First Impressions and “Seoul Searching”
The 14 hour flight to Korea was surprisingly short; I was able to sleep at least half the way, and it was super comfortable. If only. . . In all seriousness the flight crew was extremely polite, and once we touched down immigration/security were accommodating and helpful in getting me to the meeting area that Dankook had established. Getting in around 430, I found the welcoming committee (around ten Dankook students who, thankfully, were fluent in English). Although we had to wait for other flights (some of which had been delayed an hour or two) and got to the campus around 830, I had a surprising amount of energy (despite little sleep on the plane) and a group of fellow students (around 8 in total, myself included) went off to explore the town, the size of which I would compare to Syracuse (a bit more compact). Although none of us had an appetite at the time, we did manage to sample some of the convenient store snacks (7-Elevens in Korea have some really interesting options for food).
Day 2 and the morning of Day 3 were reserved for orientation, but several groups decided to venture out to Seoul. First of all, the public transportation buses have features that you would find in “charter buses”: nice seats, televisions (nice flatscreens at that), window curtains, and controllable air conditioning. The ride was roughly 35-40 minutes, and soon we found ourselves in Myeong-dong (a section of Seoul that I would say is a miniature and again, compact, Times Square). Food (both in restaurants and street vendors) was delicious and fabulously inexpensive; the photo of food shows a meal that I purchased for only 8,000 won which would equate to around $7.50. I was also brave enough to try a packet of dried/roasted squid,which coincidentally is now my favorite street food (so far).
Restaurants in Jukjeon have been very patient (so far) in helping the foreigner students in deciphering the few menus that don’t have pictures/ Romanized spelling of items (which for the most part are cognates of American food). A key difference here that I have noticed is while the food is very spicy (which back home I can handle without a problem), the meat is almost always sweet. It was quite a surprise when I bit into “Koreanized” fried chicken and found that the meat was neither savory nor salty. As a “foodie” however, I am quite excited to discover more novel flavors!
Tomorrow I begin teaching Korean college students, so stay tuned, I will report back soon on my progress!
Korean phrases I’ve learned so far: Hello, Thank You, Goodbye, and “Can I have a water please” (the food is SUPER spicy, and yet sweet at the same time)
Photos: The view of Jukjeon (town where Dankook University is located) from the top of campus; Delicious Bibimbap; view of Myeong-dong; Statue of Dankook’s mascot.