Living in Korea: Generalizations and Observations — Travel Notes

There’s something about living in Korea I like a lot. The sidewalks. Not all of them, but a lot of them are made from old tires. The ground is then soft to walk on, easier on the knees. But it’s a good use of an otherwise useless product. I don’t know whether the process of grinding up and binding the rubber is eco-friendly, but the concept is great!

Living in Korea is great with all the fantastic hiking available, such as at Amisan in Dadaepo.
View of Busan from Amisan, a mountain in Dadaepo.

I also like that there are hiking trails everywhere. Spot a mountain; take a hike. Easy-peasy. I think that from Dadaepo, where I live in the far Southwest of Busan, it would be possible to head to the far Northeast without hardly leaving the mountains. Definitely a full day’s hike! I think that’s cool (and that’s why Korea should promote its hiking more; it’s its greatest feature).

Apparently, Korean is the third or fourth most difficult language to learn. Well, I believe it! Sentence structure is not difficult, verbs aren’t that difficult. The problem is really memorizing vocabulary. I would think that would be difficult in any Asian country where nothing sounds like words we already know, but apparently learning Japanese is a lot easier.

Well, no matter, I’m persisting! I’ve got my Korean Phrasebook by Lonely Planet and I bought a more in-depth self-study package as well. No hopes of becoming fluent before I leave here, which is a bummer. But, I do have enough Korean to get by and to carry on very basic conversations, and maybe a bit more when I’ve had a couple drinks (winky face).

Sadly, I don’t often eat Korean food. This isn’t because it’s not good, but because it’s been practically impossible to find vegetarian food in Korean restaurants (foreigner restaurants are nearly as difficult). Korean food is actually pretty tasty when I can find something suitable. But twice now I’ve been in Seomyeon and unable to find an actual vegetarian meal, or even a restaurant that would cook a menu item minus the meat. It’s incredibly frustrating for both me and my friends, who just want to eat and can’t because of me. I don’t know if they see it as my fault or Korea’s…

Read about all my Seomyeon meal adventures in Memories of a Carnivore.

Food is so constantly an issue here. Even though I mostly eat at home and cook for myself, the food just isn’t the same. I’ve gained 8 pounds even though I hike most days and have started working out again. It’s the grains. A hundred percent whole wheat doesn’t exist. Neither does low-fat yogurt. Real cheese is hard to come by so I’ve been eating sliced cheese. These small changes have a huge impact on my small frame (frowny face).  I don’t know what to do anymore…

What’s worse, it’s more expensive to eat at home than at restaurants (most of the time), so it’s a lose-lose situation for me. No vegetarian food at restaurants, expensive yet unhealthy products at the grocery store. Grrr.

Living in Korea, learning the language is not essential, but beneficial, even for this cat pictured reading a language guide.
Since Stripe’s living in Korea with me, he wanted to learn the language, too!

Oh, yeah, there’s gotta be something wrong/different about the cat food here, too, because Stripe is such a fatty now!

Regardless, living in Korea is getting easier every week.