Things That Make Seoul Home

These are many things that I love about living in Korea.

I love having seasons. I’ve mentioned this before, but I really do. Four seasons that are predictable, almost to the exact date that they’re supposed to change. The scenery is great, too. Cherry blossoms, mountains, the Han river. That reminds me that I still haven’t been on a dinner cruise yet. I’ll add that to my short list.

Coffee shops and bakeries everywhere! Of course, this isn’t great for diet goals, but still, quite convenient. I caused the convenient store attendant much stress because I filled my cup with coffee BEFORE adding the powdered creamer. He was in quite the dilemma, not knowing if I could add it afterward. I convinced him that it would be fine. I was right! This conversation happened with about 3 Korean words from me and 3 English words from him, lots of gestures and facial expressions and carrying on in our native languages.

Transportation. I haven’t had any problems using public transportation. No taxi issues that weren’t caused by my lack of Korean language skills, no major incidents on subways that weren’t my fault because I’m directionally challenged and a scheduling system for buses and subways that runs like clockwork. Once on the subway, it takes about 7 minutes to get to the station right below the school. However, I did recently realize that I need to learn how to exit a bus a bit more gracefully. I’m tall, there was a pole in the way, I kneed myself in the chin…and then I got off.

Walking around the city. Seoul is made for walking. Sidewalks everywhere, so when I walk down to get coffee, I don’t feel quite as guilty about it. I do want to venture out more into the many (huge) parks and explore those areas, too. That’s also on my list of goals for the year. (You know how people choose words for the year to keep them inspired and motivated? My word is MORE. More on that another day…)

Art classes. I’ve been to many painting parties and a few art sessions that are geared more toward teaching you how to draw, paint, etc. It’s quite therapeutic for me and I usually go with friends. (It’s cheaper than therapy!)

Safety. It’s just safe here. I feel fine walking by myself, letting the kids take taxis and subways home. Granted, I’m rarely out after midnight with the partiers, but I haven’t had any concerns worth mentioning. It can be an odd feeling when you go to another country and have to hold onto your belongings so as not to be pick pocketed. That is not a concern here.

Restaurants galore. You can find fast food, casual dining, fancy restaurants (or so I’ve heard!) from everywhere. Thai food, Vietnamese, American, Chinese (that’s not really Chinese), Mexican (again, not really Mexican), Korean food of all kinds, Baskin Robbins, Krispy Kreme…you know, the essentials. There are even ramen restaurants.

Tied to restaurants is the amazing delivery services! This was fairly new when we moved here, but now we’re pros at using it. Order and pay online, have it delivered within the hour. Yes, it can get out of hand if we aren’t careful.

A great airport and the ability to travel during breaks. You can find short and long trips whenever you want to get out of the city. Also, there are several tour companies within Seoul that will take you places near the city. That’s pretty convenient since I would have no idea where to go strawberry picking or ice fishing, otherwise.

The Olympics being hosted here next month. That’s probably the only time we’ll have the chance to experience any Olympic games, so it should be fun. We’re planning on going to 1 hockey game. No clue who’s playing.

Smaller list of not so favorite things:

There isn’t a lot of available parking, stores don’t stock all of the items we need so we have to go to multiple shops, forgetting my bag for shopping.  Being expected to don my winter duds as soon as the calendar says it’s time. I’m from the South and I prefer not to wear coats until I’m freezing. Thanks.  This isn’t a bad list. When we moved here, it was longer, but we’ve adjusted pretty well and can navigate the city enough to shop and watch movies, eat dinner out or go to the mall with very little hassle. Stores are stocking a lot more Western food items, too, so that’s been helpful, along with being more familiar with Korean brands. I still don’t like the underground shopping, though. It tends to be a bit crowded for me.

So, there you go. I have a lot to be grateful for! If you come visit, I’ll let you choose the coffee shop…bring your walking shoes.