Settling in Seoul

My first three weeks in Seoul passed me by like a whirlwind. It’s difficult to believe I am half way through my fourth week already! The process of adapting and finding my feet has been well underway and something that resembles a routine is already creeping up on me. Work is going well and planning lessons is nowhere near as daunting or difficult as it was in my previous jobs. There is saving grace in the knowledge that once I have planned a lesson, I won’t need to ever plan it again because I am continually teaching different students. The students continue to be kind, friendly and a pleasure to teach, making the job so much easier and more enjoyable.
Working in Gangnam, I find myself in the heart of all the hussle and bussle of city life every day. I love it. Everyone, from students to business men, mills around, meeting friends, colleagues or clients and frequenting the numerous bars and restaurants. Stacked on top of each other, these establishments are like Lego building blocks, providing the foundations to every towering building. Bright neon vertical signs advertise the bar or restaurant, hoping to encourage passers-by to climb up to the second or third floor to discover them.  Gangnam really is the place to see and be seen.
We have tried to explore some of this enormous city during our weekends. Our first weekend was also my birthday! I was treated to a delicious Korean barbecue, with a bottle of soju on the side of course. What a marvellous way to dine! With our own grill in the middle of the table, we flipped our own meat, while egg with kimchi cooked around the edge, making a wonderful dish in between our plates of beef. Shots of soju, combined with bottles of beer meant that we later found ourselves in a K-pop club full of teeny boppers grooving to the ‘coolest tunes’ in Korea. My night finished off with a piggyback home, after too much dancing in my heeled boots!
Korean barbecue!
I continued to be spoilt on the Sunday with cards Ramsey had smuggled over from home, and presents from him that would help make my apartment feel like home. Of course, this was also the day I had to leave my hotel and so after a good breakfast we took my ridiculously heavy bags on the metro to the love-motel Ramsey’s work had put him up in. We then set off to explore Gangnam-gu, firstly wandering around the tombs of Seonjeongneung not far from the hotel which will definitely be a beautiful place to visit in the summer when it is all green! Our exquisite dining continued too, with sushi and later possibly the best burger I have ever eaten, after a freezing bike ride along the Han River. Another place that will be lovely to hang out when it gets warmer!
Where else would be better to celebrate your birthday!?
You’ll also be pleased to know that now I am no longer homeless! The chilly temperatures were the push I needed to ensure I found a roof over my head. Cue Ileen, my life-saver of an estate agent that took me around to numerous apartments one cold Thursday morning. Trying to find one that came with a bed and wasn’t extortionately expensive was a challenging brief to work with, but she did fabulously! I am now living in a beautiful apartment, complete with a lovely bed and all the things one needs to live happily (fridge, washing machine, small table… you get the idea). And to top it all off, Ramsey also moved into his apartment, provided by his job, which is miraculously only two streets away from me. Barely a one minute walk away, some may say it’s too close for comfort!! My students prefer to tell me it’s ‘destiny’.
The last week has seen us becoming familiar with our new neighbourhood, locating the supermarkets and restaurants and bars, which once again are in abundance. We’re on our way to thinking in Korean won instead of pounds and are desperately trying to find the cheapest place to get our fruit and veg; man they are expensive here! Buying in bulk seems to be the key and a few big weekend cook-ups that can then be eaten throughout the week may just be the secret. Thankfully Chef Ramsey isn’t too far away to make all of this possible!
Our sampling of the local nightlife has been well underway too. Cue a few nights out in Hongdae, undoubtedly the most ‘hip’ district of the city. I also went salsa dancing with my estate agent! However… it was far from as successful as I could have hoped. It turns out I dance on1 and Koreans have learnt to dance on2. It is very difficult, potentially impossible, to simply switch from one to the other! Needless to say there was a lot of awkward bumping into my partner, stepping on toes and turning the wrong way. I’ll be taking some lessons before I go there again! Other than that, I have learnt it is very difficult to simply buy a beer without it being accompanied by food, meaning most establishments are serving food well into the early hours of the morning. I’m not sure a cheap night out will be possible in this city that definitely never sleeps…
View of Seonjeongneung and the city

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