Friday, June 24, 2016

My first full day in Seoul began at 6:30am…jet lag be real. Anyway, after typing out my first blogpost, I went downstairs with my roommate and was greeted by an underwhelming breakfast of two very small waffles, cereal, exactly four cherry tomatoes and a salad fit for a mouse, if mice ate salad. I was still quite hungry, so I decided to play it safe and went to an American-style restaurant called (진언하우스) JineAnn Haus where I ordered a (불고기 버거) bulgogi burger and (딸기 버블티) strawberry bubble tea. Both were absolutely delicious. Pictures at the bottom.

Meanwhile, a large group of about 20 students decided to travel via (지하처) subway to (명동) Myeong-dong, a shopping district.  After buying T-money cards, we traveled from (신촌) Sinchon on line 2 until (을지로3) Euljiro 3. Once there, we visited the famous restaurant (명동교자) Myeong-dong Gyoza.

Our gang split up after lunch, and we found a model interviewing foreigners. Actually, he found us! I’ll let the video do the talking for this:.

Some mannequins at Lotte
Then, we shopped! I bought a shirt at ZioZia, and we wandered around the various beauty shops before hitting up the (롯데) Lotte department store. Branding clearly holds a firm grip in the minds of Koreans, because there were almost as many brands as items, with many only holding sections of the floor the size of my dorm room.

The next few days consisted of meeting my (선생님) teachers and classmates. After some level adjustments, I had 10 new friends! The days were long, but I learned a hell of a lot of Korean. At the end of this post are some pictures of my classroom.
The stage minutes before the Nanta performance.
On Friday, the program and its helpers conducted us towards (홍대) Hongdae, where the Nanta performance awaited us. Nanta is a non-verbal performance that integrates (사물놀이) Salmunori, a traditional band of four percussive musicians, along with comedy sketches, dancing, singing, acrobatics and magic tricks. Really, anything goes. Our show revolved around cooking. Real chefs knives were twirled while chopping actual food, though sometimes more food made it on the floor than in the dishes! Several audience members were called up, and I even had a fake bag of trash thrown at me, upon which the entire caste apologized profusely. All in all, between fits of laughter, clapping, and (at the behest of one actor) clapping and stomping our feet to his conducting and fake disapproval, the atmosphere felt light and fun. It was the perfect way to begin our adventure together.
Korean meat! Yum!
Afterwards, about 9 of us decided to search Hongdae for some (삼겹살) Samgyupsal, a Korean pork belly dish. Our guide was an Australian Korean who had a propensity for getting lost. Not a particularly useful combination, but the wandering led us down some amazing streets. We eventually found our meat at (구이가) Guiga. A trip to a random (노레방) Norebang followed with much singing and silliness.

I still have long way to go in exploring Seoul, but that’s okay! At the very least, I’m not worried about running out of things to do.

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