Week 1: Touring Seoul & Moving To Paju: 5/28-6/2
The first night in Seoul we had our first Korean style dinner with Sam (Dr. Lim) and his cousin who lives in Seoul. The only familiar food type was a couple dishes of sushi but other than that the food was authentic and nothing I had ever seen before, and delicious. Chopsticks-- chopsticks are difficult. It was a struggle trying to fill my stomach with food on night one, ha. If you like spicy food, Korea is a place you'd enjoy. The food was not only great tasting but it was very reasonably priced - a meal for 7 people cost us around $40. We then took a tour around our campus at night which is a beaut. Somehow these people manage to design a campus in the middle of a city that makes you feel as though you're still in the wilderness with much of the campus scattered with patches of forest. It's pretty incredible. Exchanging currency from the U.S. dollar to the Korean Won is relatively expensive, luckily Sam's cousin was able to hook us up at her internal rate of exchange since she is a Korean citizen.
Fritz, Justin, and myself have also had some interesting experiences with the bus and subway systems running around this place. Basically public transportation by bus or subway are the most efficient ways to get around the area and you use a card called a "T-Money" card that you put money on and scan at every subway/bus station to get onto a bus or subway. The whole country is connected by both subway and bus lines, so you can travel from one end to the other in a matter of hours or less - it's pretty awesome actually. At first it's difficult to comprehend, especially since most of the directions are written in Korean - but once you get it down it's only a matter of time before you're at your destination. We also took a tour of the city of Gangnam (yes, like Gangnam Style) which appeared to be the luxury southern district of Seoul and very "classy". Every car I saw in that area was what I'd consider upper class from BMW's to LAMBO's - and an interesting detail I noticed was that all the cars were either black, silver, or white; there were no other color cars like we see in the states, not sure why? We were also given a few days for leisure - we decided to do some hiking around Paju and climb some mountains. Pretty awesome stuff. Korea's terrain is predominantly mountains and it was an endless challenge as we tirelessly topped one massive peak to realize that it was just the beginning of many much larger ones!