Feb 21

Seoul Delicious: My First Impressions of South Korea

Photos of getting to KoreaMy bags were too full, so to get through security I had to wear several jackets and stuff pants and shirts into all my pockets. At the Korean airport, my overweight suitcases spilled off my cart into the middle of a crowded walkway and people stepped over me with wayward glances. When the bus dropped me off on the dark, snow-covered street corner, I was helplessly lost until several drunk, hiccupping, middle aged Koreans carrying ski poles stumbled their way through the alleyways and led me to my hostel.

Basically, I was a hot mess. But I had made it to Korea.

The next few days were a blur of new friends, new food, new customs, and walking. By God, did we walk.

Walking in Seoul

Life in Korea

We walked to Insadong, an area that sells traditional Korean crafts and other fun items; we strolled through Myongdong, the outdoor shopping district, and popped into a cat café(!); we wandered through the traditional market in our neighborhood of Dongdaemun where they sell delicious snacks like chicken feet and silk worms; we walked up and down the avenues in search of the best street food.

Stream in Seoul, Korea

Touring SeoulI thought we had walked just about everywhere in Seoul when we climbed the mountain up to the Namsam Tower. But when we took an elevator to the top and looked out the 360 degree windows, I realized how wrong I was. The city stretched out in every direction as far as the eye can see; rolling hills and a few large rocks jutted up between a sea of skyscrapers and clustered buildings. It was overwhelming to realize just how large a city can really be—and how insignificant one person is in the midst of it all.

Seoul Tower

On the way to Seoul TowerTo refuel from all the walking, I tried a variety of Korean food and am surprised at how much I have fallen in love with it all. I honestly have not disliked a thing I’ve tried and every meal seems more delicious than the last. Between BBQ, bibimbap (rice and veggie bowls), a variety of meat and kimchi soups, dumplings, and the street food (oh my god—the street food), I have certainly not gone hungry.


Today we said goodbye to Seoul and hopped on a bus to Daejon, another city a few hours south, for orientation. The next seven days will be a whirlwind of lectures, practice teaching, learning Korean, and the occasional taekwando class.

So far, it’s been a blast. Between the sightseeing, partying til 7am, and making lots of new friends, it’s seemed more like a vacation and the reality that I live here—a country across the world—hasn’t entirely settled in, yet. I think that part will come when I arrive at my apartment and I’m suddenly alone and aware that this is my home for the next year.

EPIK Ninjas

Until then, I’m soaking up all the fun and exciting new experiences and slowly acquiring a taste for kimchi.

I think I’m going to like this place. 🙂

View of Seoul

  • Wow l am glad you have found people to take care of you, leading you on the correct path even if they a drunk! Is great you are enjoy the Korean food already looking forward to hearing more about your adventures & work you contribute there soon.

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Thank you, Brian! Yes, it was very kind of the strangers to help me out, even if they were hiccuping and stumbling, haha. Thanks for stopping by, cheers to you!

  • Tiela

    Haha oh Lord, Kaleena, I love your writing style. You always crack me up. I’m so glad you’re having fun and meeting awesome people! You are missed here but I *guess* I’ll let Korea borrow you for a bit…hugs from SB! 🙂

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Aww thanks Tiela! Glad I make at least one person laugh in this world… 😉 Miss you, too! Hope you’re keeping SB in line for me!

  • Hi Kaleena! I just stumbled across your blog… love your first impressions of Korea! Hope you enjoy it here and the amazing food/people/happiness outweighs the difficulty of first-year-ESL-teaching. You can do it! Fighting! 🙂 ~Vanessa @sauteedhappyfamily.com

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Hi Vanessa! So glad you stumbled upon my blog! I am loving Korea so far. I took a peek at your blog and it looks like you’re having an equally awesome time in Korea, as well. This last week was my first week teaching and it was INTENSE! But I think I’ll eventually figure it out and get into a rhythm of keeping the kids in line and doing fun activities. 🙂 Let me know if you ever come to Daegu! Cheers!