Friday, February 19, 2010

1st 24 hours in Korea

Wow... That is probably the only word that accurately describes my first day in Korea. Craig and I saw a lot, got lost more than a few times, met some cool people, and saw things we never imagined we would ever see!

The morning started at 8am for me (3pm central time) and I got up and noticed my face was still swollen, the bendaryl failed! I hopped into the shower and got to experience what a Korean shower is like. In Korea, its common that you have a shower head over your sink, and that the whole bathroom turns into your shower. Everything gets wet, toilet and all! I thought I had conquered the showering aspect until a few minutes later when I got a rude awakening. I was fully dressed and tried washing my hands in the sink, only to realize I hadnt switched the water back to the faucet... needless to say I got soaked! Lesson learned though...

After getting ready, I went to Craigs room and we explored the street in front of our housing just to see whats around us. We found many bars, street restaurants, 7-11s and other stores like it, cell phone shops, and quite a few other vendors. We then headed back to our housing where our new boss, Nicole, was picking us up to take us to school. Upon arriving, she offered to take us to lunch and we accepted. We had a great Korean beef meal and she taught us how to eat it properly by wrapping kimchi and beef in a piece of lettuce. She also bought us beer during lunch and showed us that you can mix it with Sprite to make a tasty beverage! Everyone should try this, we did about a 50/50 mix and I enjoyed it.

Soon after lunch, Nicole brought us to the school which is on the 3rd floor of the building. It shares the building with a supermarket, bank, and a coffee shop. On the floor with the school is a dentist and a pharmacy! She took us to the bank at first so that we could exchange our money for the Korean Won. Craig got a great deal since the banker new Nicole well. I, on the other hand, was unable to get money withdrawn because the bank wasnt able to handle my debit card. I enjoyed the name of the bank, Wooribank, because worrying is something I dont want to associate with banking!

We finally made it up to the school and took a tour. We spoke with many of the teachers and it just made me so much more excited to get started working! Our new coordinator Mandy was very helpful answering questions even walked us to the bus stop. Craig and I took her directions to get to the bank so I could finally withdraw some cash, then go to the Electronic Market in Yongsan. We didnt listen too well and got off about 6 stops too late! We walked back and noticed many odd things on the way: 1) drunk man passed out at 5pm on the sidewalk. 2) Motorcycles driven on the sidewalk head on into the people walking. 3) a place called "Baby Motel". Im not sure what this place is, and dont care to find out! 4) Korean bus drivers love to slam on the gas, then immediately hit the brake. 5) Seoul is very dirty, but incredibly beautiful with tons of charm and personality. 6) Communication is like a game of charades, and knowing how to say "hello", "Thank you", "Please", and "Goodbye" get you very far! People are very helpful, but the younger the person means that most likely their english is better. At one point we even stopped to use the restroom. As we walked into a building, I heard an older gentleman speak in English "Can I help you?". I told him we were looking for the bathroom and he pointed downstairs. I looked at Craig as the escalator was not working and the lights were off. We walked down the escalator and saw the whole basement was empty and dark. I looked at Craig and mentioned that I thought that this was where they would kill us. It was an unusual site, but we finally found the bathroom in the very back corner.

The Electronic Market in Yongsan is incredible! We went to ET Land and just walked around. Each floor specialized in something different (Computers, TV's, Cameras, etc). We found it odd though, that there were like 20 stores on each floor selling the same product! How do businesses survive like that? Craziness! We bought a couple adapters a transformer so that we could charge our laptops and be able to use other electronics. After shopping, we decided to head home but went too far and got to see Seoul National University. I think the bus driver then yelled at us for not ever getting off the bus! We took the next bus stop and started walking, trying to figure out where we were. Craig said he was hungry and had a craving for American food... I told him he was crazy but that I would oblige since I wasnt that hungry. We decided to stop at Pizza Hut. We soon found out that Pizza here cost about twice as much as it does back home, so got the "Best Sampler" which consisted of BBQ pork chunks, quesadillas, potato skins, and hot wings. This food looked exactly like stuff youd find at Wal-Mart, and thats not a good thing! We did enjoy pushing the button at the table though, which tells a waitress that you request her. After dinner, we began walking home and noticed that we live within a block or 2 of a McDonalds.... its funny how we fly 6000 miles across the world and land so close to a McDonalds!

Tomorrow is Saturday and Im not quite sure what is in store for us, but we will probably just walk around and explore some more of this beautiful country!


  1. What an experience! Hope your face feels better soon. I laughed out loud about the McD's comment.

    Anything different about their menu? Like sizes are often smaller portions and sometimes called different things... and I don't think they serve the McRib overseas!


  2. Looks like you're headed right into a wonderful adventure!