Thursday, September 2, 2010

Korea Day 1

First, I'll tell you about the flight. I thought this was going to be the worst flight I've been on yet since it's 14 hours and then some. But I was surprised. I had an empty seat next to me the entire flight so I could stretch out more than usual which helped tremendously. But overall, the plane was just very comfortable. We got warm towels and slippers as soon as we boarded which I had never received before. Not only that, our plane was the perfect temperature. Normally I'm cold and wiping my running nose the entire flight but I didn't have that problem this time around. I was able to sleep a good 6 hours which I hope will aid in the jet lag somehow.

Once I arrived in Korea I knew it was going to be an amazing year, but a challenging one as well. I would like to think I'm an accomplished traveler, having been to Europe twice and navigating through several countries on my own. But Korea is different. I actually feel like I'm in a new place, a foreign place. For the first time since I've been out of the states, I feel like I'm a foreigner. The biggest problem thus far has been money. I wasn't going to get money at the currency exchange, but I'm really glad I did. I have enough to get me through a couple days, but I'm definitely going to have to use an ATM at some point to get more cash out. Apparently international ATM's aren't that common here, so I'm going to have to go on a little search to find one. Spoiled me, I thought they would be as common as they were in Europe. This is something I have to get used to. Europe and Asia are both different continents than North America, yes. But just because Europe and Asia are foreign to me doesn't mean I can expect the same from the two of them. If that makes sense. I need to begin to separate the two.

When I got here my boss Jeff met me at the airport. He's very nice, but shy and soft spoken. He took me to the motel that I'm staying at until Amy, the girl I'm taking over for, leaves on Thursday. It's a nice, quaint place. I felt bad because I didn't take my shoes off when I came in the room. Jeff explained to me that in Korea it's very rude if I don't take my shoes off before I go inside. I knew that, but it didn't occur to me when I was struggling to bring an 80 pound suitcase inside. And even though he's not here anymore, I still take them off before I come in. So I don't feel so bad anymore.

He also did an indirect mention of "fan death." If you don't know what that is, google it. Basically, it's a strange superstition Koreans have about fans, heat and dying in the middle of the night. He told me that I shouldn't keep my fan and air conditioner on all night with a closed window. I kinda of giggled to myself because we don't have this thought in America, but apparently people have actually died due to this. And you know what? I don't doubt it for a second. Why? BECAUSE IT'S REALLY HOT AND HUMID HERE. I'm not kidding, as soon as I got off the plane I was amazed by the weather. I don't know how to explain it. It's just a sticky, muggy, heavy, wet feeling you get as soon as you step outside. It really is unbelievable. My hair is a mess.

Other than the humidity, I think I may be slowly falling in love with Korea. I met up with my friend Andy that's here and we went to lunch. We ate at a chicken place but I'm not sure what the name of it is. He ordered a chicken dish and asked me if I liked spicy, but I think my definition of spicy and Korea's definition differ. It was hot, but very good! It was just pieces of chicken and some sort of noodle in a hot sauce served with rice. Yum. He also told me there was a button to press if we wanted the waiter's attention and when it went off it sounded like a chicken. I wanted to press it but didn't have reason to.

I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment just because I have absolutely no contact with the outside world. My phone doesn't work and I can't connect to the internet from the motel. As soon as I move in I'll be able to get online which I'll feel a lot better about. It's a little hard to hear everyone talking about events, places, things they know about Korea. They all seem so familiar with the area and culture and I'm so unfamiliar with it. But I know it will get better.

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