Welcome to Korea! Arriving in Korea, training week in Seoul and my "love motel" experience in Busan.
On February 19th, I said goodbye to my life in the US and boarded a plane to Korea. This was the beginning of my year-long adventure on my own in another land. I met up with Anna Lee at LAX, and we spent the next 13 hours watching movies and contemplating that which we were leaving behind and that which we would soon encounter.
We arrived in Seoul on the evening of the 22nd, and it all began.
We met another girl on the plane who was heading to teach for EPIK in Bucheon. Anna Lee is beside her trying to get Internet at the airport.
Yup, we're in Korea all right. Needed that reminder - a little delirious after the flight.
We then headed to our hotel in Gangnam, a posh district of Seoul, and met our 3 other roommates. That's right, 5 girls sharing one suite. Next Top Model? Big Brother?
Checking out Seoul
Taking a Sunday stroll around the Gangnam area of Seoul.
Checking out the street food in Seoul with my girls, Marilyn, Anna and Linze.
Linze has found a new friend.
Wondering around Seoul, we found a square where you could watch the Olympics on giant outdoor screens. And apparently, you can make it onto TV by doing this. We got filmed - we're famous!
Later that day, we checked out a special kind of coffee shop where you could have Dr. Fish work on your feet... it's quite an experience!
Marilyn and Audrey, giving the universal Korean pose for a photo.
Jaret, Kori, Kin and Linze, chillin' with their coffee and waiting for the appointment with Dr. Fish.
Me and Anna Lee.
So, our number got called. It's time for our group appointment with Dr. Fish. I wonder what kind of man he will be and what he can do for my feet?
What?! There is no doctor!! There are just FISH! That's right, fish! Hungry fish! Apparently, doctor fish are a special kind of breed that like to eat the dead skin of your feet. And I can assure you, there is nothing quite like the feeling of fish nibbling at your feet!
Audrey is explaining all about the fish, Linze has put on her brave face, Anna is enjoying everything, and I cannot manage to get my feet in there! Did I mention that my feet are very ticklish? Yours would be too with little fish nibbling on them!
The fish eat you, you eat fish - it's the circle of life.
Okay, I managed to get my feet in there at least! Oh man, does that tickle! Wouldn't a pedicure have been more effective?
Chillin' with Marilyn.
Documenting the fish - truly creepy!
We finally finished up - the fish are a "you must do this once" sort of thing. And I've done it. ;) After the fishies feasted on us, we were hungry for some dinner (not fish!) so we headed back out into the crazy streets of Seoul in search of food.
Wandering the streets of Seoul with my fellow CDI trainees.
(FYI- we make a reference to 'Sean Daley' in this video. He was Anna's, Audrey's and my recruiter from Aclipse who hooked us up with this job. Shout out to Sean - he's been amazing for all of us - helpful, patient, understanding - you know, perfect! (Sean are you reading this?))
In other news...
Okay, time for a more serious quest...
Oh yeah, you know what I'm talking about...
Oh my god, shoes! The subway stations double as department stores (which makes finding your exit complicated.) It's probably for the best that none of these are close to my size, or I'd have bought that sweet little pair in the back there.
Ryan, this one is for you!
Hanging out in Seoul
The first week in Korea consisted of a very intensive training program, upon which our employment with Chungdahm was contingent. Days started early and were spent in the classroom, and evenings went late into the night prepping and studying for the next day.
Midweek, my classmates and I decided to take it easy for a night and grab some dinner near Konkuk University.
College kids out on the town.
Justin and Wenona, chillin' with out dinner - a cook-it-yourself mix of pork ribs and veggies. It was sooooo de-rish-ush!! Oh, I mean, delicious...
You want some, don't you? Yeah, you do.
We passed training!
Friday was bittersweet. It was wonderful to have finally completed and passed training, but on the other hand, most of our friends with whom we'd become really close during our first week together had immediately been shipped off to their respective schools. The handful of us who were still left at the hotel decided to hit the town that night.
This involved putting on our "party" shoes.
Linze, Kori and Christi, wearing dangerously high heels.
Ready to go baby!
Hangin' with the sistas. No, really, they are sisters! Linze and Kori are from Rochester, NY and are lots of fun!
Yeah, it was Next Top Model for sure. Here are your 3 finalists, America!
So long, Seoul! On February 27th, I boarded a train and headed for Busan. Yes, I somehow managed to navigate Seoul Station all by myself with all my luggage and my utter lack of Korean or vision! That goodness for the sweet Ahjumma (former English teacher) who took pity on my and pointed me toward my train. And thank goodness some more for the nice couple on the train and helped me with my luggage!
Busan, or Pusan, is in the very south of Korea and is the only place with a really nice beach. I live ten minutes by walking from Haeundae Beach, and I'm definitely looking forward to summer! (Visitors?)
The Love Shack
I didn't yet have an apartment arranged, and for whatever reason the school forgot to arrange a hotel room for me. So, late Saturday night we walked around and tried to find me a "love motel" - popular in Korea since families live in small spaces and Koreans live with their parents until they are married.
Popular indeed: the first ten we tried were all booked up. After two and a half hours of searching, we managed to find the last room at the "Jamjalee" - such a fine establishment.
My "home" for the first week in Busan. Dig the wallpaper.
Some hotels had round beds or color-themed rooms - not mine, but I was offered one unique feature...
This disco light was hanging over the jacuzzi tub in the bathroom! Oh yeah, nothing says romantic like a little disco in the bathtub!
I wanted to document the finer features of my room. It was very amusing!
(You can hear how tired I am in my voice - Life have been on-the-go since getting on the plane... oh wait, before that!)