Today I has been exactly one month since I arrived in Seoul, long enough to draw some conclusions about the city. Overall, I have to say I love it here and I feel just awesome. I still haven’t felt homesick at all and that’s a very good sign. About my life in Seoul during this month, these are some of the main points:
- Food. Korean food is quite healthy and eating in Korean restaurants is very cheap. Specially in the area around Yonsei University, we usually have lunch for about 3,000 to 4,000 won (1,000 won is $1, more or less). There is quite a lot of variety, although if you don’t like spicy food, this variety decreases.
- Korean Language. I like Korean and I seem to be pretty good at it (at least that’s what Koreans say). By the end of the internship I hope I can maintain a conversation in Korean and understand at least 80% of what I hear…
- Public Transport. Public transport works perfectly in Seoul, although it’s a little expensive if you use it a lot, because there is no monthly flat-rate like in Madrid, for example. By subway or bus you can go anywhere in Seoul, and usually all signs are also translated into English.
- Stress. Whenever you walk on the streets, specially in areas like Sinchon, you get the feeling that this city live in a constinuous bballi bballi. In Korean, bballi bballi (빨리 빨리) means “quickly, quickly”. This expression can be heard quite often when Koreans are crossing the street or getting on the bus or subway, for example.
- Smells. When you walk in Seoul, the mix of smells is amazing. Here in Seoul, there are many street kiosks in which they sell spicy (and smelly!) food. On the other hand, many (old) areas in Seoul lack a sewering system, and still use septic tanks for wastewater. This makes walking in Seoul a unique experience for your nose.
- Oegugin (외국인). Oegugin in Korean means foreigner. Sometimes I have the feeling that foreigners are kind of “apart” from the rest of Korean society. Anyway, this problem is common to many countries, and I guess nobody is to blame for this situation, when such a big culture difference is present.
In the following months, I just hope “good things” continue overcoming “bad things”, as it has been so far.