Joe Olmstead

Korea

Hometown: Tampa, Florida
School: Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School
Sponsor District : District 6890
Sponsor Club: New Tampa, Florida
Host District:   3600

Host Club: The Rotary Club of Pyeongtaek

 

My Bio


안녕하세요. My name is Joe Olmstead. I am one of the lucky outbounds for South Korea 2015-2016. I am currently a Junior at Brooks Debartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa, Florida. In school I have developed an interest in the topics of Physics, Engineering, and Psychology. Outside of school I practice twice a week at my local fencing studio. I have been fencing for five years, and have participated in local competitions as well as a few national level competitions.

Throughout my life I have also had a passion for drawing, illustrating, and creating stories and worlds all of which I hope to one day publish in some format. I also very much love to sing, and I am currently (very slowly) teaching myself to play piano. In my free time I spend a fair amount of time consuming various forms of media, including anime, videogames, and many different genres of music. I also enjoy going to various conventions dedicated to those forms of media of which I am an avid fan.

I often cosplay (dress up as) my favorite characters from videogames and shows. I decided to go into Rotary Youth Exchange because I recognize the opportunity to live a year abroad with a native family presents a uniquely life changing experience, and believe I will become a better person as a result. I have an intense passion to learn of that which is foreign to me, and such places as far away as Korea were very high on my list of desired countries. I have always wanted to travel and experience the world like this, and to see all the beauty that it has to offer. 감사합니다.

Me and my Host Mother at my first Rotary meeting

Me and my Host Mother at my first Rotary meeting

Me, my Host Mother, and my Coordinator (from right to left)

Me, my Host Mother, and my Coordinator (from right to left)

My school

My school

Chuseok ceremonies

Chuseok ceremonies

Me at the 광화문 (Gwanghwamun)

Me at the 광화문 (Gwanghwamun)

Yongsan Station Doraemon Festival

Yongsan Station Doraemon Festival

The Great Sweet Potatoing of 2015

The Great Sweet Potatoing of 2015

Me and the fam before the Pyeongtaek Marathon

Me and the fam before the Pyeongtaek Marathon

Me and squad at Everland

Me and squad at Everland

Big group picture of my class after the Everland trip

Big group picture of my class after the Everland trip

Me at the DMZ

Me at the DMZ

Quality pic of the pup

Quality pic of the pup

Me, family, friends, and rotary members dressed for volunteering

Me, family, friends, and rotary members dressed for volunteering

English village entrance seen from inside

English village entrance seen from inside

The main gate of Chinatown

The main gate of Chinatown

Me n my Bro at the Musical Concert

Me n my Bro at the Musical Concert

Me n the Bro with our fashionable towel hats

Me n the Bro with our fashionable towel hats

The feets gettin' eats by the fishies

The feets gettin' eats by the fishies

Me, the Bro, and the Dad all getting our feets eats by fishes

Me, the Bro, and the Dad all getting our feets eats by fishes

SNOW!

SNOW!

The big spa place

The big spa place

Quality pic of the drawing yo

Quality pic of the drawing yo

Quality pic of the fish market where the fam has their restaurant

Quality pic of the fish market where the fam has their restaurant

Pic from the museum!

Pic from the museum!

Skiing selfie yo B-)

Skiing selfie yo B-)

Quality pic of Gyeongijeon Hall and the hanboks yo

Quality pic of Gyeongijeon Hall and the hanboks yo

Quality pic of drum lessons

Quality pic of drum lessons

Pic of how ugly the dog looks now lmao

Pic of how ugly the dog looks now lmao

Museum Picturey back in time type exhibit thing that fam and I participated in

Museum Picturey back in time type exhibit thing that fam and I participated in

A museum exhibit my man B-)

A museum exhibit my man B-)

Boat Tour Selfie!

Boat Tour Selfie!

The dank memein' snow village at night

The dank memein' snow village at night

The Museum itself yo

The Museum itself yo

The Roasting of the Walnuts n such

The Roasting of the Walnuts n such

Journals: Joe - Korea 2015-2016

  • Joe, outbound to Korea

    Alright yo yo yo what's my my friendos, I'm back once again with more of these hot Korea deets and the latest in the life of the Joe 2 the Olmstead yehaw.

