I had always wanted to go to Korea, but not to teach English or see my ex-boyfriend. I really wanted my trip to be about me, my chosen career, and my future.
After careful planning and convincing my mom that South Korea was different and separate from North Korea, I finally made it happen. I went to Korea in the summer of 2012. I was going to study law at Sungkyunkwan School of Law, and I was going to complete a human rights internship with NKnet. I received some scholarship money, but I paid for most of the trip with money I had saved up from working two to three jobs for a few months…
Suddenly, I was on my way!
My oppa’s friend picked me up from the airport, bought me my first meal in Korea, gave me some good advice about life in Korea, and took me to my hotel.
I stayed at Nox Boutique in Yeoksam-dong, Kangnam-gu for a few days. I booked my hotel before coming to Korea, and I made sure to find a real hotel, not a love hotel. They had great service and free breakfast!^^
I spent the first night alone, but my friend in Korea (we met online) rode the subway for three hours to see me and we finally met in person for the first time the next day, which was hard to do since I didn’t have a phone!
He stayed with me at my hotel for the next two days. We also got to date, and I was really thankful to have him with me. It was nice to have someone to talk to and eat with, especially in a place that was completely brand new to me.
On the third day I went apartment hunting, which is really fun in Korea. I went to this small, cramped office and was shown different rooms on a website. Then, my realtor drove me around to look at the rooms I had liked. I found a cute little one room apartment that fit my budget, about 450 a month. My friend also helped me move into my apartment.
I lived in Nonhyun-dong, a neighborhood in Kangnam. After my friend from the countryside left, I met up with a few other people I knew and friends I had who were also in Korea.
One friend took me to Hong-dae. We walked around and went to a small concert hall. Afterwards, we grabbed some food with a new friend we met at the concert who had come to Korea from China.
Afterwards, we went clubbing, but I wasn’t impressed with Hongdae clubs. Everyone was so young and wild. The clubs were also dangerously packed and pretty boring as far as music goes.
A few days later, my other friend took me to the downtown area of my neighborhood, which was just five minutes away! I was shocked to see what was on the other side of the street and behind those tall buildings.
My friend from Korean class was also in Korea, and a few days later I met her. She taught me how to use the subway. We also walked around and ate a lot of delicious food.
We got closer when we came back to America, and now she is my best friend! We are planning another trip to Korea and many other parts of Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia) soon. In the end, my first few days in Korea were great thanks to my friends!
And, be sure to check out My Summer in Korea, Part 2: Working and Going to School and My Summer in Korea, Part 3: Dating!
Finally, if you ever need any help while you are in Korea, just leave me a comment or email me at email@example.com! I know some good people and can give you tons of advice about having fun AND staying safe.