly early, but the majority of the Korea University students didn’t mind our language barrier and they for sure didn’t mind us being from Yonsei.


Friends Over Rivals

So where was the rivalry?

It was in the occasional funny remarks, sarcastic comments aimed at no one in particular and at the continuous friendly competition in the little games. I have noticed during the train event when the slightly upsetting songs mocking Korea University students were singing no one seemed to be too distressed by it and some even joined to admit this year’s defeat. It is not like we were not called “chickens” couple times (not that it makes it in any way a good practice).

Overall, despite the occasional offensive comments, I have never experienced a more open and generous bonding event between what are supposed to be deadly rivals. Even though there were older students, the sports players themselves and even freshman who – like me – were unable to fully join the conversations in the event, I can say I will remember this night as one big and funny celebration, where no one had to feel left out. Not only have we won, but also ate a lot, got drunk and met new friends – all of that with little to no conflicts or stress and even the language or background diversity couldn’t prevent that. Indeed, we are all becoming more and more global, and this could be seen even in the “traditional” battle of Yonsei vs. Korea.

 

 

What do you think?

 

Would you like to see it yourself?

I hope you liked this post and I will see you next week!

 

Love,

 

Sara

P.S. you can never imagine how good your language skills are until you start drinking.

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / September 24, 2017

Vegan Street Food In Myeongdong, Seoul (video)

Happy Sunday!

 

Welcome back 🙂

I know I was kind of absent here last week but I worked hard on the video I shared with you so I hope it is enough as an excuse for not writing any post.

This week will hopefully make it up to you.

I for sure enjoyed filming this video.

WARNING!

Do not watch this hungry… or do but I warned you.

The Street Food Center

Some things just make me extremely excited. New sweaters, discounted acai powder, days off or street food.

I do not know what is so magical about eating without sitting down and reading through menu but I enjoy it too much. Especially since no street food was created equal and I each and every spot on the earth ha it’s own original one.

Traveling so much I realized simple things like food from a local beloved truck can really open up the culture to you. Plus it is usually super cheap.

That all said, I have never met a better street food city then Soul.

Korea for sure gets me when it comes to food and even the cheapest bites you can get on the go are one of my favorites It is true it is super HARD being vegan hear but you would be surprised how many dishes are or can be requested without animal products. (warning though, I have become okay with honey… I know I know but you would never believe how hard it is to stay vegan in Korea until you tried so this is still a little victory for me)

Just to emphasize how big street food in Seoul is, there is even a “Street Food Street”. Located in Myeongdong it is filled with one food stall next to each other and people crazily moving from one to another. If food is not enough, the street is lined with many actual shops, from cosmetics to clothes. You can find anything there. Let’s just look what I managed to get my hands on.

Somewhat Vegan-friendly Foodie Heaven

How many times have I mentioned how veganism is hard in Korea? I also mentioned how some of my vegan standards changed so I won’t repeat myself. I will dedicate this topic a whole article soon, it is so complicated I do not want to talk about it in a rushed way. However, that is not the point right now. The point is to make you hungry listing all the amazing foods I did try in Myeingdong

First of all, it would take at least a week of constant eating to try all the foods there. From traditional street food famous Tornado Potato to endless stall of fruit cups, everyone can find their own food soulmate there. I myself had such a hard time choosing and I obviously ate too much as always.

We started of with Korean twist on Mochi. Fresh strawberry covered in red bean dough and wrapped in pink glutinous rice coat right in front of our eyes was definitely something. Tasty, fresh and light (but pricier) it is an absolute must. My friend kept talking about it the whole ride back.

Next up we had Kimbab (김밥). Being absolute cheap stable for anyone in a rush kimbab is everywhere. Our stall of choice served mini Kimbabs, each tiny roll having just one distinct filling. You could load up your box with 5 rolls, each one for 1 000 won. Varying from traditional fish and spam flavors to something like cheese, I went for jalapeno and kimchi. Both were super tasty and I watched couple of ahjummas made another batch right in front of me drooling.

