Moving octopus and the best cheese tart ever

As many may know I can be an adventurous eater! I give thanks to my mother who started my siblings and I on diverse foods at a very early age. Instead of just lunchables, cookies and chips she had us also trying dried shrimp, toasted seaweed, raw sushi and so much more. That early exposure has created a palate that allows me to travel the world and have an open mind to try cultural foods. 

I truly believe that being open to cultural styles of food are an important piece to building relationships. I hear many business people talk about closing deals over dinner. I have even participated in those career development sessions on how to have dinner with your boss. Yet, I have never seen how to eat cultural foods you’re not use to foods events. As an individual you are on your lonesome to experience your relationship with cultural foods.

Living in Manhattan, Kansas I don’t have many opportunities to explore so I make sure to sharpen my skills when I travel.

Here are some of the foods we at today:

We stopped by  A local market and picked up a ginseng drink.

We ventured to Gwangalli Beach to go to Millak-dong Hoe street which is where approximately 300 restaurants serve hoe (raw fish).

We selected some fresh seafood and took it up stairs to one of the restaurants to prep it. What a sea to table experience.

Trying to sit in the traditional dining setting, Ked and I had a food adventure.

But first shoes 😂😂😂

Ked in these too small shoes

We tried the famous Korean San-nakji,  a hoe dish (raw fish dish) of octopus that still is moving after it is cut up.

Ked trying San-nakji

It was very chewy…..like really really chewy and it didn’t taste like anything but the sauce you put it in.

We had some other fish that I don’t know what to call them but here is what we bought and here is what it looked like after it was prepared.

Our next food adventure were these freakin delicious cheese tarts that are all the rage. I heard on the weekend the line is wrapped around the corner  and people can only get one box per person at a time. All I can say is, YES,  it’s the best cheese tart ever! It’s like a mini cheesecake with a cookie like crust. Dangerous for the wasteline…..but who cares…2 boxes please!

Tonight we tried Soju, a South Korean liquor made from rice…….stroooooonggggg and will put you straight on your bum.

We capped off our foodie tour with another trip to Sulbing and tried another one of their desserts. This was not as good as the first but still yummy.

Tomorrow is our last full day and evening before we head back to the states.  We will go on a tour of Busan and experience more of the culture.

Until next time

Guinness world’s largest department store and a seaside alumni extravaganza

It’s after midnight in Busan and we are just getting in from a great gathering with some K-State alumni. 

Today was another day of exploring Busan. We kicked it off with another early morning walk, this time to Dongbaekseom Island which is not too far from our hotel. This area was bustling with early morning risers doing their daily workouts and stretches while overlooking the sea. What a way to start your day.

After enjoying another God created day we enjoyed a buffet breakfast that had tons of food like bugiogi, a variety of kimchi, dumplings, rice porridge, fruit and an assortment of breads.

During the day we took the subway and ventured off to the Guinness World’s Record for the largest department store and I cannot even describe how massive this place was. All I can say is I had to take a nap when we got back. 

The main event for today was the alumni event. On the beach one of our alumni reserved a spot for us to gather at a place called Sam Ryan’s which is an American sports bar. At first when I learned about this place I chuckled because here I am going all the way to South Korea and we will end up at an American sports bar.

This was a great location and such a great vibe for K-staters to come together .  It was wonderful because alumni from different colleges, and class years were able to talk about there time at K-State. At this event I was able to engage in some great conversations and learn more about how to continue to provide engagement opportunities for our alumni….plus I think I will have a few visitors when some of them come back to the states to visit.

I am so thankful to have these experiences and connections and I look forward to more opportunities. 

Until next time

A morning on the beach and a day with Yebin Yoon

Today we woke up at 5:30am wide awake and ready to explore what Busan had to offer. With our hotel literally on the beach we took a stroll and observed the morning activity on Haeundae beach.

While enjoying the peacefulness of the early morning we were approached by some men, who I thought wanted Ked or I to take a picture of them,  but instead they wanted to take a picture with us! Lol

During this trip we have definitely experienced a lot of stares, secret photos being taken of us and a store clerk who flat out asked if we were famous 🙂 Ked and I have learned that this is a part of the travel and to join in on the fun and pose as if we are famous.

