Week 2 in Korea

Time is flying by in some ways. I’ve been trying to meet people and develop some kind of routine for the next fews months, so I signed up for a few Facebook and Meetup groups like Seoul Acroyoga, Seoul Hiking Club, and Climbing in Korea, plus Couchsurfing groups. Apart from studying Korean (to start in October) I like to think of this time as perfect to get more into some hobbies that have been on the backburner.

Hobby priority #1: YOGA MADNESS!!!!

The acroyoga group here is really active and meets twice a week at the moment, plus usually a jam and/or extra workshop on the weekends and I’ve met some really great people through these classes. Apart from the activity itself, the community is a huge draw – acroyogis are just so FUN! And happy. Something about having close contact and working together… It’s a constant trust exercise and you get comfortable with each other really fast. The teacher Nemo is here temporarily from Denmark while he does his writing for some crazy mathematician research project (nice day job) and he has put me in touch with another girl here who hoops too!

He invited us to an Irish jam session in Itaewon (expat central near the US military base) on Sunday night so after moving into the guesthouse, I headed down there to check it out! And wow, I felt like I was in another world! All of my feelings of being overwhelmed by not understanding anything vanished and I heard English being spoken all over the place. Good fun though and then we went for a wander around the area. Jiwon is a yoga teacher here in Seoul and also teaches aerial yoga, which I am dying to try! We finished off the night looking crazy doing wrist stretches in a delicious smoothie cafe.

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On Monday – Power yoga class! Through meetup, I found an evening class taught by an American guy Ray (day job as a teacher, but of science!). It ended up being only 3 of us in the class and the other two were surprise surprise… English teachers! Good class anyway, definitely reminded me of some poses I can practice more at home. Whenever that actually happens.

On Tuesday, there was more acroyoga in the park, working on shoulder stands and a bit of therapeutic acro. We had some more people there so we also tried three-person formations, and I was so so happy to try new things I hadn’t done before! That’s yet another beauty of acroyoga…. It looks insanely difficult but with some teaching and spotting of course, you end up in places you never thiught you’d be! No pictures but since my last class with Nemo will be this Friday, I will make sure to get some this time round.

Last Friday, I also checked out another teacher from Busan who was in Seoul for the weekend. She is originally form Iowa and most of the group was from the US but a few Koreans. I get the feeling the community is quite small so I am sure I will be running into them again soon. But look! That is 3 yoga classes in a week! I never thought it would be so easy to get involved so frequently, and I didn’t even go to all the events possible.

Here’s a clip of Kaizen’s performance I missed (not class, think slower, less graceful transitions, no music or synchronized dance moves, but you can still get some idea)

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Sidenote observation: I am noticing that EVERYONE is American. If not teachers, then in the military. Such a contrast to Spain. There, nearly everyone is still a teacher of course, but almost always from the UK or Ireland with the occasional Scotsman!

That said, I met up with an Irish guy Chris last week. A friend who had taught here before put us in contact (Facebook, you work wonders) so he showed me aroud his neighorhood in Sinchon. It’s a popular area because there are some big universities nearby so lots of bars, restaurants, and shops. There were some street performances going on – stand-out ones being a guy breakdancing to Justin Bieber and also three guys jazzing it up on a piano outside a bookstore. Just an upright piano on the sidewalk, open to whoever wants to play. Could that exist anywhere else without getting destroyed?

Important personal accomplished: He helped me find a board game cafe! It wasn’t very full but I got an idea of it anyway. Basically your standard cafe but apart from the drink menu, there is a game menu and you pay for the time you are there (about 1000 KRW or $1/30 minutes at this one). Chris knows more Korean from being here and taking classes but we still picked something we wouldn’t have problems understanding. So then I beat him in Battleship. Woohoo! I know that cat cafes, dog cafes, and even a sheep cafe exist, so those are next on the scavenger hunt (basically the next time I am with anyone that knows more Korean because it is hopeless alone!!) There are a lot of unique places here… Also sticker shops where you take pictures of yourselves and decorate it (photo booth but more options and a whole store). Carnival/fair game rooms shooting things to win giant stuffed bears. Video game or computer centers. And of course the karaoke which I must find a way to go to at some point.imageI also met up with Minji (from the K-Pop concert) one night. Our original plan was to go hiking but we ended up just going for dinner in my area and hunting down a rooftop cafe I saw the week before. Somehow we actually managed to find it and enjoyed some “snow” (shaved ice) with mango! Fruit is pretty expensive here (around $1/pear and $2/apple) so I get really excited about anything with fruit now. Juice, yogurt, snow… Great Whitney moment? “Mmm this sauce is delicious, what is it?” “Um, I think it’s just melting,,,” Nice! Anyway, Minji is moving down to another city in Korea soon… Such a shame she won’t live in Seoul anymore but at least I will have someone to visit in Gwangju some day!

imageimageLast weekend gets a separate post so I will finish with this:

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