Sunday, February 5, 2012

What I like about Korea

I went on a nice walk today. The winter air was brisk but not biting, the river almost frozen over, white snow beautiful along the walking path. Perfect for reflection.

I haven't written on my blog for awhile; I apologize. But after my time of reflection, I feel compelled to writer WHAT I LIKE ABOUT KOREA.

I've lived in the Bundang area south of Seoul for a year and a half now with my husband and 2 children. I've made good friends and enjoy my job tremendously. But here are some of the specific things that I appreciate.

I like the balance of city and nature - walking by the river, hiking in the mountains, or visiting a large public park/green space are all very doable, as is getting to the city of Seoul to the big Coex Mall or the outdoor markets.

I like the food. Okay, I don't like all of the food. But I do like that my diet consists much more of vegetables and less of meat than it did. And I've adjusted to the lack of Wisconsin cheese. Less fatty fast food has been helpful in creating a more healthy me.

In addition to my teaching job which I thoroughly enjoy, I appreciate 2 very specific things about the staff at my school. First, there is endless social committee activities to choose from. Socializing in many different ways with many different people helps me feel like a part of the school community. Second, so many of the staff are physically active and encourage me to be also. I'm happy to say that the Biggest Loser competition at my school helped to boost my consistency in exercising. So, at 45 I'm consistently walking/running/jump roping; swimming, doing circuits, yoga, and walking up 15 flights and occasionally hiking, and playing volleyball. These things are making me healthier and happier.

I like that my children are getting an expanded world view, that they are learning about world affairs more than US affairs, learning world geography and culture by living it first hand, and making friends with kids from different nations.

I like the opportunity to know another culture, food, language, and music, as well as a different lifestyle (like apartment living!)

Lastly (for now), I've come to appreciate the jinjabongs (the public saunas). At first it seemed very bizaare to be in a space with women of all sizes, shapes, and ages in their birthday suits enjoying the public baths. But now I feel more comfortable about it all and see that for them it must bring a sense of balance and bonding. I may explain this in more detail at another time.

So, while at times I find myself missing "home" and family and friends from Wisconsin, I truly do enjoy and appreciate being an ex-pat in Korea. And for those of you who know me personally, I'd invite you to come visit and enjoy it all for yourselves.