Music time

20 04 14
Have a good day & Enjoy the music

Mail Order Bride

02 03 14

Today I want to talk about one of my all time favorite graphic novels. 
Mail Order Bride by Mark Kalesniko.
The story centers around the relationship between the Korean Kyung Seo and the Canadian Monty Wheeler. 

Mark Kalesniko // Mail Order Bride // pg. 74

Monty is a nerdy loner, owner of a comic store. At 37 he never had a girlfriend before. To him "ordering" Kyung is a great idea as he has this image of the docile, submissive housewife stuck in his head. A China doll that will adore him. A serious case of yellow fever as they say.

Kyung is nothing like his fantasy.

Kyung wants to leave her past behind her. She's not sentimental about her culture and is searching for her individuality. She stands up for herself.

Mark Kalesniko // Mail Order Bride // pg. 18
The story slowly escalates as neither can be happy in this settlement. Monty loses his ideal as Kyung tries to break free. She starts taking art classes and makes friends that change her individual journey even more.

The build up in this story is incredibly well done. The events shape the characters, they are portrayed very realistically. You can imagine people like Monty and Kyung existing.

Their personalities are not just black and white. It would have been easy for the author to make Monty just the horrible bad guy. But both characters have many layers. As the story evolves you kinda get where they both are coming from. At some points you can feel sympathetic towards Monty and his story. Just as much as you are rooting for Kyung to become her own person. Their psychological changes are so interestingly done. 

Mark Kalesniko // Mail Order Bride // pg. 172
I don't want to give too much of the story away. I'm just going to highly recommend it to you. It was one of the first graphic novels I bought 10 years ago. And it's still one of my favorites. It's one you can reread many times, and every time you get something new out of it.

Learning Korean

18 02 14

I realised the easiest way for me to learn Korean is when I have fun memories attached to them. It's easier to remember the names of dishes while you are eating them.

A lot of words I learned thanks to MJ's mother. She would make a little time here and there to teach me some words. And because of the experience related to the words I remember them better. Secondly, while living with the family I could sponge up daily used words; greetings, talk about dinner, etc. It makes a big difference. Now that I'm in Belgium, I feel I have to push myself harder to focus on books.

Language can be hard to learn. But it goes quicker if you have an interest and enjoyment learning it. A great example for this are my French and English-skills. Belgium speaks 2 main languages; French and Flemish, both are taught in school.

I am from the Flemish side of Belgium, so from the age of 9, for 8 years I studied French at school. And I hated learning French, I could never keep my attention in class. My friend and I literally counted down the classes we had to endure until graduation. -Don't get me wrong I like the French language, I just didn't like studying it in school.

But English was the "cool" language, it was the language of a lot of movies and music I enjoyed. Around the age of 11 I started reading books in English too. I just thought it was way more exciting. Of course in the beginning I barley understood what I was reading. But it was a great way to understand the structure of the language. And I could derive the meaning of words through the context. I wanted to learn English because nobody pressured me. It didn't even feel like learning. That's why, ironically, my English is way better than my French.

And that's the reason why I try to soak up Korean in all possible ways; movies, music & memories. Because it helps so much more than only studying by book.

Nurture//nature

16 02 14

Paris trip//Travel tips

08 02 14
Strolling by the Seine
If you are travelling in Europe, Paris is usually a destination that's on everyone's list. Because it's so close to Belgium it's very easy to arrange trips for me (I had been there a couple of times before) So when MJ was visiting, naturally we had to go there. I like to travel cheap, if you are young and/or broke maybe you'd like my following tips:

Travel cheap: Although trains are more comfortable and faster, buses are a lot cheaper. And if you are not on the other side of Europe why not try Eurolines to get to all your destinations? True, it takes longer, but that's part of the journey, right? Anyway the few hours you win with going by train are far less appealing than the dirt cheap price you spend on the bus. Not to mention Eurolines has great connections all over Europe. No, no, I don't work for them, promise.

