After sleeping in this morning and lazily getting around to checking my email, I almost fell over when I saw a message from EPIK with the subject line “Final Approval Received”! In it, my coordinator informed me that I had been accepted by the Busan Metropolitan Office of Education and they would be sending me my contract in the next few weeks. I am so excited/relieved to finally have confirmation that this whole crazy thing is actually happening…
The email also informed me that they would be confirming the orientation dates soon, and warned against purchasing my plane ticket before receiving my visa. I don’t really understand how they expect us to wait until mid-January to purchase a ticket to fly mid-February, but I suppose they don’t want anyone complaining that they bought a ticket that conflicted with the orientation start date. I’m going back and forth on when I’m going to buy my ticket…it’s just such a tough decision! The only thing to do, if you’re me, is mounds of research and spreadsheets. 😉
But back to our topic – Busan! Also known, in the charming way that most Korean metropolitan areas have of giving themselves slogans and nicknames by seemingly appending random English words to the city name, as “Dynamic Busan”. (My favorite slogan so far of any city is “It’s Daejeon”, a rather uninspiring welcome to the city of Daejeon, if you ask me.)
But Busan, known as Korea’s “City of Tomorrow”, also apparently has some fantastic pieces of its past to recommend it. This little seaside metropolis is one of the few pieces of territory never captured by the Northern Army during the Korean War, and thus it served as the capitol of the wartime Republic of Korea. That unique history also means that it contains neighborhoods and areas that were untouched by much of the destruction of the 1950s.
The city of Busan has a population of approximately 3.6 million people and is the regional center of the southeast portion of Korea. It is the largest port city in Korea and its port is actually the fifth largest in the world! In other fun trivia, Busan is also home to the world’s largest department store – Shinsegae Centum City is over 5 million square feet of shopping and is part of an even larger 12 million sq-ft complex. I will be avoiding that place like the plague, I think.
Much more inviting is the idea of the plentiful hiking opportunities in the nearby mountains, temples dating back to the 7th Century, and the apparently gorgeous Busan Aquarium. Busan is also home to varied and delightful festivals, such as bonfire festivals, flower festivals, lantern festivals, sand castle festivals, international film festivals, and – to make my mother incredibly jealous – a hydrangea festival in July.
I’m still researching this incredible city that will be my home for the next year, but I can’t wait to share it with all of you!
Busan’s Gwangandaegyo, or Diamond Bridge