News from Seoul – July 26, 2019: Alejandro

Research Progress  

Alejandro continued to wait for the delivery of the parts that he ordered previously from DigiKey; as such, he continued his work with electrodeposition. Shortly after the beginning of the week, he was ready to begin electrodeposition, and so he did. Using counter and reference electrodes in an iridium oxide solution (along with the default settings for current waveform length and number of cycles), he was able to get through half of the stimulation points over the course of the week. This rather slow progress can be attributed to the fact that each electrodeposition process takes multiple hours due to the large number of cycles set for each waveform. On the final working day of the week, the parts for the stimulation circuit arrived; this means that starting next week, Alejandro will be able to begin working on the circuit while he waits for electrodeposition processes. (Note: Alejandro started working on Tuesday instead of Monday due to his delayed arrival from Japan).

Excursions

After wrapping up his Japan trip, Alejandro flew back to South Korea, landing at Incheon airport at around 2:40 pm local time (two hours later than expected due to multiple delays). Due to his late arrival, Alejandro did not report to his lab that day. Soon after arriving home, his three roommates arrived from their labs and the four went out for a rather pricy dinner of grouper and crab at a new branch of an international seafood chain (thanks to one roommate’s affiliation with said chain). Afterwards, the foursome went bowling before heading home from the night. On Tuesday, Alejandro continued his weekly tradition of night basketball with the HOBAS group. Thursday night and Friday night featured dinner with the roommates, followed by a trip to a gaming lounge (Thurs night) and a nightclub (Fri night).

Alejandro, William, and their two roommates with their crab and grouper dinner in front of them.

The weekend was less eventful, with Saturday consisting of a haircut and trip to Myeong-dong (where Alejandro had lunch with two of the roommates) and Sunday consisting of a visit to the nearby Holly’s Coffee. Alejandro spent most of the morning there, starting by getting in touch with his family and some friends who happened to be visiting his family. He later went to lunch with the same roommates he had met in Myeong-dong the day before and went to dinner alone, finally trying a Mexican restaurant that he’d had his eye on since his first week in Seoul. Overall, another fun week for Alejandro

News from Seoul – July 26, 2019: Bri

Ping!

Bri Robertson checked her Instagram to see a message from her best friend from elementary school:

You’re coming to Korea??”

Bri froze, dropping her neatly folded shirt on the way to her suitcase, realizing that this would be the first time that her and her best friend would be on the same continent in seven years.

Yes! Where do you live?”

Four weeks later, nearing the month mark of living in Seoul, Bri boarded a high-speed train to Gangneung, a picturesque town on the East Sea. After two hours, over hills and through valleys, Bri emerged at the last stop: Gangneung. Immediately, she felt the breeze from the sea, and all around her existed a view that could only be captured as if it were a mixtape produced by Florida and Colorado. Mountains to her back and sandy beaches ahead, she surveyed the area until two arms folded around her. “Bri!” … “Cathy!”

The following weekend was an accelerated recap of the previous seven years, almost as if the two best friends restarted at age thirteen and updated the lost time over the course of 48 hours, discussing topics about parents, new siblings, former pre-teen crushes, and high school. Their adventures that were halted in the States resumed in Korea, first travelling to a beach famous for the blue waters and… coffee! Ironically, when Bri first met Cathy in kindergarten, she misunderstood the teacher when Mrs. Edmundson introduced Cathy as Korean; Bri thought that Cathy’s Korean name was Coffee, so the Coffee Beach was a perfect reunion for the two now twenty-year-old’s!

From the cold East Sea waters, through a pine forest walk, past a beer festival, and into a Korean dynasty-styled village, the pair embraced Gangneung, celebrating Cathy’s hometown as they once celebrated Bri’s hometown. After ending the day in a Korean spa, Bri went to Cathy’s home, where Cathy’s family excitedly greeted her. “Bri, you look the same!” exclaimed Cathy’s mom, with a huge smile crossing her face.

Prior to leaving Gangneung the following day, Bri and Cathy drove out to Daewallyeong, deciding to spend the morning hiking the ancient Seoul Pass. Hundreds of years earlier, prior to the invention of the automobile, Koreans would hike Daewallyeong to cross the mountains on the way to Seoul. From that era, a beer pub, which would have been a popular stop for travelers, marked the midway point of the hike. However, Bri was most surprised to see a fire-bellied toad, known for its fiery belly pattern, hop across her path!

At the end of the weekend, Cathy’s family drove Bri to the train station, exchanging hugs and promises of visiting again in the future. As the train exited the station, Bri smiled, understanding “forever” in “best friends forever.”