Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Video Update - It's 2009, yooo!!!

Videos/pictures from the plane with cutie Hannah, pictures of my neices Eunjin and Eunsung (who have grown so much in 4 years) and stuff from around campus.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 3! - The 29th.

Yesterday was Sunday so there wasn't any practice. I went downtown with Hye-Jin and we bought things that I needed like hangers for my clothes and laundry stuff. We also walked around and ate a lot of... EVERYTHING. Frozen strawberries covered in candy on a stick, green tea ice cream, and yummm free samples at the grocery store. It was heaven! We also took some sticker pictures (OH YEAH!) and I felt very Korean.

So today is Monday and was my first day of training. The team ate breakfast together at 7:20 and then walked to the archery range. It's FAR! I couldn't eat very much because I was too nervous about my first day. We got to the range at around 8:00. When we got there, the 1st years were already busy sweeping the floors. It's just what they're expected to do.

Once the building was clean, we went for a run around the track. Jogging for 4.5 laps and sprinting the last half. It definitely wasn't easy for me and I felt VERY out of shape. Just like the other day, everyone took turns leading the same cycle of dynamic stretches and at the end, did a cheer. "1-2-3 fighting!" (yeeaaaaah!!!)

From 9 am to noon, we shot and shot and shot. From 12-2, we had lunch at the cafeteria and had a very nice break. At 2, we stretched again and shot until 5. At 5, we all headed to the track and did the 5 laps. Dynamic stretching and a cheer. This time, the cheer was "oi, 수고했습니다"... which is how you tell someone that they worked hard. Just like Saturday, we all went back inside and stood in a line and listened to what the coach had to say about practice today. After the synchronized bow (it sounds so weird in English), practice was over.

I was VERY scared at the beginning of practice today. I was most concerned that I would shoot an arrow through one of the windows. Luckily, I didn't and I actually shot very well. There's something about shooting beside people who are so talented that it makes you work so much harder. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

We went out for 라볶이 (yummmm!) and now I'm just very very very tired.
I'm going to have to sleep early tonight and hopefully be ready for tomorrow.

I've been taking a lot of pictures and will post them soon!

Hye-Jin and I made a video so I'll have to post that soon too.

Day 1! (December 27, 2008)

Here's my first post from Korea! (I haven't been able to access a computer with internet until now.)

The 14 hour flight from Toronto to Incheon went by VERY quickly. I had an awesome emergency exit window seat so it was great. Hannah, the cutest girl ever, and I entertained each other for a lot of the trip so time just flew by.

At around 6 AM Korea time, I took a shuttle bus from Incheon airport to Daegu, where my coach picked me up and took me straight to the university. She gave me the choice of either going to the dorms or to the archery range and of course, I chose the range! As we pulled up in the parking lot, all the archers came outside to say hi. I felt very... special. I was especially happy to hear someone shouting "HIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!".. it was Hye-Jin, the friend I shot against in Taiwan.

The targets are outside but the archers stand inside a small, heated building and shoot through open windows. It's such a simple concept but allows them to shoot long distances all year round. After they everyone shoots their arrows, they all put on their winter coats and either walk or run to the targets. At noon, everyone put their bows away and headed for the track outside. It's an awesome track that goes around a soccer field and basketball court. I watched the archers run 4.5 laps and sprint the last half. My coach told me they either run 5 or 10 laps, depending on how she's feeling that day.

After the run, everyone came together in a circle and took turns leading dynamic stretches. Then they put their hands together and did a little cheer. Finally, everyone went back inside and stood in a line in front of the coach. I didn't know what they were doing so one of the guys gave me a nudge and told me how to stand - with my hands behind my back and feet shoulder-width apart. The coach then told us what she liked and what she didn't like about practice. Once she finished, we all had to bow together and practice was over for the day.

My cousin and his family stopped by the university and took all the archers out for dinner. I got a cell phone after dinner and when I made it to my dorm room, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cold feet...

OH MY GOSH! Where did all this snow come from?! It's so beautiful outside.. that is, until you have to shovel your way out of the driveway. Christmas is in 24 hours! I hope you have all your holiday shopping done. And if you aren't and you're planning on hitting the malls tomorrow, I SALUTE YOU, oh brave soldier!

