Thursday, July 10, 2008


To fill you in on my latest... and first impressions on life in Korea,

I will first introduce you to the city, Chungju.

The people here in Chungju are very kind. Almost everywhere I go I am greeted with an An-nyeong-ha-se-yo, which literally means, are you at peace? Most people though regard it as a hello/good morning/good aftern
oon and goodnight.

About every morning (5:00 to be exact)I am woken up by the foggy daylight. Very rarely do I see the sun, but when I do, nobody is hardly in sight. In fact, I realized that when I was walking to the school, the only thing I could hear was the rhythm and step of my own feet and the hum and buzz of insects in the fields. People try to avoid the sun at all costs because it is so hot here. At first it was difficult to sleep at night, but I'm able to sleep through it now and that's all that matters.

Chungju City is comprised of mostly apartment build
ings, some restaurants, supermarkets, schools and churches. It's a fairly small city (not so much in terms of population however). At night you can pinpoint where the churches are because they are lit up by red crosses. It's pretty spectacular. There are all modes of transportation here; buses, cars, bikes...walking (you name it). What's really nice, is that they actually abide by the traffic laws (unlike China).

What I found to be very interesting, is that people are very conscientious to recycle. And when I say recycle- they recycle everything! It's quite the opposite from the U.S. Everyone is required to use special bags for garbage and recycling. Whenever anyone makes a trip to the supermarket, they are given a bag to recycle with. People actually have to buy a bag to use for garbage!

I live next door to a cute little old lady (about 4 ft. tall). She is so sweet. I wish I could understand her! She greets me with the warmest an-nyeong-ha-se-yo and proceeds to walk with me as I leave my apartment. My goal is to be able to converse with her. This little lady is so helpful too. She gave me tips on how to lock the door and even reminded me (as she showed me through the peep hole in mu door) that I left my lights on all day. Imagine that!:) I did it the next day too (unknowingly of course) and I think she gave me a lecture in Korean! I guess I need someone to keep me in line.:) Not sure why she was looking through the hole in my door...I think I'm going to cover it up from now on (just to be on the safe side).

What I really like about Koreans is that they have a high respect for their elders. In fact, people bow and offer their services to them whenever they can. The Koreans' nature all around is very hospitable from what I can tell. It's bizarre though that no one has showed me around or invited me to do anything. I'm guessing it's a cultural thing where they have to build a relationship with you first before they spend time with you. I've only just begun to see a small part of that.All in all, I'm thankful for this experience and I'm anxious to see how my impressions will change over time.


Next...experiences as a teacher in the Korean haegwon.


Jeremy said...

good to hear from you. glad Ashley will be joining you soon. quite the cross-cultural experience. you didn't get much of a gentle transition, did you? the details you've written are pretty interesting, like about the recycling and the neighbor woman.

KristinDewey said...

looks awesome!!!!....I can't wait to visit you soon!!!

WEll....6 months...

Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

vicanator said...

Wow, it's so surreal to read this and envison you there in your new life. I would imagine it is still quite surreal for you as well but it sounds like things are slowly getting better, I can't wait to hear how your perspective is a month from now. I's also weird to think that Ash just left here this morning headed there and yet you are already experiencing tomorrow. Hmmm. In fact according to your post you should be waking up very soon so Good morning.!!
So you never turned out your lights here or what? And you never recycled? I guess you'll be learning things you never expected to right?
So, I'm hoping that the sweet little lady next door is God's earthly angel there to keep you girls safe and well cared for , or at least the mother figure who can teach you things like turning out lights and recycling (: TeeHee! I'm sure you were taught that here and just forgot, right?

KristinDewey said...

yeah, I forgot to tell you that I laughed SO hard when I read that you were leaving the lights on. Same Caleen, just a different country. Just don't forget to lock the doors!

And look at this, you just got Vicki into the modern techy life of blogging!!! Yay!!!

Love you, Caleen!

Gordon Girls said...

To answer your question Vickie, I hardly ever remembered to turn off the lights. I knew you would appreciate that Kristin. Haha- I guess I'll be recycling more than just plastic and paper like I did at home. They even make us recycle our unused food! They even have a bin for unwanted clothing, blankets (etc.). It's pretty cool.

Way to go Vickie!! Glad to see you on here!

MamaMoon said...

Dear Caleen and Ashley: It is so good to hear from you.
It also is good Ashley is there with you so you two can laugh together at all the stretching you will be doing (spiritual). This is my first bog....WAY TO GO GRANNY!

I love you and miss you and pray for you! Love, Shirley

Jessica said...

I love it! Your neighbor sounds awesome. I love the old people there. I always heard while I was there that many old people are suspicious and untrusting of Americans, but I found the complete opposite to be true.
Have you tried kimbop yet? Chahm-chi (tuna) kimbop is my favorite. Mmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Have fun!

flash_gordon03 said...

hey so this is like the third time ive tried to blog you guys but for some reason it just doesnt go through and i have to keep trying again, but im glad everything is going ok. Sorry i didnt answer your phone calls but if it shows up restricted or unavailable i usually dont answer those. The baby is doing great, i will keep you posted. Have fun and i will keep in touch. Love you two!

Tim Gordon said...

Hi girls, I hope you getting acclimated to your new home. How is the teaching going? Do you have things fixed? Can you take some pictures of the area, school, and kids and post them for us?

Love, Dad

Kevin Skidmore said...

I know you are having a blast in a number of ways and find many of the things and people to be quite challenging. Sounds like you are keeping busy and experiencing all kinds of new things. Greet Nan and YoungBae for me -

Gordon Girls said...

Kevin- We will certainly let them know you said hello. I know they would be happy to hear that. Thanks for stopping by!- Tell Jessica that we will have to try her kimbap sometime. Our current style of ordering in a restaurant is pointing to a menu and hoping it's something edible. If we know the name of a food (that's good)-it would definitely help us out!


ericinkorea said...

hey nice site

StephenBowers said...

Just stopped by to how you two were enjoying Korea. Sounds like you've met a lot of interesting people. Its fascinating to see how different cultures contrast and relate to each other. How high is the humidity out there?