I made it here alive! After boarding a United airlines flight at SFO, watching 500 Days of Summer, and sleeping for 11 hours, I arrived in Seoul at 6:30 PM local time. The flight went pretty smoothly and we actually got in about an hour early. At the airport, I grabbed my bags, then made my way outside to take a bus from Incheon to the Seoul City Air Terminal. Even at 8 PM, there was tons of traffic and the journey took about an hour and a half. While on the bus, a girl asked if I was with ChungDahm (my school) and it turns out she will be teaching there as well. Her name is Michelle and she is from Michigan. Once we got to Seoul, we called a taxi which took us to our hotel, COATEL. On the way, we passed such American cultural icons as On the Border Mexican Restaurant, Bennigan's, Dunkin Donuts, and Hooters. We also passed about a dozen Starbucks', a few 7-11s and plenty of places with American-sounding names I've never heard of.
We checked in at the hotel and were handed our room keys and thermometers. Yep, thermometers (apparently our health will be closely monitored by our school during training). The man at the front desk escorted us to our room where we already had a roommate, another ChungDahm teacher named LaToya who is from Florida. Within a few minutes of settling in, we received an email from other fellow ChungDahm teachers also staying in our hotel. We sent them our room number and two guys, Quinn and Richard, came up. Quinn is from Idaho and Richard is Canadian, eh. The five of us decided to go out for some dinner at 11PM.
Seoul must be the city that never sleeps. At 11PM the streets were still jam-packed. Like Manhattan busy. Everything was open and we picked a restaurant based on flashiness of lights and colorfulness of signage. The restaurant was packed and looked really nice. We couldn't read the menu, but it did have pictures so we picked three things that looked reasonably delicious; the five of us shared a Korean "sushi" dish, a stir-fry beef dish, and a pizza. There were also these free appetizer thingies that looked and tasted kind of like salty gummy worms. The whole meal was pretty cheap, I think we each only paid $6.
This morning when I woke up, we had a fourth roommate, named Elisa who is from D.C. It's pretty cool to think that all of us are from vastly different parts of the country, but we're all here to do the same thing. Everyone is super nice and laid-back so far, and when we went to eat breakfast in the hotel lobby we met a few other ChungDahm teachers. Training starts Monday and until then we'll be doing some exploring and probably a lot of studying for our upcoming quizzes next week.