Thursday, June 28, 2012

The First Day in Jeju

The first morning I woke up at what I thought was 645AM, perfect timing we were going to meet Ko at 8AM for a tour of Jeju National University. Turns out that I actually woke up at 545AM my clock was on daylight savings time. Ethan and I decided to explore the campus and as we walked down the hall we ran into Professor McCuan who also had gotten up during the wee-hours of the morning, we wondered around the empty campus walking into different buildings and exploring. Nothing was locked and hardly anything had signs in English so we mostly spent our time trying to figure out what buildings were what. The campus is interesting, the architectural design is not consistent at all and the entire campus is on a hill. This combined with the early morning mist made for a very interesting and unique atmosphere that is hard to describe.  At 8 we met up with Ko and he gave us the full tour, explaining what each building was as he lead us to go get breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. Yes there is a Dunkin Donuts on Jeju. They can’t expand onto the west coast but they can expand onto an island off the coast of South Korea. However the Dunkin Donuts was closed so we went to a local bakery which served pastries Korean style.  Their pastries are incredibly sweet and they all seem to have creamlike fillings. I was glad that we got to eat at the local bakery; going half way across the world to eat an American chain just feels wrong.  But oh so sweet. 
Walking down towards the base of campus

Jeju International Summer School 2012
Once your name is on a banner you know you have hit the big leagues

These guys were playing this weird volleyball game using only their feet and heads. It was super interesting to watch and looks quite fun.
This is a green on campus with some gardeners tending to it. The campus is quite  beautiful but the weather has been drissly and it is hard to caputure the atmosphere with a simple point and shoot camera, so I am just putting up a bunch of photos so that  you might be able to glimpse the beauty of the campus.
The Dunkin Donuts that was closed which is attached to a 7-11 and a Baskin Robbins. 
The base of the campus where the bus stop to the city is and where our bakery was. 
These deer statues must have some significance unfortunately the plaques are all in Korean so I cannot tell you what they mean. They look good though. 
I really like the wooded look that Jeju National University has. All the foliage around the campus makes the air fresher  and gives the campus a very earthy feeling.
As we left the bakery to start our arduous walk from the base of campus to our class room, Ko seemed fairly agitated, he kept telling us that class was at 9AM.He leads the way to the classroom probably a good ten minutes late, again this was after traveling for 20ish hours and my sense of time still lacked sense.  When we arrived there were already five people waiting for us, three female Korean students, one male Korean student and a female Korean professor. The Korean professor pointed at her wrist as we arrived to draw attention to our lateness. Apparently Korean Professors are never late, the students can arrive late but the professors are always on time. From my two years of experience at SSU I would say the professors are on time 50% of the time.  An interesting cultural norm as in most of Korean society elders are given the utmost respect, I figured a professor could arrive whenever they wanted but evidently not.  As Professor McCuan began setting up his computer on the complex Korean podium/classroom control center, the Korean professor suggested that all the Americans meet the Korean students. I went over to the nervous looking guy and introduced myself. It became clear almost immediately that this guy spoke almost no English. I asked him why he was interested in this class and he said because he needed it for his “report card” which I took to mean he needed it to fulfill his credits. I sat awkwardly as he searches for the words to express what he is thinking. Finally he blurts “I didn’t know this class was in English.” I gave him a wide eyed look and simply said “shit” and we both kind of laughed. Once class began to resume he leans in and says “Nice meeting you Joe” and he then bolts out of the classroom.  The rest of the class session just seems like a normal class taught by my Professor. But we are in Korea. It is kind of surreal but I got over that quick as I became more and more engaged by the class.

The cafeteria at Jeju. It is much larger than this with probably 15 to 20 tables running back from where I took this photo.
Boiling molten hell soup harnessed from the lava tubes of Jeju, and side dishes. The Koreans always have side dishes.

During each break I would go out to the vending machines and binge on the 500 WON (50 cent) sweet canned coffee drinks that are sold in vending machines all over campus. The thing is that they are like 150ML and pretty weak. I generally drink half a pot of coffee a day back at home and I make it strong and drink it constantly. I need to make up for the lack of giant cups here by taking the equivalent of caffeine methadone hits during the class breaks.

