For the past two weeks Sean and I have been in Korea enjoying ourselves and celebrating the completion our time in China. Because of course, the best way to celebrate a year in China is 2 weeks in Korea.
Well it all started last September in Beijing. Two Korea dudes were living across the hall from me; I introduced my self and then went out to a few dinners with them. Over time they brought more and more Korean friends to our dinners, it was awesome! Hanging out with Koreans was so fun.
In my opinion Korean and American college students drink at about same frequency, so a lot. The difference is that while American students get drunk then go club hopping till the wee hours of the morning Koreans do what I call “restaurant hopping.” I actually had my theory of restaurant hopping verified by my friend recently, except it he called it “the three rounds.” It goes like this: meet at 6 or 7 and go out to dinner (usually Korean BBQ) at dinner stuff yourself and drink a lot of Soju (Korean alcohol). Then you proceed to a new restaurant, normally a 15-20 minuet walk or cab ride away. At the second restaurant (usually a fried chicken place or Korean Pizza Place) you order food and Soju or Mokoli (spelling?). Mokoli is a rice drink and is about 6% alcohol. After round two come round three, another restaurant that caters to late nighters, of which my favorite is fried chicken. At the third place along with the food you usually order beer. As my friend explained, “it helps you sober up.”
The best part by far has to be that after all this I normally get to bed around 12 or 1 and wake up feeling rested the next morning. This compared to clubbing till 4 or 5 is amazing.
I had such I fun time with the Koreans I invited Sean to the next dinner. He loved it and the Koreans loved Sean. Most of the Koreans we met were from the same university. The second semester while most returned home two of them staid in China, Sean and I leveraged this into meeting the new batch of Koreans. Another amazing semester with Koreans came and went.
After two semesters of drunken promises to visit Korea we began to actually seriously consider it. After going through many different possibilities we end up settling on the first two weeks of August for our time in Korea.
Now that I have finished two weeks in Korea here are my thoughts. Its effing awesome. I describe Korea as the best of the US and the best of China put together. It is in everyway a developed country, but its culture is still based on traditional Confucian values. Streets are clean, retaruants are cleaner, people are polite and cars wait for you to cross the street rather than trying to hit you. Also, pretty much everyone spoke some English, and even if they didn’t they didn’t get mad at you for not speaking Korean. All of this was a nice change from China. (as a side note, I kept trying to speak Chinese to Koreans, Saying Nihao, or xiexie has just become reflex) Korea is however absent of the “I don’t give a shit” and “to cool for school” attitudes that exist in the US. Everyone, and I mean everyone really takes care of the way they look. No sweat pants, hoodies and flip flops. I am not saying everyone dressed like a model, though many did, but they took the time to put on pants and clean shirt, and then tie their shoes on the way out the door.
Another example was that at the beach lifeguards were not letting people in the water as the waves were really big and the current strong. They stood in the surf whistling at people who tried to come in the water. I was surprised at the fact that everyone listened to the lifeguards. In the US I am confident that there would have been a bunch of ass holes trying to get attention by seeing how far past the life guards they could get without getting kicked off the beach.
Korea was amazing, and I can’t wait to come back. However, my heart is still in China and that’s where I will return to when I come back to Asia. China is not an easy place to live, and every day is an adventure. But that’s what makes it so great, you are constantly challenged and learn something new every day. Although I think my carrier goals have changed. They are now: Work in China and spend my weekends in Korea.
Thanks to Sean for all the pictures!