This past weekend was so much fun!! After a busy Friday running around, I took the train to Daegu to visit Hansol and her parents! It was so awesome to stay with a Korean family and see what life is like is Daegu. Daegu is a city about 4 hours away from Seoul in the South-Eastern part of Korea. I really loved it there! It’s still a city but much more manageable than Seoul. Since Seoul is so big, it feels overwhelming to me. I’ve never lived in a huge city, so it’s certainly a new experience. It was so awesome going somewhere else in Korea though. I loved it. Not only was it my first trip outside of Seoul, I went on my own too which was scary and also really exciting for me.
I had a bit of a scare on Friday because I went to print my train receipts, and I accidentally canceled one of my train tickets!! I had no idea what to do. Tania was with me, and we tried calling the station and the person on the phone didn’t speak English. I then had to go to class, but I sent messages to Hansol and Soorim to see if they knew. Soorim ended up calling for me and got an English number to call. I tried calling it on my break and it was constantly busy. So then, I went and asked my professor if she had any suggestions. She didn’t really know either but only recommended that I just buy a new one since I needed the ticket. I ended up buying another ticket which helped me feel better about the situation. However, because of the situation, I decided to go to Seoul Station (where I caught the train) that night to make sure I knew where I was going and to pick up my tickets in advance. I went to taekwondo at 7, and then after went to Seoul Station. Tania was really nice and said she would meet me there to help me out. She was with the other girls too. Oh, while at the station I also had a crazy moment! I went to buy a drink from the convenience store and the cashier spoke English to me!! It was so weird. I just was shocked for a moment before I could say anything. I’m not sure I’ve had anyone that spoke English to me in a public place since I got here. Most times it’s a struggle to communicate with people. It’s the international places (like the airport and Seoul Station) I guess that they get Koreans that can speak many languages to work there. When then all headed back to Sinchon and went to “Mike’s Bar” for a bit. I had never heard of it but it was really fun because they played English music old and new. I liked it a lot better than the clubs that I’ve been to here anyway. Then. . . I went home to get ready for my trip to Daegu!!
I left at 5:30 am to get to Seoul Station. It was interesting seeing what people were out and about. The dorm was very quiet, so I took some pictures of it and of the empty train station. The subway was surprisingly busy though for the early hour. I got to the station early and got some breakfast. For the first time in what feels like forever, I ate a breakfast sandwich! It was so good. Then, I went and found my train. I took the KTX to Daegu which goes 300 km. It’s the fastest train I’ve ever been on, and I think it’s also the smoothest. It didn’t feel bumpy at all. I arrived to Daegu in just 2 hours (it takes at least 4 for the other types of transportation) and then got to spend my weekend with Hansol!
She met me at the station, and then we took a bus to her university. Hansol had the whole day planned out which was really fun. We walked around her school for a while which felt so spacious compared to Yonsei! And the flowers were blooming. The temperature was also quite a lot warmer than Seoul which felt really nice. Then we visited her flowers in the green house on her campus, and walked around the university area. Most places were closed still, however, because it was only around 9:30 am. We got a cream puff at a place called Beard Papa’s though which was really good. Then we went to meet her mom. She’s going to a cram school right now for real estate. She stayed at home and took care of Hansol and her sister and now they are both in university, so she wants to work again. I got to use my introduction that I’ve practiced a lot in Korean which was fun. Hansol’s mom said she taught Hansol to say the same thing in English when she was a little kid. She spoke some English but not a lot. We then went to a huge market in Daegu! We had lunch which was bulgoggi and the best seaweed soup I’ve had yet! It tasted so good! After we shopped around a lot and looking at all the clothes, and then the food stalls and craft stalls later.
When we were finished, Hansol’s mom went home and we took the subway to the lake! It was interesting because the windows on the subway got dark as we passed by the apartment buildings. It gave people privacy which I thought was really clever. The lake was so beautiful!! I’ve really missed seeing water living in Seoul. You could see the mountains all around, little kids and families playing, elders enjoying the nice weather, and many couples. We rented a ‘duck’ and went on the lake! It was one of those peddle boats that you peddle to move around. On one side of the lake, there was a group of younger people that put on a show with dancing to encourage people to vote. Elections are coming up soon. Hansol said many young people are not voting which made me realize that some issues are the same everywhere. We then walked around the lake, and walked back to Hansol’s house. Her family lives in an apartment, but it was so big!! I’ve never seen such a spacious and nice apartment before. It was simple but very lovely. It also made me realize how many possessions we own in North America. It’s crazy in comparison. Hansol’s mom then cooked us some snacks, I shared the tea I brought from Bellingham, and then her mom made dinner for us. It was so delicious!!! It’s the first home cooked meal I’ve had since I came to Korea and it was so nice. Very different from Western style food, but I loved it. She made delicious tofu soup (I need to ask what the official name is), Korean pancakes which have green onions in them, white and black rice mixed together, many side dishes, and fried zucchini as well. There were other things too, that’s just what I remember best. It felt very fancy and time consuming. I felt very special and honored.
