Alright so here we go kids, first journal. So I've been in Korea for about 2 weeks or so now, and it already feels like I've been here for so much longer.
I suppose I should go back and start with a few details on the flight, since that's where it all began. The flights were generally uneventful, aside from a bit of crying when I left, everything went smoothly and I really don't have much to report from that whole ordeal. The only notable thing from my flights is that I did meet a Canadian RYE student traveling on the same flight to Korea as me! We made sure to swap pins and contact info of course. After the following flight however, is when my true journey began.
As soon as I got off, I was taken by the sudden presence of Hangeul on all of the signs. I guess the reality that I was in Korea was hammered home by that? Either way, I made my way through the airport, following the crowds and asking help from what English speakers I could find my bag and the exit. Without even exiting the baggage claim area, my host mother spotted me and began to excitedly wave to me, she and my coordinator were there waiting for me with a sign, apparently having gotten a bit worried as to when I would be arriving, since I'd been taking a somewhat long time. Upon meeting the two of them, I quickly realized that this exchange would be one in which I met some of the nicest people I've ever known.
My first week here in Korea was a calm yet eventful one. I didn't start school until my second week, so I spent the majority of my time at home or off adventuring with my family. My mother was the main individual to interact with me, her English is quite good, and we made sure to give each-other tips on speaking one-another's language. On Thursday, I went to my first Rotary club meeting in Korea. It was a bit smaller than home, but I had long since learned that was a feature of Korean cities. I was surprised to find that the club was made up entirely of women, with my host mother of course being the president. All of the members greeted me and were very nice. At that meeting I ended up issuing a short speech that my host mother had written for me to introduce myself that morning. I made my fair amount of mistakes, but of course everyone clapped and kindly complimented my ability to speak Korean.
My second week was one that began on Sunday night, with me being swamped with messages and friend requests from Korean high school students from the school I would be going to, they having been long since notified of my coming arrival, apparently. My Monday immediately began with dramatically new experiences, as I had to take the public bus alone to get to school, a thing I'm generally unaccustomed to, being one from Florida which is a state equipped with a rather lackluster public transportation system.
Once I made it to school I was immediately being greeted left and right by eager and amazed high school students. Constant "hello"s and other attempts to practice English greetings could be heard all around me, with students often jumping up and peering out their classroom door to see the American. When I arrived in class, I was greeted with cheers and clapping, and groups of people coming to greet me. I found myself with a massive group of new friends that day, friends I'm sure I'll find myself becoming closer with over my time here in South Korea.
My school week went on progressively calmer after that initial hectic day of new found friends. My favorite class has unsurprisingly become English, primarily because my teacher is kind and very willing to talk and ask input of me. My English teacher even teaches me Korean after lunch every day of school! It's a service that I am extremely thankful for in all honesty. The other teachers have a certain degree more difficulty communicating with me, but each of them is nonetheless extremely kind, and always willing to offer a smile.
In just two weeks, I've found myself in love with this country, it's people, and of course its food. The cities are hectic but cozy, and the countryside is simply beautiful. The weather is much more varied than it is back home, and there are cute dogs on almost every corner. If you're reading this in some distant future, a future outbound to Korea yourself, I can tell you, that if you keep an open mind and a smile on your face, you will fall in love with this place faster than you might think.
Oh also protip my dawgs, in case you plan on using a bathroom here in Korea, one thing I'm sure many of you will likely need to do, there's a pretty good chance that you'll not want to flush the toilet paper. Some places don't mind, but at a lot of others, there's a special bin for the stuff, and if you flush it, serious harm may be caused to the plumbing. Just some advice.
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