Monday, June 27, 2011

First days in Incheon

Yesterday was awesome!! I didn't write on this blog because it wasn't working in the airport so I was going to try and mess with the settings to get it to work, and then I logged on today and it worked!! The director of international affairs, Dr. Joon Choi, introduced himself as Joon, which comes between May and July and I thought that was hilarious. He let us sleep in and came and got us from the hotel at about 11:30. I don't think I've ever had a better shower or bed before (but that was after 48 hours of hardly any sleep and feeling gross). We went to a seafood market where I saw every type of fish, squid, clams, oysters, etc. for sell. The setup reminded me of a flea market or the market in Charleston. Everyone was trying to get our attention but I couldn't understand what they were saying. A girl that is coming to Lander for a year, EunJi, came with us. We then went and ate at a little restaurant near the market. It was a table that had a grill in the middle of it. They would put oysters, clams, conchs, and other "sea shells" on the grill and let it cook then we ate it. I have never eaten any of this stuff and I liked the flavor of it, but not the texture. But I was impressed with myself that I ate everything and never gagged once. :)

Then EunJi took us to a underground shopping mall. It was huge!!! It had stores for clothes, makeup, cell phones, shoes, bags, jewelry, and everything else imaginable in these little stores!!! I tried to go to a ATM to get money but they didn't take foreign cards, so I'm going to have to wait and get some from a bank later. Then for supper last night, we went to a restaurant and ate more traditional Korean food. There is a food called kimchi, which is fermented cabbage, and Koreans eat this in one form for every meal. It can be a sauce, a soup, or to eat with lettuce (like a sandwhich between lettuce leaves). I don't particularly care for this but it is something I can eat with a straight face. They also served us shots of soju, the Korean vodka. He ordered one bottle but kept giving it to us until we finished 4 bottles!!!

We then went to a karaoke bar. It was the four Americans, Dr. Choi, EunJi, and another student names Wanseo. This is a lot different than I imagined it. We went into a room that had a tv, two microphones, and two tamborines, and we took turns choosing and singing songs. There was no one else in the room except for us, so we could sing and not be embarrassed by how bad we sounded.

Today, we went on a tour of Incheon University. This university has only been in its current location for about two years so everything is modern looking and very clean. The campus is a rectangle shape and the buildings are on the edges and the middle is sidewalks and a few trees. It is raining season in Korea right now so it's always either raining or cloudy, so we went up in the sky deck to see all the buildings. Each of us has a Korean buddy, and they explained all the buildings and about the Korean culture. We learned about Korean universities and other Korean things and we would then explain how it is different of similar in the US. They were either international trade or business majors that have either studied abroad in the US or are about to.

We then met the president of UI, Dr. Ahn, and he was very excited about being a sister university with Lander and hopes a lot of students come there to study. If I wasn't about to graduate, I would go in a heartbeat. Everyone is so nice and welcoming and it is a wonderful campus and city. Incheon is the third largest city in South Korea (after Seoul and Busan). The tallest building in Korea is right outside our hotel room window and we crossed the 6th longest bridge going from the airport to the hotel (it was 24 kilometers!!). I'm still getting used to the food and the language seems impossible to learn but I love everything else about here.

We then went for a Korean cultural event. We made rice cakes and decorated them with a sweetish icing-type stuff. It was about the size of a cupcake and we decorated it by flattening the "icing" (but it wasn't really sweet). We then cut three circles out and rolled it up and then cut it in half with chopsticks and it became a rose. We then learned the traditional Korean tea ceremony. I don't like green tea but it was fun learning how to make and serve it. Then we dressed up in traditional Korean outfits. Mine was a light pink dress with a dark pink jacket. Wanseo wore light blue pants, a pink shirt, and then a light blue robe. The hats for the men were hilarious. One of the hats had wings and the other was a hat with a rim made out of wire. I also got to play the large gong (I'm thinking of Mulan as I write this.). Then I guess Dr. Choi felt bad for us because we ate hamburgers for supper.

I am still jet lagged. It is about 7pm at night and I have been ready to go to sleep for a few hours. I am waking up at about 5 every morning then sleeping lightly until we have to get up. It isn't helping that it is so dark outside because it's always cloudy. It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow and I'm glad because we are going to an island to play on the beach.

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