Time flies, it has been three weeks since I left South Korea. It’s nice to be back home, seeing my homeland and family, but I have a sense of emptiness. I was in Korea for 10 weeks; everyday was like an adventure for me. I was super busy with studying and exploring the city, so now, I feel like I have less to do since I am back home.
The first thing I miss the most is Korean food! I miss their tofu stew, grilled meats, all the side dishes, street foods and shaved ice!! Korean name is Patbingsu. It was the best Patbingsu I ever had. The ice was like snow flakes, it melts instantly in your mouth with so many flavors like mango, cheesecake, strawberries, and melons. The picture I attached is the most popular shaved ice, called Injeolmi Bingsu, a chewy rice cake with bean powder. This is a very traditional Korean flavored Bingsu, this particular bingsu does not contain any sugar, so it’s known for being a healthy snack during the summer, but you can add condensed milk if you prefer it sweet. I seriously want to open a Patbingsu place in my hometown, so I can eat it everyday. The reason I miss Korean foods so much is not only its taste, but also the eating culture. Many Korean dishes are made in a very large portion, like soups, stews, grilled meats, even the shaved ice. Therefore, you have to share between your friends. I love their food sharing culture. Compared to the US, each person orders his or her own dish, it’s isolating. Side note, some Korean restaurants are seated cross-legged, it was surely a fun experience.
The second thing I miss the most is their cat/dog café! Around Seoul, there are many animal cafes. I visited the cat and dog café, it was the best. When I walked in, I had to disinfect my hands, and each person had to order one drink. One drink cost around 8 dollars, it’s expensive, but you can play with any of the cats or dogs you want, and can stay as long as you like. There are many books you can read too if you don’t want to play with the animals. The animals there are well trained, harmless, and very clean. As an animal lover such as myself, that place is like heaven for me. My family won’t allow me to have an animal myself, so going to animal café can satisfy my cat/dog crave. There is also goat/sheep café, I bet there are other animal cafes out there too. Korea also has many themed café, like a Hello Kitty café, comic book cafés, and zombie restaurants.
The third thing I miss the most is their multi-functioning room, called the Maltibang, bangmeans room. Inside the room, you can do many things, such as watch TV, surf the internet, watch movies, sing songs, play games, or just simply take a nap. The Multibang I went to only cost 24 dollars for three people. Also there are unlimited snacks you can eat, mainly cookies, crackers, and popcorn. The room was very clean and in nice condition, is dark and air-conditioned, so this is the best place to go during the summer to hang out with a group of friends! I think the nightlife in the US is kind of boring. For those who do not like to drink, they really have no place to hangout. In my opinion, it would be nice to have more facility like this where teenagers can go hangout at night without any alcohol or tobacco involved.
There are more things I miss, such as visiting the palaces, temples, museums, and taking a cruise tour at the Han River. Also going to the steam room is my favorite. The place is call the Jimjibang, there’s a huge shower room, three spas with different temperatures, a cold room, warm sleep room, and three different temperature hot room. There is also a coal room, and a fireplace, I loved roasting sweet potatoes, it was a great experience. The cost is very cheap too; 10 dollars, and you could stay for 24 hours inside.
After this trip, I think US needs to open up more fun and relaxing facilities for people to go to. Some friends I met in Korea, they asked, “What’s the US’s nightlife like? What do people do besides going to the bars and clubs?” As a young adult, it was difficult for me to answer that question. Of course we can go to bowling, movies, dine out, but that’s pretty much it.
Overall, my experience in Korea was very memorable and precious to me, learning another country’s culture makes me reflect a lot on my own culture. Since US is a multi cultured country, maybe in the future, I can infuse more Asian culture, to make US even better!