(Note: I couldn’t post this the day of because of no Wifi at my grandparent’s house…sorry guise > <)
As I write this, I am in a very humid small room at my grandparents’ apartment in Korea. The humidity is bearing down on all of us, thanks to the lovely typhoon coming towards our area, spinning to Japan.
Regardless, I felt the need to blog about my first day in Korea. Technically, it wasn’t a full day since we arrived in Korea at 4:45, but I still experienced a good amount.
As soon as we arrived, Chris and I had to wait in a taxi for my dad to get his phone card, and we had a conversation with the taxi 아저씨 (ahjussi). The conversation started out basically with questions like “What grade are you in?” and “What’s the age difference between you two?” But then it took a sharp turn from there that I didn’t expect.
Appa (Dad) did tell us that Koreans would think us different since we were from the States but I wasn’t prepared for the questions he would ask us about the US. The first few questions that he asked us about the States were
1) Are there a lot of African Americans like they say? (to which Chris and I were a bit lost with how he phrased it and then we awkwardly answered)
2) Not all American women are skinny, right? Some are chubby? (again, this drew a startled and awkward response from us…)
3) American people sweat a lot don’t they? Can’t you smell it? (…)
And then he asked us if we were dating anyone. When we said we weren’t he was shocked and said “Oh my Gahd!” (<with that Asian accent).
Already the conversation with Taxi 아저씨 told us that we weren’t home anymore. But still, I was a bit surprised at his bluntness. The questions he asked were on topics that we Americans won’t bring up with such, let me call it, gusto. But he wasn’t saying in a way that was derogatory; he was simply curious.
Then supper was a whole other experience. We had shabu shabu, which is when you have a boiling broth and then cook thin slices of beef, seafood, and vegetables. And holy cow, it was a LOT of food. Not only was there the shabu shabu, there was also a salad that came before that, and then after there was 만두 (dumplings), 칼국수 (noodles), and some special rice. It was even an experience eating at the restaurant; it was a sitting restaurant, as in, you take your shoes off at the entrance and sit on cushions during the entire meal.
And in general, walking around was for me a cool experience. Korean students (학생) are still in school, so we saw some uniformed students walking around with their ginormous smart phones and backpacks. For me, it was cool to see what the average Korean person wore, and it also made me realize that it is different from what I wear.
And like I anticipated, there was Hallyu bits and pieces everywhere. In a clothing store, there goes a member of CNBLUE. Next to it is Kim Yuna, the figure skater, advertising some sort of makeup. And walking down the streets, just like they do in Chinatown, little stores have speakers playing music, some of which voices or songs I recognized.
What surprised me the most was how I instinctively switched to Korean mode. While talking to the taxi 아저씨 I was pleasantly surprised at how much Korean I actually knew. I immediately switched to “감사함니다” (thank you) and started to bow more often.
This is only the start of the adventure, too. Tomorrow will be a full day in Seoul, so be sure to check back on my updates on the happenings in Korea~