Friday, July 10, 2009


We did it!!!!! I honestly didn't think it would work, being our first time and all, but I was wrong! As you can see the bacteria have been cultured and they glow very brightly! To be honest this wasn't the same DNA we started with because that particular part of the experiment failed miserably, but that's beside the point. We completed the transformation of an E. coli cell with a luminescent gene sequence. A good way to end the trip on a positive note. We are leaving Daejeon today and staying in Seoul for the remainder of the trip at Professor Kim's brother's house. It is there I will finally try dog soup. I am really sad to be leaving, I have made so many amazing friends, contacts, and memories here that it has become a second home. I will never forget this city and I will now make it a priority to return here and relive the dream. I hope I have inspired others to step outside their box and try new things through this blog. It has literately been a life changing experience and I would recommend that all students study or travel abroad at least once in their lives. Until next time- Josh

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun Fun Fun

I guess I will begin with class. We are now in the final week and have been doing lab work along side our ethics class. The lab part is really new and confusing material to me, but I am having a blast learning and making mistakes with really, really expensive equipment. I will explain the procedure to the best of my ability and in the simplest terms possible, mostly to not confuse myself. We are taking a circular plasmid DNA and extracting a specific gene sequence. After extraction we will attempt to reinsert the fragment (GFP) into E. coli DNA, and because this particular gene expresses luminescence under U.V. light, we will be able to tell if we completed the procedure properly by observing the specimen under U.V. light. Basically, we are cutting up DNA, putting a piece of it into a cell, and watching to see if the cell glows. Unfortunately we tried to begin the procedure on Monday, but we couldn't even get the GFP extracted from the plasmid, so we will start over in the morning. Good times.

On a lighter note we have had a LOT of fun outside the class as well. On the 4th of July we participated in a marathon and ran barefoot for 8km on a beach. Needless to say I didn't do much the next day due to muscle cramps and sun burn, but Tuesday was AMAZING. During the day we toured the DMZ, which is the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The South Koreans are hilarious, because they found three tunnels dug by the North Koreans who planned to use them for invasion, and what did they do? They turn them into a tourist attraction!!!! We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the tunnels, but we actually walked about 70 km down a path dug underground by a hostile enemy nation. One of the best days of my life! The best part (aside from the dynamite lining all of the tunnels) was at the 70km mark. They put up three blockades, behind one of which is a giant water tank, so I would hate to be the first North Korean invader to break that wall. The picture above are from the entrance to the DMZ. The first one is of a South Korean guard tower and the second one is of the train that used to run between North and South Korea before the beginning of the war. It's hard to see but the train is covered with holes from years of being used as a bullet shield.

I saved the best for last. That night we went to the Break Dancing Boys Concert (B-Boys), and they were the absolute best dance team I have ever seen. My camera didn't take picture in the dark room, but Nadia got a lot of good ones on hers and I will post some on my facebook page from Professor Kim's camera. They incorporated great music, themes, and moves that looked almost impossible to pull off, but they did it flawlessly, and I would seriously fly back to Korea just to watch them perform again. After the show I managed to get a picture with the main actress, or B-girl, or whatever you want to call her, but the point is she was cute and a great dancer and I touched her shoulder! Until next time-Josh

Monday, July 6, 2009

Visit to Icheon

Our last trip with the KSSP group was the most exciting so far. Most of it was centered around the Icheon Pottery village where we visited a ceramics Expo and made our own bowls and pots out of clay. 
For Lunch, we got to go to a really fancy restaurant that had really good quality  local rice, but we had so many dishes in front of us that we did not notice the rice at all!.
We were also taken to a ceramic museum that had really beautiful architecture as well as the creative pottery displays. 

The necklace I got from the ceramic souvenir shop as well as a few other things for my Fam and friends.

After the Museum, we visited yet another temple nearby, but the significance of this one was that it was on low ground and not on a hilltop or mountain. We were lucky enough to witness a live ceremony while we were there as well as enter the temple and take a lot of pictures!
I met this man at another museum/village and he is the oldest person I have seen so far! He was 77 and spoke really good english and I had to document him. what a treasure. :)

That same night we stayed at a hotel in Icheon where we cooked dinner in groups for each other. The place we stayed at had 1 bedroom with one bed and 8 people  in the suite. So, only one person got the bed and the rest of us slept on floor bedding. Before the night was up, we decided to go for a stroll on the bridge at night, where Josh found lots of spiders, and I took pictures of the night lights.
And this is the view from our room! 

The next day we headed off to the Teian Beach, but that deserves whole new post!
I hope you enjoyed the pictures!



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Addition to class discussion.

