Want some delicious mushroom squid noodles delivered to your house? Do you only have 4,000 won? Well in Korea this is no problem as acres of delivery restaurants, service the needs of the hungry apartment bound masses. It took me a solid year of trial and error to figure out how to order from the monthly delivery books dropped off at my house. The food comes in less then thirty minutes and delivery is free. I will miss the moped man delivering everything from Pizza, Korean, McDonalds to Sushi.
9-Korean Hiking Culture
A middle aged man who won't give you anything but a massive wad of phlegm is transformed once you reach the top of any of Daegus local peaks. All of a sudden the older generation of Koreans becomes your best friend. There hasn't been a single time when I have hiked to the top of a mountain and not been greeted by a few free snacks or in one case, a round of drinks. The greatest kindness I have encountered was when my friends and I hiked Apsan Mountain the day after Christmas. It was freezing cold and my friend had forgotten her gloves. A older gentleman (who raced passed us as every Korean is in way better hiking shape than I) offered her a extra pair that he had brought in his bag. I just wish the kindness on the mountain could be continued on the subway.
8-Food Glorious Food
At first glance Korean food looks intimating and I personally was disappointed that it wasn't identical to Japanese. However, after a few months I was hooked. My favorite part of Korean cuisine is the side dishes. They are different at every restaurant and during every season. The staples include spinach, acorn jelly, long sliver fish, tiny fish, yellow pickled radish, onion salad, sweet potato and of course, kimchi. I can't believe I'm staying this but, I am going to miss kimchi. The salty acidic cabbage has become a staple of my diet and a meal hasn't begun without it. When I went home over Thanksgiving, I was disappointed by the fact that my meal was all served on one plate. I guess I just have to move to Spain next and day eat tapas all day!
7.5- Red Bean Bread Fish
Warm, sweet, yummy and three for a dollar. Need I say more? I just wish these waffley sweets were cooked up year round.
Super cheap and sold on every street corner, I will miss Korean fruit Adjummas. Street fruit is only sold in season so its always fresh and delicious. A big bag of kumquats for 3,000 won? I'm in heaven.
7-Cheap and Easy Transportation.
Its not interesting to write about but I never imagined it would be this easy to get around without a car.
Hot pants and high heels, floor length real fur coats, men's bedazzled jeans and of course couple wear. Daegu fashion is a strange combination of conservative and girly. You rarely see colors brighter than baby pink and many women's wardrobes could easily be shared with Barbie. While I never hopped completely on the bandwagon if have found myself wearing more leggings, (even Jeggings God help me) skirts and Velcro strap fake converse. It's exhausting to see so many beautiful people everywhere and at home I will be relieved to stop being the dumpyist 20-something downtown.
5-K-Pop and K-dramas
The flashy and strangely addictive Korean pop dance beats blast out of every available store orifice at all hours of the day and night. It's annoying but sinks quickly into your brain. Similar to kimchi, I found myself craving K-pop and kept a secret stash on my computer. K-dramas are a much larger time commitment and embarrassingly much more addictive. I watched two complete dramas series on mysoju.com and only my hapkido class and work kept me from watching more. Its hard to ignore the successful dramas, “Secret Garden” being the most recent. My students debated them in class, my friends knew the actors real love dramas and the cab drivers watched the series finale on their in-cab-tv's.
It might be exhausting and I am pretty sure I took years off my voice box but I will fondly miss teaching. It's a career that plays to my vanities. Everyone listen to me, look at me and laugh at me. I am here for their entertainment. Oh, and to teach I guess although the role of the foreigner teacher is half of each. The kids call my name as I walk through the hallway and I get a rush from actually helping them understand. I will be pursuing a masters in archival science but I hope to integrate it with public education in some way. I enjoy the performance aspect of education far too much to never continue.
From leaving my computer and wallet out in the open in a coffee shop to the keypad entry on my apartment I have never felt safer than I do in Korea. Nobody rips you off and bartering is unheard of. I walk home alone at 4:30 AM at a regular basis and I have never once felt threatened. I think one of the most difficult parts of returning home will be giving up freedom which only comes with feeling secure.
When you leave your friends and family to live in a foreign country you start from page one. The friends I have been blessed to make in this chapter of my life have become some of my closest friends. We work together, eat together and become each others new family. More than simply friends, I will miss my new family and hope to visit everyone again no matter what corner of the globe we call home.