Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Arrival

So I finally landed in Seoul. No problems with my luggage except that someone's kid's toy got turned on and the six-note song was on an endlessly repeat, and was going round and round on the moving suitcase belt and was driving me insane. I actually stood there waiting for my bags with my hands over my ears. I didn't get why this wasn't bothering anyone else. I entertained the notion that I was finally going insane, that this was the beginning of the end, and that I would be hearing these simple high pitched looping pseudo songs for the rest my short life. (I was really tired, it had been a long movie-less flight.) I finally got my two suitcases and a cart, that I didn't have to pay four dollars for, and went through customs, got my money exchanged and met up with the director of the school I am working for. She was very nice, accommodating, helpful and had her daughter with her who lives in New York so there was no language problems. All was going well until we got on the road. Halfway to my new apartment in Pangyo (Pan-gh-ee-oh), the woman driving behind us, rear ends our car. Nobody was hurt, it was really just a fender bender, but instead of moving the still fully working cars to the side of the road, both drivers sat in their cars and called their insurance companies. After a half hour or more and a severe traffic jam, a policeman arrived and escorted us to the side of the highway. Of course, I don't know anything about the traffic/accident etiquette here in Korea so this may have just been the thing you do. So, numbers get exchanged, the one driver takes full responsibility, apologizes profusely, and then leaves. We, the director, her daughter and I stay. We are waiting for a new non-scuffed car  for us to take. This was my first observation of Korean culture : it seems as if everyone takes extreme pride in their belongings and appearances. There are no rusted, beaten up, old, broken down cars ANYWHERE. Every car is always washed, clean, and polished. Also, there is no window tint laws here and every car has extremely dark tint on their windows. Anyway, the insurance company brings us the same make and model of the car we were using, then takes the other scuffed car to the shop to be fixed. This was the second thing I observed : Customers seem to be really taken care of! Companies go out of their way to help you. When I was setting up my bank account, the teller came to me at my work. The bank teller came to me to help me open an account with them. It's shocking. Anyway, after all that we made it to my new home without any more fanfare. At this point I had been awake for 23 hours and was exhausted.

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