The rest of my time is Seoul was a lot of fun. I met up with another teacher from my city and two of his friends. We spent the last two days in the city together. It was so much fun! Every neighborhood I was in at night time was basically just gigantic block parties. I have never seen anything like it. At first I thought it was just Hongdae because that’s a popular neighborhood for young people and artists, but during the last couple days, we went to three or four different neighborhoods at night and they were all just filled with people, and there were even carnival games and “take-out” cocktails. Unreal. In Korea, you can drink in public! Fun!
Before I went to Seoul, I was really excited about the possibility of stocking up on foods that I can’t get here in Donghae. I was planning to buy a bunch of microwave Indian food, falafel mix, tortillas and refried beans, etc. We even went to an international grocery store in Itaewon that had all of that stuff, but it was the middle of the day and I didn’t want to carry it around the rest of the day. Also, for some reason I really can’t explain, it didn’t seem as important to me when I was there.
Maybe it was the fact that being in Seoul and having access to all of the foods I ate back home didn’t feel as amazing as I was expecting. I actually really like Korean food and I like that I eat a lot of Korean food. I feel like I am really embracing Korean culture and getting a more authentic experience of Korea than I would if I lived in Seoul. Not to mention that Korean food is way cheaper and (usually) a lot healthier than the foods that I usually ate back home.
Back in the US I literally ate some kind of Mexican dish (tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, etc.) on average once a day. Some days more than once. Oddly, I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I was expecting to miss it a lot because last summer when I was in Russia for two months, I thought about Mexican food non-stop. I yearned for it. I missed it so much. I think a big part of the reason why I don’t miss it now (and I’ve been in Korean almost two months now also) is that I’m not crazy about Russian food, but I love Korean food. Yes, there are some Russian dishes that I really like (borshch, blini, potatoes) but over all, I don’t like most of what Russians eat. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Missing those foods was the number one thing that bothered me about being in Russia. Korea is just all the easier to love for that.
Also in Seoul, I did a tour of the DMZ which was really crazy. There is a village there where people actually live. They don’t have to pay taxes so all the farmers want to live there. There is a waiting list to be able to move into the DMZ. So insane. The other craziest thing about the tour was seeing North Korea with my own eyes. You can tell which land belongs to North Korea because there are no trees. They have no money to buy fuel, so they have to use trees for firewood. They have no trees left. Mind-bogglingly insane. Just madness.