Our Air bnb room
Stay cheap: I can recommend a couple of options:

Couchsurfing: With hospitality as main priority. This is really the cheapest way to stay anywhere. The site verifies the accounts of the people that host and travel. (If you would be a little worried you can read tons of reviews of your host before going there). Staying with locals has many advantages as they can tell you the best places to go. Often you can exchange interesting travel stories as well. It's a fact that experiencing any new culture/land is much more rewarding if you know a local. And who knows maybe you can do the same in return sometime? I have used this site a few times before and whether it was in Copenhagen or Granada I couldn't have been more happy with the host and my stay.

Air bnb: We used Air bnb this time, a recommendation from my mother -Thanks mum! This has the same principle as couchsurfing, except you pay for it. At first we looked for youth hostels, but their reviews were wildly unimpressive. As the cheap ones had so many complaints; too moldy, too noisy, too leaky. Anyway you get my drift, I don't like spending money when I feel like it's a rip off. For the same price as a cheap youth hostel you can stay in a comfy room with a friendly host. We had a perfect location close to subway line 7 (the Louvre one), a great bakery and many good restaurants in the neighbourhood. Our host offered us breakfast and was happy to give us advice. *Bonus: she owned a friendly cat as well! It was really like staying at a bed and breakfast for a cheap youth hostel price.

Waiting for the food.
Eat cheap: Breakfast and lunch can be simply some bread and cheese. Take it from me, the local market, bakery or even supermarket will have the crunchiest bread and the creamiest cheese ever. There is a reason France has bragging-rights on their cheese.  MJ told me, and I quote:

"I didn't know cheese could be this good."

That's right! That yellow plastic square they sell in Korea is a lie. And if you have eaten cheap breakfast and lunch there is more budget for a nice dinner.

A few personal favorites during our visit:

My favourite museum in Paris. No doubt about it. Yes, Louvre is crazy impressive and you can camp out there for 3 days and still haven't seen everything. But d'Orsay has a lot of charm to offer. This former railway station has an impressive collection; Impressionists, realists, expressionist, (Toulouse Lautrec), jugendstil furniture... I remember seeing this museum as a 19 year old art student and just being completely overwhelmed! I took over a 100 pictures (that was still aloud back then, or I was sneaky, I don't remember) A lot of the iconic paintings and sculptures I had studied in art history class were gathered under one roof. It was love at first site. It takes you a couple of hours to get through it and you'll leave with a satisfied feeling.

Ominous purple clouds
A storm was about to break loose right before we entered the Notre Dame. A mass had started inside. And hundreds soaked people listened silently to the choir. It was a pretty magical atmosphere.

Everything looks better in the rain
Have a great weekend! * A lot of the pictures were taken by MJ

Experimental breakfast

03 02 14

MJ makes the most interesting sandwish combinations! It's neat to see what people will do with (for them) foreign food, as they approach it from a different angle. He reminded me that I did the same thing in Korea.  
Sesame leaves on toast taste pretty good though.

Korean food abroad

07 01 14
taken by Min Jae :)

Yesterday Min Jae and I roamed around Antwerp mostly looking for second hand shops and tasting some special Belgian beer. In the evening though I wanted to check out a Korean restaurant.

Chinese restaurants abroad are often a more simplified, greasier version of actual Chinese food which is a fan of delicious flavors (I can testify from my time working as an au pair in China ). Anyway I wondered if Korean food would also be adjusted for Western taste and maybe a little less spicy. And since I had my Korean-food-expert with me I felt pretty confident we could make a good judgement about it.

I loved the interior!

The little restaurant we chose was pretty cute and cozy with an obligatory Psy playing in the back ground. We were early and the first customers that evening. Service was quick and  friendly.

Aaah, bibimbap so we meet again

So how did it compare? We ordered bulgogi // grilled beef (불고기) and bibimbap // rice with a mix of vegetables served in a hot bowl (비빔밥accompanied by some of the best known side dishes AKA kimchi (김치) and kkaennip//sesame leaves (깻잎). Because they were so basic we expected them to be perfected. The bibimbap was nice but the bulgogi left a little bit to be desired. The kimchi -although spicy enough- tasted a bit sweet weirdly enough. The sesame leaves were nice and close to what I'm used too in Korea (and because it's one of my favorite side dishes I was especially pleased)

In the end we thought the meal was okay-ish but because of the high price it didn't quite fulfill our expectations.

Conclusion: if you are out there in Korea or you will visit there soon, why don't you go treat your taste buds?
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