I had to take a break. As someone who has struggled with anxiety- I had to take a break. Blogging is a very new idea to me, especially because it concerns sharing my writing. Since I was a wee lass, my writing has remained a very private activity that I would mainly use as a coping mechanism. Anyone who has spent time getting to know me probably knows I haven’t really been dealt a good hand in life, but I’m not here to complain. Which is why I took some comments a little personal, because strange and familiar people alike were telling me that my #becausekorea post was insensitive and culturally ignorant. Iggy Azelea said it best: first things first, I’m the realest. I mean this in that I’m just being real with my readers. My intention was to create a light-hearted post about things I find genuinely funny about this amazing country. I didn’t mean to come off as complaining- and I have received a lot more “omg yes!” comments from fellow expats. I tried my hardest not to come off as a silly foreigner who hates Korea, because it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love Korea in all of its quirky goodness!! Truly.
I can understand how one might have taken it the wrong way, but everything in that post are things I find funny that a lot of other expats think as well. Secondly, I’m done feeling bad about it. Public as it may be, this is my platform and I have the discretion of deciding what does and doesn’t make the cut. I consider myself a pretty understanding and culturally aware person- the whole reason I started it was to share my experiences with the world in the hope that someone might agree. So, in the words of Drake “on to the next one.”
So I’m going to use the rest of this post and your attention to give you a list of the things I love the most about Korea:
Korea is a country littered with mountains, and Seoul is no exception. The capitol city provides ample hiking trials of varying difficulty only a train ride away. What I find interesting, amazing and amusing is the sub-culture around hiking in Korea. This is a country where appearance is everything- Korean babies are dressed better than you on any given day. This is a place (probably the only place) where you will feel under dressed hiking up a mountain. It’s also the only place I’ve ever been where there is full cell reception at the summit. Furthermore, the only place where people hike all day just to drink Makgeoli (mak-oh-lee) or Korean rice wine infused with probiotics- at the summit. Have fun getting down!
In my ripe old age of 26 (closer to 27) I have realized I don’t like shopping. I don’t like handing over my hard earned cash to some conglomerate business that tells me I should have this thing I don’t really need. “You can’t tell me what to do!” Cheapskates like me can no longer say they don’t like shopping because Korea has solved that problem! There is probably going to be at least one of the following to lure you in. There is the ever present 1+1= buy one get one free. There is the rare unicorn 1+2 deal. Or maybe you will see someone waiting outside to give you free things just for going inside the store. But the best thing? Getting gifts for having spent $30 or more.
Challenge accepted! They really know how to make their customers feel appreciated. Or maybe it’s them just making up for the fact that they have been following you around the whole time you were in there. Not normal following, I mean like Dwight following customers in Staples. No exaggeration, this is what it’s actually like:
But what is even better? Shopping in the train station. It’s convenient- you didn’t go out of your way so if you don’t find anything it isn’t a waste. If you have the body of a 10 year old, by all means shop inside the stores- more power to you if you can! If you’re short like me, or under 5 feet and have curves: then you should never actually go in the store. You won’t fit in those baby clothes and you’ll just get sad about it. Stay outside where you belong. With the “free size” or “one size fits all short people.” If you are neither a preteen nor vertically challenged person: good luck finding anything because free size isn’t free- you will pay for it. Either with money or a piece of your dignity for ever having tried getting into it in the first place.
When I first arrived in Korea, I was seeing this sign everywhere:
I thought it was a sign for a restaurant that sold remeyon (ramen) but how woefully wrong I was. This sign means a Jimjilbong is near, and that you should go inside because it’s amazing. Honestly, it’s around $10 and you can arrive at *any time* of the night or day and you stay *as long as you like*. Let me repeat myself- you can stay for 24 hours and it’s still $10. Once you’re in there, you’ll probably want to stay for 24 hours, because there are multiple different kinds of baths (sea salt, ginseng, oak etc) and saunas where you can just relax, completely naked, all day; with people of your same sex of course. This fact is a little daunting at first, but once you realize no one can speak to you even if they wanted to you kind of get over it real quick. Then, you can get a full body exfoliate from an ajumma (old woman) or ajussi (old man) respectively, and feel like a million bucks after only having spent $10! Sometimes you can pay a little more for a massage or a wax or to get your nails done. Is it 4am? Do you not want to spend a fortune taking a cab home, because the subway isn’t running yet? Then just put on the uniform they give you and sleep. When you wake up you can detox all the soju out- honestly Jimjilbongs are the most amazing invention ever and I’ll be so sad when there isn’t one on every block back home 😦
Who doesn’t love a good karaoke bar?! I’ll tell you who- no one who wants to party, and Koreans love to party. Norebongs are another one of my favorite places in Korea. You get to belt your heart out while drinking dollar soju and everyone gets into it. I can’t really speak for everyone, but at least for me I always feel like I’m murdering every song- I even have dance moves to go along with my carefully selected song choice. It isn’t until I wake up the next morning with the sinking realization that the following video is a more accurate portrayal:
If you are an expat in Korea, what are the things you love most? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!