After the 3 hour class session all the American students and Professor McCuan went with Ko to the cafeteria.  They were serving kimchi soup with side dishes. The kimchi soup was dark red and came directly from a massive pot where it was stewing and placed into a cast iron bowl that resembled a potions cauldron.  I carefully walked to a table carefully holding my tray of side dishes and the boiling cauldron of magma.  Once we were all seated Ko explained the side dishes and told us that the soup was even spicy for him. I devoured everything on the plate sweating profusely when I was scooping through the kimchi soup. I quite enjoy kimchi which I am told is not something foreigners typically enjoy. I guess others palette’s are not sophisticated enough to enjoy fermented cabbage. Or my palette is so unsophisticated that the whole spectrum has come full circle and I will literally eat anything in front of me. I am pretty sure it is the ladder but I like to pretend it is the former.

This is how the mornings pretty much have worked since the first day. Go to class at 9, drink 175ML coffee drinks in the vein attempt to chase the caffeine buzz I knew in America, go and eat some spicy food of which I know none of the main ingredients. Then the afternoons are free for us to go and explore this exotic and different land.  The first night Ko guided us to go to Jeju City’s Lotte Mart a sort of supermarket on steroids, like Wal-Mart but with less elderly greeters and sadness.  It is owned by the Lotte Corporation a conglomerate that owns a variety of stores and makes a variety of products. Sort of like a Korean Costco or Siemens, one of the companies that are kind of scary in their variety of products. All of the Sonoma State students, Professor McCuan and two of the Delaware State students went down with Ko to Lotte Mart. Ko had to go to attend to some other business but he gave us a note to give to the taxis in order to get back to Jeju National University.

The Lotte Mart was amazing; simply because of how different it was to anything American. The bottom floor was the fresh grocery area. There were all sorts of live sea-creatures, dead sea-creatures, refrigerated Korean dishes that only needed to be heated to unleash their potential deliciousness power, and exotic fruits. Erica, Holly and the Delaware State girls all went different directions to explore the exotic supermarket while Ethan, Professor McCuan and I slowly perused the supermarket. There were friendly Lotte Mart associates giving out free samples all around the store, they were aggressively friendly giving out samples. We were all looking at the seafood and we spotted these small little crabs that were for sale. Professor McCuan was incredibly excited at the little fellas and the attendant noticed his excitement. She quickly skewered one for each of us and not wanting to be rude we all ate the full miniature crab.  The best way to describe it was “earthy” it kind of tasted like the earth. It was good and the shell was soft but the consistency was definitely that of a full crustacean. Each level was filled with new discoveries. On the sporting goods level we found incredibly cheap sets of high quality golf clubs. On the level with electronics we saw the newest in Samsung’s TV technology. On the top level we saw an “American style restaurant” which looked as if they modeled their interior on both a Marie Callender's and Nancy Regan’s favorite bedspread. We decided we should probably put that on the places to go for the Fourth of July.

After we were done exploring we all met back up to go and eat some of the local cuisine. So we went to the local Burger King, which was a few doors away from the Krispy Kreme. I got a whopper at 7,000 WON and it tasted just like an American whopper. I guess it was a good move to ease my gut flora onto Korean food. After our dinner of Burger King we grabbed a taxi and headed back to our dorm. The taxi driver was very dedicated to keeping our travelling cost low. So dedicated that he decided to pass two cars on a blind turn, forcing a car coming the other direction to bail into a turnout. So kind of him. He did keep the cost low only about 7,000 WON (7 dollars) to get from the city to Jeju National University. Props to him. I went to bed with my body tired and confused only to wake up again at 630AM.

The entrance to Lotte Mart. The stone guradians on the left and right are  traditional Jeju symbols.
Fresh fish frozen and packed for you. 
Samples on samples.
They have these little bins where you put your small dog while you shop. I don't know what happens if you lose the key...
Krispy Kremes!

