I’m pretty sure I started a tradition…
Let the fun begin!
I’m pretty sure I started a tradition…
Let the fun begin!
The last few days it has become quite clear to me that many things here in South Korea do indeed remind me of where Tom and I come from originally (The Midwest United States.) Let me give you some examples and perhaps maybe you can understand exactly what I mean.
The past few days we have been filling our heads with information in orientation. From Gender roles here in Korea, Traditional Korean music, to learning a new language, and the Korean Wave (Kdramas, Kpop, and Korean Film) and although some of it is utterly and entirely mind boggling a lot of it is really the same, but different. My head is full of knowledge, and I am finding most everything I have learned quite fascinating. It is a lot to take in, and I guess I am most surprised by how much media/ korean pop music- Kpop influences daily life, and actually is tied into the demand to learn English… and really why Tom and I are here today… living in Korea to teach English.
I had NO idea that kpop is an entire and a rather large industry not only in Korea, but internationally. If you want to learn more I recommend this link (it is a bit long, but explains all about the ins and outs of Kpop): http://www.inaglobal.fr/en/music/article/k-pop-story-well-oiled-industry-standardized-catchy-tunes
And also, had no idea about the Medical Tourism industry here in Korea and how the Korean Wave has largely impacted that as well.
We are all the same, but different.
Something that has reminded me of the U.S specifically (when Tom and I took a trip to Colorado) is the hiking. It’s a really great thing we love hiking, because it is everywhere. Lucky for us! Today while hiking I was thinking to myself how much Korea reminds me of hiking in Colorado…and how the woodsy feeling reminds me of camping back in Wisconsin… (For more on our hiking click here where my husband has logged ALL of our hiking expeditions.
Then…at the top we stumbled upon this:
and then I think. Nope, we really are living in Korea…and I love it. I mean seriously? How can you not love hula hooping on top of a little mountain you just climbed. Korea, is much the same…but different.
Yesterday, we attended our very first professional Korean baseball game. No lie. These people don’t mess around. The only thing I could even compare this to is a Green Bay Packer game. The Korean baseball fans are DIE hard fans. Looks normal…
…Until you watch the video!I loved every second of it. Check out the video I uploaded by clicking on the link below!! (Would have taken a longer video if the batteries hadn’t died)… but this gives you a little taste of what the fans are like:
Tomorrow, we visit a temple for the day! I’m excited to relax, enjoy the lovely sunshine, and drink the famous lotus tea.
Here, in Korea… everything is the same, but different.
and we are still smiling as we get closer to seeing our new apartment, city, coworkers, and kids who will become a huge part of our lives for the next year 🙂
I know I keep saying that I love it here, but seriously. I do. Korea feels more like home than ever.
My goal is to keep the blog updated frequently so my posts don’t need to be so long! Just a quick post today to let you know of awesome husband’s blog. His is more focused specifically on hiking in Korea, but it is awesome. You can check it out, bookmark it and follow it here: http://tommysheps.wordpress.com/
Today we did a 5 hour ish hike in Wolchulsan National Park. It was fabulous!! I won’t say much besides that when we ran out of food/water 2 korean men came out from behind a rock, and handed us lots of snacks. I am still in awe of Korean kindness and generosity. Then, just when we wanted to be done with hiking…we stumbled upon this beautiful little temple nestled in the mountains. Tomorrow we head to Orientation for 10 days to meet the 4o other teachers! We found out there are 24 other teachers that will be moving to our city of Yeosu!!!
I love this place that we now call home 🙂
I can’t believe it has already been a week since we left the states. Our journey to the south has continued to amaze, awe, and inspire both Tom and I. I will start back at Wednesday April 10th when Tom and I took the bus from Seoul, South Korea to the small city of Jangheung…where our friend Amy has been living for 8 months. This is a long post, but it’s been 5 days of stories!!!!
Gwanju is underlined in blue- where we head next for orientation, and Yeosu our home where we will be living!
