From the city of Seoul to the countryside of South Korea

I am just finishing my second year of university, and since then I’ve gone back to Seoul twice during my summer/winter vacation to see my family. It’s hard, I get homesick easily for my parents, brothers, and life in general in Korea.

We’ve lived in Seoul for 3 years and just a month ago, my dad found out that his job was transferring him to the countryside of Korea (near Songtan). We’ve lived there previously before moving to Seoul, but having lived life in both the rural and suburban areas, I’m pretty sad that they’re moving back to Songtan. I’m going to miss living in Seoul.

Life in Seoul is fast-paced and very exciting (or at least, for a young person like me). The public transportation (such as the buses and subway) is very fast and efficient, making it easy to go anywhere without having to drive or invest a lot of time and money to travel. From my old house near line 4, I was a few stops away from some of the major shopping areas in Seoul (Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, Itaewon, I-Park in Yongsan Station). And life is always bustling, whether in the day or night.

Unlike the countryside, where life dulls down at around 9 or 10pm, in Seoul, the late night shopping centers start opening at that time until 4 or 5am, noraebangs are opened late, cafes are too, people are out clubbing or drinking with friends, and the city just feels so alive at night.

In the rural areas, life is much slower. There are more local groceries and businesses and definitely more elderly people around (ahjummas and ahjusshis). Transportation is also harder. To get to Seoul I’d either have to take a taxi to the subway station (compared to in Seoul when I would walk 10 minutes to get to the station) or take the bus and then transfer to the subway station, or take a local bus to go to the main bus terminal that will take me straight to Seoul. Nonetheless, it’s more of a hassle to travel, although in general South Korea’s public transportation system is really great. At least they have buses and subway stops to nearly everywhere in Korea that are easy to use, it just takes more time to travel and effort to travel when you’re in the countryside.

I guess there are a few advantages to living in the countryside. First, the local weekly markets are really nice and inexpensive. It’s definitely cheaper to buy food, clothes, and supplies in the rural areas. The vegetables and fruits are really fresh and cheaper than buying them in Seoul since these are from local farms in the area. Also, I noticed that stationary stores (the places that sell pens, notebooks, phone charms, and other little cute trinkets) are way cheaper too and still just as cute and fun. Even restaurants are also inexpensive and actually taste a lot better.

I remember in Songtan, about 4 years ago when we lived there, there was this really delicious pizza and chicken delivery place. I thought it was a chain restaurant but I hadn’t seen any in Seoul, and also, for some reason there were no pizza+chicken delivery places in Seoul unlike in the countryside. It still baffles me why there wasn’t any but now that I think about it, the pizza+chicken places have faded out because it’s too expensive and less profitable to sell both pizza and chicken rather than one or the other. When I come back home (well, to my new home) in Songtan for the summer, I hope that delivery place is still there or one that sells both pizza and chicken.

I guess I got a bit too carried away with talking about food, I can’t help it since Songtan had some really delicious, inexpensive food places compared to Seoul. Even the Korean BBQ meat (samgyeopsal) is super cheap, mmmmmmm.

It’s also nice because when we lived in Songtan before, I have memories of walking with my mom to buy groceries and other necessities at the local supermarkets. In Seoul, we would just call and have our groceries delivered from the Lotte Mart across the street or my mom would actually drive to E-Mart. All these places are always crowded with lots of people and it can be stressful and overwhelming sometimes. You get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it feels any better or more comfortable. It will be nice to spend some quality time with my mom in a relaxed area by walking together to the market and buying things without feeling rushed.

These are a few differences I’ve noticed about living in both Seoul and Korea’s countryside,. It’s not everything and I feel like I didn’t go too in-depth, so if there’s anything you’d like to know more about feel free to ask or leave a comment!

Winter Break

A lot has happened over winter break for me.

First, due to unexpected circumstances and a small (really not that big of a deal) family emergency, I went back to Seoul for the winter break.

I was only there for about a month, but the time flew by so fast that it felt like I was only there for two weeks or so.

I got to do a lot like shopping, meeting up with old friends from high school, noraebang, clubbing, etc. I was especially happy to be with my family again.

Even though it had been only a few months since I last saw my family, my little brothers seemed to have grown up so much! I still can’t believe my youngest brother will be in middle school next year, he still seems to tiny and like a baby to me.

Anyways, it was really nice to see my old friends again. I was reunited with two of my very close friends that I hadn’t seen in over a year, since I had graduated from high school. It was so great to see them again and catch up and talk like old times.

Especially one who is my guy best friend (who is also my girl best friend’s boyfriend) so we gossiped a bit about their relationship and reminiscing about old times of our high school trio.