Sorry for the lack of substantial updates while I have been in Jeju I have just been really busy enjoying and exploring the island. Now that the routine is established I plan to post summaries of what we all did in the afternoon and then also have the less regular post about cultural things I have noticed. By Sunday I hope to blog summarizing my expierences inside the classroom and what is challenging about teaching advanced American election concepts to foreigners. It is truly a unique and eye opening experience for me and my fellow Sonoma State Students. I also hope to post some random cultural differences and some funny and awkward communication challenges we have faced.  If there are any suggestions about what you want me to post about let me know.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Journeying West

SFO to Seoul

I arrived at SFO at 9AM ready for the 19 hours of travel in front of me. Sort of the longest flight I have ever taken was going from SFO to Munich which is around 10 hours long. SFO to Seoul takes about twelve to thirteen hours.  Everything went smoothly at SFO, the airport was not busy at all we quickly checked our luggage and went through security with enough time to grab some food. We flew Asiana Air which is one of the two major airlines in Korea.  The trip was to Seoul was smooth but horribly long. The entertainment system boasted a plethora of Korean dramas and probably a good 40 hours of golf footages. The on demand selection of “American Pop” featured mostly 80s classics such as Culture Club, Duran Duran, Kansas and A-Ha. Although most of those bands are not American, the synthy 80s feel was the perfect soundtrack to the slow decent into madness that a 12 hour journey inevitably brings. However to calm yourself down they do have the incredible album “Men Playing Piano” which features a collection of piano pieces... played by men. Being on an airplane for that long is very surreal. They have everyone close the blinds to simulate night but we are literally chasing the sun, it was constantly sunny outside and whenever anyone would open the window. The light would pierce in through the darkness and shatter the illusion of night. For the majority of the flight I watched movies like “Cowboys and Aliens” because I wanted to preserve my purgatory-like mind state of being only half cognizant. Trust me if you want to feel like a post-op lobotomy patient watching “Cowboys and Aliens” will do the trick.

Seoul to Jeju

We landed in Seoul about 20 minutes late around 5:10 in the afternoon. By the time the flight ended the dry air had gotten to me and I felt like I was on the verge of getting a bloody nose. When we got off the plane we were hit with hot muggy air. I liked how the weather contrasted so greatly with the plane. It really made me feel like I was in a foreign land. My excitement with finally arriving in Korea was short lived however as we had to get to our connecting flight to Jeju at 7. However we still had to go through customs and immigration and recheck our bags, even though our connecting flight was on the same airline. When we get off the flight and queue up in the immigration and customs line Professor McCuan joked “You should never follow me I always pick the slow line”, we all chuckle until we realize that he was right and our current line was moving aggravatingly slow. At this point I don’t have a watch and time has no meaning to me having been sitting for 12 hours without any outside cues to clueing me into the passage of time. But apparently we were in line for about 40 minutes before we got through.  They took a photo of us and our fingerprints and we were off to get our luggage. Ethan had switched to the other line having seen how slow ours was moving so he got through first and went to grab our luggage. He only just got there in time, they were about to cart all of our luggage off to unclaimed baggage. We grabbed our bags and tried to find the Asiana domestic gate. We soon realized that we were still in the international area of the airport Gate “F” and we needed to Gate “A”. So we hauled our asses through the Seoul airport. It was like 80 degrees in the airport and so we just half walked half ran through the sea of travelers, strategically weaving our way around slow walkers trying not to run into anyone. We checked in quickly went through security and then we were finally where we were supposed to be with twenty minutes to spare. We saw a group of other Americans in the waiting area of the terminal and turns out that they were students from Delaware State University in Dover who were also going to the International Summer School at Jeju. The flight from Seoul to Jeju was only about an hour and by that point I was straight up loopy. I was giggling as I made inane statements and just saying straight up silliness to my fellow travellers.

