2008-06-30 Korea Week 1 and Week 2

KAIST: Week 1 and Week 2

I have completed my first week of seven at KAIST, Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology.   The train ride from Seoul to Daejeon was really fast, only about 45min on the KTX express, and only costs about $20.  The neat thing is that the train had a speedometer viewable to the passengers; it said that we were going about 300kmh, that is about 190mph!  No wonder we got half way across the contrary so fast.


Figure 1: Hui and I with all of our luggage… well Meejin’s luggage is in there too


When I first got to Daejeon I was happy to see that Dr. Oh had two of his students waiting for me at the train station to pick me up.  One of my new friends Bobby, who is on the same NSF-EAPSI fellowship that I am,  is also going to KAIST for the summer so the students who picked me up picked him up too.  Now there is a small problem with this, you see we both had two weeks’ worth of clothing on, and the students picking us up had a small KIA.  Amazingly we did manage to fit all four of us in the car with all of our baggage.  Dr. Oh also had all of my living arrangements straightened out so I had to do little work to get settled in.

For the first night I had my own room, which was nice.  It was made for three people but both Bobby and I got our own room’s for some reason.  This would not last for the next day some German guys came and the room Bobby was in was apparently reserved for them.  So now I live with Bobby, which is good because he speaks English =-p


Figure 2: This is Bobby, he is reminiscing in the past via eating a shark shaped ice cream pop


The first week of working was kind of slow, I put together New Hubo’s legs as well as his feet.  I went through Albert Hubo’s code as well see how it works, but I could not do much without access to a functional Hubo.  Dr. Oh says that I will be able to work with Hubo next week.   After I finished everything that I could do I made some tutorials on how to put Hubo together so I would not forget, because I know I would.  I also updated my thesis portion of my website, now it looks somewhat respectable.

Every day we have been going out to lunch and dinner, for we do not have a kitchen so we have little choice.  The food is good, both in the cafeteria as well as at restraints.  My impression about the food and how much you get is as follows, you get 10% more food for 10% less cost than you do in the States.  I can live with that =-)

When Friday came around I was getting sick of being in the lab all the time, for I had no transportation so I felt trapped.  Thus I was excited to go out partying with the lab… yah that did not happen.  Apparently all they do in Hubo Lab is work, over half of the members of the lab were working past 1am in the lab, and the other members went back home to visit their girlfriends.  I was told that they might go out later on in the evening, i.e. like 12am 1am, but when that time came around there was no plans to do anything, and so I went back to the dorm at 1:30am on a Friday night.  Yah my first Friday at KAIST I worked in the lab until 1:30am.  No good.


Figure 3: Our new German friends, well one is Romanian, drinking cream beer


The next day, Saturday, was rainy and well deserted.  Everyone, with the exception of Bobby and I were MIA, well that is except those in Hubo Lab, they were working.  Bobby had to go to a 4hr lab meeting so I went to the lab and worked until he got back and we went shopping in Daejeon proper.

It rained all day but that was ok, Bobby and I just went to a shopping mall, which goes up with each floor being different types of stuff instead of being different stores.  We found some nice blazers that were thought was about W35,000, which is about $35.  In reality it was W350,000, i.e. $350.  So we missed a decimal place =-p.  Needless to say we did not get it.  In our travels we did run across a music store where they sold ocarinas and tansos.  I got one of each.  We then proceeded to go under a bridge and drink cheep rice wine and play the instruments.  It looked really nice.

The next day we met up with the German guys who took over Bobby’s room earlier on in the week.  We went out to dinner and ate some deep sea fish that was well, less than appetizing.  It was the first thing in Korea that I did not really like.  We all went out for some drinks, cream beer to be precise.  It was Hite, a cheep crappy Korean beer, with cream in it.  The weirdest thing, but it makes it taste better, who would have thought.


Figure 4: Not too fond of the weird deep sea fish

That same night we passed an anti-American Beef rally, again.  I got another sticker from them =-p.  The scary thing is when we were in Seoul for orientation there was a big protest on the main road to the Blue House.  The Korean police blocked off the whole road to prevent rioters from getting to the presidents house.  I realized that the US embassy was also behind the blockade.  So I wondered how I would get the US embassy if I needed to.  What was even more scary was that three days after we left Seoul there was a huge riot outside of where we were staying in Seoul.  People breaking windows and what not.  It was crazy to see and realize that we were just there.


Figure 5: My favorite anti American beef poster to date


I am alive and well at the moment, lets see how long that lasts.  It is only a matter of time until my fragile stomach collapses from all of the wonderful spicy food.