I did a lot of karaoke in the beginning when I arrived. But after two weeks I actually got tired of singing because all the places have the same songs and it gets boring after awhile to do it too much in such a short amount of time.

I also did soooo much shopping. It was mostly makeup and accessories though, because for clothing, I needed summer clothing for the year-round hot weather of Miami, while in Korea it’s currently winter and still very cold. The boutiques only sold sweaters, heavy coats, and other winter clothing. I had no use for those and I couldn’t find any t-shirts or shorts so I didn’t bother with clothing shopping. Only very little clothing shopping.

Anyways, I will eventually do winter break makeup haul review later ~ I have the pictures and everything, I just need to stop being lazy and actually type up the review.

I also had some very nice encounters during winter break with some cute Korean guys 😉 I met them at an English cafe (not at the same time though, separately)  and from there, we went out a few times to grab dinner and chat for hours in a cafe. It was a lot of fun to talk with male Koreans and hear their questions about America and their thoughts and opinions about certain issues, such as in politics, music taste, relationships, etc. We are just friends, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they are cute! hehehe

I thought I was adjusting well to my life in Miami, but being back in Seoul for the summer, and shortly later for the winter, I don’t know how I will survive these next few months. I want school to be over so I can go back to Korea for the summer and see all my friends (new and old) again! And the difference of an American and Korean lifestyles and cultures are just so huge, I really do prefer Korea over America.

I might need to make a whole separate post about that since there’s a lot I’d like to talk about with the differences of living in the USA and in Korea (more specifically, Seoul. Although I could also talk about living in the rural side of Korea since I also lived in the countryside before we moved to Seoul). Anyways, I will consider making a post about this or not.

So that was my winter break! I’m back in the US now for university, spring semester. I hope it passes by quickly and smoothly so I can see my family and friends again in Seoul!

2013 summer plans when I’m back in Seoul!

Now that I feel a lot better about life, here is a random list of goals/things I want to do when I’m back in Seoul for the summer of ’13:

  • Shop, shop shop. Korean clothing, accessories, and beauty products are so inexpensive and really good quality! Plus, they’re up-to-date with their fashion and seriously, their prices are just soooo good for the quality of the product. There’s stuff like shirts and skirts that I would see in Forever21, AGACI, ZARA, etc. that I could get way cheaper and for the same (or nearly same) quality. For example, a $24 shirt from Forever21, I could find for under $10 in the Korean market place or fashion boutique. Same goes for their beauty products. In America in their drugstores (like Walgreens and CBS), you know how they have $8 eyeliner and $12 foundation? That stuff I could find for a couple dollars in Nature Republic or Etude House and the quality is just as good! Of course, Korean makeup shops have more expensive eyeliners, foundations, lipsticks, etc. but if you buy $8 eyeliner in Korea and compare it to $8 liner from an American brand, to me, the Korean brand is way better and lasts longer.
  • Learn more Korean. Because I’m working on either getting a job in Korea or having a career related with the globalization of South Korea, etc. I would really like to learn the language better. I can understand Korean fairly well, but I do need to polish up on my grammar and extend my vocabulary. Just in general, I would really like to improve my Korean by either having my mom and friends teach me more, or taking university Korean-language courses while I am in South Korea. 
  • Hangout with friends. Some of my friends are still in South Korea because of school while others went to different parts of the states for college, and I found out some of them are coming back in the summertime! I am so excited to see my friends again, we’re going to go noraebang (karaoke), eat lots of Korean food+more drinking (kekeke), clubbing in Hongdae, take sticker pictures, sit in cafes and relax in that sort of atmosphere, take many many pictures and selcas, and just have fun! It’s been so long and I really really really miss these close friends of mine from back in high school! Some of my friends want to go to Busan, Jejudo, or Japan, so we will also see how plans and money works out for that.
  • Dye/Change my hair. Hehehehe, right now my hair is a multi-colored mess of browns and oranges, which looks good but I’m starting to get tired of it. Maybe I will get a perm again? Two years ago, I got a steam perm in Seoul before I left for the states but that damaged my hair a lot. If I can learn to take care of it better, then I think this time I will get a perm again. I really miss my curly/wavy hair!
  • Get an internship or job. I just need to get more job experience in general for my university resume. Make some money too. Maybe if things don’t work out, I hope to volunteer more, whether in some sort of shelter, food drive, English camp, etc.
  • Take online university classes. Because my university is dumb and requires students to take 9 credits over the summer, I’m going to get it over with next year and take online classes. They’re expensive but I might as well get it done with before I start my junior year. Also, last year when I went to Seoul for the summer, it was unproductive in the sense that I felt like I could have done more like take classes or have a job, so just to make my summer more worthwhile I might as well get an education while having fun too in the city 🙂

These are my goals, hopefully they’ll happen and that plans will work out in the summer.

