1. Dalk Galbi, Daeji Galbi, Mushroom Soup
These are easily my favorite Korean dishes. If you read my blog regularly, then you know that I’m more than mildly obsessed with dak galbi; I’ve written numerous posts on this dish. Daeji galbi is an incredibly marinated pork barbecue which comes with many different sides. Our favorite restaurant gave us shredded cabbage in a sweet and vinegary wasabi sauce. They also had some sweet and sour fried tofu on the menu which was hands down the best tofu I’ve ever eaten. I’m salivating as I write this. And last, but certainly not least, mushroom soup. We lived across from a very famous mushroom soup restaurant which we both surprisingly fell in love with, considering that we aren’t huge mushroom fans. Whether you like ’em or not, this restaurant will win you over. Great, now I’m craving three things I don’t have access to. Better get to the kitchen!
2. Funny Engrish
Funny English phrases can be found everywhere in Korea. I used to love going into stores in search of ridiculous phrasing, like this placemat or this shirt. Here’s one of my new favorites, it’s a magazine advertisement for Hyundai. Does anybody proofread this stuff?
3. Paris Baguette croissants and cream puffs
Paris Baguette is a bakery that can be found on nearly every street in Korea. No joke. We had one a few minutes from our apartment and I am lucky enough to have a loving boyfriend who volunteered a few mornings a week to go get fresh croissants there. Strangely, the croissants at Paris Baguette in Korea are some of the best croissants I’ve ever had. They also had perfect cream puffs that we would occasionally indulge in for dessert. Yum. Did I mention that it was super cheap?
4. Sticker Pics
I kinda developed a small obsession with sticker pics while we were living in Seoul. I dragged Dave into every sticker pic booth I discovered. I’ve considered opening one in the US, except I would probably be my main customer, so I’m not sure how well that would work.
Who is Robert? you ask. Well, Robert was my favorite student. Yeah yeah, I know teachers shouldn’t have favorites, but I did, so there. We got off to a rocky start. He didn’t understand the concept of sitting, which I guess is understandable because he was only four years old and sitting for forty minutes must have been unbearable for the little ones. He also couldn’t comprehend the concept of school, discipline, or behaving nicely towards others. It wasn’t that he was mean, he just didn’t get that when he pushed somebody that they might get hurt. He couldn’t figure out that sitting in the corner wasn’t fun, that it was punishment, making it very hard to teach him about consequences.
Despite all of these problems, he turned out to be my little rockstar. He was hilarious and really caring. He made sure everybody was happy and really didn’t care what people thought of him. When you asked a student who their best friend was they would always say Robert. I think I fell in love with the little guy because of the fact that he knew exactly who he was and he wasn’t going to let anybody change him. In a country where being a sheep and blending in with the masses is applauded, I was proud that he was determined to blaze his own path and be different. (I have to mention that I miss my three other four-year-olds too, they were so much fun.)
6. Cute cafes
Everywhere you turn in Seoul there is a cute cafe. It made for a really wonderful atmosphere. We searched out a couple well-known cafes like the Hello Kitty Cafe and the Charlie Brown Cafe in Hongdae, but we also found loads of stylish indie cafes with great coffee (so says Dave, I don’t drink coffee). Coffee is wildly popular in Korea, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a cafe other than Paris Baguette that is open before work.
7. Cheap food
I don’t really need to explain why this is awesome. You can buy a roll of kimbap for about a buck. It’s an excellent option for lunch or a snack. One of my favorite cheap foods was the cart in Edae that sold fried chicken, tater tots, and fried ddeok in sweet and spicy red sauce. I know it can’t be good for you, but boy was it yummy.
8. Easy and cheap public transport
This is one of my favorite things about Seoul. The buses, trains, and subway system are all super connected and efficient. Unlike some countries, transport in Korea is very timely and reliable.
One of my favorite weekend activities was visiting some of the parks in Seoul. My all time favorite was Seonyudo Park, which is an old water treatment plant that was converted into a park.
10. Feeling wealthy
We didn’t really have any expenses while we were in Korea. We had minuscule phone bills, no rent, small grocery bills, and super cheap transportation. As twenty-something-year-olds, it’s not very common to have so much disposable income…not that we spent it. We saved most of what we made, but it was nice not to feel any pressure financially. The fact that our paycheck was a couple million a month was pretty awesome too, a couple million won that is.