    So last time in my thrilling tales of adventure, I was staying with my Host Uncle/Aunt's family and had just gone to Gyeongijeon hall. Well I ended up staying with that family for a bit longer than I expected (a full month to be exact, but by now I am in fact back at my host family's house) and we had lots of adventures! One thing that started up was I began taking Piano lessons over there in Boryeong, which were really fun! I actually gained some minor competence in piano, learned an Adele song, and learned that these here Koreans (and apparently a lot of other Asian countries) use Do Re Mi and so on instead of the letters for notes like we do in the good ol' U S of A.

    Another thing that happened that might be described as a singular event rather than a lengthy series of events like Piano lessons, was when me and the fam went to this rad Snow Village! No idea where it was, never actually asked, we just kinda showed up there and it was super hype! They had tons of snow sculptures and even some wild snow slidey type ride things (they were intense, my butt hurt afterwards). Also at the end of the day, we all stood around a fire and roasted walnuts. It was certainly an experience I'd never had before and I suppose that's one of the best parts of exchange lmao.

    Another thingaroo that happened was we went to a Modern History Museum in Gunsan! It was pretty neat, we saw plenty of things and stuff pertaining to the development of Modern Korea, and more specifically Gunsan. So yeah! A day or two after that me, my host cousin, and her friend went on a boat tour, which was fun! A bit after that event thingy (which was pretty much one of my last days in Boryeong with that family) we went to another relative's house to celebrate the Korean New year, much in the same fashion that we'd celebrated Chuseok. We just stayed over, woke up early, and honored ancestors before eating and heading home (of course, I ended up heading back to my original host family's house rather than the family that I'd stayed with the past month.) And thus was the end of my adventures in Boryeong! Since then I've mostly just been chilling at my host fam's house, studying some and doing some art stuff (also me n' the bro saw Kung Fu Panda 3 which was hype) so yeah! That's all the latest in my life.

    To see my homepage and some photos click HERE


  • Joe, outbound to Korea

    Hey there kiddies! So as of this moment I just heard that them there new outbounds just had their orientation, so if you're reading this and all, AYYYYYYE what's up buddo. Of course you can't respond but I guess it was a retorical greeting. Though is what's up ever really not rhetorical? I guess it is sometimes not rhetorical but whatever I guess it doesn't matter buddo. Anyway I'M BACK BUDD back with amazing stories for my beloved parental units, and tiny bits of advice for you discerning RYE outbounds yo yo yo. Anyway kids here we go.

    So since I last typed here, something interesting happened, not really much to write about, but the dog got a haircut! She looks ridiculous. Pic below. Anyway, one thing that happened is I went to a local museum built out of an old school. There was a lot of stuff in there, from historical things to recent art projects. Just kinda a culture/korea museum? All around p interesting I'd say. Also I went skiing! I went with my host cousin, her brother, his girlfriend, his friend, and my host brother. It was nice because I got to use my korean more than I normally do and also because it was the first time I've actually gotten the chance to ski since the last mass extinction! So good times all around kiddies.

    As of late I've found myself sort of adopted temporarily by my host uncle/aunt's family. Ya see, I was told I would only be shipped over here for about a week to get to know everyone and have a good time, but due to weird complications with the date of arrival, the date of departure was left undecided, and eventually I (a person who only packed for a week) ended up with a departure date after about a month of staying here. Note: I don't actually mind, the family here is really sweet and great, I'm just missing a few supplies.

    Anyway, the home I've found myself in is in Boryeong-si, Sinheug-dong. It's RIGHT on the sea (like, I can see the ocean from the window in the family apartment) and my host fam here actually owns a seafood restaurant down the hill from the apartment, where I get most of my meals. It's a really cool environment here because unlike my host family's house in Songtan, almost no one speaks any english, so I've been forced to use Korean a lot more, which has made me realize how much I know, taught me a lot, and has alleviated a lot of my stresses about language learning since I feel like I'm making actual major progress in learning now! Whilst here I've done some learning of Korean drums, painting, AND I got to visit the Gyeongijeon Hall in Jeonju WHILST wearing a hanbok. Good times kids.

