Monday, October 27, 2008
I got something in the mail...and by something, I mean I have absolutely no idea what it is, since it's in Korean. So this something has my address on it, of course, so the only way I can go wrong now is if I translate it incorrectly.
Ok, here goes...
449 beonsi 49 ho, hilltop officetel 809ho
seoul, south korea 134-785
an alternative (americanized) version:
hilltop building 809ho
seoul, south korea 134-785
hehe-my guess is that most will get here... i am interested to know...
Thursday, October 23, 2008
This message was originally intended to be an email, but forget that...
I live in a city alive and buzzing. I live in a city where century-old culture thrives next to new high-rise business and apartment buildings. My apartment is on the 8th floor of one of the tallest buildings in this city’s smog-limited sight distance, and my giant ½ wall-sized window takes all of this in as I merely record. Fortunately, for me (and all other residences of my building), the first floor (and below) yields businesses such as: a tiiiiny laundromat, a 24-hour One-Stop shop, a billiard room, several small restaurant(s) and bar(s), a small clothing store, and more to discover. J This is no ordinary apartment building…or at least not ordinary for this American and probably most of you reading.
For those of you who don’t know, I am in Seoul, South Korea for a year teaching English before I journey into the geology grad school realm. Feel free to reply and in your message, you have my permission to yell at me for not telling you during my 2-month time of preparation, or just reply with any comments at all.
Last Saturday was a joyous occasion, as my brother Gabe and his fiancée Min Jung travelled over an hour to my apartment, pulling me out of jet-lagged sleepiness, in order to reunite and welcome me with open arms to their home country. We walked around town trying to find a place for some good Korean eats. Afterwards, we went to a few stores for my grocery needs (like food and TP—it’s scented here, by the way). Our journey culminated at the E-Mart, where we purchased most things. 10pm and the “supermarket” was buzzing. I was amazed at the life in the store at this hour! What’s more—it was LOUD. With samples out, we couldn’t go more than 5 or 6 aisles without passing an employee shouting some sort of “BUY THIS” or “THIS IS ON SALE” as we passed. It made me think of the idea of an indoor Indian street market with all the scents and noises that accompany it—only the Aladdin version, since I have never been to India.
I must say—I had my first taste of pig skin that night in the store. This was an accident, I assure you, but I blame my brother, as he gave it to me and explained after I ate it. J Just to invite you all into that experience, I choose to inform you that pig skin tastes like hot dogs…an encouraging story, eh?
I only wish I had learned at least a few more phrases in Korean before I arrived here. Now it is time for me to learn quickly—and that is not something I do well yet. I have learned the alphabet, so I am happy to say I take about 1-2 seconds to sound out each syllable of a Korean word. This is not helpful on the subway, and it definitely would not be helpful if I were late and lost on a street somewhere, so I must master my alphabet literacy quickly. I can tell someone I am busy, studying, or say hello or thank you, but I have yet to learn the necessary phrases like, “Do you speak English,” “I don’t speak Korean,” or “Where is the bathroom.” In comparison, the latter phrase was actually the first I learned in Ukrainian. J I found that when my brother asked if I knew how to say “How much is it?” I nearly replied, “Skeelky tse koshtooye,” the Ukrainian equivalent. Now I understand why Shiloh and Nikki, two Americans students studying French at my former college, had such a hard time pulling the French out of their heads during out Russian class together!
Much to my delight (and hopefully yours), I am finding more and more reasons to love it here…and that is only after five days. Thanks to Susan, I have a travel journal. This past weekend, I had so much down time to myself that it could have been maddening. Instead of going crazy (or finding somewhere to party the night away), I chose to write in this journal. The front cover displays one of my favorite prayers, the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” by Reinhold Neibuhr. In this journal, I had eight pages filled with first impressions and observations after just two days. The I’ll be taking note format (not prose) for some of those entries, as you all know I have a lot to say when I allow my thoughts to flow freely.
There really is oh so much to tell already, but it would fill pages and pages. Much love to all of you, and a special thanks to all who assisted me in getting here—whether by encouraging word, travel wisdom, money during my unemployed summer, or just by love.
PS—feel free to inform me about your lives in any small or large amount. If I’m not in my apartment, there’s cheap internet available around every corner. Don’t be strangers.