Goodbye Korea

Well, this is it. My final day in Korea. And my final blogpost. I’m not even sure what to write. I feel like I should have something profound and inspiring to say but I still haven’t sorted out how I feel about leaving. Right now I feel ready to go home, get back to my life, and finally stop being a traveler and a foreigner. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and my family and telling everyone my stories, especially the ones too crazy to publish in this blog (yes, there are a few!) At the moment, I am happy to be going home.

On the other hand I know I am going to miss Korea like crazy when I do. I’m going to miss the friends I made here (especially the ones I made in Busan) and the people (yes, even the ajummas) and the food (especially the food!) and the culture (though not the old guys who spit on the street or the squatter toilets), and Busan (especially the beaches) and Seoul (though slightly less than Busan, sorry!) and real kimchi. I’m even going to miss the crowded traditional markets that smell like fish and the pushy ajummas on the subway. I might even miss being looked at by people on the street and the open-mouthed stares of small children. Who knows.

I’m definitely going to miss Busan a lot. Not only because my friends are here, but also because of the atmosphere. I liked Seoul, but Busan is so much more laid-back and colorful. Hence my photo collection of whimsical street art:

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So… I guess the moral of the story is the nerd always gets the girl? I’m assuming he’s a nerd because of the glasses and the star on his onsie pajamas.

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And don’t forget the mountains!

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And of course, the Konglish.

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I kind of want that shirt. No… I REALLY want that shirt!

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Does this mean the customers are only chaste men or that the clothes so bad that anyone who wears them is subject to involuntary chastity?

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Previously tasted chicken?

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Uh…?

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So… no German women allowed?

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Sounds like a REALLY awesome water park!

I don’t really know how to do a final farewell so I think I might just wrap up with a few highlights from the last six months (wow, has it really been six whole months?!?)

I’ve eaten more new foods in the last few months than I can remember. 99% of it was delicious. The remaining 1% was strange invertebrates whose gummy texture completely overwhelmed any taste benefits they might have had. Most of the food I’ve had here burned away some part of my stomach lining (thank you Korean chili powder!) but it was totally worth it.

I’ve been renamed by the natives. You may now call me Dah-na. Though people in Busan tend to call me “Dina”, or they completely mishear and they call me “Jana” so honestly at this point I’ve almost forgotten my own name so you can call me whatever you want and I’ll probably answer.

I’ve experienced the best Korea has to offer: I’ve biked and picnicked along the Han River in Seoul…

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…climbed Bukhansan Mountain (barely!)…

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…strolled through both Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces (as well as several temples)…

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…celebrated Buddha’s Birthday with a traditional lantern parade…

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…seen the view from Namsan Tower, vacationed in Jeju Island…

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Yakcheonsa Temple on Jeju Island: still one of my favorite places in Korea.

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…toured the DMZ…

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… and most importantly, eaten a lot of patbingsu!

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I’ve also experienced the daily life of Korea as well, like the traditional markets…

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…springtime in Seoul…

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…college neighborhood nightlife…

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…and sharing the street, subway, and bus with thousands of other people.

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I’ve learned basic Taekwondo. (And also forgotten much of it over summer break. Oops!)

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I spent a weekend in Japan while only using a grand total of 4 Japanese words.

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I’ve also been up to see the sunrise at Gwangalli Beach in Busan. This was one of my favorite moments in my entire time here.

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And of course, many other things that you’ve already read about. Or maybe you just skimmed it and looked at the pictures. Whatever, I’m not judging. But I do want to say thank you to all my readers. I appreciate you coming along with me on my travels… and for putting up up with a lot of weird humor, geeky pop culture references, and really bad Konglish puns. It’s been a good journey.

I would also like to thank my amazing host family for hosting me this last semester. They were always so kind and wonderful to me. And they put with with my awkward Korean for 4 whole months which is worth like a thousand million brownie points.

And finally, thank you to my friends in Busan who helped me celebrate my last week in Korea. I’ll miss you all, you crazy people.

I’ve heard that after a long time abroad, the returning culture shock can be just as bad as the original one. I know it will take me time to adjust to American life again, but I think I can get through it alright. If I end up a kimchi addict living in my parents’ basement I’ll let you know but I think as long as I cope better than this I’ll be okay:

(Silly Jack. You spent the first 4 seasons trying to get OFF that island!)

I do want to return to Korea someday. I don’t know when I will be able to come back, but who knows, right? So I’m not saying “goodbye”, just “so long for now.”

We’ll meet again, Korea. I know it.

또 만나자!

 

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Hanglish: Do You Speak It?

Hanglish: the very entertaining combination of English and Hangugeo (한국어, which is what the Korean language is called in Korean.) Also known as “Konglish”, for Korean-English.

I have been waiting to do this post for a loooong while and I think it’s finally time, since I’m leaving Seoul at the end of the week. This is the best of the bad English (and just plain weirdness) that I’ve seen since I got here. A lot of it is from Seoul, but some are from Jeju Island, where they don’t seem to be as fluent in English. Enjoy but be warned: contains some language that is not safe for children or those with delicate sensibilities.

First up: the best delicacies in Korea…

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The Korean just spells out “nude barbecue” and not real Korean words, so I dont know what this really is. Sounds a little dangerous though.

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Are the marine products invited?

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I LOVE gristle on a skewer!

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“Dumplings served in floorcloth” and “ramen crevice”. Yum! Actually, the Korean translates to “red ramen”, but I am still not clear on what that is.

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I think I remember eating this…

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It comes pre-digested? Oh my gosh that takes so much of the work out of eating! I’ll take two please.

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Okay, this was actually in Japan, but still, someone is clearly confused about what BBQ stands for.

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Would that look something like this?

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Note: picture stolen from the internet after I searched “Octopus Possum” just to see what would come up. Copyright and blah blah blah.

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I think this was referring to some kind of corndog.

What else can you buy in Seoul? How about some beauty products…

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We actually asked the girl at the store if it was real placenta and she assured us it was the best sheep placenta money can buy. Yeah… I don’t care how “timeless” it is, I am NOT going to rub that all over my face.

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I kept hoping this was a translation mixup. Nope. They really sell snail cream… for when you run out of placenta.

Don’t forget to check out these places too!

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“special tourist zone” What?

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But Mom… they have live jazz!

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So tempting…

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Perhaps they were dictating?

For the fashionistas among you…

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I love this picture. Not because of the guy’s clearly fake college jacket, but because the girl behind him is all contorted in a way that is straight out of “The Exorcist”.

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Funny… they don’t have that department at my school…

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Forgot something on your t-shirt, maybe?

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It’s not that this doesn’t make sense, but I don’t know why you would put it on a hat.

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I’m curious: what constitutes a “kolon” sport? Maybe I don’t want to know.

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Sorry this picture is blurry. I was walking behind this guy in the subway station and I had to take the picture secretly. Can you still read that? I have found that most young Koreans know this word, but only as a general swear word. They usually don’t about it’s use as a verb.

And finally, sometimes you just don’t need words…

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Apparently Koreans are just more creative at using the potty than we are.

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Well, I’m off to study for finals. That’s all folks!