Here’s a glance at our first few days in Seoul. (We haven’t taken a lot of photos yet. Most of them have been of food.)
We flew into Incheon Wednesday afternoon. It’s a beautiful, modern airport. Everything was efficient, clean, and quiet. People systematically got into lines and there was no pushing or shoving. Now, I’ve been told that’s not always the case on the street, but it made clearing customs and retrieving luggage easy. We did have a problem that delayed us a few minutes. The embassy put 25 years on David’s visa rather than 25 months. Officials had to change it in the system before they let us through.
People from the school met us at arrivals. There was a big group of new teachers who were on our same flight. We kept our overnight bags, put stickers on the rest of our luggage to be delivered to our apartments, and went to Hotel Capital for the night. It was nice to not have to worry about getting unpacked right away.
Thursday morning, we did paperwork at the hotel, then they took us to our apartment. We live in a nice two-bedroom apartment. (I’ll write more on that soon.) Three teachers showed us around that afternoon. We took a bus to a mall to shop at a department store called eMart for home supplies.
Friday, David had his first day of new teacher orientation. He saw his classroom for the first time! This photo looks crowded, but there’s a ton of space behind and to the right of the desks:
David had Saturday off. Our friends we met in Turkey (who are Korean) were in country. They were so sweet to drive two hours to visit us! It was a joy to see familiar faces and spend time with them. We walked the Insadong area. We also stopped in front of Gyeongbokgung Palace and visited the (free!) museum of King Sejong, the man who invented the Korean alphabet.
Sunday, we attended church Gangnam style (in the Gangnam area) at New Harvest. It was an encouragement to worship with other believers and to meet some new people.
After church, we walked our neighborhood. Our streets are VERY hilly! We also braved the subway and bus system by ourselves. We made it back to eMart only to find it was closed. Several of the large chain stores are closed two Sundays a month to give mom and pop shops a chance. Fortunately, a store called Modern Home was open, so we were able to grab a few essentials like pillows and coffee mugs. We’re hoping to get to Ikea soon to finish furnishing our apartment.
What We’ve Eaten
No need to worry – we will NOT go hungry in this country.
- We had our first meal at KKanbu Chicken. We ate some delicious chicken that came with pickled onions.
- On Thursday, our tour guides took us out to Craftworks.
- A Thai restaurant.
- Another fried chicken place. We laughed at their menu. The land of Korea – where technology flows like milk and honey and discarded iPads are recycled into restaurant menus. (They put paper under the screen.)
- Our friends treated us to our first Korean BBQ! You grill the meat yourself.
- Patbingsu… Our friends also introduced us to shaved ice topped with red bean paste. It sounds weird, but it was good! The bean paste tasted a little bit like peanut butter. The texture of the ice was different than American snow cones. They also ordered a coffee style version that had granola and ice cream over it.
- New York Brick Oven Pizza. Made delicious because there is pork in this country. Amen.
- Boba (bubble) tea! We love the tapioca balls.
- On The Border mexican. There are a lot of international restaurants in our district!
Other First Impressions
- Holy humidity. Thank goodness for air conditioning and dehumidifiers. Granted, we moved to Korea during the rainy season. We looked it up, and apparently a normal humidity level is 40. Our dehumidifier read our rooms at 81!
- There are a lot of churches.
- Even more than churches, there are a ridiculous number of restaurants.
- Groceries and home supplies are expensive. ($5 for a bottle of hand soap!?)
- Clothing is super expensive. (A pair of mens pants at H&M in Turkey cost 30TL, which was about $11. Here, they are ₩50,000, which is around $43!)
- Recycle all the things! Recycling is required and huge here. We could have upwards of 5 trash bags: paper, plastic, glass, food waste, and trash.
I think I will explore some on my own today. Pray I don’t get lost!