Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why I Love Korea

(Typical signage on Korean buildings -- I love the chaos!)  

These thoughts often cross my mind – I try to mentally register all the little things I love about being in Korea.  I’m thankful that I feel self-aware, appreciative of what I’m experiencing.  But I also have this nagging feeling.  The one where you start to miss something even before it’s gone because one day you know it will be.

I love the neon lights of Korea.  At night, everything is aglow.  The businesses compete for your attention with bright lights and flashing signs.  During the day, you see the surface of buildings (even the windows) plastered with signs.  In high-rise buildings sans storefronts, this is how businesses let you know they exist.  This should be ugly and irritating, but I love it.  I find it lively, exciting…even cheerful.  When I go home, I will long for neon lights.

(Some amusing neon lights.  See the monkey?)

I love my commute to work.  It’s a fifteen minute walk through a lovely neighborhood.  On a brick paver pathway, we cross a stream, and then wander past a playground where vendors sell cotton candy, fruit, and sometimes hamsters.  Children whiz by on their bicycles while others run by in backpacks…maybe headed to English school.  And next to me is my husband…a great commute.  I also love working with my husband.  For the first time, our schedules are in sync.  We see so much more of each other and that’s a good thing.

(The view on our commute)

I love the street vendors selling fresh produce.  I love my neighborhood and the convenience of walking everywhere.  I like grocery shopping with my cheesy grandma pull cart.  I love that the subway is a block away from my house.  I love the persistence of the people when we run into the language barrier – they don’t turn away, but instead engage in wild gesturing with me to communicate.  I love the victory of actually being understood when I try to speak Korean.  I love Korean BBQ – imagine cooking on a grill at your restaurant table.  I’ve never loved meat this much.

(BBQ with the family.  Those are grills in the center of the table)

(This meat is going to be delicious!)

I love being a tourist on the weekends and seeing the sights.  That includes visiting Korea's crowded, hectic, has-it-all markets.  The atmosphere and the prices are unforgettable.  I love the children I teach and I really enjoy teaching them English.  I love the lack of crime in Korea and the feeling of safety that comes with it – walk the city streets day or night and rest assured, you’re safe.

(Food stalls at Namdaemun Market)

I guess I could boil it down to this...I like my job…I like my lifestyle…and I’m truly enjoying this cultural experience.

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