What I Love about South Korea
My time in South Korea is winding down; I only have two months left. As the days pass, I’ve been reflecting on all of the things that I love about South Korea.
When I was doing my application to become an English teacher overseas, I applied to South Korea and to China, and I gave up the opportunity to teach in Shanghai to come and teach in Gohan, South Korea. I know, crazy right, the biggest city in the world and I decided to choose a city that no one can find on a map. I think I knew in my heart of hearts that I would eventually travel through China, but probably not South Korea, so that’s why I chose South Korea. I am not crazily obsessed with the culture like some people I have met, but I do enjoy it.
I like the fact that Koreans really seem to take full advantage of seeing their country. They take trains, planes, ferries, and buses to experience new locations within their country. I was teaching my fifth graders a few days ago, and the Grand Canyon came on the screen. They asked me, “Teacher, have you been there?” I was so embarrassed because my answer was no.
I also enjoy the fact that people seem to cultivate friendships even when they are married. Whenever I go to tourist destinations in Korea, I am always so surprised when I see a bunch of older women or men hanging out together. I feel like friendships in America fade the older we get, because we become so consumed by our kids and husbands, that we don’t invest that much time in our friends anymore.
Having previously worked in the fashion industry, I love people watching in Seoul, and seeing what women there are wearing. The women here treat every opportunity as their personal catwalk. They dress with ease and sophistication and a femininity that is hard to replicate. It has really restored my love of the fashion again.
This is a completely personal aspect of Korea, but I love my sixth graders. From the moment I arrived they welcomed me with open arms and were accepting. I have a great time teaching them. In fact, I get sad if their class is canceled. Most of my co-teachers don’t speak English, so having my sixth graders helps me to not feel isolated. I am going to miss those kids so much.
The thing I would say I love most about Korea is the food. Oh my god, is it good. Before I came, I had tried kimchi and that was it, but living here has opened my eyes to so many different types of food. Kimbap (their version of sushi), dakgalbi (a sautéed chicken in a spicy red sauce, with rice cakes, cabbage, and potatoes), and samgupsal (basically grilled fatty pork with a red sauce). And let’s not forget their fried chicken, so good. Koreans cook with such fresh ingredients and the dishes have such layered flavors. I know once I leave here, I will look for a Korean restaurant in my next city.
I know that I will miss Korea once I am gone, and I look forward to experiencing exciting and fun new adventures these next two months.