Volunteering at Mulmangcho.I miss my hair this color. (2014)
Getting ready to depart Korea has left me with a lot of emotions. I have spent the last 4 years of my life in this country, and for better or worse, I have grown a lot as a person. There are a lot of things that I will miss and not miss about Korea, but as I’m winding down I thought why not close out this year with writing about those things.
I have met a lot of fabulous people in Korea from different countries as well as locals. I’ve made some really good friends and some good memories with them through the years. Looking back they are friendships that carried me through my life overseas and how close we will still be after I depart is to be seen as life is a constant flow and people come and go, but they are never forgotten.
My students have been for the most part good. There are days they drive me absolutely crazy, but I’ll miss them yelling my name in the halls, and crashing into my office just to ask for candy. Seeing all their smiles and energy really adds a nice perk to my day. They’ve taught me the meaning of patience and the power of candy as a motivator for good.
The public transportation system in Korea I will miss a lot.I haven’t had a car in 4 years which is quite liberating and frustrating, but the transit here is so good for the most part it hasn’t been an issue. I can get on the subway, and take a bus anywhere I want. Literally, there may be only two buses a day to some rural areas, but it exists, it is just about timing. It is also extremely cheap to take public transportation.
How I will miss the food. There are a lot of Korean foods that I like and I will miss eating them as often as I can now, but eventually I know I will be able to make it at home or find a restaurant that serves it. I’ll miss the cheap barbecue and spicy soups, and all the fabulous bingsoo. I’ll miss the style of communal eating where you pull what you want from the center and share with each other.
For better or worse the night life falls into the good and the bad. On nights I want to party until the sun comes up it is totally possible. Other nights I wish things closed earlier so I wouldn’t have to run into so many drunks on my way to work. Korea has a great night life and if you want to drink and eat until the sun comes up you can. But if you want to find breakfast first thing in the morning good luck finding anything open before 8 or 9 a.m. I will not miss that aspect of places here.
Recycling. Korea cares about recycling a lot and you can recycle almost anything. I won’t miss sorting everything or paying for things to be disposed of, but it is convenient that it can all be done in my maintenance office. If I need to throw a piece of furniture out I just show the office staff what it is, I pay them some money and it is taken care of. I dislike throwing out the food trash, but for the most part I’m glad to see that almost everything is taken care of and recycling is important.
Driving across Korea. (2015)
I won’t miss deskwarming. Not that there is anything completely wrong with it I’m getting paid to come to work and basically do nothing. I’d rather at times have the vacation time with no pay instead. It’d be a lot nicer, I could do more things, I’d also be poorer.
I will not miss couple culture. If you have ever felt single this country makes you feel like it’s a crime to be. I’ve had more taxi drivers comment on my dating status than I find acceptable telling me I should get married as I’m older. Thanks buddies. I have students ask me nonstop, and watching people flit from person to person I can’t help but wonder if maybe no one knows how to be okay with themselves being single. I can’t wait for that to not be a topic of conversation.
I can’t wait to walk into a store and buy shoes. More than one choice of a bra and some pants. Buying pants in a store would be fantastic. I’m a little chubby, but let me tell you when you can’t buy much of shit for yourself in person you start to really crave the idea of just walking into a place and knowing its a possibility and there is a selection. Korea has a long way to go to include more sizes including shoes as more and more women are wearing bigger sizes but they are not available in stores only online.
I’m not much of a card user as I prefer cash at times especially to balance my budget. I won’t miss having to carry a cash card for tax purposes, because you should be paying with your card everywhere even if it is literally a dollar.
Food Shopping. I will not miss buying for a family of four as a single person. What a waste of money when I never ever get to finish my fruits or vegetables in time. I’m always upset and sad when that happens.
Changdeok Palace. (2016)
Banking. I will not miss Korea’s banking which has just become more annoying with time. Not only can you only use internet explorer to shop and do your banking, you need a digital certificate, a security number card and now if it’s a new purchase you need a confirmation number code to enter on the phone(my bank’s policy now to fight fraud.) Won’t be missed. It is annoying as fuck, though I will say it is nice having an account I can just transfer money to and it is deposited directly into my account in the states.
Pollution. I have a thing for blue skies. I love nature and I love looking at the sky. I’m tired of hearing its cloudy, when it is in fact smog. I won’t miss the crappy year round skies at all or the health risks it poses. It’d be nice at some point to see Korea acknowledge that it too is a producer of air pollution and that half of it is made in country.
Traveling during the holidays. Korea is a small country you can literally travel from top to bottom in 6 hours by car. However, when its a holiday it can take 12 hours to go to some places. If you want to travel to any of the famous spots in Korea, expect long lines and lots of people as everyone literally goes to the same places. I’m not quite sure why no one can go elsewhere, but I won’t miss that one bit.
Spitting. I hate spitting. I can’t wait to stop hearing and seeing people spit on the street. Its one of the few things that always disgusts me when I see it in person done by men of all ages.
There are probably a lot of other things I didn’t include in this post. I could have expanded on the idea a lot, but there isn’t really a point as for the most part despite the bad I have done a lot in the last four years. I may not have done everything I wanted, but I’ve grown a lot as a person, seen a bit more of the world, and am about to start a new chapter in my life. My chapter in Korea is coming to a close and a new one will beginning in 2017. So Korea thanks for the memories and may the next 3 months be filled with good memories, food, and friends!