I have been here a week, but I thought I’d update still. I finally made it to Korea. After 15 hours in the air and 5 hours spent in airport waiting during a layover or going through immigration, I finally walked through the gates a little before 5 p.m. on August 15 (which happened to be the Korean independence day called 광복절 gwang-bok-jeol). Despite being exhausted, seeing HB as I walk through the gates always makes me happy and gives me a blast of energy. It was rainy when we left. No surprise since usually when I’m here around July, their rainy seasons known as 장마. I thought it would be over, but HB informed me that they have two sort of rainy seasons and now is the one. I haven’t seen the sun since I arrived 6 days ago! Disappointing that I can’t go for a run, but I guess this is forcing me to study? Next week I start my three week Korean course at Ehwa Women’s University. I’ll definitely update about it. I visited the campus a year ago and it’s absolutely gorgeous!
So I have been working four years to get here and what do I do whenever I get here? Sleep. I had bad jetlag this time. I’ve been here three times before now, but I definitely couldn’t sleep more than 3 or 4 hours at a time, was constantly fatigued, and had bad headaches that made my eyes ache for a few days. HB doesn’t believe in medicine, and I typically don’t, but I inherited frequent headaches/migraines from my grandmother. Haha. First time I would kill for some Acetametaphine or Ibuprofin. Luckily, after a lot of sleep, I’m fine. I still wake up around 6, but that’s not a bad thing.
HB and I have went out a few times despite the weather, though. A few stations away is 서현 (Seo-Hyeon) station, part of the 분당 (Bun-Dang) area which is essentially like a downtown area about 30-40 minutes south of Seoul. There are tons of restaurants and places to shop (which is essentially Korean life). The Italian food here is pretty good. We tried this placed called Sole Mio (솔레미오) but it doesn’t compare to Banana Kitchen in 강남. When the rain stops, we’re definitely going to visit there.
On a different note, I have learned a few things already that perhaps I had forgotten. You guys might find them interesting:
- When on the train, as a foreigner, never… NEVER sit directly beside a 할머니 (Hal-Mo-Ni) or grandmother. She will almost definitely turn in her seat to stare at you, even if you are sitting directly beside her. This makes for an uncomfortable train ride, movie experience, dinner…
(On a side note, you’ll be stared at regardless of where you go. Just start to enjoy the attention. You’re exotic! But don’t take it wrong. Koreans are just intrigued and such nice people. I haven’t really met a unfriendly person while here.)
- When you see other foreigners, you secretly get really excited, but you will rarely exchange more than glances. It’s like spotting a rare animal but not knowing how to approach it. Best to leave it alone.
- Korean coffee shops do not KEEP REGULAR COFFEE ON DRIP. I worked at Starbucks for a year and frequented a local coffee shop during my university days. It is safe to say I love coffee. Coffee shops here are super cute but super backwards (at least to this American). If you get a drip coffee, you’re out of luck if you want cream/milk for it. You’re only getting simple syrup. Bottoms up!
- Koreans do everything fast. You better keep up. No slow and steady here.
- Maybe it’s an illusion, but despite the rain, Koreans (both men and women) stay incredibly cute. (I’m jealous of this, and so is my hair).
I will update more as things come up. Until then!