I'm starting to get a little nervous about leaving. It's such a new experience for me... I have never been away from home and on my own for more than a week. I think that I'm thinking I think too much, I think. I'm getting anxious about things that I shouldn't worry about. Like, how people in Korea might judge me or whether I'll be able to follow along with conversations. BUT I seem to be worrying too much about things that I have no control over. SOoo.. I'm just going to chill out, sip on this amazing frozen hot chocolate my super cool sister made, and finish packing.

Thank you!
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Christmas/"Lee-ving" surprise party. It was such a special night for me and I really appreciated it. Thanks, Joan, for planning it.. you're very slick and I had absolutely no clue! Thank you so much, everyone!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


It was soooo much fun making this video.
I'll definitely have to make video updates a regular thing!
After having watched my video and hearing the horrendous noise that came out of my mouth at 0:52, I now understand what I put my sister through day after day.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008


It's December! The weather has been confusing me lately, as it always does this time of year in Toronto. Rain, wind, snow, rain, sun, snow. It keeps things interesting, I guess! It's the most wonderful time of the year! All the radio stations begin to play Christmas music, the streets light up with decorations, and crazy people start taking over the shopping malls! ahhh, it's lovely.

I'm glad to hear so many of you enjoyed my mom's comment on my last post. haha she's great... (did you hear that, umma? I love you! ^^)

Not much is happening right now. School will definitely be keeping me busy for the next two weeks.

My friends that I shoot with always enjoy learning words and phrases in Korean. So I figured it would be cool to teach some simple Korean through this blog! Here are some words and phrases you might find useful: (I took the images from shhh!!!)

"How are you?" (this is how you say "Hi!" politely)

ahn-nyong-i kah-se-yo
"Goodbye!" (literal translation is "go well")

"Thank you!" (formal)

"Western archery" (han-goong is Korean traditional archery)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Change in plans!

Madonna was right.. time goes by so slowly!
Okay, okay, okay. I should stop complaining about how long each day is and how many more days I have to endure.

"Coach" = coach in Korea (you never call a coach by their first name in Korea)
Joan is my actual coach here in Canada, but we all call her "Joan"

EARLY Sunday morning, my mom came running into my room with the kitchen phone in her hand. She said I had to get up and talk to my coach who was waiting on the line. My coach said that every year the university's archery team goes on a ski/snowboard trip right after Christmas for 3 days and 2 nights before they start training. The team looks forward to this trip every year and they always have an awesome time! Since I was planning on visiting my family in Busan for New Year's before heading to Daegu, the team thought it would be best to postpone the trip so that I could go along with them. But when my mom heard this, she insisted that we cancel my flight to Busan and go straight to Daegu! Now this means that they don't have to postpone the trip and that I can meet everyone on the team as soon as I arrive in Korea!

I am SOOOOOO-O-O-O excited. If I am good at anything, I know that I'm good at snowboarding. Thanks to my sister, I learned how to ride when I was 7. I loved it so much that I wanted to go to the Olympics for snowboarding after it first appeared in Nagano. My parents are relieved that I got into archery and replaced my snowboarding days with a sport where my two feet are firmly planted on the ground.

So for the three days of snowboarding, I'll do my best to thoroughly enjoy the time we have on the hills. Because for those three glorious days I'll be able to kick their butts on the slopes... but for the six months after that, they'll all be kicking my butt on shooting line.

What made me happiest about Sunday morning's phone call was what my coach said about the team. She said they are VERY excited that I'm coming to train with them. If they are anywhere near as excited as I am... that's pretty excited.

I'm excited.
They're excited.

one more time...


How many times can you use the same word in one blog post?

* Oh gosh, I just turned twenty. Woo... hoo...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"It's war!"

