I wanted to start my series “Korea: The good, the bad, and the ugly” off with the good things. Even though this past year has been a test of my patience and good will, there are a lot of good things about living in South Korea.
I seriously loved living in South Korea. General life there was really well suited to my personality. Even just the atmosphere of the culture. It’s kind of hard to describe to people, but it was like living in a modern world with a 1950’s mindset. What the means, is that it’s still very old fashioned in many ways. Sure that can be bad in certain areas (like women not working after getting married or having babies) but it can also be very good.
I liked how normal it was for people to just assume that you go to church. Church is big in Korea. On Sunday, you go to church. Drugs are illegal in such a way that I have been told if you are caught talking about them on the street you could be arrested. People don’t carry guns, teenage pregnancy is a huge scandal. I hope that I am explaining that in such a way as to make it all sound pretty great. I liked the old fashioned feel about the culture most of the time.
Another great thing about living in South Korea is the country itself. Getting able to experience the different architecture and tourist sites was fantastic. I loved going to the various different palaces in Seoul. They are something that are non-existent in Canada. I love that history. Korea has such a rich history that Canada can’t even compete with since we are such a young country. The country is beautiful and their landmarks are as well.
I loved the easy of travel in Korea. While I would never ever ever ever try to get my driver’s license in Korea, getting around was so easy! I loved the subway and used it for all my travel. Taxi’s use your subway card for payment, and that card is also used on city buses. It is so well thought out. And the subway is pretty much all encompassing – especially in Seoul and the surrounding areas. I didn’t use the city buses at all this time, but when I lived in Osan I used them all the time.
Making friends is also another great thing about living in South Korea. Other foreigners are usually very open and friendly. There are Facebook groups for specific areas and cities, and they always have invitations for bar nights, clubs, outings etc. When I lived in Osan I didn’t join any of the groups or really meet new people, but this time I did. And I am really happy that I did! It was awesome to meet new people, who became good friends! I hope that we keep in touch going forward.
I have also met some amazing Korean friends as well. But after leaving, it’s harder to keep in contact with them. In Osan I had a few great friends but after about a year we lost touch completely. Since I left in such a controversial way this time, I think I have also damaged my one really good work relationship as well. But the memories of the fun times are still there so that’s something!
Overall, general every day life in Korea was really great. Outside of work, life in Korea was fun, it was enriching and fulfilling and I recommend it! The food, the people, the vibe: were all a match for me and my personality. I’m super glad that I was swept up in it the first time I went, and that I went back again to experience it all over again.