I have arrived and I am safe and sound as can be! I've been in Seoul for about two weeks now and ever since arriving I've been extremely busy. Training, class observations, setting up my class room, moving into my new apartment, familiarizing myself with a new country and a new city. It's been extremely hectic.
Surprisingly, I'm not being struck too hard with culture shock or even a sense of novelty with my new surroundings. Maybe part of that is because of how much I've been moving around in the past year and also maybe because this isn't my first bout with Asia. Japan and Korea are extremely different in so many ways but very similar in so many others. It might be a similar comparison to the east and west coasts of the US or even the US compared to the UK.
Seoul is a huge city, one of the biggest in the world. I've hardly had a chance to see much of it and no matter how long I stay here it's unlikely I'll ever see it all. It's extremely dense, the people are very friendly, there are coffee shops everywhere and each neighborhood seems like a city unto itself (and by some definitions they are). I really like Seoul, it has most of the things I love big cities for. Great public transportation, lots of eating and entertainment options within walking distance, a huge amount of things to do and all sorts of people.
A typical street in Hongdae
I live in a neighborhood called Hongdae. Named after a university in the area, Hongik University, the nation's best art school, there are actually a number of universities in the area and it's widely known as being a huge nightlife destination. Literally around the corner from my apartment is "Picasso Street," which contains hundreds of cafes, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants along with constant live street music and art installations, it's an extremely lively place and somewhere most people my age in Seoul would love to live.
Friday, March 2nd was the first day of school. I primarily teach kindergarten, I have my own class with 9 great students. After kindergarten I teach two classes of elementary school students.The level of Engilsh that my 5 year olds have is extremely impressive, comparable to that of my middle school students in Japan, probably even better. It certainly helps that Korean isn't allowed to be spoken in the school.
So from here on out it's time for me to explore and experience Korea, this is going to be fun.