Honeymoon Stage in South Korea


In 3 weeks I have been: overwhelmed by the Daegu smell on the streets and in my apartment, pushed by an Ajusshi (elderly man) in the subway, angrily yelled at by a store clerk, lost in the heat for over 2 hours, the accidental consumer of chicken hearts, heard unknowingly cursing in the grocery store whilst attempting to pronounce the number 10, subjected to the terrible Soju hangover, discovered that Korea is not a “beer-loving” culture, and ordered ramyeon over three times only to receive the wrong meal.

In 3 weeks I have also: found my way home countless times despite not knowing Korean, Climbed 850-metres (2,790 ft) to see Gatbawi Buddha & dined with a Buddhist Monk, been offered directions by a kind Ajumma, visited the ancient city of Jeonju Hanok Village, devoured the best churro I have ever tasted, drank soju on a rooftop looking over Downtown, been dubbed to be ‘bootiful’ by the head of Education for the English Program in Daegu, celebrated Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) with the best group of friends abroad I could have asked for, and eaten way too many rice cakes.

Korea11Three weeks ago I could only imagine what it would be like to move across the world. I had many vivid daydreams about meeting my co-teacher, eating street food on sticks, and losing myself down winding roads. I never thought it would be as hard as it’s proven to be. The culture shock is present in almost everything I do, from ordering food to finding a restroom. At the same time, everyday situations feel like immense accomplishments. I’m slowly but surely teaching myself to read Hongul just to survive dining at restaurants. I’ve discovered a nearby grocery store less than 5 minutes down the block from my apartment where the clerk refers to me as Puer-to-riii-co… I guess he must have spoken to the lady who works at the restaurant across the street!

Today marks 21 days of being in South Korea, and I am so relieved to say that I finally see a glimmer of solace. It’s starting to feel a little like home.

 

DreamCatchers2
Dream catchers in a chic vintage shop in Downtown Daegu
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Photobombing in Hanok Village
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Lauren on the subway!
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My street with tons of little shops
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Street food is SO good!!!
GroupShot
About to climb more stairs than we’re prepared for.

 

And finally… a little glance at our Chuseok celebration. Hope you enjoy!

(This will teach me to take vertical videos on my iphone!)

Have you ever moved to a place that’s far away from home? How did it feel? How long did it take for the culture shock to start wearing off? I want to know!

Previous English Program in Korea (EPIK): Orientation
Next How to Get to Mt. Palgongsan and the Never-Ending Stairs Challenge

4 Comments

  1. September 13, 2014
    Reply

    you got some great photos here!

  2. October 17, 2014
    Reply

    I love this! I moved abroad right after college and I remember the series of emotions going like this:

    1. This place is so damn cool- everything is like candy to a little kid, I’m so excited.
    2. Quick switch- I miss the USA, I can’t stand this or that about my new home. What the hell?
    3. And then finally, what we most desire: A more balanced approach to my life in Bolivia and then in Chile and then in Ecuador. I found things I loved, things that were different but I learned to accept, and I also grew to recognize what I appreciated about home and what parts of life in South America I wanted to bring back to my life in the USA a few years later.

    All in all, I feel like the culture shock never fully went away, and I loved that because it made me feel so much more alive, if that makes any sense!

    • October 20, 2014
      Reply

      That’s very true! When things become too familiar, your routine just becomes so second nature that you forget to stay in the moment – I get that. I’ll have to remember that feeling the next time something unexpected happens to me in South Korea :).

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