We landed in Jeju around 9PM Sunday. When we got off the plane did not go through the usual moveable hall like thing that is common on international flights, rather we walked off the plane directly onto the tarmac.  As soon as we got off we were engulfed in a heavy mist like rain. Wind and warm mist was hitting us from all directions as the idling engine growled next to us. I was just amazed that I was finally there. The airport seemed to have an orange glow surrounding, and being pummeled by water energized me enough to wake me up from my zombie like state.  Right as we reached the luggage carousel Professor McCuan spotted one of the officials who had interviewed him for the teaching position. A younger man dressed in a sport coat and jeans he introduced himself as Ko and told us that he would be the official responsible for our stay at Jeju. He directed us to the airport parking lot where a bus waited to take us to the University. On the ride there Ko whipped out a few bags of Korean snacks and encouraged us to take as much as we wanted. I took a sweet pastry thing with cheese and sausage and a box of drinkable apple yogurt which was delicious. The ride lasted probably about 30 minutes, again I cannot say for sure because at that point I had no sense of time.  During the ride Ko gave us an incredibly informative rundown on the island and the school. When we got to our dorms we were given our keys and were told that we didn’t have a Korean roommate but instead would room with one another. I was relieved, I was in no state to meet a new roommate and get settled in, I just wanted to shower and try to get as much sleep before the 8AM tour of campus the next morning.  As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out. 20 hours of travel and I was finally at my destination and it felt so good.

View from outside of our dorm

Inside of the dorm room. Most exciting photo ever.

Down the street from our dorm 
The next post I will detail the classroom environment and some fun and interesting stories of communication and cultural norms.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What I am doing in Jeju

My introduction post was light on the details of the program at Jeju. Essentially Jeju National University created a program which invites over three different professors from various colleges in the United States to teach summer courses to both Korean students and a group of their own students. The professors involved in the exchange program applied and were interviewed by officials at Jeju National University. There are three professors from three universities, one from Richard Stockton College in New Jersey, one from Delaware State University and of course one from Sonoma State University.

The professor who invited me to go as one of his students to Jeju is Dr. David McCuan. His main area of expertise is the study and analysis of Elections, particularly the effect of direct democracy, and the study of terrorism. The class that I had with him however was much more more general class,  "POLS 302: Social Science Research Methods".  The Sonoma State University (SSU) catalog describes the class in their usual flowing poetic way saying:

"Social science research and statistical methods, which includes as a significant component computer-based data analysis using the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) programs. It may include building data files and data analysis using multivariate tables, correlations, and regression techniques in a directed  research project. The course includes a two-hour laboratory."

Now some people would be appalled reading that description. Traditionally words like data analysis multivariate, regression, and two-hour laboratory are not words typically associated with words like exciting, understandable or fun. Although I was intimidated by the course I was also ready for the challenge. My semester's course load would have been nauseatingly easy without POLS 302, I was taking an introduction class for my history minor, KSUN student radio (check them out during the school year at, and an introduction Political Science class which focused on political theory.  POLS 302 has a reputation among PoliSci students as being the most difficult class in the department. In order to take Senior Seminar which is required to graduate you must get at least a "C" in POLS 302. Not passing POLS 302 can delay your graduation if you leave it until last minute and fail it. I didn't particularly want that sort of pressure on me during the first half of my senior year. I knew I could not take the class while in Sweden and I wanted to add the challenge to my schedule.

On the first day of class Professor McCuan informed us that 25% of those in the classroom would fail. He then proceeded to tell us the formula for OLS regression that very day in class. The rest of the class consisted of me frantically taking notes, and occasionally having fleeting moments of understanding. After the first class I just thought "shit I am going to have to do a lot of work this semester". The rest of the classes were simmilarly confusing but they forced me to activly try to understand the material. Professor McCuan didn't spoonfeed us information, he waited for us to figure things out and ask questions. It was incredibly frustrating at times but by the end of the semester everything seemed to come together and I felt like I had a learned a tremendous amount and was proud of the effort that I had put into the class. As a side note if anyone wants to read a twenty-eight page paper on how the issue of Health Care effected Presidential Vote Choice in the 2008 election shoot me an email, it is a real thrill ride of a read.

