It’s been 10 days in Seoul, South Korea, and I’ve got a big ol’ crush on this city, this country, and this culture.
Over the past ten days, I’ve gotten to discover multiple facets of Korean life, its food, its lifestyle, and its culture – both old and modern sides. And I’ve been loving every moment and every day.
I do not actually know a lot of close friends who have been to Seoul before – I know that a former friend studied there, and that the lovely Ashley & Jon, two good friends from Brighton, met here in SeoulI believe. They still look fondly on this time!
So, for what it’s worth, I just want to point out that South Korea is criminally underrated.
Similarly to Shanghai, people here say that “they don’t speak English very well” – except that here,they do know the basics:in Shanghai, I had some trouble getting understood when asking for water. So as a foreigner, it gets much easier to chat, ask for directions, or order at a restaurant.
In addition, I’ve tried to correct my earlier mistake of not learning basic phrases – so I now know how to say Hello, Chiken, Beer, Thank You, Sorry, and a few other useful phrases.
But let’s get back to Seoul itself. The city is more spread out than Paris, as a point of reference, but holds a population of similar size: about 10 million people.
So far, I’ve had a lot of different food – but being solo most of the time, I haven’t had the chance to try a real Korean BBQ – a wrong that will be corrected next weekend, when I get some company, and a very special visitor for a few days.
In addition to the food, I’ve been lucky enough to meet up with a contact who’s here as a foreign student, and he introduced me to his group of friends: a mixture of Koreans, mixed Asians, and westerners. These folks actually took me out last Sunday, for ChiMek (The contraction of the words Chicken & Mekju – the latter which stands for beer).
It was essentially a picnic by the river Han, which flows through the city. You sit down on the grass, and order from one of the many vendors and takeaway places who offer different variety of fried chicken. From there, they took me out drinking, eating some more, and later, to my very first karaoke! That evening finished at 5:30am, and we waited for the very first metro: I got back to my Airbnb at 6am, on a Monday morning, haha!
Besides that, I was incredibly surprised and excited to discover he local coffee scene: see South Korea is actually a bigger coffee drinker than the USA, and there are coffee houses everywhere. Starbucks and other chains are here, of course, but you can also easily find indie coffee houses that roast their own beans —something else that’s right along my alley.
So I’ve been working from coffee houses from times to times, to get a breath of fresh air. The rest of the time, I’ve been in my Airbnb, living with a family of four, who have been very kind and helpful to me. The children are very cute, if turbulent at times, and it’s definitely a unique experience to live with them and witness Korean life first hand!
This past week, I’ve focused on my work, of course, but I also went around the dynamic Hongdae neighborhood, just two metro stops away from my neighborhood of Gongdeok – this is a small student town where you can find a ton of shops, coffee houses, bars, restaurants, but also ANIMAL CAFES!
That’s right: in Wednesday, I’ve actually hit a Raccoon cafe, a Sheep cafe, and a Meerkat cafe! This was an incredible and amazingly cute experience, and you’ll be able to watch all of this in the latest vlog (see the first link at the top of this email!)
That’s already a handful, and I’ve got many more Korean adventures planned before leaving this country, so stay tuned for another post in a few days/weeks.
I’m in love with this country and city!