Little Things I’ll Miss About Korea 

In the months before I left, I started writing a list of the many things I would miss about Korea. Also a list of things I never want to forget about my life in Korea.
  1. This corner spot at this cafe, where I go only when I’m by myself
  2. Killing time by people watching
  3. Sitting outside in the sunshine when it’s fall
  4. That moment when the first student comes into the classroom and says “good morning teacher”
  5. Watching the Seoul sunrise during summer runs when the streets are empty at 5 am
  6. When the soju bottle is empty and we look at each other and without a word know that we need another one
  7. That really friendly crossing guard at work that always smiles and says good morning; he always made our day
  8. 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
  9. My legs feeling sore when I sit down for the morning teacher meetings
  10. When restaurant workers know our order because we’re regulars
  11. Getting service
  12. Riding the bus to visit the first city I lived in; getting 계란빵 from the best stand ever in downtown Gumi
  13. Walking to work listening to 00000 Million after 7 am yoga
  14. Walking anywhere, anytime, with both headphones blasting, and never feeling unsafe
  15. Solo hikes in the fall
  16. Going to to run with my crew every Thursday night
  17. The routine that makes me love the life I created in this city
  18. That old man who I always see running on summer mornings (who sometimes passes me cause he’s a speed demon….)
  19. The grandpa who I always see walking on the track that waves and cheers for me when I run
  20. 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
  21. When my crew or yoga friends say “우리 크리스틴” and my heart is happy
  22. When random children (or anyone really) try to speak English to me
  23. 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
  24. Going for evening walks by myself in the winter, wrapped in a scarf and listening to music
  25. Fighting at the restaurant about who’s gonna say 여기요
  26. Seeing my yoga teachers handing out flyers in the morning when I walk to school and getting hugs from them
  27. The way people hug at the studio
  28. 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
  29. DK, our favorite chef guy at the BBQ restaurant 한남돼지집
  30. Having the fastest internet in the world
  31. Never carrying keys ever
  32. My favorite Hershey’s cone
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. Blending in, in a country of Asian people, and for the first time not feeling like a minority
  36. Being an invisible foreigner
  37. Going to Daegu to visit Michelle
  38. All of our favorite restaurants
  39. Random moments where I feel like I really made a life here
  40. Walking around and reading signs and advertisements even though I have no clue what they mean because just reading characters makes me feel accomplished
  41. Convenience stores actually being extremely convenient
  42. Being in situations where being a foreigner makes things so much easier / Playing that foreigner card
  43. Living in the same building as my best friends
  44. That feeling I get when I do something by myself for the first time and with no help from a Korean person
  45. Standing in a store perusing Korean snacks
  46. Getting to see the moon change phases every single night while walking home from the yoga studio
  47. Feeling like a proud New Yorker when I completely disobey crosswalk signals
  48. Bowing to every single person ever
  49. Monster pizza
  50. All the people we meet when we go out; the next day when we recap the night and laugh so hard
  51. Staycations with Michelle
  52. Heated floors
  53. Heated subway seats
  54. Awesomely cheap medical insurance
  55. Meeting Koreans who lived or studied in America and asking them what they miss, and hearing “Chipotle” as the answer
  56. Going to the grocery after school and buying basically the same exact things
  57. Costco trips and taking the wrong bus and ending up somewhere far away; aborting the mission and going to get food
  58. Crazy and hilarious taxi drivers, and taxi drivers that speak English
  59. The anxious and possibly exciting feeling every time I go to the Sinsa area that I’ll run into Sway
  60. Drinking soju at convenience store like the foreigners we are
  61. Ordering 네네치킨 and watching a movie in my cave
  62. Leaving school immediately after the last bell on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so that I can make it to yoga class on time
  63. When we sit and have tea together after class and the people at the yoga studio discover that I’m not Korean
  64. When Jana has to buy BTS tickets and it’s the funniest thing in the world because life depends on this moment. Literally
  65. Waiting on line at Downtowner and feeling VIP when Mojito personally delivers our burgers and gives us free french fries
  66. When people visit me and I already know exactly what we’re going to do and what they’ll love
  67. When people ask to do tarot
  68. All the help from Jean and Harim when it comes to Korean stuff
  69. Walking behind Rob and looking at all the girls that stare at him in adoration of his 스몰 페이스
  70. Beerday Sunday Fundays!!!!!
  71. Waking up early and going to run races
  72. Meeting up with Margaret to eat ice cream and laugh about how we met in Korean class and bought matching pants an hour later
  73. Eating endlessly basically every meal
  74. How so many things feel like second nature after two years in Seoul
  75. Requesting music at the club (sometimes by screenshotting “Rihanna” and holding it up to the DJ booth ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ”

PLAYLIST — Rock’n’roll Corralones-style

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?

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And for more info on Corralones:
Stripped Back Travel
Los Corralones Facebook Page
I Know A Little Place In Seville

spotify

Day 16: Amsterdam to Oslo

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: Amsterdam

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: