“Do you have a high chance of getting MERS? Will you be okay? Will the government send you back home? Come back home already.” These are the things I have been hearing from friends and family lately. DON’T WORRY, I AM FINE. Out of the 50 million population of South Korea, only less than 200 have been infected. As of June 18, 2015, 23 people have died due to MERS, 160 diagnosed, and more than 6,700 have been quarantined. The number of people being infected is significantly decreasing, so I think everything will be fine by the end of the month. The South Korean government is doing its best to put the outbreak under control. Everywhere you go, you can see hand sanitizers and people wear masks. My dormitory has also made the effort in preventing MERS by making dorm rules a lot stricter; outside guests are no longer allowed to enter the building, including other residents from other on-campus buildings.
Anyway, back to my life in Seoul. The first week of class has been really easy because it was mainly learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet, and basic grammar particles. However, things are now getting a lot harder. Every Wednesday, I have a role play and lab test. Tomorrow, we’re having our first cultural activity class, which is Taekwondo. I’m excited!
Over the past weekend, I toured Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insadong with my roommate. Although it was very smoggy, gloomy, and cloudy, I had a very relaxing time. It was good to take a break from the busy city. I’m really into Korea historical dramas, so it was nice to actually see the palace and walk in the grounds that these dramas would be filmed at. The architecture was just stunning. It really felt like I was in the Joseon Dynasty! Afterwards, we headed the Gwanghwamun Square to take a picture of the famous statues. I was only allowed to take a picture of King Sejong’s statue because apparently, there was a protest going on in front of Admiral Lee’s statue.
Roommate randomly asked to take pictures with locals wearing Hanbok
Then we headed to the famous market in Insadong. Insadong is a neighborhood known for antiques, artworks, and teashops. We didn’t tour the area much because it was getting late.
I haven’t been going out much during the weekdays lately because I have either been taking long naps, studying, or it was probably raining. Well, monsoon season is approaching. But yesterday, me and my Indonesian classmates went to the famous Dongdaemun Design Plaza to see LED light white roses. It was absolutely beautiful! I believe the drama Producer (Kim Soo Hyun and IU are in it) was filmed here. Then, we went to Hongdae to eat dinner.
20,000 LED roses!
One thing I have been noticing here is that people are very fashionable. Even the ajumeo (middle-aged women) dress so fashionably! Also, many people here literally drink a lot. A LOT of Soju. Everywhere you go, you will encounter a drunk ajeoshi (middle-age man). I also learned how to bargain, but it was a very scary experience! I was able to buy a shirt for $20 that cost $28, but I could’ve gone lower. Also, I had to lie that I didn’t have enough money just to bring it down to that price. I don’t feel bad though, because I’m pretty sure the mark-up price is like 200%. I remember bargaining in Hongdae, and it was the most unpleasant experience ever. I was interested in buying a pair of shorts and shirt with a budget of $25, but the seller sold it for $58. That was too high, so with my broken Korean, I told him it was too expensive. Then he lowered it down to $50, but then I said it was still too expensive. So I said nevermind and was about to walk out, but then he stopped me and told me how much I wanted it. I’m not a good bargainer, so I said “Mullayo (I don’t know), and told him that I don’t want it anymore, but he kept bugging me. So I said $40, and he gave in. But I told him I wanted a different color, and he started saying things that I didn’t not understand in an angry tone. I just wanted to switch colors, why get so mad? I don’t want to bargain ever again after this experience lol.
Anyway, that’s it so far!