I truly did enjoy POLS 302 and found myself incredibly interested in the material. I liked looking at the data from the American National Election Survey and trying to find trends in the data. Deciphering what survey data actually means is a multifaceted and it is immensely satisfying when you can understand what is happening in the data. In Korea Professor McCuan will be teaching a course on elections. It is a condensed of a class he teaches at Sonoma State University and was chosen because both Korea and the United States are having elections this coming fall. The class will focus on how voters make decisions and new campaigning techniques used by politicians to try to gain votes. I am interested in seeing how the Korean students react to Professor McCuan's teaching style. During POLS 302 Dr. McCuan was very informal, cracking jokes and randomly calling on people to answer questions, it was a fun and light hearted atmosphere. From what I have read the student-teacher relationship in Korea is much more formal. All the professors wear suites and all the students avoid eye contact. It will be interesting to see how the Korean students react to a less formal style of teaching. I am interested and slightly intimidated by the prospect of taking a Korean Language course from, what I assume, will be a Korean professor. It will be an odd change of pace to have the morning classes with the fun and jovial Professor McCuan and then having a a class with a stern and serious Korean professor.

During my three week visit I will be staying in a dorm at Jeju National University with a Korean roommate who will show me around Jeju and act as a host. I get two meals a day provided by the university although I don't know which two meals are provided. I really don't know any of the specifics about the actual living arrangements or what Jeju National University has planned for the international students. I know the framework of the trip but the filling. But that makes it all the more exciting, the ambiguity creates more of an adventure. Our flight leaves at 12:40PM Saturday June 22nd and we arrive in Seoul at 5:25 PM Sunday, June 23rd. The flight lasts about 13 hours which will give me lots of time to practice my sitting skills.

It is going to be an adventure and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to be part of it. Going to Jeju for three weeks will be a nice way to get used to international travel again as well as toughening me up for any culture shock I might have in Sweden. The fact that I am leaving tomorrow to go study on an island in South  Korea for three weeks still has not really hit me. I think partially it is because I really have had to do nothing in terms of planning. The logistics have all taken care of by Professor McCuan, Sonoma State University and Jeju National University. My contribution has been waiting for news and buying gifts to give to our hosts and packing for myself. I am really just going along for a ride. The fact that I am going to be halfway across the world being immersed in a completely different culture and country will probably hit me at one in the morning tonight when I am trying to fall asleep. So if you see inane rambling posts tonight at 4 am you know whats up. 

I might post some shorter posts later tonight or early tomorrow morning, but this will most likely be my last long post until I reach Jeju. Thanks reading, when I am in Jeju I will post plenty of photos so you don't just have to read my rambling wall of text, you can skim it and then look at the pretty pictures. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Basic Facts about Jeju

I pride myself in knowing random facts about things that are not relevant to my life in anyway at all. Anything I don’t know the history on I will look up to learn more, it hones my Trivial Pursuit skills and Jeopardy skills, which of course are the most important life skills to have. But oddly I have never read that much into the history and culture of Korea. The most exposure I got to the culture was in middle school when I took Taekwondo lessons. It was good fun but sadly I don’t remember that much about the culture of Korea that I undoubtedly learned. It is interesting to note that in American History classes the Korean War is notably glossed over. I remember in my AP United States History textbook there was little more than a page or two talking about The Korean War, which seems odd for a war that had 36,940 American casualties and set the precedent for United States foreign policy after World War II. Not knowing much about the history and culture of Korea will make my time there a much richer learning experience because I will have “textbook” learning while being immersed in the culture. In this post I will do a brief rundown on facts about Jeju so you can get a better picture of where exactly I am going. I will start with Geography and Geology because it is the driest but most basic section.

