Normally, most students have spring break during this time period, but none of my lab members, including myself, have missed a day of coming to school. We are a biological lab, after all, and need to maintain living things... so if we were to be absent more than two days in a row some poor creature (or cells) would most likely die.
However, I got extremely lucky due to the kindness of a friend to be able to travel for at least one weekend. My friend is a native Korean who also is at Kyushu University in a neighboring lab. She told me she originally wanted to go home to celebrate the Lunar New Years (celebrated in Korea, China, Vietnam, etc.) but do to the hectic timing of the school's schedule (as I mentioned above many people are doing presentations/taking final exams) she was unable to do so at the end of January. Instead, she decided to go in early February, and asked me if I was interested in joining her. This was an opportunity I could not refuse, since I have not been to Korea in 21 years... for those of you who don't know this, I lived in Korea when I was a baby. Since I was too young to have any memories of living there, I jumped on the chance to go to Korea again.
So sure enough, the day before Valentine's day I went on a 30 minute flight from Fukuoka to Korea. Busan is closer to Fukuoka, than Tokyo but the atmosphere and culture are so totally different. It really is amazing how different the Japanese and Koreans are. I could tell as soon as I got off the plane it was indeed, a different world.
The very first thing we did when arriving in Korea was to go eat. We went to go eat my most favorite type of Korean food, gamjatang. It is a pork-bone soup with various vegetables and served super hot. Even though I almost choked to death on some radish-greens, the soup was delicious. The owner was so nice to even give us extra sides, even though we did not order any.Afterwards it was already quite late, so we went to my friends home to rest.
We also ate some great food in the shopping area; homemade noodles and kimbap. My friend said her Dad once ate four bowls from this shop, and that it is very famous and old established noodle shop in Busan. At night we met her friend who she has not seen in nearly four years. It was a fun reunion for them, and we were able to enjoy dinner and coffee together late into the night.
I also need to thank my friend and her parents who were so kind to host me during that time. I am not sure if I would have been able to get around Korea so easily, without having a native Busan person with me. Thank you so much!