Tomorrow night will mark the completion of my first week in Korea. I feel almost ashamed to say that nothing of particular note has happened thus far. Considering how well I typically handle emergencies I should probably cherish this.
The campus at DGEV is nothing like what I expected (modest, older buildings, typical classroom settings, something somber and ugly). There is a boatload of money sunk into this place. Built somewhere around 2007 (maybe a year or two earlier), the buildings, courtyards, interiors, are shiny and glorious and manicured. No expense spared for this place; it’s almost insane. Consider the following:
After I stumbled to bed in my fourth-floor dorm room, jet-lagged and delirious, last Wednesday night, I neglected to close the shade that covers the sliding balcony door/only window in the room; on waking Thursday morning, I looked out and saw an airplane, painted with the school logo, elevated on poles and attached to an adjacent building one floor down from me.
AN AIRPLANE. A REPURPOSED AIRPLANE.
And what is it for? Just one of the “stations” for the kids as they go through orientation at the beginning of the week-long sessions we host. Orientation is set up to mimic an airport, so students at DGEV can make believe they are flying away to an English-language wonderland. Seriously, I wish I were a kid who wanted to learn English so I could go here. Maybe not to learn English (how much of any language can you pick up in a WEEK?) but for sure to go through “Security” and “Immigration” and to board “Yeungjin Airlines” (Yeungjin College runs DGEV). And it all looks as legit as possible. It’s like those kids playhouses COME TO LIFE. Un-be-flippin-lievable.
The campus is visible from the highway, but only accessible by taking impossibly long, steep, winding roads around an indeterminate number of mountains. Getting to and from campus requires the strict adherence to the bus schedule, and I’ve already been left behind once (some bus drivers are more punctual than others). On that note, public transportation here is awesome. The most I’ve paid for a cab (there are cabs everywhere) (just to get to a bus stop, if I’m cutting it close) is 3000 won (less than $3.00). Split that four ways and you have a cabfull of happy campers. As generally excellent as the public transportation is for ol’ Wheel-less Colleen, there is the decided drawback that I’m completely dependent on the bus to get anywhere.
Thus far I have been able to explore only a very little bit. And there’s so MUCH to explore: there are over 5 MILLION people in the Daegu-Gyeongbuk area. It’s South Korea’s 4th largest city, considered the high-tech and fashion capitol of the nation. Every department store is a mall (I understand that for some people I am describing nirvana but that actually makes me hyperventilate/twitch a little). there are main roads and back roads but which is which and how they connect is as of yet utterly beyond me. I DO know that Rice and Flat Cake Street (home to traditional herb, medicine, and molded rice figure shops) itersects with New Place of Interest Street, by the new Hyundai department store (one of the bus stops is right outside the two-story Starbucks). I love that you can be wandering around these tiny, scent-strong shops and streets and turn a corner and be confronted with a live raffle for a CAR. A SHINY NEW ONE.
So. Still settling in, still finding my feet. Still waking up to an airplane every morning.