Landing! It was hard to contain the excitement of arriving in another country for the first time in over a decade. No time to stop and smell the roses, though. Shoved through health checks and customs, the officials shipped us off to the quarantine facility, a repurposed hotel on the outskirts of Seoul.
Leaving my room carried the penalty of deportation. Fortunately, I had no shortage of things to do. I practiced Korean, started new TV shows, and read books. Via exercise and prayer I maintained my physical and spiritual health. Focusing on friends I haven’t seen in a long time, I made video calls about once per day. Quarantine also proved to be a not-so-free trial (given the high, thankfully reimbursed, cost of the accomodations) of Korean meals, as the facility abundantly provided a variety of food.
After fourteen days, we boarded a bus to meet Dr. Kim and Dr. Li. As a foreigner in an unfamiliar land, freedom was exciting but also daunting. Matt and I stayed a night in Seoul, enabling us to adventure around the Gangnam district with the other scholars. We visited restaurants, cafes, and stores, as well as attractions like the Gangnam Style statue and G20 Seoul summit monuments.
Pictured: Scholars at the G20 monument
Afterward, Matt and I rode a bus with Dr. Kim to Daejeon. She introduced us to KAIST and showed us the around city. Since basic tasks become difficult in a different country, Dr. Kim has been so helpful as a guide to life abroad!
My current project is at Dr. Steve Park’s lab, on the fabrication of biosensors, particularly a pressure sensor. This is a very thin device that could be a component of an electronic “skin.” Getting started in research has been tough, with the first week characterized by waiting and downtime, as my mentor is very busy. I want to perform more work, so I will likely take on an additional project soon. I will shortly be discussing that with its team!
I think I’m forming a habit of visiting the popular Sungsimdang (성심당) bakery in Daejeon. They have excellent breads and pastries for a good price, so I believe it will be hard to avoid at least a weekly trip there!
Pictured: A bread statue outside the bakery.
On Sunday, I explored the Hanbat Arboretum (한밭수목원). It is a beautiful natural space in Daejeon, a flourishing garden and oasis amidst the asphalt, concrete, steel, and glass. Matt later joined me to go to the Daejeon Museum of Art (대전시립미술관), but we found it was closed! We made an American friend and explored the surrounding area with him. It was a worthwhile adventure, and we closed it out with gelato from a nearby café!
Pictured: The arboretum.