So much in my head

Recently I’ve been depressed because of these reasons:

DBSK’s lawsuit and all the rumors circling around the issue

The cancellation of SMTOWN LIVE 0’9 in Seoul. I had green field tickets and after trying to see DBSK for a year, this was one of my few, only chances. And now it’s gone…

Moving issues. My dad wants to live in Seoul while I want to stay where I’m at. I want to graduate with all of my close friends instead of starting over at a new school. It’s selfish, but at the same time, the rest of my family also wants to stay where we’re at. It’s cheaper and better, yet my dad refuses.

Homesickness. I desperately hope to see my friends who live in the USA. I miss them all so much…they’re like family. We’ve known each other for years and still keep in contact, which I’m utterly thankful and grateful for. Plus, I miss my family in Florida soooo much. We used to visit them at least once a year, but since moving to Korea, that hasn’t been possible since it’d cost too much money for the plane tickets.

I already feel like an older person. I’m afraid I’ll get wrinkles from worrying too much XP Hopefully not.

Right now I’m listening to “Stand By U” by Tohoshinki and it’s definately lifting my mood 🙂

Trip to Seoul = DBSK GOODNESS

Although I live in Korea, I live a little far from Seoul, so I don’t go often. When I do though, it’s pretty interesting.

A couple days ago, I went to Lotte World with friends and afterwards, we shopped a bit. I decided to stop by a music store to see if they had any DBSK albums. I wasn’t expecting much since it was a really small store,  lost in the sea of other boutiques and stores. But they happened to have every single album O_O. I was tempted to buy some of their earlier albums (such as Tri-Angle and “O”), but I didn’t have that much money so I had to pass *tear*. I wanted to purchase their Japanese album ‘Share the World’ and the store had both the CD + DVD so I bought it.

While the cashier was ringing it up (he was an elderly man), he told me in Korean, “Since you bought Dong Bang Shin Ki’s album, I can see you’re a fan so I’ll give you a free Dong Bang Shin Ki poster.” <——— OMG!!!!!!!! I DIED INSIDE FROM FANGIRLING IN MY MIND.

He went to the corner of the store (trust me, it’s a small store, the cashier is in one corner of the store while he went to a different corner and it was only 4 or 5 steps away) and he gave me a free poster!!! Two of my friends were jealous because they’re also DBSK fans XD Not as big as me though (no, I don’t mean that to sound cocky or anything. But seriously, the one who likes DBSK likes SHINee and Fly to the Sky better and the other friend loves DBSK’s music but doesn’t really know much about them personality and life-wise), but they’re fans nonetheless, so they were jealous, hehehe 🙂

He gave me the Version C poster from the MIROTIC album. I was probably blushing so much from the shock XD I guess he knew I was a fan since I bought one of their albums from Japan while in Korea. Plus, I might have fangirled just a tinsy winsy bit too much when I saw the shelf full of DBSK albums ^^;;; But OMG, I’m still soooo glad I bought the album there!!! I’m not going to use the poster yet since I’m moving soon, but once I go to the new house, I’m definately hanging it up 😀 I have the Ver. B Mirotic poster already hanging in my room, but let me tell you, the Ver. C poster DEFINATELY blows it away. Ver. C poster is so beautiful and just WOOOOW *_* I was seriously thanking the elderly Korean man in both Korean and English A LOT.

Version C MIROTIC Poster (credits to yesasia for the pic)

Version C MIROTIC Poster (credits to yesasia for the pic)

Man, next time I go to Seoul I want to go to that music store again. Not to get any more free DBSK stuff or anything, but because that man really touched me in my heart. No joke. I’m tempted to buy more DBSK albums and other K-Pop albums from that music store again (actually, I was going to buy SNSD’s ‘Genie’ album but I decided not to, and I cancelled that purchase before he gave me the free poster so afterwards I felt a bit guilty). If only I can go there again. But I’m stuck with music stores where the variety of DBSK albums is not very wide 😦 Plus, I thought if you bought the Ver. C MIROTIC album, then you’d get the poster but apparently not. I remember purchasing Ver. B at the same store that I got Ver.  C and it came with the Ver. B poster with the purchase of the album. Oh well…I’m just happy that I got a free poster unexpectedly while having a fun trip to Seoul with close friends ^_^