Have I Told You Today I Love You?

Living out my dad's dream to dream.

First Impressions

Now that I’m on my fifth full day in Korea {which I  barely believe because it feels like two weeks already}, I want to share a few first impressions so far:

  • Litter doesn’t seem to be an issue as I rarely see trash on the ground but I have only seen a few public trash cans around the city, forcing me to ask the question, “Where does all the trash go?” My guess is they simply have less trash - something the US should catch onto.
  • Bus routes are extremely organized - each stop has an electronic board indicating the estimated wait time for each line. There are a handful of buses per stop - the one near my hotel {just a 3 minute walk} has at least five that stop there. And buses come in all sizes, from coach-style {those often go into Seoul or longer distances} to about the size of a Volkswagen bus. 
  • You pay for each bus ride based on distance as they don’t charge flat rates. Each person has a bus card & they scan it each time they get on & off then the correct amount for that specific ride is deducted from your card balance.
  • Parked cars have no rhyme or reason - they will go up on curbs, face both ways and there generally don’t seem to be parking laws. Or at least they’re not enforced. Yet I still find there’s an organized chaos about the whole thing. There are many parking garages, too, as space on the street is limited. And so far, I’ve gathered parking is free.
  • Side streets either don’t have sidewalks or they are very narrow, forcing you to walk on the street. The busier streets where cars travel at a higher speed have wider sidewalks, though.
  • I haven’t quite figured out intersections yet. They still have the universal “green means go” & “red means stop” but things are more at an angle, rather than straight and left/right. The busier intersections are much larger than what I’m used to the states. And waiting for a walk sign also takes longer.
  • Drivers are impatient too - they drive fast & aren’t afraid to honk if the car in front doesn’t go as soon as the light turns green. This is where the similarities to New York are clear {or really any big metropolitan area}.
  • I haven’t seen as many bicyclists as I was expecting - maybe because it is still winter and cold outside. 
  • I’ve seen a lot of construction - something always seems to be being built which is a sign of the country’s fast and large-scale development.
  • People rarely wear sunglasses, even when it’s extremely bright outside - my friend, Betsy, told me it’s because lighter eyes are more sensitive to light compared to darker eyes. Wonder if that’s true?
  • Over half of the kids in class {maybe closer to 75%} wear glasses.
  • Every kid in our classes has a cell phone. Every kid.
  • I’ve also learned that almost all men smoke, and it’s widely accepted to do so in public - inside or outside. Whereas women, especially young women, often smoke but typically not in public spaces. Cigarettes are super cheap, too - about $2 a pack, compared to almost $12 in New York. My hotel room even has an ashtray & ligher on my coffee table.
  • Coffee shops are pretty much on every corner - many more options than just Starbucks {though there is one next to my school}. This surprised me because I was told coffee can be hard to find in Korea which turns out not to be the case at all. This makes me extremely happy, of course, as I’m a slight coffee-addict.
  • Even though there are 50 million people living in a country approximately the size of Virginia, food is typically locally grown {or at least that’s what my head teacher told me}. Therefore it’s much healthier than the states. I’m sure I’ll find out more on that soon. And a food post is sure to come as that is such an integral part of their culture.

So many other observations going on but can only process so many at once. 

Thanks for reading. And as always, I love getting updates from home.