Top 7 things I miss about Korea
I’m quite obsessed with time. With the relentless passage of it and our perception of this ephemeral concept. How it sometimes speeds up and other times it slows down. I’m constantly measuring it’s ruthless passage against certain milestones, usually involving having lived here or there.
On this occasion, I’m using departing South Korea after a two-year sojourn as my benchmark. I left the land of the morning calm with a one-way plane ticket over a year and a half ago. And while I loved my time in SoKo, I don’t often get homesick for that period of my life.
But, there are aspects and elements of living in Korea that I do miss greatly. Sometimes I reminisce and think back on those two years I spent teaching English to elementary school kids. I ponder the highs and the lows and I get sentimental. I even wonder if maybe I should return?! This post is an ode to my bygone life in Korea. This is what I long for the most now that I no longer have it.
I can still taste the delight it was to live on my own for the first time. Living all by myself taught me just how introverted I truly am – that I’m my best friend and thrive after spending large stretches of time in sweet solitude. Now that I live with my parents, I look back wistfully to the space, privacy and quiet I enjoyed. I especially miss the potluck-style dinner parties I hosted. Sigh.
Pens. Notebooks. Highlighters. Markers. Cards. I adore stationery and Korea’s game in this realm is on point! The sheer amount of stationery shops peppered around cities is incredible and makes me smile when I remember them, especially the HotTracks shop under the Kyobo bookstore in Daegu. I miss the cuteness of the shops, the variety and the quality. Basically everything.
Man, oh man. I’m a city girl through and through, so after a year of living in the suburbs, it’s getting to me. The driving, the commuting. I miss public transportation so I can space out and daydream without abandon! I recently went through a depressive episode where I literally felt I was melting into a sea of suburban irrelevance. Yes, I’m quite melodramatic.
For a skincare fanatic, Korea is pure heaven. Now that I’m stateside, I can still buy all the Korean products I like but I have to order them online instead of walking into one of a gazillion shops where the shopping experience is more personal. It’s the accessibility to the plethora of products that I crave.
This one is kind of boring but damn, healthcare in the US sucks! It’s expensive and not that great. The fundamental problem is that healthcare in the US is a lucrative business industry rather than a public benefit. Yes, I’m into socialistic policies. I just think a country should take care of the basic necessities of its citizens i.e. healthcare + education. Not make businesses out of both and end up with an EPI pen worth $500 and a school book $300. I remember how easy I had it in Korea where I never paid a copay and the most I paid for medicine was $15. The good ol’ days.
Circle of friends
The time I lived abroad in Korea was made special by the special people I met and made friends with – by our shared lived experience. While I keep in touch with most of them, it’s that specific moment in time with all of us together in the same geographical location that I cherish and reminisce about. I miss the coffee shop weekly hangs, the barbeque dinners, the nights out in the cheesy Daegu bars. All of it.
This is a very obvious one, but damn, do I reminisce about the delicious and affordable meals I enjoyed in Korea! I mostly dream about jjimdak, a saucy braised chicken dish with sweet potato noodles, potatoes and dumplings. It’s not really that common in the US (or at least in Chicago) and I wish it were because I want it!