I’m here!

Well, I’ve been in Korea almost 24 hours! Between Thursday and right now (Sunday afternoon in Korea), I think I’ve slept about 10 hours, and most of those were last night after I arrived. I was just too excited ๐Ÿ™‚

My plane food; mostly for my sister because she wanted to see what it looked like.

My plane food; mostly for my sister because she wanted to see what it looked like.

After a little trouble getting from the airport to the hotel (I tried too hard to follow instructions and didn’t use my common sense), I got in at 11ish local time last night and almost immediately crashed. Unfortunately I was up at 6:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was fine, but I’m exhausted now. I just got back from a nice walk around town and I need to try and stay awake…we’ll see how that goes.

Today I ate some breakfast and then went out for a few hours. I walked around the Gangnam neighborhood a little (where I’m staying) and then braved the Seoul metro to get over to Meyong-Dong. My original intention was to walk straight to theย Namdaemun Market, but I got side tracked by Namsan park and even stumbled into Shinsegae.

Gangnam is a nice neighborhood, but it seemed a little quiet when I left this morning. Maybe because it was Sunday? I’m not sure. On my way back it was hoppin’, but it was nice and empty this morning.

My lunch today; tuna kimbop with soup and kimche

My lunch today; tuna kimbop with soup and kimchi. This was 3,000 Won (about $3 USD) and filled me up for the rest of my adventures!

For my dad: KEBAB! Sadly they were closed

For my dad: KEBAB! Sadly they were closed. I’m sure I’ll find another place in Daegu ๐Ÿ™‚

After Gangnam, I got on the subway and headed towards the downtown area of Meyong-Dong. I was headed towards the market when I saw this amazing view of the mountains from the subway exit. One of the reasons I love “unscripted” travel days is that I get to do things like go wherever I want! I headed over to what ended up being Namsan Park. It was a little crowded with tour groups, but the snow made everything incredibly beautiful. Also, MOUNTAINS! Being from the midwest, those are something totally different for me…

A woman making hotteok on the street- cinnamon and sugar filled pancakes

A woman making hotteok on the street outside of the subway- cinnamon and sugar filled pancakes fried in oil.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Namsan Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village

Namsan Hanok Village

Pots of kimche brewing on someone's roof!

Pots of kimchi brewing on someone’s roof!

I then wandered towards the market (FINALLY!) and was a little excited. There were stalls upon stalls of food, clothes, homegoods, etc. I really think they had everything a person could ever want. Of COURSE I was interested in the food. I saw a ton of people eating fried fishcakes on sticks, hotteok, filled pastries of all sorts…everything! There were even snails ๐Ÿ™‚ It was almost overwhelming with the mixture of all the different smells, sounds, and things to see. Markets are probably my favorite places to visit in foreign countries and Namdaemun did not disappoint. I would definitely love to go back on a weekday, just to see it when it’s REALLY open.

Snails to eat!

Snails to eat in Namdaemun Market!

Along one of the alleyways in Namdaemun  Market

Along one of the alleyways in Namdaemun Market

A food vendor with all the raw ingredients you could ever want.

A food vendor with all the raw ingredients you could ever want.

I ended up exiting (completely unintentionally) right in front of a large Korean department store, Shinsegae. The part I really enjoyed was the bottom floor with the food! There were little areas of the store, almost like different vendors, specializing in various things. There was a fish area, a meat area, a kimchi area, a pastry area, etc. It was great to look around, but unfortunately the prices were a bit high for my tastes (or maybe my tastes are too high for my prices?). If I were super rich and lived in Seoul, this is totally where I would shop.

Fish in Shinsegae

Dried fish in Shinsegae

Also, since I didn’t snap a ton of pics there, I did make this shortย Shinsegae video to show you a little of what it looks like. Yes, I’m in the pastry section ๐Ÿ™‚

Alright, I’m going to try not to fall asleep and then head out to dinner with some of the other people who are here for training. This week will probably be quite busy, so I don’t expect to blog much more. I hope this is enough to hold over until I get to Daegu!


52 and a bucket list

52. I have 52 days until I leave for Korea. In that time, I have trips to Texas and Florida planned (to see family), I need to go through my clothes again (moving 4 times in a year helped cut down on what I own, but I still have a long ways to go to get to the 50 lb/2 suitcase limit), I have to sell my car (anyone want a 2002 Nissan Maxima? I’m serious on this), sell one of my bikes (the other is staying in storage at my parent’s house), and hopefully buy a new camera lens, if I have the money for it. I also need to get vaccines (Hep. A and B, a flu shot, maybe typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria, plus a prescription for Cipro), get my visa, and make sure I have all my other documents together before I take off.

