Spent my last few days in Seoul with friends and family. Am still somewhat ambivalent about leaving, but growing increasingly sad about my departure. Really enjoyed being here, especially spending time with people I haven’t seen in 3 years, but alas, it’s time to go home and resume life. Enjoy the photos~

With my cousin YoungSoo. Note: I permed my hair!
Mocha 팥빙수
Korean kids enjoy the sprinklers in 세종대로
My friend SeHyuk wearing an authentic Twins cap ^^

Far Away Home

I just wrote a super long entry about how I have less than one week left in Korea, and that I feel ambivalent about leaving Korea and going home to Minnesota… but it got erased. It was sort of a reflection of how I love being here but how being here isn’t easy – silly stuff such as loving having constant access to Korean food but really missing Mexican food; not-so-silly stuff such as enjoying time with friends and family here, but really being homesick for people at home; and not-at-all-silly stuff such as having challenging yet productive research experiences. I don’t have the mental or emotional energy to write it all up again, so instead, please enjoy some photos of my post-Gathering time in Korea:

With my 둥생 (younger brother/friend) Zach at 남산 (NamSan) Tower
Saying good bye to my new Norwegian friend Jon
경복궁(GyeongBok Palace) with Dr. Melanie Kimball
@ 경복궁 (GyeongBok Palace)
Friends 경선 (Kyung-Sun) and 윤진 (Yun-Jin)
With Christina @ 청계천 (CheongGyeCheon)
My cousins 우민오빠 (WooMin) & 경민오빠 (KyungMin)
A twilight view of 남산 (NamSan) Tower
At the 지화자 (JiHwaJa) restaurant, just before eating a Royal Cuisine Dinner

IKAA Gathering 2010

2007 Gathering Gala with some pretty awesome ladies

This week I’m attending the IKAA Gathering 2010, which is the 5th overall Gathering (DC, Oslo, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul). I had the privilege of attending in 2007 – what an amazing learning experience. I’m looking forward to listening and learning this time as well.

Being back in Seoul for the first time since 2007 has also been a trip. It seems like Korea changes every year – more and more apartment buildings going up, more and more shopping centers (recession? what recession?), and more and more foreigners walking the streets of Seoul. I’ve always seen white (and a few black) people in Korea and assumed they were probably American military, but now I’m definitely noticing more Southeast Asians. Korea is definitely changing – and yet how much is it not? We may think Korea is becoming more globalized because so many more foreigners live here, but I wonder how easy it is (not) for them to live here.

What hasn’t changed – Korean girls are still wearing high heels everywhere they go. I tried this yesterday, and they weren’t even spiky heels, but oh boy my feet hurt. Cute flip flops for me, thank you very much. Also, the food is as good as ever. Where else can you get 냉면 for w4,000? Some days I’ve had 팥빙수 once after lunch and once after dinner. I know, I know. Rough life.  Public transportation (the subway, buses and taxis) are as accommodating and accessible as ever. Traffic jams aside, I love how it’s so easy to get around Seoul. And one of my FAVORITE things about Seoul – cafes on every single corner. I’m writing this blog entry from a doughnut shop across the street from the Myeong-dong Lotte Department Store – sitting on the second floor, next to a huge window, watching as the people and cars rush down and across the street. I could sit here and stare out the window all day.