It has been an interesting two weeks, and I’m excited to share that with you. So, I went to a New England Boarding school that had a huge international student population, and of that population, a huge chunk of the kids were Koreans. Fast forward to life at NYU which also has a huge international student population (of whom a significant portion happen to be Korean), and I bring you to now, in this moment. I happen to be very luck, because in my stay in Korea, all my Korean friends from high school till now (so since I was 13-20) have decided to crop up in the country, as opposed to staying in the States. It’s wonderful. It seems as though every single day I have something to do or someone to meet.
I love my school that I’m at, and adore my classmates, but because most of them do not speak English, and I don’t speak more than a few words in Japanese and Chinese, communication between the different groups of people can be hard, but fun. We talk in a mixture of broken English, signs, Korean, and even throw in some Spanish for the heck of it. As a result, I am even more grateful for having friends in the country that I can actively spend time with. Despite saying this, I have in fact spent time with several of my other classmates, and in fact, with a fellow Scholar, Clifford Alonzo.
Despite the fact that we’re thirty minutes away from each other (which is forever in my world), Clifford and I met up, along with a classmate of mine to go Korean barbequing and to go to Home Plus (the Korean version quite simply of Target/Walmart/Kmart). Home Plus has everything! I needed a fan because the Goshiwon that I live in, unfortunately, hasn’t quite reached modernity like the rest of Seoul, and does not have air conditioning. Home Plus was the absolute perfect place to buy one (albeit, at a rather high price, but still lower than nearly everywhere else in the city).
Something that I have noticed about Korea is that everything here, is crazy expensive/overpriced. Perhaps it is because I live in the city– but I would counter with, I live in NYC, in Manhattan, which has the second highest cost of living, surpassed only by London, and even then, when I went to the only Kmart in Manhattan or the Target, things were relatively priced there. Again, this may in part be because many things are imported goods– but from China, which is only a sea away (the Yellow Sea) as opposed to the U.S. where everything is several oceans away. In fact, foods that cost pennies (figuratively, if the food I bought cost that little, it would be suspect) back home, cost four to five times that here. It is fascinating to see how the system works, and to look at stores and such here in Korea, and how everything is priced here in Korea.
Despite this, it is incredibly easy to have fun. My goshiwon is located right in front of a place that I have dubbed “Times Square.” As a part-time New Yorker, I have grown to hate Times Square with a passion that ignites many fires, and only go there when relatives are in town and want the “true New York” that they’ve seen on television. My backyard (truth) is no different. sprawling with shops and makeup stores, it is a heaven for the many college students located within that section of the city. With Yonsei University at the end of the road in the east, Sogang University further to the West, and Ewha Women’s University down south, it is a triangle space filled to brim with students, performers, film crews, tourists taking pictures, and waaay tooo many people to fit in that tiny space. Whenever I’m feeling homesick, I just walk downstairs and back, take a walk with the crowd trying to squeeze my body through the thousands standing there and reminicse on how much this feels like Times Square, and how much this reminds me of home.