Friday, January 2, 2009

Forget the setbacks - we're in Korea!

So skipping all the details, the waiting and the final decision to go (with only three weeks notice), Sara and I are in Korea! Our plane left at noon on December 31st and we arrived January 1st at 10pm - and no, they didn't serve champagne in cattle class. The flight was about 12 hours from Portland to Tokyo and two hours from Tokyo to Seoul, but all in all, it didn't feel that bad.

Our apartment is pretty small, but has radiant floor heating, which is great. I never knew I liked having warm feet until now. We got a bunch of kitchen / bath supplies as well as groceries - I didn't think ahead of time how much you have to have to set up a home.

Sara and I have been walking around and exploring - back streets, alleyways, subways, etc. Her new employer showed us where she's going to teach - a pretty swanky place in a swanky part of town - and gave us some tips on riding the subway, etc.

At first, we didn't have a dictionary, so food was pretty hit or miss - just select a random thing off of a menu (unless there were pictures). I had some great udon noodles today and also some seafood fried rice. We took a paper menu home and have been working on translating it so that we are better in the know.

We went into a Dunken Donuts to get a coffee and what we got was a shot of drip coffee into a cup full of hot water - a bastard Americano if you will. Ordering Americanos is much more productive, although not up to Portland standards.

In general, people don't pay us too much attention, but on the subway, I notice a lot of people looking at my beard. An old man came up and talked to us in English (the first time we've been approached) and asked where we were from. He told me he liked my beard and gave it a little poke. Then he said he was 80 years old and got off the subway. Very cute. We've seen very few white people thus far - they stick out like a sore thumb though.

In all the shopping and eating out that we've done so far, we have encountered close to no English speakers. Fortunately, it is easy enough to say hello, yes, no and thank you in Korean. The exchange rate is killer and things are pretty cheap regardless.

So far I'm in great spirits - I keep on forgetting I'm in Korea to be honest - it seems more like a giant Korea Town. Being connected to people around the world and news sources in English helps, but I know that at some point it will hit me that I'm thousands of miles away from everything I know and understand. I've done some reading on living abroad and there are set stages you go through:
  • Everything is new and exciting
  • Everything is foreign and confusing
  • Everything sucks and you want to go home
  • You get over yourself and everything is just OK
It'll be interesting to see myself go through these stages - I'm definitely in the first stage - I wonder if knowing about them will help when I hate the world!


1 comment:

Jennifer Jane said...

In my experience you'll go through rather the everything sucking part, you'll go through an exhaustion from having to TRY so hard to figure everything out all the time. I guess one can say that's everything sucking, but for me it was just annoyed at how much I had to focus all the time to get from point A to point B in a foreign language. Yeah, just get past that and you'll be fine. Comfort food helps as does movies/books.