Why have the Koreans (or the Korean women) dominated the world of recurve archery for the past two decades? I think there are two things responsible. No, not rice and kimchi. I believe it's discipline and the sport system. Children begin the process of learning archery at the age of 10. I called it the "process of learning archery" because they don't get to shoot a single arrow until they have mastered perfect technique with an elastic band. This is rumored to be 6 months of practicing with a band. Can you imagine trying to implement this kind of training in North America? I don't think we would have any kids participating in the sport! It is also rumored that the first time a Korean child shoots a score at 30m (after 6 months of band practice), they typically shoot over 330 out of 360 points. Now, I don't know if these rumors are all true (I will try to find out) but I DO know that their sport system brings about results!

When I spoke to my coach in Korea over the phone last week, she talked about the national team trials for the 2009 World Championships and Asian Championships. Unlike the one-time deal type of trials (or two-time deal) here in Canada, there are several stages involved in Korean team trials. My coach said it's so intense, everyone is at each other's throats and it's like war. At the first stage, there were over 200 archers who shot the ranking round and went into eliminations. After eliminations, only the top 32 went on to the second stage. My friend, Hye-Jin, (who I talked about in my last post) made it to the top 32! The second stage was held this past week and again, it consisted of a ranking round and eliminations. This time, only the top 13 (per gender) along with the 3 men and 3 women who went to the Olympics advance to the next stage. I checked the Korean Archery Association website to check the results and WOWWW Hye-Jin made it! I am SO HAPPY for her!

There will be a training camp held sometime during the winter where Hye-Jin and the other archers will fight for the six coveted spots (3 men and 3 women).

The talent runs so deep in the Korean archery system that it seems no matter who makes the team, they'll end up kicking butt anyway. I remember in 2004, Park Sung Hyun (my ultimate archery hero) said in an interview that making the national team is harder than winning gold at the Olympics. It's no wonder why for the past two decades the Korean women have dominated the international scene when all their competition is sitting back at home.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seven weeks

Each day progressively gets painfully loooonnnger.

Tick... tock...

It's kind of like the last few days of school before summer break - except that this feeling of impatience has come 7 weeks earlier. In an attempt to pass the time, I started reading Harry Potter again. (I only read the first book when it came out) so now, I'm starting again from the beginning.

OH! A few days ago, I called my coach in Korea (my real coach is Joan, here in Canada) and she handed the phone over to Hye-Jin, a friend I made at University Worlds! In Taiwan, Hye-Jin was the top ranked archer going into eliminations and I just happened to meet her in the second round. Of course, after a nail-biter of a match in the first round, I was already thrilled that I had made it through to the second round! I ended up losing to Hye-Jin but I was still smiling from ear to ear at the end of the match. For some reason, getting eliminated by a Korean makes it okay or much easier to accept. Anyway, Hye-Jin is just as excited about me coming to train with her as I am!

Left: With Hye-Jin; Right: They made it their goal to make me do these "A" hand signs.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who have been checking my blog, commenting, and encouraging me through other means of communication! It's nice getting such great feedback! As of right now, these blog posts might be a little dull.. but they'll definitely get more interesting once Christmas rolls around.

I added a couple "gadgets" to my blog. If you look to the right, you'll see a clock that shows what time it is in Korea and just below it you can watch some of my practice videos I post on YouTube. But I'm warning you, those videos are pretty boring (I use them to learn). Some might find it interesting to see how my form has changed over time.

Okay, take care!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fear of Failure

My wonderful cousin, Ann, gave me the idea of starting this blog. (Thank you, Ann!) I thought it was a great idea! I immediately got on this website and created an account. But as soon as I logged on for the first time, I hesitated. This blog meant that people who are close to me will see that I have a dream, which is to one day make it to the Olympics. BUT if I never make it to the Olympics, everyone will see that I failed.

I think I've always been afraid of failure. In grade 9, I ran for the position of Junior Mayor on the student council. I really put a lot of effort into the campaign and in the end I failed. After that, I decided never to put myself in such a vulnerable position again. I can see how my fear snuck its way into such simple, everyday things. This might be a silly example.. but when playing the drums, I would have this ongoing struggle in my mind (while playing the song). One part of me wanted to play a difficult fill that would probably sound cool and the other part of me wanted to play it safe with a simple fill. And when it came time, I would almost always play it safe. Whenever I did go for that cooler sounding, more difficult fill, I hesitated and got off beat... failure.