Geography and Geology

Jeju (in Korean 제주특별자치도) sometimes transliterated as Cheju Island is the largest island in Korea, located Southwest of the main Korean peninsula. Jeju is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the volcano that makes up the island, and the extensive lava tubes which create a network underneath the island. Jeju is often referred to as the “Hawaii of Korea” due to the climate, beaches and volcanic activity. The island has a population of 531,905 with 408,364 living in the capital Jeju City. Jeju City is actually sister cities with Santa Rosa which is just north of Sonoma State University, and partially why Jeju National University looked to Sonoma State University to find exchange professors. Why a seaside city on a volcanic island in Korea is sister cities with a land locked city a fourth the size that is known for wine business and Peanuts cartoons is unknown to me. Interestingly Santa Rosa is also sister cities with Cherkasy in the Ukraine and Los Mochis in Mexico. I wonder if that means that Jeju is also somehow related to these cities? After all your sisters sister has to have some relation to you. I kind of like the idea of this extended web of a sororal connection between all cities. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 

Jeju from above. The brown spot in the middle is Halla Mountain, the volcano that makes up Jeju.


Jeju is in the subtropics bordering on the moderate longitude. The island is warm but it does have seasons, it can snow on the island in winter. Due to the islands location it can be quite windy at times. 

As this chart shows it is incredibly pleasant during the summer months. Warm weather and lots of sun. However there is also a high degree of humidity something I have not experienced since I was on the east coast when I was five. I am slightly worried about how my European body will take it. The genetics of thousands of years of plowing fields in the cold rainy countryside where the few days of sunlight were needed simply to get the yearly dose of Vitamin D, do not create a body ready for warm moist air and sunshine everyday. Of course I will be prepared with about a gallon of SPF 50 sunscreen, but I am interested to see what humidity is like...


According to legend, and an unsourced Wikipedia article, the first settlers of Jeju were three demigods who emerged from Samseonghyeol, which translates to “three clans holes”. These demigods founded Tamna, the original inhabitants of Jeju in the 24th century BCE. I chose to believe this theory of how Jeju was inhabited mostly because of how awesome it sounds and I don’t feel like reading anthropological theories of migration patterns. Tamna was sovereign from ancient times until they were absorbed by the Joseon Dynasty in 1401. There is archeological evidence that shows the people of the Tamna Kingdom had a unique culture and language completely distinct from mainland Korea. The Joseon Dynasty ruled Korea for staggering 505 years from 1392 to 1897. During the late 20th century and throughout  21st century Korea was constantly caught in the middle of warring super powers. Most notably between Japan and Russia and Japan and China. The Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty signed in 1910 marked the officially the beginning of Japanese rule in Korea which lasted until the end of World War II. The Korean people were abused by the Japanese with forced labor to fund the Japanese imperial ambitions. During World War II Jeju was located in an incredibly strategic location for the Japanese and towards the end of the war the Japanese forced the inhabitants of Jeju to build coastal defenses in preparation for an American invasion. That was avoided however when the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki defeating the Japanese.  

Sadly Jeju’s most notable historical event in the 21st century is a tragic one. Known as the Jeju Uprising, it began in April of 1948 when Communist Sympathisers in Jeju held a rally commemorating the Korean struggle against Japanese rule. Police fired on those participating in the rally which lead to rioting and outright guerrilla warfare. Peaceful negotiations failed and war escalated with the rebels showing open support for the North Korean government. Terrified of the possibility of subversion in Jeju the South Korean military with aid from the American military overtook the island, with estimates of casualties in the range of 14,000 to 60,000 or one fifth of the islands population, and 70% of the island's villages burned. In the last 8 years the Korean government has acknowledged the tragedy with President Roh Moo-hyun apologising for the massacre and dubbed Jeju “The Island of World Peace” in order to try and heal the wounds of the past.

Here are some interesting articles on the Uprising in Jeju
Newsweek's Article "Ghosts of Cheju" from 2000
Jeju Weekly Article on the Jeju Massacre from 2010

In the next post I will be explaining in better detail what I will be doing in Jeju

