Seoul: Day 1


First Impressions

Well, we’re here.  We arrived in Seoul at around 3:30, found our way to the hostel, ate an epic Korean barbecue dinner, and then did some window shopping at a trendy university district.

It’s been really fun but also a little strange.  I keep finding small cultural details (Eastern and Western) that are familiar.  My brain wants to connect all of them together and tell me that I’ve experienced this before.  Then I realize that even though I’m noticing familiar reference points, I’m actually in a place completely unlike any place I’ve ever been to.

What are these reference points?  The writing system reminds me of some old school kanji my calligraphy teacher had me practice in between teaching classes.  It’s the use of circles and straight lines that looks familiar.  I’m not sure if there’s a linguistic connection in addition to a similarity in aesthetics but I imagine there’s probably some sort of link.  A lot of the advertising here also reminds me of Japan.

But there are Western reference points as well.  The architecture that we’ve seen so far has much more of a Western influence than most of the stuff we’ve seen in Japan.  Additionally, the cars are larger, the speed limit is higher, and people drive on the right side of the road.  There also seem to be more Western chain restaurants around here including Subway, Dominoes, Burger King, and Baskin Robbins.  Baskin Robbins in particular is strangely omnipresent.

Me and the rest of the people in our group keep catching ourselves speaking Japanese in futile attempts to communicate more than “hello,” “thank you,” or “delicious.”  Although my Japanese skills aren’t very impressive, I can already tell it’ll be comforting to return to Japan and its language.  Japanese is still puzzling to me, but at least it’s a puzzle I can figure out if I have the right pieces.  Korea is definitely a  new place for me.  I’m a complete tourist but I’m at peace with that.  We’re having a great time.

More later.


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2 Responses to “Seoul: Day 1”

  1. More Superficial Cultural Differences « Pacificloons Says:

    […] picture sums up a lot of what I was trying to get at in an earlier post.  For the record it did not have “original, American style taste.”  It was actually […]

  2. Trip to Korea Spring 2009 « Pacificloons Says:

    […] Seoul […]

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