Wednesday 10th– This day was much of a travel day. We were bummed we didn’t get to explore Seoul more, but feel confident we will make it back soon to explore. The buses here are similar to a coach buses back home. We made it to Amy’s city in 5 hours. By the time we arrived it was 8pm and we decided to grab some grub at a pork “bbq” with Amy’s friends Jetta’ and John. It was a restaurant that you have a small grill type thing in the middle of the table and you cook all the meat on it. All meals here are served family style…you all share soup and many small side dishes like kimchi and a whole lot of other things that I really don’t know what they are (seafood, veggies, etc). Each restaurant is a little different and the other night we ate hard boiled quail eggs as a small side dish. Similar to our eggs just a LOT smaller. I’ve noticed there is always a few sauces for dipping meat- which are usually really amazing!!! We went for ice cream (gelato) and coffee after dinner, and then called it a night.
Thursday April 11th:
Amy headed to school and Tom and I had a relaxing morning at Amy’s place. Walked down by river in her city called- Tamjin River. I found this from the official site of Korea about the city of Jangheug: “Often called the Home of Korean Flavors, because of its many creative, rich-tasting local dishes. Jangheung is famous for grass-fed juicy beef, raised on pasture. Also, not to be missed is namdo jeongsik – or a full-course meal accompanying steamed rice, kimchi and an overwhelming number of side dishes – made with Jangheung’s local produce.” —which explains why we went for 2 “bbq” style meals where you “grill” your own food if you will and all of the side dishes! Which is very typical in Korea. 🙂 Pictures as we explore Jangheung:
So, we met Amy for lunch…then in the afternoon relaxed, played basketball when Amy was done with school, walked up a little hill to see her city, and finished the day with an amazing meal similar to Wednesday night except with the famous Jangheung beef instead of pork. (Really, amazing food) Walked into what looked similar to a butcher shop back home- pick out your meat you want and then go upstairs to “grill” it on your table!!!Some side dishes include yellow picked radish, and a leaf looking thing that I learned you.
1. Get meat off grill with chopsticks once it is done. 2. Dip in sauces 3. Grab a few side dishes. 4. Set of all of this on the leaf thing. 5. Roll up with your hands like a little mini burrito. 6. EAT!
Friday April 12th-
Went to Amy’s school in the morning (she teaches at a school in the country on Friday’s) We loved getting a taste of what life will be like teaching for Tom as Amy has middle school students!!Don’t ask me how this turned into an arm wrestling game…Oh, Korea.
Friday afternoon Tom and I did an AWESOME hike near Amy’s city. We are finding that if you just start walking to the mountains you will usually find a path up! The hike was short and I don’t know the name of it, but we had a great time and I think it took like 2 or 3 hours total and was 518m 🙂
Just your typical random workout equipment as we started the hike:
For dinner Amy, Tom, and I headed to a place for traditional Bibimbap and we got to sit on the floor 🙂 I loved it. Tom has some difficulties with the floor as his legs are SO big hehe. Food was good, and we all of us were exhausted!
Next, we went to visit a Buddhist temple near Amy’s city. It is the biggest Budda statue in South Korea standing 36 meters high and costing 10 billion won to make. It was about 10 min from Jangheung, and was pretty neat to see.
Then, Tom and I hopped on a bus to Mokpo- to see our friends Alyssa and Pat. We met Alyssa in Wisconsin as well. There are so many Midwestern connections…even so far away from the states. Mokpo was amazing. To summarize: Mokpo is a city on the ocean surrounded by mountains (like the rest of Korea) that will be very similar to our new home of Yeosu. Watched a laser light show with music on the ocean…and we had a bbq style dinner! The highlight of this dinner was the amazing seafood! After dinner we went for a drink at a cool little bar, and on the way home stopped at a small arcade complete with batting cages and ping pong cages. I have started to realize that Korea is full of surprises 🙂
oops, Jessie, Pat, Paul, Jen, Alyssa.
Sunday April 14th-
Walked along the ocean with Alyssa and Pat…climbed a little hill filled with beautiful cherry blossoms, had an amazing dumpling/soup lunch (sitting on the floor!)
Feeling so blessed. Feeling so happy.
So I have been making a little list in my head of things that we have noticed about Korea and decided I better document them before I forget!!!! We have really only been in Korea 3 days so I am sure we will learn WAY more in the coming months. 🙂
1. It doesn’t seem as if there is a certain side or direction we should walk on the sidewalk as there is in America. Example: When walking down the road/street/ etc we can’t decide if we should walk on the left or the right? People sorta just seem to go whichever way they please. I keep trying to figure it out, left or right?! Right or LEFT? Just when I think I have it down it seems to change.