After we took a quick nap, then went to downtown Daegu to see the nightlight. We shopped around for quite a while, got matching rings for 1,000 won ($1) and matching earrings. Then we stopped at Hansol’s favorite Turkish restaurant and shared something because she said it was the best (and it was very delicious). We then headed back to the bus to catch the last bus (ends at 11 pm in Daegu). While we were waiting for the bus, there was a pet shop nearby and we watched all the little puppies. People in Daegu also seem to have a lot more dogs than they do in Seoul! Maybe I just actually saw them out though. It’s hard to say. People in Daegu also just looked a lot happier than they do in Seoul. They seemed friendlier to me, and the streets were also a lot less crowded. It was just a really wonderful day.
Sunday was also a lot of fun! We hung around Hansol’s house in the morning and I got to meet her dad. He was very funny and silly. He spoke very minimal English, so he kept asking Hansol to translate for him. Hopefully I will know more Korean next time I go, so I can communicate better. Hansol’s parents were so generous towards me as well! Hansol’s mom gave me a few different things for my cough (I’ve been sick) and told me to take them home with me. She also gave me a ginger cookie snack to take back for the train ride home, and some beautiful small pot holders that she hand-stitched herself. I felt very thankful!!
When we finally left the house, we went to a different street that was another kind of market. It had more craft type things in it though and food. A drama I watched in the Fall “Oh my Venus” filmed there as well which was fun to see what I remembered. The market had a wall of art (like the trick museum) for taking photos which was really cute as well. We walked quite a lot and shopped around. We made a candy out of sugar by melting it which was really cool! We also got some homemade macaroons which are my favorite and tasted so delicious! The weather was beautiful too for both days. Sunny and pretty warm. After we went downtown again and walked around. We were going to go to a historical site in Daegu but ran out of time. I’ll have to go next time instead.
After adventuring around, we headed to the bus to take it to Hansol’s church. The service she goes to is at 3:30 pm and the church was very large! Since it was Easter Sunday, I was really happy I could go with her. We also decided to go to the Korean service, so I could see what a Korean church is really like. It made it hard to understand much from it, but it was still really interesting. Also and interesting story. . . so I met the Korean pastor before the service. He spoke English quite well and went to Trinity in Vancouver for a while! I told him I was from there and my dad went to Trinity! So during the service apparently he was already going to talk about Vancouver, and he said he met me before hand and told me to stand-up. I was so embarrassed! It was kind of funny though. I was in a large room full of Korean people, and I had no idea what was going on most of the time. It was good. Another good experience to see what it’s like being the foreigner. I think many of my experiences here will help me be more understanding in the future.
When church was over, we went to meet Hansol’s mom for dinner. Hansol’s mom goes to a different church (Hansol chose a different one with younger people), and her dad doesn’t go to church. Her dad went hiking for the day and her mom went to church earlier on. For dinner we went to get black bean noodles at a place that is really well known apparently. It was really delicious! The noodles were very saucy, and it had onions and other vegetables as well as lots of seafood. Some sea creatures I haven’t tried before too which looked a bit scary but tasted delicious!
Hansol’s mom then drove us to the countryside a bit, so I could see it. It was really cool to go out of the city a little bit (not very far at all) and see what the country looked like. I really enjoyed it. We then went to Daegu train station. Hansol and her mom were so kind and waited with me for my train. I didn’t expect that at all and it was nice. I felt very well taken care of this weekend.
Unfortunately, I was a bit sick, but in some ways it was nice because I got help in figuring out what medications I could take. I slept the whole 4-hour train ride home. When I got back to the station, it was around 12:20 am. I was walking to the bathroom in the station before I caught a cab back to the school, and a guy came up to me and asked if I spoke English. It turned out that he was from Guelph, Ontario and his son has been teaching English in Busan for 2 years. His plane was delayed, and so he had missed his train to Busan that night. He seemed a bit upset and was panicking. He said he wasn’t allowed to stay in the train station so he needed somewhere to stay. I did my best to try and help him find somewhere to stay for a little while, and a Korean guy stopped to help!! It was like a miracle. I have never experienced Koreans being very open to helping, I think because they are shy and a bit afraid to use English unless they are confident. Anyway, this Korean guy seemed a bit nervous but found a sauna for this guy to stay in that was really close by. He even walked him there which was really nice. I felt happy to be able to help a fellow Canadian a little bit since I know how scary it can be going to an unfamiliar place and how hard it is to find help in English.
Anyway, I caught my cab back to Yonsei and made it home safely. It really did feel like I had got home when I made it back to the dorm. It was really nice.
I woke up this morning feeling really sick. I’m happy I made it through the weekend though and had a great time! Now I can focus on feeling better and studying this week. I just realized how long this ended up being. . . if only I spent this much time on my homework instead! Now it’s time to rest again. Goodnight everyone <3 I feel so happy and thankful for my wonderful experience outside of Seoul. <3
p.s. Happy week 5 Anniversary!!