The water is a tad bit cool

After 10 tries Ked finally got a good shot

A rare photo pose of Ked….plus he got his feet out

After our cardio stroll on the beach we were hungry and looked for a traditional spot to eat. We rolled up on a little restaurant that was filled with older Korean people enjoying their morning meal and fellowship.

For breakfast we ordered the spicy octopus and beef hot pot and boy was it delicious and filling.

For the remaining of our day our friend and K-State alum, Yebin Yoon, scooped us up and showed us a few spots in Busan.

We went to a super posh coffee shop called Cafe Yoon! This coffee shop had amazing views of the sea. There were a lot of people enjoying the views and coffee. Lots of people took pictures including us.

While enjoying the company and food the three of us talked about Korean culture and observations we made and how Yebin’s life is going  after her time at K-State.

This banana pudding was super legit.

The next spot Yebin took us to was the 1376 built Haedong Yonggungsa temple. As the late afternoon set in and the day began to cool off it was the perfect time visit this temple.

When we headed out we bought this yummy sweet bread that had nuts in it and was pressed down flat on a griddle.

To end our day we took another walk on Haeundae beach and enjoyed dinner at this fusion spot on

which is a famous street for fusion and creative restaurants.

Tomorrow is our Busan event and I am looking forward to connecting with more K-State alumni.

Until next time

French Quarter,New Orleans,  South Beach, Miami, and a sprinkle of Time Square, New York…Welcome to Busan

A K-State pride that has carried on for generations! As alumni walk in with smiles on their faces, I can see in an instant how the hands of time transported our alumni back to a place they remember so fondly….the Little Apple…..Manhattan, Kansas. 

Handing out my business cards with two hands and a slight bow I had a chance to interact with alumni who graduated from the colleges of agriculture, engineering, arts and sciences, human ecology, and  business. I listened to stories from alumni who graduated in 1987, 1993, 2006, 2007 and current Ph.D students. It was truly a Wildcat experience!

After another beautiful meal we said our goodbyes and headed to the KTX and took a bullet train to Busan for the next leg of our adventure. 

While in South Korea we have noticed the massive high rise apartments EVERYWHERE. We have never seen anything like it. It would be interesting one day to see what it looks like inside and get an understanding of the community atmosphere.

Welcome to Busan

Busan is a beach city which is completely opposite of Seoul. While looking for some yummy food we experienced what a Saturday night in Busan is all about.

First the scene is very diverse and there are people from everywhere.  We actually came across a few college students who attend Jackson State University and are studying abroad. It was so funny when we walked by each other because Ked said “Hi” and they said “oh……hi, yes some Black people who speak English!” Gotta love the SWAC

Second,  lots of babies out at 11pm. With tons of restaurants, people playing music on the beach and some of the best people watching, people were out and about.

While walking through Gunam-ro it gave me the feeling like I was in the French quarters of New Orleans with crazy people standing out on the balcony yelling at people while drunk. Also you could buy mixed drinks on the street. 

It also felt a little like South Beach in Miami because people were just walking up and down the strip dressed to impress while the cool sea breeze hit your face. Music of Bruno Mars and Rhianna were blaring out of pubs and hip restaurant spots. Then there was a touch and I do mean a touch of Time Square in New York. Lots of lights a wide walkway for people to walk and stand around with tons and tons of people.

I had a chance to eat some street food and experience this milky snowflake Korean dessert that was sooooooo good.

This one had a lemon sherbet, cheese and mangos 

Tteobokki (spicy rice fish cake….popular Korean snack)

Chicken on a stick with spicy mustard

Deep fried rice cake, shrimp, and dumplings

Fried chicken

Today was another long day and I look forward to waking up tomorrow and enjoying a nice walk on the beach.

Until next time

A day focused on unity

Rise n Shine! Its our first full day in Seoul and we had to make this one count. Tomorrow we will have another alumni event and then we are off to our next city Busan.

Today we took an early morning tour of the DMZ and we learned a lot.

Here is our tour guide Libby

But first breakfast

 Bugiogi burrito (So freakin good)

Fresh watermelon juice (Very refreshing)

During our journey to the DMZ, we learned about the split of the Korean peninsula, the multiple attempts of North Korea trying to invade South Korea, the various jesters and agreements that the two countries have attempted to bring about peace and the most recent demise of a relationship agreement in 2016. 

