Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our first full day!

We were awake by 6:30am, and went out for a walk around 7:00 to find food. The only thing that was open was something that was equivalent to a convenient store. We spent about 30 minutes walking around looking at the different food items, searching for something for breakfast. It was really fun to see all the different things, and we understood barely anything because nothing was in English. We ended up getting Fanta, Mango juice, mini bagels that were stuffed with walnut and bean goo, shrimp and rice chips, and two sushi rolls. Everything was surprisingly delicious, with one exception. I didn't like the shrimp and rice chips - they smelled like a dirty fish tank and tasted like what I'd imagine fish water to taste like... but, as usual, Andrew loved them... although it left his breath disgusting.

There is a small grocery store that is about 30 feet away from our apartment. We spent about 45 minutes just looking at all of the new things. It is hard to decide what you want to buy when you can’t read what it is! In the end, we bought some cleaning supplies, eggs, grapes, and a ton of ice cream bars. They were 50% off, which brought the price to about $0.25 USD.

We brought the food back to our apartment, and ventured on to find breakfast. Most of the places were closed, but we stumbled upon a convenient store. We went through the same procedure in the tiny store - we probably spent 30-40 minutes just looking at all of the new things. We ended up buying some Fanta, Mango juice, Shrimp and Rice Chips, stuffed bagels, and sushi rolls.

Everything tasted pretty good, except I did not like the Shrimp and Rice chips! When I opened the bag it smelled like a dirty fish tank and tasted what I imagine fish water to taste like. Andrew, however, liked them and ate nearly the whole bag. He had to go brush his teeth, though, because he reeked of fish water.

We were supposed to meet up with Howard and Tony, two of our Korean co-teachers to get some training before starting to teach on Monday. Tony came to pick us up, even though we knew how to get to our school. Walking in to our school is like walking in to a cartoon. There are very bright colors and cartoon figures drawn all over the walls. Tony tried to tell us about the different books, but didn’t seem to really know fully what they were all about. When Howard got there he talked to us about things that we need in our apartment. He said we might have to wait until Monday to get a bed. This was very disappointing because the hardwood floor is so uncomfortable!

We thought we were going to get training, but we really didn’t. Howard said he couldn’t really tell us how to teach, we just had to figure out how we were going to teach and be ready on Monday. Um, thanks. He then decided to take us to a store so we could buy things for our apartment. We got in a taxi and went to a place called Home Plus. Home Plus is similar to Wal-Mart; It has everything. There are four floors, one of which is a grocery store.

We spent time dabbling around and found some things we wanted for our apartment. We then hit up the food court, where we tried our first Korean McDonalds. We were curious to see what the difference would be. They do have what looked like a Big Mac and they also had a cheeseburger. There seemed to be something similar to a snack wrap… but the rest of the burgers were different. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the burger we ate, but Howard said it was a traditional Korean burger. The meat was disgusting. I am finding that I really don’t like beef in Korea. Also, when you order a “set” which is a meal with fries and a drink, they automatically just hand you Coke. No questions. No options. Coke.

The next stop was the Home Plus grocery store. Now this was definitely an experience! It was much larger than the small grocery store by our house. It was really nice to have a Korean with us to translate and help us pick out foods. The meat/deli area was absolutely insane. There are little stands all over that give out free samples. Often, in America the people who hand out free samples are retired grannies who smile and politely let you taste your sample. Not in Korea! There was a sample stand every 5-10 feet. Every one of the people at the stands were yelling, and I mean yelling, to get your attention. Some of the workers had microphones and speakers, others would try clapping. If one started clapping, another near by would clap in an act of defense. It was so loud and chaotic! (yet, really fun)

Howard showed us a stand that he thought we would like. It looked like several different piles of mush. He said it was meat and vegetables, and we should get some and put it in a frying pan with a little oil. We trusted his judgment and purchased some. The man didn’t really ask how much we wanted, but he asked how many people would be eating. We have been trying to learn a few new Korean words every day, so we forced out our best version of thank you, “Kahm-sa-hahm-nee-dah”.

Howard realized he was late for something, so he asked us if it was okay if he didn’t come back with us. We said it wasn’t a problem, so he brought us to a taxi, told the driver where to go. The problem was that Howard doesn’t know where we live. He told him to take us to Jungbu Sobangso, which is the fire station near our apartment - and told him we were going to point from there. He then taught us how to say stop here “yogi-o” and sent us on our way. The driver had a GPS in his car, which he had set to a tv channel that was a documentary on bats. I was in the back seat so I wasn’t sure how much attention he was paying to the road or the bats.

We made it home, unpacked, and made our way to the floor. We decided to take a bunch of our clothes and put them under our blanket to try and cushion it. Again, we covered ourselves with stretched out scarves and other random clothing items. With the promise of a bed on Monday, Monday couldn’t come soon enough.

Sushi rolls for breakfast!

Andrew drinking Fanta and eating the stuffed bagels.

Shrimp and Rice Chips.

The stuffed bagels.

Eating food on a stick from a street vendor. We have no idea what we ate, but it was delicious!

This is the post on the bridge we have to walk on every day to get to our school.

The street from the bridge. We cross it to get from our apartment to our school.

Looking over the bridge in the direction o four apartment. Our building is small amongst the high rises...

Another view of the post on the bridge.

The other direction of the street over the bridge.

Koreans wear shirts in English. Often they do not make any sense or have words spelled incorrectly. Notice "Sercury & Juliet - Cassic Car. New Mexico"

Mormons from Utah in Korea! They started talking to us, but moved on quickly to talk to more Koreans.

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