Yup, that’s right, everyone! I’m in Seoul!!
(^ The view from my room)
It doesn’t actually feel like I’m here. It kinda just feels like I’m somewhere in America that’s not my house. But alas, I’m on the other side of the world from where I grew up, and it’s so hard to get used to.
Jet lag is only messing with me a little, thank goodness. I didn’t sleep for two days straight thanks to my plane rides, so when I got here yesterday evening, I didn’t spend much time out and went to bed at like 10. I thought that would help me avoid jet lag entirely, but I only passed out until the sun rose around 5:30 am. At that point, my room was filled with so much light that I woke up and couldn’t go back to bed despite the fact that I was still exhausted and still needed like five more hours of sleep.
Around, 8 am, though, I figured out how to turn the blinds into actual blinds (watch my vlog to see that), and I ended up falling back to sleep until 1. Oops. That’s the latest I’ve ever slept in til in my entire life (but I so needed it, lol).
Despite the many hours of rest, though, I’m still really tired and sore from traveling over here. The 14 hour plane ride definitely exhausted me, and I’m going to be taking today (Saturday) as my R&R day. I might go out for an hour or two this evening just to walk around and explore, but for now, I’m just relaxing. I got some vlog editing done and have a ton of other things I plan on getting done throughout today, too. So I’ll for sure be able to keep myself occupied.
But for now, I just want to blog and tell you a bit about my overall experience so far.
The plane ride here was crazy. It went super smooth and didn’t actually feel like 14 hours, but I couldn’t get out of my seat at all because literally everyone around me was sleeping the entire time. It was terrible. All I wanted to do was stretch and walk and use the bathroom and get my freaking things out of the overhead compartment, but I couldn’t. So instead, I kept fidgeting in my seat and doing little leg exercises so I wouldn’t get blood clots or anything. (Cause that apparently happens.)
But because all of my personal belongings were above me, I read the little book in my purse for two hours until one of the flight attendants passed out headphones. Then I watched like 7 movies, some of which ended up being way too inappropriate for the plane (aka nude scenes), and I had to turn them off halfway through. Good thing everyone around me was sleeping, lol.
The plane landing and then me walking through the airport wasn’t really as special as I thought it would be. I thought it would feel like I was finally arriving on the other side of the world, but it literally felt like I just landed back in Pittsburgh, except I was the only white person there for some reason. Same with getting on the subway. I was like, I’m in Toronto again but every single person except for like two is Asian. Weird.
(Random interjection: The really cool thing about the flight was flying over Alaska and Russia and Japan. Never thought I would actually get to do that in my life.)
What really felt different from home was getting off the subway. Literally as soon as everyone exited, they sprinted as fast as they could for the elevators, and I was like woahhhhh, what is happening???? But my friend and I just casually waited for the madness to disappear, and then we got on a much less jam-packed elevator maybe a minute later.
Which made me strongly question these Seoul-lites’ philosophies. Why do what they did when they would only have to wait a few more minutes if they didn’t? They couldn’t all have been in that much of a hurry where an extra 60 seconds would have destroyed their plans.
Patience is a virtue, Korea. Slow your roll.
But moving on, everything after that just kept feeling less and less like home. First of all, it is so clean here. I don’t know how they do it, but there is literally no trash anywhere whatsoever (and there aren’t even trash cans on the street), and all of the buildings are kept in such pristine condition. (I’m staying in Hongdae, btw). Coming from America, where everything in every city is a little dirty in at least some way, I’m in awe. Tell us your secrets, Seoul.
Also, all of the streets here are so narrow. I really can’t believe just how jam-packed everything is. There must be 200 buildings on my one little street alone. The alleys are so small and long and winding, and it makes for this crazy, crowded, otherworldy feel.
For example, when I got off the subway, I was shocked to be in this little back alley that was probably barely big enough for three people to walk side-by-side through yet was still painted for traffic and had decently sized cars parked on it. That road would have never existed back home in Pittsburgh — or at least would have been for pedestrians only. Which really makes me curious: Is there any sort of zoning here, or do they just build things wherever? Because zoning would have probably helped keep the clutter down and allowed for wider streets.
But the way everything is now doesn’t make it less appealing. It almost adds to the appeal by making it just a little more unique.
