It’s been two months since I’ve moved to Seoul! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t! It’s gone so quickly, too quickly almost! I’ve gotten up to a lot these past couple of months, unsurprisingly, and so I’m going to do a bit of a roundup of everything I’ve done during my time in Seoul so far.
March brought me many changes, but the biggest was my job. I started working as an English teacher for the first time! I teach kindergarten and elementary age children, my youngest being 4 and my oldest being 12. It’s frustrating, stressful, and extremely challenging, but it can actually be a lot of fun and the kids make me laugh. It’s changed my current attitude towards children, something I mentioned in this post about the things I learned in my first month in Seoul.
If you don’t know by now that I love my food, I doubt you’ll ever know. (Kidding, of course – food posts are unavoidable on this blog!). March brought a plethora of flavours and textures to my palate, and stuffed my belly full of delicious, glorious, mouth-watering food. Some of my favourites have been galbi barbecue at Daeseong Galbi in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, and the most amazing cheese donkkaseu at Mama Tonkatsu in Jeongja-dong, Bundang-gu.
How many times can a girl visit the same palace in a month, you ask? Well, I managed it twice, a pretty low number, but for someone who has just moved here I ask myself why do I return to the same places and not find somewhere new. BECAUSE IT’S BEAUTIFUL, that’s why! Gyeongbokgung, the most famous of the five main palaces in Seoul, is stunning, and the perfect spot to go for a walk on a sunny March Sunday. I even rented a hanbok and took some snaps of me in the traditional clothing!
In the last two months I’ve seen more old friends than I could shake a stick at. Well, maybe not quite that many, but I’ve certainly had my fair share of reunions in the past eight weeks. Korean, French, Canadian; you name the nationality, I’ve met them again after four years! And the best part about it (besides seeing my friends, of course) has been going back to some of our old stomping grounds from when I came to Seoul for a university summer school in 2013.
Before I moved here I knew that I wouldn’t have internet access in my apartment. It wasn’t part of my working contract, so I knew I would have to find it myself. What I didn’t realise was that I would need my Alien Registration Card to set up any sort of phone or internet contract, and I didn’t get that card until the 6th of April. On the 19th of April I walked out of the local Olleh (a major mobile and internet service provider here in Korea) store with a WiFi egg and the feeling of finally being part of civilisation again! 100% #FirstWorldProblems, I know.
But my limited internet access wasn’t an entirely negative thing. I learned that I don’t need WiFi access everywhere I go to survive, and it also forced me to go into the shop and try to speak some Korean (admittedly only a tiny amount, before the man helping me got his phone out to use a translator). I was terrified, but I plucked up the courage and now I have a Korean phone number AND internet access. (We shan’t talk about how I ate through my entire allowance in just over a week…)
I went to 광장시장 Gwangjang Market for the first time! If you don’t know about it, Gwangjang Market is a famous food market filled with sit-down food stands selling authentic, traditional Korean food. You can get everything from dumpling soup to rice and vegetable bowls, as well as your lesser-popular blood sausage and fermented stingray… Sadly, I made the rookie mistake of eating earlier in the day which meant I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I could have, so next time I go back I will go on an empty stomach. I’ll also go armed with my camera and write a post about it, because it’s too good to miss on a visit here!
Japan is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms, but people seem to forget about Korea! There were some stunning sights to be seen around Seoul during the admittedly short blossom season, but I made sure not to miss them…just about! I made my way over to Yeouido, a large island in the middle of the Han River, one Saturday evening and took a stroll along the north-western path to admire the blooms – a perfect way to spend a Spring evening in the city!
I was observed in class for the first time towards the end of April and, let me tell you, it was a nerve-wracking experience! Though, apparently there was nothing wrong with my teaching and the issues were all with the students. I breathed a humungous sigh of relief when I heard this, especially considering I have had no training whatsoever. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m not too bad at this teaching malarkey and I’m even beginning to love the kids, but that’s a whole other blog post waiting to happen!
On the last weekend of May I hopped over to Jongno and the Cheonggyecheon to see Yeondeunghoe, the Lotus Lantern Festival, in full swing. It’s an early start to Buddha’s birthday celebrations here in Seoul, and it was a sight to see! I managed to catch some of the famous parade comprising a collection of large and small lanterns carried by people from various temples and other communities, including a huge crowd of people from the Jogyesa Temple, where the parade finishes. After the parade, I went for a walk down the Cheonggyecheon, a stream running through part of Seoul, where there were lanterns strung overhead, and larger lanterns displayed on plinths above the water. It was a sight to behold, and such a fab atmosphere!
All in all, I’ve been a pretty busy gal since moving here! This list is, of course, not exhaustive – I have been on several nights out, been for karaoke a few times, made some wonderful new friends and spent an afternoon relaxing in the park by the river. I’ve registered as an alien, finally purchased some furniture for my apartment, and opened a bank account!
Quite frankly, it’s no surprise that time has passed so quickly. I’ve barely given myself time to breathe! But life here in Seoul is exciting and is only getting better, so I can’t complain too much now, can I?