I’m officially one week after being released from quarantine!
Here’s my two part blog post all about my one week of living in South Korea.
Part 1: My first week out of quarantine
It’s been a wild week! I’ve hung out with a friend a few times, worked a full 5 days, and explored a little bit.
I don’t have a ton to say yet about my life since things have been really busy.
Overall, I like the area I live in a lot. There’s shops, restaurants, nice areas to walk, a river close by, a metro station basically next to my apartment, and I’m a 15-minute walk away from work. My apartment is getting nicer as I’ve gotten some new things for it. I bought some things from Daiso, and now I have most of the essentials (but still the bare minimum), a floor desk area (which is my favorite), and a few new clothes for work.
The thing that has been the most difficult so far is food. Getting used to new grocery stores is complicated, and the selection is a bit confusing for me. I’ve also found that food prices here are high (both at restaurants and the grocery store). It’s a bit difficult right now to be searching for cheaper food options, but eventually I’ll get there.
The thing I’ve noticed most this week is that setting up life in Korea takes a lot longer than anywhere else I’ve lived. It’s surprisingly more difficult than China. Getting things like a bank account and a phone plan take quite a while, so it might be a month or two before I have those set up.
Part 2: Covid-19 in South Korea
I’ve gotten so many questions about what it looks like moving abroad during the pandemic. I’m going to try to answer some of those now. The numbers two weeks ago were in the 400s for new infections per day (in all of S. Korea). Today, they are in the 160ish range. So the last few weeks, there has been a fast decrease in number of new cases. Here’s how the government is handing that:
Obviously, the first thing is the 15-day quarantine upon arrival. They also make you get tested.
Once the quarantine ended, here’s what I’ve noticed about how South Korea is handling Covid. They shut down when the cases get high. Last week, they officially “shut down” Seoul for the week. Restaurant hours were decreased, schools had to either close or go online, and people were recommended to stay home unless otherwise necessary.
They also have free testing that’s readily available. There are walk-up clinics were you can get tested for free and have your results the next day. Along with testing, Korea is using contact tracing. This means that when you go into certain restaurants/cafes/bars/etc. that you might need to write down your information. Basically, if someone tests positive, they will contact everyone that could have possibly crossed paths with them. If you get contacted, you’re required to quarantine until you are tested and your results come back. It might seem weird to have to give your information to go in anywhere, but it is keeping the numbers much lower.
I hope that after this coming week, the kids will be allowed to go back to school and we’ll be able to teach in person.
Talk to you all soon!