April 2013 - Vikingess Voyages

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cherry Blossom Season & Spring at KyungHee's Seoul Campus

9:44:00 PM
It seems that spring finally has reached Seoul, and the sakura has started blooming all over Seoul. The Kyunghee Campus in Seoul must be one of the best places for pretty pictures of sakura, as the campus is full of them. Yesterday I took the trip to Seoul with some of my friends from GIP, and we stopped by Kyunghee and also the amusement park Lotte World to enjoy the nice weather take pictures.
KyungHee: Towards Global Eminence
The KyungHee campus in Seoul is probably one of the most beautiful places in Seoul with its old European architecture that looks like it has been taken out of the Harry Potter universe or something. I have been here a couple of times already, but seeing all the blooming sakura (cherry blossom) makes the whole place even more amazing than usual! I went there with my friend Tanya who really loves to take photos, and so we spent quite a lot of time just walking around taking pictures.

Did you know that it is possible to go up to the roof of one of the buildings to the left of the main building? I don't remember the name of the building, but considering all the people who goes there it shouldn't be hard to find. You just take the elevator to the sixth floor (unless you prefer to walk of course), and from there you take the first turn to the left where there is a staircase going up to the roof. From this place you have a perfect view of the campus, which you can see in a couple of the pictures below.

Overview of Kyunghee's main campus with the beautiful sakura in full bloom

Tanya's best shot of the day. I really like this picture^^
Just enjoying the beautiful flowers!
The main campus has really beautiful architecture, which you can see in the background.
The main building.. So popular.. Haha..
너무 예쁘다~^^
Kyunghee campus + sakura = 最高.
On the roof
After having roamed around campus for a couple of hours we went south to Jamshil where there also were supposed to be some good spots for sakura.
The area around Lotte World is especially a nice spot for pictures, but the amusement park seemed rather small and perhaps more suitable for families with kids. Not that I can say for certain, as four of us decided to go back to the GIP instead of checking out the park..

A temple-style building inside Lotte World
Group picture!

Other blogposts:
South Korea
Kyung Hee University

Hotels in South Korea

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dove Real Beauty - How Other People Perceive You

11:49:00 AM
In todays society we are always faced with a huge pressure of looking good in every situation. Many people live with the fear that they don't live up to the ideal of the society, where the media constantly tell us that we need the right clothes and makeup in order to look good.

When I was a kid my mother always told me: "you don't need make-up, because you are so pretty already". Although this might just be the reflection of a mother's love for her child I still feel that this is something more women should teach their kids - to appreciate their natural beauty. Because of what my mother taught me I rarely wear makeup for my daily life, besides my formal lectures and other special events I attend. For me, this is what make-up should be for; for that special occasion when you want to go the extra mile. As anyone else I also have moments where I feel unconfident with myself and my appearance, but I try to overcome this feeling through compensating in other areas such as increasing my knowledge, through exercising and through gaining experience in other fields.

Anyway, how you perceive yourself is of course crucial to how others perceive you. You are your own worst critic, and often people perceive themselves in a way that does not reflect the beauty that others see in them. That is why I really like this video, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Friday, April 12, 2013

就職活動終わり:I'm officially a Future Rakuten Employee!

9:44:00 PM
My life as a student is coming to an end, and I have long been wondering about what I want to do when my last semester is over. Although I might be finished as a student I didn't want to go back to Norway just yet, and decided to look for jobs in Japan starting from my previous semester.

One thing is doing 就職活動 (Japanese job hunting) while living in Japan, another thing is doing job hunting for a job in Japan while living abroad. The companies usually expect you to do at least three interviews with them, which means that you have to commute to their office in order to finally get a job offer. In addition to all of this most people apply to a large number of companies; some of my Japanese friends sent up to a hundred applications before they finally got accepted at one of the companies.

Since I'm living in Korea my last year in University I knew right away that it would be impossible for me to follow the normal job hunting schedule as the other students. Some of you might remember that I went to Boston last semester for the annual Boston Career Forum, and this is where my job hunt began.
I had already signed up for interviews with some of the companies before I went there, and one of these companies was the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten.

