Baek-il: 100 Days

Baek-il (백일) is a Korean celebration of a baby’s first 100 days of life. It is a big milestone for a baby to reach 100 days. Back in the day, babies would pass away because of illnesses and poor living conditions. Parents would try and avoid bringing their babies outside until they were 100 days old, since 100 days was a sign that babies would see their first birthday.

On baek-il, parents pray and worship the spirit, Samshin. They offered rice and soup to the spirit to thank her for helping the baby and the parents through this difficult time period. Afterwards, family, friends, and relatives celebrate with rice cakes, fruits, and other treats. Usually during this celebration, the parents dress their baby in a traditional Korean hanbok.

Japanese Bento Boxes

Japanese bento boxes are packed lunch boxes or takeaway containers that are made out of wood, plastic, or metal. Bento boxes are often filled with cooked rice, meats, fish, pickled and/or cooked vegetables, and egg. They are usually made by parents to give to their children for lunch in school or sold as takeaway foods from restaurants or train stations. These bento boxes are often nicely decorated and look very cute. I’m not exactly sure if I would be able to eat from the bento boxes if they looked this cute!

Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead

From November 1 to November 2, the people of Mexico celebrate Dia de los Muertos, otherwise known as day of the dead. During Dia de los Muertos, people celebrate the lives of the deceased. It is said that on November 1 the spirits of deceased children come down to reunite with their families, while on November 2 the spirits of deceased adults come down. 

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated first in each family’s home. An altar, called an ofrenda, made for the deceased and then decorated. The altar is decorated with candles, flowers, foods such as tortilla and Day of the Dead-bread, drinks, toys and candies for the children, cigarettes and alcohol for the adults, skeletons and sugar skulls, and favorite memories or things of the deceased. They leave these things for the deceased, because it is said that the deceased’s spirit will come down and enjoy these things when they come down to reunite with their families.

On the afternoon of November 2, families go to the cemetary to their loved ones’ graves. They clean the graves, play games, listen to music, and celebrate the lives and memories of their deceased loved ones. 

The Difference Between Korean Kimbap and Japanese Sushi

Korean kimbap and Japanese sushi look the same, but are they really the same thing? The answer is yes and no.

Japanese sushi consists of vinegared rice, which is combined with other ingredients like raw seafood and vegetables. Japanese sushi has various types. Some of these include:

makizushi, also known as norimaki (rolled sushi)              makizushi

nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi)                                                      nigirizushi

chirashizushi (scattered sushi)                                        chirashizushi

inarisushi (pouch sushi) -fried tofu pouch filled with cooked vinegared riceinarizushi

oshizushi (box sushi)                                                   oshizushi

Korean kimbap is like a variant of Japanese norimaki. In kimbap, however, the rice is usually mixed with sesame oil. Kimbap usually contains rice, vegetables (carrots, kimchi, pickled radish, etc.), meat (beef, ham, crab, etc), and fried egg.

kimbap

 

 

Top Anime Words You Should Know

If you’re an anime fan, but don’t know any Japanese-here is a list of anime words you should know:

  1. anime Japanese animation/cartoon
  2. baka – stupid, fool
  3. chibi– small, short (characters)                                                          chibi
  4. gijinka – personification of animals or characters gijinka
  5. kawaii – cute
  6. manga – Japanese comic book
  7. neko – cat
  8. oishii – delicious
  9. onee-san/chan – older sister (-san is more formal as -chan is more affectionate)
  10. onii-san/chan – older brother (-san is more formal as -chang is more affectionate)
  11. otaku – someone who has an obsessive interest (anime, video games,  manga), usually a derogatory term
  12. sugoi – amazing, awesome
  13. sensei – teacher
  14. senpai – a person’s senior in occupation/school/etc.

 

How Do You Say ‘Ghoti’?

The English language is definitely a complex language to learn. For us native speakers, it may not seem so since we’ve been learning it since we were born. However if you look more closely at English words and even pronunciations, you’ll understand why English is so difficult to learn for non native speakers.

If I gave you the word ‘ghoti’, how would you pronounce it? Perhaps like [go-tee] or [guo-tee].

What if I told you ghoti was pronounced like fish? You might be thinking, how do you get fish? It doesn’t look it would be pronounced as fish. But there’s where you’re wrong. If you look closer into the English language and into pronunciations, you’ll see exactly how this word could be pronounced as fish.

