Anyway, Jon and I finally made it downtown Jeonju yesterday. We took a taxi, but had to show him the entry in the dictionary for 'downtown' since we couldn't pronounce it right. After we tried to ask to go to the central market but he couldn't understand us and what I had written down from the phrasebook was in wierd Romanization and he didn't get it. So he drove downtown, and randomly asked some people on the street their opinion. They figured it out, luckily. I've learned to pretty much completely humble myself here and hope that someone will take pity on me and figure out my pantomiming and reading from a phrasebook. Tomorrow I'm going to ask someone from the school if they can help me find a Korean language class.
Another consequence of my inability to communicate is that I can't quite get a feel for this place yet. It's crazy...old and new mixed together, the downtown full of nice new buildings next to the traditional peaked roofs and very well-preserved temples. We stumbled upon part of the huge historical village, and it was amazing, so old and beautiful and well-kept.
Which brings me to another observation. Korea is definitely very developed...at least, on the developed side of 'developing.' I mean, sure, they have poverty and problems, but so does every country, no matter their 'developing' status. My first clue to this was the unfortunate discovery that things are, almost exactly, the same price they are at home. Dinners out run from about 7-15 American dollars, with more expensive items. Some groceries are more expensive. The paper towels we bought last night definitely were ($3.20 for a two-pack!!). I still feel like I will save a lot of money, since we don't have to pay rent, and transportation between cities is cheap, but still.....a little disappointing. I will end up having the same budget for groceries as I had in the States. When we get more proficient in Korean, we'll tackle the markets, which will hopefully be cheaper.
Things are also very advanced technologically here-- something I did expect. Our apartment building door, apartment door and office doors all have digital locks, with codes or a key that you just touch to a screen and it opens the door. There are a lot of nice cars. And from what I've observed so far, people have money to spend. There are always lots of people in the many restaurants, and E-Mart (a larger version of Wal-Mart right across from our school) is always busy.
So. Those are some of my superficial observations. That, and almost all the women carry umbrellas as parasols. :) (The woman who helped us move in, our Director's wife, carried a piece of cardboard from a box in our apartment yesterday because she forgot her parasol :-) )
I do very much like the presence of history here. At the part of the historical village we visited yesterday, there very many Koreans. Some with their families, others with friends, sometimes just by themselves, walking through the buildings. There seems to be a lot of appreciation of and pride in their heritage. With good reason.
Oh, look at the link to my Picasa account (photo website)....I put some photos up!!!