Korea So Far..... Part 2

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Read Part 1 Here: http://ronaldl911.blogspot.com/2012/03/2-weeks-in-korea-part-1.html

The Saturday, my French room mate thought he would take me for an outing, to the Yongsan Electronic Market, with the Subway Train  - that place is impressive. That place consists of over 20 buildings and have more than 2000 stores, selling just about everything you could ever want! 
Yongsan is known by Koreans, as the "cheapest" place to get any electronics in the city of Seoul. At first, the prices will look very deceiving, seeing that almost every decent laptop goes into the million WON's, and to top it off, most stores only take cash or credit card, so think twice about buying something big. But anyway, once you convert the money back into your currency, you'll realise that it's actually very competitive pricing.

On the Monday, I finally met some students who's on the same scholarship is me and I knew will be in the same classes. The people are from all over the world, such as Thailand, Columbia, Canada, Philippines and the list goes on... Very interesting, hearing different languages, accents and their interests.

Later the day, me and my newly met friend, Brad (Canada) decided to go to Yongsan to get him a wireless router so he can use his Apple Products... yeap, he's a real Apple fan who pretty much owns all their useful products. So typical me I was like "yea sure I know how to get there I've been there before! We just take the subways, I know the route!" ... Well, we got there without any problems, but getting back was a whole other story - wrong trains, wrong lines, wrong directions complicated things..... After about an hour wasted, we finally got back to the station in front of our University.. We called that an Adventure Trip.

Tuesday we wrote the infamous Korean Language Placement test.
This is the test every student have to write, in order to prove, how good or how bad your Korean language are, so they can decide in which class to put you.. Never the less, I gave in my examination paper in, with nothing written on it, except for my name. Class 1A here I come (Unfortunately you don't get lower than Level 1A).

Some random photos taken around Seoul:

Skip ahead 6 days ahead....

Monday, 5 March 2012.

I knew class was about to start, so I had to go shop for some basics like  and stationary - this is the first time I had ever bought all these items by myself - usually my mother does it for me. I also had to go buy 3 Korean Books, which cost ₩30000 in total so luckily it's not too bad considering text books usually is quite over priced anywhere in the world. 
I managed to find the classroom, after going up 7 floors with the stairs, as the lift had queues - clearly these people aren't very keen on climbing stairs.

The First Korean / 한극어 Lesson:

It started off with nothing but this " ㅈ " on the white board.. The teacher, who doesn't speak much english stood there and "drew" the whole Korean Alphabet on the board. I atleast recognised the ㄹ as it represents the R/L sound - The letter my name starts with.  We started pronouncing all the different letters like "k", "n" and 'l" . That's when I realised, I'm back in Grade 1!

But lets face it, those 2 teachers, teaching us a whole new language, must have all the patience in the world! Well, I bet they find it too amusing (or maybe frustrating), when listening at like 10 people, from different countries, have different accents and yet trying to learn "talk" Korean. 
My name written in Korean, is 로날드.

Since then, things have been quiet around here. Been doing some sightseeing, but not as much as I hoped for.  If class wasn't in the afternoon's, it certainly would've given me time to do way more sightseeing, traveling and exploring the city.

Keep following this blog. More stories, photos, etc etc etc to come, as the weeks go by!

Thanks for reading!
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2 Weeks in Korea... Part 1

Sunday, March 11, 2012
I departed from Johannesburg International Airport on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 - I just knew, it will be 2 long flights, as I will stop in Dubai for 3 hours at mid night.
On my way to Dubai, I was lucky to have no-one sitting next to me, which helped a lot with my comfort. Also the Emirates's Airbus A380 has more than enough space for your legs, even in economy class. Food was great!

After about 8 hours, we finally approached Dubai.. That has to be the most expensive airport I have ever seen. Luckily I wasn't hungry, as a Big Mac Meal cost there about AED 28, which is R60 in South African Currency. In South Africa a Big Mac would cost me about R30. Can't believe though I paid R40 just for a cup of Hot Chocolate at Starbucks - I still believe the damn Arab ripped me off!

At 3am, I departed for the last stretch of the journey, to Incheon International Airport. It was quite an uncomfortable flight, especially because the Boeing 777 is considerably smaller than the A380 and barely have any proper space for your legs. To top it off, I had a Big Russian guy sitting next to me, who can barely speak English and a grumpy Korean guy at the end who likes his sleep way too much and probably swears at me in Korean everytime I wake him up so I can  pass through to go to the rest room. I was too thankful for the ICE Entertainment System that Emirates have on-board. I just sat there and watched Two and A Half Men, Friends and Modern Family, which is by far my favourite TV-Shows ever.

When I arrived at Incheon International Airport at around 5PM Korean Time, things changed, I was slammed from the side, when I stepped outside the airport building and felt -10 temperatures, especially that I came from a place which was 30+......

I was escorted by a taxi driver from the Airport to The Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.. Took about 3 hours, as traffic was really bad!

As we traveled through the city, it suddenly hit me, that I'm nowhere near home.. The signs is mostly written in Korean, the people drive on the wrong side of the road and the money had like three pointless zero's which makes prices look massive!

The Check-In at the University was rather awkward, as the GlobeDorm clearly wasn't expecting me. The were all confused, not sure which dorm to give me.. After the Korean was on the phone for like 10minutes they finally gave me a room. The first night I was so jet lagged and just wanted to go back home and convinced myself it was a bad decision to come here.

The next morning I woke up at 9am. Decided to go for a walk.. Yes, it was cold outside, and there was snow underneath the trees. I walked down the street from the back of the University. (Now, I'm going to be honest now, it clearly isn't one of the most luxurious areas of the city. There is some serious poverty in my opinion, some of the houses looks like left overs from the Korean War in the 1950s. ) I walked for about 1km, through the residential area and thought I would never find my way back and there I finally saw the busy road - too happy I walked through it on Street View a few days before my flight, so I recognised most of the things, so I managed to find my way back. When I got back to my dorm, I just passed out again on my bed - suffering from severe jet lag.

The Saturday, my French room mate thought he would take me for an outing, to the Yongsan Electronic Market, with the Subway Train  - that place is impressive. That place consists of over 20 buildings and have more than 2000 stores, selling just about everything you could ever want!

To be Continued....
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Photos of Korea

Saturday, March 3, 2012

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