My first few days at Chung-Ang have been going quite well. After moving in, I met a Danish girl Laerke and a Danish guy named Christian. We went and searched for bedding and some other household items together, then ate a late lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, the menu was all in Korean and had no pictures, so we pointed at something and just ordered it! I think the Korean family who was running the restaurant kind of got a kick out of us eating the food; they even brought some forks around without us asking for them – thoughtful!
We made our way back to the dorms and then decided to go to E-Mart (basically a Korean version of Zellers or Walmart) at Yongsan Station to find some other household items needed for our dorms. After that, we returned via cab to our dorms and went out for samgyeopsal (Korean BBQ pork) with some of the other exchange students.
At 7:50am, an announcement came on through the loudspeaker – all students were asked to evacuate the dorms from 8:00am until 9:00pm as there would be construction going on in the building. We had 10 minutes to leave. The vast majority of us had not been informed of this; I’d seen a girl on our CAU exchange students Facebook group mention it, but I’d been hoping that it wasn’t true!! Luckily, I’d gotten up at 5:45am, as I’d heard they were shutting the water down from 6:00am-8:00am for plumbing, so I could shower. However, I’d fallen back asleep after showering and blow-drying my hair, so I quickly did my makeup and brushed my teeth then went downstairs.
I went with another girl named Breauna to grab some McDonald’s breakfast. Then we decided to head off to the National Museum of Korea. I’d already gone last summer, but we needed to take cover somewhere in order to escape the pouring rain, and the museum was free. We wandered around the Museum like zombies for a bit; both quite tired, then went back to the Heukseok subway station near CAU to meet some other students for lunch.
Two were from California, the other was from Sweden. One of the guys from California was Korean-American and had been interning at a Seoul business during the summer, so he took us to one of his favourite spots to grab lunch. It was an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet, only costing 9,900 won (roughly $9 CAD). Man, was it ever good! I tried a bunch of different curries, rice, and had kheer for the first time (kheer is basically Indian rice pudding). Total comfort food for the rainy day. I just wish I had been hungrier! The only catch at this restaurant is that for dinner, the buffet is much more expensive; I forget how much though, so it’s much better to go for lunch. The atmosphere was really cool.
After that, we went to Home Plus (another Korean sort of Walmart store) because the other students needed bedding. We then took a tour around the Hyundai department store, which was basically like a giant mall, complete with two movie theatres.
At that point, I bode my new friends farewell as I was meeting my Korean friend Jen, and one of her guy friends who goes to CAU, for dinner & beers.
Later that night…
After meeting Jen and her friend at the subway station, we made our way to a cute little basement restaurant that is apparently quite popular with CAU students. We ate tteokbokki “au gratin”, which was out of this world (tteokbokki is a very popular Korean dish consisting of chewy rice cakes cooked in a spicy chili sauce. Add melted cheese on top of that, and you’ve got a pretty deadly combination. Family back home, no need to worry about me getting too skinny over here!). We also had some salad, which consisted of greens, with a giant scoop of cream cheese on top, sprinkled with sliced almonds. No, it wasn’t good. Luckily we had some cheap $3 pints to wash all of it down!
What the cheese tteokbokki looked like
After chatting away over our beers and tteokkbokki, we decided it was time to move on and hit up a new restaurant. This one was called Jangddokdae (Korean for “The Jar”) and was PACKED. I soon found out why. Besides having a really cool (albeit cramped) atmosphere, Jangddokdae was serving up bottles of Korean rice wine (makkeoli) and jeon (Korean deep-fried pancakes with fillings like seafood, kimchi, onions, etc) for prices that even the poorest of students could afford! After several glasses of rice wine, and a giant seafood jeon that we barely could finish, it was time to call it a night.
Jen and her friend accompanied me up the steep climb back to my dorms, and bid me goodnight. It was a really fun evening and hopefully we’ll do it again sometime!
After scarfing down some pastries and an “Ice-uh Americano” for breakfast, I gave Scotiabank in Canada a call. I’d been having some issues withdrawing cash from my debit card. Apparently, they’d put a hold on my card for security reasons, as they thought some random person in Asia was trying to withdraw large amounts of cash from my card. Well, it turns out that random person was actually me, so I answered some security questions and the hold was taken off.
After that, I went downstairs to the cafeteria and had lunch with some other exchange student girls. We then made our way to the busses which were going to take us to our orientation at the CAU campus in Anseong, which was a 1.5-2 hour drive away.
The orientation went well. We received some free t-shirts from CAU and some other documents, then watched some traditional Korean performances before heading off to a BBQ that the school had put on for us.
I decided to take ‘er easy Saturday, and just sort of hung out and slept around my dorm. Decided to go grab some pizza for dinner, Skyped a bit, and then went to bed. All in all, a pretty uneventful day.
Today I grabbed my usual McDonald’s egg mcmuffin and orange juice, then headed up to my room to shower and get ready for the day. I joined some other exchange students for lunch; we decided on a Chinese place and ordered way too much food. It was good/cheap though!
Now, I’m in my room about to go do some laundry. Tonight we’re going to go to Myeongdong to mail some free postcards at the Tourist Information Centre, then grab some dinner at Primo Bacio.
Tomorrow is the first day of school!