After several weeks I can say this experience has been unforgettable. Alas I must return to the states to go back to work and studying. After my 4:00am alarm to go to the train station and a two hour ride I am safely at my gate waiting to board.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Delpy Nierotti, Lisa Chazanovitz and everyone else I met on this trip for an incredible time. The lessons and memories will not soon be forgotten!
Leila and I enjoyed the Hop On Hop Off bus tour of Gangneung and found a temple in the middle of the city. We played traditional games, had fermented tea, got our name translated into Korean and even dress up in traditional dress called hanbok.
The Cultural Olympiad, the arm of the Organizing Committee who handles the heritage promotion of the area, ran the tour.
The best part was everything was free! The Olympics are a time to come together to enjoy sports but this aspect is also really important. It helps promote their own history while (hopefully) encouraging tourists to come back.
We don’t get much time off here in South Korea. Data Collections, lectures, on the bus, off the bus, dinner here, and cultural event there make most of us just want to sleep when we get the chance.
Today is my last “day off” but my internal body clock still woke be up at 6:00 a.m. with no chance of dozing back to sleep.
I packed for the trip home.
I watched some Netflix.
And then I started to walk.
My destination was Starbucks (yes I know South Korea has great cafés and coffee shops but they don’t open until 11:00 a.m.) to do some homework before my meeting this afternoon. I had a general idea of where it was so I just decided to wander the side streets of Gangneung.
Walking around a city is the best way to really get to know it and its people. I found boutiques, small businesses, more coffee shops, and even other ethnic restaurants I have been longing for when I grew tired of kimchi.
I understand why the Organizing Committee chose this area. It’s a quaint city with lots of personality and I as walked around this morning I realized this is why I chose travel and tourism as a career.
To open up others minds to the possibility that we are quite similar in hopes of creating a better understanding of culture and a greater determination for peace.
The Winter Olympics have a unique tradition of having a medal ceremony at night, rather than presenting medals tot eh athletes at their respective venues. PyeongChang’s medal ceremony is help at the Olympic Plaza almost every night and it a great way to see several athletes from different sports come together to celebrate their accomplishments.
A few classmates and I decided to brave the cold and see Shaun White accept his gold medal in Halfpipe. The medal ceremony is a free events with emcess and a detailed schedule. A highlight reel of the sport, the presentation of athletes, the medals, then the national anthem.
After the medal ceremony, a K-Pop concert of the famous boy band BTOB keep the night going. Our toes were numb so we decided to grab some food and head home. We ended up at a traditional Korean BBQ, table top grills and all. We enjoyed the beef ribs rice, and Cass, the Korean beer of choice. The communal eating customs was very prevalent and we left happy, stuffed with food, and ready for bed.
I was lucky enough to be training at the Half Pipe slope when Shaun White redeemed himself of his Sochi disaster. Waking up early to get to the mountain was rough, but you can feel the excitement and anticipation building when the runs began.
The cheering room section was filled to the brim, and the stands were filled with people waiting for the prodigal son to return. The first run was amazing and he ended up with a score of 94.25 The second run kept us on our toes with a score of 55.00, and when that final run score of 97.75 came up on the big screen, eruption of cheer followed that could be heard for miles.
The television broadcast does not do the half pipe justice. The hills are massive and the amount of air the boarders get is not for the faint of heart. The Japanese athlete, Yuto Totsuka, that was carried off by the medical team just shows just how dangerous this sport can be. He’s only 16 years old and yet competing with athletes as experienced as Shaun. I have so much respect for these athletes and hope Yuto returns to the slops healthy and ready to give the veterans a run for their money.
After a hard day at work, a few of us decided to visit our neighbors from the north at Canada House. Their house is homey as its residents and their location right next to the Gangneung Olympic Park makes it the perfect spot for after some sporting events.
The $20 ticket gets you into this massive room with stadium seating, ice cold Molsons and some great bar food. I didn’t know how much I missed a burger and fries until I realized all I ate this past week was rice and kimchi.
We decided to take the detour home and stop by the Today Show set in the Olympic Park to find Hoda and Savannah wrapping up interview for the night. Luckily. They were gracious enough to take a selfie with us before they left…but it’s blurry.
But, you take what you can get, and I know none of us are letting this opportunity go to waste!
What's a poor graduate student to do when you can't get tickets for the Opening Ceremony? Go to a country house of course!
A few students went to Czech House, the largest house at the PyeongChang Olympics! We enjoyed beer (their slogan is "Taste the Foam") and watched the Opening Ceremony from the comfort and warmth of the indoors.
PyeongChang's Opening Ceremony was beautiful and included many multimedia aspects that really came to life on the screen.
Other countries open houses during the Games to invite people to enjoy their culture and hospitality. I can't wait to explore the others!
Greetings from the floor of Detroit Metropolitan Airport!
Dr. Neirotti has tried to give us as many tips and tricks for traveling, especially for mega events like the Olympics and her motto throughout the course has been “Be Flexible." I think we all have tried to prepare for the unexpected as much as possible but our trip to South Korea has definitely been an adventure already.
Our first lesson in flexibility was when our connecting flight got changed a few days before takeoff. Heather and I took it as a blessing because it gave us more of a layover before our international flight.
Our second lesson happened when we arrived at our gate this morning to see our flight was delayed, turning our 45-minute layover into a 12 minute-layover.
So now we have started in Philadelphia, got to Detroit, about to fly to New York-La Guardia, then a quick cab ride to New York-JFK for a red-eye to Seoul.
Flexibility is a virtue. But this is exactly why travel is so essential. It causes us to think on our feet, and look for solutions rather than problems. If anything, this has prepared us for what hiccups may come in PyeongChang.
So, I would like to create my own motto, “one man’s flight delay, is another graduate student’s study hall.” See you soon PyeongChang!
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