I began brainstorming for this post a few weeks ago. I was able to list things quickly: I love the opportunity to travel; I love trying new restaurants; I love experiencing a new culture; I love the ease of public transportation. Then I stopped and realized that the things that I was listing as loving about Korea, weren’t really about Korea. I began to wonder if I really loved Korea or just living abroad. Could I be just as happy if I was plopped down in Prague, Toyko, or Barcelona? Most likely.
So, while a lot of my happiness comes from simply living in a foreign country, there are some things about Korea that I have come to adore.
- Ondol (heated floors). This is the traditional and most common form of heating in the country. I find that it heats up our home very quickly and comfortably. One night I left my slippers in the middle of the closet floor. When I put them on the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find out they had been on a hot spot and they were very toasty. Now I intentionally leave my slippers in the middle of the floor.
- Waffles. I have a sweet tooth. It’s a little bit out of control, and I have intense sugar cravings. I love all the Korean coffee houses for their pastries, but my favorite Korean dessert is the waffle. You can find it in coffee shops; however, my favorite waffles come from the little stalls in the subways. For ₩1,000 you can get a waffle that’s warm and has strawberry jam and cream spread on it. Delicious. I really think America needs to pick up on this trend. It’d be a great food truck business!
- Call Buttons. Many restaurants have a button on the table that you use when you need service. Hit the button, a bell rings, and your server appears. No waiting, no looking around for helping, no yelling “yogiyo!”
- Scenery. I’ve complained before about the smog and pollution that make it so difficult to see the skyline. One of the reasons the smog bothers me so much is because I know how beautiful Seoul can be on clear days. The city is surrounded by towering, cliff topped mountains. When the sky is clear, the skyline is breathtaking.
- Office Supplies. I have no shame in admitting my love for office supplies; Koreans obviously share my admiration for these materials. Pens, pencils, notebooks, Post-its, everything your organized heart could desire is in Korea. And it has cartoon animals and polka dots.
While this list is not exhaustive and may not persuade anyone to move to Korea, these are the little things that make my life here happy. These are the things that I wouldn’t find in just any foreign country, that are part of my definition of Korea, and make me love my life here.