Take the gh in ghoti. What words do you know with gh sound like f?
Enough – f

Now take the o.
Women – I

Lastly take the ti.
Nation – sh

image

And there you have it. This is one of the things I learned in my Linguistics class, which I find absolutely fascinating. It’s so interesting to learn about the background of language and everything that goes into language like phonetics, phonology and so on. Even though I just started learning about linguistics, it’s already helped me understand more about not only foreign language but even my own language. If you, too, are serious about learning languages, I would highly recommend studying at least some about linguistics. It will definitely make learning languages a little easier and everything will start to make more sense to you.

The Land of the Rising Sun

In less than  one week, I will be going on my next adventure to-if you didn’t get it from the title-Japan!

Japan is also known as the Land of the Rising Sun since the Kanji (Chinese characters) for Japan-日本 (Nihon/Nippon)– literally means  “the sun’s origin. Then from “the sun’s origin” translates to “The Land of the Rising Sun. Also in the national flag of Japan, officially known as 日章旗 (Nisshoki), has a red circle representing the sun in the center of a white background.

Japanese flag

Anyways, I’ll be going to Japan for about a week and a half to visit a friend of mine I met in college. I’m really excited now, since the closest I’ve came to actually being in Japan was being in the Narita airport 3 years ago. This time I’ll actually be exploring in the cities of Nagoya and Kyoto-the food, the culture, and the language. The language part will be interesting since I decided to start learning Japanese this semester, so let’s see how that works out…

Project GO

This summer I spent 6 weeks studying Chinese at Boston University for free. How did I do I that? I did it by applying through Project GO.

Project GO (Global Officers) is a program that offers scholarships to ROTC students (contracted or not) to study a critical language intensively and study abroad in countries in Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. To apply to Project Go, you must select a language that you would like to study and an university that has that language program.

The languages that you can choose from are:

Arabic, Azeri, Chinese, Hausa, Hindi-Urdu, Kazakh, Korean, Pashto, Persian, Russian, Swahili, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Uzbek, and Wolof.

If you’re a beginner in the language you choose to study, you will first study in a host university in the United States for about 6 weeks if you’re chosen for a scholarship. If you receive a B- or above in the course, not only will you receive college credit but also you can apply again for Project GO to study abroad the following year. For example, this summer I received an A for my Chinese course at Boston University.  Next year I can apply again to study abroad in Shanghai through Boston University.

In my opinion, Project GO is a great program and I highly recommend it to any ROTC cadet. When I went to Boston University this summer, there were 5 of us cadets total. I, however, was the only one who actually had some experience with Chinese in the past. So, I was placed in the second semester Chinese course. I had class 4 times a week, Monday through Thursday, from 2 to 4:30. Everyday we had quizzes, review from the previous lesson, and then we started the new lesson. Each week we went through 2 lessons (with 2 parts in each lesson), covering 10 chapters by the end of the course. Not only that, I had to meet up with my tutor twice a week. And on weekends, the other Project GO students and I were to able to do some activities like go to Chinatown and go to a Chinese restaurant, try to order and speak in Chinese, learn how to make Chinese dumplings, try Qigong, walk on the Freedom trail, and so on. This, however, is only my experience of Project GO. Each university and each program is different. And everyone will have their own experience, intake, and outtake of the program.

If you want to apply or want more information on the program, here is the Project GO website:

http://www.rotcprojectgo.org/

Boston skyline

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Pryanik: Russian Spice Cookies

Pryanik (Пряник) are Russian spice cookies. It is sweetbread filled with spices, marmalade, sweetened condensed milk, or caramelized milk. The spices used can be cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cardamom. It is often served as a snack with tea or coffee. The city of Tula is most famous for Pryanik. In fact, Tula even has its own museum dedicated to these cookies.

They come in many shapes and sizes, so they can be as simple or as elegant and nicely designed as you want them to be.

pryanik

Tylskuu pranik

Matryoshka dolls

Matryoshka dolls are wooden Russian nesting dolls, which are popular Russian souvenirs and often given as gifts. A matryoshka doll is taken apart in the middle, revealing a smaller doll. Matryoshka doll sets ranges from three to twenty dolls. The first matryoshka doll was created in 1890 in a workshop called “Children’s Education” in Abramtsevo.  It was inspired by Japanese souvenir dolls for kids. The outer most layer of a traditional matryoshka doll consists of a woman in a sarafan, and the inner most layer is a baby. Matryoshka dolls artistry can be very elaborate and often follow a theme. The name Matryoshka comes from the Russian girl name Matryona or Matriyosha, which comes from the Latin root ‘mater’ meaning ‘mother.’ The doll is considered to be a symbol for fertility and motherhood.

Matryohska