July 8, 2017
Jeff’s Korean Excursion: Part 2
Arriving in Yeosu City, I met Ms. Han, who graciously offered up a bedroom for me to stay at. The Han’s have one son who is currently at University in Seoul (the common name for College is University here). After finding out Ms. Han’s husband is a great golfer, we decided to spend most of the day at a golf range followed by a sauna. Afterwards, I rode on a cable car above Yeosu and explored the sights downtown.
I must talk about the showers. In Korea, it is common to have a drain in the floor of the bathroom instead of a shower curtain on a tub or a shower stall. My hotel in Seoul had a shower so this was a huge shock when I arrived in Yeosu. I figured it out, but having a shower curtain or stall is such a nice amenity that people in the Western world should be grateful for. You can see the shower head behind the sink faucet in the picture above.
Other than the shower, I went to the men’s sauna a few times in Yeosu and it is wonderful. There is so much more than a sauna there: a warm pool, cold pool and actual showers. It is so relaxing to go through the whole sauna experience. Also, every person I’ve interacted with during my trip, in passing or my host family, has been very nice and willing to help, even if they don’t speak English. I barely know any Korean, yet the trip has been fantastic and easygoing.
After 3 days in Yeosu, I headed to Hawate Elementary school, which is roughly an hour South by car. There were 31 kids at the school from grades 1 through 7. Children from several of the nearby islands attend Hawate Elementary together. I met with the five kids in grades 5-7 and talked about the US school system and my daily life in Chesterton, Indiana. Also, the Fun Dip I brought for the kids went over quite well!
I stayed in a small two-room flat on the school grounds and cooked my own breakfast and dinner. I played soccer with the kids at recess as well, which was awesome! Due to a last-minute change in plans, the President of the school had to attend a teacher conference in a neighboring city. Because of this, I was only able to stay here for one and a half days instead of three that I had originally planned. So, I headed back to Yeosu about a day early before I went over to visit my second elementary school in Korea.
The highlight of the day back in Yeosu was dinner with Mr. Han and his friend. The 19 year old drinking age worked out great because Mr. Han likes to drink, and I could join him! I am going to break into a tangent and explain the difference between how Korean age is calculated vs how US age is calculated. Korean babies are considered 1 year old at birth, while babies in the US start a 0 at birth. I’m 18 in US, which makes me 19 in Korea. Luckily for me, the drinking age in Korea happens to be 19 as well! Mr. Han, his friend, and I had Korean BBQ and thoroughly enjoyed eating and drinking, despite the fact that each of them spoke little to no English.
This interaction was a testament to the kindness and accepting culture in South Korea. My time in Korea could have been much more difficult if many people were not willing to speak English or use a translator app. Most everyone that I met was over-the-top caring and eager to make sure the time I spent in Korea was fantastic.
My first ten days in Korea went amazingly and I have much more to report. Stay tuned for the Part III of my Korea series!