Tuesday, March 18, 2008

First Post (duh)

Day 1 (March 18, 2008)—

I arrived in Korea yesterday. The flight was long, but good. Incheon international airport was like every other airport I have been in…immigration said all of one word and stamped my passport. Customs was incredibly easy. I just signed a statement saying that I did not have anything to declare and I walked through. I did get asked by one person if I was with the U.S. military because of my green duffle bag. No, sorry. My hair is too long and my goatee exists in the first place.

The academic director of the school, Vivi, met me at the airport. She is a very nice lady. I dropped by the currency exchange to pick up some money. They gave me some paper that was still green. It was a big, fat stack of green money and some other colors as well. These are like drug dealer bricks of cash. Not that I would have any idea about that…

After finding my new found wealth, Vivi drove us out of the airport. She was a good driver…other folks? Not so much. Vivi is from Gimpo-Si in Korea. So, she gave me the low down on survival Korean. I can now order water with my beef. That is good, I suppose.

The drive from the airport took about 45 minutes, I believe. I was not paying much attention to the time. So far, Korea is like the U.S., except that all the buildings are on steroids. I have yet to see just a regular house. The apartment buildings are absolutely huge. I would love to see like a large sized Costco from the states next to a normal Korean building. The Costco would still be dwarfed.

When we got to Gimpo, we drove by the school, so that I could orient myself for the morning. And, then drove up to my apartment building. We parked in the underground garage and I assumed there would be an elevator. I was wrong…and the pain begins. Vivi is nice, as I said. However, she is still my boss and I am either chivalrous or chauvinist depending on which side of the feminism debate you come down on. So, I let her carry my lightest suitcase, while I put my duffle bag on my shoulder (about 50 lbs), my big suitcase in my hand (53 lbs, I was over the airline baggage weight limit on that one), and my backpack was on my back (admittedly that one was pretty much a feather comparably). And, up the stairs we went. Now, the stairs probably were not more than 4 flights of 20 steps each or so, but I could feel my shoulder slowly coming out of its socket. Seriously! I have not really felt much pain from that shoulder in a while, but carrying those bags around hurt. Luckily, it was only about 100 yards from the top of the stairs to the front of my apartment building. Then it was up a little ramp then there actually was an elevator!! Hallelujah!!

I dropped my bags in my apartment (after taking my shoes off, obviously!), found out that my roommate is a British guy name Mat (one “t”) who is gone until tomorrow, learned the Korean symbol for hot water (you have to push a button to turn on the hot water), and I started looking around then ten minutes later, five of my fellow foreign teachers showed up. We had actually talked earlier on Vivi’s phone, but I did not mention that earlier in this blog (so, it is kind of like a surprise visit, except that it wasn’t).

Christina, Kristen, Dawn, Kerry, Jerrod, and I all went for food at some place across the street. I can take you there, if you come to Korea, but it is written in Korean and I have no idea what the name of it is. And, if you were wondering…I forgot to take pictures. I will try and do that in the next few days. The first round of food was Kimchi, some vinegar onion dish, sprouts, tofu, lettuce to wrap the meat in, and strips of pork. We had to cook the pork ourselves on the burner in the middle of the table. That would be a cool way to keep restaurants from overcooking meat in the states, but over here I cooked “mine” (it was communal) until it had died twice. Then we were done and still hungry so we re-ordered with a new beef dish. It was good, just like the pork. All told, for six people, we spent 32,000 won, if memory serves. And, if my exchange rate is correct, that is about $35.50. Or $5.90 a piece. So, dinner out was about half the price from the states, assuming that was a good example.

After dinner, we went to an ice cream shop in the next alley. It was good, but it was like any other ice cream that I have had in the past. Then we walked back to my apartment because the girls thought I would get lost, which I might have, but I would have just circled some until I found it. Bed was the next big event that occurred. It was a very nice experience after having last woken up on Sunday at 7 a.m. and not finding my new bed until Monday at 11 p.m. Of course, the whole International Date Line thing changes the day. So, it sounds worse than it is, but I was still dead tired. I woke up, of course, at noon and I decided to whip out this entry so that people could see what happened on my first day in Korea. Unfortunately, the noon wake up is correct for Pacific Standard Time. Here it was about 5 a.m. Doh!! I am going to have to shoot my circadian rhythm. I will start work at about noon time here. Hopefully, all will go well and I will have more to report later.

Ahh, yes, and I just passed my 12 hour mark of being in Korea. What a milestone!!

--Matthew

4 comments:

Tim said...

Now that is a serious blog - I have never heard or seen you put that many words together at one time in your entire life ... must be that sauce you had with your meat at the restaurant, I am thinking. I am very excited for you and miss you ... it sounds like a good thing so far ... Dad

Matt W said...

Perhaps, I have not had that much to say before. It changes when your life isn't dull anymore.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! I'm excited for you. Enjoy yourself now that you no longer have a 'dull' life.

Esther

Matt W said...

Esther--Thanks, no dull days yet. It is a good change. Although, the weekend will be super nice at the moment.