Saturday, November 29, 2008

Posh Seoul

My favorite street in Seoul... it always cheers me up!

At Gucci

Missoni

Louis Vuitton

Jil Sander

Hermes

Gucci, Gucci, Gucci

Giorgio Armani

Escada

Cartier

Monday, November 24, 2008

Uniqlo






Can you tell I like simple things? Or rather, Japanese things?

Uniqlo is my other love from Asia. I know I mention it all the time, and I almost exclusively shop for basics there, so I thought it deserved its whole entry. I'll miss it so much when I go back to Canada. They only have one store in NYC, and again it's too far.

Uniqlo is the Japanese H&M- or maybe Gap? Although I never liked Gap very much, I'm loving the simplicity of Uniqlo's clothes, and the affordable prices. True, sometimes the collections are a bit lacking in excitement, it's a quite monochromatic. Yet they have the best basics- turtlenecks, t-shirts, jeans, sweater dresses, and hooded sweatshirts in all colors. They also have great-fitting skinny jeans for 40$ a pair, and a few times a year they have guest designers such as Alexander Wang.

I'm almost embarrassed to say I know all the different Uniqlo locations around Seoul, and I religiously visit the store at least once a week. I don't always buy something, but I know the collections by heart and can locate every item in less than 5 seconds. I got Aaron addicted to the men's section, too. While in Japan, I was stunned to discover that their Uniqlo stores sell kimonos and home goods. Yes, that's where I bought my kimono and matching tiny wooden sandals.

How can you not love a store that features Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon as a model?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Muji Muji

Sweden has H&M, and Japan Uniqlo. Sweden has Ikea, and Japan... Muji.

The first time we walked into Muji, Aaron said: "Uh oh. This store looks like your apartment in Montreal".

Muji is my latest obsession. I discovered the store while in Tokyo, and they sell everything from stationery to housewares, toiletries, clothing, furniture, electronics, food and more. The clothes are a mix between Gap and Uniqlo, and their furniture redefines simplicity: plain and unadorned. The store is also environmentally-friendly, using very little packaging.

They have stores all over Seoul, and every time I go shopping I spend hours browsing all of their products. Unfortunately I cannot buy any kind of furniture since I'm leaving shortly, so every visit is bittersweet. Not as cheap as Ikea, but quite affordable.

The name Muji is short for Mujirushi Ryohin, which translates as "no brand, good product."

Here's a look:













Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You're it!


I've been tagged by the lovely Nicole Marie... 7 random things about me:

1. I'm obsessed with Sofia Coppola: I own every magazine she's ever been featured in, I love everything she wears, I've been to most of her favorite places in NYC and Paris, and re-created the Lost in Translation movie in Tokyo. That much.

2. I used to be Andy from the Devil Wears Prada. That's why I'm in Korea now. But I miss it.

3. French is my mother tongue. I still have a slight accent.

4. I'm left-handed.

5. I eat honey straight from the jar.

6. My favorite band is Sonic Youth.

7. I met Aaron through our mutual love for Oasis, and music.

{I'm tagging Seasonal Lust}

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's going on back home?









a.k.a., Keeping in touch with friends and family.

One year is a long, long time to be away from loved ones. Time flies, but some phases are rough and not seeing your best friends or family for several months is difficult. I was lucky to have a visit from my sister, and several phone calls and emails from everyone else.

But keeping in touch is not easy- you have to work at it, and take time to write emails to each person. I write my blog so friends can see the funny stories happening here, but I like to write personal letters to close friends to let them know what's really happening, or if I'm really sad or homesick or happy... or just if I have some kind of issue.

When I first arrived in Korea, I loved to update everyone on Facebook, put tons of pictures of my new home, and I got so many nice little messages and such. As time went by, I started just settling down and having a life here, so things were not as new and exciting. I posted less pictures, or if I was really busy I'd write less frequently to my friends. However, thanks to Facebook, I am aware of what everyone is doing pretty much on a daily basis, and get to see their party pictures and their whereabouts. It's nice and convenient, but it doesn't replace a letter. I guess Facebook tells so much about a person's life that we get lazy about taking the time to write a real message.

And sometimes it makes me feel so far- I see pictures of my best friends, all together for a birthday party, and I hate not being there with them. But you know, life goes on and people still have fun. Perhaps they feel the same when they see my adventures in Korea, it's probably difficult for them to relate. Sometimes I'm annoyed because I find out about things through other people's gossiping, or I don't hear about friends for a few weeks. Or at times I feel so far and removed. But it's normal, people go on with their lives on each side of the world. And over the course of my year in Seoul, I've met an amazing group of girl friends, and I now can also turn to them when I have personal issues or just to share amazing moments, over some wine or brunch.

Nonetheless my friends from home have been amazing throughout the year, and have always been there for me (through phone or writing). I love waking up to an inbox full of messages or wall posts (because of the time difference, all the surprises happen in the morning). Sometimes I'm scared things will be different when I go back- will it be the same? Will we have stuff to talk about?

