We’ve been in South Korea for three weeks now (though is doesn’t feel like it!) and are slowly settling in. After our first week in Korea, we decided to track down a church to attend.
Gyesong, the little village we live in, has one church right next door to the school, but it’s all in Korean. Changnyeong, the larger town in our area might have an English service, but we haven’t found any. Thankfully, we had time before our departure to google our options. So imagine our delight in finding The Red Door, the English Service of an Anglican church in Daegu!
I don’t think we’ll attend every week because of travel plans (we have vacation in January) and the distance the church is from our town. To get to church we have to hop on a small bus to get to Changnyeong, then a larger bus to get to Daegu bus terminal. From there, we have to travel about 20 minutes on the subway and have a 10 minute walk after that. All in all, from our apartment to the church door it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes. We showed up late last week and slipped into the back row, hoping not to be noticed. But it was a slow week, so everyone heard us enter.
Almost all parishioners that week were English teachers (camp, public, private, university, international school) and their families. It was mostly made up of Americans, though some Americans had settled permanently in Korea and married Korean spouses. We’re excited to go back when the English-Korean services are combined, to get a feel for what the whole church body looks like.
Everyone was incredibly friendly after the service and over a dozen of us went out to eat lunch. Jordan and I were grateful to be shown new restaurants and learn more about Daegu, South Korea, and classrooms practices. It was a great experience and we will try to become regular attendees, even if bi-monthly.
In other news, every Monday night, after work, our boss takes us grocery shopping in Changnyeong at one of the two small supermarkets. It is quite the experience. Jordan and I have gotten used to guessing what bottles are and making do without ingredients before (thank you, South America, for teaching me flexibility), but the prospect of doing this for an entire year is a little daunting. As soon as we get a paycheck, however, I’m buying a crockpot, an oven, and getting a few American non-perishables shipped to us. In the meantime, we’re eating a lot of salad, rice, and chicken breasts.
One thing we’re going to have to get used to is the cost of food. It’s significantly higher than our last trip (thanks to cheap produce in Bolivia) and more expensive than in the States. I think it’s because Korea imports a lot of their food. And, of course, anything truly Western will be more expensive do to import taxes. A half gallon of milk is around $2.50, and a box of cereal is over $4. Most shocking for me, however, was the price of fruits. Vegetables tend to be on the cheap side–no huge surprises there–but a bag of apples is around $9, and a normal-sized carton of strawberries is about $12. Fruit is easily twice the price I’m used to in the States, so we won’t be eating much of that. We’re in the midst of doing a paradigm shift in our food budget. I’ll get back to you in a couple of months on how that’s going.
A couple of days ago Jordan and I decided to head to Busan, about an hour and 10 minutes to the south of us. Busan is the second-largest city in South Korea with about three and a half million people. Their subway lines are about an hour long, and their port presence is huge.
Busan boasts the largest mall in Asia (though I don’t think I believe them. It was big, but surely not that big), a beautiful bridge, beaches, plenty of Starbucks, and great shopping malls.
Busan doesn’t have a lot of “tourist sites” (then again, South Korea in general doesn’t have a lot of those either) so beyond two or three key landmarks, people pick and choose what they like. the bridge behind us is one of the top three. We weren’t able to visit the other two (Busan tower and a large, old temple) that day. Jordan and I went with two of the other English teachers at CEV and we met up with another teacher who was visiting Busan with a friend. We joined up to walk along the beach and grab Starbucks.
I had food poisoning from the night before, so I was pretty tired and ready to go home after the sun set, rather than staying and getting dinner at a beach brewery, so Jordan and I headed back. Even though we didn’t do much in Busan, it was great to get out of town and see a large city of South Korea. Next week we’ll be back on a mandatory school trip, so perhaps we’ll see more then!