    So I guess now I'll just talk a little bit about advice and stuff regarding the country so here we go. In case you're wondering - no, you won't have to eat any dog. The stuff's rare and p much all Koreans are super understanding that it freaks out foreigners. You may have to eat intestines, larvae, lung, and a few other things tho (don't worry, the intestines are like some of the best food in all of korea imo). Korean Rotary is SUPER hands off so you'll probably not be dragged along by Rotary to too many events? Just kinda do your thing and enjoy what ya can budd. Also, in case no one else tells u, a T-Money card is your ticket to getting around here in Korea budd. It's just a bus/train pass that you can put money on. Good times. Another thing, if you really want to go to an Aquarium, but don't feel like paying an entrance fee, just go to a fish market here. Good times.

     To see my homepage click HERE

     

     

     


  • Joe, outbound to Korea

    Yo yo yo your favorite Korean exchange student is back with the hottest news on his Korean escapades. Things have kinda remained slow recently so I'll probably keep the event update kinda shorter than previous entries yehaw.

    So alright since I last updated my thousands of anxious fans on here, I've been to an event in Seoul called the "Musical Concert" a name that I was initially confused by (thinking that it was a simple awkward translation) but it turned out to be a concert of songs primarily from musicals. The performers were excellent and it was quite interesting to see how western culture, namely singing styles and stories had made their way into the Korean popular culture. I went there with my Host Mom and Host Bro as well as a few friends of my Host Mother's, and so our car ride was filled with my introduction and some of my awkward attempts to converse and introduce myself in Korean.

    One thing that was pretty interesting was the fact that it started snowing! This has been my first time living long termish in an area that actually snows so it was quite a joy to see. What was less of a joy was attempting to navigate the slippery and watery mess that was the sidewalks. It was pretty nice initially but there was one day when I came home with my socks soaked and another when I actually fell on the ground because there was honestly no non-slippery ground. Either way, it's been pretty fun! (Despite how bloody freezing it's been).

    The most recent event of notability for me was heading to a new sauna with the fam. While that doesn't sound like the most wild of adventures, it was a bit more interesting than you might think. You see, in case I've not mentioned in my other journals, me and my family has been going to the local sauna together every Sunday for the past few weeks. The facility we've been going to consisted of two simple rooms for either gender with pools and steam rooms and such, but this facility was that and so much more. It was called Roman bath and was a good way away from our home, at its entrance it leads into two rooms similar to the regular spa back home, but once you finished getting all steamed up and such, it lead into a larger room which both genders were allowed to be in (only after putting clothes on however). The larger room had many steam rooms installed as well as an arcade, massage chairs, restaurants, and even more. It was quite an impressive facility and we ended up spending just about the entirety of the day there. One fun thing that I did there was have my feet nibbled on by fish. You see, they had little pools filled with tiny fish, which you would place your feet in and the fish would clean your feets up by nibbling off excess matter and all that somesuch. Good times.

    Alright so that's my update. Now that we've come to the end-ish of this particular journal I thought I'd just include some tips for potential Koreadventurers who might be reading this, so here we go. 1) Learn vocabulary LEARN VOCABULARY, it will help so much in comprehension, and really you can just figure out a lot of grammar on your own as long as you have plenty of vocabulary okay good heavens it's important. 2) Kimchi and rice together are really good. Idk this is common knowledge but yeah there ya go. 3) Learn to enjoy spicy food if you don't already. Yes this is necessary. 4) If you're a gamer, get into league of legends. I promise it will help you make friends(I'm not sure how well this will work among girls as I've only tested it at a male only school). 5) Scarves are your friend during winter.

    That's all I can remember right now so that's all kids yehaw B-)

    To see my home page and some photos click HERE


  • Joe, outbound to Korea

    Wowo okay here we are a few days late past the submittal date but its fine kids its fine... Alrighty then, It has been yet another month since my last journal and I'm back again on the block with more info for all you crazy kids.

    So one very major event that has occured here in the 조 family home, is that we got a dog! Yes, we have finally claimed a furry beast to call our own. Her name is Mimi (I call her Meme) and she is a maltese puppy! When we got her she was only a week or two old, and was very very tiny. She has since grown a bit, but is still just a little ball of fluffy energy. So far she's gotten really attached to my host brother, and he to her. It's all pretty cute over all.

    Another neat thing that happened is I visited Incheon! I stayed with a friend of my Host Mom's over the weekend and just sort of visited around. My first day was spent mostly at their house with some shopping and such as well. On Saturday I went to Chinatown and journeyed around there for a bit with a friend of the woman I was staying with. Chinatown was pretty rad yo. The various displays of art and statues were quite impressive and I loved the sort of temple covered mountain type area at the center. On Sunday the family I was staying at took me to visit their church, and after that I headed back to my home here in Songtan.

