- This corner spot at this cafe, where I go only when I’m by myself
- Killing time by people watching
- Sitting outside in the sunshine when it’s fall
- That moment when the first student comes into the classroom and says “good morning teacher”
- Watching the Seoul sunrise during summer runs when the streets are empty at 5 am
- When the soju bottle is empty and we look at each other and without a word know that we need another one
- That really friendly crossing guard at work that always smiles and says good morning; he always made our day
- All of the hilarious things that happen in a school day; things the kids say in English, Jana coming to my classroom and messing with the kids, eating snacks together, when Jean and Jana send their kids to my class with cups of 꿀떡, 편의점runs with Allie during break time
- My legs feeling sore when I sit down for the morning teacher meetings
- When restaurant workers know our order because we’re regulars
- Getting service
- Riding the bus to visit the first city I lived in; getting 계란빵 from the best stand ever in downtown Gumi
- Walking to work listening to 00000 Million after 7 am yoga
- Walking anywhere, anytime, with both headphones blasting, and never feeling unsafe
- Solo hikes in the fall
- Going to to run with my crew every Thursday night
- The routine that makes me love the life I created in this city
- That old man who I always see running on summer mornings (who sometimes passes me cause he’s a speed demon….)
- The grandpa who I always see walking on the track that waves and cheers for me when I run
- When the soccer players accidentally kick the ball toward me while I’m running on the track and I panic that it’s gonna hit me in the face, then it doesn’t and I laugh at myself
- When my crew or yoga friends say “우리 크리스틴” and my heart is happy
- When random children (or anyone really) try to speak English to me
- When I zip my kids’ jackets up and for like half a second I pretend that they’re my child and I’m sending them off the school
- Going for evening walks by myself in the winter, wrapped in a scarf and listening to music
- Fighting at the restaurant about who’s gonna say 여기요
- Seeing my yoga teachers handing out flyers in the morning when I walk to school and getting hugs from them
- The way people hug at the studio
- Crossing the Han River on the subway and looking outside thinking that I came to this city to be a part of it but instead it became a part of me
- DK, our favorite chef guy at the BBQ restaurant 한남돼지집
- Having the fastest internet in the world
- Never carrying keys ever
- My favorite Hershey’s cone
- When Jana and I go on trips and get excited for our “airport sandwich” which we later discovered exists in Paris Baguette stores everywhere and not just at the airport
- Transportation apps that accurately live track the subways and buses and also tell you exactly what door to stand at to make your transfer the fastest possible
- Blending in, in a country of Asian people, and for the first time not feeling like a minority
- Being an invisible foreigner
- Going to Daegu to visit Michelle
- All of our favorite restaurants
- Random moments where I feel like I really made a life here
- Walking around and reading signs and advertisements even though I have no clue what they mean because just reading characters makes me feel accomplished
- Convenience stores actually being extremely convenient
- Being in situations where being a foreigner makes things so much easier / Playing that foreigner card
- Living in the same building as my best friends
- That feeling I get when I do something by myself for the first time and with no help from a Korean person
- Standing in a store perusing Korean snacks
- Getting to see the moon change phases every single night while walking home from the yoga studio
- Feeling like a proud New Yorker when I completely disobey crosswalk signals
- Bowing to every single person ever
- Monster pizza
- All the people we meet when we go out; the next day when we recap the night and laugh so hard
- Staycations with Michelle
- Heated floors
- Heated subway seats
- Awesomely cheap medical insurance
- Meeting Koreans who lived or studied in America and asking them what they miss, and hearing “Chipotle” as the answer
- Going to the grocery after school and buying basically the same exact things
- Costco trips and taking the wrong bus and ending up somewhere far away; aborting the mission and going to get food
- Crazy and hilarious taxi drivers, and taxi drivers that speak English
- The anxious and possibly exciting feeling every time I go to the Sinsa area that I’ll run into Sway
- Drinking soju at convenience store like the foreigners we are
- Ordering 네네치킨 and watching a movie in my cave
- Leaving school immediately after the last bell on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so that I can make it to yoga class on time
- When we sit and have tea together after class and the people at the yoga studio discover that I’m not Korean
- When Jana has to buy BTS tickets and it’s the funniest thing in the world because life depends on this moment. Literally
- Waiting on line at Downtowner and feeling VIP when Mojito personally delivers our burgers and gives us free french fries
- When people visit me and I already know exactly what we’re going to do and what they’ll love
- When people ask to do tarot
- All the help from Jean and Harim when it comes to Korean stuff
- Walking behind Rob and looking at all the girls that stare at him in adoration of his 스몰 페이스
- Beerday Sunday Fundays!!!!!
- Waking up early and going to run races
- Meeting up with Margaret to eat ice cream and laugh about how we met in Korean class and bought matching pants an hour later
- Eating endlessly basically every meal
- How so many things feel like second nature after two years in Seoul
- Requesting music at the club (sometimes by screenshotting “Rihanna” and holding it up to the DJ booth ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ”
This one is a tribute to one of THE coolest, hippiest, happiest places I have ever been in my life. Rest In Peace, Corralones.
