1/2 Way Through Orientation

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February 23rd 2009
Published: February 23rd 2009
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Unless the pictures say otherwise, they are from the Korean Folk Village (ie. Korean colonial Williamsburg)

If you happened to notice that the location has changed under the title of the blog, it's not because we've gone anywhere, it's because I've finally figure out exactly where we are. :P The campus that we are staying at is right outside of the city of Cheonan. There are 543,309 people in the city so it is very small compared to the 2.8 million person city of Daegu that we will be going to live in next week. We have not gotten our school placements yet, the person from our metropolitan office of education (MOE) is coming Thursday afternoon to talk to us and give us our placements. I'm excited to find out what age of students I will be working with.

After studying in S. Africa I had a rough idea of what to expect from throwing myself into a different country. However, as much as everyone told/asked me "oh, man, I think the food is what would scare me the most...what do you think about that?" I had never really fully comprehended what the food was going to be like. Some of it was good. I've had this battered sweet potato thing that was greenish inside the batter but tasted pretty good. Tofu is good (I had never had that in the states). Kimchi I've only tried twice (sorry Jill!) I think I liked it but the look of it (think cabbage covered in a red spicy sauce) kind of throws me off a little bit every meal. Oh, and just incase by every meal you thought that I meant lunch and dinner, you are mistaken my friend. Kimchi, rice, fish, soup, etc are all found at breakfast as well. Luckily, they've also had cornflakes and milk for breakfast along with toast and some kind of fruit. Yesterday for breakfast they had fruit in a sweet white sauce (kind of like the fruit salad you can get in the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays). Then at lunch the used the same sauce to make a macaroni salad that had raisins, peanuts, cucumber and some sort of mystery red thing in it. I don't like normal potato salad but this stuff was not bad. Probably my favorite, "what is this moment" goes like this:

Jana: "Do you know what this
Folk VillageFolk VillageFolk Village

Women dressed in hanbok, the traditional Korean dress.
stuff is?" *points to the meat on a stick*
Lecturer guy sitting beside her: "Well, it's like fish"
Jana: "It's like fish, or it is fish?"
LGSBH: "Mmm, both"
Jana: "....."
LGSBH: "It's kind of like a hot dog, but with fish... you know what's in a hot dog right?"

Saturday night we ventured from the campus up into the city with at least 10 other people. We were going to go down off of campus and get taxis but once we got there and there was already a group of people that had been waiting for taxis to pass by, we decided to just walk. We walked down streets, under a highway bridge (see the crazy picture from the tunnel :P), and through construction. It was pretty awesome. :P I'm not even sure how long we were walking but it took us a while to get there. Someone had told me earlier in the day that they couldn't believe all of the lights. I could see why. The main street was bright, the side streets, the back streets, they were all lit up with signs. Once we got into the city the large group split up and we went to get something to eat with four other people. We went to a restaurant called WaraWara. Once we got inside we had to take off our shoes and put them in a cabinet. Then we walked back to our table and sat down on a bench that surrounded the table. I was excited to find out the the floor was heated. 😊 So far, so good. The menu that we got had English captions underneath the Korean which took a lot of the guess work out of ordering food. We pushed the button on the wall to call the waiter and he practically appeared out of thin air. Through pointing we got our food but when Jana and I tried to order the same thing we only got one of it. Fortunately it ended up being big enough to share, which we did and then split the bill. When the waiter asked us what we wanted to drink, since I did not know the Korea word for water at the time, I tried to ask for water in English. The conversation went like this.

Me: "Water?"
Waiter: "Alcohol."
Me: "Water?"
Waiter: "Alcohol."

He knew that word. :P One of the guys that was with us had a handwritten list of phrases so he got that out and after stumbling through "water please" in Korean, I was finally able to get some water. Which I definitely needed. The chicken teriyaki that Jana and I split was so spicy that after I finished eating it, my mouth continued to water and water. This when I encountered restaurant chicken with bones in it for the first time. Sure, if you order a half chicken at home you are going to find bones in it. If you go to a chinese restaurant, there are not going to be bones in your little tiny pieces of chicken. The chicken looked the same, but it had bones in it. I've also never had chicken soup with bones in it until I order chicken stew with ginseng at the Korean Folk Village we went to on Sunday. Let's just say that when they eat a chicken, they eat a chicken. Mike and another girl that was sitting with us at lunch got some sort of stew with Korean sausage. After the girl had been commenting on how the sausage looks weird, about half way through their meal, we found out from one of our Korean class leaders (there are about 500 people here for orientation so the big group is split up into classes) that the sausage is made from the internal organs of a pig (I think it was a pig).

I've attached pictures from the Korean Folk Village. Essentially it is the Korean equivalent of Colonial Williamsburg. It was nice to get off of campus for a day but we were outside the whole time and it was not warm.

When we got back from the folk village on Sunday, Mike and I ventured into Cheonan on our own. We walked down from campus and this time took a cab. When Mike asked the cab driver to take us to Burger King (even when this was tried in a bad korean accent) he had no idea what was being said so I just asked him to take us to the bus terminal (he knew the word terminal) which was about a block from Burger King. Mike ate there and then I was on a mission for pasta, a grilled ham and cheese (I would kill a man for a grilled ham and cheese), or anything that did NOT look like fish, taste like fish, smell like fish, include rice, or involve bones. This was a difficult task. I found a place called sojo fruits which also said it sold cone pizza. Close enough. We went inside only to discover that the whole menu was in Korean. I found a picture on the wall of a bacon and potato cone pizza, so I pointed to that. Then I could see bananas behind the counter so I pointed to the banana and asked for a banana drink. My cone pizza, about the size of a small ice cream cone, was pretty good but the banana smoothie was delicious!! I ordered one to go too.

Then we proceeded to attempt to find a camera store. This was a truly surreal. No one understood what we meant by camera store/shop. I tried pointing to my camera and motioning to the surrounding area when i said shop/store but the sight of the camera just confused people and they thought I wanted them to take a picture. We went down into a building (yes, down into... there are stairs in the buildings that you take either up or down into the shops) that had PC on the sign out front but it was a computer lab (as in pay to use their pcs). So we tried to explain to the guy at the counter what we were looking for. He was very nice and even went outside and down the street to point us in the direction he thought we wanted to go. He pointed us towards a photo developing shop. So we went inside the shop and tried again. This time they had no clue what we were trying to say. We went back to the mall (when we tried this the first time we went up an elevator and ended up at a spa. Then we went up the stairs and got trapped in a department store). This time we tried to ask someone where to look the first person was not much help but on the third floor we found a sales representative who spoke English pretty well. She finally directed us to a shop that had cameras. Luckily, the guy that was selling the cameras also spoke pretty good English.

Well, that pretty much covers it for now. Yesterday, today and Wednesday are a lot of lectures and such. TTFN!

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 28


3rd March 2009

Fish Hot Dog
So I told the fish hot dog story to my whole family (grandparents included) at family dinner the other day - everyone got a kick out of that story. My sister concluded that she could never ever live in S. Korea since she hates fish. Hope you are doing well!
3rd March 2009

Ok, I am excited for you. I am scared for you! What a culture shock. At least your adventures in looking for a camera store weren't adventures in looking for a bathroom!!! I hope you and Mike are doing well. Let me know about the city of Daegu! I am very interested to hear more about what is happening!

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