Hi Seoul: Korea 4

Greetings from Seoul!! 

My Korean adventure began in the airport in Atlanta. I found a flight on Korean Airlines that would take me directly to and from Atlanta. If you ever need to go to Korea, I highly recommend flying Korean Air. The plane is more spacious than any I've ever been on: I actually had plenty of room even though I was seated in economy. There was only one real downside to the flight: the length. About 10 hours into the flight I started to get really restless. I just wanted off the [inappropriate word] plane already. Sadly I had about 3 hours of flying left. I settled on watching the Fiddler on the Roof. Since I love the movie so much, I figured it was the perfect way to pass the last 3 hours. 

My first night in Seoul was somewhat of a blur. I tried to take the airport limo to the hotel but couldn't figure out which bus I was supposed to be on. I eventually threw in the towel and climbed in a cab. Eventually I made it to the hotel, with all of my luggage in tow. I was (pleasantly) surprised to discover that I'll actually have a roommate for the next 2 months. I didn't get to meet her until this morning; her flight landed around 10 PM and I had called it a night around 9:30. Since I'm such a heavy sleeper her arrival didn't disturb me at all. 

Breakfast this morning was quite an interesting experience. Our original plan was to find a bakery/coffee shop where we could grab a cheap breakfast. The hotel has breakfast but it didn't look to appetizing. We passed a restaurant in a hotel that had a breakfast buffet that looked pretty good so we popped in. As it turns out, breakfast was close to 40,000 won ($40) a person! Thankfully there's a 7-11 in my hotel so I was able to grab some cereal and milk to go with the instant coffee I brought for around 5,000 won ($5). Breakfast is taken care of for the next week or so & that mistake will not be repeated again. But that's part of travelling: you make mistakes, you get lost, you overpay and then you learn. 

Thankfully there was a shuttle to take us to campus for orientation this morning. On the shuttle we all took the opportunity to get to know one another. Majority of the group is ethnically Korean (mostly first and second generation Americans). Aside from an introduction to the program and Korean law, there was also an optional Korean language and culture course. We mostly focused on learning some key phrases such as hello, goodbye, thank you and sorry. Dr. Yu also gave us a brief introduction to reading and writing Korean. I definitely need some more practice. Along the way we learned some interesting cultural tidbits for proper etiquette here in Korea. For example, you always give and receive things with both hands. Let's say you're at a coffee shop and you order a latte. When the barista hands you your latte, instead of grabbing it with one hand, you take it with both hands. For me this will definitely take the most getting used to. I've already been practicing bowing, another important cultural difference. Instead of waving hello, you bow. 

The campus is gorgeous! Pictures of everything are coming soon; today I've mostly been focused on getting my bearings here in Seoul. Roomie and I actually had a fun little jaunt on the subway this afternoon: we ended up taking it the wrong direction. When we got off the subway we didn't recognize a thing. So we got back on the subway and tried again. Once we found our stop, we had about a 10 minute walk to our hotel. Since we were both rather hot, we stopped for some iced green tea drinks. They were similar to green tea frappucinos but so much better. Thankfully the man working at the cafe was really friendly. Roomie used her Korean skills to get us directions to our hotel and we were back in no time at all. 

I'll post more about the neighborhood we're staying in and Seoul itself once I get some pictures to accompany my explanations! 

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