My First Days in Korea

Okay, so… There’s a lot to catch up on. When I first got to Korea on Feb 28th this year, it was a very different place to how it is now. Firstly, it was freezing. Like so cold it hurts your face and makes you cry freezing (or maybe that’s just me…). Also, I came here without knowing anyone, so it was a bit of a lonely place. Cold and lonely, now that is a good combination! (Don’t worry, I managed to find a spot by my window where I could pilfer someone else’s WiFi and check gossip blogs, so that kept me going.)

Here are a few photos to give you an example of my first impressions.

King Sejong statue at Seoul station
King Sejong statue at Seoul station
Cheonggyecheon (man-made river) in Seoul
Cheonggyecheon (man-made river) in Seoul
Seoul at large

As you can see, it was a cold, hazy and crowded place… and now it is only two of those three things!

These early days were a big change, although surprisingly I didn’t feel too culture-shocked. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because it was so cold that I didn’t have to go exploring too much or face the outside world (hehe, sad but true). At the same time, there were a lot of adjustments to be made, so I think to an extent I was just running on autopilot.

It helped that the people I was thrown together with in this crazy life experiment luckily turned out to be cool and, while we are all very different, my friends/coworkers (in that order) are all good people with interesting stories to tell. This was a big gamble because I really had no idea what I was walking into, and the people you surround yourself with can make or break an experience. I am very thankful that mine has turned out very positive!

I remember our first ‘family dinner’ with all of us was in Doldari (an area) in Guri. I don’t know the name of the place and I have no idea what dish we ordered, but I do know that it was MASSIVE. Have a look here:

Our giant introduction into Korean food
Our giant introduction into Korean food

 

One of the first nights in our apartments in Dosim (which is another story) the three girls – Sehar, Sophie and Natallia – and I had a traditional Korean BBQ sit-on-the-floor dinner. This was our first introduction to galbi, which is the fine, fine Korean cuisine of delicious barbecued meat, garlic, and more meat. It’s really all about the meat, and it’s amazing.

The girls enjoying galbi
The girls enjoying galbi
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Natallia & I
Natallia & I

As you can tell from our happy little faces, its quite delicious! Basically they bring you meat, garlic, kimchi (of course) and a few other condiments and assortments and you barbecue it to your taste. At this place there was also a selection of leaves, in which you wrap your barbecued meat to make a little parcel. Then you throw it down the hatch and delight in its tastiness. Really not a bad way to eat! We have since discovered a very yummy galbi place in Guri, more on which I will tell you another time.

As I mentioned, I live in Guri-si (pronounced almost like ‘Goodi-she’ – the ‘si’ part means ‘city’) but in the first few weeks of my stay here I was living in Dosim, which is about 20 minutes further out (ie. away from Seoul) than Guri. I’ll leave the story of my apartments for another post, but suffice to say I love Guri and am very happy to be living here. It is what is known as a ‘satellite city’ in Korea, which is basically just a little-known city that is actually quite sizeable and important to a lot of people. Really, you can get everything here. I haven’t been into Seoul for a while, and there’s not too much need to, to be honest. That’s not to say that it’s not good to travel and see different things – it’s just that Guri really has everything! I love it 🙂

I’ll leave this post on a happy note with this writing that I noticed outside a traditional Korean restaurant on one of my first few nights here – I thought it was hilarious but I don’t think it was intended to be, and I still haven’t worked out why they are talking about someone dying at a restaurant. But hey, that’s all part of the fun!

Speak to y’all soon,

Steph x

That age-old problem
That age-old problem