    Upon what I recall being the following weekend, my host mother, a few members from the Rotary club, one of their sons, and I, all went to the DMZ. We visited there for a bit, had some good food, and even participated in a festival that was going on at the time! After we finished up with our tour there, we drove over to the local "English Village". This was something that can only really be described as being like some sort of disneyfied combination of an American colonial village, an English country town, and a non-nondescript European castle. It was a rather surreal experience to be there as it was a sort of foreigner's take on western(specifically english) culture. After wandering the streets of English Village for a bit, we headed over to one of the buildings there and ended up working as volunteers with a large group of individuals in this sort of festivity, the reason for which I don't particularly recall(whoops). Either way, it was a good time and I ended up getting a free pink volunteer shirt out of it yehaw. B-)

    The next day of that same weekend, I ended up participating in the Pyeongtaek Marathon! We had to get up at a rather early time of 6am(ish) much to the upset of me and my host brother, but nonetheless we got up and got to the place on time. The event itself was pretty nice, a good 10k run with cars as the winner's prizes (I did not win). Every time I slowed down to walk for rest, I would often have my fellow participants greet me with words of encouragement to keep going, it was quite an inspiring thing and kept me running a bit more than I might've otherwise been willing to. In the end I ended up running alongside a fellow American who I found running along, and we crossed the finish line together as a symbol of American freedom and independence and such yehaw B-)

    One final thing to mention tho, I think about a week or two ago, I went to Everland! It was a school trip, specifically for schools in Pyeongtaek, and as such I went with my school homies B-). Due to the event being open to so many students tho, the park was extremely packed, with waits upward of an hour or two on some rides. Needless to say, me and my friends didn't get to go on too many rides, but we still had a good time over all, especially with the haunted house they had there.

    And yeah I guess that about raps up what I've been up to event-wise. I'm not sure if I have any advice or anything for any of you crazy Koreabound kids who may or may not be reading this, but either way, dank memes to all of you my friends. B-)

    To see my home page and some photos click HERE


  • Joe, outbound to Korea

    Hey kiddies, I'm back again with more quality journal related content. It's been around a month since my last journal, and a number of things have happened so lets get into it kids.

    Last time I wrote in this here journalroo thingadoo, I had been through a rather wild course of initial events introducing me to this here Korea country creating for a rather different attitude in writing than the one I'm making now. Maybe it's a thing of my personality or maybe it's just a thing of the situation I'm in, but I've found myself entering a sort of "new normal" what I mean, is that I've sort of found a grounding in this once distant land. I've gotten used to the usual schedule of waking up and going to school, of what times I have lunch, of what friends I usually hang out with, and all that one might normally find to be the norm in a highschool life. Essentially I've sort of created a stable and normal life for myself in this new home. I think it's a bit too soon to personally decide for myself what I think of that, but I suppose it may indicate that I've fit in quite well? This feels like something I might've heard about if I actually read a bit further into other previous exchange student's journals (if you're still reading these journals of mine, good on you, buckaroo) either way, I guess it wasn't anything major that I needed to be warned about right? I mean, I'm not really experiencing any manifestation of anxiety any longer, and I'm generally comfortable where I'm at in learning the language and getting used to the situation, so, it's all good in the hood kids.

    Anyway, since I last wrote I've been to Seoul twice, my first visit was with my brother and his friend, just looking around Yongsan station and seeing the rad Doraemon festival that was going on there, while my second time was a more complete tour of the city along with the son of one of the members of my Rotary club. We made sure to visit plenty of neat tourist destinations and eat only the most quality of foods(unfortunately we didn't make it to the figurine store that we were gonna go to at the end of the day however, which was truly the greatest travesty of my life) all in all, a good trip!

    Also a thing that happened since my last journal: Chuseok! A thing commonly described to me as "Korean Thanksgiving", Chuseok is a yearly harvest festival in Korea, upon which, I got a week off of school (heckie yeah) and had several neat adventures! On the first day of the break, my family got ready and headed over to my host dad's brother's house (host uncle's house??) and we had a meal together before staying the night. The following day, we traveled to several other family's houses and proceeded with the main celebration of Chuseok, good food was eaten, and good times were had yo. The next day, my family and I met up with the family members we had celebrated Chuseok with at a local cemetery to pay respects to the dead and have a quick snack. Later that week of Chuseok, I also went harvesting sweet potatoes with my host mom and members of my rotary club. Good times on Chuseok yehaw B-).