Also, being away makes you really value your friendships from back home, you realize how much you miss your friends, and what qualities were so amazing about them. And keeping in touch through writing is my preferred way of communicating, sometimes it's easier to speak my mind and really confide my true feelings.

So, keeping in touch while away: it's a bit of an effort from both sides, but a little message can go a long way on a lonely day in Korea.

{Pictures: good times back home}

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend randomness

I had a pretty low-key Saturday: slept in late, lounged around, then had to go out to find some food. I was craving a specific sandwich, but it's always a bit of a challenge in Seoul- it's such a big city, so commuting time is long. However I don't mind going to great lengths to eat something I love (Mexican food, anyone?). I left the house in a hurry, and it was raining, so I just threw on my navy rain boots and a black jacket. As I was locking the door, I realized I was wearing pink tights and I had way too many patterns going on. I'm a bit self-conscious about drawing attention so I thought I should change. But wait- I'm already standing out so much from being a foreigner, so whatever. I'd never go out mis-matched back home, but I love that about being in Korea- I can wear whatever I want and not feel too weird about it.

On Saturday night I decided to go work out. I thought the gym would be practically empty- I mean, what other losers work out at 10pm on a Saturday night? The stalker, apparently!! Yes, he made his return. I had to run for the whole time on high speed to avoid having him come over and talk (oh, he tried, but I pretended to be to absorbed by my workout). It sucks because I had to make a quick escape, and I didn't get a proper workout. Now I have to be stressed out about picking out a time to work out, so annoying. I don't know what to do!

Despite some annoyances, it was a fun weekend, complete with a Belgian brunch, a fish 'n chips dinner party on Sunday night.... and some damage at Zara.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Starbucks Korea



I love Starbucks! Don't hate me. Makes me feel at home, since it's the same everywhere in the world. Right?

Let's see... Last night I was browsing at a bookstore downtown and I spotted a Starbucks, so I decided to pop in and get a coffee. And I noticed the Christmas beverages are out, which I absolutely love: Gingerbread, Candy Cane, and Eggnog lattes. Yum.

I was all excited at the prospect of having my first Gingerbread latte of the season, but it's nowhere to be found! No Eggnog either! No Candy Cane! Instead, the Christmas beverages in Korea are the Toffee Nut latte and Dark Cherry latte. Hmmmm. I snubbed them and just ordered a simple cappuccino.

Is it only in Korea, or everywhere else in the world? Are they gone forever? I guess Eggnog and Gingerbread are probably not very popular on the Asian market, so it makes sense they have different options. They actually look pretty scrumptious and I'm willing to give it a try, once I get over the initial culture shock.

Starbucks, Starbucks... I was counting on you to give me a taste of home. Alright, guess I'm off to get a Dark Cherry latte.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stuff

{Things that cheer me up today}

-Friday
-hot pink tights
-honey and yogurt
-getting emails
-cold weather
-Zara
-sleeping in (tomorrow)
-white wine
-going running
-tea (when did i start liking tea?)
-mittens
-Friday is sometimes bibimbap day at school
-Murakami book to finish


{Things I don't like}

-being tired
-cleaning up
-the alarm
-the sewer smell
-people hogging the sauna at the gym
-laundry taking forever to air dry
-my Mac is unrepairable
-no more Mac 'n Cheese :(

{What I need}

-some sleep
-a Macbook with French keyboard
-to go to a concert
-a haircut
-some fresh air
-espresso
-Mexican food
-black boots
-to start heating the apartment

*Edit: Today was NOT bibimbap day! It was noodle day. Not so good. But they had oranges as the fruit of the day.

I also went out for Mexican food. And got lots of sleep.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A taste of K-Pop

Korean Pop music is horrible... and unfortunately catchy. It's so awful that you can't help but hum along the tunes. Could it be because they always play the same top 10 songs, over and over, for a year? Apparently Korean pop is big all over Asia, with well-known boy-bands, a la Backstreet Boys- young boys that make all the middle school girl's swoon. All-girl bands, such as the Wonder Girls, are also pretty famous: they were featured on Perez Hilton. All Korean songs have a key element: the lyrics are in Korean, but there's always a (cheesy) chorus in English.

Check out K-Pop's biggest hits... a.k.a. the music I HAVE to hear all the time:

ShinEE- they have the funniest dance moves


Enjoy MC Mong with English subtitles


And the hot Wonder Girls, "So Hot"


Now... after listening to some horrid things, check out my boyfriend Aaron's Quietly Loud for some really, really good playlists, mostly from the Montreal music scene. Great picks ;)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lying on the floor


One of the best things about Korea is the heated floors. Every house or apartment (even the shabby ones like mine) come equipped with the heated floors. Yes, heated floors all over- isn't it considered a somewhat luxury back home?

The ondol system has been around for ages, that's how they used to heat palaces. It's been used as an exclusive living space for sitting, eating, sleeping and pastimes, in most Korean homes.

I've always been a fan of sitting or sleeping on the floor, even back home (mostly due to a lack of furniture in my case). I still prefer to sleep on the mattress directly on the floor, Asian-style. Here in Korea, we usually sit on the floor to watch television or to enjoy a meal around our low table. We put a few cushions around, and it's very cozy (despite the all-brown decor).

