After a wonderful vacation in some amazing places with Fabian, I have now arrived in Seoul Korea to start my orientation.
But before I tell you about my arrival here, I'll wrap up the last few days we had in Istanbul. On our "bazaar" day, we haggled hard and got some pretty Turkish style plates and of course the requisite magnet (for me) and shot glass (for Fabian). After our shopping day, we took a $2 ferry ride to the Asian side of Istanbul and enjoyed wandering the interesting street markets. So now Fabian can say that's he's been to Asia and we can both say that we've been to a rare intercontinental city. Check that off the bucket list! The following day we visited Topkapi palace, which was interesting, but I think Fabian thought it was better than I did. We also explored the modern and trendy Beyoglu area, and took a lovely tour of the Bosphorus. On our final day together, we checked out the beautiful Cora church and ancient city walls before we met up with two of Fabian's friends from Ottawa who are currently posted at the Embassy in Ankara.
Despite the wonderful time we had together in both Istanbul and Switzerland, it was so, so, SO hard to say goodbye to my Fabian at the airport. As expected, I cried. Alot. I had to apologize to the girl sitting next to me on the plane for crying so much. But, mixed with the tears was a sense of excitement and pride. This is what I wanted to do: live in a new city, a new country. Mixed with fear and nerves, was joy that I am living my dream.
|Touring the Bosphorus - I miss you already, my love!|
|Fresh off the plane from Turkey. Anyonghaseyo Korea!|
So far, I have to say the experience has been great! Once again the flight with Turkish Airlines was great (I guess there is a reason they have been voted twice as Europe's best airline), my bags arrived intact and my clearance through customs was quick and painless. I had a driver waiting to pick me up at the airport and brought me straight to the orientation center. I arrived as the welcome dinner was in full swing, but I wanted to change and take a quick shower to freshen up before meeting all my fellow teachers. So, I found my roommate, a nice Irish girl, so I could get into our room and sort out my things. She invited me to join her and some of the other teachers for a drink at a local bar, and I gladly went so that I could get to know people. Why not since I wasn't all that tired?
The bar we went to had a "self service" feature where they had all the bottled drinks in fridges and you just got what you wanted and paid for everything when you left. Pretty handy, although my drink wasn't really all that cheap ($6 for a vodka cooler)...maybe I'll stick with soju from now on since it's supposedly much cheaper!
Here in the orientation center they seem to try to give us newbies a "gentle welcome" to the country. The breakfast this morning was very western (bacon and eggs) and there's even a "north american style" outlet in my room! I also haven't seen any kimchi yet. The water taps are opposite from ours (push the tap down rather than up to turn on), but aside from that, everything's pretty much the same as here.
Every one's been very helpful and friendly and welcoming and I've had a chance to talk with a number of teachers who've been here for a while and it has calmed a lot of my worried and makes me even more excited about this experience.
Today's first item of the day was the full-on medical check (everything from hearing and eyesight, to blood and urine tests and xrays), and in a short time we have the official opening ceremony for this orientation week. It promises to be a great way to start my time in Korea!