Becoming an Alien

 Baekje tombs – ancient Korean burial ground next door to my apartment

I kid you not, I am considered an alien in Korea. They even issued me a card so I won’t forget it! This is how the Korean government keeps track of the foreigners residing in their country. Sure, it seems to make non-Korean unwelcome, but after all the hardships they have been through to get their independence and preserve their cultural identity, it makes complete sense as to why they are a little bit nervous about the whole situation.

Two months have flown by. Travelling is always exciting which makes time go by much faster than usual, but I’m not exactly travelling.. I have moved to Korea yet time still runs by at a faster pace making me worried about doing all that I can before my time is up. I have yet to explore Korea or it’s neighbours but my weekends have been very busy with meeting other foreigners, locals and sight seeing.
The great part of being a foreigner in a mono cultural country is that it is easier to identify the expats and they are all easier to approach and strike up a friendship with.
This past weekend I went to a birthday party themed with 80’s style clothing. I met heaps of teachers from all over Seoul that moved here from mostly America, Canada and the UK. It felt like being at a  university pub night all over again. Because we are all in the same boat, it’s very comforting to have one another and the trust emerges almost instantly.

my apartment, yes this is ALL of it!!

This is how I have met my closest friends here in Seoul thus far; randomly through Facebook just because we had all arrived around the same time and were looking to meet others to explore the city with. It’s amazing how great people are when we are out of our element with no expectations. If only we could be this open and inviting at all times!

I finally feel settled in this busy city where nothing seems to close and no one seems to sleep. I love the feeling of being able to step outside at all times of the day and being able to find people on the street and somewhere to always buy food.
Over the past 2 months I have explored numerous areas of Seoul, especially the places to party which is generally Gangnam, Hongdae (the university district always filled with foreigners) and Itaewon. I have also met numerous local Koreans who I am learning about this magnificent culture from and have tried way more Korean dishes than I ever thought I would.
Cherry Blossoms
I also had the privilege of attending my first Korean wedding this past weekend. Weddings are a big business here so it’s simply a ceremony followed by a buffet unless you are a celebrity with money to spend. No wedding party, no partying, no dancing. It’s boom! boom! BANG! Finished.. over! Very simple and done deal. It was quite a shock for me considering in my Tamil culture weddings are the biggest ordeal that is always over the top.
The wedding took place at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul which has a section for wedding halls, which goes to show how big of a business it really is than anything else.

The cherry blossoms are what make spring beautiful in Seoul. I went to Yeiodu island (a man made island in the Han river) where the blossoms are supposed to be the best in the city. It definetly was a sight. The flora in this part of the world is remarkable because it is all new to me.

It makes the landscape breathtaking, even in a busy, crowded city.

There is still so much I have to explore. Seoul is a city with so many options and very inexpensive. I’m still in my honeymoon phase with this city, but right now I don’t know if this phase will ever end since it seems like it’s very unlikely I can get bored here.


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