The experiences and adventures of an American living and teaching in Istanbul, Turkey
Monday, September 7, 2009
Hiking Trip and New Challenges
Hiking at Saraksan... I think that's North Korea somewhere on the other side of those mountains.
Spectacular views from hiking!
Mark and I on the way up the trail!
Overall, I am loving Korea. Although I don't have internet, a cellphone, a bank account, or a gym membership until after the 14th when I will officially become an Alien (haha), I am feeling somewhat settled. I am much more laid back than I was 2 years ago and this transition has been surprisingly easier than my move to Paris was in 2007. Every day something so ridiculous happens to me that I swear I'm on Candid Camera or Punked or something, but then I remind myself that this is actually real. For example, a man at my school asked me if I knew how to work an electric range. I said I did not because I wasn't exactly sure what appliance in my kitchen he was referring to. Anyway, he came over later and proceeded to quasi-translate in Konglish the ENTIRE microwave instruction manual to me and give me tips on using my microwave. I was in a hurry to meet my friend, but I couldn't tell him to stop since he was so nice to come offer to help me. Another example would be my shower. My "shower" is actually a hose with a showerhead that is attached to the top of my sink in the bathroom (kind of annoying since the entire bathroom gets wet every time I shower.) There is a switch on the sink that puts it to faucet versus shower head on the wall off the hose. I always forget to switch it back when I'm done showering so a few hours later I'll try and turn the sink on and blast myself in the face with the cold shower. Luckily, even I think this is funny every time it happens. Lastly, sometimes I think how funny it would be to be a fly on the wall when I attempt to work things like my air conditioning unit, my hot water unit (which also is a thing that makes my floor warm and must be turned on to shower) and my washing machine. All the buttons are in Korean and so are the manuals. I think I have screwed up just about every appliance I have.
I also am having a hard time with the provided school lunches. Every day I eat a buffet style lunch in the faculty room with the administration and some other subject teachers. My school friend, Jenny, always tells me what is what, but no matter what it is, I try and take at least a little bit of everything. The teachers all stare at me eagerly when I try something new, and I am always terrified of offending them. Most of the food isn't that bad, but a lot of the time it just isn't what I'm expecting. For example, the other day I got a bowl of soup- expecting it to be hot and delicious. Unfortunately, it was freezing cold and very fishy. Gross. My lunch diet consists mostly of rice, kimchi (Thank God I like kimchi), and enough bites of everything else as to not offend anyone. This is going to take getting used to for sure!
My biggest problems so far though are not having a dryer (ugh), not being able to find avocadoes cheaper than $6 per avocado, and not being able to access the J.Crew website from this country. If those are my biggest issues though, I'd say that this move has been pretty successful. I've made a lot of new friends and kept my old ones from Thailand. I have been out almost every day after school meeting up with people all over the city, exploring the town and nightlife. It's fantastic.
As you all know, I'm not very outdoorsy at all, but I'm making a huge effort to get out and see as much as I can before the weather gets cold. Therefore, Saturday, I got up early and went with some friends to Saraksan to go hiking. The hike was intense at some points, but it was really fun! When we got to the observation deck area of the mountain, the views were absolutely spectacular. I hope to go back to this park again and do more hiking.
Tomorrow is my first day of work, so I am off to get some sleep!