    I suppose those are all of the big updates on my life to put in the journal? I dunno we're also getting a puppy later this week which is cool. Yeah there it all is my compatriots wahoo B-)

    P.S. Another protip for my future Korean outbounds that might be reading this: Bring your own toilet paper to school. Do it. Seriously. They don't have their own toilet paper there, nor do they have tissues. Just bring a roll and keep it in your bag. Seriously like this is super important kids, ya gotta do it yo.

    To see my home page and some photos click HERE


  • Joe, outbound to Korea

    Alright so here we go kids, first journal. So I've been in Korea for about 2 weeks or so now, and it already feels like I've been here for so much longer.

    I suppose I should go back and start with a few details on the flight, since that's where it all began. The flights were generally uneventful, aside from a bit of crying when I left, everything went smoothly and I really don't have much to report from that whole ordeal. The only notable thing from my flights is that I did meet a Canadian RYE student traveling on the same flight to Korea as me! We made sure to swap pins and contact info of course. After the following flight however, is when my true journey began.

    As soon as I got off, I was taken by the sudden presence of Hangeul on all of the signs. I guess the reality that I was in Korea was hammered home by that? Either way, I made my way through the airport, following the crowds and asking help from what English speakers I could find my bag and the exit. Without even exiting the baggage claim area, my host mother spotted me and began to excitedly wave to me, she and my coordinator were there waiting for me with a sign, apparently having gotten a bit worried as to when I would be arriving, since I'd been taking a somewhat long time. Upon meeting the two of them, I quickly realized that this exchange would be one in which I met some of the nicest people I've ever known.

    My first week here in Korea was a calm yet eventful one. I didn't start school until my second week, so I spent the majority of my time at home or off adventuring with my family. My mother was the main individual to interact with me, her English is quite good, and we made sure to give each-other tips on speaking one-another's language. On Thursday, I went to my first Rotary club meeting in Korea. It was a bit smaller than home, but I had long since learned that was a feature of Korean cities. I was surprised to find that the club was made up entirely of women, with my host mother of course being the president. All of the members greeted me and were very nice. At that meeting I ended up issuing a short speech that my host mother had written for me to introduce myself that morning. I made my fair amount of mistakes, but of course everyone clapped and kindly complimented my ability to speak Korean.

    My second week was one that began on Sunday night, with me being swamped with messages and friend requests from Korean high school students from the school I would be going to, they having been long since notified of my coming arrival, apparently. My Monday immediately began with dramatically new experiences, as I had to take the public bus alone to get to school, a thing I'm generally unaccustomed to, being one from Florida which is a state equipped with a rather lackluster public transportation system.  

    Once I made it to school I was immediately being greeted left and right by eager and amazed high school students. Constant "hello"s and other attempts to practice English greetings could be heard all around me, with students often jumping up and peering out their classroom door to see the American. When I arrived in class, I was greeted with cheers and clapping, and groups of people coming to greet me. I found myself with a massive group of new friends that day, friends I'm sure I'll find myself becoming closer with over my time here in South Korea.

    My school week went on progressively calmer after that initial hectic day of new found friends. My favorite class has unsurprisingly become English, primarily because my teacher is kind and very willing to talk and ask input of me. My English teacher even teaches me Korean after lunch every day of school! It's a service that I am extremely thankful for in all honesty. The other teachers have a certain degree more difficulty communicating with me, but each of them is nonetheless extremely kind, and always willing to offer a smile.

    In just two weeks, I've found myself in love with this country, it's people, and of course its food. The cities are hectic but cozy, and the countryside is simply beautiful. The weather is much more varied than it is back home, and there are cute dogs on almost every corner. If you're reading this in some distant future, a future outbound to Korea yourself, I can tell you, that if you keep an open mind and a smile on your face, you will fall in love with this place faster than you might think.

    Oh also protip my dawgs, in case you plan on using a bathroom here in Korea, one thing I'm sure many of you will likely need to do, there's a pretty good chance that you'll not want to flush the toilet paper. Some places don't mind, but at a lot of others, there's a special bin for the stuff, and if you flush it, serious harm may be caused to the plumbing. Just some advice.

    To see my page and some pictures click HERE


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