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Severance Hospital, Insadong, Gwanghwamun and a Scavenger Hunt

I was just thinking that it was strange that I felt so tired, but then I remembered that its only been three days since I arrived….and I have walked 22 miles in the last two days alone. (-_-;)

I thought Tuesday was going to be a boring day, as our master schedule told us only that we were going to visit a hospital and do a “navigating Seoul” activity. I mean, how exciting can that possibly be, right?

Well, turns out that when we got to Severance Hospital (also known as Yonsei University Hospital) we got to hear a lecture from Dr. John Linton–a top doctor in Korea and probably the best foreign doctor in Korea. I’m not kidding, I don’t know that I have ever been more impressed with a person when first meeting them. He is American, went to Yonsei for medical school, and though he did his residency in the US he has been back in Korea practicing medicine for 25 years. And in that time, he completely redesigned the Korean ambulance, and now basically all ambulances and ambulance procedures are based off of his design. He also said that if we are anywhere in Korea and need to get into a doctor we can use his name and our connection through the director of CIEE. Pretty cool. Nothing like feeling confident about medical care in a foreign country.

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Also Severance Hospital is basically an art museum. Never have I ever seen such an immaculate, bright, modern space used for such intensive medical care–especially for a medical center that has 2,000+ beds–apparently that is 4x the amount of beds most “large” hospitals in the US have!

After the lecture on health in Korea, the CIEE staff suddenly broke up our herd of 66 into more reasonably groups of 7ish people for the next activity. We knew we would be heading out–on our own–and we knew we would need some maps and directions and money that was all in a brown folder that each group was handed.

But other than that…..we knew nothing about what was going on.

We had a paper that was divided into three locations: Insadong, Gwanghwamun and Yonsei. Each of the three locations had things we had to take group pictures with–and each picture we successfully took as an entire group would be worth a certain amount of points. To make everything a little more complicated, we would have to take the subway in order to get to each of the destinations…and only one person in my group had ever been on a Korean subway before!

Also none of us had phones that worked in Korea, so there was no way to consult Google for directions or contact each other if someone got lost. Or contact anyone else in the case that the entire group got lost…

So anyway, we set off, kind of following another group to the subway station as none of us had been there before. Though once we got to our destination we darted off with our own plan of attack.

Did I mention that we also had a time limit and needed to fit lunch into all of this darting about the city?

Well, Insadong is AMAZING and I think I am going back tomorrow for some more in-depth shopping and looking around. Insadong has a bunch of cool little shops, with everything from touristy presents to antiques, food stalls to outdoor market areas. Probably my favorite part was a multi-story open air shopping building.

For lunch we popped in to a little restaurant on a side street, and because of the extreme heat/humidity (why doesn’t Korean or English have a word like 蒸し暑い am I right?) we all grabbed some naengmyun.

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Eating a cool and semi-leisurely lunch was good for our legs and state of mind, but was not good for the time limit on our scavenger hunt. After hitting all the spots in Insadong, we hopped on another subway and headed over to Gwanghwamun to go to the palace, Japanese embassy, and see the statues of King SeJong and Yi Sun Shin.

This was another fabulous place–and I will definitely have to go back to appreciate it completely. From several spots in the area, you can see skyscrapers, busy streets filled with cars and people walking about, and also statues of some of the greats of Korean history, the palace, and all framed by mountains in the background. It summed up old and new, modern and historical, all in one field of vision.

Of course, we were on a time table, and we rushed away as fast as our poor exhausted selves would take us and returned to Yonsei, our new university. …Where we then had to try to navigate around the campus (and construction) in order to take group pictures at several buildings before getting back to the Global Lounge in order to take a picture by the sign right as our watch said 4:30pm.

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OMG. I think there was only one location we didn’t make it to. Safe to say we were all exhausted.

I definitely took a shower before heading back out with friends for an evening of exploring (though how any of us had the energy to do so, I honestly have no idea).

The night ended with exploring makeup shops near Ehwa University, fried chicken for dinner, and bubble tea. As every night should end. 😉

Also I saw one of the greatest signs and bought the best post cards that have ever been bought, so I am going to end with that! ^_^

Thanks for reading! This was just day two of my semester in South Korea, and I have more adventures from today to talk about but I am too tired and this post got too long to even begin talking about it haha! Tomorrow we were supposed to go to the DMZ, though as you may have heard there has been increased tension between North and South Korea and all tours were cancelled and rescheduled–so look for a post about that hopefully in mid-September.

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