2. Lots of signs in Seoul were in English. That doesn’t always mean that it makes sense!
3.The subway system in Seoul is pretty extensive, but seriously…AWESOME. You can take it anywhere/ everywhere in Seoul and it is super cheap. The stations are listed in Korean and English which was a huge help to us and when they approach your station it is said in Korean and then English. Oh, I can’t forget the cute little ice cream truck melody they play when the train approaches. It is different for each subway train as it approaches! Small map of the subway system…hard to see, but you get the picture.
4. LESS is always best when it comes to luggage. Lighter luggage= lighter soul! Tom and I both can’t wait to get to our city and just RID off all these bags. Our plan is to take one backpack on the weekends when we travel.
5.Tom has to duck while showering. Again, he is a giant. The bathroom floor here is all tile…and for good reason. There is not a specific place for a shower “stall.” Just a shower head attached to the sink that mounts onto the wall and a small drain in the tile for the water to go. Tom says he will be able to pee, brush his teeth, shower, and shave all at once!! Haha and he is pretty much correct. I don’t mind it at all. We have learned you wear flip flops in the bathroom since it gets wet once you shower 🙂
6. We have noticed that the floors are all WARM when the heat is on!!! The heating system seems to be a bit different here where the pipes must be in the floor…either way it is completely awesome. Heated floors all around…all the time in the winter.
7. Shoes off. No exceptions. We knew this one. BUT really. Shoes stay outside of the living area! Luckily we are both pretty used to this already. Shoes at the hostel:
8. Seems to be a lot less kiddos in public places then we see in America. This could be because we are out and about during the day a lot and kiddos are in school…but the ones we have seen usually only have 1 or 2 kids in the family. vs the 3 or 4 I feel like is common in the U.S
9. On our hike up the mountain the other day we noticed a lot of older Koreans I am huffin and puffin and many old men strolled along as if it was nothing!!! THEN, we get half way up the mountain and there is NO LIE… a workout tent. Complete, with free weights and TONS of machines. What is this?!?! I can’t imagine working out and then hiking the other 1/2. The hike was enough for me!!!!
10. Horns are used excessively.
Spring is beautiful here! Next, post will be Amy’s town of Jangheung. I will try to do that in a couple of days as we will be out and about. We decided we must get back to Seoul at some point as yesterday was pretty much a travel day 5 hours to the south. Didn’t get a chance to explore more like we wanted to, but figure we have a while to do so 😉
Tom and I are here! I have so much to say and so much happened in the last day that I wanted to do a post right away so that I don’t forget all that I want to write about. First off, we really love it. I asked Tom what he thinks on a scale of 1-10 (10 being best, 1 being worst) and he said “10!” I want to break this up in 3 sections. I think it will be easier to read this way! If you don’t want to read all the details…just scroll down to the pictures!!! I wanted to write lots of detail though this time so I don’t forget anything 🙂
So yesterday afternoon, we arrived in the country we will live for the next year. We flew Asiana airlines and we loved the service. The stewardess’ were so kind and sweet. I slept off and on throughout the flight and was itching to get off by about hour 10. With 4 more hours to go I watched a couple of movies and drifted on and off to sleep. We made it to Incheon airport at 4pm Monday. Collected all 6 checked bags and headed to the airport train (in the basement of the airport) we knew this next part would be a challenge as we had SO much luggage and not so many hands!!! The train wasn’t busy at all so that was awesome. We took the train 7 stops to where our hostel would be!!! Took ourselves and our luggage a few blocks, got temporarily side tracked, and learned here how thoughtful Koreans are. Stopped two ladies who spoke no English (we had a map of where we needed to go) and then they split and asked around to others on the block where we needed to go and we had about 10 people total looking for our hostel.
