Month: December 2015

Belgium after Paris attacks

To this day, soldiers patrol every town in Belgium. Shopping malls, railway stations and large public gatherings (such as Christmas markets) are guarded by the military and local police force. As per Korean government advice, I assume this will continue into the new year, at least until February. Even the small city of Liège has patrols at Guillemins station as well as the Mediacité, Place Saint-Lambert and Belle-Ile shopping complexes (where I do my groceries). Christmas festivities and any gatherings are particularly well surrounded. I was in Brussels on the night of the Paris attacks. Scheduled to take the Toefl exam at Selor on the morning of the 14th, I was rudely awakened at the hostel around midnight. A group of French-speaking Belgian students had stormed in, taken their mobiles out and started to listen to the news on full volume. Most of the other guests being non-French speakers or asleep, their hushed talks about “Paris”and “mon dieu, I cannot believe this” had me thinking there was probably some protest going on in the French capital. …

Umberto Eco’s Middle Age History: For Men Only, says leading Korean publisher

Sigongsa publicly apologises for ‘not having thought the event through’ Yesterday, leading Korean publishing house Sigongsa published an official apology. The apology concerned the release of a new two-volume translation of Umberto Eco‘s “Introduction to the Middle Ages“. The publisher announced that they would hold a special event – a writing competition whose prize included copies of the Middle Ages translation as well as the opportunity to write an all-expenses-paid book review. Women need not apply. The event, as advertised on Sigongsa’s Naver blog As soon as the event was published, female aficionados of Eco, Middle Age history, and of  Sigongsa demanded an explanation regarding their discriminative attitude – what’s the link between Umberto Eco and misogyny? Sinagong is a highly influential and well-reputed publishing house in South Korea whose range includes both domestic and international authors. They publish translations of many famous foreign authors’ works, including Fifty Shades of Grey, British magazine Cereal, Ito Junji’s horror comics, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, the John Grisham collection, and a series of classics by Jane Austen, Cervantes, Dumas, Goethe, Saint-Exupéry, Shakespeare,  and Virginia Woolf. The unforeseen attack …

2014-2015 in retrospective: 2. The Good

The highlight of 2014-2015 was meeting my Alaskan friend Jamie and my (very) German (but really, Prussian) boyfriend. So now Alaska is in my future travel plans – who would have thought – an Alaskan in Lyon? I travelled with a friend from Korea to Nice, Amsterdam and Berlin for Halloween. I visited a Portugese penpal in Geneva and I had my first raclette. A Finnish penpal showed me around Berlin and we took a photo together at the Dom. A third penpal, an American PhD student at King’s College let me crash at her central London apartment and even paid for my breakfast the day I was leaving and my bank cards stopped working. Meeting Koreans was not what I’d originally planned, but a friend from high school was on exchange at Kiel, in the North of Germany. We went to Bonn and went crazy over Haribos. We also underestimated the height of the Cologne Cathedral and decided to climb up all the way to the top on a whim (“It doesn’t look so tall compared to …

2014-2015 in retrospective: 1. The Bad

Shopping district in Lyon I left Seoul on September 11, 2014 (even today, flights on 9/11 are cheapest within a 10-day radius). It was a 24-hour trip with a layover in Doha. There was 30kg of baggage in an American Tourister. It was a long way from Charles de Gaulle to Gare du Nord to Amsterdam Centraal. For the first time, I was jetlagged – not just on time. I was sick for two full days – chills, cramps, headaches, cold sweat. I think my Dutch relatives have ever had jetlag, but they just let me be. France was that much of a stress. It was a country whose language I spoke quite well but a completely foreign land where I knew nobody, whose social system didn’t seem coherent, and whose culture I wasn’t particularly interested in (Sorry France, I’m not interested in cuisine classique or nouvelle, wine or the Parisian catwalk). I only went to France because I wanted to improve my French. Although I respect French culture as much as I do most other cultures …

Updates coming soon

I’ve been trying out Blogger for  a while now, but I think I’ll stick to WordPress. I like the themes and design flexibility, despite the fact that Blogger is free. Sorry if you’ve been waiting for new posts – they’re on their way! In the meanwhile, I’ve been to see the awesome Of Monsters and Men and Chvrches at Ancienne Belgique, Brussels. I’ve taken the Toefl iBT exam for the 10th time in my life, to a disappointing drop in score (119 to 116, on a scale of 120) –  perhaps due to most of the night being highly animated by Belgian students watching live broadcasts of the Paris attacks on November 13th at the hostel. Regarding my studies, I’ve had the chance to hear the highly influential scholar Sheila Jasanoff at a conference here, but otherwise quite disappointed by the quality of education and lack of a coherent administrative system at the University of Liège. There’s a reason it doesn’t ever appear on the QS or the THE. I’m looking forward to writing my thesis at Maastricht next year. Anyway, see you …