As Josh touched on the topics discussed in our class, I figured I would post a few pictures that I took in class. The class has been very beneficial in helping us distinguish the differences between US and Korea beyond the obvious cultural contrast. For instance, when talking about the proper usage of food and the limited food resources, we noticed that in Korea, land is used much more efficiently for farming purposes rather that lawn culturing. In the states, land is abundant, so the wealthier a person is, the more land they occupy and the larger house they possess. In Korea, however, we see nothing but rice fields as well are vegetable gardens all around; And when it comes to wealth, people with a lot of money tend to think vertically rather than horizontally, by buying expensive apartments in high rises. Korea is pretty much independent in its food supply except for a small portion of rice that is grown in California!.. pretty cool.
Anyway here are a couple pictures of our class!

Here is Dr. Kim explaining cell cloning using the sheep Dolly as an example.
There are also a lot of questions that every student answers in class related to each topic and the Korean students are somewhat reluctant because they are not used to Discussion classes.
Our class is not too big, but we seem to gain and lose people every day. So far, I am really enjoying it because there are so many bioethical topics I have opinions about and at the same time I am curious to learn the Korean perspective in every case.

Today we continued last lecture's Environmental topics such as the Green house gas effect and we broke that down into specific atmospheric gasses, focusing on the increase of Carbon dioxide emissions. Then, the touched on Global Warming and its causes and effects, followed by the Kyoto Protocol. KP is an international environmental treaty initiated in 1997, which our last president did not participate in. We then moved onto Human Population, Food Distribution, Soil Sustainability, Urban Planning and Changes in Bio-diversity.

We won't have another class till friday, which will be our final most important discussion, which means that we have to start busting out some research skills to write our research paper for the class. I will share more info about this later, for now that is all!

"enjoy korea"

In the classroom

Well I found all of the local pizza joints, so much for losing weight. The actual class portion of our trip has been really interesting so far. We have discussed many different ethical topics and how they compare between our two countries. In a nutshell we have discussed death, energy, and cloning so far. We went in depth on suicide and discussed the motives, methods, and consequences. This topic was rather sensitive because the former Korean president recently commit suicide by jumping from a cliff to save his family and himself from the shame caused by multiple bribery scandals. I am not an expert on this particular topic so I didn't say much, but all of the Korean students in the class disagreed with the president's decision, but apparently the older population supported it and consider him a sort of hero for doing so. It is a very interesting situation, because Michael Jackson recently passed away and he had been getting a lot of negative attention until his death. Now all I hear is praise for the "King of Pop." Both Michael Jackson and the Korean president made controversial decisions during their lifetimes, yet they were both revered in death. It appears we are not so different after all.

We also discussed assisted suicide and whether or not people should be allowed "death with dignity." The first euthanasia was also just recently attempted in Korea. The family had their grandmother on a respirator while she was in a comma and attempted to allow her to peacefully pass on by simply turning of the respirator. To everyone's surprise the grandmother did not die, but simply continued to breath on her own. Obviously this has contemplated the situation and left many questions unanswered. Is the grandmother in pain? Is she in less pain breathing on her own? Would she welcome death now? Did she even want to die? Was this a divine sign that she was not meant to die? Should people be allowed to die whenever and however they wish? Should people be allowed to determine when and how other people die? In my opinion these are all questions with no definite correct answer, but nonetheless good to consider. I believe more of these situations will occur in the future for both Korea and the United States, and the first few cases are very likely to determine the outcomes of the latter ones, for better or worse. This is why it is so important to pay attention to and play an active part in the world around us. Whether we like it or not our world is changed every day by religion, politics, and media, and if we chose not to learn and make informed decisions concerning what we watch, listen to, and believe some one else will. When and if it comes time for someone to chose whether I live or die, I want that someone to be. I am now going to go look for a waffle. Until next time- Josh

Monday, June 29, 2009

More pictures

A Busy Schedule...

Well, we have accomplished so much in the last week that I don't really know where to start. We have visit ancient king's burial mounds, as evidenced here with Nadia wearing a rice farmer hat, you can see one of the many mounds in the background.
and we have visit many temples, this being one of two towers at a temple. This is one of three famous towers in the area, the Takotap and Sukatop towers were both at the Pulguksa Temple and the third tower, Cheumsungdae, was actually believed to be an observation tower near the king's tombs. I am really bad at translating names from Korean to English so eventually I will come back with the correct spelling of all of these towers, temples and monuments...maybe.
Here is a nuclear cell unit from one of their nuclear power plants. This cell apparently cost 200 American dollars and can provide 1 household 150 years of energy. Also, one kilogram of uranium has the equivalent energy of 9000 drums of oil and 3000 tons of coal. Very efficient if harnessed correctly.

Here is a picture of the pool from the 9th floor balcony of our room at the Daemyung Resort. I slept on the balcony that night and it was one the the coolest feelings in the world to wake up to the sunrise overlooking a beautiful lake in a foreign country. I have seen and experienced things here that have changed me forever. This trip has given me a very unique outlook on life and I will be very sad when I have to leave. Well, I have a whole lot more to blog about but I am kind of limited on time, so next time I will touch on the concerts we have been to and the topic discussions we have had in class, and yes, we are learning as well as having fun, believe it or not. Until next time!-Josh