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Day 2: Exams and Autumn

Before starting classes there are exams to take. I had already taken the first two before arriving in South Korea, and I scored so high on them that I not only had to take a third exam (speaking skills) but also an essay writing exam.

Essay writing is my forté, but not in Korean. I lack the words. But I did my best anyways and I got a total of 3 points...

I think it was out of 30 points (I hope it wasn’t out of a 100). I did better on my speaking test where I could explain that I hadn’t written or spoken any Korean in six years.

The speaking test ended with the teacher asking if I wanted to get into a class that prepared for TOPIK, which is the Test of Proficiency in Korean. So... I must have done okay.

​Another win today was that in the lobby there was a small stand selling Sim Cards! It was pretty cheap and I can use it for all 10 weeks, besides, I didn’t need a Korean citizen number to sign up for it.

I am now connected. Still without internet on my computer, but I’ve found a way to blog anyways, so I’m okay with that.

The next challenge of the day was to buy some necessities like a bowl, cup, and chopsticks, etc. And also...

Attention, everyone, important announcement ahead: I now have toilet paper.

I survived fine without it but what a wonderful luxury it is to have toilet paper.

After my purchases I decided to challenge another issue: eating alone in the big city of Seoul.

One thing you need to know about South Korea, one thing I love about this country, things change SO fast!

Six years ago, eating alone at a restaurant was highly frowned upon. It meant being looked down and scrutinised by everyone in the restaurant, including the cook and part-timer worker.

Nowadays, it’s no problem.

I walked into a restaurant that seemed decent and with a price I felt was good (I had enough of watching over my back in fear of being scammed in convenience stores - more on that in a later blog).

And here the culture shock starts.

You see, all of that time away, had made me forget what it was like to go into a regular restaurant in South Korea.​

Back home, you wait when you walk in for a waiter to come over. The waiter will then seat you and give you a menu and serve you drinks, and then come back later to take your order.

That is not the experience of going into a regular restaurant in South Korea.

Here it goes like this:

​You walk in. Go straight to an empty seat. Sit down. Either the menu will be in the table, or you raise your hand and yell “excuse me” after which the part-time worker rushes over and you can ask for a menu. Then, when you’ve made your choice, you again shout for the part-time worker, who is running around like an insane person trying to keep up with forty costumers ordering and wanting to pay. The part-time worker will take your order and pass it on to the kitchen. It’ll take a few minutes to prepare. So in the meantime you, the costumer, walk up to the “Self Service” area as it’s called where you can take drinks and side dishes. Utensils are usually in a basket on the table.

Then you eat, and when you’re done, you go up to the tell and wait for the overworked part-timer to run to you so that you can pay for your meal.

This meal cost me as much as 3900 won (3 euros), since I didn’t take the cheapest on the menu.

Actually even here that’s a good price. Full meals (not just snacks) usually range between 3500 won (which is a little under 3 euros) and 10000 won (just under 8 euros).

Fancy meals can easily be a lot more though, but those are every day sort of eateries.

As a European, resolved to the idea that the cheapest decent meal I can find is 11 euros, those are delicious prices.

When I went home to the dormitory to put down my things, the fire alarm was ringing. Panicked students everywhere. I went to the student office with a panicked girl I met at the entrance to our building. It was nothing. No fire, just someone in building B who made a mistake. Well at least that was good, and now I had something to say to the panicked foreigners standing in their pajamas.

The weather was decent; not too cold, and with the occasional sunshine seeping through the clouds, so I put my things in my room and then I walked around the Ewha Campus and enjoyed the autumn colours.

The campus is beautiful and even more so in autumn like this. I look forward to see it in frost and snow too.

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