i've only been in seoul for two weeks, but so much has changed. i remember the first week i was here (er, last week) i was so overwhelmed by the quantity of restaurants and stores, and i'd get to tired of seeing korean letters all around me, and hearing korean nonstop. i'd get home from walking around and i'd be dizzy and exhausted from the language, smells, and sights. the smells are a huge change for me as well, everything smells different.
in only a week i feel like ive gotten accustomed to most of those things: hearing korean spoken around me is natural, smelling the "kimchi" smell in the street (that's what i've been calling it, im not sure it smells like kimchi but it's strong) is just another normal thing. and im almost done memorizing the korean alphabet, so i can read many words now. it takes me a few moments, but i can read some basic things and recognize some frequent words, like "pharmacy". and last night, i had to give directions to my cab driver with the 10 korean words i know, and it was a success. aaron wasn't there to help me (well, he was physically there but let's say it was a soju-filled night followed by a noraebang stop-- more on it later). i also exchanged some traveller's cheques on my own at the bank-- a lot of written exchange was involved, but i got it done.
so i'd say i'm not doing too bad. i still get frustrated at some random things, like public washrooms. some are normal and clean, but many are so disgusting, mixed, and.... let's say the "toilet" part is missing. i don't even want to get into it, i hate them. the princess in me refuses to use them. i'll probably have to sometime, but this day has yet to come. i now tend to locate the "normal" bathrooms nearby before going out anywhere, hehe.
i also get frustrated because i feel like i still don't really have a life here- no friends, no cell phone, no gym membership, no bank account, etc. but this should change soon, as i successfully aced my medical exam (ie. i'm not a drug user, i don't have HIV, and i'm in good shape). this means i can now go to immigration and get my ARC (Alien Registration Card), which will help me get a cell phone, bank account, gym membership.... and perhaps some friends.
oh, and about the noraebang! last night i had so much fun, i can't remember the last time i partied like that on a wednesday night. a friend of mine from montreal was in seoul, on vacation, so aaron and i met up with her and her boyfriend in myong-dong, a crazy cool shopping neighbourhood. went out for drinks and some finger food at a local "hof" (beer restaurant, pretty much), loaded up on soju (um, 7 bottles were emptied in one sitting), then we were just drunk enough to hit a noraebang.
noraebangs are "sing rooms", ie. karaoke rooms. it was my first time, and a total "lost in translation" moment. we had a private room, two microphones, two tambourines and the disco lights. and some more soju. i had such a blast, i must do it again sometime soon! i don't recommend it on a wednesday night when you have to teach the next day, but.... it was worth it. my best night in seoul so far!
oh, tomorrow is "white day". i thought it referred to us white teachers, but apparently it's just like valentine's day. exciting, two in a row!