Monday, August 3, 2009

My first day

This is a small park outside of a subway station


These little park things are EVERYWHERE, very nice in a big city


This little dog guards my school buildings parking garage

This is my desk at school



This is my room. Oh my, I have my own school room!

I realized that I titled my last post "The quiet city" and never explained what that meant. Silly me.
One of the very first things that struck me as different about Seoul is that it is a surprisingly quiet city. I have been told that the Koreans are a very reserved people, which explains why no one yells on the streets. What is truly odd is that no one talks very loudly on the streets and the subways are almost silent! Of course the traffic makes noise, but it really doesn't seem that bad since no one yells and none of the stores blare music into the street.
There is also a decided lack of graffiti. I have yet to see a single sign or wall defaced. There are also little park like areas with benches, fountains, and art on almost every block. It all kind of combines to create a very...peacefull city. (as peacefull as a city can be) All of the things I dislike about NYC aren't found here. The green spaces and art, along with the mountains peaking from between buildings, help alleviate the sense oppression I feel in NYC.
The people are differant than any other city I have been to. No one really smiles at others as they pass on the street, but if you talk to anyone they are very helpful and kind. If you stand in one place looking confused random strangers will go out of their way to ask if you need help. And pretty much anyone else you see who isn't Asian will go out of their way to say hello and ask how you are.
Non-Asians definatly attract attention. Lisa and I were in a grocery store Saturday and were contemplating eating in their cafe when a small Asian child came up to us. She said hello and told us her name in English. Then she looked at her parents and told us "Mother. Father." I wasn't entirely sure what to say to this random child, but Lisa, without batting an eye, says to her parents, "Her English is very good. Very good English." The parents broke out in huge smiles and thanked us! As foreigners, we are kind of like walking English tests and no one hesitates to use us as such. It's a very interesting experiance.
I can't help but think about how non-English speakers are treated in America. Here, more often than not signs and menus are in English and Korean, and pretty much everyone speaks some English. It's still hard to get around if you don't know any Korean (and thank god for Lisa's willingness to go with me and translate) I can't imagine comeing to America and not speaking English. I also can't imagine moving, not speaking the language, and having people be pissed that you can't speak it! I feel bad not being able to speak Korean and no one expects me to.
So, to recap:
no shoes inside
great public transportation
everything is really cheap
people are helpful
a comfortable city
great food, also dirt cheap
clean
safe, very safe
and of course you walk everywhere so loosing weight is going to be a snap
if I could just get Bob to move here and learn some of the language, I might never go home...I might not feel so positive about it in a month or so when homesickness sets in, but ya never know

1 comment:

  1. So happy for you Becca. I love YOUR classroom!

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