Sometimes when it was very cold last winter, we'd just lie right on the floor and fall asleep there, since it was so warm. Or after a rough day at school, there's nothing better than just lying on the floor for a little while.

{Note: The apartment pictured above is NOT my current apartment. Oh no. That was the guest house they had us stay in during our first week here, while they were getting our apartment "ready". I promise I'll post some pictures when I leave, I know everyone is dying to see my amazing decor ;)}

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Pepero Day (aka Pocky)




Pepero sticks are the Korean version of Japanese Pocky, and one of the best snacks in Asia. Apparently so tasty that they have a full day dedicated to the celebration of the chocolate stick- which is fine by me.

Pepero Day is similar to Valentines' Day, and is observed by young couples and students who exchange boxes of Pepero and other candies. They chose the date (11/11) since it resembles 5 sticks of Pepero. Interesting!

I like holidays in Korea. It means tons of candy from the kids, and I've been a longtime fan of Pocky.

Have a Pocky! It's hard to eat just one.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sharing a smile, so far from home

Getting through bouts of homesickness would never have been possible without small things that made my life so much easier. Homesickness is like going through a bad break-up, and little things such as comfort foods, emails from friends, and movies you love can cheer you up so much. I'm not feeling homesick anymore, but every time I go through a phase, I watch a movie or TV show that remind me of home and instantly pick me up. As lame as it may sound, I couldn't have done it without:

{Breakfast at Tiffany's}
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This movie has a special meaning for me: I watched it for the first time on the flight over to Seoul. I remember being completely panicked about moving to Korea for a year, not being able to change my mind at that point, and not being able to get any sleep on the plane. Thankfully the movie was on the menu, and I thought it was so beautiful and made me feel so much better. Every time I see it now, I remember that one night.

{Friends}
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I've been watching Friends since I was a teenager. In fact, the French girl in me learned quite a few English expressions from it. I also spent countless evenings curled up on the couch with my roommate, watching marathons of it. She probably thought I was nuts. Even Aaron, who thinks their jokes are lame, always stays glued to the screen when we see episodes on TV. Good old fun.

{Lost In Translation}
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Reminds me of why I came here in the first place. Makes me excited about living abroad and encountering challenges every day. Everything Sofia Coppola makes is just exquisite.

{Flight of the Conchords}
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Brett and Jemaine are so hilarious (my roommate and I used to have a crush on Jemaine), I can watch it over and over. I also like to sing along.

{The Devil Wears Prada}
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Reminds me of the reason why I quit my job back home and came here. But makes me miss my old job also. I just love looking at the clothes, and my favorite scene is the make-over, when Anne Hathaway show up wearing Chanel and sporting blunt bangs.

{Sex and the City}
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Because I'm a girl. And I love fashion. And I analyze relationships. And ask myself too many questions that Carrie Bradshaw often answers. Aaron always imitates her, so it's difficult to watch it when he's around.

Yes. I survived this year thanks (in part) to them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mac 'n Cheese a la Seoul


I had been staring at my boxes of Mac 'n Cheese all week, looking forward to the perfect moment to open one and devour it. Last night was the perfect evening, I was tired from a busy but fun week (showing Seoul around to my sister was great, I got to see all my favorite spots from a different perspective, made things exciting again).

However I was missing one crucial ingredient: butter. Butter is not commonly used in Korea, but it's available at bigger grocery stores. Yet it doesn't taste very creamy, and I won't settle for "I-can't-believe-it's-not-butter" stuff.

I decided to use plain yogurt instead of butter, and I loved the result. The taste is a bit more tangy, and it's definitely a healthier option. Aaron didn't like it, he said it was too weird for him, but then again he doesn't like any kind of yogurt. I definitely recommend trying, if you're looking for a change, or live in a place where butter is scarce.

{I still cannot believe I haven't eaten butter in 8 months, I used to have a little bit every day- crazy how some staple foods just become AWOL once you move abroad. Makes you appreciate it so much more... I keep telling my friends that when I go back home, I'll probably spend 3 hours at the grocery store just staring at all the variety of food and exclaim ooh and aah!}

Monday, November 3, 2008

Accessorize






Another thing I love about shopping in Korea is the selection of international stores that we don't even have in Canada. My latest obsession: Accessorize. Hailing from London, it carries everything you need (or think you need) to complete an outfit. I've always been scared of accessories: there is too much to choose from, and I tend to only focus on the clothes part. And I don't like having to search frantically for the perfect belt or bracelet. And I'm a snob, I hate when things look cheap, but I can't afford expensive things either.

Enter Accessorize: it's a small store that carries everything I need, and I like every single item: handbags, mittens, earrings, tights, even hats. It's very affordable and looks adorable. And to make things even better, their campaign model is Julia Restoin-Roitfeld (daughter of French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld), one of my favorite style icons, and the most beautiful girl in my book.

I'm loving my latest purchase, my striped pink, brown, and cream mittens. I just cannot believe it took me a whole 8 months to find out about this store. I'll miss it when I go back home.