September 30, 2009 § Leave a comment
It’s been a month since I arrived in Seoul, and believe it or not, I’m actually beginning to feel somewhat settled in. My friend Amy, who I have known since I began studying design at KU, arrived here about two and a half weeks ago and has been my partner in crime for everything from buying groceries at E-Mart to dancing in Itaewon until five thirty in the morning. We’ve done a fair amount of sightseeing – Dongdaemun Market, Lotte World, Gyeongbok Palace (a.k.a. The Palace of Shining Happiness), Olympic Park as well as exploring the expat nightlife spots (Hongdae, Itaewon, Gangnam) and had a small collection of epic adventures, namely when we spent all day going to Bundang to buy a bicycle with bad directions and the wrong phone number.
I was told by people who had done this kind of thing before that I’d be in travel/vacation mode for the first month or two. Well, I started working the day after my arrival, so no vacation mode for me but I definitely did feel like a transient for the first few weeks. Now, not so much. I have a full-time job, favorite restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores, working knowledge of the subway. I live here. I didn’t really realize how settled in I felt until Amy and I started planning our upcoming weekend. This Saturday is Chuseok, the Korean combination of Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Grandparents’ Day and to honor the occasion our school is closed on Friday. We get a 3-day weekend. This news was so welcome to me…I mean I’ve been at the grind for a month. I really need a change of scenery. That’s when you know you live somewhere.
So here’s a little taste of what my routine days have been like: wake up, go for a run down by the Han river, where I get to see all kinds of folks working out in their coordinated snazzy tracksuits, giant sun visors, and swine flu masks. Most days the river is kind of hazy and polluted, but today it was nice and clear. There’s some flower bed and butterfly gardens along the cycle way, and a mini convenience store about every mile. The signs by the river tell you not to swim in four different languages but every weekend you can see people water skiing in the murky Han. I work from 1:30 to 9:30 at night so I usually have a few hours to putter around, maybe get lunch, maybe make lunch, maybe spend and hour looking up the Korean labels on my washing machine, you know, stuff like that. Doing anything really ambitious, like going to a big grocery store in another neighborhood, is an all-morning event. Then I go to work, teach my kids, and go home or to Amy’s or to dinner at 9:30. Maybe my life will get more interesting as I figure out how to do things with out the prerequisite hour and a half of figuring out time beforehand, or maybe this is just my routine for the year.
But anyways, I need a change of scenery so I’m going to Busan this weekend. Amy and I are going on a 3-day surfing trip…should be an adventure!