Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life in Korea

Isn't too Bad. In the accopmanying photo album, I have a few pictures up of my apartment - which does suck. That will be changing on Wednesday or Thursday though. One of the other Americans at my school is cutting her contract early and heading back to the states after seven months of teaching in Korea. She's been great in helping me figure out the area and the buses, and I get her apartment after she moves out - I hope.

The weirdest/hardest thing about being in Korea is the language. Unlike most of the areas in Eastern Europe where I couldn't speak the language, I can't read it here either. At least in Slovakia or Croatia you can make sense of the letters enough to figure out locations or things like computer, hostel, water, etc. When everything is in Korean letters, this is much harder.

Because I was so fed up with the teaching the first two days, I didn't do much exploring. This changed during the past few days where I went exploring. Day 1 I sauntered through the foreigner downtown just off of the American military base. It's full of Pakistanis, Indians, and refugees from all over the Middle East, in addition to the Western contingent. On one street I heard more Arabic than Korean.

Day 2 I ventured down "Olympic Way" replete with statues honoring the ever important 1988 Seoul Olympics. At the end of Olympic Way was the most modern, disgusting mall I have ever seen. The real sad part was that just to the North of the mall was a 1300 year old temple being surrounded by modernity.

The pictures throughout this post are from the temple . Apparently that's the big thing to do in Korea - to check out all the old temples. When I hear temple, I think thousand year-old relic. Sadly this is not the case for many temples since the Korean War pretty much leveled most of the country.

Last night, I ventured back up to Foreigner town and bought a phone from a departing American. Sadly I forgot my camera, but that didn't stop me from hopping around Seoul's hippest downtown area. Since it's a city of 10 million, there are many "downtowns" but this was probably the biggest.
It reminded me of the Swiss in how clean and efficient it was, especially the train station, but it definitely wasn't Switzerland. There were people everywhere. Switzerland is much more relaxed and spacious. Not the case in Korea.

Today is Friday - Thank God. Tomorrow I'll be heading off to a town, named Sokcho, on the Eastern Coast which apparently has a huge national park and a harbor with lots of seafood restaurants (though I'm pretty sure the seafood is much different than what I'm picturing in my head right now). Until then, it's another day's work and a run through the smog suffocated streets of Seoul...

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