I am leaving South Korea very, very soon – in just (a few) hours. And I thought I’d post one more before surrendering my alien registration card to the immigration officer.
For about three years and seven months, I was a resident of the busy city of Seoul. On July 15, 2011, I arrived to South Korea and started formulating first impressions. Now, February 26, 2015, I am leaving with a better understanding of this country and a bag full of memories.
Although I am quite excited to go home, I will definitely miss Seoul, and South Korea in general. Specifically, I will miss…
1. Efficient Public Transportation
One word that best describes South Korea is convenience. And the transport system exemplifies it very, very well. In Seoul specifically, the whole system is just fantastic. The subway lines are all interconnected, and many subway stops are also near bus stops. You can go anywhere in the city with ease. I dare say that it has the best public transportation in the world!
Side note: I used the subway more than the bus. Actually, I rarely used the bus. Estimating the time it took me commuting, I probably spent 5% of my life in Korea, underground!
I am from Metro Manila. I will not deny that it is relatively unsafe there. So for me, the safety in Korea is such a big deal. I never had to worry about theft, nor did I worry about safety when going home late. I mean, it lessens one’s everyday stress.
I really prefer assuming the goodness in people. However, I have to get into the habit of vigilance again when I go back to the Philippines.
3. Superfast Internet Connection
The internet is a big part of my life. Wherever I live, the only entertainment system I need in my accommodation is a computer connected to the internet. And so, to be spending such lazy moments in the country that has the fastest average internet connection speed in the world is just awesome!
4. The cold weather
I will go home to a land of seemingly endless summer. So, I will miss experiencing four seasons in a year. I will miss the change in foliage and the change in clothing. I will miss days when I can walk fast (or run to catch the train) without sweating. When it’s cold, I can be practical in my exercise by just walking more or using the stairs instead of elevators, all while wearing my office attire.
Korea is a mountainous country. Just within Seoul, there are a number of mountains that can easily be reached and can be hiked within a day. Hiking for me is very fun to do during spring and autumn. And because you don’t sweat as much in the cold, you don’t have to bring liters and liters of water. And the light load makes hiking quick.
5. Wakeboarding in the rivers
There are water sports parks in the Philippines, so I will have chances to go wakeboarding. I will miss doing it in the rivers though, while being pulled by a speedboat and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
6. Abundance of Decent Public Toilets
Another testament to the convenience of life in South Korea is the numerous decent public toilets. In the big cities like Seoul, you can count on train stations for having toilets. Parks and tourist spots are adequately provided with the very important facility. This makes for a more enjoyable travel experience. Don’t you think it’s a good reason to visit this country?
Side note: convenience comes at a price I guess. It makes Koreans, in my opinion, more sensitive. I heard someone say she doesn’t like to visit a certain country for now, because of the bad reviews of public toilets. Haha!
7. The Food
I learned to eat spicy when I came to South Korea. Once that barrier was passed, my world expanded. Boy did I enjoy eating in this country.
What is one word to describe food in Korea? Fresh! I love how fresh meat, seafood and vegetables are abundant. And the mushrooms, oh the mushrooms!
And I like the dining experience here. I like how sharing is the norm, side dishes are usually free, tissue is always available, and mixing whatever you like is not disgusting. Also, many Korean restaurants have cooking equipment on the table, i.e. grill and gas stove, that allows you to cook your own food.
8. Seoul Toastmasters
I admit closing one door of opportunity in South Korea. That is, I did not learn Korean.
I was just lazy to study another language. So when I was introduced to Seoul Toastmasters for the first time, I thought it was my chance to make friends, with local people who are able and eager to speak English. It was my introduction to Toastmasters, and I was glad to be in that specific club.
Honestly, I wasn’t very keen in finishing the speech and leadership projects of the Toastmasters educational system. They did help me, but my main mission was to make friends. And I accomplished that mission, as I did gain new friends in this country.
I met many interesting people. This specific club is quite diverse, and I got to know people from different professions, ages, and even nationalities. Through interaction with a variety of characters, my social skills improved. My mind was also opened to different ideas and I learned a lot of things. Some of the new ideas changed my perspective in life.
I consider my friends inspirations in becoming a better version of myself. That’s the irony. It makes me a bit sad to be leaving my friends here, but, I am leaving partly because of the inspiration to take on new challenges in life.