When I was in Spain last semester, we discovered this gem with the help of some local Spaniards. It’s a long way from the barrio I lived in, but the long walks or bike rides were always worth it. To get there, we would start from a big open square called Alameda. From there, we had to ask directions from locals because the streets get small and the alcohol starts to kick in…
To get into Corralones is a little sketchy but that’s what made it so unique. One second you’ll find yourself walking down small silent streets and the next you’re on an adventure with some happy new friends on an adventure to get to this hidden forbidden garden of chaos.
Walk through a dark tunnel where you can see the lights of Corralones at the end, and suddenly you’re on a level of hippy happy that you have never been before. There are small garage-slash-shack separated areas, each with a different theme. Live bands with naked lead singers playing the tambourine (yeah, I witnessed that one with my own eyes), bongo rooms, Nutella sandwich menus, African music and dance, euro beers, mojito stands, and orange burgers (don’t ask)–I’m telling you, you won’t find another place like this one.
If you’re not downstairs taking shots with strangers and dancing the night away, you could opt to go up some wide sketchy staircases to find the rooftop area where there are calmer bars, beach chairs, and guys who look like Bob Marley.
One of the best nights of my five months abroad was without a doubt my first night at Corralones. Unbelievably and incredibly unforgettable. One of Sevilla‘s best kept secrets for sure.
When I left to come back to the States, it was shut down and we Americanos were devastated. But their Facebook page activity is still going strong so I’m hoping that Corralones still comes alive at night. Or should I say early morning.
Click here to listen to my Corralones themed playlist and pretend you’re there. Cause I do it a little too often.
Here’s me in a shopping cart. Why? Who knows?
Yet another day of beers, burgers, and traveling.
We woke up get our last day of sightseeing in, and we ended up at De Gooyer Windmill. It was a beautiful day for homemade beer by Brouwerij ‘t IJ brewery. There was also a small restaurant right next to it where we got really delicious burgers.
After a while of relaxing, we went back to the apartment to pack and head to Schiphol Airport to catch our flight back to Oslo. It was an evening flight, and I think we arrived around 11 pm to a small, random airport (unfortunate result of flying RyanAir). We spent two hours on a bus and a cab to get back home, but at least the sky was beautiful. The summer sun in Norway:
Day 12 began our mini adventure to Amsterdam. Our itinerary included: trying to find Ninna an apartment (she’s going to study there in the fall), meeting up with our Dutch friends who studied at Hofstra last year, and basically partying. Judge me all you want, I’m a 20 year old college student–we get that a lot.
We woke up too early for either of our liking to catch our flight to Amsterdam, and just like the last two week of my life, the day was filled with trams, trains, planes and many a form of public transportation (which by the way, I prefer abroad so much more than here in NJ/NY). I have to give a shoutout to Nynke (Ninna’s friend/Hofstra alumni from Amsterdam) for lending us her perfectly adorable apartment while she is here in the States for the summer at Notre Dame. We would have been sleeping on floors if it weren’t for her. Her apartment was right above Albert Cuyp Market, one of my favorites in Amsterdam. I would definitely recommend that one for clothes/shoes/purses and even foods/fruits (very fresh and organic).
The second we arrived in Amsterdam we were rushing to meet Ninna’s friend/future roomie to go to an apartment showing. I just have to say while I’m on this topic of apartments that I discovered a new love for realty/architecture/interior design on this trip. The apartment we saw was seriously awesome in the way it was designed, but only if it were for one person because the bedrooms gave its owner almost no privacy. The only thing that separated them was a ladder to climb through a hole in one’s ceiling and the other’s floor. Everything else was great and spacious, but the price was not worth the extreme lack of privacy.
After the apartment showing we sat down for some beer and discussion. Then we went to a place called Burgermeester for more beer and of course, burgers. It was extremely yummy and I would really enjoy one right now. Unique burgers and delicious dressings. When we were too full of burger, we wisely decided to go to a small bar to sit outside along the canal and drink more beer. I don’t remember what the place was, but I think it was across the canal from the Anne Frank Museum. I was loving the beer prices. Needless to say, they weren’t like Oslo.
From the moment I arrived in Amsterdam, I was overwhelmed with excitement and I had a familiar feeling–the same one I had when I first set foot on Hofstra’s campus. Long story short, I was having a lot of trouble deciding what college to go to, and Hofstra was nothing but a safety school for me. When I went on that campus tour, I never wanted to go anywhere else; it was like something inside me clicked. Whether it was because of the atmosphere or the good vibes I was getting from everyone around me, I felt the same way about Amsterdam from the first few moments I got there. It was a little frightening, but I can’t help my feelings. Turns out my instincts were totally right because I really loved my time in Amsterdam.
The people were great. Friendly, sweet, helpful. Take for example Nynke! She offered for Ninna and I to stay in her apartment while she was on the other side of the world. How many people trust in others anymore?
Amsterdam is a perfect little city. Lots of young, happy, beer drinking people. So many things to do, places to see. Years and years of history to learn about. The architecture and style is also impressive. In my opinion, it lacks a little bit of meaningful culture but I do think that’s changing (and I could be wrong).
One of my favorite parts about the people and the city itself was the public transportation systems and use of bikes! I think I’m going to save that for Day 16 blog though, because this one is getting a bit lengthy.
More Amsterdam tomorrow!
Here’s a photo of my favorite part of the apartment we stayed in: