Life in Jinju: What City Life is Really Like

Find any person and ask them their opinion on living in a city and I guarantee that they’ll have one, whether they’ve ever lived in a city or not. I will be the first to agree, living in the city is not for everyone, and by the same token, living in a rural area (or as I like to call it, the middle of nowhere) is not for everyone.

IMG_1529

I was quite young when I first realized that I’d like to live in a city someday. Growing up, I’d go on school field trips to Philadelphia almost every year and always enjoyed myself. In high school, I went on trips to New York City, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C in America and countless cities as an exchange student in Germany and Austria. In college, I found my way up to Boston, over to Dublin, and into Galway. My first year after graduation took me to Norfolk, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Toronto. Every city pulled me in, and I was absorbed by the hustle and bustle of life that filled every nook and cranny. My discontentment with life in Wilkes-Barre, a city by definition but not in reality, grew each and every day.

So when I received my placement in South Korea, I was thrilled. I’d finally get a taste of the life that had been calling out to me for years.

By Korean standards, Jinju is a small city. For all my American readers, Jinju is larger than Pittsburgh but smaller than Boston in regard to population. Considering Boston and Pittsburgh are two of my favorite cities back in the States, I’d say I really lucked out.

IMG_1531

So what is living in a city really like? For me, it’s everything I wanted. To say I miss having a car and driving would be an absolute lie. I love that I can walk wherever I need to go, and if I want to venture a little further out than I can go on foot in a reasonable amount of time, I can just hop on a bus or call a taxi. Traveling to other cities is just as effortless. I walk to the bus terminal, I buy a ticket, I go. Bus schedules are easily accessible online, tickets are affordable, and the busses are reliable.

Living in Jinju, I have close access to so many things I enjoy. There are coffee shops on nearly every corner. When I want a taste of home, all I have to do is drop into the local Starbucks. I recently discovered my favorite cafe just a few blocks from my apartment. It has a cozy interior and a rooftop patio. It’s stunning and I’m sitting there enjoying a vanilla latte as I write this. Then of course there are other amenities I need. I live less than five minutes from the grocery store, which is more like a Target than a Redners, so not only can I buy food, but I can also pick up any home goods I may need.

One of the best parts of living in a city is that there is always somewhere to go and something to do. While I enjoy spending time by myself in my apartment, it doesn’t take much for me to get cabin fever, so even just being able to walk outside and go downtown  to window shop or walk the path along the river is great. There are festivals, open mic nights, live music, and all the things I craved when I was living back in the States. So while city life may not be for everyone, I’d say it’s definitely for me.

**********************************************************************

Life in Jinju will be a series of posts about living in Jinju, South Korea. Posts from my travels within South Korea and other Asian countries will not be apart of the Life in Jinju collection. 

 

A Day in Jinju

Although I arrived in Korea about three days ago, today was the first day I really had a chance to get out and explore–not for lack of time, but lack of energy. My travel was mostly sleepless, and my first night here was the same. I spent the first night unpacking my bags in the wee hours of the morning because I was poorly adjusted to the time change. Yesterday, I fell asleep at 4:00 p.m. and slept soundly until 3:30 a.m. after waking up only once. I guess you could say adjusting to a 13 hour time difference is pretty difficult.

Since today was the day my contract officially started, today was busy, busy, busy. The morning started with an early morning visit to the doctor for a physical with my supervisor, Sam, and Mikaela, my two new coworkers who also just arrived in Korea. Mind you, this was no American-style physical. It involved the normal things like height, weight, and blood pressure, but also included a chest x-ray, echo-cardiogram, dental check, vision test, drug test, and blood work. The most surprising part of the whole experience was how quickly it went. Never before had I had such a speedy doctors appointment.

After the doctor, my supervisor took myself, Sam, and Mikaela for some breakfast and coffee, which we enjoyed at a park in Jinju. Next came our trip to Daiso, probably one of the greatest stores I have ever been to. Imagine a dollar store but with really cute, quality products. I could have spent all day wandering through Daiso, spending too much money. While I was able to pick up some things I forgot to get at emart the previous day, I did make some impulse buys.

I arrived back to my apartment early in the afternoon and cooked myself some lunch, discovering that even “sweet” sauces are quite spicy. So following another spicy meal, I decided to would be fun to go explore Jinju a little bit. Walking through the streets of Jinju felt so natural. For years, I have wanted to live in a city–a city where I could walk to everything I needed and use public transportation for those things just a bit further away, and I was finally doing just that.

While wandering around, I came across so many cool places in Jinju. The downtown area was bustling with shoppers zipping in and out of shops. I stopped into a few myself, looking for some make-up products and just browsing around. All the shop employees were so friendly and patient, even though we couldn’t speak the same language. I also found myself in the middle of a traditional market, full of fresh produce, fish, and baked goods. The market was just as hectic and chaotic as those you experience in America or see in the movies. Just walking through was exhilarating. After exploring the market, I decided that it was time to venture back to my apartment. I had been walking for quite some time, and I took in a lot of downtown Jinju. I was even able to find the youth center where I would be working come Monday!

Moving to a new city can be both scary and exciting. Fortunately for me, I came to Jinju with a pre-existing support system. The two teachers who were already here have been so kind and helpful, and my two new fellow teachers have been open to explore, spend time together, and take it all in. I am so excited to see where this year takes me.