I'm picking out a thermos for you

Monday, July 03, 2006

Chariots of Fire

After over two weeks of relative inactivity, it has finally become time to start working off my kimchi belly. Yes, I have been walking a lot and taking the stairs quite often (since my dorm room is on the 5th floor of a building with no elevator!), but I still don't want to turn into what my friend A. describes as "the 196-lb monster." Especially with all the kimchi I've been eating.

Now, I have more or less despised running ever since high school (take that, Coach Karl!), but as far as exercising while abroad is concerned, running is a) convenient, b) cheap, and c) effective. And although I hate running at home, I do enjoy running in a new place just a teensy bit, since it gives me a chance to explore and learn my way around.

But, holy schnikes! This campus is hilly! There are steep inclines leaving every direction from my dorm. This random map that I found does the campus no justice. This photo also makes campus look rather idyllic:
And, truth be told, the campus is very pretty - as long as you're in a car, driving around it. On foot, you have to work to climb up and down all those hills. But I shouldn't complain - at least by living at Yonsei U, I have nice areas to run in. Most of Seoul is densely urban, teeming with cars and people - there would be absolutely no room for running. But on campus, there are trails and trees and a pretty good running environment, despite all those hills.

Side note: Some areas of campus are pretty deserted at night. Although decently lit, they seem a bit sketchy, shall we say, to my American sensibility. When I'm jogging, my American common sense tells me, "This doesn't seem like a smart place to be alone at night." Or, as an American colleague put it,
I would never - NEVER - walk around streets like this in D.C. without fearing for my life.

But in Korea, it seems totally safe to do so! You see unaccompanied women walking around these fairly deserted parts of campus at all times of night, apparently without fear.

I think this anecdote sums up the difference in attitudes: chugging up a hill on Monday night, there was an obviously American girl (read: white) walking on the path in front of me. I thought she heard me coming, what with my gasping for breath and loud footfalls, but apparently she didn't, because just as I was about to pass, she turned with a look of absolute terror on her face! As if she thought I might try to steal her purse or perhaps worse. (I did feel bad for scaring this poor girl and tried to apologize in between gasps...)

But when I pass Korean girls, they scarcely even give me notice. They're obviously not afraid of a stranger passing them on a darkened, deserted sidewalk. If anything, they're probably just amused to see someone jogging, because, well, it's just so American. I don't think Koreans understand the concept - and every jogger I've seen here has looked American.


  • Yeah, you know it's bad when YOU break out the running shoes. Kind of like how I MUST really want to do a triathlon to actually do swim training.

    Odd how I didn't see any photographic evidence of this outrageously hilly, flat-forsaken area surrounding you. Maybe they are all just gradual inclines and youa re just being a wuss. Hmmm?

    By Blogger Zeek, at 9:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home