Today is Korea’s Independence Day from being a colony of Japan. Its not celebrated like the 4th of July parties, BBQs, and long weekends we all love and enjoy. Actually it doesn’t seem all that different except for schools and most government type things are closed and that’s about it. Although, we do see a lot of crisp and clean Korean flags flying along some of the streets or on the taxi cab’s back windows.
Today our new Korean friend, Jake, took us to get our phones set up. To anyone who is thinking about doing what we are crazy enough to do …. make friends! As much as we love our independence and learning things together it is really nice to have a person who is fluent in both Korean and English. I don’t know how we would have gotten set up with our phones without him. Basically, we went to SK Telecom and are having international chips put into our phones. It is a 6 month contract that you can’t cancel without penalties but then it turns into a month by month and you get your deposit back when you do cancel. For us that’s perfect since we have like 10 1/2 months to go. We really don’t NEED a phone. We have a cruddy one that the school gave us but it is only one. More than anything its the fear of getting separated and not being able to speak the language to find each other. Chris is quite tall but I blend into the crowd height. Either way we have minimal calling or texting (I don’t know if we have any actually) but we have unlimited data which is all you need here. There are so many apps like Viber, Kakoa, IMessage, Facebook Messenger, etc…. that you really don’t need to text the standard way. Tomorrow morning we are going back with our bank account numbers and have the chips installed but we got all the paperwork done today. We actually get to pick the last 4 digits of our phone number! Some people just make it their name (my brother has always wanted to do that) but I think I am going to have to get creative just because I can. 🙂
Overall things are getting better. The new medicine they put me on is making me feel sick but I did stop swelling up like a balloon every time I get near water. Still can’t shower like a real person. Hoping they take me off the steroids on Tuesday with my follow up though because they are making me sweat and want to eat …constantly. Not fun.
Other things we haven’t updated about:
Bank! Thanks to the help of Erika we were able to set up bank accounts. My suggestion is IBK – they were really easy and helpful. I don’t know if we could have done it without someone translating but overall it only took about 40 minutes combined to do it and walk away with bank cards and accounts. Our boss was able to do our direct deposit into the account the same afternoon. A fun fact about the bank accounts: you can pick your own account number! Any 10 digit number! We had fun with that. A lot of people use their phone numbers here which I find interesting but I guess it makes sense (usually won’t forget it). Our bank cards are very pretty looking … trying to impress the foreigners supposedly. Oh and final thing is the ATM can be used in English! I learned the main buttons in Korean (withdrawal and deposit) but it is nice for more complicated needs to be able to use the English buttons.
Noraebang! Aka: Korean Singing room Aka: fancy karaoke :)! That was such a fun night. We ended up going out from place to place until about 1:30 a.m. when we decided to go to a noraebang. Basically you go in, pay for a room, take off your shoes (like everywhere else here) and get hooked up with all the goodies! There are huge screen TVs with these wireless keyboard remotes and you chose songs from KPop to Bon Jovi to Nsync! The lyrics show up on the screen, you grab a microphone and you start singing! They have benches all around the walls which I enjoyed standing on because the three boys are much taller than I am (and it made me feel special as I sang my heart out!). It was a 4 a.m. kind of night but the place was a lot of fun. Definitely a good place to go with a group and just be silly and crazy and loud!
Interesting tid bit about our nigh out ^. As we were walking there was a police car on the side road. We took a picture of all the boys standing in front of it but as we walked a little further I realized why it was there. There was a man (obviously intoxicated) and an officer trying to help him…like actually help him. Just talking to him trying to get him up and functioning. It was kind of interesting. The police aren’t violent here and yet we still feel really safe wandering around. I feel safer here wandering than I did in the states because people really aren’t trying to be creepy – everyone is just trying to enjoy life. That moment when I saw the cop trying to get the man up and functioning I just thought ‘wow, no screaming, cursing or punches thrown…just helping’. May seem naive but it was a good moment to me.
Tortillas! Chris found tortillas at the store the other day. They are a little pricey but there are tonssss of them in a pack. We made stove top “pizza-dillas”. They were pretty good! Not the same but we are in Asia so we can’t expect it to all be the same.
Langauge! Chris has been desperately trying to teach me Korean. He is picking up on it so fast but to me it looks like lines and squiggles. I am starting to get certain phrases though! I can say hello, goodbye, thank you, take-out, and I need … so it’s a start! It can be very frustrating because it is SOOO different then English but you pick up on pieces. Oh and a brilliant co-worker of mine from GSEP gave me this little survival Korean language book as a going away present….it hasn’t left our backpack/purse/or our sides yet. It truly is helpful!
Our adventure here has been taxing on our brains and bodies but we really are enjoying our time here. We officially booked our KTX (high speed train) tickets down to Busan for this weekend and a hotel for Saturday night. It will be lots of first adventures for us and a chance to see one of our closest friends who is on a Navy ship that will be docked in Busan for the weekend. Really excited to get to see him and spend some time just having fun! Korea has a lot to offer and even though this heat just makes you want to stand in front of your a/c unit you have to just bite the bullet, sweat, and go have some fun :)!
I will let Chris tell you about the play we saw and share some pictures!