So here it is! Exactly 35 days after we first landed at Incheon Airport outside of Seoul, we are posting our first major update on the blog!
35 days may sound like a long time, but it has passed so quickly for us. Between settling in, learning about the culture, and teaching we haven’t had much time to really appreciate the changes. Let’s recap our experience in Korea so far in a couple time period posts. This one will cover our very first impressions.
Our first few hours here were definitely memorable, haha. We landed at about 9 pm and made it through the very efficient airport in less than half an hour. Before we knew it, we were being greeted by a wordless man holding a sign with our names on it who gestured us to follow him. He led us to a pimped out minivan with red leather upholstered ceilings where he promptly loaded our luggage. It took us about 5 minutes to find the seatbelts in the backseat (apparently no one uses them in the back here) and he began driving. Alyx and I thought we might get to see some of Seoul’s skyline or a glimpse of everyday Korean streets. Instead, we drove through fog so thick you couldn’t see more than two streetlights ahead of you, let alone the cars. So here we were, in a car with a man who had said no words, being driven down a road with no view, to a mysterious location. It was kind of surreal but we felt that we just had to go with the flow of it. So we got comfortable and tried not to fall asleep as we drove through the abyss to our unknown destination.
As the fog slowly faded away, a city began to form around us. Neon lights and Korean text was everywhere! We were definitely in Korea now and the magnitude of our trip was beginning to set in. We still had no idea where we were being taken, and as the ride continued, it became apparent that our driver didn’t either. He did a couple U-turns (which are as common as advanced greens) and finally pulled into a side road and called someone for directions. Five minutes later our new boss, Mr. Lee, drove up to us and made a quick and broken introduction before getting our driver to follow him to what would become our temporary home. That first meeting was such a frenzy, but Mr. Lee was very nice! We got to our hotel and went to a couple different floors before ending up on the right one. He showed us our room, tried to explain some of the features, and told us to come to the school the next day. Then he was off and we finally had a place to sleep! At this point we had been up for almost 25 hours with a couple naps on the flights.
The view from our room was great! We looked out upon hundreds of neon signs for bars, clubs, cafes, and anything else we could need. We were staying in a major entertainment district of Anyang. We turned our attention inside and checked out the room for its cultural quirks. First of all: the floors were heated. It’s fantastic and it’s the norm here since this is the Korean way of heating a home. We’ve also noticed that the bathrooms are essentially one large shower. Our hotel bathroom had a drain in the centre of the room about six feet from the shower! The whole room was tiled and flip-flops are required if you want to keep your feet dry. Oh and our bed was rock hard the first night! Not that it mattered though, we we’re so tired we slept great and were ready for our first visit to the school the next day.