Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Update 3

Phew. Last one:

Last weekend was a little less hectic. After Korean class number two (I was late again. Shock.) we wandered around downtown again, but this time in the company of my hiking buddy who's been in Daegu for many years. She took us to see the backstreet markets, including 'greymarket' shops (with foreign goods of dubious origin), lots of stalls with second hand electronics, clothes and streetfood. It's really hard to describe places like that, and I'm not enough of a photographer to capture it, but it's really exciting to get into these little areas. In some sections, the stalls/shops were so close together, you were knocking things on both sides. It was fascinating to be so close to Korean life – just by being a foreigner, I usually feel a little arm's length. It seems to me that people are less self-conscious than in the UK/USA - but I keep thinking that could just be my misinterpretation of what I see. I feel like the culture is so different to my own that I can't be sure I'm understanding things correctly. (Not a bad feeling - I just don't think I can draw massive conclusions so quickly!) Again, Lacey has blogged about the after-class wanderings, and she has more photos...

So, that's about it for weekend shenanigans. In other news, I've started going to the local climbing gym, and have discovered how much of a jessie I am (bouldering is hard dammit!), and I have stocked my freezer at Costco. Food in general is getting easier – learning the Korean word for 'milk' (uyu) made me realise I was accidentally eating a lot of dairy – it was even hiding in mandu (my favourite dumplings). I feel soooooo much better now that I'm really dairy free again.

Life here is really starting to feel like 'life' rather than a holiday. It would be hard to overstate how good it feels to be doing this. My brain feels stretched and used in a way that it hasn't for some time and I wander about thinking about linguistic-y geekiness on a regular basis. (For the nerds out there (Hi Ben!) today's epiphany was that I have now studied an SVO language: English, VSO: Arabic and SOV: Korean! (and Dutch, but the verb-second rule muddies the waters somewhat). That's all three major classifications! Yay!) Socially, things are also settling in nicely. It's not as frantic as freshers' week, nor is it as lonely as my year in Utrecht was to begin with. I've found people to hike and climb with, people who want to explore Korea and just about everyone I've met seems to be up for a beer!

Tomorrow morning, we set off for Seoraksan - a national park up in the north east (it's actually above the 38th parallel!) for some hiking and general natural beauty. I'm hoping to get to the top of the highest peak (Daecheongbong), but I'm not sure if we'll make it. The owner of the climbing gym said the best way up is along a rocky ridge (yay!), and from looking at photos online, it sounds amazing. Will try to update sooner next time....

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