Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Midterm Report

For the English Village program, we have to do a midterm report on our first impressions of Korea. This is due in 2 weeks but I have already finished most of it. I just have to do some editing and grammar checks. Here it is so far:

My First Impressions of South Korea

It never really hit me that I was going to South Korea until after arriving at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) half drunk and ready to fly to San Francisco (SFO) and then to Incheon Airport (ICN). After a 3 hour flight to SFO, 2 hour wait, then a 13 hour flight on United Airlines 893 I finally arrived at ICN. A bit buzzed and tired, I managed my way approximately 5070 kms (4404 miles for you Americans) across the Pacific Ocean from North America to Asia.

At ICN, the airport looked similar to most airports I have seen (less than 5 that I can remember). Same procedure of going to baggage claim, finding my stuff and then going to the lobby. After getting my passport stamped I went on my way thinking how it was odd that I did not have to go through any custom check or anything. I guess the security is not as tight as back in Canada/America. When I exited the passport check area I saw many people with signs that were waiting for people. One sign that stuck out was ‘African pen pal’ or something in that nature. I assumed that the girl who was holding the sign had never actually seen the person, she was just waiting for someone to respond. I walked past the mob and quickly found the meeting spot which was across Mr. Kernal Sander’s KFC. I met with Steven and was told that we had to wait at the airport for around 2-3 hours for the others. That was not a problem because I wanted to explore the airport. I had walked around and found that it was pretty plain. Maybe it was just the area that I was in, but there were no good shops. I walked upstairs and found a few clothing shops, some Family Marts (local convenience store chain) and a Hyundai car display.

After the others arrived we took a bus from ICN to Soonchunhyang in Asan. This is where I got my first impressions of South Korea. The first thing that popped in my mind was that everything was so bright. There were many signs for restaurants and they all had florescent lights. I wonder what their electricity bill is like. While still on the bus I noticed that many of the cars, old and new, had a LCD screen to watch T.V. and I assume GPS. Lastly I noticed that there were many churches with bright red crosses on top of the buildings. There were around 10 churches that appeared to be next to each other, then nothing for a couple of minutes then another 10 churches. It was very odd seeing that.

With those three imagines in my mind (bright lights, LCD, and churches) I had my first impressions of Korea. I could tell that Korea was an advance city yet with still many rural areas. The city is very modernized but still very old. The bright lights on old buildings and the new LCD monitors on old cars showed this. Another thing when looking at the LCD monitors was that most of the vehicles were Korean cars. I believe that many Koreans are very patriotic to Korea and they only buy Korean products. This has been proved multiple times through-out my stay especially while attending the South Korea vs Uruguay soccer game when many of the Korean fans were screaming and yelling and eventually crying when they lost. The last first impression is of the churches. Seeing how many there were showed how big the population of Korea is. To have 10 churches so close to each other proves that there are many people and cannot all fit into one church. The church to me also symbolizes that many Koreans are turning into Christianity religion much like the Americans. I find that Korean has it’s unique culture but also has many mixed cultures with the United States. One of them is of course the term soccer. I am not a big soccer fan, but I do know most of the world uses the term football when referring to soccer except Canada, America and Korea. Why Korea? Because of it’s American influences. American influences are also shown by the many American companies in Korea. The church also shows how new technology coincides with the old. The crosses on the top of the church were all bright red florescent lights, sometimes you do not see back home.

Those were my first impressions of Korea and so far, they seem to hold true. My experience here has been great and I am enjoying every moment. They say first impressions last a life time and I believe it’s true.

1 comment:

mark said...

I know you mentioned the soccer/football thing before. Just some more background if you are interested.

History of football/soccer in Korea:

Also, the Hangul for it is:

chook gu 축구

Which has similar pronounciation as the Chinese juk kau which means foot ball.