Fried Fair

Fried food belongs to streets of Seoul like nothing else. From popular twigim (aka various deep fried dumplings, potatoes, squid…) to fried noodles and chicken. I usually avoid fried food as it makes my stomach very unhappy, but fried desserts are my weakness. And the one I like the most is without doubt Bungeo-ppang (붕어빵). Fried bread like dough, traditionally filled with sweet red bean and shaped like fish. What else would I need? This version I tried is also called Croissant Bungeo-ppang as it has flaky outside rather than the regular dense one. The lovely couple also offered other special fillings like sweet potato or even cheese. I could stay there forever.

One last item (or items) I tried were two kinds of Hotteok (호떡). Although it is compared to pancake, Hotteok is much different, thicker and heavier round shaped dough filled with melted brown sugar and pumpkin seed mixture. You can also find the savory version, filled with Japchae (glass) noodles and veggies. I can never decide between the two so I just get them both. And you should too.

So what was my favorite?

It is hard to declare just one winner but this time I reminisced most about the Bungeo-ppang. I have a serious thing for red beans and a cute fish I can eat, it is hard to beat that one.

And how much money did I spent?

Apart from fruit and some unusual items, street food in Seoul is super cheap. Even in such touristy area as Myeongdong I did not spent over 13 000 won (cca $13) and I ate more then I would need. So do not worry about spending too much there.

 

What should I try and where should we go next?

I hope you liked this adventure and I will see you soon again.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, Travel Diaries, Videos / September 9, 2017

My First Moments In Korea

Happy Sunday!

How have you been doing?

 

I know I promised to update you on everything that’s happening in my new life right now but I am honestly so so overwhelmed. And busy.

I mean the college craze has started.

 

While my Czech high school friends are still happily enjoying their summer break (no summer is there though anymore) I have had to dive in head first into my new university experience. And boy is it crazy here.

My First Few Minutes Into Days

 

I have been a seriously mean person to all my friends and people who cared for me during my first few days. How? I did not contact them at all.

Drenched in humidity but happy…

For some of you it might not be a big deal and i bet that many people did not even notice I have left for the other side of the country yet. And some of my aquitiances could not care less about my future.

However, being as lucky as I am i had a pretty big group of people who supported me and virtually went on this long journey with me. Some sent goodbyes and others went to see me off. These amazing humans kept messaging me and asking how I was doing as soon as my plane touched the ground in korea. And I ignored them all.

 

You might be asking why. I knew they were worried but I did nothing. In the end I decided to post on social media where I knew all these friends could se it.

I am alive, sweaty but alive and happy.

 

the true reason was in fact i was too overwhelmed. In my head I had no idea how to form my emotions, my impressions into words. What can I tell them when they ask?

Noothing at that point.

Adjusting to this whole new chapter of my life required piece of my mind and energy.

 

Not in a bad way.

first week = visit to a pet shelter

I love it here.

 

Right at the airport one of fellow international students (and club officer) picked me up she turned out to be a super nice and ready to help person. She navigated me everywhere, helped me move in and showed it all to me. And she was not the last one to do so.

 

All the other officers were on standby helping with anything we needed and during my first afternoon, I already managed to move in, get a bank account and spend too much money at home mart (I did need that plant though…)

During that crazy hunt for pillows and trash cans i did meet a fellow freshmen who so far has become one of my closest friend. Not just here but overall.

How come i am always lucky to find people who can tolerate me right away?

Friends Are Everywhere But…

 

…not all of them will stay. Since I have only been here for about 14 days I can’t tell you which people stay and which left. I already met people I know I know i won’t spend much time with and others i do not want to let go so easily. But it will take time?

 

How did I meet them?

It is easier than you think. You just gotta try.

 

The big example of how I tried is the fact that so many people think I am a “chatty extrovert”

Oh, how is it the exact opposite? I had to put myself out there in ot\order to not end up crying alone all the time. And the relationships are worth it.

 

Some people you meet through dorm assignments, some through shared shopping trips, others in the elevator. Why should you be scared?

Somehow, I seem to be getting along well (and I do stand out a lot which helps)

 

I had many events to attend. Starting from orientation, full of expalnanations and neccecary lectures (who want to see fire alarm in a all driven into class?) designed to help us adjust. It was a nice try but it was still all a big mess.

 

No one can really prepare you how many things you need to take care of, how many papers you have to fill out.

Buut you can do it.

 

I did.

 

So what do you think?

 

Did I manage to give my mind mes a bit more structure?

 

Tried my best.

Love,

 

Sara

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