Confession time: I’m a little bit of a wimp. Just a tiny bit. For example, in college, if a piece of technical equipment wouldn’t work or the printer in the library was making weird noises after I used it, I’d walk away. Just walk away. Yeah, I was that person. Korea, though, has grown me up in that department.
When the copier in the teacher’s room at my school here in Seogwipo ran out of paper during my usage Lady Korea didn’t just let me walk away from it. I found the paper, filled the copier, and hoped that it worked. It did and life went on as normal. No need to interrupt life, I just did what any adult would do.
This is how I learned to use the public bus system, especially on Jeju Island.
I live in the southernmost city in Korea (Seogwipo). There are buses that go between Seogwipo and Jeju City every 15-20 minutes. If
you want to miss a bus, you have to try hard to do so. Regardless, one of my fears is being lost forever in a foreign country. This is why I tend to be more of a homebody, but today was different. Today, I got on the 5.16 Bus to Jeju City and took myself for a 3,000 won ride across the island. I knew where I needed to get off the bus in Jeju City, but other than that, I was taking myself for an unknown ride.
The ride between the cities was beautiful. If you’re from the Kentucky-Tennessee area, the landscape was that of I-75 headed towards Gatlinburg, TN. It was very pretty, especially with the low-hanging morning fog. The closer we got to Jeju City, the more urban it became and eventually, I got off the bus and meandered the city and Jeju-si is a bit more populated than Seogwipo.
However, this may not seem like a major endeavor for the typical college graduate-Fulbrighter. But for me, taking a bus across the island was a milestone moment. I suppose it means that now I’m mobile. I can go here, there, and everywhere. Life now has more wheels than the city bus to and from school. Life has wheels across the island and beyond.
That is how I learned to woman-up and love the bus system.