5 things I miss about Korea





So I’ve been home for several months now.   I’ve had time to really think about what it is that I miss from Korea and not what is just reverse culture shock.  These were the 5 most striking points.    I actually miss many other things but these things pop up in my head all the time.  Soon  I’ll talk about some of the stuff I really was glad to come home to.   



#5 Ubiquitious MiniMarts

It’s amazing how often I find myself yearning for  these.   It may just be the adjustment to suburban living but I really miss having Family Mart, 7-11, Buy the Way, and so on all over the place.   I mean if you lived or Seoul or Busan you couldn’t go ten minutes in any given direction without hitting one or more of these minimarts.   They sold just about anything you’d need for a quick bite to eat, or drink or an umbrella without making a big trip up to E-Mart or what have you.   


 #4 Living Without a Car

This kind of ties in with the previous one, I loved having everything right there at my finger tips without having to worry about how I was going to get there.  Everything I truly needed was within walking distance.   One or two neighborhoods over,  take the bus.   Across town, or out to the ‘burbs  take the subway.  All the way across Korea–KTX will get you there.  You could even get standing room tickets on the KTX the same day in a lot of cases.


#3 Kindy Students 

I don’t know if many hagwon teachers realize how special some of their kids are.   What I wouldn’t give to have my Poly kindergarten kids with the kind of freedom that American teachers enjoy in lesson planning and instruction.Of course American teachers have problems and of course Korean hagwon kids  have problems.  Having students who are struggling because they’re only reading one year ahead of their actual grade level, is a good problem to have.   It’s far less frustrating than dealing with a fourth grader who reads like a first grader. 


#2 Korean Food

Anyone who has read this blog before knows I’m a gigantic fan of Korean food.  So it should come as no great surprise that I miss it greatly.   It’s not even that I can’t make it at home.  I’ve bought boxes of Shin Ramen and great big glass jars of kimchi but I miss the ubiquity of it.  I miss under 5 dollar kimbap shops.  I miss afterwork soju and samgyupsal.  I really miss all of it.   Frankly sandwich shops are a poor trade for a Kimbap Chunguk.  Even though I can cook it, I just can’t duplicate the taste of kimchi jiggae on a cold day. 


#1 The Foreigner Community

Most of all I miss the Foreigner community.  Almost any foreigner you meet in Korea has a similar well of experiences.  They’ve all experienced the same WTF moments, the same great moments.  There’s just a very homogenous thing about being an outside in the hermit kingdom that’s really quite cool.  I could strike up a conversation about  the same familiar things with almost anyone I met.  Compared to the states where I’ve got to carefully look for an in, something I have in common with this person.    I also deeply miss many of the people I met over there. Sure sometimes you go to an event like Mud Festival that could just be described as foreigners behaving badly and it’s a bit embarrassing.  THen there are those other times where you strike up a conversation with a stranger and even though your lives back home were totally different you have a really consistent common set of experiences in Korea.