Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm having trouble trying to sleep, I'm counting sheep but running out

I'm here in Korea .... it's been the longest day of my life, but somehow I'm still awake so I thought I'd try to get in an update before I forget everything.
I've been awake for close to 36 hours now, so this will not be well written - bear with me!

We started out at the Toronto airport with some major luggage drama. George hadn't weighed either of his suitcase and they were both about 8 kgs over the limit, so we spent close to half an hour re-arranging stuff into my suitcases, carry on, and an additional bag he bought. Somehow it all worked out, not too sure how we pulled it off!
We flew to Vancouver and had a few hours to kill, so had a nice Canadian lunch of burgers and fries and just tried to relax before our Vancouver-Seoul flight. We also ran into our friend Wade's parents. He's teaching in Korea right now, and we knew his parents were leaving the same day as us, but had never met them and no idea what they looked like. We somehow managed to pick them out of the crowds on our flight - what a small world!
The 13 hour flight actaully wasn't that bad. I watched alot of movies: Body of Lies, Casablanca, An Officer and a Gentleman and Twilight, as well as read a great book (The Cellist of Sarejavo) and listened to the new Killers album. I tried to sleep throughout, but the noise coupled with my excitment about arriving in Korea made that virtually impossible - I think I had a few 20 minute shut-eyed periods, but nothing resembling real sleep! I think the fact that it was daylight for the entire 20 hours we were in transit also had something to do with it.
We arrived at the airport in Seoul around 5:30 pm and our recruiter Clara was there to pick us up. She was extremely nice, helping us to buy an international phone card to call home, and getting us on the bus to the orientation venue. The bus ride took about an hour and a half through the crazy Seoul traffic but we arrived in one piece.
As soon as arriving at the converted university campus thats used exclusively for international learning we got our room assignments, filled out paperwork to geta Korean bank account, and took a Korean proficiency test. The majority of people haven't learned anything, so George and I who can read the alphabet and sound out words were placed in the advanced section for tomorrow - ha ha ha!
I was so excited to shower and go to bed after over 24 hours awake, but that didn't happen. George's best friend Quan has been here since June or July and insisted on taking us out in Seoul for our first night. We set out from the orientation venue to meet him at a nearby subway station but ended up completely lost, so asked a Korean woman for help. She was so kind, and went in the oposite direction that she'd been heading in order to drop us off at the doors to the subway - so nice!
We went out with Quan and his Korean friend Aileen and had some delicious food - some kind of spicy shrimp with red and green peppers and the infamous soju - the Korean alcohol that I've heard horror stories about. I had a couple of shots, but was too tired to handle the taste - kind of like watered down vodka, but the cheapest stuff - eww! Aileen taught us about some of the drinking traditions in Korea. Age determines who pours the drinks as well as who starts and ends the drinking. She also showed us how to accept and pour alcohol properly. There is alot of custom and respect tied into drinking here and we have alot to learn! Seoul is crazy, so many people, such bright lights, food vendors everwhere, and so much public intoxication - I should have been more overwhelmed I think, but I was too exhausted.
We're up at 7:30 for breakfast then don't have anything until opening ceremonies at 11. I think Im going to try to head to the gym - I am so sore from the hours of sitting down today and really need to stretch my legs!
Goodnight :)

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on getting there, it's amazing how tiring travel can be considering you're doing nothing the whole time.