Korea and the United states have several things in common but there are a lot of things that are different. There are things I can get and do in the United States that I cannot get or do here as well, there are things I can get and do here that I cannot get or do easily in the United States.
Things I miss from the United States:
The space. In America, we have a lot of open space and because of this we have a strong sense of personal space. In Korea, there is not as much open space. I’ve seen open spaces particularly in parks, the front “yard” of some schools, and on highways. Those are some of the only places where I see a decent amount of open space. Everywhere else, the space is filled by tall buildings that are quite close together.
I particularly miss grass. I know it’s a bit of a weird thing to say but I miss grass. I have seen hardly any grass here in Seoul outside of one park! Back home, I see grass every day and can touch it, smell it, and enjoy it’s grassyness. Here in Seoul, because the city is so dense, there is not much room for grass so there isn’t much. I have seen grass though in some parks. Many parks though have no grass at all. They are concrete with some benches or other places to sit. Here in Seoul it doesn’t feel common to see a lot of grass so I miss the grassyness of home!
Seoul has a lot of ice cream to eat but I have found myself often craving Dairy Queen. There’s something to be said about just wanting to eat a blizzard at the end of the day.
This trip will be the longest time I have gone without driving in the last four years. It’s kind of liberating to not have to drive everywhere (nor do I wish that I had a car here because I think I would get into an accident quite quickly due to the style of driving I have witnessed here) but I miss my boat of a car. I liked being able to go do what I wanted exactly when I wanted. Here, I have to wait for public transit which is perfectly fine because I know how to manage my time but I will be happy to have my car back and be driving again.
My apartment here in Seoul doesn’t have an oven. This makes it difficult to bake anything. I also do not have a microwave or a microwave oven. My main cooking equipment is a kettle and a hot plate. I’m also lazy and I don’t like to do a lot of dishes if I don’t have to so I have not actually cooked in the last three months. I have eaten out a lot which is pretty cheap and good/healthy food and I have also eaten a lot of convenience store food! I have quite a few favorite places to eat now. I have missed being able to come home and throw something in the microwave to eat but I also have been forced to go out and explore my neighborhood and try new and interesting foods!
Things I’ll miss from Korea
I love Korean food. It is extremely delicious but my town in the US only has one Korean restaurant and their specialty is bibimbap. Bibimbap is not my favorite Korean food. It is good but There are other dishes that I quite like a lot better. In particular, I LOVE naengmyeon or cold noodles. They are my life! I have eaten them so many times here and I still love them like no other! I cannot easily get this dish in the US. Last time I was in Korea, I came back home and craved naengmyeon for weeks. It was really bad. I’m pretty sure the same will happen to me this time and it makes me sad that I won’t have one of my favorite Korean dishes when I want it. I’m also really going to miss the bubble tea chain Gong Cha. I love Gong Cha. Their black milk tea with boba is AMAZING and I am sincerely going to miss it. Gong Cha does have a few branches in California but I’m hoping that eventually, they will expand to the entire US and make my bubble tea dreams come true!!
Korean public transportation here in Seoul is quite amazing. The subway is easy to navigate and use. It is also super convenient and goes everywhere! I’m going to miss being able to just hop on and not worry about too many directions and just get to where I’m going!
I will definitely miss all of the people that I have met. The students have been so wonderful and the staff at my school has been amazing. They are so wonderful, helpful, and kind! From my experience, the Korean people I have met are generous and kind. They are genuinely excited to share their culture with me and are happy that I am interested in their own culture.
Everything is also so convenient here. I have a convenience store less than a minute from my apartment. The subway is about a minute walk from my apartment. My school is about a ten minute walk. Everything is so convenient and I can get anywhere I want to go in about a half hour! It’s so great! In the U.S. it can take up to an hour to get to different places. Additionally, Korea and particularly Seoul is open very late. Many businesses don’t close until well after midnight and other businesses are open 24 hours! Many places in the U.S. close between 6 and 8 depending on the type of business while Seoul stays open quite late.
Korea also has amazing scenery. I am surrounded by mini-mountains/large hills. There is always something to see. The flowers this last spring were also amazing. On my walk to and from school each day, I would see something new every day in the scenery. It was so beautiful!
Overall, I really have enjoyed Korea and I like my life in the United States but there are definitely things that I both like and dislike in either place.