COVID Restrictions rose to Level 4 in Seoul on Monday (July 12), the highest level they have ever been. Luckily, we had the opportunity to meet up and have a grand Seoul trip before the restrictions were put in place. We stuck to outdoor activities to be safe.

Excursions

  1. Dongdaemun

This week, Nadia, Busa, and I decided to spend an evening in Dongdaemun exploring around and possibly shopping. We explored Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a very unique and cool building. While walking around, we found an area with these cool seats.

Figure 1: Me in a cool seat.

Dongdaemun is known as the place to go shopping, and we clearly saw why. Tons of malls, each packed with stores and clothing — more than you could even imagine. The best part is that everything is decently priced, and you can haggle with the owners. 

  1. doing_As_Much_As_Possible_In_One_Day.zip

The entire crew came down to Seoul on Saturday to do a bunch of stuff. We had a meal of an entire chicken soup at Tosokchon Samgyetang, which was very good. Following that, we headed over to Changdeokgung. We visited the Secret Garden there, which was gorgeous. You need to reserve tickets for this in advance, so make sure if you plan to visit you do so!

Figure 2: The crew in the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung.

After leaving the palace, we head over to Namsan Tower. We took a cable car up to the top of the tower, which allowed for some really pretty sights. 

Figure 4: The gang at the top of Namsan Mountain.

Once up, all the fences around the tower were covered in locks. From what I heard, the idea is that if you place a lock with someone there, your bond will be unbreakable. 

Figure 3: A wall of love locks at Namsan Tower.

We decided to spend our time at the top of the mountain watching the sunset until dinner time. For dinner, we heard that eating instant ramen as picnic food on the Han River was something that had to be done. I was dubious of this, instant ramen doesn’t seem like the easiest thing to bring to and cook at the river, but my lab mate assured me that you could just buy it from a convenience store near the river and cook it there. Turns out it is true, they have a bunch of machines just for cooking instant ramen! 

Figure 4: Advance instant ramen-making technology.

After our picnic, we walked along the Han River until we saw an island, which we decided to get to and explore. It was connected to the mainland via bridge and had a park on it.

Figure 5: The gang posing around a cool sculpture we found in a park on an island in the middle of the Han River.

  1. The Class Visits Itaewon 

We decided to spend our second day of the weekend in Itaewon, AKA foreigner central. In Itaewon, maybe half of the people we saw were foreigners to Korea, making it the densest population of foreigners I have seen so far. We spent a few hours at the largest and fanciest vinyl record shop I have ever seen, and I found some great music there. We also all got and shared fancy large cookies, which were delicious. I got a white chocolate green tea cookie; I got it because I wanted to try something interesting, but it was actually just really good. 

All the boys had to head back home after this, but Nadia, Busa, and I decided to keep exploring Itaewon. After walking around for a while (there are a lot of antique stores in Itaewon for some reason), we met up with a friend and ate dinner at a Nigerian place.

It was my first time eating Nigerian food, it was really good! I would definitely recommend visiting.

Figure 6: Nigerian food at Happy Home in Itaewon.

Meanwhile, in the Workplace:

Work has continued to be busy as I create the datasets for the various objects. I re-recorded the video for the pesky Coca-Cola bottle with a different color background, only for the same problem to occur — the transparent middle of the bottle kept being removed by the background-removal algorithm. 

I ran a program on the bottle that allows you to manually adjust the algorithm’s levels of removal to try and get a perfect segmentation of the object. Unfortunately, no matter how much I changed the levels, I couldn’t get a clean segmentation of the bottle. 

Figure 7: Example of a program we ran on the bottle to try to remove its background. As you can see, the program works quite well with the video of the apple. Unfortunately, it didn’t work with the bottle. 

After trying out multiple things with my lab mates, my mentor advised we cheat a bit and just fill in the rest of the bottle with coke. This ended up working really well — it allowed the program to see the correct shape of the bottle. The accuracy of the algorithm will be reduced because of this cheat, but it won’t be a significant decrease. 

So we finally managed to get the bottle’s dataset completed. This upcoming week we are moving onto the next step and are going to train up the algorithm!

Dr. Moser’s Workshop

This week, in Dr. Moser’s workshop, we focused on composing an elevator pitch for ourselves. This is a short 2-minute introduction to yourself that we can use in the future if, in an interview, a potential employer says, “So, tell me about yourself.” I prepared a speech in advance covering what I considered to be the most important parts of my resume. After writing out my speech, I put it through “wordcounter.com” where it was estimated to be around 2 minutes of speaking time. I, unfortunately, didn’t have adequate time to practice my speech. On the day of the presentation, I volunteered to go first. I tried to make sure it didn’t sound like I was just reading off of my paper. Halfway through the speech, I realized I had been talking for a very long time, and I wasn’t even close to being done. At the end of my speech, I talked for around 4 minutes — 2 times longer than it was supposed to be. Either way, I got some good advice. This advice was to clean up the speech more and to practice. I will keep these both in mind, and will work to improve my elevator speech for the future. This exercise helped me realize I need to think more about what to answer when asked questions about myself in interviews. 

Current Takeaways:

  • Half of the bathrooms in public places request you put your toilet paper in the trash rather than flushing it in the toilet. If you see a sign on the stall door, check to see if it is requesting that. 
  • In Seoul, motorcyclists obey the law only if they want to. This means that they drive on the road if they want, red lights if they want, and drive on the sidewalk if they want. Be careful!
  • Also in Seoul, a lot of cars will park on the sidewalks. They will occasionally drive on the sidewalk in order to find a place to park. Be careful of these as well!