Monday, May 9, 2016

Things We're Going to Miss

Obviously, I can't write the post of things we're not going to miss without also writing about all of the things we are going to miss. But, the truth is that this one is a lot harder to write. This one will bring all of the emotions to the surface, whereas the list of what we're not going to miss just makes it that much easier to throw things into boxes and suitcases. We have exactly one month left here, and it is going to be an emotional roller coaster for all of us. Since I like to generally be emotionally stable, I'm really not looking forward to it, but I guess I may as well get started...

1. Ynot food delivery: Let's start things off on a lighter note, okay? A couple of years ago Ynot? entered into business--the only English-speaking food delivery company in Seoul at the time. It took me a really long time to try it, because, why? I could walk anywhere I wanted to, to get nearly any kind of food I wanted, and if I didn't want to walk, I would send Eric. (Because he's good like that!) Then, one night, Eric was gone, I was vastly pregnant, and the big kids and I needed food. Enter Ynot. And it hasn't left our lives since. It's actually been huge for us since we've moved neighborhoods and not everything is within walking distance anymore. With Reece, we tend to eat in a lot more often, and Ynot is really handy when we don't have time to cook or go out and get food.

2. Food from all over the world: While I do not love city life, I do love having access to food from nearly anywhere in the world. Let's just see how many I can think of...Korean (see #3), Japanese, American, Canadian (yup, it's a thing), Mexican, Italian, Turkish, Greek, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian, Moroccan, Lebanese, Russian, Australian, Bulgarian. That's all I can come up with off the top of my head. Obviously, some of these we enjoyed even in little 'ole Stanwood, and we definitely have favorite restaurants in the States, too, but I'm really going to miss some of these. Especially Turkish and Lebanese. I think I could eat it every day.

3. Korean food: Let's just continue the food theme, shall we? Korean BBQ, japchae, bulgogi, and sticky rice have definitely become staples for us. Even dongkatsu. It's not one of my favorites, but we'll miss it. The banchan. The kimchi pancakes. The kim. The bibimbap. Even the sweet and spicy friend chicken.mThere are still so many things that we haven't even tried yet; it's shameful. Word on the street is that there is a Koreatown not too far from where we'll be living, and the kids are already excited to go check it out.

4. No tipping: Okay, this is just one of these convenience things that we don't think about anymore (well, unless we're just about to head back to the States). Years ago, I used to be really bothered by Korea's definition of restaurant service, but now it feels normal, and I appreciate that they just leave you alone unless you need something. Because they generally leave you alone, there's no need to tip for good (or bad) service. And I kinda like it. (I've clearly never worked in the service industry, so please don't stone me!)

5. Free entertainment: The parks, the museums, the many of these spots are free (or really cheap) that I am now at a place where I feel like we spend more when we get to the States. Sure, we might have to pay a little to park at some of these places, but I feel like so many parks and trailheads charge in Washington now that we can barely leave the house without having to fork out some cash just to get outside.

6. Public transportation: There are some obvious downsides to relying solely on public transportation, but having a car and being able to use public transportation when you want? That's the best of both worlds. I'm going to miss the convenience of buses, taxis, and subways when I want them. Whether it's because there's nowhere to park, traffic is terrible, or just because we don't have two cars, it's pretty handy to have alternate choices. School-provided transportation to and from school every day for teachers is also a perk that we have benefited from for the past (almost) five years.

7. Convenience: Everything is literally minutes away. Having grown up in the country and always feeling like it took 15 minutes to get anywhere, this was big for me. The stuff dreams are made of! And it has been so nice to be close to the school, the grocery store, our neighbors' houses, and church (though we do have to drive there now as opposed to the 10 minute walk we had before). We have many friends' houses who live within walking distance (and great neighbors!). We can walk to the nearest store for milk and be back within 10 minutes. When it's raining, snowing, or just frigid, I can go down to the car, drive to the parking garage at E-Mart, and never even go outside! It's about a 10 minute drive to school, but only because of the traffic. It takes us less than 10 minutes to walk down to the bus stops, even the airport bus is so convenient! (Thankfully, since we are going to have innumerable bags when we leave here!) Biking from our front door and down to the "trail" on the Han River is really convenient, too. Obviously, the huge hills are a pain, but it's nice to not have to load a bunch of bikes and the trailer into a car just to go for a ride. While I'm definitely looking forward to country life again, I'm going to miss the convenience of city life. A little story for you...

A few weeks ago one of the nuts fell off of our stroller, causing it to crumple (with Reece still in it!) in the middle of the street. (The actual experience--Eric hauling bags of food to bring to pass out to the homeless at Seoul Station, along with the two big kids and two others from church--was a major pain. All you can think at that moment is why can't we just drive?! Park, pass out food, and drive home. Seems simple enough. But no, they take the bus or the subway and it's kind of an ordeal. Luckily, I showed up just in time (returning from my retreat via subway and a long walk) to take Reece home in the car, and they were able to continue on without the broken stroller!) Anyway, the point is that the broken stroller only needed a new nut, and after a quick drive over to our old neighborhood (because I knew exactly where the store was), I parked right on the sidewalk outside of the "store," left the kids in the car (I was never more than 5 feet away from them, but it wouldn't have mattered here anyway), grabbed the stroller and went inside. The man who owns and runs the shop found the nut within about 5 seconds and sent me on my way free of charge.

8. Seasons: By this point, no doubt, you've noticed the cherry blossom pictures in this post. In spite of the fact that my pictures do look pretty much the same as every other year, I did have to go out and document them in our last year, or #thefinalseason as I've been hashtagging (is that a word?) on Instagram. One of my favorite parts of living here has been the four distinct seasons. Unfortunately, winter and summer are definitely the longest seasons, and obviously the most extreme. Fall and spring are perfect, so they don't last long enough! The weather is a mild mid-70s for October and November, as well as April and May. In the fall, we get real fall leaves (everywhere!), and in the spring, we get all of the beautiful flowers. I'm going to miss that!

9. Exploring: With life in the city and a new culture, there is always something to explore. We do go back to our favorite places, but if we wanted to, we could probably go somewhere new every single weekend. Baseball games, palaces, plays, museums, parks, street food, shopping, traditional markets, amusement parks, mosques, churches...all of this is a subway, bus, or car ride away. I couldn't even name all of the places that we have explored and loved here! Years ago, I wrote this post about where to visit in Seoul, and it seems so naive now because we'd been in the country for such a short time. I recently read this quote, and it is oh-so-true: "Spend a day in a country and you can write a book. Spend a week, you can write an article. Spend a lifetime, you can hardly write a sentence." It puts things in perspective for me.

10. Community: The built in community that comes from working at YISS is the number one thing that we will miss when we leave here. Obviously, we've made wonderful friends--some that we will see again and some that we won't, but being plopped into this amazing community on day one is something that I had never experienced before in the same way, and something that I don't think any of else will forget. When you move overseas, you leave your entire family, all of your friends, and a life that you will never regain behind. That alone creates a sense of comradery that is nearly unmatched, but when you realize that your friends and co-workers must become your family, it helps to change your perspective on those people around you. Little things that could become annoying have to be overlooked. The fact is that you can either choose to love those you're with or you can choose to be alone, and alone is not a good way to go when you've been plopped into a new country and culture. Without a doubt, we will miss both the YISS community and the community that comes from being an expat.


  1. Well said on number 10! In addition to our community I would have to add how our family has grown together through this experience. My favorite flower pic is the one with Cade standing at the fence.

  2. I hope that part of our lives doesn't cease to exist, though! Especially since Texas will be a whole new culture!


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