What I really like about this company, is its focus on empowering society. Rakuten works closely with the merchants who sell their products through Rakuten's page, and helps them both set and reach their goals in terms of sales. In the future there is also a possibility that I can work in one of Rakuten's offices abroad, as the company is expanding to countries all over the world. This includes many developing countries, where Rakuten thus is helping to increase people's opportunities to empower their local communities. My biggest trouble about finding a job in Japan was that most of the companies did not have any goals like that; their focus was limited to making as much profit as possible. Of course profit is necessary, but a company should also give something back to its community! Also, in addition to work for the empowerment of the society Rakuten is also a very ambitious company, aiming to become the world's number one in e-commerce. 私も頑張らなくちゃ!

It took me many months of interviews and tests (2 essays, 3 written tests, one oral Japanese test and 4 interviews) before I finally got a job offer from them. But although the process has been long I am very pleased with the flexibility the company showed me, as all the interviews after I came back from the career forum have been conducted through Skype! Fantastic!! :D
My only regret now, is about my TOEFL test.. Two years ago when I applied for Ritsumeikan's master degree program I had to take this test to prove my English abilities. However, I knew it would be fairly easy for me so I didn't study for it at all, and got 108/120. Now it turns out that Rakuten demands 110 or higher, so my test score isn't good enough >< oh, the pain.. Haha.. So I'll be taking the TOEIC exam some time before or right after entering the company. But at least I get to take the test for free through Rakuten^^

Anyway, when working in a Japanese company it is normal to go through a period of introduction courses where you learn more about the company and the different types of jobs they offer. So although my main interest would be to work as an e-commerce consultant it is possible that they'll find me better fit for some other roles within the company.

I'm really exited about my future work in Rakuten. It seems like a great company!! Now I just have to make sure that I can finish my thesis and graduate in time this summer!! *Back to writing thesis*

Rakuten's Mission
To empower people and society through the Internet, and to transform and enrich society through its own success

Related blogposts

Sunday, April 7, 2013

South Korea - On the Verge of War?

1:41:00 PM
Living in South Korea has become a bit intense lately, with mr. Kim in the North rattling his saber and coming with new threats every week. The distance from the Korean border to Seoul is just around 31 miles, which means that in theory the North Koreans could reach Seoul within an hour or two, and it seems more and more likely that the North will do something aggressive towards what it regards as "US's puppet"; South Korea.

Still, the situation at my campus has not changed a lot. My oppas and eonnis (senior students we call as brothers and sisters) seems to be quite calm despite what the foreign students perceive as a rather tense situation, and even the military students who are here through an agreement set up by the Korean government seem to be taking things lightly. As with my experience in Japan during the period after the tsunami and the Fukushima incident in March 2011 it does seem like foreign media are making a lot more fuzz about things than the local media does here.

I am very fortunate to have Dr. Cha Young Koo as one of my teachers here at the GIP. He is a former Deputy Minister for Policy of the Ministry of National Defense, and has a lot of knowledge and insight when it comes to both the South and North Korean military. As long as he keeps calm, I will too.. And so far he has assured us that it at least is highly unlikely that North Korea will be using their nuclear weapons against the South - that would be suicide, something that even the young Kim must be realizing.

However, as a student of Kyung Hee's Graduate Institute of Peace Studies I do fear that mr. Kim, who seems to prefere weapons and warfare over peace like his predecessors, might send a symbolic missile in the direction of my school to show his opposition to those who might hope for a future peaceful unition of the two countries. The decisions taken by the involved parties this coming week will indeed be very crucial for our future here at the school.

A statue at my campus symbolizing peace

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Seoul's Best Toilet!

12:43:00 PM
Seoul has become one of the world's most modern city, a place where you are almost guaranteed to find the latest technological inventions and gadgets. On the other hand, it is also a city of history where you can find beautiful art and buildings from the far past.
Since Seoul is a city that holds a lot of pride, and even strives to become recognized as a World Heritage City like Kyoto, I found it quite interesting when I discovered a sign beside the toilet in Seoul's express bus terminal stating that this toilet had been awarded Seoul's best toilet in the year 2001. It seems like Koreans like to display their pride in somewhat unique ways.
Anyway, it gives an interesting insight into newer Korean history (for those of us who might be interested in the history of toilets.. Hmm..). I have to say though, that of course they have many toilets with a lot higher standard now.

Seoul's Best Toilet 2001

The most famous toilet in 2001..

Fantastic toilet. Haha..

