Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Week in Seoul

The Meyer family has been in Korea for over a week, and it's hard to believe how much has happened during this time. I can tell already that I need to be more prolific in my blogging while I'm here, considering that we seem to experience something new every day. To prevent this post from becoming a novella, however, I'm going to try to sum up the highlights in a few areas.

We arrived at MSP Airport around 11:00 p.m. on July 24 and didn't arrive in Incheon until 5:30 p.m. on July 26 (Korean time). We started with a flight to Los Angeles (about 4 hours) and then flew to Seoul from there (about 12 hours). Being stuck in an airplane seat for 12 hours is a form of torture I hadn't previously considered. My feet were so swollen by the time we landed, I almost couldn't fit my shoes on. Positive note: The food was good, especially the bibimbap for our first meal.

Played some travel Scrabble to pass time in the airport.
 Getting Acclimated
Andy, the high school principal at APIS, picked us up in the airport, helped us get my cell phone up and running, and then drove us to our apartment. He lives in the same building, so he was kind enough to go through some of the confusing parts of our apartment for us. The apartment has a lot of appliances/amenities that are digitized, and of course all the instructions are in Korean. Here are some of the digital controls in our apartment: electronic card entry to get into our building, keypad to get into our apartment, washer, dish washer, air conditioner, wine chiller, kimchi refrigerator, electronic lights panel, hot water for appliances, sinks, shower, and in-floor heating, and the bidet. I'm pretty sure I accidentally hit the buttons for the in-floor heating on our first morning here because things were getting pretty warm, but I think I figured out how to turn it off again by pressing some random buttons.

It didn't take long for the boxes we had shipped to arrive. Number one priority for the boys: playing Magic the Gathering.
The morning after we arrived, Jodi, a counselor at APIS, and her daughter, Katrine, stopped by with baked goods and an offer to take us around the neighborhood. We were just about to go out to search for a market, so it was perfect timing. Besides a small grocery store, we also have coffee shops, a bakery, a stationary store, and multiple restaurants in our neighborhood. Oh - and a McDonald's across the street (Dan and the boys have visited - I'm determined to never cross their threshold!). There is a large stream with bike/running/walking trails along it only a few blocks from our apartment, and APIS is less than a mile away. I've been walking there and back every day. It's mostly a residential area, though, with quite a few schools in the vicinity. I've run on the trails early in the morning (to beat the heat), and there are all sorts of people up and active at the same time.

This looks like playground equipment, but it's actually exercise equipment. It shows up periodically along the trails. Older Korean men and women pause along their walks to work out. The boys thought it was pretty fun too!
Stepping stones across the stream.
One of the first things APIS did for all of us new teachers and families was to take us around Seoul on the busses and trains so that we would get practice using the transportation system. I love not having to drive anywhere! Busses, subways, and taxis are all fairly inexpensive, clean, and easy to use. Our first taxi trip was to EMart to pick up some groceries we couldn't find at our local store. Our first bus/subway trip was to Costco. Hoping to travel to IKEA Korea tomorrow.

Keeping Busy
To start the school year, APIS planned three days of Incoming Faculty Orientation and a three-day retreat for all the staff. There were traditional "workshop week" activities, such as going over the school handbook, procedures, and a school tour, however these were accompanied by some pretty amazing additional experiences: Eating a traditional Korean barbecue, a trip to Insadong (an "arts" neighborhood in Seoul), Shabu Shabu dinner, whitewater rafting, dinner at Todai, and a Korean baseball game. The food here has been delicious so far. I'm going to need to do a separate post on all the wonderful dishes we've tried - and the fun Korean snack foods we've discovered. Even the school cafeteria food has been yummy!

The boys have been very open to trying all sorts of new foods - and they've found some they surprisingly enjoy. Egen likes this type of mushroom you can find in a lot of dishes here, and Quinn loves octopus.
Painting ceramic figures - one of the activities the boys did in Insadong.
Dan at Korean barbecue. So many side dishes! You grilled your own meat at the table and then built it into a lettuce wrap.
Eating snacks at the Korean baseball game.
Panoramic of the field.
Hot and exhausted while waiting for the subway after the ball game.
If you can't tell from my descriptions, I am loving Seoul, and so is my family. Despite the heat and humidity, we feel very much at home here, and a lot of that has to do with the warm welcome we've received from the APIS faculty and staff. There is so much more I could write about, but I think it's time to wrap up this post for now. I'm hoping to write future posts about Korean food, my classroom, and my walk to work, so keep checking in!

No comments:

Post a Comment