Everything here is so cute and quirky, too. I step outside, and I instantly want to explore every single inch of everywhere cause it’s all so interesting. I know I’ll never be able to actually see everything, cause the city is impossibly large, but I’m definitely going to try my hardest to see as much as I can.
Anyway, moving on a bit, the guest house I’m staying at is really nice, but it’s so, so, so small. It’s much smaller than I expected it to be given how much I paid for it. But being that it’s in Seoul, one of the world’s biggest, busiest, and most popular cities, the price really isn’t that bad, I guess. And it’s super clean! (The host is actually here right now cleaning, which is why I’m writing this post, to kill the time until I can use the bathroom and thus get dressed). Apparently most guest houses in Seoul are really dirty, so I am so happy that this one is not.
The host is also so kind! I haven’t left my room to go meet him, cause he’s busy and I don’t want to be a bother, but right before he got here, he messaged me and asked if I like watermelon. When I said yes, that it’s one of my favorite fruits, he told me he would put some in the fridge for me and my friend (even though she isn’t here yet lol but he doesn’t know that) with a label on it that says “for Leah” so that no one else will take it. How nice!!!!!
The only thing I’m not a fan of is the bathroom situation. There is a small room with two toilets in two stalls and a sink. Then, there is a different room with a traditional Korean shower (aka a giant room in which you stand with a wall-mounted shower head that you can take down to spray yourself off, etc.). It’s clean and not bad, really, but what I’m not a fan of is that the door to the bathroom with the toilets is always open. There are two pairs of shower shoes sitting right in the doorway, and that leaves me unsure of if I’m supposed to close the door or leave the door open when I use the bathroom. Because more than just one person is supposed to be able to use it at one time, so I don’t know if I will hinder that by closing the door. But I also don’t want sounds of me peeing echoing through the house. So, yeah. It’s an issue. Once the host is done cleaning, I’m gonna explore closing the door so that maybe I can relieve myself in comfort next time around. I really hope that I’ll be able to!
Another thing I don’t like that much: The only fridge in the house is a mini fridge in the kitchen. The host restocks it with food and drinks, but that leaves me with the question of where I’m supposed to put my food and drinks.
Luckily, I don’t have to rely on bottled liquids while I’m here. I read into it, and the tap water in the city is safe to drink. So I really don’t have to use the fridge if I don’t want. But still, it would be nice if the fridge was bigger.
And I guess the last strange thing I wanna mention is that it is so weird seeing only Asian people everywhere. You don’t realize how diverse America actually is until you leave it. Back home, I blend in, but here, it’s just all Koreans. I stick out like the sorest thumb there ever was.
But it also makes me really excited to see people of other races walking around, too. There are definitely less minorities here than I expected, but there are still enough where I see a few every twenty minutes or so. It makes me smile when I do.
Ah, but (this is random, sorry haha) I accidentally forgot to bring my adapter for my chargers (South Korea uses the same wattage as Europe), so I had to go out last night and buy one. I ended up getting it at this dollar store-type place, and it was about $5. Not bad, but I think it would have been cheaper in America 😦 Sad day.
And now it’s almost 5 pm, everyone back home is still sleeping, and my host is still here cleaning. I JUST WANNA USE THE BATHROOM BUT I CAN’T. Oh well, haha. That’s what I get for sleeping until 1.
The jet lag is really killing me, though. All I wanna do is sleep, but I can’t. I didn’t think it would be this hard leaving Eastern Standard Time for the first time ever, but it is. My body is not okay XD
I’m definitely gonna hold off on sleeping until 9 or 10 tonight. It’s a good thing I have a crap ton of work to get done, as well as a lot of places to explore, or else I’d be in grave danger of falling into my normal sleep pattern.
But basically, to sum it all up, I’m literally living in the future compared to back home, thanks to time zone changes as well as major technological advances here (which I’ll talk about later), and it’s amazing. I haven’t seen much of the city so far (obviously), but I already love it. I just wish I could enjoy it with my family 😦 I miss them all so much already ❤
But I will see them soon. Seven weeks really isn’t that long, right?
Anyway, that’s all for now! Pretty sure the host is still here, ugh. I really screwed myself over today. I will not make this mistake again!
Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll be back soon with another update ❤