Firstly, my apologies – as many of you may have guessed, my grand plan for 750 words per day has failed miserably. I could claim lack of WiFi as the excuse for the lack of posts, but nobody would really believe me anyway. So it’s Day 2, game over, but I’ll struggle valiantly on.
Day 2 of the Korean capers was off to a slow start for this usually turbo-charged adventurer as I tried to recover from a 5:30am flight the day before. Having travelled to the East Coast a number of times in the past, I’m beginning to think that adjusting to the three-hour time difference is one of the most difficult things about exploring Australia. It’s just enough to make a right mess of sleeping patterns and the daylight savings plays havoc with my body clock (who needs to save daylight in the land of eternal summer anyway?)
Nevertheless, onwards and upwards to breakfast at Wesley, which was interrupted twice by fire alarms. It wasn’t a drill and in rolled the firemen to take a look as the bemused guests milled around the entrance. Spare a thought for the unfortunate late-sleepers who were woken from pleasant dreams by a 90dB siren screeching at them. As for me, my toast was stone cold and orange juice was warm by the time I was allowed to sit down and finish it off. At least they didn’t hamper my efforts to maintain some level of fitness on this trip, which brings me to an exciting new feature for the blog: Doyle’s Travel Tips.
DOYLE’S TRAVEL TIP #1 – KEEP IN SHAPE ON THE ROAD
I stumbled across this revelation some time ago whilst grappling with the question of maintaining fitness levels in inconvenient circumstances in far off lands. Pushups, situps, running and swimming. All are portable, no equipment needed, no nonsense exercises that will keep you looking trim and terrific (even whilst feasting on tiramisu and tortellini in Tuscany). Having said that, I will report on the feasibility of running in -12C temperatures in due course.
Back to the travelling and Australia revealed its technological backwardness once again today as the NBN proved its worth and yours truly had a hell of a time finding decent, free WiFi in the middle of Sydney.
A fruitless hour later and it was time to scrub up for the big meeting with Shirley Xu (AKIP Coordinator), Jacquie Riddell (Australia Korea Foundation – the money behind the venture), Jang Jun-Seok (Alan, from Deloitte Sydney), Ben Robinson (AKIP veteran) and Yang Joo-Yun (Rosa, a Korean language teacher). And of course, with the other interns – all of whom seem to have intimidating intellects, in the eyes of your simple narrator from the Wild West.
After a quick cold shower to rinse off the Sydney humidity, it was down to the Wesley Crypt for the meeting.I hoped it wasn’t an omen for the trip ahead….but I’m happy to report that the initial meeting was entirely pleasant. The lovely Shirley kept things moving and before long, we’d covered introductions, congratulations from Jacquie and a brief spiel on Korean business culture from Alan. Not sure about the others, but the tales of long working hours (12-14hr days), Hoesig (colleague drinks, where one must go toe to toe with the boss until you wind up collapsed in the gutter) and the strict, top-down structure of the working environment had me suddenly questioning the wisdom of taking on this internship. Particularly after Alan’s closing address, encouraging us to “enjoy the Hell”…
Thank goodness for Ben, who assured us that despite the pyramid like structure of Korean business, we interns would be operating outside the pyramid – a pithy phrase that we have come to embrace.
Next was a crash course in Korean language – apparently the easiest character system in the world (and the only one with a distinct and identifiable origin), but the hardest to speak. Wonderful. I was glad of my (questionable) diligence in learning some Hangeul (Korean alphabet) a few words and phrases. And of course, the lecture was rounded off with a classic bit of Korean humour.
Time flies when you’re having fun and before long, we were trooping off to team dinner….at an Eastern European restaurant. Shirley justified this odd choice by assuring us that we would be sick of Korean food by the end of 2 months and this was a good chance to get a metre-long snag and some pork knuckle into us before we departed (not joking about the metre sausage, by the way – we ordered two for entree).
And that was the day – my apologies for the delay in posting. It seems the Hell was more or less accurate as it’s been very busy here for the first week. More to come soon.
P.S. I’m in the process of sorting out photos – good old Apple has managed to make them very difficult to find for some reason.