In so many aspects of my life, I self-limited myself because I was afraid I would fail.

When talking about archery with friends, I would often hear things like, "cool! What do you want to do with archery? Go to the Olympics?" I would always reply with a safe answer.. "mm yeah maybe, we'll see." Yep, I would give a safe answer while on the inside, I knew SO clearly that my answer should have been a solid, "YES!"

So, I'm trying to be brave and I'm letting everyone in. I'm letting you follow along my journey to achieving my dreams even with a lot of uncertainty as to whether I'll actually achieve them or not. Even the URL to my blog http://koreatolondon tells everyone about my aspirations. So now, I'm putting myself "out there". I feel vulnerable but at the same time, I feel liberated.

Whether or not I make it to the Olympics is an insignificant detail. If I fail, I'll accept that. But I'll be content with the fact that I was brave enough to try.
I guess there's no better way to end this post than with a cheesy quote..

"Accomplishments will prove to be a journey, not a destination." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ciao! Mi chiamo Vanessa.

This was a great week. Why? Because my friend, Jessica from Italy, was visiting Toronto.

The first time we met was in Taiwan for the World University Championships in July. She told me she was planning on visiting Toronto sometime during the Fall so I gave her my email, cell number, and address so that we could meet up.

Early September, I was on the FITA (International Archery Federation) website following the results from the World Field Championships. HOLY COW!!! Jessica, this friend I made in Taiwan, not only kicked butt during the ranking round, she dominated right until the end and won gold! Daaang, I was friends with a world champion!

So once she got to Toronto, she gave me a call and we met up.
On Monday, along with my friend Melissa, we did a bit of shopping at the good ol' Toronto Eaton Centre, chowed down on Pad Thai and spring rolls, and went to archery practice. It's not too often you get a chance to share your bow with a world champion. Shooting on Monday was definitely a night to remember.

We met again on Friday. I decided I didn't want her to go back to Italy without having had a poutine. mmm poutine... She loved it. Mission accomplished! We went to archery practice and this time, with the help of my coach and friends, we had a full bow set up for her. It was great and I think she appreciated it. Alana, Crispin, Melissa and I left a bit early to take Jess bowling (sorry Joan and Gary for splitting like that). Here's a word of advice: stay alert when bowling with Jessica because there's a pretty good chance that a bowling ball's coming your way! hahaha There was a lot of crazy dancing, singing off-key, and gutter balls. All in all, it was a great night. We all agreed that if given the chance, we would keep Jessica forever.

She's leaving on Tuesday.
Ahh I'm really gonna miss her.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Oh yeah, I should probably let you know why I'm going to Korea! haha

I'm going to be training for archery. I met a wonderful Korean coach while I was at University Worlds and she was really interested in helping me out. She invited me to come to her university and train with the team there. I won't be taking any academic courses, but if I get the chance, I'd like to take an intermediate Korean course or something like that.

Sooo, the school is in Daegu, one of the largest cities in South Korea. It's closer to the southeastern side of the country, where people have thick, thick accents.

I'll be in Korea for about 6 months. This is an opportunity many people would kill for. I'm going to make the most of this trip!

hmm... I already know that the 6 months of training is definitely not going to be easy. I'm excited, but at the same time I'm scared out of my mind.

Plane Ticket!

On the subway ride home, my mom told me over the phone that she booked my plane ticket to Korea! I shrieked and people turned to see where the high-pitched noise came from. YAAAAAAY!!! The big day is December 25... Christmas! I'll stop in Incheon for a few hours and then fly to Busan, where I'll be spending New Years with my cousins. Daegu's just about an hour away from Busan so it won't be difficult getting there.

I'm so excited. But it still doesn't feel like I'm going yet. The next 2 months are going to go by sooooo slowwwwwly.

I really like this idea of blogging. It's a great way to stay in touch and let everyone at home know what's going on. So check back often (especially after I leave for Korea) if you want to learn about all the ancient secrets to the success of Korean archers! ... or if you just want to see what I'm up to.