I have learned some Korean words and phrases.
I know how to say hello - an-yeong-ha-se-yo.
Goodbye if I am the one leaving - an-yeong-he-gyea-se-yo
Goodbye if I am the one staying - an-yeong-he-ga-se-yo
Thank you - kam-sa-ham-ni-da
Yes - Ne
No - an-ie-yo
Sorry - mi-an-ham-ni-da
Here - yogi
and I know how to say the name of the school across from our house (we use this to tell taxi drivers where to take us.) - Gwan-gwang go-deung-hagg-yo (I never say this right and always have to say it in English)
I have survived 10 months in a foreign country only knowing how to say 9 words. Both impressive and sad at the same time. I cannot understand a word of Korean, either.
Being in South Korea has been the most amazing experience of my life so far. I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity to come live here with my husband and immerse ourselves in a culture that is so completely different from our own. For an entire year we were outsiders. WE were the minority. We were stared at constantly. People wouldn't sit next to us on the train. One time we weren't even allowed to go into a bar because we were Americans. Most Koreans liked us, or at least didn't mind us, but there were some that definitely were not happy that we were here. Overall, the people of South Korea are kind, helpful, and respectful. However, I have learned here that respectful does not mean polite.
So before I write a book about that, I'm going to jump right into the real reason I am writing this post. What will I miss about South Korea? Lots of things. It's funny because I know you won't understand most of these, but this is what my life has consisted of for the last 10 months. If you don't know what some of the words or names are, Google and Wikipedia are going to be your best friends! OR you can comment here or on Facebook and ask me! :) Enjoy my list!
1. First and foremost, I will miss Korea's food. Not all of it, (kimchi and most of the weird side dishes at meals) but I will miss most of the food. After I leave Korea I won't have an excuse to eat rice almost every day! I won't have delicious bulgogi beef, grilled right in front of me on my table. No more Meat Restaurant where we stuff our faces with all of the delicious grilled meats, chunks of garlic, mandu, rice, noodles, and green plum tea. No more bibimbap! No more fresh udon with delicious seafood. No more taro bubble tea. No more green tea ice cream. No more odeng, chicken on a stick (or is that dog?), hotteok, or fried anything you could want from the street vendors! No more peanut balls or corn choco. No more corndogs with potatoes in the breading! No more shrimp chips, kimbap, bingsu, choco pies, crab chips, or gourmet ramen flavors! No more Oodles of Noodles Khaw Soy!!!!! It is seriously amazing that I have not gained any weight since being in Korea. Don't get me wrong, American food is mmmmmm mmmmm delicious, but Korean food will always have this special place in my heart (and stomach.) I'm sure you don't know what most of this stuff is, but take my word for it; it;s all amazingly delicious.
2. Public transportation!!!!!!!!!! I miss my car a LOT, but having access to public transportation, like the train, is SO awesome. It's so much easier to hop on the train and ride for 2 hours up to Seoul rather than sitting in traffic all day trying to get there. I also love that there is usually a taxi right around the corner when you need to get somewhere close. Well, unless you have an appointment, because then the cabs seem to disappear.
3. My big kitchen. Our apartment has an awesome kitchen with tons of counter space and lots of cabinets. I will definitely be missing this kitchen once I leave.
4. WET BATHROOMS! Oh my gosh. Korea has it going on with their wet bathrooms. The shower drain is on the floor, usually in the middle, of the bathroom. The shower we use doesn't even have a shower curtain. This makes cleaning the bathroom SUPER convenient. Spray bathroom cleaner on the whole bathroom, scrub a little with a brush, and rinse the whole thing down with the shower! Washing dogs is also way easier in a wet bathroom. No need to worry about splashing water on the floor or on the walls! One day, I will build my own house and have a wet bathroom again.
5. Paris Baguette. So, this probably should have been included in the food, but oh well. This place is so amazingly delicious. The first time I had Paris Baguette was in the Incheon airport when I waited for my flight to Spain. They have pastries, muffins, corn dogs, pizzas, cakes, rolls, EVERYTHING a bakery could ever dream of having, and it's all good!
6. Korean movie theaters. I HATE going to movies. Unless it's a movie I really want to see, I would rather wait a few days and watch it online in the comfort of my own home. However, I have actually enjoyed going to movies in Korea. Mostly for the movie snacks. (Again with the food!) We can get regular popcorn, caramel corn, seasoned popcorn, dried squid, grilled squid, butter squid, beer, pop, ice cream, and so much more. Every movie theater smells the exact same; lots and lots of caramel corn!
7. Soju. Seriously, soju is such a dangerously awesome drink. I will really miss not being able to buy one $6 drink from a bar and getting drunk enough for the rest of the night. Our favorite place to go out on the weekends is called Think Lounge. Their specialty drink is soju tea, which is served in a pitcher for $6. A whole pitcher of soju and tea for one person. The unspoken rule at Think is that you never have more than one soju tea. If you break the rule, you'll probably end up puking your way to the cab line by 10:30pm and sleeping on your bathroom floor for easy access to the toilet. (Not that I know from experience or anything.)
I will also miss kettles, Karaoke, and my Filipino, bassist player boyfriend. (All related to soju.)
8. Our friends. Most of our great friends that we've met in Korea have left, but we still have quite a few that we will be leaving behind! We've met so many awesome people while being here. I'm so glad I got to come with Drew so I could have these people in my life. Liz and Ayron are in Germany now. Jeff and Sara will be in Italy soon. Our downstairs neighbors are going to Japan. Our across the street neighbors just got here a few months ago! It has been hard making such great friends and having to say goodbye so quickly, but it's a small Air Force, and hopefully we will see each other again!
9. My job! Can't beat going to work in yoga pants and no makeup every day. Also can't beat homeschooling! Although I work a lot of hours a day, homeschooling only takes up about 3-4 hours of each day! As opposed to teaching for 6-7 hours straight, PLUS coming in early and staying late at a regular school, my job rocks. I also get to hang out with 4 pretty awesome girls every day. They can even be bribed with snacks to play with my hair and scratch my back!
10. Medicine. Korea knows where it's at when it comes to medicine. Remember when I had my surgery? I got the best meds ever for that! They take great care of you at the hospitals and definitely make sure you'll feel great at home. They even package up your medicine in daily doses. Teeny little baggies with the dosage instructions written on it. Sort of excessive and much bigger than a bottle of pills, but it's pretty convenient after you've had surgery and you have to take about 9 pills a day!
Slightly related- I will also miss Korea's vets. Everything is so much cheaper at the Korean vet than the American vet! Rooney got a 10 day prescription of pills and antibiotic ointment and scrub during that whole ringworm incident, and it only cost like $36!!!! Hoosier has had 3 sets of puppy shots, he's been dewormed 3 times, and he just got microchipped. All of that cost less than $150! It's unbelievable!
11. The money. I'm just going to say it: we make a LOT of money here. Way more than we will when we come home in May! (sigh) I will definitely miss Overseas Housing Allowance when we get to Virginia! I will probably cry when I see the difference. Also, a lot of stuff is so much cheaper here. When I realize that, I will really cry.
That is my list of the 11 things I will miss about living in South Korea. I also have a list of things I WON'T miss about South Korea, but I will save that for another day. It's a little bit longer than 11. haha
I cannot believe I am coming home so soon! I spent the entire day today cleaning the apartment and organizing all of our junk. Drew has to schedule TMO to come pick up all of our household goods, I have to talk to our realtor about moving out, I have 25 more days of work, and then I'm home sweet home. At least for a little while! Then off to Virginia to house hunt and move into our first home together!
Can't wait to be back.. See you SO soon!