August 17th BreeAnn and I crammed our lives into 5 checked bags, 2 carry-ons, and 2 backpacks. After three flights we arrived at the Seoul/Incheon International Airport. We checked in with EPIK(English Program in Korea) and took a bus four hours south to the city of Jeonju. I slept on and off during the bus ride and was pretty out of it when we reached Jeonju University at 12:30am. Everyone was assigned a dorm room, hauled their luggage upstairs (ours is on the 12th floor), and went to sleep.
This morning was our medical exam, and they weren’t messing around. We waited in an auditorium until our name was called. Then we walked on stage, joined a few other people and were tested on many levels. First was our height and weight followed by a vision exam, a hearing test, blood pressure and testing for colorblindness. The line then moved behind a curtain and we had to give a blood sample. I hadn’t given blood in a few years and it’s never something I look forward to. So I held my breath as the needle went
in, looked away, and waited until they said I was done. I was then given a cup for a urine sample, and finally I was asked to enter the x-ray bus. Male teachers stood in line, placed their chest against a plastic surface, and got their x-ray. Immediately you could see what your insides looked like on a nearby computer screen. I think my looked okay.
After our testing I wasn’t feeling too jetlagged but BreeAnn was. Plus we hadn’t gotten to sleep until 1:30 the night before and had to wake up at 6:30 that day, so she took a nap. I decided to go on a bit of a walk and call my folks. It was really cool to hear their voices and feel close even though we are so far away. When I got home I was able to even see them on gchat. I think about how if we would have done this even 30 years ago, how different it would have been and how truly far it would have felt from home.
At 3:00 were the opening ceremonies. Sound kind of like the olympics, and not too far off. They had a few introductions and then had several perfomances including traditional fan dancing, men playing drums, a dance with women playing drums and finally a sampling of Tae Kwon Do. I was expecting so see a few guys come out, bow to us, and break a board or two. This was probably 30 college aged men and women, some of which were on the South Korean national team. I knew as soon as they started playing epic music that sounded like it was from the movie The Last Samurai I was in for something quite different. All of them moved in a very quick sycronized way and even gave a yell here and there. It was so cool to see them all move as one. Soon the music turned to a techno dance beat and they all started dancing in a way that incorporated modern dance
with Tae Kwon Do. After that they would break anywhere from one to six boards with their hands, feet, or head all in one fluid movement. The things they were doing looked like it was straight out of The Matrix. I think my favorite move was when a guy got about a 15 foot head start, jumped off a guy, did a flip at least 10 feet off the ground, and broke two boards with his feet while he was flipping upsidedown. Unreal. Later we learned that we would also be taking a Tae Kwon Do class as part of our orientation. Needless to say, I’m way more pumped then BreeAnn. I can’t wait to do a flip off of her head and break a board.Then we split up into our groups learned, more about the week, and went to dinner. Dishes upon dishes of Korean food lay before us on an endless buffet table. I think I took one of everything. Currently I am about a step away from being in a food coma, which should help with the jetlag. For those of you who don’t know, South Korea is 14 hours ahead of central time zone.
Finally, if you every have any questions about our trip or about Korea, please leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.
And if you were wondering about the title, check out these sweet towels found in our dorm…