I’ve touched on this in previous blog entries, but I will continue to elaborate on how difficult it may be to navigate in a country where the predominant language spoken is one you’re not fluent in! While Seoul has various things written in Konglish and there are occasional workers you come across that understand English, majority of the time my group and I are whipping out our phones to translate. Navigating requires so much more energy and attention; while traveling on the transit and walking the streets we have to be on high alert not to miss our stops and to make sure we’re taking the right routes. This is also why, as I’ve mentioned before, being able to at least read Hangul is almost a necessity when you’re set to visit Korea! Something as mundane as finding and trekking to the nearest supermarket requires so much more effort compared to back home. This applies to other simple tasks like going to the pharmacy, finding food, shopping for toiletries, etc. I love how unpredictable my days herein Seoul are even with such small tasks.
A benefit that comes from having to go outside of my room so much and being forced to speak in various different situations is my confidence in social situations. I find myself less self conscious when taking initiative to suggest ideas or lead my group for certain activities and outings. Being here I’m learning how to care less about what others may think of me. Despite my fears of not understanding workers in shops or possibly getting lost, I am starting to find myself not being bothered by those “inconvenient” outcomes.
On another note, this past week my friend and I visited an animal café. Korea has countless animal cafes that usually specialize in one specific animal (such as cat cafes, or dog cafes). However, the one we went to was a rescue center of some sort and had many different animals to see and pet! There were raccoons, meerkats, cats, dogs, reptiles, and even an alpaca. It was heartwarming to see the different rescues being given affection and nice shelter knowing that their previous situations weren’t the greatest. The staff told us different tidbits and facts about the animals before we were let in the rooms to visit them. For only about 10 bucks we got to spend a few hours in such a lovely, healing environment.