As my short & sweet 8-day visit approaches, I find myself getting more and more excited for the following things. Beyond the expected “see my family,” “see my friends,” that is.
1. See my dermatologist. This is not #1 by chance. I have informed my family with about 93% seriousness that if I could choose one American to come live next door to me in Korea, it would be my dermatologist. That man is a miracle worker and the number of times I have bemoaned the fact that he is halfway across the globe in the last 2 years is incalculable.
2. Drive a car. The freedom, control, and relaxation of using a car to get around is so underrated.
3. Stand in a Target. I won’t even need to shop*… I’ll just breathe in the endless possibilities of shopping that exist around me. So many choices. So much useless yet adorable stuff. So many overpriced and delicious Archer Farms snacks. There’s just nothing in Korea that can quite measure up to Target.
*Who am I kidding? I’ll probably buy more than I can bring back with me.
4. Eat cereal. Wait, just eat. Western food in Korea is bound to be disappointing. Some of the cereals taste different or just don’t exist (hello, I need my Multigrain Cheerios okay?). Mexican is rare. “Italian” consists only of overcooked spaghetti drowning in sauce. Once I ordered “lasagna” for nearly $12 and received a shallow circular ceramic dish of meat sauce and cheese, with a single layer of limp, boiled-to-oblivion lasagna noodle in the middle. It was a travesty.
[Disclaimer: Yes, there are authentic places serving really good food in Korea. For example I’ve found a couple of really good Indian restaurants here in Daegu, although one of them has since closed (likely because only foreigners were interested). And Seoul is a whole different story. But the average restaurant in my area claiming to serve a particular country’s cuisine is typically awful.]
5. Shower in a real shower. My current bathroom is quite an improvement from my first in Korea, since it was new when I moved in and therefore I’ve been able to keep it clean and mold-free. Plus the hot water actually works here. But again, most Korean bathrooms are wet rooms with a shower head installed on the wall and a drain in the floor, and mine is no exception, which leaves me longing for the luxury of a separate shower that doesn’t get my toilet, floor, and everything else completely soaking wet.
And a bonus…
6. Be reverse culture shocked. It’s always strange and funny to me when I first step off the plane and hear the chatter of English around me and can make small talk with strangers. The different smells and sounds, the English commercials on TV, the vast, beautiful spaciousness of suburban neighborhoods, the colorful cars (as opposed to the sea of black, white, and silver vehicles here) all contribute to a feeling of reverse culture shock. I look forward to being surprised by other things too.