I found myself wallowing in a bout of homesickness last week. Rather than sulk in my apartment and dream of lounging dock-side on Martha’s Vineyard sipping a Blue Moon and hogging the guacamole bowl, I sat down and scribbled all the things I am loving at the moment about my present situation. If you’re interested, here it is, feel free to add to my list. Cheers! *shot of soju in hand*
2) the huge H&M and Forever 21 stores in Seoul.
3) surprising the older Koreans on the subway when I give up my seat for them.
4) bars that never close, interesting bar snacks and learning how to play darts.
5) being inspired by Korean fashion.
6) when my takeout pizza is presented as a gift.
7) how my students love me.
8) not having to remember a key for my apartment because I have a keypad instead.
9) outdoor restaurant seating that magically appears in good weather.
10) paying bills within seconds at the ATM.
11) cooking my own meat at Korean BBQ. It’s the real deal: hot coals, marinated meat and scrumptious sides.
12) learning about Buddha and Buddhism.
13) public transportation. The subway is English friendly, fast, cheap and clean.
14) the 7 Eleven steps from my apartment.
15) not having to be at work until 1pm.
16) being the token foreigner at my yoga studio.
17) my small apartment, sometimes I complain, but it is cozy and easy to clean.
18) the free exercise stations everywhere.
19) Ssamjang (쌈장 ) sauce at Korean BBQ. Yes, it deserves it’s own spot on this list and it deserves a place in American cuisine. (Ssamjang is a thick, spicy paste used with food wrapped in a leaf in Korean cuisine. The sauce is made of doenjang, gochujang, sesame oil, onion, garlic, green onions, and optionally brown sugar. -Wikipedia)
20) that just about everything is cuter in Korea: coffee cups, bus cards, stationary, trucks, etc. #cuterinkorea
21) the moving ramps for grocery carts at Homeplus.
22) the walking/running/biking path along the river near my apartment.
23) not having to obey an open container law.
24) the service button at restaurants.
25) kimchi, yeah it’s growing on me.
26) cheap underground shopping.
27) receiving mail from friends and family.
28) meeting foreigners and bonding instantly.
29) the adorable coffee shops. I also appreciate being able to visit my first love, Starbucks, when I need a fix.
30) Korean kindness and hospitality.
31) not having to remember to pay rent each month – it’s on my school.
32) bowing instead of shaking hands to say hello – my palms get sweaty.
33) cheap travel to exotic locations. I can’t wait for Taiwan in July!
34) staying in touch with friends & family back home via snail mail, email, Facebook, Skype, Kakao Talk, FourSquare, Pinterest, Spotify and Instagram. Sometimes it feels like I never left.
35) creating a place for myself on Twitter and in the expat and travel blogging community.
36) fantastic conversations with new friends about the future – inspiring!
37) drinks on a necklace. Yup.
38) freebies with every purchase. I have enough travel samples for at least 5 vacations. A free sun hat with a new bottle of perfume – why not?
39) Casablanca in Haebangcheon: Best. Sandwich. Ever.
40) the new Shinsegae department store in Uijeongbu.
41) Temple Stay experiences.
42) kimbap’s deliciousness.
43) my rooftop.
44) the small plastic bag holders for wet umbrellas outside every store when it’s raining. Genius.
46) free phone charging stations.
47) street food after a crazy night out.
48) norebang. Can you say ‘Call Me Maybe’?
49) my acupuncture doctor.
50) free festivals. My love began at the Lantern Festival celebrating Buddha’s birthday.