The history is very sad and stressful as you think about two countries that you can literally see across a river or a field that is separated by barb wire and military guards with military weapons pointed at one another. 

On the tour we visited the Dorasan railway station that connected South Korea to North Korea. Travel is no longer permitted, but they hope in the future it can be restored.

Here is some wine made in North Korea. The supply is getting low, now that travel has been restricted.

In these moments as we learn about the restrictions, those who fled from North Korea, villages who live within these zones and the propaganda that is blasted over loud speakers; I am reminded that I was born and raised in the UNITED States of America and although we are experiencing a time of change I am still blessed that I can fly to any state whenever I would like, go see my family as much as I desire, and live in a place where freedom of speech is a way of life. I pray for peace and healing. 

During our visit to the DMZ we had a symbolic moment…. some foreign travelers asked Ked and I where we were from and guess what……they were from Overland Park, KS and one of them went to our rival school,University of Kansas, LOL! I can’t make this up. Here we are in the place of unification of North and South Korea and we meet our very own rivals in South Korea. 

In the spirit of unification K-State and KU took a photo together.

As you see we K-Staters had our purple on 🙂

Now, what  I can’t show you, because photography was prohibited was the third tunnel that South Korea found that North Korea dug in an attempt to invade them. We went 25 stories below the DMV and ended up 1/2 foot from the South Korea boundary line. It is said that there are probably more tunnels that have not been found.

At the end of our tour we stopped by the Korean Ginseng Center and learned about the world famous ginseng and all of the benefits this root can provide. We learned about the level of quality and various forms it can be consumed.

At the end of our tour we stopped for lunch and had Samgyetang (ginseng chicken)

Next on our jam packed day was to meet up with some K-State alumni.

In a beautiful American style restaurant we enjoyed a 6 course meal, that created an atmosphere of reminiscing about life in Manhattan, catching up on each other’s lives and learning about what their alma mater was up to! 

From this gathering I learned about the love and depth of a relationship that a student can have with their professor, advisor, and mentor. I learned that it is only through impact relationship building and consistency, that will inspire alumni to give of their time. I learned and listened a lot.

Fancy

Beef you can cut with a butter knife

Ked had the sea bass 

Gotta have dessert

After a beautiful meal with some beautiful people we hit the town and ventured to Insadong and looked at Korean artistry and pottery shops and got a glimpse of what a Friday night in Seoul looks like.

K-S-U…….Wildcats

Starbucks in Korean

Today was a fun filled and educational day and I look forward to tomorrow’s opportunity to connect with more K-State Alumni!

Until next time

Welcome to South Korea

For months I have been working with our dean of the graduate school on planning a trip to South Korea to meet and engage with alumni while she participates in a major hospitality conference. 

Kedric and I were super pumped that we had another opportunity to travel to another country and connect with our alumni. What few people know is that K-State has a pretty large and active group of alumni in South Korea. No credit to the Alumni Association but these alumni have been coming together in the spirit of their purple pride and that makes me happy. 

As I work on identifying strategies and connections the Alumni Association can make with our international alumni I am learning so much about the power of relationships and keeping in contact. 

Anywho, four of us K-Staters had a 6:30am flight out of Manhattan and then we left out of Dallas to Seoul around 12:30ish (yes our flight was delayed, but at least we did not have any connecting flights or that the flight got cancelled like it did when we traveled to Taiwan).

Ked and I were ready for this 13 hour and 32 minute flight! We have become semi pros on these long flights. All you really need is some toilet seat covers, clorox wipes, febreeze to go spray, hand sanitzer, compression socks, slippers, your earphones, and immediately get on your destination’s time. With just some carry on baggages we was ret’ to go!

Since it was 8pm Seoul time when we got on the plane we ate “dinner” and had to go straight to sleep. 

Check out our first meal…..it was coo, definitely not life changing.

Airplane version of bibimbap, kimchee, salad and a roll. 

After about 7 hours of sleeping it was time to eat again.

Y’all I have not had noodles like this with the seasoning packets for at least a decade. It was yummy but all I thought about was drinking enough water to counter the sodium. 

Then after watching Disney’s 2017 Beauty and the Beast it was time to eat yet again. This time airplane chicken teriyaki and some fruit. Very unimpressed but who cares I’m about to eat real food, great food in a couple of hours.

