When traveling to a foreign country with a language gap as substantial as the one between the English and Korean languages there are certain communication challenges that everyone expects. However, before arriving in Korea I did not expect to report back that finding a taxi would become one of my greatest daily struggles.
The schedule of morning meetings and shift with the IOC for our data collection responsibilities frequently mean that we need to leave our residence at 6:00 or 7:00am – we have an option for a 30 minute walk or a quick taxi ride into the Olympic Park where we can transfer over to the Olympic bus system. If there is anything worse than being awake for work at 6:00am it is having to walk 30 minutes in the freezing cold to get there (or walk that same 30 minutes after a grueling 8 hour data shift).
However, there is no Uber in PyeongChang – a reality that settled slowly upon arrival. There is an option to call a taxi; however, you need to be able to speak Korean. The resolution we have found to the language barrier is to employ the help of our local CVS, or “CU” workers to call the cabs for us. I can only imagine that they will be relieved when we head back to our home countries! However they have been immeasurably helpful to us thus far.
Unlike in the States, there is also frequently a shortage of cabs, which can make it almost impossible to find one during peak hours. After an eight hour transport shift in the cold I can only imagine some of the PyeongChang cab drivers have seen the scrappiest sides of all of us GW students.
Communicating a destination to the cab driver becomes the next battle once a taxi is officially located. However, this is another area where innovation has been our friend. One local cab driver provided the Korean translation for the address of our residence that has worked like magic ever since. We have no idea what it says but it always gets the thumbs up and takes us home!