Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Korea: a list

The time has come that I must bid adieu to the Land of the Morning Calm and head back to Vancouver to finish writing this dissertation. With all this yummy field data that I will digest in the months to come, it looks kind of like this Korean pancake, with the panchan (side dishes) kind of orbiting the savory chaotic mass. Researchers out there, I'm sure you feel my pain.

My term as a Visiting Researcher at Seoul National University has wrapped up, along with my research scholarship with the National Institute for International Education (NIIED). It's been a very productive term chock-full of new people, places, and experiences.

At this point in time, my departure is quite bittersweet. While I am happy to be going back home to move onto this next chapter of the process (and therefore life in general), I leave a whole other life that I have built and learned to fully function within. (cue the Littlest Hobo theme). To give y'all just a glimpse of quirky Korea, I've compiled a little list of things I will miss about living here.

Things I will miss about living in Seoul (in no particular order):
  • The view of the Han river from both sides of line 4 between Dongjak and Ichon, day or night. I look whenever I can and it never gets old.
  • Delivery of almost anything, and in reusable containers they come back to retrieve.
  • Low property crime.
  • Open attitudes towards technologically enhanced lifestyles (for better or worse mind you)
  • Korea Post. It's a wonderful thing. Seriously.
  • Food that is actually cheaper on campuses, instead of taking advantage of captive students like some other campuses back home...(ahem)
  • Preferred seating at movie theatres. Makes lining up and saving seats at theatres seem downright barbaric.
  • Convenience stores that are actually convenient and not overpriced
  • 24hr city
  • Street Vendors who make life a little easier all around.
  • Customary no tipping and 'service buttons'
  • Short waits (e.g. prescription glasses in less than 30 minutes)
  • Made in Korea. Clothes, electronics, a whole heck of a lot. Almost always a domestic equivalent to imported (luxury) things.
  • Nights out with friends that don't break the bank
  • Not needing a car: The fabulous public transit system and plentiful taxis
  • The dry cold weather
  • Radiant heating
  • Last but most of all, my friends here and abroad who have been supportive, wonderful, and fun. It really is a Hub of Asia, and meeting so many different types of people staying in, or going through Seoul was great.
I could really go on. A lot of what I mentioned is a function of having so many people available (and trained in particular skills) in a densely packed environment. There are some good things about living with lots of people however, and I try to remember that when I'm living the sardine-life on Line 2 ;)

I fly out tomorrow. I look forward to seeing everyone again, including my ever-so-patient-and-supportive-through-all-of-this husband! It'll be interesting to find out what he's been doing lately too...heh.

Repatriation anxiety. I feel somewhat like a creature from the abyss that one must not take to the surface too quickly lest it explode from the trauma of changing environments. Be kind. I might bow instead of shake your hand for the next little while.

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