When we finally landed in beautiful Seoul we hit the ground running. It was 5pm June 15th. Here are a few photos from our bus ride to our hotel (it took 1 hour and 40 minutes to get there) 

Already seeing something new that I didn’t see in Taiwan, Australia or New Zealand….. Black people! 

This place is serious about their horticulture! I love it

After we checked in…..you know we had to go out on the town an get some real food. Sooooooooo many choices.  We ended up at this super yummy spot and had Korean beef ribs and bugiogi.

Yes………this was super legit and I loved it all. I can see what type of foodie experience I’m about to have. 

Well it’s off to bed I go, I am extremely exhausted and we are kicking our morning off early (7:30am) for a tour of the DMZ, the Korean demilitarized zone and then some opportunities to meet up with some alumni. 

Until next time

A Day in a Hijab

A few weeks ago I found out that the Muslim Student Association on my campus was going to host a “Wear a Hijab” event. I immediately said “yes I will do it”, and I am glad I did. After saying yes, I looked at my calendar and realized one of my most important multicultural leadership awards events was occurring and I was traveling to Atlanta on that day.

When I realized I was traveling that day I thought for a hot second…..”Girl are you about to get on a plane with all this foolishness going on in the United States with a hijab on?” My response was, “Yes, yes you are. Just like you can’t take your Black skin off….these women can’t take their hijab’s off in public”. I did not want to pick and choose when it was comfortable for my situation. It would defeat the purpose.

First let me say my overall experience was good. I was not ridiculed or harassed or treated badly, but I cannot lie and say that I did not get prayed up and get into a mindset to help me deal with whatever would come my way. During this experience I was stretched and learned some lessons. Take the journey with me:

Lesson 1: Race/ethnic culture participation is easy for me but religious cultural participation is new and a stretch experience. I know very little about the Muslim faith, so I did not have any insight on how to handle the intangible standoffness that individuals who wear a hijab may experience. I did not know how to not be offended by black individuals not looking me in my eyes at all, when typically I engage in non communicative conversation with black people as I move through different spaces.  “It’s usually a glance in the eyes that speaks “hi, if no one sees you I see you. Keep doing you,” I missed that today when I traveled.

Lesson 2: It’s not a big deal……I’m not going to lie I thought I was going to experience something negative and I found myself saying….”Girl these people are not stuntin you, how you choose to express yourself is your business” Now, I know that my Muslim friends do experience ignorance and hatred, but I should not be on the ready at all times. What I learned through this experience is about peace, and being comfortable with my choices. Things will happen and no one wants to be caught off guard but a peaceful person cannot live in that space.

Lesson 3: Wearing a hijab also is fashion

 Preparing for this event my husband and I watched You Tube videos to learn how wear it and I found all these cute and chic ways women were wearing a hijab. As I look at women in hijabs I have another level of appreciation for the art of wearing a hijab.

Lesson 4: It is a struggle to shop in Manhattan, KS for cute, suitable clothing. Participating in this event I also had to have my arms and legs covered. I stressed about this for a couple of weeks because I had an event this day and all I have are either cap shoulder or no sleeve dresses, or dresses that stop at my knee. I would be traveling a few hours after my event, so I wanted to be comfortable, and today Manhattan decided it wanted to be 83 degrees. Now, the scarf was not hot at all, but I had nothing to wear that was weather, job and event appropriate. I thought I would go to Dillards and find a cute long sleeve black shirt and wear some black bottom and allow the tan scarf to pop. Well that plan DID NOT work. The shirts that were long sleeve were either winter,  or women’s world fashion….not my idea of chic, cute. I was discouraged but it made me think about all of the women who dress like this everyday and cannot just run to the store and find something cute. We have a lot of fashionistas in hijab on campus and they either shop online or go on a shopping spree when they go home. Once again much admiration.

Lesson 5: My final lesson I will share is, the airport people don’t always know the rules. So I have pre-check status and as I was going through security and the TSA person  asked their colleague “so I just let her go???” the other TSA said “yea…..that’s what it says so I guess you have to let her go?” the TSA guy says “Oooookay???”

Pre-check means I did the work to get advance security screening, so I can participate in the expedited security check. So I found it odd that there was still question about me being checked.

Today was a good day, my event was fabulous, the Muslim Student Association had a wonderful event, I was stretched by this activity and I arrived in Atlanta safely.

Until we chat again