Other blogposts:
South Korea

Hotels in South Korea

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Temple stay in Haeinsa Temple (海印寺・해인사)

3:41:00 PM
Haeinsa temple is one of the most famous temples in Korea, built in 802 and home to the Tripitaka Buddhist scriptures, which earned the temple a spot on UNESCO's world heritage list in 1995.
The temple is situated up in the Kaya mountain, and getting there can be a bit complicated, but it is definitively worth the trip.
Beautiful Haeinsa temple

In our case we traveled from Busan which turned out to be a better route than expected. From the Sasang terminal we took the bus to SeoDaegu in Daegu where we changed to a bus bound for Haeinsa. It couldn't have gone more smoothly. I think the trip all in all took around 3-4 hours.

The temple stay program starts at 4:30 in the afternoon during the spring and summer time, but since we got there early we also had the chance to walk a bit around the temple grounds. After all it is quite a big place, so it might be good to have some additional time to really explore the whole area.

The main hall of Haeinsa
Lanterns and the buddhist swastika, a 2500 year old symbol for luck.

The templestay practice hall

The temples with Kayasan mountain in the background

We met up again in the temple stay training hall at the designated time, and were met by a friendly lady who assisted the monks in explaining about the temple manners and translate between us and the monks. We were taught about temple manners and etiquette, which included things like how to arrange your shoes outside the entrance, how to hold your hands while walking in the temple grounds and so on.
Learning about temple manners
The dinner was served in the big dining hall alongside with the monks, which of course meant vegetarian food. After dinner we got to participate in the evening service at the main temple building, where we got to practice some of the bowing routines we had been practicing earlier that day.
With a group of around 11 participants it was a good opportunity to talk to the monks about their life in the temple as well, and in the evening we had a tea ceremony with one of the monks where all of us got to ask as many questions as we wanted.

Tea-time with one of the monks!
Ready for a night in Haeinsa

The first day ended early; we went to bed around 9 pm. But the second day started even earlier, as we had to meet up again at 3:20 am. The morning schedule included taking part in the Dawn Service inside the main temple building, and after that we went to the temple stay practice hall where we completed the 108 Prostrations.. This practice was quite interesting, and the focus of the prostrations gave me the impression that the practitioners of Buddhism seems to be a lot more focused on finding balance in life, with others and with nature than other big religions. On a side note I have to mention that I was quite impressed that my 68 year old grandmother managed to complete all the 108 Prostrations.
The next part of the program included a very, very long meditation. As we have meditation at school every morning at 7 am I wasn't too excited about meditating to be honest, but it is of course an interesting part of the culture experience too. One of the guys fell asleep during the meditation, so one of the monks punished him by hitting his back with a long stick. This is apparently quite common practice, and it does not really hurt.

Monks doing their morning chores at the temple
After the temple breakfast we had reached the last post on the program, which was a guided tour of the Haeinsa temple. This included a short visit to the two buildings containing the Tripitaka, where we unfortunately could not take any pictures. Anyway, it was interesting to here the guide explain about the buildings, and how they had been constructed to keep the temperature inside the buildings optimal for preserving the old heritage.
This was the last part of the temple stay, and after a short farewell it was time to say goodbye to the monks and our guide. I think the templestay program was a really unique and interesting experience which will stay in our minds for a long time.

Our final ceremony
If you are interested in doing a templestay in Korea, please check out this page.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Busan: Yonggung Temple (용궁사・龍宮寺)

8:49:00 PM
Busan's most famous temple, the Yonggungsa, is situated in the eastern outskirts of the city. As we were staying close to the Haeundae beach it was also quite easy to get to the temple, since you can take bus number 181 which leaves from right outside the Heaundae station to get there.
In our case, however, we had decided to walk the Dalmaji road to enjoy the sight of the pretty cherry blossom, and decided to keep on walking to the other side of the mountain. After arriving on the other side of the mountain we figured out that it would take too long time to walk the whole way to Yonggung, so we ended up taking a taxi the last part of the way.
From Yonggungsa temple in the Haeundae area of Busan
The Yonggung temple is quite famous, much due to its unique location right by the seaside. It must be a beautiful place to see the sunrise..!
On the celebration of Buddha's birthday they'll be having a big festival here, and because of the festival the whole area was filled with poles and lines to hang lanterns on. Too bad for us, it didn't really look too flattering with all the poles covering the temple grounds. I still got some nice photos though, I hope you'll enjoy them:)

And some more pretty cherry blossom at the Yonggung temple!

One of the gates at the temple

Smiling Buddha
Yonggungsa Temple is situated by the sea
A cute statue

A golden and shiny Buddha
Lanterns by the sea
Quite nice atmosphere..!

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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