Last night was my first night out in the city. I am not officially in Seoul, but in a province south of Seoul. After dinner, we all gathered outside the dormitories and made our way outside the university and into the city. There were hundreds of us herding into the city like a bunch of cattle and we must have looked ridiculous through the eyes of a native Korean. I ended up splitting off with three other girls and we made our way to our first mission of the night-ordering a beer. This seemingly easy task quickly became the most challenging part of my trip so far. In Korea, many of the bars have black windows so you cannot see inside. We approached one of these bars and walked in. The bar was very small and the three workers stared at us like we had just landed off a spaceship. We asked for 4 beers in the best way we could, but they kept on staring. Even after asking in Korean (we were with a Korean American girl), gesturing, and pointing at the beers in the refrigerator, the workers laughed incessantly at us. At this point we finally decided to give up and leave.
Luckily, we were able to find two more bars eventually that were much nicer and considerate to our lack of Korean speaking skills. The first bar was very posh and we had our own couches and private dining area and the second bar was more chill and suited a younger crowd. I was approached by a group of college students who were celebrating their recent graduation and they were very eager to practice their English with me. By ten o’ clock we were exhausted and ready to get to bed.
Basically I learned that in order to survive a year here I am going to have to learn to read hangul. I heard it can take as little as 3 hours so that is my next mission. Once I can read, speaking and understanding will become so much easier. I’m off to a Korean language class now so let’s hope for the best!