Monday, March 24, 2014

A Few Misconceptions I had of Korea

1) Not all Korean food is as healthy as I thought it'd be

I thought Korean people eat very healthy things every day. Boy was I wrong. It turns out that even though traditional Korean dishes do contain a generous serving of meat along with what could be unlimited vegetables (available at some Korean BBQ (samgyeopsal) restaurants). That's just those meals. That doesn't include things like chicken...and burgers...and hot dogs...and ramen...and snacks. It's actually a cultural norm to share snacks with each other so never buy for just yourself. Oh and there's street food, various good foods fried in a lot of oil and filled with things like red bean paste, or chocolate, or even a hard boiled egg. They all taste really great, but, they are in no way healthy for you.

 Korean BBQ, also known as Samgyeopsal. The meat is pretty cheap and the sides are free.

 Jjigae,  Traditional Korean Soup. It comes in a variety of flavors and is served in a hot stone bowl.

2) I do a lot less walking than I thought I'd have to do

So, public transportation is a pretty big thing in South Korea. A vast majority of citizens take the subway each day to get from town to town. I thought it would be like home where I'd have to walk to the station every time because there is no easy way to get there. Wrong again, there are taxis. From Global Village (my dorm) to the station here in Sinchang, it takes about 5 minutes in a taxi and costs only 3,400 KRW ($3.40). On top of that, since its best to travel in groups around here, you'd be splitting that cost with up to three other friends. Therefore, it only costs me a dollar or two.
The train station that can take you from Sinchang to other cities, including Seoul.

What about food? Sure there are very few good options to eat at on campus (costing only 4,000 KRW on average, which is cheap compared to Hawaii). All the better eateries around here are outside of campus down a long hill. Meaning, if I want to eat something good I'd have to walk all the way down and all the way back up. Wrong again. There is this amazing system called delivery, and it works for more than just pizza. Over here you can call a restaurant to deliver some chicken, burgers, or even burritos straight to the dorms. So the most walking I'd ever need to do is to the front door. Of course there are more options if I do the walk, but it's still a little bit too cold for that.
Pizza that was brought back to the dorms. It's always better eating with friends.

The only serious walking you'd have to do here would be for going to class from the dorms (there are a lot of hills and stairs on this campus) or traveling from landmark to landmark if you're in Seoul. But, the bus system is so cheap (650-850 KRW) that its probably better to take that for far distances. I didn't even have to do the hike up Namsan mountain in Seoul because there's a bus that takes everyone near the top.

 The short hike to Namsan Tower in Seoul. You can see the tower itself in the background.

 Convenient little carts that take you around Seoul Grand Park. It features a zoo, a camground, and an amusement park.

The long hill that we have to walk to get from the dorms to the back gate, where the food is.

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