In addition to all the things I need to do, there are a few things I would like to do before I leave. They include…

  • Go to the Blue Nile (Ethiopian food)
  • Celebrate NY in STYLE; glitter glitter everywhere
  • Head to UMMA
  • Go sledding!
  • One more night of karaoke in town (before all the norebangs!)
  • Bake as much as possible; it seems like I probably won’t have an oven in Korea.
  • Spend as much time as I can with family and friends- my sister and I will both be unemployed and in town for January! I can’t explain how excited I am for this…
  • ???

I don’t know what I’m going to miss. I’m trying to think of all the things I take for granted here, but I keep drawing a blank. I think, in many ways, I’m ready to go (mentally, clearly not packed, etc.). Of course I will get homesick, and of course I will miss my family and friends, but I can’t think of the activities I’m going to miss. Maybe part of the problem is that I don’t do a lot here. I work, I cook, and I try to not fall asleep before 9 every night. It’s not much, and I really do like my life here, but I’m ready for a change.

Anyone else have “home” bucket lists? Things that you’ve always been meaning to do in your hometown but, for one reason or another, just haven’t?

Weather questions

So, if you haven’t guessed, I live in Michigan. I love it here. It snows, it gets hot, the leaves change, new things grow…I love the seasons. In reading up on Korea, I’ve found that people really tend to complain about the hot and the cold. I imagine that it is quite a bit more humid in some places, being that it is a peninsula surrounded by ocean (rather than fresh water? I don’t know, it just seems like ocean winds would be stronger than lake ones?), but it can’t be that extreme, right? I guess I’m just a little worried that I’m going to freeze to death (despite long underwear, flannel lined jeans, fuzzy socks, and down coats).

I mean it, EVERY SINGLE BLOG says the same thing “OMG! KOREA IS SO COLD!” Are all the native teachers from southern climates? Does the humidity make that much of a difference? When I lived in Spain, I laughed at my host mother who told me that the cold would “get into [my] bones.” While it was chilly (January-May) with the near constant rain, it was certainly nothing like back home.

There isn’t much I can do about the weather in Korea, except experience it for myself and hope I’ve packed enough to be prepared for almost anything. In the mean time, I’m going to enjoy the free hot chocolate I got today (care of JSTOR!), the snow coming down outside my building, and the ability to multitask.

Pure Michigan

Pure Michigan

Oh, also, I made gingerbred cookie dough last night and I’m going to bake them today (HORRAY!). We’ll see how they turn out and I might post the recipe if they come out well!

Lists are easier, sometimes.

Oil spill on the ground outside my house. Gross, but beautiful.

Oil spill on the ground outside my house. Gross, but beautiful.

Things that are good right now:

  • Coffee! I brought in single serve cups (yeah yeah, I know – so horrible for the environment, but so much better on my wallet!) and used the building next door’s Keurig. It’s not the best, but it’s better than the coffee made in my building and waaaay cheaper than going across the street for a cup.
  • I walked to work today! I love that endorphin rush…
  • Snow, yo. It’s so pretty! From the lovely, snow-capped buildings across the way to the cute pumas outside of the Natural History Museum, it’s all so WHITE and pretty (and we haven’t had months on end of the stuff…so I’m still enamored).

    A puma outside the Natural History Museum.

    A puma outside the Natural History Museum.

  • My slow cooker. I made split pea soup yesterday, which Adam and I devoured alongside grilled cheese sandwiches (UM, DID YOU KNOW THAT COSTCO CARRIES GLUTEN FREE BREAD NOW?!), and when I get home tonight there will be a big pot of chicken and tomatoes just waiting to be added to some pasta. I love not having to think too hard when I get home from work!
  • Korea! Duh. I’ve been in a “this is a REALLY AWESOME THING” mood, recently. I’m looking at places I want to go, adding to my bucket list (which I will post, at some point), and thinking of all the great food I’m going to eat in the next year. This is, honestly, how I feel about this whole adventure, but sometimes I just get in a mood about it, ya know?
  • I’m almost done with work! While I feel very appreciative to have kept my job during the last month and a half, I’m really really looking forward to some time off. I need to go through all my stuff ever, pack, and maybe create a “USA” bucket list for before I leave.
  • Weekends! This one was a ton of fun. Friday, Adam and I went out with some of our friends to celebrate our birthdays (last Tuesday and Thursday, respectively) and then we went over to his coworker’s house on Saturday night and ate an AMAZING hotpot meal. This was my first experience (I think? Does shabu shabu count as hotpot?) and Zong Rong did an excellent job. Beef, chicken, lamb, tofu, and tons of veggies in flavorful broth – what could be bad? We were a little confused at first, having never eaten this way, but it was SO good. I think I’ll be dreaming of that broth for a while.

Hotpot food, all ready to go. Not pictured: the hungry and confused dinner guests.

Zong Rong cooking us an amazing hotpot meal on Sautrday.

Zong Rong cooking us an amazing hotpot meal on Sautrday.