All views and information presented herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.
After a very long -20 hour-journey via Dallas, I arrived in Seoul on September 1st. The first taste of my Korean experience was lunch served on the plane – bee bim bop, a rice dish with egg, vegetables and beef. Though it did not taste as good as bee bim bop made at home or restaurants, it already put me into the Korean frame of mind.
My arrival at the airport was memorable and loving. Two of my students, who have just moved back ,were waiting for me with open arms and hearts and the biggest smiles. I am so lucky to have them here to guide me and teach me. They instantly made Korea feel like a place I already know.
We drove to my new home – a tiny studio apartment in Gwangjin-gu, an area of Seoul that is a mix of old and new. Konkuk University, only two blocks away, fills the streets with students, noise and life.
Early in the morning -courtesy of the worst jet lag- I took my first walk around the neighborhood. Small detached homes with tiny spaces between them, high rises towering over little houses, narrow streets, long wide avenues, thick telephone wires twisted like garlands in the sky, street vendors, modern supermarkets, small mom and pop shops, fancy shopping centers, and food stalls giving the air an array of smells as you walk by each one serving steamy noodles, fried vegetables, round and crescent dumplings, fish and seafood, rice in different guises and every other local food. Everything is in sharp contrast, busy and lively. It feels like something is always happening, nothing stands still as you make your own space in this crowded city.
My minute home has an extraordinary expansive view of the mountains and of a tiny sliver of the Han River. I can see the beginning of a new day, the sun rising in the afternoon and lights dotting the skyline in the middle of the night.
It is unbelievable that I am here. My first 24 hours in Seoul have been exciting and filled with promise. What will this adventure bring?