In-Country Orientation Day
Woke up at around 7 in the morning again after a long night to an amazing surprise... My RD's had brought us Honey Butter Chips, Muffins, Doritos, and Apple Juice for breakfast! It was my first time getting to eat the infamous Honey Butter Chips.
Honey Butter Chip explanation: South Korea has a honey butter craze. They love the unique flavor so much, they even made it a beverage. It's really unlike any chip I've ever had but I was mostly interested in eating them because when they first came out, people went so crazy for them, they would sell out everywhere and sometimes the convenience store clerks would have to hide bags behind the counter so no one would take them all.
South Korea also has a banana craze right now... Banana Milk is my latest obsession. You can probably find some in an Asian supermarket, but I haven't seen any where I am from. When I first had it, I was amazed. It is very smooth, sweet, and tastes like a ripe banana! There's also things like banana flavored Choco Pie (Korean dessert) and banana flavored ice cream. I even got a banana key chain in Hongdae...
ANYWAYS, after eating breakfast, my roommates and I headed down one of the conference halls in the youth hostel to get ready for our in-country orientation. We learned how to play the Sogo (Korean drum instrument) and even got to take one home with us. We played more ice breakers to get to know each other, and got the opportunity to split up into groups for the afternoon "Survival in Korea" session.
Before starting Survival in Korea, the staff bought a bunch of Korean treats like candy and chocolate and other popular drinks like Pocari Sweat and Milkis for us to try. I fell in love with White Heims and the Milkis (carbonated milk) was actually pretty good too.
Survival in Korea is basically when the groups go off into different parts of Seoul (wherever your group leader decides to take you) and shows you how to use the subway, gives you a T-Money card (don't try to get around Korea without one), tour a district in Seoul, and learn important Korea phrases, etiquette, and WHAT NOT TO DO (Example: sit in an elderly seat on the subway).
I went off in a group with one photographer (she's so sweet I love her), one group leader, and three other people in my program. Our group leader chose to take us to Insadong, a tourist district in South Korea. Insadong is very close to Gyeongbokgung Palace, and it is a well known place where tourists can come to buy souvenirs from South Korea.
In Insadong, my group leader decided to take us to Sulbing, a very popular bingsu (Korean shaved ice dessert) restaurant. She taught us how to order food in Korean and we got to order Green Tea bingsu and Patbingsu (popular red bean bingsu). It was my first time eating bingsu and I can honestly say that Sulbing never disappoints. I love bingsu so much, especially with the condensed milk they give as a side option to make it even sweeter. After eating at Sulbing, our group leader decided to take us to the main street in Insadong, where we encountered a four story outdoor marketplace.
After finishing up in Insadong, we headed back to the youth hostel and ate lunch. My first time eating lunch in South Korea was incredible, but the second time surely did not disappoint. I ate bulgogi (Korean meat dish), rice and dried seaweed (to wrap the rice in), kimchi, and seaweed soup. I got to eat with metal chopsticks and a rice spoon for the first time in Korea and the chopsticks were a lot heavier than the ones I was used to using in the US (the wooden ones).
After lunch, we headed back to our dorms and got to explore the hostel a bit more. We discovered that there was a miniature world expo on the second floor with a wardrobe full of garments from all over the world, and there was also a cafe by the main lobby.
After getting to hang out with my program friends again, the staff surprised us by ordering chicken, pizza, and soft drinks for all the dorms. Korean chicken and pizza are so unique and delicious, it's no wonder Korean barbecue is becoming so popular.