Friday, June 15, 2012


For as long as I can remember I have loved travelling. When I was six I would read atlases and encyclopedias for fun. I would see places on TV and ask my parents about them. And when we would travel anywhere I loved every moment of it. My parents encouraged this desire for travel by showing me the national parks of California. When I was 12, I was lucky enough to travel to England with my Mom to visit our family friend in York. I loved the expierence, walking about the cities and just observing the multitude of differences in culture, even by examining things as simple as the foods in the super markets. It was an amazing trip and I loved every moment of it. Just three years later I was asked by one of my best friends to join him and his family in Greece to celebrate his brothers wedding. This was an amazing experience for me. Growing up as an American I have found that my cultural identity is ambiguous. America is a melting pot without one distinct culture. In Greece however they do have a very clear strong culture and everyone in Greece considers themselves Greek and are proud to be Greek. It was amazing to be surrounded by a family with deep roots in their land, familial connections throughout Greece and a much more expansive history. I was in Greece for a month and loved the country and the people.

Naturally my love of travel continued throughout high school, although I did not have a chance to pursue any more international travel. When I entered college I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t quite know where to study. I had no foreign language experience, which greatly limited my choices. If I hoped to speak English primarily my options were; England, Australia, South Africa, Denmark and Sweden. I knew I wanted to go to Europe so that ruled out Australia and South Africa. The program in Denmark is specific to very few majors which did not include Political Science. So I was left with England and Sweden. I decided on Sweden for a few reasons; I want to experience a new culture. I didn’t want to go to England because American culture has strong roots in British culture although they are different they share a similar framework. I also want to go somewhere with a radically different climate than the Bay Area, Sweden’s snow and lack of sunlight definitely fit the criteria of radically different weather. Lastly Sweden has incredibly interesting governmental policies and culture. They have a popular image of being a mystical winterland of progressive politics, equality, secularism, introversion, politeness, reindeer and beautiful blonde people. Obviously this is a glorified version of Sweden propagated by 17 year old computer geeks who have a love for ThePirateBay and Atheism. I want to observe the real culture of Sweden and compare it to American culture to understand both better.

I applied and got accepted into the exchange program that the California State University system has with Uppsala University. The application processes was simple, have a good GPA go to a few interviews, get a few letters of recommendation from professors and once you are accepted turn in a heap of forms. By April I thought I had my summer all mapped out, I had a prospective retail job lined up to make some money for Sweden and I was looking forward to a slow summer in Moraga working. School was winding down, I was primarily working on my research paper for my hardest class in college yet, POLS 302: Social Science Research Methods, which was focusing on how to analyze election survey data, to creating something useful out of raw data. I went into my professor's office to drop off the final homework assignment. After I turned it in my professor asked me simply if I wanted to go to Korea for a month during the summer to study in Jeju, an island dubbed the Hawaii of Korea, with all expenses paid. I was in complete shock. I just wanted to ask about how to format tables for my paper and now I was invited to study half way across the world for pretty much free. I told my professor I would have to get back to him once I sorted out my Swedish Residence Permit. My professor then answered my questions about the paper most of which in one ear and out the other as I was so excited and rattled about the drastic change my summer plans had just taken. I quickly figured out that I would be able to get my Swedish Residence Permit in time to go to Korea and that the timing worked out perfectly, so of course I happily accepted.

So that is the story of how I managed to be enrolled in two study abroad programs at opposite ends of the world weeks apart from each other. I will go into more detail about each location and program in later posts but the basic time frame is as follows:
Saturday June 23rd leave SFO for Seoul
Late Sunday June 24th arrive at Jeju from Seoul
Monday June 25th first classes starting at 9 AM, I have always found that I learn best the day after going through 15 time zones anyhow
Saturday July 14th return to home
July 14th - August 14th party it up Moraga style
August 14th leave for Uppsala

I leave for Korea in about a week but it has still not really hit me yet. I have been preparing stuff that I need to bring over and sort of thinking about packing. I did manage to borrow my brother Patrick’s suite for any formal dinners I will have to attend. Feels pretty cool to dress fly. In the next week I am sure the sense of nervousness and restless nights will set in but mostly I will just be excited. If you told me just six weeks ago that I would be going to Jeju National University in Korea for three weeks in the summer I would have asked you where Jeju was. I am excited and slightly scared  for this adventure into the unknown.  

I will post more specifics about Jeju and the program in the next few days.