Our brains were pretty much mush at this point and I couldn’t tell what I wanted more…Sleep, eating, or showering. The kind ladies helped me carry my luggage to the door of the hostel where we were greeted by Simon. He helped us carry all 8 pieces of luggage up the stairs. It was about 7pm by the time we found the place and all I know is we had been traveling a long long time. We figured we should probably get some brain food so we headed onto the street for some eats. All I really remember from this is that we had some raw fish, water, and some spicy food. It was pretty much a blur at this point!!! Today we took off for some exploring around 8am and we just got back to our hostel, and it is 8pm. We felt great all day today, and at about 7pm the jet lag hit us again.
So Tom is a giant here…and I feel like I fit in. We knew this, but today it became clear when Tom hit his head going down into the basement of our hostel and Simon giggled and said “Hobbit House!” I was laughing so hard. Tom also hit his knees sitting down at a table today for lunch. He has to watch his head often (as in at ALL times!!!) as the subway stations sometimes have low overhangs. I find it all pretty hilarious since he always made fun of me for being short! Today though, during our palace tour they said back in the 1500’s at the palace we visited the average height for a woman was 4 feet 8 inches. I was feelin pretty fancy at a whoppin 5’2. 😉 I will say though that there are some taller people and that women always seem taller since many are in seriously tall heels. I am not sure how they do it!!!!!!
Seoul is awesome. We both can’t get over how clean it is!!!! In all of our traveling books it says Seoul is super busy and populated…and while I am sure it is…it really doesn’t seem like it is. Tom says it is nothing like Taipei. I guess I sorta just had it in my head that Seoul would be jam packed with people (not being able to walk on the sidewalk) and massive sky high buildings/cement everywhere. That is totally not the case. There are TONS of cute little parks with lots of trees/ vegetation. It is so clean. There is so much shopping. And the shops are amazing. Like so organized, clean, and fancy. There is tons of coffee shops and little cafe type things. Today we visited Changdeokgung palace, walked around a LOT, and hiked Mt. Yongmun. We did want to visit the bigger national park Bukhansan, but I have a feeling that we will have to come back and spend more time here so we can hike more extensively!!!
Lots of Koreans stopped and asked if we needed help while we looked at maps today, and always struck up conversation with us…everyone is so very kind. I just can’t get over it. I feel like Seoul was the perfect place for us to begin this journey. I should also add it is very modern, and everyone is so well dressed. We didn’t get too many stares or awkward looks as I am sure in seoul they have seen many tourists before. We did get some cute kids shouting “hello!!!!” Made my day!! Also, made me so excited to teach.
We don’t know much korean really besides “hello” and “thank you” ,but we have done lots of pointing and smiling. Lunch was amazing today… may I add. There is just so many cute little places to eat. So much to take in. We are just in awe. I keep finding myself just smiling. It is completely and utterly food for my seoul! 😉 We have (tom has) tackled the extensive subway station pretty well. We have taken it all over today. Tomorrow, we are going to try to get to Gyeongbokgung palace in the morning, and then head to Amy’s place in Jangheung. We have to figure out how the buses work so we aren’t sure if we will have time to explore more yet. We will deff. have to get back here for a weekend as there is so much I want to see/do in this area.
Headed to check out the Gyeonbokgung palace (which we found out is CLOSED on tuesdays…boo!)
Spring is HERE!! and we love these cherry blossoms. Don’t let the sun fool you though. Tom told me today it would be 55 and sunny. AND it was sunny, but boy was it super windy…then rainy…then snowy while we were hiking. So that was awesome. haha. Tom had on a t-shirt and a long sleeve. I had on a button up shirt, sweater, and THANKFULLY packed a zip up. Everyone else had on jackets and scarves. I think we brought wisconsin weather with us…because it felt about 40 today.
Just walkin around the first attempted palace visit.
Just another random sign in English. Lots of English in and around the city. Not all of it makes sense… I was just excited because this is how I felt all day. ARE WE SERIOUSLY in KOREA!!??!?!?! Is this real? Because I am loving it.
At the second palace Chang Deok Gung Palace. Just livin the dream.
Before the hike. This is supposed to be a waterfall behind us… I think perhaps it is too early in the season? We aren’t sure!! haha but tom wanted this picture.
view of seoul. Hard to see since it was so foggy/rainy/snowy.
Exploring a residential street.
tom getting coffee at this cute little shop.
ahh. Food for the Seoul!!! 🙂